Centsible Saver

Party with freebies on your birthday

A birthday on the calendar doesn’t have to be a budget buster. Your celebrations can be on the house, courtesy of your friends in corporate America.

If you’re willing to hand over your email address, they’re willing to treat you to free food, free drinks, free movies and more.

So how do you go about cashing in on your birthday?

• Start early. If you’ve got a June birthday, for instance, start signing up now on the websites of your favorite companies. Even in today’s digital world, it can sometimes take six to eight weeks to be added to email lists.

• Check the freebie websites for potential birthday freebies and discounts. Two sites that do a relatively good job of updating birthday offers:




. That said, don’t be surprised if a birthday freebie is changed or withdrawn by a company by the time your birthday rolls around. Unfortunately, some companies are tightening their birthday freebie budgets and are now requiring a purchase.

• Enjoy your freebies guilt-free. In other words, don’t feel any pressure to make a purchase when collecting a birthday freebie. When companies offer freebies, they’re betting that you won’t celebrate alone, which translates into additional sales. If you do happen to collect your freebie solo, it’s chalked up to cheap marketing.

• Don’t forget to check the dates on your birthday freebies. A few companies require you to redeem them on your birthday but most allow you a week or two to redeem your birthday loot, which means you could be celebrating all month long.

• Be on the lookout for additional emailed offers. Many company email clubs will send you a freebie just for signing up and a few will follow up each year with an offer on the anniversary of your sign up.

One final tip: If you’re queasy about sending your birth date into cyberspace, lots of companies have become more sensitive to that and don’t request your birth year. Or you can do what I do and ball-park the date. That way, the company gets its demographic information and you get to keep your sense of security.

Over the last several months, we’ve had three birthdays in our household and taken advantage of many birthday freebies and a few “free with purchase” offers. We’ve feasted on free sandwiches, pastries and pasta, scored free mascara, rented a free movie and cashed in free drugstore rewards bucks.

Below is a list of just some of the birthday freebies our family has recently received. Click on the link to sign up for yours.

Panera Bread: A free “mystery offer” loaded on your loyalty card. Mine has always been a free pastry of my choice.

Ulta: A free mascara to Rewards members. My daughter exchanged her emailed coupon for a full-size mascara, valued at $18.

Starbucks: A free beverage loaded to a registered Starbucks gift card. My daughter cashed in on this one after an email alert.

Redbox: An emailed code for a free one-day DVD rental. I got this one as an email subscriber.

CVS: $3 in drugstore rewards to spend on anything you wish, presumably a treat for yourself. The Extra Bucks are emailed to members of the drugstore chain’s Beauty Club.

Firehouse Subs: A free medium sub on your birthday when you show your I.D. Unlike most offers, no coupon or email membership is required but if you do sign up you’ll get a freebie reminder a few days before your birthday.

HoneyBaked Ham: A free Ham Classic sandwich on your birthday via emailed coupon. You also get a free sandwich for signing up.

Noodles and Company: A free bowl of pasta for folks who sign up to receive email.

Which Wich? A free small sandwich. A coupon was emailed to me.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit: A coupon for a free Big Barbecue sandwich arrived via email.

Rocky Top Hospitality: A “buy one entree, get a second entree free” offer at Dean's Seafood Grill & Bar in Cary, Twisted Fork in Raleigh or The Daily Planet Cafe in downtown Raleigh. My offer was emailed to me a few days before my birthday and was valid on my birthday.

Papa Murphy’s: Free cookie dough with the purchase of a pizza. A coupon was emailed to me.