Attempting to live a more environmentally friendly life inevitably leads to efforts to be more frugal. One of the ways to spend less is not to pay for things that you can get for free. Here’s a handy list of a few ways of saving by not spending in the first place.
17 things you’re paying for that you can get for free
- One of the quickest ways to save money is to cut down on regular expenses.
- A lot of services have free alternatives.
- INSIDER rounded up a list of all the things you’re paying money for that you can get for free.
With the holiday season upon us, saving money is a priority for many people. One of the easiest ways to save money is to evaluate what things you’re paying for that you could be getting for free.
Here are 17 things you’re probably paying for that you can get for free.
You can take college-level classes for free online.
You don’t need to shell out thousands of dollars in tuition money to learn something new. Several websites provide free courses for young professionals looking to hone their marketable skills or anyone who simply wants to gain new knowledge.
For example, Coursera offers hundreds of college-level classes you can sign up for that can teach you about everything from the global financial crisis to basic HTML coding.
If you’re not interested in the traditional class setup but still want to learn, there are a number of YouTube channels that can educate you on various topics. The series Crash Course, created by YouTubers Hank and John Green, packs a massive amount of material into videos that are half the time and none of the cost of a standard university lecture.
Use a bank that doesn’t have checking-account fees.
If you’re housing your money in a checking account with a major international bank, you’re probably paying for it. The fee is sometimes waived if you maintain a certain balance, but this isn’t the only option to store your money.
There are a number of banks and credit unions that provide totally free checking accounts for their customers, without requiring a minimum balance.
You don’t have to pay for books if you check them out from your local library.
In the United States, it’s usually less than $5 or even free to acquire a library card. Once you have this card, you have instant access to thousands of book titles, magazines, and news publications in your local public library.
All you need is proof of residency to acquire a library card in your home country. If you live in most parts of Europe, you don’t even need that to get access to a lifetime of reading material. If you prefer to do your reading on an electronic device, the Gutenberg Project features a catalog with more than 57,000 free e-books.
You can get free file storage by using Google Drive or another free cloud-storage option.
If you’re tired of paying for USB sticks and external hard drives to house your photos, you’re in luck. Google Drive allows up to 15GB of file storage for free, as long as you have a Google account. Alternatively, Dropbox gives users 2GB of free file storage and allows you to sync stored items easily between your desktop and smartphone.
Word-processing, image-editing, and visual-presentation software is free with Google’s G Suite or OpenOffice.
Software for word processing, spreadsheets, photo editing, and video can cost anywhere from $6.99 a month to $50 a month. Google currently offers similar services that are free for anyone with a Gmail account.
If you’re looking for something that works without a network connection, Open Office is free to download, and their interface is comparable to paid office software. For people who want all the fun of photo-editing software without the price tag, GIMP is a comparable alternative.
You can take advantage of free liability insurance on rental cars if you book with certain credit cards.
When you’re far away from home, it’s easy to feel nervous about not adding the insurance the rental-car agent swears you need. But if you book their service with certain credit cards, you’re already covered.
Creditcards.com has a list of some credit cards that offer this money-saving perk.
Listen to your favorite tunes for free by using a streaming application.
As long as you have an internet connection, you can listen to music whenever you want on Spotify at no cost. Although the free version has ads and is limited to shuffle play on the mobile app, the platform provides a wide range of artists and playlists to suit your genre preferences.
Similarly, YouTube Music boasts a massive catalogue of music that’s available for free listening with ads.
You don’t need to pay for a major phone carrier’s services to make calls.
While the number of people paying for landline phones has declined, the majority of households have added cell service to their monthly expenditures. With more and more communication happening over text, email, and social media, the need to pay for voice calling isn’t totally necessary. Google Voice allows you to make free, domestic calls and texts from your computer, android, or iOS device.
You can avoid paying for long-distance calls by using WhatsApp or Skype.
Unless you’re paying to have international calling on your phone plan, it’s going to cost you extra to contact someone abroad.
The biggest difference between the two is Skype gives you a username, whereas Whatsapp uses your phone number.
You can feed your kids for free by eating at certain restaurants.
A night out with the family can become quite costly. Thankfully, there are a lot of restaurants that offer free dining for kids, as long as you’re careful about picking which day you go. Applebee’s, Denny’s, IHOP, Chevy’s, Pizza Hut, Uno’s, and Chick-fil-A all provide free kid meals one day a week or more.
You can enjoy free attractions and entertainment while traveling if you plan ahead.
Depending on where you like to travel, excursions can take up a huge portion of your vacation expenses — but there are many free forms of entertainment that you can take advantage of. Many museums in the US offer free admission on certain days of the week. If you are a student, you may be able to enter for free no matter what day it is, as long as you have a photo ID.
You don’t have to pay money to file your taxes if you learn how to do them on your own.
While using these paid services can be beneficial, they aren’t absolutely necessary for filing taxes. If you head over to the IRS web page, they have a guide to income taxes that includes instructions on how to file for free.
You don’t have to pay baggage fees if you book with certain airlines and join certain loyalty programs.
While carry-on luggage is free on most major airline carriers, checked bags can get quite expensive.
The good news is that some airlines don’t charge a fee to check a bag, depending on where you’re going. Southwest Airlines currently allows its passengers to bring two checked bags at no cost. Aer Lingus also gives its customers baggage privileges: Currently, they allow passengers to check one bag that weighs up to 20 kilograms for free on transatlantic flights. Air Canada also offers one free checked bag for passengers flying from the US to Europe via Canada.
It’s worth looking into your favorite airline’s loyalty program to see if they’ll cover baggage fees. Many of them do once you reach a certain status or earn a certain number of air miles. For instance, Delta airlinesoffers one free checked bag for patrons who use their signature SkyMiles credit card.
You can get travel-sized versions of your favorite beauty products if you ask for samples.
If you consider the price per ounce of some of those grab-and-go items in the travel section of the drug store, you’re not getting much for your dollar. At Target, a full sized bottle of Micellar cleansing water costs only $0.51 per ounce, whereas the 3.4-ounce travel size costs $1.17 per ounce.
That number is even higher if you’re buying mini bottles of premium hair and face products.
Instead of dropping $5 to $15 on a mini bottle of your favorite face cream, ask the sales representative at the beauty counter if you can have a sample next time you’re out shopping. Sephora, Ulta, Nordstrom, and The Body Shop reportedly give out one free sample per visit if you ask.
You can attend your favorite music festivals for free if you volunteer.
At some of the major music festivals, if you volunteer, you get to attend for free. Alive, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo are just a few examples of big music events that cover admission fees for people who work the festival.
While you won’t be able to experience the entire festival, you’ll still have enough downtime to check out some great acts without paying a dime.
You can get a furry friend for free if you go the adoption route.
There are millions of pets that are either abandoned or displaced because of natural disasters or other emergencies. Although adopting a pet is never completely free because you have to pay for shots, by not paying a premium for the pedigree, you’ll save a ton of money.
When you buy a new puppy, you can expect to pay up to $1,000 just to call them your own. If you adopt from a shelter, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $500 with spaying, neutering, and shots provided.
If you check your local SPCA or animal shelter, there’s a good chance they host an occasional event where they waive adoption fees completely.