A lot of things out there are free. Just ask any frugal person. Most of them would gladly rattle off a list of things they never had to pay a cent for, some of which might surprise you.
There are tons of free products and services out there, but businesses work so hard at hiding them from us. They’ve succeeded in getting us to fork over our hard-earned money for stuff we could easily get for free. It’s time to start beating them at their own game! Take a look at the following list of 30 things you should never pay for.
1. Museum visits
Why pay full price when you could get a free pass at your local library? A lot of museums also offer free admission on certain days. However, you might still have to pay to see special exhibitions.
2. Cable TV
Millions of people fork over at least $75 a month for cable TV. It’s an unnecessary expense, considering how many free movies and TV shows are available online. Local channels are still free, and with digital signals being stronger than ever, you can receive over-the-air digital television without having to pay a cent.
Borrow books from your local library. Download free audiobooks from LibriVox.org. Swap your used books at PaperBackSwap.com or TitleTrader.com. Get free eBooks at websites like Free-eBooks.net.
With a lot of recipes readily available online, why should you pay for a cookbook? You can download free cookbooks from websites like AllRecipes.com.
Paying for music has become somewhat obsolete. Internet radio services like Pandora and Spotify offer great music at no cost. You can also rent CDs from your local library.
You can choose from a huge selection of DVDs at your local library. Redbox also offers a lot of free rental codes to anyone who signs up for their Mobile Text Club.
7. Information services
Instead of paying a ridiculous fee every time you dial 411, call 1-800-FREE-411. They’ll make you listen to a 10-second ad before offering you any information you need… at absolutely no charge.
Why pay for a newspaper subscription when the Internet offers an overabundance of news for free?
There are many great free email services and clients, like Gmail, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Yahoo! Mail, so there’s no sense in paying for one that might not be just as good.
10. Higher education
If you want to expand your knowledge without getting a degree, you’re in luck. There are many free online courses and lectures from prestigious schools. For example, MIT has free online classes open to anyone in the world, and BBC offers free lessons to anyone who wants to learn a foreign language.
11. Business advice
The Small Business Administration has tons of free resources, including online courses and consulting sessions, for anyone who’s looking to start their own business.
12. Birthday meals
There are many restaurants out there that will give you a free meal on your birthday. The only catch is that you have to sign up for their mailing lists beforehand.
13. Kids’ meals
Many restaurants offer free meals to their pint-sized customers. Visit MyKidsEatFree.com to find the participating restaurants in your area.
Water isn’t technically free, because you still have to pay your water utility bill. However, tap water is still a whole lot cheaper than bottled water.
15. Job listings
Some websites actually charge job seekers to apply for jobs. Do all your job hunting on the websites that will allow you to apply for free. Chances are you’ll see the exact same job listings on both kinds of websites.
Planned Parenthood, college health clinics, county health departments, and bars are some of the many places where you can get free condoms.
17. STD testing
Many clinics and health departments all over the United States offer free STD testing. However, some of them might charge you a small fee based on your income.
18. Moving boxes
You can score used moving boxes from sites like Craigslist or FreeCycle. You can also visit local warehouses, retailers, or office buildings because they usually have a bunch of boxes they no longer need.
19. Packing supplies
Before you go out and shell out a silly sum for packing peanuts, crumple up some used newspapers and stuff them into the boxes. You can also cushion your fragile items with old sweaters or pillows.
Construction sites always have an overabundance of scrap wood, and they want you to take it all. You’re actually doing them a favor because they would’ve had to pay to dump the wood somewhere. You can also get free logs at a lumber yard.
21. Passport photos
In this age of digital cameras, it’s kind of silly to pay a drugstore to take your passport photo. Have someone use a digital camera to take your photo (while following the official passport photo guidelines), and then upload it to ePassportPhoto.com for free.
Instead of paying for a gym membership or attending pricey classes, go jogging in your neighborhood or rent exercise DVDs from your local library.
23. Real estate commissions
If you put forth enough time and effort (and list your house on ForSaleByOwner.com), you’ll have just as much chance of getting your house sold as if you had a real estate agent. However, if you’re going at it alone, it’s very important that you really know what you’re doing.
24. Travel-sized toiletries
Go on freebie websites and request free samples of soap, shampoo, and other toiletries. Your collection may take a while to complete, but it won’t cost you a cent!
25. Nursing advice
Why pay hundreds of dollars for a “lactation consultant” when you could dial a free nursing hotline offered by your local hospital or breastfeeding organization?
26. Baby food
Not only is packaged baby food pumped with preservatives and artificial flavors, it also costs money. It’s much cheaper (and healthier) to mash up or puree the food you already have around the house.
27. ATM fees
Use only ATMs that are in your bank’s surcharge-free network. If you can’t find one nearby, buy something small like a pack of gum at a supermarket and ask for cash back while checking out.
28. Basic checking accounts
Why pay for a checking account when you could use one for free? There are still a lot of banks, such as ING Direct and Ally Bank, that offer free checking and great interest rates.
29. Annual credit card fees
Your credit card company is making money by charging you interest, so why give them more money? Look into using a no-fee credit card unless you’ve determined that the annual fee will actually save you money (i.e. more cash rewards).
Don’t buy; adopt! If you adopt a pet from a shelter, you might still have to pay a low adoption fee that covers shots and care costs, but it’s for a good cause. You’re still supporting a shelter that doesn’t put a price tag on animals.