The possibilities are nearly endless. I earned a good half my PDUs through free resources.
Now before I list my suggestions, I do need to make a caveat. This March (2011), PMI updated their PDU guidelines and condensed their categories. I'm still coming up to speed on them, but from what I've studied so far, most of the suggestions still apply.
Self Directed Learning: Up to 30 PDUs can be gained this way.
- Reading articles, books, or instructional manuals; watching videos, using interactive CD-ROMs, Podcasts or other source material. I highly recommend Cornelius Fitcher's PM Podcast. He's a great interviewer and covers excellent topics.
- Having formal discussions with colleagues, coworkers, clients or consultants. Most chapters have networking events. In the Silicon Valley there are breakfast sessions where PMs meet and discuss various topics. 1 PDU for the price of a cheep IHOP breakfast and you get to talk with other PMs.
-Being coached or mentored by a colleague, coworker or consultant (If you
served as a coach or mentor to someone else. (Remember, you need to be able to be audited on this.)
Creating New Project Management Knowledge: Authoring books, published articles, podcasts. Giving a webinar, speech, being an SME in a panel discussion.
Voluteer Service: Pretty much any service to your PMI chapter. Doing project work for a Non-Profit
Being a project manager: And the reward for the easiest PDUs is the 15 PDU you can earn for doing your job. If you hold a job as a PM, you can earn up to 15 PDUs.
With three years to earn your PDUs it is completely possible to earn 100% of your PDUs without paying one cent.
If anyone would like specific suggestions for any of these categories, feel free to contact me directly.