Every few months Linden Lab has a sale on Premium membership that is actually worth more money in lindens (inworld currency) than it costs. The current sale goes until April 24th, so now is the time to go for it. Sign up for a 3 month Premium membership now for $ 11.50, get $L 300/ week in spending money (about $ 15 worth of lindens) and be sure to drop down to the free Basic Membership before your 3 months is up. If you sign up a couple alts at the same time, you can easily afford to rent a place inworld and thus help support a sim you like. You can also afford to join groups that have a small join fee and buy a few sale items from creators you like.
While you’re Premium, you can join up to 60 groups. When you go back to Basic Membership, you don’t lose the groups you’ve already joined, so join up to 60 groups for free group gifts and places where you can rez and unpack packages. If you want nice skin for free, I highly suggest joining 7 Deadly Skins. They don’t make great ethnic skins, but for Caucasian skin, they’re very good and make appliers for the most popular mesh bodies and heads as well. Once you join, hit their Midnight Madness and Mini Mania boards, try their lucky chairs, grab their monthly Group Gifts, and do their various hunts and holiday events. I think the group is currently free to join, but the group join fee will probably go back to a few hundred lindens after April. If you have a female avatar, it’s pretty easy to find nice group freebies, but 7 Deadly Skins is one of the few stores that has frequent free quality skins for male avatars as well as for female ones.
Above is one example of their male skins. Remember that these will look different on different body shapes, so if you use your own body shape, you won’t look exactly like the guys in the pictures.
For nice free female mesh hair, one of my favorite shops is Lelutka. Grab their free color demos, then join their group and pick up their free group gifts. Their color demos are fully wearable, without any “demo” signs, have color-change HUDs, and can be tinted by right clicking and calling up the Edit texture menu.
Finally, for free female mesh clothes, join the Legendaire VIP group. It’s only $L 99 now, which gets you a bunch of free mesh outfits with texture-change HUDs, as well as new outfits every month. These are similar styles with similar HUDs as LaVian & Co. used to sell (because the owner of Legendaire used to be partnered with the owner of LaVian & Co. and uses the same texture-change HUD system). ( LaVian & Co. is no longer inworld and is now only available on Marketplace.)