Are you feeling the pinch from the holiday season or just looking for some ways to cut your spending without depriving yourself of the things you love or overhauling your lifestyle? Start keeping more of your hard-earned money by taking advantage of free offerings on everything from entertainment to software. While this is by no means an all-inclusive list of the many valuable products and services that are now available at no cost to you, you may find a few below that can help provide the motivation you need to keep saving:
Long distance phone calls: Don’t have a phone plan that provides free long distance calls or concerned about overage charges on your phone bill each month? If you haven’t availed yourself of services like Google Voice or Skype yet, 2018 is a great time to start. With plenty of great features, Google Voice enables you to use your cell phone for free long distance calls in the U.S. and Canada, and it offers low rates on international calls as well. Skype-to-Skype calls are always free, and allow you to talk, video chat, video conference, video message and more with anyone, even on the other side of the world. Learn about the latest features in Skype here. And if you find yourself still making 411 calls, note that you can get phone numbers and addresses for free by instead calling 1.800.FREE411 and listening to a short advertisement.
Food at restaurants: Need to get out for dinner but not thrilled with the idea of forking over for food that your kids pick at, waste or even throw on the floor? Check out MyKidsEatFree.com to find restaurants in your city or the surrounding areas that offer eat-free specials for kids with a paid adult meal. Adults can get free appetizers, desserts, birthday meals and even entrees by signing up for restaurant loyalty programs or downloading their mobile apps. Find a list of “56 Free Food Rewards With No Purchase Required” at The Balance.
Books, movies, music and games: For some of us without young children, it may have been a long time since we’ve visited a public library. If that’s the case for you, you may be amazed by how far they’ve come in recent years. Not only are they an excellent resource for both printed books and e-books, but they’re also a gold mine for CDs, DVDs and even video games. Not interested in going to your library? You can also watch popular TV shows and movies online for free using video on demand services such as Hulu. For music, basic subscriptions to services like Pandora and Spotify allow you to stream for free. If you’re a fan of e-books, services like Project Gutenberg, Amazon’s “Cheap Reads for Kindle” and Barnes & Noble’s “FREE eBooks on Nook” offer a wide range of free books.
Education: Also at libraries, you’ll of course find many free courses, lectures, workshops and more. At many libraries, this includes the popular learning platform Lynda.com. This service provides over 6,000 video courses taught by industry experts in areas including business software, technology and visual arts like photography and web design. Subscriptions generally start at about $20 per month, but you can access instructional videos for free if your library is a subscriber to Lynda Library. Learn more at How-To Geek.
Antivirus and anti-malware software: With cyber intrusions becoming more dangerous and commonplace, letting your security software expire without finding alternative protection is a misstep that can cost you dearly. Fortunately, you can still find antivirus and anti-malware software that will scan your computer for free. Find a guide to the “The Top 10 Best Free Antivirus Software 2018” here. For anti-malware protection, check out the “Top 10 Best Free Anti-Malware Software 2018.”
Data storage: Along with software protection, you probably know that it’s critical to regularly back up your electronic files in case you were to lose data from a hard drive failure, virus or other malware attack. But if you don’t want to shell out for a hard drive, one option is to keep a copy of your data on cloud storage. A few services that offer limited free storage are Google Cloud, Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox. Concerned about privacy and safety when it comes to cloud storage? Find insight on this topic here.
Personal budget software: Never got around to learning to use Quicken? No problem, free and secure money management tools like SF Police Credit Union’s MoneyTrac make it easy to track and monitor spending in various categories, and take the guesswork out of building and maintaining a budget. With MoneyTrac, you can combine all of your separate financial accounts together in one place, and get a quick real-time snapshot of your overall finances.
Finally, don’t forget that you can often find useful free items on the local listings of sites like Freecycle and Craigslist. But as our members in law enforcement are well aware, it’s essential to take precautions when buying items from a person you don’t know. Review pointers on staying safe using online services at Lifewire. Looking for more tips on finding freebies? Check out Fortune’s “31 Best Websites to Score Free Stuff.”