In a tough economy, you don’t need to pay $50 or more each month for online movie and TV streaming services, e-books and audiobooks, college courses and tax services. Not when you can access all of those online offerings for free.
That’s right. Some things in life really are free, and we’re not talking only access during a “free trial” period, either. When you enjoy the abundance of free online offerings, you can free up money you’d otherwise spend on costly subscriptions.
That’s more money you can put towards savings, large purchases, vacations and milestone goals like buying a house, starting a family or a securing a comfortable retirement.
Read on for some of the best freebies available online.
If you dread paying someone to prepare your income taxes, you may be able to prepare and file taxes on your own, using free tax prep software.
If you earn $73,000 or less, check out the IRS Free File Program, which uses software from tax preparation software partners. Or maybe you’d prefer the United Way’s MyFreeTaxes program, which includes both federal and state taxes. (The IRS Free File Program may also include state returns, depending on the software provider you choose).
Several well-known tax prep companies, including TurboTax and H&R Block, also offer free basic versions of their online software for federal income taxes. However, you may pay a small additional fee for state tax prep, depending on the provider.
If you aren’t comfortable preparing your own tax return, consider MyFreeTaxes first, as it offers an option to have someone else do your return online.
Many universities and colleges offer free online classes that you can audit for no credit, and some offer a verified certificate of completion for a small fee. Subjects include history, software development, physics, psychology, law, art, business and more.
Visit edX.org to browse more than 3,000 classes offered by more than 160 colleges and universities.
If your meditation ends with a mentally prepared grocery list instead of inner peace, don’t give up. Download a free meditation app such as InsightTimer, which has more than 150,000 tracks from mindfulness teachers, spiritual leaders and psychologists.
If smartphone apps and YouTube videos aren’t your thing, Harvard University’s Center for Wellness and Health Promotion offers free audio recordings on its website and guided sessions on Zoom.
Want to learn a new language without paying costly tuition or course fees?
Find links to free online programs for 48 languages — including Spanish, Chinese, French, Arabic, Farsi/Persian, Hindi, Italian and even Ancient Greek — at Open Culture, a free cultural and educational media site. Or take free courses in more than a dozen languages through Busuu or up to 40 languages through Loecsen.
If you’re not up to paying for yoga classes at a studio, you can participate from home, following along with free online videos.
For example, YouTube’s Yoga with Adriene channel has dozens of beginner and advanced yoga classes you can access on your smart TV or another device.
You don’t have to pay for fitness classes at a gym, either.
Seniors enrolled in eligible Medicare plans also have access to Silver Sneakers’ free online classes and on-demand videos for all fitness levels.
You’ll find free thousands of e-books through your local library and Amazon’s Cheap Reads for Kindle page, just to name a couple. Project Gutenberg offers more than 60,000 free e-book titles, including a vast array of literary classics.
For more options, check out “9 Sites That Offer Free E-Books.”
If you have a library card, you can gain access to free audiobooks from your local public library. Open Culture offers hundreds of free audio novels, nonfiction works and poetry by famous authors, including Mark Twain, Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman and more.
For more options, see “10 Places You Can Find Free Audiobooks.”
Streaming TV and movies
Why pay to stream movies and TV shows when you can get plenty of free streaming services, including Paramount-owned Pluto TV, Fox-owned Tubi and Amazon Freevee, which does not require a Prime subscription.
If you’re a fan of documentaries, Documentary+ offers an impressive array of films, with everything from Academy Award winners to festival picks and films with a cult following.
For plenty of other options, don’t miss “17 Streaming Services That Are Completely Free.”