Recently, Yahoo! Finance highlighted an article that listed 15 things you shouldn’t be paying for.
Here is their list along with my take on these expenses:
Basic Computer Software
I hardly ever pay for software anymore. There are so many free versions of most popular software – open source, online versions, and extensions of free trials can greatly reduce your software expenses!
Also, if you are a student, the computer lab may have those programs installed, or available for free downloads for students.
If you must pay for software, be sure to check for student versions, or see if you can survive with reduced features (if there is more than one version, the cheaper one may be sufficient).
Your Credit Report
You do not always have to pay for a copy of your credit report! As I wrote when covering the Credit CARD Act of 2009:
“The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (or FACT – isn’t our government clever?) Act of 2003 gives consumers the right to obtain a free copy of their credit report once every twelve months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).”
So, you are allowed a free report once a year from each of the three main reporting agencies. This means that you can view your credit report 3 times a year without paying a dime!
Of course, if you want access to your score or monitoring services, you’ll probably have to pay.
Yes, it’s true that many carriers will give you a free phone (even some smart phones) if you sign a 2-year contract; However, most people are more concerned with the expensive monthly bills. A little while ago we covered exactly how to cut your cell phone expenses.
The library is a great place to rent books. They will have magazines, reference materials, textbooks and other scholarly works, and even bestsellers. Just about every book that has ever been sold has also sat on the shelf of a public library!
If your library doesn’t carry a particular book – or it isn’t available in their network, you can always find it for next to nothing at Amazon.com!
Bottled water is one of the greatest ripoffs of the century! Plain old tap water has to go through much more regulation and testing then the bottled variety. If you need it to be portable, just pickup an environmentally-friendly, reusable bottle with a filter.
The article was mainly dealing with annual fees, which is definitely something that can easily be avoided. However, reducing your credit card expenses is something that everyone can do as well.
Debt Reduction Help
Before deciding to pay for debt management help, the article suggests “start[ing] with a visit to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.” Also, if you just need a few tips to help dig yourself out from a mountain of debt, be sure to check out our Debt Management section, or contact us.
Basic Tax Preparation
The IRS maintains a list of services that offer free electronic filing of your federal tax return (there is usually a fee for adding your state taxes). However, if your tax situation is anything more than “basic”, visit our Tax Guide and contact us to schedule an appointment for Tax Preparation.
If you would like to prepare your own taxes with desktop software, here is a good list to choose from.
Since just about everything you find in a newspaper is available for free online, there is no need to pay for it. Most towns/counties have websites where they announce everything from school closings to road construction and everything in between. However, if you use coupons, it is probably worth it to purchase at least the Sunday paper. Keep in mind that many coupons can be found online and you should check our Coupon Database before buying the paper, just to be sure you need it.
There is a decent amount of budgeting and expense tracking software out there that you can get for free. In looking at tracking your expenses in order to create a budget, I highlighted several of them.
At my last job I met a number of animal lovers. It was there that I learned about the abundance of animal shelters that allow you to adopt pets for a minimal charge (usually to help cover the expenses of caring for the animals).
Free shipping is one of the features that made Amazon.com the king of online retailers. Any order over $25 directly from Amazon ships for free. Also, if you are a member of Amazon Prime (free to students), you qualify for free 2-day shipping. Also, check out www.freeshipping.org for over 2400 sites that offer free shipping.
Although I don’t share the author’s disdain for banks being able to make a profit, I do hate paying for checking! There are physical banks and credit unions that still offer free checking, so don’t settle for an account that you have to pay for.
Also, many online banks offer free checking, and will also provide free access to your money via extensive ATM networks.
Most of us have seen those RedBox DVD rental kiosks around, however, the article also highlighted this fact, ” if you use one of the coupon codes from www.insideredbox.com you can avoid the $1 charge”! Also, don’t neglect your local library when it comes to free DVD (and CD) rentals!
There are plenty of exercises that you can do around the house. Also, jogging or walking in a park (preferably before dark) is a great alternative to an expensive gym package. Oh, don’t forget about those free DVD rentals – pick up a workout video!
What are some things that you used to pay for that you now get for free?
photo credit: RambergMediaImages