10 Things People Buy They Should Get Free

Your mom always told you that money doesn’t grow on trees. She’s right, but then if you don’t waste it, maybe you don’t need one anyway.

There are plenty of free things you can pluck from the web as well as from libraries, parks, banks and other businesses. Here’s a look at more than a half dozen valuable freebies:

First, take a look at the this recent news story Stacy turned in, then I’ll provide more details.

Here’s another look at that list, along with a few more.

  1. Free checking. Last week we wrote an article about how, at many banks, free checking was soon to become fee checking. But plenty of banks still offer free checking accounts. SunTrust, for example, offers a free plan with no minimum balance required. And you get free online and ATM service too. Wachovia and U.S. Bank still have their own version of free accounts. Chase even offers $100 for opening such an account. Indeed, a host of banks and savings and loans offer free checking. So far. When you’re looking for lower fees, including free checking, always to look to smaller local banks and credit unions.
  2. Free credit reports. You can go to AnnualCreditReport.com for a free look at your credit history once a year. If the Financial Regulatory Reform bill passes, you might also one day get a look at your credit score. Read about other changes ahead here.
  3. Free cash. 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 use your ATM card to make even a small purchase. You can buy a candy bar or a Diet Coke and get back up to $100 in cash from Wal-Mart. Target will give you back $40 if you use your ATM card for a purchase. Grocery stores also offer cash back. And then there are iPhone and other apps that will help you locate ATMs: Here’s one.
  4. Free information calls. Bing 411 (1-800-BING-411 or 1-800-CALL-411) allows you to find local shops and restaurants, as well as get driving directions, traffic reports, sports scores, stock quotes, and weather reports.1-800-FREE411 allows you to get any number, business or residential, in exchange for listening to a brief ad.
  5. 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. And check out our story, 6 Tips to Pay Less for a College Degree
  6. Free baggage. Sure, nearly all airlines are charging to check baggage but at least one doesn’t: Southwest. And remember carrying on bags is still free, except for on Spirit Airlines.
  7. Free entertainment. Your local library and parks offer lots of free fun, from books to movies to concerts. Join their e-mail list to see what’s up. And of course, there’s the Internet, offering free games as well as magazine and newspaper articles. Just go to the website of your favorite periodical.
  8. 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.
  9. Free TV. Thanks to sites like Hulu, you can now watch many popular television shows online for free. If your favorite shows are free on the web, why pay for cable or satellite? Check out You Don’t Have to Pay for Cable TV for more.
  10. Free telephone calls. Services like Skype and AIM let you communicate with other users for free. Always calling a loved one long distance? If you both get copies of 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.

That’s a few quick ideas, but we know there are dozens more. Share your favorite and help make this list even better.

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Comments & discussion

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  • http://twitter.com/suziesavings Suzie Savings

    Free labor: interns!

  • SharoHill

    Shopping through cash back websites is a great option for saving money when shopping online. Being a thrifty online buyer, I always use cash back websites like ShopAtHome, AAfter Search and Ebates, and MrRebates.

  • Trishymouse

    nice ideas but some things like water isn't always so easy if you live in isolated rural area and all you have is hard water that stinks like rotten eggs and tastes not much better…it's tested safe, but it highly unpalatable. filters don't do enough. we HAVE to buy bottled water and haul it miles to home…showering is like showering in rotten eggs…fun fun :(

    • A. H. Betts 2

      The “rotten egg” odor is nothing but dissolved H2S -hydrogen sulphide- run a couple of gallons in an open
      large pot and let it stand for a few hours. The H2S will evaporate and the water will taste fine.

  • Baracus33

    Then move if you don't like the smell, nobody said you had to live there.

  • terry

    that rotten egg smell is from the sulfur in the water.

  • Sdtrsmith

    Have you ever thought of boiling your water then chilling it. I do and it has been the best thing for me. The cost goes up just a little bit because I have to use my stove, but the health benefits are wonderful and well worth it. I have noticed clearer skin, but bowl movements and increase energy, just to name a few. I use to buy bottled water all the time and since I have been drinking steril water I have saved money and again my health has become better.

  • Sdtrsmith

    Have you ever thought of boiling your water then chilling it. I do and it has been the best thing for me. The cost goes up just a little bit because I have to use my stove, but the health benefits are wonderful and well worth it. I have noticed clearer skin, but bowl movements and increase energy, just to name a few. I use to buy bottled water all the time and since I have been drinking steril water I have saved money and again my health has become better.

  • Sdtrsmith

    I meant better not but bowl movements.

  • Sdtrsmith

    I meant better not but bowl movements.

