Free and Cheap Stuff for the Economically Impaired

by Ragtimelil

If you've lost a job or have other issues that have contributed to a difficult situation, you might find a way here to make things a little better.

I’m living on Social Security and barely getting by. Any glitch is a crisis for me. I don’t have enough income to buy things I’d love to have. I’m always looking for ways to have a few luxuries and necessities on my meager income. These are all ways I've tried myself.
I do have a laptop since I use it to make a little money online. I made sure the RV Park where I was going to live had free WiFi.


Food is the top of the list. It is the first thing people need when times are hard. While the food pantries can’t supply enough to feed anyone for the entire month, it is still a great source of food to pad out what you have to buy. The local one here gives out a little meat, bread, and some donated fresh fruits and vegetables depending on what people have to donate. In addition I get way too much of the same canned vegetables. I use as much as I can and put the rest away for my emergency supply.

harvestMany pantries have limits on how many times in a month that clients can visit. They don’t always have limits on how many pantries one can visit in a month. Check around and you might be able to visit a different pantry every week or every other week. You can check with the local town hall, churches, or on the internet to find your local pantries. And don't forget to check into food stamps and other government assistance for food.

If you are able, start a garden. Where I am living now I have to garden in containers but that won't keep me from growing fresh vegetables. There is nothing like a fresh salad or fresh tomatoes from your own garden. Check into square foot gardening online. There are some great ideas on YouTube for vertical gardening and people who garden in apartments.




clothingSome pantries, especially those run by churches, often run clothing closets. You will have to find ones in your location. Check out rummage sales, thrift shops and yard sales.

You can get creative and learn to recycle and reconstruct clothing into clothes just for you. It's fun and economical too.

Another way is just to tell friends and family what you are looking for. Many people would love to give you what they clean out of their closets.

Don’t forget websites like craigslist or eBay if you’re looking for something special.


cute dogNot all pantries have pet food. Pets of the Homeless web site has a list of places that provide free food for pets as well as homeless shelters that will accept pets.

If there are no sites in your area, ask at the local animal shelter about help with food and medical attention for pets. They would much rather help owners out than to have pets dropped off because the owner couldn’t take care of them.

Books and Movies

I love to read and visit the library weekly for books and movies. However, since I lost my car, transportation has been hit or miss. I have to depend on my wonderful neighbor to get to the store or to the library. I have discovered some other ways to get free and cheap reading material.

readingTwo options are to use the public library system and to access books online. It’s not the most comfortable way to read for me, though. I have to hunch over my computer screen to read unless I unplug everything and take it to the bed with me. I will be buying an ereader when I have a few extra dollars.

But I have found some great reading material. The library has access to thousands of books. The hard part is finding them. Every library system is different. You would have to research your own local library to find out what they offer.

Amazon is really simple. You don’t have to have an ereader. You can download a free reader by going to and downloading a free app. I use the Kindle Cloud Reader and it is great. It even works when the internet kicks off here.

You can find great free books and some as low as.99 cents. They are not just the discount bin books but are new books being promoted. I’ve bought some for 99 cents and have seen them later offered at full price.


radioI love music. My radio/CD player died some time ago and the only device I have to listen to music now is my computer. I do have a few CDs but mostly listen to streaming radio or my Amazon Cloud Player. I can find almost any kind of music I could ever think of for a mere 99 cents.

I can download the tunes and listen to them in my MP3 player on my computer too. You can get iTunes and RealPlayer programs for free online.


Other Stuff

Check out You can find people giving away all sorts of stuff. It all is free but you have to be quick to pick it up.

teddy bear

Updated: 01/16/2013, Ragtimelil
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Challenging Comments

Ragtimelil on 02/18/2013

Thanks. I'm about to do a page on vertical gardening. You might get some ideas there. Any day now....:-)

Guest on 02/18/2013

I live on SS also, but it sounds as if I'm not quite as economically impaired as you are. But it's still pretty close to the edge if any big emergency comes up. Luckily, I discovered thrift stores when I was in my teens, and they're still my first choice for shopping. Now that I live in a third-floor apartment, gardening is out, but I'm about to start herb seeds so I can have them fresh. Maybe I can figure out how to squeeze in a few salad veggies, too.

Ragtimelil on 02/11/2013

Thanks. I didn't know what else to use.
I love freecycle too. You don't have to be economically impaired to use it. Just frugal.

AngelaJohnson on 02/11/2013

I love your term "economically impaired". Freecycle is great!

Ragtimelil on 01/17/2013

Thank you and you're welcome. There are some really easy ways to have a garden. I'm in a new learning curve here too. It gets so hot in the summer it burns everything.

VictoriaLynn on 01/17/2013

Nice article! I need to work on my gardening skills, for sure. I need to check out Thanks for the info!

Ragtimelil on 01/17/2013

Yes indeed. Worth checking into.

Ragtimelil on 01/17/2013

I just moved and didn't do much last summer. I had two stunted tomato plants and got 4 tiny tomatoes. But I've got the itch to grow stuff this year. The park owner is very encouraging. He actually is a master gardener.

Ragtimelil on 01/17/2013

Well, you are very welcome! and Thank you!

Ragtimelil on 01/17/2013

Yes, indeed. Thanks.

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