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Stop Paying for Things You Can Get for Free - 10 Money Saving Tips

There is this subconscious tendency to think that if you're paying for something, then it has to be better than something you can get for free.
However, that may not be the case. Think about all the things you are buying, that you can find for free.
If you have a hard time thinking of anything, check out my 10 suggestions below.
Stop paying for things you can get for free, and save a little more money in the process.

1. Make Peace with your Tap Water

Average 24 bottle case of 16.9 ounce bottled water: about $15.00
Instead of paying for bottled water, just drink the water from your tap. I did a quick search on amazon for bottled water for a price comparison. I found Fuji water to be the most expensive for a case of 24 bottles at $32.00 (holy cow!), and the cheapest water I found on Amazon was Nestle Pure Life at $8.88.
I still thought this was a bit expensive, so I asked the source of all knowledge (my mother) what she would typically pay for a case of bottled water. She said around $6.00.
So, I gather that the average case of 24, 16.9 ounce bottled water cost somewhere around $15.00 (give or take $5.00). If you were to buy a 16.9 ounce bottle of water individually (from a gas station or vending machine), it could cost somewhere around $1.00 - $2.50.
If you have access to clean tap water, save your wallet a few bucks, and the earth a few plastic bottles, and make peace with your tap water. If you are concerned about the quality of your tap water, go ahead and purchase a filter/purifier to attach to your faucet.
Most people either can't tell the difference between bottled and tap, or if they can, they actually preferred tap water over bottled water (test my theory if you're feeling skeptical).

2. Free Museum days

Average cost of 1 museum admission ticket: about $20.00
Most museums or other points of interest (zoo, concerts, tourist spots, etc.) offer a free admission day, every month or so. Yes, it will take some advance planning, but try to take advantage of these free days if you can.
Admission tickets cost, on average, somewhere around $15.00 a ticket (give or take $10), depending on the museum and where you live. Check their website to see if they offer any free times or free days coming up, and instead of paying full ticket price, see if you can go for free!

3. Paying for Pets

Buying a pet from a licensed breeder will cost hundreds of dollars.
A lot of the time you can check your local newspaper to see if anybody has listed free puppies or kittens in the classifieds section. The internet is also a good place to look and see if anyone wants to give away pets.
Another good option is adoption. Sometimes there can be some fees related to this, but you can check with the kennel or adoption company you're looking into.
Save that few hundred dollars you were going to use to buy a purebred whatever, and check out your newspaper or local kennel for any free animals. I would bet that you wouldn't love your pet any less if you got it for free, than if you payed for it.
Be sure to do your homework, though. Report any kind of place that looks even remotely like a puppy mill.

4. Free Books

Average cost of a book: about $17.00
If you're old school when it comes to books ( me), and still like the feel (and yes, sometimes smell) of an actual book, rather than a kindle or ipad, bypass the bookstore and make a trip to your local library instead. Getting a library card is free, and you have unlimited access to thousands of books at your fingertips.I'm a pretty avid reader, and won't ever buy a book I haven't already read. The only time I ever buy books is if I want them for my book collection, if I'm giving one as a gift, or if I think I'll reread them over and over again.
There are websites that allow you to download older, classic books for free (if you are into reading books from your computer or other form of technology). You can get other classic books for free on the iBooks app. I definitely downloaded about 13 of them.
Swapping favorites with your friends has always been my favorite way to read great books for free.

5. Exercise

Average cost of a month of gym membership: about $45.00
Believe it or not, but you don't have to pay to exercise! Remarkable right!? The average gym membership is around $40-$50 a month, that's $480-$600 a year, not including the startup fee. Cancel your gym membership and go for a run in the park with your dog, wash your car, clear out your garage, anything that requires physical activity.
You can do sit ups, push ups, jumping jacks, and other aerobics all from the comfort of your own (free) living room, and you can invest in a pair of good weights if you want to do weight lifting. One drawback of this plan is colder weather (interferes with running outside).
Plus, I always thought that actively fit people looked better than people with manufactured muscles (ie... those who spend lots of time at the gym...).

6. Library Movies

Average cost of a new DVD: about $20.00
Many libraries offer a selection of movies you can rent with your library card. Libraries won't offer the same selection you will find on netflix or blockbuster, but it could still be a good option to check out. Hey, they're free, why not? That's a few more bucks you can spend elsewhere.

7. Free Tunes

Average cost of a CD: $10.00 - $20.00
Turns out, you can check out CDs from most libraries! Who knew, right? Selections will vary from library to library, but I think it's definitely worth checking out. You will probably pay somewhere from $10.00-$20.00 for music, so save a few bucks, and rent the CD, even if it's to see if you like it.
Another good source for music is Pandora, an online radio station that lets you customize your own radio stations based on individual songs, genres, or artists. Based on your preferences, Pandora will design a radio station that plays music similar to the song, genre, or artist that you chose. It's great if you want to hear new music. I downloaded a Pandora app on my iPhone and listen to it while I cook. is another great online source for free music. You can pick individual songs that you like to create different playlists. It has a pretty great selection of music to choose from, so it's great if you want to hear specific songs.

8. Free TV shows and movies is a great place to catch up on your favorite TV show episodes you may have missed. I have only used Hulu a few times, because it seemed that whatever show I wanted to watch was not available, but you may have more luck. Hulu also has a selection of free movies you can watch from your computer.

9. Learn New Recipes and Cooking Tips for Free

Average price of a cookbook: $20.00
Instead of purchasing a cookbook or attending a cooking class, go online! The recipe sites offer any recipe you could ever imagine, with all the instructions you would find in a cookbook. I like using cooking websites for new recipes because there is usually a rating system and comments section for every recipe, so you know if the recipe is worth trying and how successful others were at testing it out.
If you are a more visual person, check out YouTube for different recipes or "cooking how-to's." There are tons of "how-to" videos on YouTube, not just for cooking, but for anything from syncing your emails between your computer and phone, to learning to play the guitar.
I got some of my best recipes from my family and friends. Recipes are a form of tradition that can be passed down from generation to generation, and there's nothing like learning to make your grandma's apple pie.

10. Create Your Own Art

Unless you are an art collector, there is no reason you should have to pay for good art. If you are an artsy person, go to town and create your own! Grab a camera and snap away. If you have an artsy friend, ask them to take some pictures or paint something for you. Shoot, ask your kids to draw/paint something for you and frame it!
The more personal the art is for you, the more it will mean to you anyway. That's the beauty of art, it never has to look a certain way. It is what it is.

Wrap Up

By choosing not to pay for things you can get for free, you could save a pretty substantial amount of money. Let's look at this in practical terms.
If we add up the items discussed in this article, we can calculate about how much money you could save by choosing not to pay for things you can get for free. *Grabs calculator* Ok, let's say you...
buy 1 case of bottled water per month - $15.00
go to a museum/other activity w/one other person once a month - $40.00 ($20.00 x 2 tickets)
buy 1 book per month - $17.00
join a gym - $45.00 (per month, not including start-up fee)
buy 1 DVD per month - $20.00
buy 1 CD per month - $15.00

*Calculating......drum roll please*
In 1 month, you could save $152.00. In 1 year, you could save $1,824.
I hope these ideas inspired you to save a little more cash, or spend it on things that you can't already get for free.

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