“The Man” is trying to take your money.
Don’t let him.
I’ve put together 15 things that you should never pay “the man” for.
For a lot of things in life, you get what you pay for.
But in the case of these 15 items, most of us wouldn’t be sacrificing any quality to go with the freebie.
1. Your Credit Report – Your credit report is available for free right now from http://annualcreditreport.com. Don’t be fooled by the other websites. Just go to annualcreditreport.com and get your free credit report every 12 months. You can get 1 free report from each of the 3 reporting agencies every 12 months.
2. Banking Services – Never, ever, pay bank fees for a regular account. Just say no. Sign up for their free account. Switch banks if you have to. Just don’t pay any fees to a bank. It’s not necessary anymore, plus they’re already making interest by holding your money.
And do your best to never pay for another checkbook again. Pay as many bills as you can using free bill-pay services. When you do run out of checks, make nice with your local bank branch manager and ask him about getting a free refill.
You guys know I love the free banking with FNBO Direct and Capital One 360 and other online checking options. I’ve used them. Never paid them a dime. In fact, they’ve paid me. Best interest rates in the industry, by a mile.
3. Software for Your Computer – Stick it to Microsoft! Don’t buy Excel or Word. Invest in a little “free” and get OpenOffice Calc (like Excel), Writer (like Word), Impress (like PowerPoint), Draw (like Paint), and Base (like Access).
Why pay when you can get it for free? These programs all have a “save as…” feature that let’s you save in Microsoft format so you can send files to your “payin’ the man” friends.
4. A Credit Card– I can’t think of a single service that a credit card could offer me that I couldn’t get for free or a nominal fee elsewhere. Nor would I ever dream of using a card enough to garner enough services to justify an annual fee.
Don’t ever pay for a credit card annual fee. Isn’t necessary. AmEx even has no-fee cards, and have for years now. Stop paying annual credit card fees, unless you’re absolutely sure you’ll use the rewards system enough to more than cover the annual fee.
5. Books – There’s a magical place in your hometown that’s renting books for free right now: your local library. Check em out. And I’m always giving away free books here on the blog. A new book giveaway coming up soon.
6. Tax Preparation– The vast majority of tax filers don’t need to pay to have their taxes prepared and e-filed. Every major tax prep company (TurboTax, TaxACT, H&RBlock at Home, to name a few) offers free e-filing services of some kind.
And there’s always the IRS Free File that could set you up with free tax prep and filing.
7. The Newspaper– C’mon. Do I have to explain this one? If you’re doing it for couponing reasons, OK. But for getting your news??
8. Credit Counseling – Credit counseling is available free through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Don’t ever hook up with some shady “get out of debt quick fix” company.
9. Water – Well, I realize there’s always going to be that water utility bill. But the bottled water is out. Tap is cool again.
10. Budgeting Software – The past couple of years have seen an explosion of online free budgeting software options. There are some really nice option available to you. All are without a charge. Check out adaptu.com or Mint.com.
11. A Pet – Search your local animal rescue center for a pet that’s free and in need.
12. Online Shipping – With sites like freeshipping.org now available, you should be able to make most of your online purchases without forking over a shipping fee.
13. DVD Rentals– Instead of paying $5 for a DVD rental, just go to a RedBox or a New Release rental box in your local grocery store. Before you go though, get the free daily code from www.insideredbox.com.
14. Auction Listing Fees – While some items require a true auction type service, or a larger audience to be sold for full value, the vast majority of items you’d want to sell online can be sold through craigslist.org. eBay does have it’s place. But never use it (and pay their fees) if it’s an item that could be sold on craigslist.org. I’ve sold my last two vehicles there.
Alright, now it’s your turn. I’ve left #15 for you to fill in. Offer up one more thing you should never pay for in the comments below…
Based on some of the comments below, I wrote a follow up piece: 15 More Things You Shouldn’t Be Paying For.