I don't know about you - but I LOVE getting FREE STUFF in the mail! It's almost as addictive as coupon shopping. And the internet has made it even easier to "sign up" to receive all these goodies.
You do have to be very careful about what you are signing up for and who you are giving your information to. It's best to stick to things that come directly from the manufacturer or retailer's sites. For instance - Walmart regularly posts free samples on their website. These are trial size items that are great for your purse, taking on trips or sending with the kids to camp.
Food manufacturers often post info on coupons they will mail to you. These are great. When you sign up to receive the coupons usually there is a box asking if you want to receive updates from their company on other special offers and coupons. If you don't mind a few extra emails in your box this is a good thing to do. You then get notified when new coupons are issued or if the company is sending out free samples.
Other companies will send out free items to get you to use their other products. The best example I can think of on this is the free Gillette razors. Periodically Gillette will post a sign up for a free Gillette razor. I get these several times a year. It's a nice razor - whatever the current Fusion model is - with one cartridge. Of course Gillette is hoping you will like it well enough to go buy refill cartridges for it. The cartridges are not cheap - but Gillette does include coupons in the P&G inserts regularly.
These freebies are legitimate and fun to get. The other side of the freebie game is that many, many "Freebies" you see advertised are simply a trick to get your email address so they can bombard your email box with advertising. Sometimes these look like they come from the manufacturer but if you look closely it will say they are not affiliated with the actual company.
There are also freebies that are simply portals to trick you into signing up for various monthly membership fee services. Ever see the "FREE IPOD" ads? WOW - a free iPod - that would be great. However, as you progress through the steps to get your free iPod you find that you have to sign up for various programs - some that seem free but probably are not. It doesn't seem like much so you keep going. Then you find out you also have to find x number of people to also sign up for a free iPod before you can get yours. You probably don't want to do that so you scrap the whole free iPod idea - which is OK with the people who set up the site - because they have already made money on all those other things you signed up for. There is a way to actually make money from this type of freebie - but I don't recommend it unless you are extremely organized. (Watch for a future article on Freebie Trading.)
Now you're probably afraid to sign up for anything - right? Don't be. It's a lot like shopping - if you're implusive - often you end up with something you don't really want. But if you read carefully and are selective on what you choose to participate in you will soon have a mailbox full of fun freebies.
Also, watch for freebie alerts I post in my blog and newsletter. I check out each one before posting the information and try my best to avoid anything that is not legitimate or that is going to generate a ton of unwanted email.