Not too long ago, I got a free cell phone. That’s really not very unusual, except that it also came with free airtime. Okay, I’ve heard about bonus offers like that before, so again it’s not too odd. However; my cell phone comes with 250 free minutes, each and every month for the next year. I am not required to pay anything, unless I want extra minutes or extra services, at any time for this phone.
So as you may have guessed, I was able to get my phone because I am a low-income single mom, and it’s through Assurance Wireless. When I got this phone, and it became obvious that it wasn’t a scam, I started thinking that there was probably a list somewhere that had a list of the free stuff you could get.
Some of the big things already have their entries on this blog, but I meant little things, like free cell phones, free entertainment, and free magazine subscriptions.
I couldn’t find the kind of list I was looking for. And when I did find a list, it seemed to want to sell me stuff. I wanted free stuff, darn it, not discounts on stuff I won’t use. I know I can walk into almost any cell phone store and sign a two year contract and get a free phone. But then I heard I could get a free phone, with free service, for a year ( and then I will just have to re-apply). So, I knew I needed to make sure other single moms could apply for their free phones, and get free magazines, and…you see where I’m going with this.
Assurance Wireless provides a free phone, with 250 minutes each month to low-income individuals or families. You are automatically eligible in participating states if you receive food stamps, medicaid, cash assistance, or other government programs that are income contingent. Even if you don’t receive those programs, you can qualify if your income is within their standards. Currently, this program is available in:
7) New Jersey
8) New York
9) North Carolina
13) West Virginia
Assurance Wireless has partnered with Virgin Mobile, and has continued to expand their program each year. Even if they are not able to offer service in your state now, you might want to check back with them regularly. Once you have your phone, you can purchase additional minutes or text messages at a very reasonable cost. Included with your phone and airtime, you will have caller ID, voice-mail, and access to 911. To apply, you will need to call them at 1-888-898-4888 and they will process your application. For more information, you can visit their website at : http://assurancewireless.com/Public/Welcome.aspx
Safelink Wireless is another way of getting a free cell phone with free airtime. This program is not paid for by the government, but is instead just free from the companies. If you are getting the Lifeline discount on your home phone, OR are getting the free phone from Assurance Wireless, you cannot get this service. You will need to choose which one that you would like to have.
Safelink Wireless is available in 31 states, and is provided by Tracfone Wireless. You are eligible for this program, if you receive state benefits of any kind in your state (including WIC and the free lunch program at your child’s school), or if your income is at 150% or less of the Federal Poverty Level in your state. This program is very similar to that of Assurance Wireless, but provide fewer free minutes each month.
The amount of free airtime that you will receive varies in each state. However, many people who receive this free service have told me that they receive 68 minutes each month. You will also notice, if you need to purchase additional minutes, that their airtime is a little more expensive than the extra airtime is with Virgin Mobile. Therefore, if you’re lucky enough to have both offered in your state, you might want to strongly consider both of your options. To apply, and for more information, visit their website here: https://www.safelinkwireless.com/EnrollmentPublic/how_to_apply.aspx
Free Parenting Magazines
Is there a mom out there who doesn’t like to read baby and child magazines? If so, I haven’t met her. So far, I have found that American Baby and BabyTalk magazine are available for free. This is not a gimmick, and not some kind of deal where you get a couple of issues free when you pay for a year’s worth of magazines.
As of November 2010, you can get them both for free, with the option to eventually renew. My kids are both teenagers, and I get this magazine for free. There is sometimes advice for raising older kids, and if not, it’s still fun to read. If you would like to sign up, you can find information on getting both magazines here: https://www.babiesonline.com/offers/
Entertaining your kids can quickly get expensive, especially during summer vacations and breaks. I found out several years ago, that although we were in a small town with a small library, I could still get a lot of really great movies and DVD’s. Once I found out that my city library participated with the “Inter-State Library Lending Program,”, I could request a DVD or book as soon as any other library in the state got that already participated got it. There were many times that we were watching a new movie only a week or two after it was released. Your state may call this program a different name, but if you ask, they’ll know what you’re talking about.
The library here has recently began to offer yoga classes on Saturday morning, also for free. It’s something fun to do with my daughters, and we get a little extra exercise out of it. I have been surprised many times by the number of really fun, free activities that libraries have. I cannot stress enough that there is more to “check out” at the library than just books.
I will happily admit that I love free stuff, and when it’s free stuff that I get over and over again, each month, I’m thrilled. I am a big believer in saving money on the little things, and in little ways, so that the big things get paid on time, and so I have more money for more little things. I don’t claim that my way is the only way, but it is a way that seems to work for me.