17 things you're paying for that you can actually get for free

Yulia Grigoryeva/ShutterstockDon’t waste money on things you can actually 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 actually get for free.

With the holiday season already 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 already paying for that you could be getting for free.

INSIDER found out 17 things that you’re probably paying for that you can actually get for free instead.


You can take college-level classes for free online.

iStockLearn something new 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 and for anyone who simply wants to gain some new knowledge.

For example, Coursera currently offers hundreds of college-level classes that you can sign up for which 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, produced by YouTuber Hank Green, packs a massive amount of material into videos that are half the amount of time as a standard university lecture, and at literally no cost to viewers.


Use a bank that doesn’t have checking account fees to avoid paying for those services.

WAYHOME studio/ShutterstockThere are banks that won’t charge you for storing your own money.

If you’re housing your money in a checking account with major international banks, you’re probably paying for it. Many banks charge their customers monthly fees for having a checking account. Occasionally, this fee is waived if you maintain a certain balance but this isn’t the only option if you don’t want to pay to store your own 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.

Getty Images / Thomas LohnesLibraries are free.

In the United States, it’s usually less than $US5 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 an electronic device, the Gutenberg Project features a catalogue with more than 57,000 free ebooks.


You can get free file storage by using Google Drive or another free cloud storage option.

filumx/ShutterstockYou don’t need a USB to house your photos.

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.


You can pick up some free furniture by using your social media accounts.

PexelsCheck out online marketplaces to find people giving away their stuff for free.

Check out your local Marketplace page and you’ll encounter plenty of posts that feature people giving away their furniture for free. What sets this apart from Craigslist, which also has a solid free stuff section, is that it provides you with posts from people in your immediate location.

Make sure to be cautious when using free, online marketplaces, however, and take someone with you when picking up in a public place, as well as letting someone know where you’ll be.


Word processing, image editing, and visual presentation software is free with Google Suite and Open Office.

FlickrYou can use office software for free.

Word processing, spreadsheet, photo editing, and video software can cost anywhere from $US6.99 a month to $US50 per 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.

Soloviova Liudmyla/ShutterstockEnjoy your rental car without any insurance worry.

When you’re far away from home, it’s easy to feel nervous about not adding on that insurance the rental car agent swears you need. Well, if you book their service with certain credit cards, you’re actually already covered.

Creditcards.com has a list of some credit cards that offer this money-saving perk.


Listen to your favourite tunes for free by using a streaming application.

ShutterstockYou can use Spotify for free.

As long as you have an internet connection, Spotify’s free version, with ads, can bring you music whenever you want, at no cost. Although you are limited to shuffle play on the free version, the platform provides a wide range of 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.

ShutterstockVoice calling isn’t as necessary anymore.

Although 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 provides you with a free number allows you to make domestic calls and texts from your computer, android, or iOS device.


You can avoid paying long distance calling fees by using WhatsApp or Skype.

MicrosoftSkype is a great way to catch up with friends for free.

Unless you’re paying to have international calling on your phone plan, it’s going to cost you extra to contact someone abroad.

WhatsApp is a free messenger application that allows users to make international calls free of charge. Skype is a video, text, and voice chat software that offers similar services.

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.

Shutterstock/Rawpixel.comLots of restaurants offer free dining for kids.

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 travelling if you plan ahead.

Flickr/francisco_osorioMuseums and art galleries are often free.

Depending on where you like to travel, excursions can take up a huge portion of your vacation expenses. There are, however, many free forms of entertainment that you can take advantage of. Many museums in the US offer free admission depending on the day 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.

Make sure to research other free attractions right where you are.


You don’t have to pay money to file your taxes if you learn how to do them on your own.

WAYHOME studio/ShutterstockUse a guide to income taxes for free.

In the US, a tax professional can cost upwards $US200 US dollars, depending on where you live, and some of the guided software programs can cost $US70.

While using these paid services can be beneficial, they aren’t absolutely necessary for filing taxes. If you head over 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.

Ekaterina Pokrovsky/ShutterstockSome airlines don’t charge a fee to check your bags.

While carry-on luggage is generally free on most major airline carriers, checked bags can get quite expensive.

The good news is some airlines do not charge a fee to check a bag depending on where you’re going. Southwest Airlines currently allows its passengers to bring two bags of checked luggage at no cost. Aer Lingus is also granting 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 favourite airline’s loyalty program to see if they will cover baggage fees. Many of them do once you reach a certain status, or earn a certain number of air miles. For instance, Delta airlines offers one free checked bag for its patrons that use their signature Skymiles credit card.


You can get travel-sized versions of your favourite beauty products if you ask for samples.

Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesTravel-size products are more expensive.

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 51 cents per ounce, whereas the 3.4-ounce travel size costs $US1.17 per ounce.

That number is even higher if you’re buying mini bottles of premium hair and face products.Instead of dropping $US5 to $US15 dollars on a mini bottle of your favourite 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 favourite music festivals for free if you volunteer.

Theo Wargo/Getty ImagesVolunteer at a festival for free.

If you volunteer at some of the major music festivals, 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.

Capuski/iStockYou can save a ton of money by adopting a pet.

There are millions of pets that are either abandoned or displaced due to natural disasters or other emergencies. Although adopting a pet is technically not completely free because you have to pay for shots, by not paying a premium for the pedigree, you’re saving a ton of money.

When you buy a new puppy, you can expect to pay up to $US1,000 just to call them your own. If you adopt from a shelter, you can expect to pay anywhere from $US50 to $US500 with spaying, neutering, and shots provided.

If you check your local SPCA or animal shelter, there’s a good chance they host the occasional event where they waive adoption fees completely.VisitINSIDER’s homepagefor more.

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