Seven Things You Don’t Have to Pay For (But Probably Are)


Seven Things You Don’t Have to Pay For (But Probably Are)

Have you ever spent too long reading Buzzfeed and gotten their title-writing style stuck in your head?

The word 'Free' cast in bronze.“There’s a lot of benefits to renting — the wonderfully funny Adam Conover recently ‘ruined’ home ownership — but that doesn’t mean budgeting is easy, and any smart renter is always on the lookout for ways to avoid shelling out for stuff they don’t actually need. Here are seven easy and excellent examples of stuff you don’t have to pay for ever again.


Important Software

OpenOffice exists. Congratulations, you just saved $150 minimum. But of course that’s hardly it — there’s a mass of free software out there that can accomplish almost anything you expect from a big expensive tool. Need to keep files secure and disaster-proof? Try Dropbox. Need to keep in touch will all the people you need to keep in touch with? Make sure they all have Skype. Live in fear of Russian hackers? AVG Antivirus probably won’t help, but it will keep you safe from any realistic online threat. This list could be a hundred pages long — the short version is this: if you need to do something with a computer, Google “free software for [this purpose],” and you’ll almost certainly find something.


TV You Don’t Care About

The primary purpose of most TV nowadays is as background noise — something to occupy the voice in the back of your head while the front of your head is playing Gumballs & Dungeons or reading about how Prince Rupert’s Drops are a form of glass that is bulletproof on one end and literally explodes if touched on the other. If that’s mostly what you use your TV for, you might be pleased to learn that broadcast TV still exists, and it’s still free! All you need is a cheap (<$20) digital antenna from your local electronics store, and to remember what life was like 30 years ago.


Checking Accounts

If you have a computer, a smartphone, and an Internet connection, you need not ever go to a physical bank again. So long as you live in an even vaguely populated area, there are almost certainly local credit unions that offer free checking accounts and allow you to deposit checks by snapping pictures of them with your phone and sending them in.



OK, so this isn’t technically free, because you do still have to pay your utility bills. But rather than pay through the nose for a Brita or whatever — or, God forbid, buying bottled water — check out the $20 washable on-faucet water filter. This puppy will filter about 50 gallons of water before you have to wash it, and can be washed and reused 100 times, more or less, before it needs replacing. That’s 5,000 gallons of bottled-quality water for $20. Yeah, we’re calling that close enough to free.



Sure, everyone’s mom looks up how to do (whatever) on YouTube nowadays, and mostly that stuff works out well. But we’re talking actual college-level classes that you can obtain and learn from at no charge. This amazing group called the Open Education Consortium maintains a huge database of course material for free. You get everything but the degree, so if what you want is actual knowledge and not some paper that says you have knowledge, you’re good to go!


Stuff for Around the House

What do you need? A blender? An end table? A new mattress? All you have to do is be willing to clean it thoroughly and commit to the occasional repair, and you can almost fill a rental home with the free stuff available from Craiglist‘s ‘Free’ section, Freecycle, or dozens of similar sites.


Just About Anything

Seriously, if you’re patient and you look regularly, you will eventually find anything from ice cream to Six Flags tickets drifting along in the freedom breeze that blows through obscure corners of the Internet like Volition, the Freebies sub-Reddit, or The Free Site. It’s always a gamble, but it only takes a couple of decent payoffs to make the effort worth the time.

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