So much money and energy is wasted on things we could get for free. If you’re into new, shiny things and collecting stuff, this is not for you. But if you want less clutter in your life and want to keep more of your money, then check out these 15 things you shouldn’t be paying for.
Basic Computer Software — Thinking of purchasing a new computer? Think twice before you fork over the funds for a bunch of extra software. There are some great alternatives to the name brand software programs. The most notable is OpenOffice, the open-source alternative to those other guys. It’s completely free and files can be exported in compatible formats.
Your Credit Report — You don’t have to pay for your credit report. You could sign up for one of the free credit monitoring services online to get a quick look at your credit report. You just have to remember to cancel the service before the end of the free trial. Or you could do one better and visit www.annualcreditreport.com, the only truly free place to see all three of your credit reports for free once a year.
Cell Phone — The service plan may be expensive, but the phone itself doesn’t have to cost a thing. Most major carriers will give you a free phone, even a free smart phone, with a two-year contract.
Books — There’s a cool place in your town that’s renting out books for free: the library. Remember that place? Stop by and put your favorite book on reserve. And if you don’t feel like getting out, visit www.paperbackswap.com and find your books there (small shipping fees apply).
Water — Besides the monthly utility bill, there’s no reason to shell out $1 for every bottle of water you drink. Bottled water is so last decade anyway. We’re over it, and into tap, filters, and reusable water bottles. It’s cheaper for you and better for the environment.
Credit Card — With as many credit cards as there are available on the market today, it’s easy to avoid a credit card with an annual fee. Unless you’re dead set on a particular perk that a fee card brings, skip the annual fee card and pocket that money yourself.
[Why Spending Less Can Make You Happier]
Debt Reduction Help — Speaking of credit cards, if you’re in over your head with credit card help, there are many free sources you can turn to for help with your debt. No one is going to be able to magically wipe away your debts, but there is help out there that will set you up on a debt reduction plan you can handle. Start with a visit to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Basic Tax Preparation — If your tax situation isn’t that complicated, then you should probably be preparing your own tax return using one of the many free online services. It’s now common for e-filing to be free as well with many services. You won’t even need a stamp.
The News — Leave it to a blogger to try and kill off traditional print. I’m not anti-newspaper. I just don’t find them practical anymore. Skip the daily .50 cents and get your news online. And for you dedicated coupon clippers, you can get most of your Sunday coupons online now too.
Budgeting Tools — There are many budgeting tools (both online and desktop) that offer up the service for free. Don’t ask me how they do this, but who cares. If you’re looking to reign in some of your spending, the good news is you can do it for free.
Pets — This is a controversial one, I know. But there are likely many pets down at your local animal shelter that could use just as much love as the pure-bred types. There may be a small fee due to the shelter for shots and basic care, but you’ll have your pet home without paying a mini-fortune.
Shipping — If you like to buy online, you probably use coupons to get a percentage off of your purchase. Take your skills to the next level and look for coupons or promotion codes that offer free shipping. If in doubt, visit a site like www.freeshipping.org.
[Get Out of Debt the Right Way]
Checking Account — Isn’t it nice when a bank takes your money, lends it out to earn money, and then has the audacity to charge you for the service? What a joke. Checking should be free. If yours isn’t free then move to one of the many banks that offers a checking account for free. And the same can be said for ATM fees, teller fees, and checks.
DVD Rentals — Did you know that you can rent DVDs from RedBox locations for $1 a night? And better yet, if you use one of the coupon codes from www.insideredbox.com you can avoid the $1 charge. Free DVD rentals! Most libraries now have free DVD rental as well.
Exercise — Skip the expensive gym memberships and get an homemade ab machine. Visit your local park for a walk or run. Do basic push-up and sit-up programs in your living room. Rent a workout DVD from the library. There are many free workout programs you can download online as well.
Can you think of any other things you should be getting for free? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.