Anyone who knows about personal finance can tell you how to save money on the items you spend the most on. You can save on groceries, cut your home energy bills, and reduce your cell phone costs with just a bit of sacrifice and creative thinking.
On the other hand, though, many folks fail to realize that a lot of the things we use on a daily basis can be gotten for free.
Here’s a short list to get your wheels turning:
You can get your credit report for free once per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Make sure you go to AnnualCreditReport.com, since other websites are likely to ask for your credit card number.
And if you do use another “free” website, don’t sign up for an automatically renewing membership – this is a common tactic with online services.
With all the recent news of security breaches and computer hacks, you may think an expensive anti-virus software program is the only solution.
However, in most cases you can get by with a free version. Your best options are Avast or AVG. I’ve used both in the past and they’ve served me well.
If you feel strongly about having a paid program guarding the gates of your information, go ahead and buy it. There’s no sense lying awake at night just to save a little money.
Any parent can tell you that batteries are a significant expense once toys come into the picture.
Sign up for email updates from your preferred office supplier, and you can often find deals where you pay full price up-front and receive a 100% refund the following quarter in the form of a certificate.
These certificates typically come with expiration dates, so make sure you use it before it’s too late.
General Office Supplies
100%-cash-back deals also apply to miscellaneous office supplies. If you’ve signed up for updates, check your inbox for sales on Post-it notes, staplers, pens, pencils, notepads, and other supplies.
And when you receive your certificate, use it for things you truly need, not impulse purchases. Remember, the key here is to maximize your savings.
Next up, bank accounts. The one thing that shouldn’t cost money, is money. But the many banks charge their customers just for the privilege of holding onto your cash.
Well, you can beat them to the punch. With a little bit of online research, you can find a variety of fee-free accounts.
And finally, no matter what you’re shopping for, check out the “free” tab on Craigslist, or investigate the website Freecycle. Most of the items on Freecycle are large appliances, furniture, household items, and exercise equipment.
And on Craigslist, you can find a little bit of everything, as long as you don’t mind picking your item up.
When all this saving is done, it’s time to direct that money you conserved toward your financial goals.
If you’re trying to pay off credit card debt, send in higher payments. If your goal is retirement savings, increase your 401k contributions or open an IRA. If your goal is your kid’s college education, start a 529 savings program.
You won’t realize true benefits of getting free products if you don’t organize and commit to saving.
What other things can you think of that you can get for free?
David Bakke is a contributor for the personal finance blog, Money Crashers. He writes about various ways to save money, make money, and invest it for the future.