Stick it to The Man: 15 Things You Should Never Pay For

“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.

Do you need to save more money? Check out these 15 simple ideas that you can implement right away to start saving money. It is too easy to keep money in your pocket when you follow these suggestions from PT.

1. Your Credit Report

Your credit report is available for free right now from Don't be fooled by the other websites. Just go to 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. Checking and Saving

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.

11. A Pet

Search your local animal rescue center for a pet that's free and in need.

12. Online Shipping

With sites like 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

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 eBay does have it's place. But never use it (and pay their fees) if it's an item that could be sold on 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.

Want My Free 31-Step Money Guide*?

Subscribe for free. Get my guide *31 Days to Improve Your Financial Life, welcome series, and regular Five Things digest. Join 30,000+ other followers.

Powered by ConvertKit


  1. Unfortunately, most animal shelters have an adoption fee. I guess the donations they receive are not enough to cover veterinary and boarding expenses (since I volunteered at a shelter, I know most of the animal food, litter (cats), and newspapers to line kennels were donated). Fortunately, I’ve received my last three pets through friends but did have to pay for spay and neutering.
    I don’t pay for trash bags. I simply re-use the 500 plastic bags that come in my house from the grocery store, clothes shopping, or the library!). I use the paper bags you receive on to-go items at casual dining restaurants and put all recyclables in it. Makes easy transport to the recycle bin. And they’re recyclable!
    Also almost never pay for ATM fees. Once upon a time, there was a gas station chain that allowed you do to cash back at their stores without a purchase (I did use it as much as possible when the credit union ATM was not available). Now I’m with a bank that offers free checking with direct deposit, and ATMs in about every 2 miles 😀 Now I simply do cash back at a store I’m already shopping at if I can’t quickly get to an ATM.

  2. Coffee!….make it at home! (I actually have to the nerve to post this as I am drinking a $4 Starbucks!)

  3. jeanineruby55 says:

    Never pay for TV cable – there are several placed on the internet to find free live streaming TV channels and more are being added all the time.  Serach “The Giddyup Network”, “RTV”, or others. 
    Use city transit or ride your bike instead of driving.
    Don’t buy those weak grocery store shopping bags that last just a couple of shopping trips if you sew make your own.  Find fabric at Goodwill from blankets, towels, etc.

  4. Never pay a gym membership.  Work out at home and do bodyweight exercises.

  5. Don’t pay any fees for a cell phone. Get a prepaid cell phone.  My total phone cost is less than $100 per year!

  6. dressmaker says:

    Bridal shop concierge fees, AKA alteration set up fees, referral fees, or any other fee. The only line items that should be on you bill are the item and the taxes. You can ask for a card of a preferred dressmaker then go to their home  or shop .Ask to see your bill BEFORE you hand over your credit card if you are getting the work done there.

  7. Cafe Babe says:

    Cable TV – go get yourself a apple TV or a Roku, etc. Or just look through someone’s window.
    Income tax – vow to live off the land and don’t generate any income. Avoid trade – if you can’t make it yourself it’s not worth having. That’ll really stick it to the man.
    Health care – plenty of free clinics. Or just convert to christian science. Why make a doctor rich?
    Gasoline – convert your jalopy to run off used restaurant grease. 

  8. DiedraStringer says:

    Most libraries offer free (or very inexpensive) movie rentals. Go there before you go to RedBox!

  9. This is AWESOME!

    I really like your list, Philip.

    I hope you might be willing to check out my website.

    It’s for postage free, signup free, freebie listings.

    Me and my friends have spent a LOT of time trying to sift through spammers and scams. I would really value your input.

    Thanks in advance, Mr Freebie

  10. TheComputerDoctor says:

    Anti-Virus Software…

    There are MANY free antivirus software programs out there that are not like the ‘retail’ versions for the simple fact that they are all usually “BLOATWARE” and include a lot of stuff that you don’t need or never use. Most of the retail Antivirus software, like NORTON, will make a decent computer run like a slug. Being in the computer business for the last 20 years, I can tell you that the one I mentioned has been proven to alert you with false positives during the last few weeks before it expires, hoping you’ll upgrade again in a panic state of mind…. don’t do it. Get AVG or Avast.. they work BETTER than most retail software.

  11. Brent Petrencsik says:

    I think it needs to be said that you should never pay interest

  12. Kelly Biswell says:

    cell Phones! you dont need to pay for a stupid phone. just get one of those free ones. you can txt or whatever you want. P.S. dont pay for txting. juts call them

    • Tyler511 says:

      I disagree, I can get a good, used, Android smartphone for less than $200, then use the $30 T-Mobile plan to get 100 minutes, unlimited texts, and 5GB of data every month.

  13. Free samples! I get them from Wal Mart, Dove, just to name a couple. I have gotten samples of deodorant, toothpaste, feminine products, razors…the list goes on! You don’t even have to pay shipping!

  14. i know i’m a little late posting this, but you don’t have to pay for diapers. i’m not talking about cloth, either — though i’ve learned how to use and like those; cloth diapering has benefited much from today’s technology. Rather i’m talking about Elimination Communication (EC) — also called “infant pottying”. Check it out on . We learned how to use cloth diapers with #3, and how to use EC with #4. If we’re lucky enough to have more children, we’ll EC from birth and will never go back to conventional diapering again. My daughter is 13 months old and i haven’t changed a poopy diaper since she was 8 weeks old — she prefers to use the potty.

    • jeanineruby55 says:

      diaperfreebaby is nothing more than a pyramid sceme.  The idea is great but being required to pay dues is ridiculous.  The membership gives you diaper training advice, contributes to the expanded website and the owners pockets.  Don’t do it.

  15. @Andee – Good point. I was at the library today and browsed the DVDs myself. The selection isn’t as nice as Netflix or Blockbuster, but you can usually find something and free is always good.

