Tips that pay off: The best things in life are free — here's how to get them

There are plenty of ways to save money. Stop shopping at Whole Foods, scale back on Uber... or supplement your excess spending with free stuff instead.

Free stuff comes in many forms. We bet there are work perks you had no idea existed — ones that will help pay off your student loans or fund your dream wedding. If that doesn't apply to you, you can still become a pro at winning free stuff from brands or invent Oreo's next flavor for $500K.

Whatever your preferred strategy for scoring free stuff, we're here to help you make it rain — or at least ease your spending guilt a little.

Tip No. 1: 7 little-known employee benefits that could save you thousands of dollars this year

Today's workplace benefits go beyond pizza parties and free massages. Many companies are zeroing in on the perks employees value most.

"There was a trend a while back where companies offered perks for the sake of offering perks," said Adrian Granzella Larssen of career site the Muse. "Free food and ping pong tables in the break room were fun, but if you weren't fulfilled in your job, a free lunch wasn't going to make it better.

Wondering what some companies offer, and how to get your company to offer them too? Check out these seven generous perks — including covering the cost of your wedding or paying you to go on vacation.

Tip No. 2: Be the next Wendy's chicken nugget guy: 3 secrets to winning the "free stuff" jackpot

After teen Carter Wilkerson got Wendy's to promise him a year's supply of nuggets if he racked up retweets, the fast-food restaurant confirmed to Mic that it will follow through on its promise.

Now, if you're hoping to replicate the young Carter's feat, it's not impossible. Here are three moves to increase your odds of winning a year of free stuff — or even a lifetime supply — based on the lessons of several folks who have hit the freebie jackpot.

Tip No. 3: The 9 coolest credit card rewards and perks you might not know about — and how to get them

If you have a rewards-based credit card, how often do you actually use the perks owed to you?

"Take the time to research credit card sites and even call for current deals," Leanne Jacobs, a wealth expert, said via email. Since deals and perks can change over time, check in at least once a year to spot any cool new offers.

Here are nine great, underrated credit card perks that you should use to your advantage.

Tip No. 4: 5 easy ways to snag free money

You don't want to give up the opportunity to access all the cash you can, as this money could be useful in saving for retirement, stashing in an emergency fund or meeting other financial goals.

To avoid missing out on any cash you're entitled to, make sure you do these five key things.

And if all of the above fails...

Tip No. 5: Here's how you can make $500K coming up with the next Oreo flavor


Oreo is offering a half-million-dollar bounty to whomever can come up with the best new flavor, and social media is already abuzz with new flavors ranging from the conventional (key lime) to the eccentric (tangy barbecue?).

Have a dream flavor in mind that you think will win hearts and minds — and make you $500,000 richer? Throw your hat in the ring by posting on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #MyOreoCreation and #Contest or by replying to one of the brand's social media posts.

Don't forget to follow the Payoff on Facebook! Sign up for The Payoff — your weekly crash course on how to live your best financial life. Additionally, for all your burning money questions, check out Mic's credit, savings, career, investing and health care hubs for more information — that pays off.