Save More Money: Stop Paying For These Things That Are Free

Matthew Conn Money Mastery Leave a Comment

Save more money

Have you ever bought a product or service only to find it on sale a short time later? I know I have and it drives my crazy! 

Well, imagine how you’d feel if you bought that item only to realize that you could have had it for free!

How would you feel then?

Well, you’re about to find out! 

Reading this article may greatly upset you when you realize you have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on something you could have been receiving for free.

However, I don’t want you to read this article with that frame of mind. After all, what will that achieve? NOTHING POSITIVE.

Instead, read this article with a glass half full frame of mind. Read it with the frame of mind that it will save you a lot of money in the coming months and years.

Now, not all items on this list will come as a surprise to you. For example, I’m sure you know you can get the 1st item on this list for free. But I’m equally sure that you’ve paid for the 1st item on this list at some point when you could have had it for free.

When reading this article, if you have paid for an item on the list, STOP and ask yourself why you paid for that item. You’ll find out at the end why I want you to do this.

So, let’s show you how you can save more money by not buying the following things that are FREE.

 

Save More Money, Things That Are Free #1: Bottled Water

Americans drink an average of 58 gallons of bottled water a year.

At an average retail price of $2 for a 16.9 oz / 500 ml bottle of water, the average person spends $1044 a year on bottled water. Some places like fancy restaurants, clubs, and entertainment venues sell water for as much as $4 a bottle. Conversely, wholesale cases of bottled water from stores like Costco retail for as little as 30 cents a bottle.

The average price of tap water in the U.S. is $1.50 for 1,000 gallons. This means 58 gallons of tap water costs less than 10 cents.

When you compare the cost of 58 gallons of tap water to 58 gallons of bottled water,

Bottled water has a 180,000% markup! So why should you pay over $1000 a year on bottled water when you can get it for free by bottling it from your own tap? 

You shouldn’t! Unless the tap water in your area is not safe to drink.

But Wait! While some bottled water may be slightly better than the municipal variety, in other cases it’s the same or worse and may even contain harmful contaminants according to a study by a non-profit Environmental Working Group.

Furthermore, The Federal Environmental Protection Agency says some bottled water is nothing more than tap water, some of it filtered, some of it not. Similarly, Consumer Reports did their own investigation and found that 47% of bottled water sold in the United States is purified tap water from local municipal water supplies. 

Purified tap water is tap water that has been treated to remove any chemicals and pathogens. Want to know where some of the most popular brands of bottled water come from and if they are simply purified tap water? You can check the label on the bottle or click here.

The important point is, if you have safe drinking water in your area it’s perfectly fine to drink from the tap. If you are unsure or don’t trust your local municipalities water tests, test the water yourself. There are many inexpensive water testing kits and services that you can find on the Internet. You can also consider buying a tap water filter such as a Brita water filter.

One thing is for sure…

Drinking or bottling water from your own tap instead of buying bottled water will save you a lot of money.

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Save More Money, Things That Are Free #2: Music

In the past buying music meant physically purchasing a record or cd. However, gone are the days of records and cd’s; we have entered a digital age. Music today is digital, regardless if you buy it or listen to it for free.

It makes me ask, why buy music if you can listen to it for free?

And I don’t mean illegally pirating it either. I mean listening to it for free, LEGALLY.

There are a few legal ways you can listen to music for free.

The obvious one is radio stations. The difference between today’s radio stations and those of the past is that just about every radio station has a player that allows you to listen to the station online through a computer or cell phone for free. Click here for a comprehensive directory of online radio stations.

Many radio stations even have their own phone app. Even if a radio station doesn’t have a phone app, there’s a good chance you can listen to it through a radio station aggregator app such as Tunein.com.

But what if you don’t like listening to radio stations. What if you want to pick the specific songs you listen to?

No problem, YouTube and Spotify have your answer. The vast majority of mainstream artists have their songs and music videos on YouTube. The site lets you search and play songs on demand. You can even make playlists.

Spotify offers similar features and they even offer some unique features such as building playlists by the speed of a songs beat – which is perfect for your workout playlists.

 

Save More Money, Things That Are Free #3: Extended Warranties

One of the first things a salesperson asks you after you buy any type of motorized vehicle, appliance, or electronic device is “Do you want to buy an extended warranty?” Some retailers will even sell you an extended warranty for anything in their store.

The problem for consumers like you or I is that most of us like the piece of mind of knowing that the product will be fixed for free if it breaks, especially if it’s an expensive product. This is a problem because it encourages us to buy the extended warranty.

But think of it this way. Would retailers or manufacturers sell us extended warranties if they were losing money on them? I don’t think so.

I’m not a fan of extended warranties and in most instances I will not buy one. Why?

