Saving money doesn’t always mean you need to have to give up the things you enjoy. There are plenty of things we pay for everyday that you can find some savings on (making coffee instead of going to Starbucks) or even get for FREE with a few extra steps.
We’ve rounded up a few of the creature comforts you might not know you could snag for free with just a couple of easy steps.
1. Live Television
If you want to cut your cable cord (and save over $1,000 each year on cable expenses) you don’t have to give up on watching television all together. With an easy to install antenna, you can access live local television on stations like ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox.
This means you can experience award shows, local news, and local sporting events without paying an extra utility bill each month. You’ll probably still want to complement your access with Hulu or Netflix, but if you’re on a tight budget you don’t have to miss out on everything.
Purchasing ebooks can cost $5 – $15 with each new book. Why buy books you’ll only read one time when your local library will allow you to access hundreds of books for free through Overdrive?
Overdrive is a virtual library system that you can access with your library card. Just like a regular library, only a few virtual copies may be allowed per location, so you may need to sign up for a wait list for the more popular pieces.
Once your copy is available, the download is sent instantly to your e-reader and ready to read. The download will expire within a set amount of time, so make sure to read the full book before it is due back to the library. You can also return it early to check out another book as soon as you finish the first one.
3. Photo Storage
In the last 10 years we’ve gone from printing out hundreds of physical photos to cherry picking only the best for actual printing. That means hundreds, if not thousands of photos (and memories) are sitting on USB cards, hard drives, and cell phones. For most families, an untimely computer failure might mean that entire years of childhood photos are lost.
There are many places you can electronically store images in the cloud, but dependent on the amount of photos you have to store and the size of the files, this may be an expensive endeavor.
Luckily, there are many free photo storage solutions that you can backup your favorites to (or entire collections in just a few minutes).
With unlimited storage and the ability to go up to 16mb per image, Google Photos is ideal for DSLR users. Upload directly from your phone, tablet, or computer and share access with family and friends to create group pools of images everyone can see.
Sign up for Google Photos.
For families who regularly print photos, backup storage on Shutterfly makes accessing and printing your photos a one stop shop. From traditional prints to customized home decor, you can make sure your photos live in your home as well as on unlimited cloud storage.
Sign up for Shutterfly.
For Apple users, iCloud storage is an easy and convenient way to backup all your phone images as you backup all the other important data on your phone. Free cloud storage is limited to 5gb but upgrading to 50gb is affordably priced at .99 per month.
Sign up for iCloud.
4. Continuing Education
With time and a passion for learning, you can pick up new skills, certifications, or even a university degree from the comfort of your own home.
With a mission to provide a free education anywhere in the world, Khan Academy provides classes starting at elementary education through college coursework. Students learn at their own pace and can use courses as an opportunity for additional tutoring or training for standardized tests.
Sign up for Khan Academy.
Coding and development have become an invaluable skill in our technology centric society. From building websites to programming robots, Code Academy can help prepare you for a career in technology or provide the skills you need to craft a creative website for your family.
Sign up for CodeAcademy.
Start your day with an economics class at Harvard and wrap up the afternoon learning Jane Erye at UC Berkeley. Founded by MIT and Harvard to provide high-quality courses from the world’s best universities with an easy to use online format, Edx allows students to complete Master’s Level programs that are accepted as university credit at real universities across the country.
Sign up for Edx.
5. Access to Museums and Zoos
As part of public support for museums, zoos, and cultural organizations, most offer free family days to ensure their facilities can be enjoyed by the entire community. For specific dates, check your nearest zoo or museum.
Free days are often the busiest, so plan ahead and arrive early to ensure that your family has the best access to the exhibits. If you can, pack a lunch to make the most of your savings and avoid the overpriced concession stands. If you can’t bring the meal inside, see if the location will allow reentry and enjoy a picnic near the parking lot before continuing the rest of the day.
Looking for other ways to save money? Check out our post on 7 apps that can help you save money while shopping.