I recently hammered out an article for the fine folks over at US News, entitled, “Stick it to the Man: 15 Things You Should Never Pay For.”
The post received a lot publicity and stirred up a lot of interesting discussion (over 4,800 comments and 1,000 re-tweets once the article was syndicated on Yahoo!). I was actually asked to talk about the piece on MSNBC’s Saturday morning live news broadcast. Here’s the segment:
As the snarky host said, most of these things, at least the one’s we talked about live, are common sense. They’re are also things for which you usually have a choice between a paid version and a free one. I know my title says you “shouldn’t” be paying for these things, but you may choose to.
It may be the thing you want to spend on. That’s cool with me. Who am I to judge. Heck, I don’t follow every piece of financial advice I put on this blog. I’m just offering up free content here for you guys. Take from it what works for you.
Okay, enough setup. I sifted through those 4,800 comments and found 15 more things you shouldn’t (i.e. don’t have to) be paying for:
1. Music – Sign up for Pandora. Listen online. Get their app and listen on the go. CDs can also be rented from the library.
2. Television Shows – I get my basic TV channels over the airwaves. I actually get the HD channels over the air too. I purchased a $10 antenna from Wal-Mart and it has served me well. For cable shows, we’ve been able to use the online video services like Hulu.com.
3. Checks – If you bank with any of the online checking accounts they will give you checks for free. Many traditional banks are starting to follow this model as well. Why can they afford it? I assume it’s because people aren’t using checks anymore.
4. Your Credit Score – With so many free credit score trials available today, like the one from GoFreeCredit.com, there’s no reason not to know your credit score and to be able to take advantage of credit protection services as least for a little while.
5. Diapers – Forget the disposables. Go with reusable diapers! You can probably even pick up some used re-usable diapers for free on Craigslist. Ha. I’m half way kidding with this one. But there are plenty of people who do this.
6. High-Interest Charges – Can’t believe I left this off the first list. You shouldn’t be paying interest charges. Make your money work for you, not the other way around.
7. Anti-Virus Software – I learned that most interest service providers are giving this away for free now with there monthly subscriptions. And if you can’t get it free this way, check out the free anti-virus packages you can get online for free.
8. Cholesterol Check – Don’t pay to have your cholesterol checked. Just go give blood. They will typically provide a HIV, STD, and cholesterol check for you for free.
9. WiFi – We just learned that the massive retail chain Starbucks is giving the Internet away for free. You can also find many other places to get online for free now. I can’t wait till entire towns are outfitted with the free stuff.
10. Cleaning Supplies – Instead of buying expensive daily cleaning supplies, go the vinegar and baking soda route. My wife and I tried this out recently. We thought it would be safer and cheaper. It was, but for the tough jobs I thought it was a bit lacking.
11. Beauty Supplies – Some suggested raiding the mall on a weekend and visiting the beauty counters for samples. If you hit up enough stores you could come away with a nice collection I guess. Seems slightly ghetto, but if all you need is a little bit of the girly stuff, then go for it.
12. Your Website – With the exception of the domain name and hosting, there’s no reason for most people to fork over hundreds of dollars for a website design and setup. Software like WordPress has revolutionized the online content management world. If you need a website, go with WordPress. It has the free themes and plug-ins to make even the most advanced e-commerce site work.
13. Business Cards – There are several online outfits, notably VistaPrint, who will ship you out 250 free business cards for the price of shipping. Of course, the business card guy, Joel Bauer, will likely say your card is crap.
14. Acai Berry – While there is nothing wrong with the juice itself, there are simply less-expensive ways to get the same benefits. You already know about the MonaVie Scam, don’t you?
15. Sex – Finally, this was one of the most common and popular comments. No surprise, right? No need to explain this one, I’ll just let it stand on it’s on.
Do you have any more ideas? What are some other things we should be paying for?