Most items come with a standard 1-year manufacturer’s warranty. However, some items like new vehicles come with manufacturers warranties of up to 5 years. Purchasing an extended warranty from a retailer like from your local electronics store will often overlap the free manufacturer’s warranty. This results in you paying for practically the same warranty coverage you are already receiving for free.

A Consumer Reports survey found that many consumer products are reliable and that minor malfunctions will usually occur before the expiration of the manufacturer’s warranty. The survey also found that major malfunctions tend to happen later in a product’s lifespan – usually beyond the scope of an extended warranty.

If you are still adament on purchasing an extended warranty, make sure you don’t already have one. Most credit cards double the manufacturer’s warranty of any purchase you make on your card for up to 12 months. Check your card holder agreement to see what your card offers as coverage varies by card and there are various limitations.

Another strategy is to buy from a retailer like Costco who offers an ironclad satisfaction guarantee. Costco permits the return of any merchandise you are not 100% satisfied with. While there are time limits on certain electronic products, I’ve heard stories of people returning everything from freezers to power washers that malfunctioned years after the original purchase. With a satisfaction guarantee like Costco’s, there is no need for an extended warranty.

 

Save More Money, Things That Are Free #4: Roadside Assistance

Millions of people pay for roadside assistance through groups like AAA and CAA every year.

But, why pay $65-$130 annually for roadside assistance when you can get it for less, or even free?

Most car manufacturers offer a period of free roadside assistance on new vehicle purchases. Usually, it’s part of the manufacturer’s warranty and can last for up to 5 years. Even some used vehicle dealers offer free roadside assistance with the purchase of a used vehicle.

Be sure to read the details of your vehicle’s manufacturer’s warranty to see if you’re covered. If you are, be sure to wait until your vehicle manufacturer’s warranty is up before buying roadside assistance.

Credit cards are another source of free roadside assistance. While most credit card companies offer pay per use road-side assistance, some credit card companies offer 100% free roadside assistance. Check your card holder agreement to see if your card offers any free coverage.

It is also common for oil change companies such as Meineke and Castol offer up to 6 months of free roadside assistance with certain oil change packages.

If none of the above free roadside assistance options work for you, many insurance companies and cell phone companies offer large discounts on roadside assistance. I know Verizon and AT&T offer $3/month or $36/year roadside assistance. Similarly, some readers have told me that their insurance company offers them roadside assistance coverage for as little as $9/year.

 

Save More Money, Things That Are Free #5: Credit Reports

There are many websites that try to sell you a copy of your credit report and/or credit score along with other various up sell products. If you’re not familiar with credit scores, You can learn more about your credit score on Wikipedia.

What many people don’t realize is that you can get your credit report and/or credit score for free. 

In the United States, a person is allowed one free copy of their credit report a year. There are several reputable places where American’s can get a copy of their credit report and credit score for free. These include:

AnnualCreditReport.com: Is a site operated by consumer credit agencies Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. The site guides you through the process of getting your credit report from all three companies. The FTC recommends this site which works well for detailing your credit history, but it does not provide you with your credit score.

Credit Karma: Is a reputable site that offers you both your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports and credit scores for free. They also offer you other free features that help to protect you against identity theft.

Quizzle: Quizzle gives you a free copy of your credit score and credit report provided by TransUnion.

Mint.com: If you’re a Mint user, you can get a free copy of your credit score provided by Equifax. You can also get a free summary of your credit report.

In Canada, a person is allowed a free copy of their credit report as often as they’d like, provided the request is made in writing. The report must be printed and delivered to you by mail.

Unfortunately, Canadians aren’t so lucky when it comes to their credit scores. While Canadians can get a free credit report from Equifax, the free report does not include your credit score. If you want your credit score you will have to pay $11.95. TransUnion also offers a free credit report to Canadians.

 

Save More Money, Things That Are Free #6: Long Distance Telephone Calls

If you are still paying for long distance as part of your landline or cell phone package STOP!

There are several different phone apps and computer programs through which you can make free long-distance telephone calls (and non-long distance telephone calls).

SkypeGoogle VoiceMagic Jack, and Freedom Pop are some of the more popular apps/programs. Check out this link for other similar programs.

You can also make video (Facetime) or voice-only calls over wi-fi using Apple iPhones for free without downloading any apps. The technology is built directly into the Apple iPhone software. Instead of using your cellphone plan’s talk minutes, the software places the phone call through whatever wi-fi network you’re connected to.

 

Save More Money, Things That Are Free #7: Tax Preparation

Okay I get it, some people are intimidated or down-right hate doing their taxes.

If you have rental properties or your own business they complicate your tax return and paying someone who is up to date on the latest tax rules make sense.

On the other hand, if you only have personal income tax to file you can save a lot of money by preparing and filing your own taxes. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not very hard or time-consuming.

