The freebies that will get you through lockdown

From cooking classes to exercise subscriptions, it’s tempting to splash out on at-home extras but there’s really no need…

A moment’s peace: keep the kids amused with some YouTube yoga

Restaurants are closed, pubs are closed, gyms are closed. You know the rest. That means that home-based subscriptions are absolutely booming as people try to find entertainment, education and enjoyment they can take part in from home, particularly lessons for the kids.

And there’s also the pressure some people feel to use this time productively, which risks splashing out on subscriptions to make that happen. But the cost can quickly ramp up. Once you’ve signed up to a fitness app, a home teaching resource, an extra Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subscription, cooking class and a language-learning app then you could soon be spending almost as much on staying in as you used to spend on going out.

So, before you spend any extra cash, it’s a really good idea to check what’s available at no cost. From education to adult learning to fitness to French, there’s a lot out there for free. Here’s a quick rundown.


Find the very best freebies

Many companies and attractions are doing what they can to help people spend their lockdown time learning new skills or information. It’s worth thinking about the area you’re most interested in and then looking for what’s on offer.

For example, Nikon has unlocked its series of 10 photography classes, which it normally charges for, throughout the month. Just visit the Nikon School Online and register for access. And many museums and galleries are offering online experiences and tours to allow people to view their treasures from the safety of their own homes. Some zoos are even livestreaming their animals.

Meanwhile, universities across the world are offering free classes and lectures so if you’re really fixated on that self-improvement kick then you can learn from some of the world’s top minds. But equally, it’s absolutely fine to spend the time doing something less improving – whatever helps you get through.


YouTube is really transformative just now

This is a golden age of YouTube content (I can’t believe I wrote that sentence) because all the celebrities and creatives are trapped at home like the rest of us and many are churning out free-to-view content via their YouTube channels. Most obvious is Joe Wicks and his daily PE class aimed at kids but challenging for adults too.

But there’s a huge number of existing and new packages being made available, such as regular classes from yoga teacher Shona Vertue. And of course, the site was already full of stretch classes, yoga lessons and high-intensity interval training sessions, which you can choose from.

Speaking of existing content, there are language classes, crafting lessons, computer coding lectures – pretty much everything you could think of. Take some time to check out who is offering the most recommended videos so you don’t waste time on inferior lessons – and then learn what you can for free.


Free stuff for kids

If you are trying to keep children active while staying inside as much as possible then there’s a lot out there. England Netball is offering netball drills and This Girl Can has lots of advice on exercising with your child. The Change4Life website also has ideas for indoor activities. You can also try a home school safari via Knowsley Safari Park and even free maths games.


Make use of free trials

A free trial isn’t being offered because the business wants to help you get through lockdown. It is being offered in the hopes that you will continue to pay for the service at the end. But if you’re careful and add calendar reminders to tell you when to cancel services and avoid paying then there are some offers out there that will really help time pass in a quarantine situation.

Peloton (the premium exercise bike people) are giving away a 90-day subscription trial of its home workout app, normally that’s just a 30-day trial. You will need an exercise bike of some sort, of course. Disney+ has a free seven-day trial. Amazon Prime Video will give you a 30-day free trial. The family tree website Ancestry is offering a 14-day free trial to UK customers if you fancy that new hobby.

One quick warning – there is a scam going around just now appearing to offer a three-month free subscription to Netflix. It’s not true, it’s just trying to trick you into sharing bank details so please do be careful what you sign up to and always search for and check the company’s own website for deals, don’t follow links to sites that might be spoofs.


Check what you already have access to

You may well already have subscriptions to services as part of others packages, but that you simply haven’t used before. Now is the time to dig through them and find out. For example, does your life insurance or critical illness cover include a subscription to a digital fitness service? Had your children’s school provided free access to online libraries? Could you subscribe to your local library’s digital service?

And your existing suppliers may have enhanced their offering to help customers who are staying in. For example, Virgin Media will be giving its TV customers 18 of its most popular entertainment channels at no extra cost until 2 May. It’s providing channels including Comedy Central, Discovery and MTV to all TV customers.

Meanwhile, Sky has enhanced its offering to existing customers including giving away Sky Go Extra to everyone, meaning it can be viewed on up to four screens in the house. That will help solve some arguments. So, before you add anything extra to your bills just now, look around and make sure you’re using everything that’s already on offer to you. You could save some serious cash.