21 things you can get for free
One of the best ways to become richer is to stop paying for things you could be getting for free. Here are 21, from cars to software.
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Tired of paying a $2.50 “convenience fee” for using an ATM that’s not in your bank’s network? Use an app like ATM Hunter to find a branch ATM. If you can’t find an ATM near you for a free cash withdrawal, no worries: Plenty of stores will give you cash back with no fee when you make a purchase.Skip to next paragraph
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15. Free information
Use the search feature on your smartphone, or text a business name to G-O-O-G-L-E, and you’ll get the number texted back. You can also dial free 411 (1-800-Free411). The results are sponsored by companies (you’ll have to listen to a 10-second ad), but it’s free.
16. Free scholarship search
Plenty of websites offer free searches for scholarships, such as Fastweb. There’s even a company called Free Scholarship Searches that offers links to 40 websites that offer free scholarship searches.
17. Free baggage
My wife and I went to Europe for 10 days with just one carry-on each. If we can do it, so can you. But if you insist on checking a bag, try to fly with the only two airlines that allow one free checked bag: Southwest and JetBlue. And avoid the two that slap consumers in the face by charging for carry-ons: Spirit and Allegiant.
Need to check and need to fly an airline that charges? Delta, United, and American all offer credit cards that include checked-bag fee waivers for cardholders and, in some cases, their companions.
18. Free entertainment
As we point out in 19 Tips to Save on Entertainment, your local library, parks, and universities offer lots of free fun, from books to plays to concerts. Join email lists to see what’s up. And of course, there’s the Internet, offering free games as well as articles. Just go to the website of your favorite news source.
Volunteering doesn’t cost a dime and can pay off for both you and your community. Local animal shelters, home-building groups, shelters, and food banks are always looking for volunteers. And check out volunteer opportunities at local festivals and events. By volunteering, you get to go to the event free.
19. Free water
While technically not free, tap water is about as close as you can get. If you’re concerned about water quality, buy a filter. But don’t ever pay for water at a convenience store.
20. Free telephone calls
Always calling a loved one long-distance? If you both get something like Skype, you can talk all you want without paying a dime. And with a service like Google Voice, you can get all of your cell phone calls free too.
21. Free everything else
You have something you don’t want, but it’s too valuable to throw away. You might donate it to charity, but you also might give it away at sites like Craigslist or Freecycle, a nonprofit set up to help you find free stuff and keep it out of landfills. From used furniture to sport equipment, you’ll be amazed at what people give away.
Bottom line? While the best things in life are always free, so is lots of other stuff. If you want to find some extra money in your budget, stop paying for things you could have for nothing.
Stacy Johnson is the founder and CEO of Money Talks News, a consumer/personal finance TV news feature that airs in about 80 cities as well as around the Web. This column first appeared in Money Talks News.
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