Photo: Flickr / Aranami
We love “free” stuff, whether it’s an autograph after a concert, a towel to wave during football games, or chocolates on a hotel pillow.Sure, we paid for the tickets and the hotel room, but nevertheless, the extras were “free” – and that feels good.
But in recent years, freebies from no-fee checking to in-flight meals have vanished.
So what types of goods and services now require that we pay a pretty penny? And what can we do to make sure we get these items as cheaply as possible? Here are some things to consider.
Many restaurants now charge a delivery fee, usually anywhere from $1.50 to as much as $6. Then you're expected to tip the delivery person on top of that.
How to save: Simply ask if there's a delivery fee before placing your order. If so, consider doing take-out, or call another restaurant that offers free delivery.
Today, charges abound -- from monthly fees to overdraft and ATM fees. Some banks have even charged for talking to a teller.
According to Bankrate's 2011 Checking Account Survey, only 45 per cent of non-interest checking accounts were free and maintenance fees averaged $4.37 last year, up from $2.49 in 2010. The average ATM withdrawal fee for a noncustomer was $2.40.
How to save: Comparison-shop for checking accounts, just like you would for, say, a new flat-screen TV. Ask about hidden fees to make the most informed decision.
Also limit ATM withdrawals to the financial institution where you hold that account.
Sure, there's still plenty of news out there for free, but today, 20 per cent of U.S. newspapers require readers to pay to access online content, according to Mashable.
How to save: If the news outlet that you can't live without has a paywall, keep an eye out for special promotions to reduce monthly or annual fees.
Trash removal is certainly something we wouldn't want to pay for, and often, it's included in your property taxes.
But in some areas, that's changing.
According to a survey of 70 Indiana cities conducted by Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman, 46 of those cities have a trash fee, while only 24 have no fee.
How to save: Unfortunately, there's not much you can do if your city charges for trash removal. However, if you bring your own cans and bottles to a recycling centre, perhaps your refund can help offset your city's fee.
There was a time when gas station attendants would pump your gas and clean your windshield for free.
Today, this complimentary service is nearly gone, with the exception of New Jersey and Oregon, where state laws prohibit self-service.
Often, you'll even have to pay to pump air into your tires.
How to save: Since gas stations aren't exactly rolling out white-glove service these days, focus on navigating the car-wash scene instead to find the best deal.
As if college tuition wasn't high enough -- the average in-state tuition at public colleges is $8,244 a year, according to the College Board -- schools are increasingly charging extra fees for fitness facilities, parking garages, or even campus health services.
Some public elementary and high schools have jumped on the bandwagon too, doling out fees for extracurricular activities and lab or course activities. Even field trip costs are on the rise in some schools.
How to save: Ask if a specific fee can be waived if you're not going to use the service.
Back in the day, you weren't charged for calling directory assistance. Today, calling or texting your carrier's 411 service could cost you a couple bucks.
How to save: Look a phone number up for free online or do it the old-fashioned way: the phone book.
Today, you often have to pay a fee just to pay your bill -- over the phone, that is. For example, DirecTV charges $5 and Verizon charges $3.50 for over-the-phone payments.
How to save: Pay online or send a check by mail. If you sign up for paperless billing, you'll eliminate the cost of a stamp each month.
If you tend to forget to pay your bill till the last minute, put reminders on your calendar or make your online payments automatic.
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