Who says you can’t have fun when you adopt a frugal lifestyle?
Saving money doesn’t have to be hard, and there are plenty of ways to save without really trying.
If you’re not paying attention though, it’s easy to let unnecessary expenses pile up when you could have gotten these services or items for free.
The difference between saving money and earning money, is that the money you saved is tax-free dollars in your pocket, and that’s a wonderful thing.
Cutting back on certain expenses can add up to big savings over the year. Here is a list of 12 things that I never pay for and neither should you.
I love watching movies and going to the theatres, but the price of a movie ticket with popcorn and a drink today is through the roof.
Instead of paying for movies, I get to see them for FREE. It’s been years since I paid to see a movie at the theatres.
What’s my secret?
I’ve been using my Scotiabank Scene Debit and Visa card for the last several years. Every time I make a purchase with my Scotiabank Scene Debit or Visa card, I get points which can be redeemed for free movies, free popcorn and drinks or free restaurant gift cards.
For Blu-ray movies or DVDs, I love going to the library. This is a great way to borrow new releases or classics for free.
The only time I pay to see a movie at the theatre is on half-price Tuesdays. Instead of using my points on these days, I like to save them to pre-book tickets to see a movie during an opening weekend. (Of course it depends on the movie).
Instead of paying for CDs, I use free streaming apps on my phone or computer. You can also download a variety of songs for free from Amazon or listen to music on Google Play.
If you still like the feeling of playing a CD in your car, you can borrow them for free from the library.
3. Gym membership
I just started a new exercise routine and picked up some Vega protein for my post-workout shakes. I am very excited and the great thing about it is — I don’t have to pay for a gym membership.
Instead, I belong to a FREE community gym. It’s close to my home and has all the equipment that I would need, including a pool.
There are also many free alternatives to joining a gym and plenty of free resources available online. My favourite websites for finding workout routines are Pinterest and YouTube.
4. Bottled water
If you’re still buying bottled water, it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself – “Why?”
Not only is the plastic bottle bad for the environment and your health, but you are paying a HUGE mark up for something that you should get for free.
Instead, I have a reusable water bottle, which I use when I’m out running errands or traveling.
If you’re out and about, and don’t feel like carrying around a reusable water bottle, another suggestion is to visit any Starbucks and ask for a cup of FREE ice water.
Related: 25 ways to save money by going green
5. Books and Magazines
If you’re not already taking advantage of your local library, I encourage you to sign up for a free membership today.
I admit that I was a little hesitant about using the library in the past. For me, I didn’t like the idea of flipping through a book that a hundred other people touched. I also thought that the library didn’t carry new releases, and the only way to get them was at a bookstore.
Not only have I gotten over my germaphobia, but the library does carry new releases. Every time I see an interesting book or magazine at the bookstore, I place a copy on hold at the library. That way I get to read a new book for free!
I also like downloading free books on Amazon. They have a variety of different books available for download all for free.
I do sometimes buy certain books, such as travel guides since I like to write in them, make notes and bring them with me during my trip. I also buy cookbooks that I find myself checking out over and over again from the library. This is so I can have a permanent copy at home.
6. Travel-sized products
Buying those travel-sized products to bring along with you on a trip is a big no-no. First, they are expensive for the amount of product that you get, and second, they usually don’t carry the brand that you use.
Instead, pick up empty travel-sized containers at the dollar store (you can usually find a bundle in a carrying case for a dollar). Fill up these empty containers with products you use at home and label them accordingly.
This is a great way to save money, get the brand you want and the great things is – you can clean them out and reuse them again.
Related: 25 free things you can get at hotels
7. Data plan
OK, you’re probably thinking that I’m living in the stone age since I don’t have a data plan, but the truth is, WiFi is available at most cafes, libraries, work, etc. There is really no reason to pay for a data plan, unless you need it specifically for work (and of course your workplace should be paying for that).
What happens when I travel? I turn my phone on airplane mode, turn my WiFi on, and then use the WiFi available at the hotel, museums or local cafes to stay connected on social media or keep in touch with friends and family.
8. Birthday treats
It’s your special day, which means you shouldn’t have to pay for a birthday dinner or ice cream treat.
Whether it’s a Grand Slam breakfast or Denny’s or your favourite froyo mix at Menchies, you can get all this for FREE on your birthday.
There are lots of different birthday freebies available (not all of them are food-related). Check to see what’s available in your city or country. This usually involves a free newsletter sign up (at least 2 or more weeks before your birth date).
9. Museum tickets in my city
Most museums offer free days or “pay-what-you-wish” hours. While it tends to be a little busier to visit on these days, it’s worth taking advantage of to save money.
This works great when I’m visiting a new city on a budget, but still want to see all the top sights.
Alternatively, if you want to visit any of Toronto’s museums and historical homes, you can do so for free (if you have a Toronto Public Library card). Passes to city attractions are available for free at public libraries, which is great for saving money if you want to tour your own city.
Do a little research and check to see what freebies your city offers.
10. Long-distance phone calls
We are so lucky to live in a world with today’s technology, which makes it easy to stay connected with distant family and friends for free. I love using Skype to make video calls or Viber to make long-distance phone calls.
Most options require WiFi to work, but it’s an easy and affordable way to keep in touch with loved ones.
11. ATM fees and late fees
Planning ahead is the key to avoiding both ATM and late fees.
If you know you will need cash for a night out, make sure you visit your bank or get cashback at the grocery store earlier that day. This avoids you from having to pay ATM or bank fees if you wait until the last minute.
It’s also important to automate your monthly bills or set reminders for yourself, so you don’t miss a payment. This avoid late fees and keep a good credit score.
12. Impulse buys
Have you ever walked into a store with a few items on your list, but ended up leaving with a cart full of impulse purchases? Maybe there was a good sale happening, but that’s no excuse. Chances are those impulse purchases weren’t planned, and you really didn’t need them in the first place.
If impulse purchases are your weakness, consider shopping with a list, leaving your credit cards at home, and only bringing enough cash to cover the predetermined amount that you planned to spend at each store.
For more tips, check out my post on how to ditch the habit of impulse spending.
Easy ways I recommend to earn extra cash:
Ebates: Want to earn cash back when you shop online? Sure you do. Ebates acts as a shopping portal offering coupons and cashback from over 2,000 online stores. I always check on Ebates first whenever I shop online.
You can join Ebates for free and get a $10 welcome bonus when you sign up through this link.
Swagbucks: I have been a member of Swagbucks for a while now, however I don’t use them as much as I used to, but it’s a simple way to earn gift cards for things you do online. There are many ways to earn points on Swagbucks including filling out surveys, playing games and watching videos.
You can sign up for Swagbucks here.12 things I stopped paying for (and why you should too)Click To Tweet
Over to you — what are some things you never pay for?
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