10 Things You Should Never Pay For

magazines

Okay, okay. The title might be drawing a line in the sand that doesn’t exist. After all, what’s that saying… “never say never”? But when it comes to finances, sometimes making the long term commitment to shy away from certain purchases can help you avoid expenses that are regularly digging into your savings! That’s why we compiled these 10 costs that you can kick to the curb and – once you realize the value of the resulting savings – never pay for again.

Why pay for something out of pocket when there are alternatives that allow you to enjoy it for a reduced cost – or even free? Here are some top areas where you can save by taking advantage of free or discounted versions.

1. Magazines

At least, not one at a time. Most of us on a budget can survive without buying magazines (after all, there is the library if we really need one!) A single magazine off the rack costs anywhere from 3-7 dollars. If you really need a magazine, it might be worth it to take out a yearly subscription because that can lower the price to as little as a dollar an issue. As long as it’s something that will be interesting to you for the long term, choosing a magazine subscription over off the rack could be a smart switch!

2. Late fees

There’s nothing more frustrating than paying unnecessary fees. While some are inevitable (think along the lines of service fees), others are entirely avoidable with diligence. If you can set up automatic payments, you’ll be saving yourself the possibility of forgetting a payment and incurring a late fee. A word of caution: you can incur other fees with automatic withdrawal if you don’t keep your account balanced. Don’t let an unexpected withdrawal overdraw an account with insufficient funds!

3. Subscriptions you don’t use

Some subscriptions automatically renew every year, causing yet another expense that you didn’t want or need. If a service has stopped being useful to you, make it a priority to cancel. As soon as it hits your mind, cancel. In other words, cancel! Now’s the time to reevaluate cancel all your automatic yearly or monthly subscriptions that you no longer use.

4. Trash pick-up (big items like couches, etc.)

Take advantage of services that offer free pick ups. You can usually call to have large pieces removed at no cost if requirements are met. Depending on where you live, you’re also probably entitled to a limited number of annual scheduled “extra” pick-ups with your waste service. Since you’re technically paying for your trash pick up, make sure that you are taking any perks that come along with the service!

Alternative: sell on Craigslist! It’s a great resource to get rid of your unwanted items and turn a profit at the same time. Just make sure to communicate in your ad that it’s a sale for pick-up only.

Shannon
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5. Audiobooks

Audio books are generally a single use kind of purchase. Unless you’re interested in spending a lengthy bit of time re-listening to an audiobook, you’ll most likely enjoy it and then archive it. Check out your local library’s online site to see if they have it available in the audio format you need – free of charge!

6. Bottled water

If you want to save a buck here and there, get into the habit of carrying around a water bottle. As long as the water is potable and safe, you can fill up at drinking fountains and save the expense of buying a disposable water bottle. Most gas station convenience stores don’t mind if you politely ask to fill up with filtered water from their soda machine.

If you do need to buy filtered water, most come in cheaper as their volume increases. In that case, buy the biggest bottle and then fill up your reusable bottle to take with you.

7. Tools/Appliances you only plan on using once or twice

It’s not to say that your appliances aren’t worth your money, but some can be borrowed from neighbors or checked-out from a lending library. In that way, you’re not only sharing a resource and cutting down on items that take up space in your cabinet or closet, you’re also avoiding the cost of buying an item that will be used sparingly.

8. Holiday decor at full price

Every holiday, the stores load their shelves with decorations and themed goods. The celebratory mood of these decorations can make it tempting to add some festivity to your shopping cart but paying full price for these decorations can easily be avoided. As soon as the date hits, prices are slashed and sales abound. The Halloween scarecrow that cost $50 is suddenly cut down to $5. If you’re looking for specialized decorations, wait until after the holiday and take advantage of truly incredible discounts. If you have the room, then it’s entirely worth storing them for the next year if you purchased them at a steep 75% discount.

9. Children’s clothing

Kids grow out of clothes so quickly that it doesn’t always make sense to buy them new. Even after a couple of months wear, they’re usually perfectly usable for a new set of arms and legs. Second hand stores that carry children’s clothes exclusively could even be mistaken for a new clothing store considering how pristine toddler outfits usually look.

10. Disposable lunch bags

You should be able to keep a reusable lunch bag for years, and even if you want to continue to use plastic or paper bags, you can use any extra bags lying around the house. For example, you can reuse the plastic bag containing a loaf of bread as well as bags used for bulk purchasing of grains, nuts, beans, etc.

These 10 things are just a start! As always, your personal budget will be yours and yours alone. Take a look at expenses that might be hanging a little dark cost cloud over your spending and start cutting them out to see immediate savings!

Do you have an item that you’ve vowed never to pay for? Share in the comments below!

Image credit: matka_W

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  • http://gurganus.name/brant Brant Gurganus

    I’d actually argue that you *should* pay for magazines. Cheap magazines are filled largely with ads and consumerist material so it might be cheap, but you’re more likely to buy something. Professional publications on the other hand may cost more since they are driven less by advertising, but they have content more likely to accelerate your profession (increasing your income abilities), are tax deductible if you itemize, and may even be reimbursed by your company. The other token though, and one I currently struggle with, is do you have the time to read them? I love their content in publications like IEEE Computer, but because they are so substantitive, it can be a challenge to read through them at a sufficiently fast pace given the time opportunity costs that you might rather spend on fitness or other activities. The key there those is to be cognizant of that opportunity cost in addition to the financial cost.

    • Claire Murdough

      I love your point of the importance of being cognizant of opportunity cost! And you’re completely right about ad-heavy magazines – definitely meant to inspire spending. Thanks for reading :)

  • Marie

    I almost never buy paper towels. I’ll use a paper bag (or part of one) to use for putting under fried chicken, pork chops, hamburgers, bacon, fried fish, etc. Soaks up the grease better and doesn’t stick to the meat…or french fries. If you’re afraid the bag is dirty put one clean paper towel on top to use as a barrier and skip any extra. As for magazines, you can get some super low offers. $3.99 for one year, etc. Sometimes a free trial. Just cancel when/if it auto-renews. After a year I’m ready to move on to another mag anyway. Also swap out with family or friends.

    • Claire Murdough

      Great tips Marie!! I can’t wait to try the paper bag trick… paper towels have always been a spending pain point!