There is free IRS and CRA approved software to help you prepare and file your taxes electronically for free.

For Americans: Check out the IRS site that lists free approved tax filing software.

For Canadians: A list of CRA approved free tax filing software.

So STOP paying tax preparation and filing services as much as 15-20% of your tax return for less than an hour of work. Prepare and file your own taxes!

 

Save More Money, Things That Are Free #8: Anti-Virus Software

I know people who go to their local electronics retailer every year and buy a new version of anti-virus software.

And every year I ask WHY?

Paying for anti-virus software is no longer a sensible approach. There are several highly rated free anti-virus products available that also have regular free updates. A few of the highest rated ones are:

Panda SecurityAvast, and AVG.

For a complete review of the best free anti-virus software check out this PC Mag article.

 

Save More Money, Things That Are Free #9: Cloud Storage

Cloud storage has come of age over the last few years as more people elect to save photos, music, and other documents virtually in the cloud.

Whether it’s to make files more accessible to you or others, to back up files, or to save space on your computer, cloud storage has many practical uses.

But that doesn’t mean you have to pay for cloud storage. There are many providers that offer free cloud storage.

While nearly all providers have premium offerings that provide more space, the free cloud storage offered is usually more than enough for most people.

The top free cloud storage services are:

MEGADropboxBoxMediaFirepCloud, Google DriveApple Icloud, and Microsoft One Drive

For an extensive list of free cloud storage options check out this About.com article.

 

Save More Money, Things That Are Free #10: Bank Accounts

Did you know that Americans pay on average $160/year on bank checking account fees? Canadians pay even more!

Why do banks keeping raising fees when they are earning record profits? Because people keep paying those crazy high fees. But you can fight back by choosing a no-fee checking account

There are several banks that offer no-fee checking accounts. If you’ve been paying crazy high bank fees, it might be time to consider a free account.

If you are in the United States here are 5 no-fee checking account options:

• No monthly fee or monthly minimums

• You earn interest on deposits

• 38,000 fee-free Allpoint ATMs and 2,000 Capital One ATMs

• Online mobile banking, bill pay, & checque deposit

• MasterCard debit card

Chase Total Checking Account

• No monthly fee if you make a minimum of $500 in monthly deposits or maintain a $1500 balance.

• 15,500 fee-free ATMs and 5,300 Chase branches

• Online & mobile banking, bill pay, & check deposit

• Chase debit card

• 24/7 customer support

Ally Interest Checking Account

• No monthly fee or monthly minimums

• You earn interest on deposits

• 60,000 ATM’s. Use 38,000 fee-free Allpoint ATMs plus any other US Bank ATM’s up to $10/month in ATM fees

• Online & mobile banking, bill pay, & check deposit

• MasterCard debit card

• 24/7 customer support

Ever Bank Yield Pledge Checking Account

• No monthly fee or monthly minimums. $1,500 deposit to open

• You earn interest on deposits

• 60,000 ATM’s. Use any US Bank ATM. Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements if you maintain a $5000 balance

• Online & mobile banking, bill pay, & cheque deposit

• Apple Pay supported debit card

Bank 5 Connect Checking Account

• No monthly fee or monthly minimums

• You earn interest on deposits

• 60,000 ATM’s. Use any US Bank ATM for free up to $15/month in ATM fees

• Online & mobile banking, bill pay, & cheque deposit

• UChoose debi card rewards

• Free first order of basic checks

 

If you are in Canada, here are 2 no-fee checking accounts for you to consider:

PC Financial No Fee Bank Account

• No monthly fee or monthly minimums

• You earn interest on deposits

• Use CIBC and PC Financial ATM’s for free plus in-store kiosk service

• Online & mobile banking, bill pay, & cheque deposit

• Unlimited cheques and Interac E-Transfers

• Debit card that earns you PC Points to redeem for free groceries

• 24/7 customer support

Tangerine Checking Account (by Scotiabank)

• No monthly fee or monthly minimums

• You earn interest on deposits

• Use Scotiabank ATM’s for free plus in-store kiosk service

• Online & mobile banking, bill pay, & cheque deposit

• Debit card

• 24/7 customer support

 

Why Do You Pay For Things That Are Free?

I think you’ll agree with me that there is at least one item on the above list that you have paid for at some point. For many of us, we’ve probably paid for most of the items on the list. We all want to save more money so,

The question is why did you pay for something that was free? Were you were unaware that you could get the item or service for free? Or maybe the added convenience the paid version provided you made it worthwhile?

I want to hear from you. I want to know why you paid for something that was free.

One thing I’ve been researching is how we generally attach more value to things we have to pay for versus things we can get for free. Society has trained us to subconsciously assign more value to things we have to pay for, regardless of whether they actually provide more value than a free alternative. Do you agree? Let me know what you think.