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Why I Don’t Request Free Samples

free Free samples are all the rage among frugal people, judging by the number of blogs and websites that publish endless lists of these sorts of offers. While I do love to save money, and I love free things as much as the next person, I really cannot get on board with free samples as a effective way of saving money. Here’s why.

1. Most free samples give you a miniscule amount of product.

Think of how small a portion of cereal in a sample container is. If you’re very fortunate, you might get 1/2 cup of cereal in each sample. The number of sample containers you’d have to obtain in order to get the equivalent of a box of cereal (which can be had for a a couple of dollars, or less if you’re a really good shopper) would be enormous.

Finding and filling out enough free sample forms to reach that enormous number would require a lot of time and effort, which leads me to my next objection.

2. Filling out free sample forms is not an efficient use of your time.

If you look at this sort of thing as entertainment, that’s one thing, but if you’re trying to save money on your groceries, there are many, many other things you could choose to do that would save you more per hour.

For example, instead of signing up for a dozen free snack samples (which would net you a really small amount of food), you could spend a few minutes doing the prep required to make a batch of granola bars.

Or instead of requesting a bunch of cereal samples, you could spend five minutes making a pot of oatmeal, which will feed your family much more effectively than cereal samples will.

Planning a menu would be another good use of your time. If you’re constantly tempted to go the take-out/fast food route, having a menu plan in hand could save you hundreds of dollars a month. No free samples will net you that much in savings.

3. Free samples have a a really bad packaging/product ratio.

Not only does each sample come individually wrapped, a lot of times the samples themselves come encased in more packaging.

Some samples are for things that would be individually wrapped anyways, but most samples have a much higher proportion of packaging than their full-size counterparts do. Even worse, it tends to be unrecyclable packaging.

The oatmeal example I mentioned above would not only be a good use of your time, it would produce very little trash. A large cardboard container of oatmeal is recyclable and compostable, and even if it wasn’t, it would still produce less waste per serving than a free sample of breakfast food.

In sum, if you truly do want to try a product in order to determine if you want to buy it (this is, after all, the purpose of a sample), then I’d encourage you to go ahead and sign up. But do yourself a favor and look into other more efficient ways to spend your time if you’re serious about saving money.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Tell me! 😉

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Dashawn Rhine

Thursday 15th of March 2012

I loved your blog post.Really thank you! Will continue reading...


Friday 16th of April 2010

The only things I really agree with here is the packaging. I LOVE free stuff! I get tons and honestly use it. The cereal and granola bars make for prefect breakfasts for me. Add a piece of fruit and it's only about a $.50 meal. I also love the shampoo/toothpaste samples for travel. (I fly a lot!) And I've gotten tons of 'full sized' things: bags of sun chips, boxes of ice cream sandwiches, packs of gum, 20 oz sodas. Plus, I'm pretty sure I'll never have to buy tampons again. It doesn't even take up that much of my time. Maybe 20 minutes a week. And I just take it out of my 'computer time.'


Friday 30th of October 2009

One great thing about samples is the stock up factor... someone else mentioned tampons... I'll probably never have to buy another box of tampons (which are expensive!) because of my stockpile of samples. But even if I do have to, I have lots of coupons that came with them, which should equal free or close to free products when combined with a sale


Thursday 8th of October 2009

I don't request near as many as I used to - only products I want to try and I do appreciate the coupons that come with. I like to give the free cat food samples to my mother. Until recently, I travelled a fair amount for business, so it was a good way to get travel sizes for travel.


Wednesday 7th of October 2009

Another reason not to fill out all those forms for free samples is that you get on every mailing list and then some. Not only does the company from which you requested the sample send you junk mail (e or snail) but also every company they sell your name to. More waste!

When I do request something online I use an email addy reserved on for such requests, but you can't do that for your mailing address where you receive the samples.

My local drug store sells sample sizes of many hygiene and grooming products that are nice for traveling or for trying something before you buy the big size. These are usually under $1.00. I buy tiny bottles of the shampoo and handlotion I always use for trips--I can always refill these from my regular supply. I also like the little mini-deoderants for trips.

We save the other odd free samples that come our way (leg razors in the newspaper last week), dental supplies (tiny tubes of toothpaste, floss, and toothbrushes) for travel. There is an entire drawer in our bathroom for our various dental samples--great for when one of our kids' friends forgets to bring a toothbrush for a sleepover. At home we use electric toothbrushes, but when we go on a trip we each grab a brand new sample toothbrush for the duration.

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