If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Most of the time, that's the case. However, there are many "free stuff" Web sites that help you get what you want -- for free.
Of course, there are times when the stuff you want never arrives in your mailbox.
The key is to enter for a freebie from a large, well-known company such as Cover Girl or Certs. I have entered to get freebies from some companies I've never heard of and I've never gotten anything. But you have nothing to lose, so if it sounds good, go for it! (Beware: You may end up on some advertisers' mailing lists in the process.)
Generally, the best sites are registered domain names rather than free sites that aren't updated as often as they should be (resulting in expired offers).
Free stuff my household has received includes a "That '70s Show" cast postcard, subscriptions to "Jump" and "Rolling Stone," samples of mints, cosmetics, soaps and lotions, stickers, cat food, film developing and a few CDs.
My favorite site is www.teenfreeway.com. A variety of free stuff covering everything that teen girls like is why this site is so neat. However, sometimes for especially good freebies you have to register with another site and then go back to Teen Freeway to sign up for your freebie.
A few of the best "free stuff" sites I have found are www.1freestuff.com and www.freechannel.net. Both feature a wide variety of topics (especially www.freechannel.net) with frequently updated offers. A good site to find other freebie sites is www.coolfreebielinks.com.
The best free stuff site I have found is www.freestuff4all.net, a site where they truly have something for everybody, is updated frequently, and has plenty of free offers from well-known companies. If you're looking for free coupons, www.coolsavings.com is a very well-known site that saves you money.
If you're looking to make a little money, www.netflip.com is a Web site that pays you money for using its search engine. Also, www.alladvantage.com pays you money for keeping an advertising bar on your screen when you're online.
Free film developing is available at www.snapfish.com. You can send up to 24 rolls a year for minimal shipping and handling and get quality film developing and your pictures online.
You can create a home page at www.geocities.com, which seems to be one of the largest companies dealing with free Web pages, and is easy and free. If you still lack an e-mail address, you can sign up for a free account from www.hotmail.com.
If you don't want to search the Internet for offers, they can be sent directly to your e-mail inbox when you apply for a free stuff newsletter that many freebie Web sites offer. Good freebie newsletters are available from www.myfree.com.
Finally, when you go to a free stuff Web site, the best place to go is the "New Freebies" section, where almost all the offers are valid.
Filling out your address over and over again for many different offers may be tedious, but it's worth it when you start getting your free stuff in the mail.
Andrea Kibler is a sophomore at Holland Central High School.