In times like these, when money is tight, people are losing jobs faster than they are being created and bill collectors are on the prowl even late on Sunday nights, every scam in the book that promises a freebie seems to crawl out of the Internet. If you’ve become suspicious of anything that says it’s free, you’re a smart consumer. Normally, I would agree that “free” comes with a price, but every now and then, I find a useful Web site that truly is free. Here are a few of my favorites:
Ask The Computer Lady
Got computer-related questions? The Computer Lady, at http://www.asktcl.com , has answers to your questions, especially if you aren’t particularly technical. Her site is fun to cruise around, with links to free software, categorized Q-and-A sections and tutorials.
Avast! Antivirus Protection
One of the best free antivirus programs on the Web is Avast! Home Edition 4.8. Highly rated, this free program at http://www.avast.com  is robust yet doesn’t slow down your computer.
Beat My Price
At http://www.beatmyprice.com , input the item name, the URL of the site where you found it and the price listed on that site. This shopping bot (a program that searches the Web for the best price for a particular item you wish to purchase) will show you which sites have the best prices for that exact item. They’ll be ranked in order from the lowest price to the most expensive.
Developed by busy computer-savvy parents, http://www.famundo.com  allows you to combine all of your family schedules into one spreadsheet. You can store banking information and medical records securely on your password-protected pages. You also can leave messages and reminders for family members, store and organize all of your favorite digital photos, and keep track of addresses and birthdays. Famundo does offer a paid option for an upgraded product, but the free option is good enough for most.
This site, http://www.findhow.com , is the quintessential do-it-yourself Web site. Clear, concise instructions for all types of projects are just a search away. The categories range from automotive to wild and wacky.
Put that spare cell phone to good use and get credit or a check in return. Even if your phone no longer is working, it still can do some good. Go to http://flipswap.com  for details.
Free Birthday Treats
Is there anything better than getting free stuff on your birthday? At Freebirthdaytreats.com, you can find all the places in your state that offer free or discounted treats to help you celebrate your birthday.
If you are an eBay shopper, Honesty.com is your best friend. Simply enter the item you are searching for and the category (if you know it), and wait for Honesty.com to do the work of hunting down comparative values so you’ll know for sure whether the item you’re looking at is a good deal or not.
Just as the name implies, this site will help you organize everything Christmas related. Just visiting http://organizedchristmas.com  and seeing its countdown of the number of days until Christmas surely will give you a reality check. Lots of great ideas and tips are there, too!