8 Things You Should Avoid Paying Money For

26 Jun

Photo by Ryan Harvey via Flickr

Photo by Ryan Harvey via Flickr

 

The economy is recovering, but probably not at the rate you’d like. If you’ve got outstanding debts, anemic investments, and difficulties getting your monthly bills paid, your personal finances could likely benefit from a few freebies. We all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch – unless it’s your birthday, of course – but there are definitely more than a few ways to get the things you need without having to pay for them.

1. Printer Paper
Office supply retailers with rewards programs sometimes run specials on computer paper. If you pay the full purchase price up front, you can get that money back in the form of a rewards certificate. Much of the time these deals only apply to a pack of paper, but occasionally you can get an entire case for free. Just be sure to use your certificate before it expires.

2. Batteries
If you have kids, you probably spend a lot on batteries, especially around the holidays. The same retailers mentioned above also offer batteries for free at select times throughout the year. Keep your eye out for specials and stock up – just note that the majority of programs limit you to two packs of either AA or AAA batteries per promotion.

3. Back to School and Office Supplies
Right around back-to-school time, office supply retailers also offer a wide variety of free supplies under the same program – just purchase the items you need and get that amount back (minus sales tax) in the form of a rewards certificate. Last fall, I got over $600 worth of school supplies for free, including Scotch tape, staplers, file folders, address labels, storage boxes, pens, pencils, and Post-it Notes during that promotion. And if there’s an item featured for free that you already have, snag it and store it for future use.

4. Select Computer Software Titles
Computer software can be pricey. If you need some programs but don’t want to pay out the nose to get them, check out the websites FileHippo and FreewareFiles and look for free computer software downloads. Generally, you can find programs for anti-virus protection, video conversion, and CD and DVD creation.

5. House Cleaning
Still paying for a housekeeping service? Keep that money in your wallet and clean your house yourself instead. If you don’t think you have the time, try cutting back on your social media surfing and clicking off the TV once a week. You’d be surprised how much you can get done.

Editor’s note: A friend of mine taught me a trick to keeping the house clean — do one thing every night. Whether it’s cleaning the bathrooms, straightening your bedroom or dusting the community living areas, doing one task a night is more manageable than doing it all at once.

6. Minor Car Maintenance
You can complete plenty of minor car maintenance tasks on your own, even if you’re not mechanically inclined. For things like spark plug replacement, installing a new air filter, or replacing windshield wipers, visit the professionals at your local auto parts store and pick up some free how-to tips. Or, check out YouTube videos – just about every car maintenance task you can think of is covered.

7. Food On Your Birthday
Tons of restaurants offer free food on your birthday. Investigate the websites of your favorite eateries for more information – if you sign up for email newsletters you generally get a coupon for free grub when your birthday rolls around. Subway, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Perkin’s all have these programs.

Editor’s note: I love birthday freebies! My personal favorite is the Starbucks drink freebie, but I’ve also received free dessert at restaurants and discounts of $5 to $15 off items at my favorite stores. For a comprehensive list of birthday freebies, as well as links to sign up for newsletters and e-clubs, check out Coupon Sherpa’s birthday coupons page.

8. eBooks
Got an e-reader? There are plenty of websites out there offering free ebook downloads, including Project Gutenberg and KoboBooks. Take advantage of them. Also, if you’re an Amazon Prime member you can rent many ebooks for free.

For anything else you might need in life – whether it’s a computer printer, sofa, refrigerator, or any other item – check out Craigslist and the Freecycle website. Freecycle offers just about anything under the sun and Craigslist has a “Free” tab that can lead you to great finds, as well. You have to make arrangements to pick up these items yourself, but it’s well worth the effort.

What items do you know of that you shouldn’t be paying money for?

This is a guest post from MoneyCrashers written by Jason Moran, a frugal saver who shares his tips for saving more and getting the most value out of everyday purchases.  

4 Responses to “8 Things You Should Avoid Paying Money For”

  1. Travis @debtchronicles June 27, 2014 at 3:12 am #

    I would never pay someone to clean my house…first of all, I never pay for any service I can do myself. Second, they wouldn’t do a good enough job for me anyway. My wife is a big “let’s clean the whole house this weekend.” We both lose our mojo after a couple of hours. I prefer to do a room or two each weekend. Plus I’m in a constant state of “picking up and putting things away.”

    • Kendal June 27, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

      I always laugh at the advertisements I get in the mail that say “Life’s too short to clean your own house!” Really? Housecleaning just comes with the territory of owning or renting a house. I can’t imagine paying for the service, either. Thanks for commenting, Travis!

  2. Shannon July 9, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    I was so hesitant to get a Kindle because I’m a very old fashioned, book lovin girl. However, I have to say that the number one benefit of having it has been the insane amount of free books you can get! And not only that, it’s so cool that you can use it to borrow from the library on your Kindle – saving a trip all over town trying to find the book you want. Who knew that semi-expensive upfront purchase would save me so much down the road?!

    • Kendal July 9, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

      I’m with you on the e-book. I love the feel of traditional books in my hands, but honestly my Kindle is so convenient when I travel. Lately, the only time I’ve had for reading is on a plane and you can’t beat the e-book prices. The free books are a HUGE bonus, too! I haven’t yet tried borrowing digital books from the library. Adding that to my list of to-do’s! Thanks for commenting, Shannon!