  16. You missed some more free from the library.

    Most public libraries also loan DVD’s & Music CD’s, many for cheap or free.

    You can also get free internet from public libraries – thanks to the Gates Foundation, most have free wireless access.

  17. gym memberships and for that matter exercise equipment. you really only need 3 basic exercises: running,situps/crunches, and pushups. All of which are free!

  18. Cathy Sykes says:

    Getting a pet at your local shelter is rarely “free.” Most reputable shelters will make you pay to have the animal neutered and vaccinated. However, since they get discounts and you need these services (we do not need more unwanted puppies and kittens, folks!) this is stil a very good deal.

  19. I too enjoy the list and the information from all of the folks who post comments
    The free item that I am sharing is insted of using your dryer hang laundry outside on a clothing line and a bonus instead of using coinstar roll your own money and take to it to the bank.

  20. japanese words says:

    This is a great list. I really like #3 since most people don’t consider this as a choice.

  21. nice list. Mint is a great site.

  22. Paul Morales says:

    Tons of great tips. For movies, you can now stream full tv shows and movies online for free.

  23. Christopher Holdheide says:

    How about setting up your own debt plan. I like they have a lot of different speedsheets but inparticular one on setting up your own debt plan. I like the self help model myself. All free of course.

  24. Dan Massicotte says:

    Any idea of the DVD rental option is only a US thing? I’ve never heard of it for Canada.

  25. Great list.

    #15 – Transportation within a couple of miles of your house. Walk or ride a bike to save on gas and auto use, not to mention to be more healthy, and to get outside for a breath of fresh air.

  26. One word, 3 letters long.


  27. annualcreditreport says:

    This is a good list!
    If we pay all of them it would be a huge number of dollar.

  28. #15 – Heat – We heat our house exclusively with wood I’ve harvested myself from our own woods. I cut, haul, split, stack, and burn all thw wood I need to heat my house during these long, cold, Michigan winters – and I haven’t sent a cent to the power company in four years for heat.

    It’s a lot of work in, but as a teacher I have summers off and truly enjoy the physical labor and the time in the woods.

    And there is NOTHING quite like the heat from a woodburning stove to warm your buns on a cold winter day.

  29. Just a note re: #11. Rescue shelters do charge adoption fees to ensure that people have good intentions and ready to make a long term commitment. It’s money well spent since shelters are typically non-profits and spend quite a lot to feed, house, care for, and provide medical attention to all the animals in their care.

  30. How about coupons? You can get the exact same coupons that are in your Sunday paper, online. It takes a little longer, but you save money, and can also find extra coupons! Also, signing up with a particular brand, like Tide or Tyson, they’ll send you coupons for signing up for their mailing list or trying a new item.

  31. Grant Baldwin says:

    Great list!

    There are plenty of free things that exist in the world if people take the time to browse around a little.

  32. Good one on the wife thing Travis.

    I will never pay (directly of course) for a cell phone. With all the 2 year agreement free phones, how could you. Plus, after 2 years is up, you can get another free one for another 2 year agreement. Free phones. never buy one again.

  33. I’m with Kacie re: #7 newspapers

    Besides my wife and kids, there is nothing I enjoy more than sitting back in the chair with my newspaper and a cup of coffee (on weekends) or taking a quick 10 minutes during the office day to catch up on the news.

    Sure, I’ve embraced the internet and in fact read several newspapers websites each day, but all that does is leave electronic fingerprints. I want the ink on my fingers (well…most newspapers don’t do that anymore….oh well)

  34. @MrsRefney – Love the suggestion. We’ll be taking advantage of that one soon.
    @tom – thanks, man. I’ll look for the pingback.
    @Travis – Nice.

  35. #7 makes me sad. I used to be a newspaper reporter. The industry really botched the way they deliver news on the web.

    Why pay $0.50/copy when you can get it for free online? Because reporters and editors need to be paid.

    Unfortunately, their business model is going to bankrupt them.

  36. Scott @ The Passive Dad says:

    I thought you were going to add internet service to your list. We have free internet coming to our city but it comes with banner ads, so I think I’ll pass.

    I also think checks should be added to your list. So many banks offer online banking that you can send add anyone as a payee and never use a check again. And debit cards are accepted almost everywhere. Where they aren’t cash is still king.

  37. How about Excercise Richard! (Sorry felt like I was on Family Feud for a sec there). Seriously though, gym memberships are expensive but going for a run, bike, or doing some pushups are all free. Don’t let money be an excuse for not working out.

    With a DTV converter box and the increase in online TV you might add cable to the list too (though you might need a small startup fee).

  38. Travis @ CMM says:

    Absolutely love your list. Great advice.

    15. Sex

    Why pay for something you can get at home for free. As long as you treat your wife like she deserves to be treated, you should have no problem in this department.

  39. This is a great article, I just used #6 to file taxes for free.
    And about to get my credit report.

    thank you and i will feature this on next weeks top 10 list on my blog.

  40. Thanks for the tip on Quicken online. I tried Mint, loved the format, but they don’t support my small-town bank. I’ve used Quicken before and liked it fine. I didn’t realize they had a free service.

    Thanks!! 😉

    Oh…my #15 would be “Milk/Formula for baby”. Breastfeeding is free, easily accessible, and always on hand! Of course, I realize there are a percentage of women who cannot breastfeed for some medical reasons, but those who can, should!!!

  41. Did you know tap water was in before or after Tim told you on his blog 🙂

    Something else you should never pay for: Speeding Tickets/License Plate Expiration. There are very obvious ways to avoid the fees in this category. Don’t speed and pay your registration on time. Typically the amount you end up owing is NOT worth it. Be a good civil servant – play by the rules and you won’t get stuck with extra fees!