Why spend money when you don’t absolutely have to? Part of living on a budget is knowing how to get what you need for free whenever possible. While it’s hard to get free food, for example, it’s a lot easier to pick up household items for free, as long as you aren’t too picky about color schemes and such, or you are handy enough to repair and refurbish items you get.

The first stop for free items in many cities is the local Craigslist or Kijiji, or similar bulletin boards. These two tend to receive the most traffic and attention, so try there first. There are sections devoted to “free stuff” where you can post a wanted ad or browse the offers that are up. The modern-day version of the newspaper (which, by the way, is still a good place to look for free stuff), they can have anywhere from a few sparse postings to a thriving community of freebie-seekers and -givers. Don’t be too shy about requesting items – a lot of people have spare things that they’ve been meaning to get rid of for some time but never really did. They would often rather see it go to someone who needs it than try to sell it.

Freecycle is an alternative springing up in many cities that is all about recycling items for free. You can search their website for a local Freecycle list, then sign up and monitor postings. Items tend to go fast on busy lists, so you may have to try for several different items before getting one. This is easier if you have your own transportation to get around, as many people want the items gone as fast as possible.

You can also find free things online sometimes – samples, freebie signups, and such offers. Some major companies send out product samples that are limited to the first few thousand respondents, so act quickly and monitor freebie email newsletters and websites for the latest freebies. There are some sites that will allow you to get free electronics and big-ticket items from collecting points, doing surveys, or signing up for trials. If you choose to do these, there are communities out there devoted to people helping each other get these gifts and learn how to get the freebies without spending more than the cost of the item in credit card charges.

Finally, it might sound cheesy and outdated, but writing to companies still works. If you aren’t satisfied with a product, write a genuine, professional, polite letter to express your disappointment and you might just get free products or coupons. On the other hand, if you love a product, tell them so and you can get the same rewards. And if you’ve always wanted to try a product but don’t have the money, sometimes a well-written letter can earn you samples so you can fall in love with their product (or just avoid buying dish soap for another month).

You don’t need to buy absolutely everything in your house. Look for free options first!