Seven things to get for free

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When you're cash strapped, it can sometimes feel as though money is the be-all and end-all. But the truth is you don't need big bucks to have fun and enjoy yourself - in fact, there are plenty of free venues, events and out there to keep you entertained, as long as you know where to look.

So the next time you fancy a night out, a night in, or even a spot of pampering, why not keep an eye out for these fabulous freebies?

Free books
What with the Kindles and iPads so many of us carry with us these days, libraries often get forgotten. But they are literally loaded with books that you can read and enjoy for free, with no need for batteries, charging or vast bookshelves weighed down with one-read tomes. Support your local library and enjoy access to thousands of titles without spending a penny.

Free music
If radio chatter is not for you, and you're bored of your iTunes library, Spotify provides millions of songs and tracks absolutely free of charge. So what's the catch? Well, the free version of the software can be downloaded to desktop, tablet or mobile and enjoy their favourite sounds, as long as they don't mind the odd advertisement interruption. The mobile version is limited, with users only able to use the 'shuffle' mode, but if you're listening on desktop or tablet, you can choose any song in Spotify's on-demand catalogue.

Free culture
You might need to fork out a small fortune for some of the most sought-after exhibitions at museums and art galleries, but you'd be surprised how many offer free entry. As well as the well-known free museums and galleries in London (the National Gallery, Natural History Museum and Science Museum to name a few), there are smaller venues up and down the country that you can enjoy without putting your hand in your pocket, and there's something for everyone, from art and design to military and mining.

Free tastings
If you like a tipple but can't afford a night at the pub, keep your eyes peeled for free wine or beer tastings. The likes of Majestic offer introductory wine-tasting courses around the country, while breweries and pubs regularly offer beer-tasting events. It's not for those aiming to get seriously sozzled, but you can enjoy a few jars and learn something into the bargain.

Free pampering
Everybody's got to learn somehow, and for hairdressers, it's often on the job. Most salons, including big name brands like Toni & Guy or Vidal Sassoon, have trainees on the payroll, and it's often the case that you can get a new do for free if you're willing to be the guinea pig. It's probably not the best idea if you have an important event to go to, but rest assured that your haircut will be supervised by fully qualified professionals so you're unlikely to end up with a hair disaster.

Free communication
If you have friends or relatives abroad, or your pay-as-you-go phone costs are landing you with a hefty bill each month, there is free software available to help. Skype is one of the most well-known, and allows you to connect people all over the world at no cost. And if your mobile allowance doesn't come with unlimited texts, consider downloading an app like WhatsApp, which allows you to text for free.
Free entertainment
Going to the movies used to be a cheap night out, but even without the super-sized popcorn, large drink and 3D glasses, it's no longer an option for those on a small budget. Thankfully movie studios are always keen to know how audiences might react to their latest blockbusters, and that means you can enjoy free previews before the general public feast their eyes on the new releases. Screening sites such as Tellten and See Film First can point you in the right direction.

And don't dismiss TV and radio - many shows advertise for live audiences and they're typically free as long as you can get to the studio under your own steam. Once again, the web is the place to find the free seats, so try or and register to hear about the latest tickets on offer.

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