How To Mooch From Your Friends (Without Them Ever Knowing)

How To Mooch From Your Friends (Without Them Ever Knowing)

We all like free stuff, but it often comes at a hidden cost: you become the product. If you stop asking companies for handouts and mooch off of your friends, you can get even better benefits with practically no sacrifice.

Photos by David Mertl, Christopher John S SF, Mike Fleming, themikemckee and Derek Keats.

Some of our friends have more than us and others have less. Hopefully we all help each other out a little bit in various ways, regardless of our means, because that’s what friends do. Some people like to take advantage of good will, however, and offer more than they receive. We see them as mooches and often avoid their company.

A skilled mooch, however, knows how to keep it a secret. She or he understands the subtle difference between constantly asking for things and making the “trade” seem more even. In this post, we’ll take a close look at how you can get stuff from your friends for free without them ever feeling used. In essence, we’ll dissect the art of the mooch.

Invite Yourself To Dinner

How to Mooch Off of Your Friends (Without Them Ever Knowing)

Nowadays, too few people like to cook. That said, you probably have a friend or two who breaks away from that norm. Invite yourself to their place during dinnertime so you can share a meal. They’ll prepare it, pay for it, and give you a portion. This way you can have a nice, home-cooked meal that costs you next to nothing.

Never ask for a meal, of course. Always ask your friend to do something and offer to travel to them. Most people who like to cook would much rather enjoy time in the kitchen than in the car or on public transport. If you travel to them frequently, they may even feel guilty despite feeding you for free. Just to make sure you 1) get a meal and 2) don’t engender any ill will, ask if you can bring any ingredients. Doing so gives you the opportunity to contribute at a very low cost. More importantly, you get to ask “will you make me dinner please?” without actually asking it. Instead, a sentence like “are you making dinner tonight, and if so can I bring anything?” makes you come off like much less of a mooch and more of a helpful friend.

Use Your Friends As Lending Libraries

How to Mooch Off of Your Friends (Without Them Ever Knowing)

You shouldn’t have to buy most video games, movies or books. You probably know a collector of each. If you want to watch a movie or play a game, you can always just ask to do it with them. If you want to watch/read/play alone, borrow it. Most people who buy media use it once and then put it on a shelf for the rest of eternity. You’re almost doing them a favour by putting it to further use, right?

Some friends like to sell their media after they’ve consumed it, so it helps to ask what they’re reading/watching/playing. That way you can (legitimately) act excited and request to borrow it when they’ve finished. Not only does this help you get what you want before they put it up for sale, but it makes you seem interested in the things they like and choose to do with their free time. If you don’t ask to borrow absolutely everything they get, too, then that interest will feel all the more genuine.

Get Free Booze

How to Mooch Off of Your Friends (Without Them Ever Knowing)

If you’ve ever hosted a serious party at your home for a significant number of people, you know you’ll get enough wine and beer to last you months. So, if you want free booze, have a party and tell everyone else to supply the alcohol. People will bring more than you need if they all think that’s required and you can save the rest for yourself.

Pro trip: invite recently married friends. Not only do people buy them alcohol, but they’ll likely have a lot left over from the wedding. Few people buy too little booze when they get married. Most have leftovers that will last them forever. If you want decent (and sometimes even awesome) wine, hard liquor, and occasionally beer, your newly-married friends will offer the best selection and generally bring more than the average guest.

This post is part of our Evil Week series at Lifehacker, where we look at the dark side of getting things done. Knowing evil means knowing how to beat it, so you can use your sinister powers for good. Want more? Check out our evil week tag page.


  • It’s quite easy to avoid some of this:

    1. If someone comes around at dinner time (uninvited) they get a hasty “hi, bye” and a door in the face. That my seem rude, but so is turning up at dinner unannounced and uninvited. Ain’t no-one gonna interrupt my din-dins. Besides, I’m kinda hit and miss with the cooking. I like to try new things, so unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much consistency. One day they could get the best meal of their lives, while the next they could potentially get food poisoning. 😐

    2. My games aren’t for lending to people. They’re for collecting dust and occasionally for me to play – eventually. I’ve made the mistake of lending things to people before, and…well, let’s just say some people don’t treat other people’s belongings with any respect.

    3. Isn’t that just a normal BYO? And it’s good manner for guests to give something to the host, even if it’s just their left over booze (assuming there is any left over). Having said that though, I really wouldn’t have a clue how the whole BYO works as I don’t drink and…generally don’t go to/hold parties… T_T

  • Oh no. No no no no no no no… No.

    Never ever lend your books. Everyone assumes it means a gift and you’ll never ever get them back unless you ask for them and if you do ask it’s likely they’ll be super offended and take that you are assuming they had no intention of returning the book (which they didn’t but now this is brought out in the open).

    If on the off chance you do get the book back more than likely it will also be bent, ruined, torn, dog eared and so on because of course it’s just a book, there are plenty more out there’ and besides, it’s not their book is it?…?

    So no. You can’t read my book. Buy your own or go to the library! This book is MINE!

  • i have a mate who could probably add about 25 more ways to be a freeloader to this list.
    -pull out your wallet at the checkout as if your actually gonna help out, with full knowledge your mate with the job will always just pay for everything anyway.
    -make sure you spend more time at other peoples houses using their power and not your own.
    -hook up to anyone elses adsl so you dont have to pay for it yourself.
    -go halves at the supermarket for dinner, even though with 3 kids your gonna be eating 4/5 of the food
    i could go on, needless to say i avoid this guy like the plague. i just wish more people would wake up to his antics.

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