  • Healthfood

    Be aware. Public libraries are pathetically underfunded. Funding has been cut on federal, state, and local levels to the point where many small branch libraries are closeing their doors. Do not look to your library for free entertainment and services. They are no longer able to provide them. So sad when there is so much money spent on special interests. The library is for everyone. Support your public library.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, all the special interests going to the ILLEGAL ALIENS and others…… thank you liberal democrats.

      Impeach Obama!  Vote GOP in 20121 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OGOF5WGYYHBQDVAX7NPNGKLFMU Gr8 White

    This article forgets 1 thing. Sex should be free too and you don't have to pay for. =)

  • nanaverm

    Volunteer to usher for local stage productions, and get to see the plays/performances for free!

  • nanaverm

    Volunteer to usher for local stage productions, and get to see the plays/performances for free!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paula-Belliveau/100000826435347 Paula Belliveau

    Some libraries are only open 1 day a week because of cut backs on funding.

  • http://profiles.google.com/corneillepeaslee Corneille Peaslee

    Ally Bank is the new bank that is completely virtual with free checking, money market savings and CD accounts with ridiculous high interest yields. Since they don’t have any branches they allow to have all your ATM transactions from any ATM in the world for FREE and if one fee does slip in you can fax them your ATM voucher and they’ll reimburse that fee for you. They are great for international travel too. Where I was spending about $8 per ATM and bank fees for international withdrawal now I spend only 0 to get some cash. You also pay 0.08% on international purchase transactions as opposed to 3% with any other bank. Free incoming transfers and wires as well as rock bottom prices on outgoing ones. Also, you can just send them a scanned picture of your paycheck and they’ll deposit it for you for free saving you time stamps and envelopes.

    I also like Copa Airlines and Avianca Airlines if you are traveling to South America. Their prices vary by the season but the good thing is that when one is expensive during a season the other is cheap on that same season. Oh and I forgot. FREE LUGGAGE up to two suitcases and 50lbs. max. They are also pet friendly!

    There I contributed by 2 cents!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CONCEGFUAAZLZCE3AG3YXIVVKY M T

    CABLE TV FOR FREE!  Yes, no joke.  If you have an HDTV, and already have high-speed internet via the cable company (like Cox), you do not need their (or any) digital cable box to receive basic and expanded cable tv programs.  Your HDTV (virtually all that have been manufactured in the last few years) already has the capabilty to decipher the digital program signals that share the same line that your high-speed internet comes in on.  A few downsides: your channels won’t follow the same program guide put out by the cable company (i.e., instead of NBC being channel 4 it may be channel 35-2; history channel is 89-10, etc.).  So then you just scroll through all the channels w/ your remote & make your own program guide.  Just like regular cable, you will soon memorize your favorite channel numbers anyway.  Another downside is that since you won’t have a cable box, you can’t order pay-per-view or on-demand, and can’t get the premium pay channels (HBO, Showtime, etc.).  Also you can’t get high-def, but most of these HDTV’s already have good enough pictures that I never paid the extra they wanted for it when I was paying for cable anyway.  I know all this for a fact ‘cuz I decided to cancel my cable when Cox raised the expanded basic rate some 17%, but kept my high-speed internet through them.  Brought them back their cable box, & my kids got home from school, turned on the tv, & found that we still had a signal!  I was half expecting some trickery on my forthcoming Cox bills, but I only get billed now for the high-speed internet; cable tv is no longer charged, saving me $50/mo.!  Eventually I’m sure they will implement something to prevent this, but for now it works for me!

  • Anonymous

    you talked about 1-800-goog-411. here’s another 1-800-free-411

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B3VSHG7MTIKFPK5NJ6QDKBA3RM Louigi

    I LIKE the boil then chill water!  My tap water ceates slime in a glass left on the sink, so I don’t drink it unless it’s boiled and in instant coffee or tea.  Good idea!  Haven’t tried Skype, but it’s on my list!  Thanks!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EIBDQJQOPG7VGLRPLRNECKDTLE Barbara

    Patrons at our library can reserve a pass for free or greatly reduced admission for 2 to 4 people at area museums and attractions such as Mystic Seaport, Roger Williams Zoo, etc. We also have a gallery at our library with (free) exhibitions that change monthly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Louise-Price/1506365673 Louise Price

    When I tried to view my credit report, they asked for my credit card number.  That’s not free if I have to go back and cancel a subscrition to their service and it’s a subscription I don’t won’t.

    • Steven

      Be sure to use annualcreditreport…not the annoying commercialed freecreditreport.com…I’ve used annualcreditreport.com for years and have never paid them a dime…

      • Anonymous

        You can get the credit report only.  it won’t give you your credit score.  That’s not to say looking the report is not valuable.  It is and you an catch mistakes.