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15 Ways to Eat Free That You Probably Didn’t Know

15 Ways to Eat Free That You Probably Didn’t Know

Getting enough food can be a challenge in today’s economy. They say the average American makes nearly $40,000 per year but for it to be an average means that people need to make more than that and a bunch of people make less than that. Most of us aren’t so broke as to starve but getting enough to eat is important when you want to be healthy. Here are some ways you can score some free grub.

1. Accept invitations to eat with friends

Kirby eating food gif

    People are always throwing dinner parties or asking if anyone wants to accompany them to go out to eat. You should start saying yes to these invitations. Even if they don’t pay for a full meal like they do for themselves, you can still gorge on free stuff like salad and bread sticks or enjoy an appetizer at their expensive. Dinner parties rock because you can not only eat your fill but they’ll usually be cool with you taking home some leftovers.

    2. Accept invitations to eat with your boss.

    It can seem like a bad idea but your boss doesn’t pay for their lunch, the company does. If you don’t mind the awkwardness of talking to the person who bosses you around all day long, you can end up with some pretty good food. Some of your coworkers may call you a brown-nose employee but free food is free food.

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    3. Work in the food industry.

    This is by far the easiest way to score some free food. Restaurants don’t have to feed their employees but it’s always easy to score free food pretty much all day long. In many cases if you close, your restaurant may throw away a lot of perfectly good food at night. While it’s typically against regulations, you can sneak that food home and eat it later. I used to do this all the time with the 3 am doughnut throwaway at Tim Horton’s when I worked there. In sit-down restaurants, things like send-backs can be a free meal for you.

    4. Take home leftovers

    In those cases when you do buy food, make sure you bring your leftovers home. A good strategy (especially for places like Red Lobster and Olive Garden with their unlimited bread items) is to ask for the free menu items before asking for a doggy bag. There’s nothing wrong with taking home a cup of pasta, six breadsticks, and a mound of free salad.

    5. Ask others for their leftovers

    When eating out you may notice people leaving their food when they get up to leave. It’s a little humiliating at first but eventually you’ll get the hang of asking people for their leftovers. Most are pretty understanding because these are tough times. Some may be offended but you can’t let them get you down. If you snipe a couple of good tables, you can get two or three days worth of food for free that would’ve been otherwise thrown away.

    6. Find free samples

    Large stores like CostCo, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and more regional stores like Publix often have free samples available for you to try. We’re not saying you should raid the plate because that’s a horrible idea and you’ll likely get thrown out. A better strategy is to browse and eat everything. If you do it right you can usually find a few hundred calories worth of food which can make a good snack or a decent light lunch.

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    7. Carefully browse your local restaurant dumpsters

    This one can also seem humiliating but there are actually groups of people who do this on a daily basis. They eat very well and pay nothing for it. Remember earlier when we talked about how people leave their food on the table and it just gets thrown away? Well you can still get to it via the dumpster. Many stores also toss a bunch of perfectly good food at the end of every night. It can seem a little gross and you should absolutely and thoroughly cook anything you find, but you wouldn’t believe how much perfectly good food you can find in the garbage on a fresh run.

    8. Go hunting or fishing

    Our ancestors were eating free long before grocery stores by killing animals and eating them. You can eat almost anything as long as it is properly cooked. If you can go knock off a good sized deer then you can end up with pounds upon pounds of lean, protein rich meat. You can then dry it out, turn it into jerky, and that can last you for months. Fishing is equally effective and it’s relatively easy to do. Filleting a fish isn’t difficult and cooking them can be fun. In most states, you can get a hunting and fishing license for cheap.

    9. Barter services for food

    eat free

      This is one I do on occasion that can be a lot of fun. Offer to do the dishes for a sandwich at a friend’s house. Offer to mow the lawn for a little bit of groceries. People always have jobs to do but maybe not the cash to pay you for the work. However, almost everyone has food that they’re willing to trade. I’ve done laundry, cleaned houses, mowed lawns, and even shoveled driveways in the winter for food. It seems like it’s humiliating and it may be hard to ask but remember that you’re earning your food so it’s not begging.

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      10. Find public events that offer free food

      Many communities toss events that have free food. In my community, we have a little park that has a forest trail and some baseball fields. A couple of times a year, people get together, have a BBQ, and we walk through and clean the place up. With so many people tossing burgers, ribs, chicken, and hot dogs on the grill, it’s very easy to get someone to give you a little bit. Find similar events in your area and attend. You can not only eat like a champ but take your Tupperware set because people always bring too many chips or make too much pasta salad. That can be yours for the low, low price of free.

      11. Find soup kitchens

      Finding a soup kitchen can net you a free meal immediately if you need it that badly. It’s free calories and you’re around people who understand the idea of needing a hot meal. If you’re feeling good, you can also offer to help out and volunteer at the soup kitchen so you can help feed the homeless and yourself simultaneously. These places usually use their food until it is gone so it’s unlikely that you’ll take any home with you. Plus, this food is going to help people eat. It’s probably not a good idea to take it anyway.

      12. Use social media

      Social media sites like Foursquare are awash in free food deals. It’s an amazing place for restaurants to advertise and many will pop up a Foursquare deal that gives people who check in for their first time a free dish. It gets people in the door and gives them a chance to sample the wares to see if they’ll be repeat customers. This is a great opportunity to not only score some free food, but scope out some of the lesser-known restaurants in your area for those times when you do pay for food.

      13. There’s a reason people love continental breakfasts.

      When you travel, always book a place with a continental breakfast. You can get some free bagels, cereal, waffles, and other breakfast items. With stuff like bagels, bread, and cereal, you can always grab a bit to take with you for a snack later. If you’re really down on your luck, you can always try to crash a continental breakfast and grab something small.

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      14. Grow some food

      Another great way to get free food is to grow it yourself! You can obtain seeds from other vegetables or from seed stores for relatively cheap. Then you grow it, harvest it, and save the seeds for another round of growing. Once you get that original garden going, it’s easy to get materials to grow more later. Depending on the size of your yard or your plot of land, you can get a fairly decent amount of vegetables.

      15. Gather naturally growing food

      If growing things aren’t your thing, you can always find the plants that nature has grown for you. There are a metric ton of fruit trees and bushes practically everywhere. Make sure you do your research to make sure you’re not picking something that’s poisonous. When I was a kid, my grandmother’s house had a bunch of blackberry bushes in the woods behind the house. We would go and pick them by the basket and use them to adorn pancakes, make pies, or just rinse and eat. It’s nature and it’s free.

      Never should you break the law to obtain food. Using these tips you can take a sizable chunk out of your food budget and still eat.

      Featured photo credit: Flirt Pattaya via flirt-pattaya.com

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      Last Updated on January 2, 2019

      How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

      How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

      Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

      Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

      Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

      This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

      Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

      What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

      Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

      When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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      How It Leads to Financial Improvement

      It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

      Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

      Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

      It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

      Types of Personal Finance Software

      When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

      Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

      For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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      Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

      When to Use Personal Finance Software

      So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

      Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

      1. You Have Multiple Accounts

      There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

      If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

      Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

      2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

      Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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      There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

      With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

      3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

      Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

      Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

      Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

      4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

      Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

      You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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      How to Get Started

      From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

      Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

      It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

      When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

      Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

      Final Thoughts

      Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

      In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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