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FreeSkate with Strings

FreeSkate with Strings

Welcome to The Honorable Cheapskate, part of the Cook's Books web site. I, the aforementioned Cheapskate, am a relatively poor college student who's spent some time ferreting out honest-to-goodness free stuff. It took me some time to find these gems and I'd like to share them with you. Here, I'll provide you with the best ways I know to get free goods and services without getting scammed. Get around the loopholes and enjoy the best the Internet has to offer - for free!

This page, FreeSkate with Strings is dedicated to ferreting out sneaky but legitimate and legal ways to get things for free. What are the strings? Well, with the offers on this page, you could be charged money if you didn't do things the right way: forgot to make a telephone call at the right time, didn't write 'cancel' on a bill, and so on. With that in mind, we've created this page, where we let you know what the pitfalls are and remind you exactly what you need to do in order to get these goods and services for absolutely no charge. These deals are best suited to the careful cheapskate who can handle details.

FreeSkate with Strings: Categories

Free Magazines

Free Magazines

Junk Mail
That's right, junk mail can be your friend! Most of us get a whole lot of magazine solicitations in the mailbox. While they can be annoying, some of them are really our friends. Usually, you can try out a few issues of a magazine for free before you commit to buy a subscription. You never have to send any payment. Except for "Discover", I don't actually have any paid subscriptions to any magazines. This makes things easy: I simply write "cancel" on any magazine bill that comes my way! Think of the eclectic, ever-changing reading you'll have as a result. Pretty cool, no?

Here's what to look for: the solicitation says that you can try out an issue or two, then write "cancel" on the bill if you don't like it and owe nothing. Send in the postage-paid card, write "cancel" on whatever bill they send your way, and you've got happy reading! Some publishers never get the hint: I've easily read six free issues of Scientific American over the past two years, for example.

What to look out for: some magazine solicitations say that if you write "cancel", you can receive a "refund on all unmailed issues" or "owe no money for unmailed issues". In plain English, this means you've got to pay for the issues you've received -- avoid these offers.

Publishers Clearing House

Publishers Clearing House? Yep, you can get free magazines of your choosing through the sweepstakes organizer. And at, you can do it online.

How does it work? The policy is simple. Within the first three months of the subscription, simply call Publishers Clearing House toll free at 1-800-645-9242 or send an e-mail message to On the phone or in your e-mail, let them know you're not satisfied with the magazine or magazines you've been receiving. They will refund the total cost of your order. The guarantee applies to any magazine they sell, even if you've already received a portion of the subscription.

Here's what to do to make sure you don't have to pay. Right after your order, write down on a sheet of paper all the names of the magazines you've ordered, the toll-free number and e-mail address listed above, and the date by which you will have to cancel. Be conservative, and make the date three months to the day after you place your call. Now make another copy of this information. Stick one copy on your refrigerator, and another next to your bedroom mirror. That way, you won't forget and you'll cash in on free reading.

If you do choose to pay, P.C.H. guarantees the lowest online cost, so that's pretty good. But, again, the whole point is that you should never have to pay. This is a deal that gives you a whole lot of choice with very little headache.

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