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10 Free Things That Used to Cost Money

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As the years roll along, the cost of most things just keeps increasing. But some items actually have gotten cheaper in recent times. In fact, many are now free.

Here are 10 things that used to cost money, but no longer do.

1. Classified ads

Once upon a time, if you wanted to sell something, you had to fork over money to run a classified ad in the newspaper. Now you have plenty of free options to sell your wares.

Craigslist has the widest reach, but there’s also eBay Classifieds (formerly known as Kijiji) or any of the many buy/sell groups you’ll find on Facebook. Some newspapers have even gotten into the act by allowing free classifieds on their websites.

2. Reading the news

Speaking of newspapers, buying one used to be the way to stay up-to-date on current events. Now, you merely have to flip on your computer to find all sorts of free news 24/7 on the Internet. Even if you don’t have home Internet service, you only have to head to the library to take advantage of this freebie.

3. Books, magazines, movies and more

While you’re at the library, take a look around. Long gone are the days in which your library was filled with musty books.

Today, you can borrow CDs, DVDs, video games and more at many branches across the nation. My local library even has an iPad and an electricity usage monitor available for checkout.

4. Budgeting software

You can still buy programs like Quicken, but unless your finances are complex, there’s probably no reason to shell out the cash. Instead, use any number of free budgeting websites or apps, such as PowerWallet or Mint.

If you’re concerned about the safety of your information, read this article by Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson.

5. Your credit report

In the past, if you wanted to see a copy of your credit report, you needed to pay for it. Now, thanks to the government, you’re entitled to one free report each year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.

However, to keep your information safe, make sure you get your report from AnnualCreditReport.com, the official site established by the credit reporting agencies.

6. Music on the Internet

This one has come full circle. In the early days of the Internet, you could listen to music for free (albeit illegally) on Napster. Then you had to pay for music through iTunes, Rhapsody or similar services. Today, we’re back to free music through apps such as Spotify and Pandora.

7. Long-distance phone service

There is no reason you should be paying for long-distance calls.

In case you don’t have a phone plan that already gives you free long-distance, check out this article from last year on three ways to make totally free long-distance calls.

8. Cloud storage

Backing up your important documents to the cloud can be a smart way to avoid the heartbreak that comes from a fried hard drive and the loss of irreplaceable files. In addition, cloud storage is a convenient way to access information and photos from anywhere.

While there are plenty of good cloud storage options that cost money, others such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive are free. Amazon Prime also gives its members unlimited photo storage in the cloud.

9. GPS

At one time, you had to pay $100-plus for a GPS unit and, in some cases, shell out extra to update maps periodically.

You can still buy separate GPS systems, but if you have a smartphone, there’s really no reason to do so. There are plenty of free GPS apps that work perfectly fine. Google Maps is my go-to option, and it’s never let me down.

10. Practically anything — if you know where to look

Finally, thanks to the Internet, you can now get practically anything for free if you know where to look. Freecycle and Craigslist can help you with free stuff, but browsing the Web can turn up all sorts of ideas on how to get services for free, too.

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