The BBC is on the other side of the pond, but it offers a free 12-week class to learn French, Spanish, Italian, or German, gratis. You’ll even get a certificate at the completion of the course. BBC also offers other audio and video courses in the four languages – as well as help in learning more exotic languages such as Chinese, Russian, and Greek.
12. Free checking
According to The Wall Street Journal, the average minimum checking account balance required to avoid a monthly fee at U.S. banks is $723 – and the average monthly fee is $5.48.
But banks aren’t the only game in town. While not all offer free checking, the prospect of lower fees is one of 7 Reasons You Should Join a Credit Union.
Another option is online-only banks. Without the overhead of brick-and-mortar branches, the terms are often much better. Consumerism Commentary ranks The Best Online Checking Accounts.
Too much hassle to leave your bank? Threaten to and see if you can have fees reduced or eliminated.
13. Free credit reports and scores
Don’t ever pay for a copy of your credit report. Instead, go to AnnualCreditReport.com for a free look at your credit history once a year.
When it comes to free credit scores, you can turn to sites like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame, although they won’t give you the most widely used score, the FICO score. For that, you could try enrolling in a FICO product that comes with a free score, then cancelling within the cancellation period.
14. Free cash
Tired of paying a $2.50 “convenience fee” for using an ATM that’s not in your bank’s network? Use an app like ATM Hunter to find a branch ATM. If you can’t find an ATM near you for a free cash withdrawal, no worries: Plenty of stores will give you cash back with no fee when you make a purchase.
15. Free information
Use the search feature on your smartphone, or text a business name to G-O-O-G-L-E, and you’ll get the number texted back. You can also dial free 411 (1-800-Free411). The results are sponsored by companies (you’ll have to listen to a 10-second ad), but it’s free.
16. Free scholarship search
Plenty of websites offer free searches for scholarships, such as Fastweb. There’s even a company called Free Scholarship Searches that offers links to 40 websites that offer free scholarship searches.
17. Free baggage
My wife and I went to Europe for 10 days with just one carry-on each. If we can do it, so can you. But if you insist on checking a bag, try to fly with the only two airlines that allow one free checked bag: Southwest and JetBlue. And avoid the two that slap consumers in the face by charging for carry-ons: Spirit and Allegiant.
Need to check and need to fly an airline that charges? Delta, United, and American all offer credit cards that include checked-bag fee waivers for cardholders and, in some cases, their companions.
18. Free entertainment
As we point out in 19 Tips to Save on Entertainment, your local library, parks, and universities offer lots of free fun, from books to plays to concerts. Join email lists to see what’s up. And of course, there’s the Internet, offering free games as well as articles. Just go to the website of your favorite news source.
Volunteering doesn’t cost a dime and can pay off for both you and your community. Local animal shelters, home-building groups, shelters, and food banks are always looking for volunteers. And check out volunteer opportunities at local festivals and events. By volunteering, you get to go to the event free.
19. Free water
While technically not free, tap water is about as close as you can get. If you’re concerned about water quality, buy a filter. But don’t ever pay for water at a convenience store.
20. Free telephone calls
Always calling a loved one long-distance? If you both get something like Skype, you can talk all you want without paying a dime. And with a service like Google Voice, you can get all of your cell phone calls free too.
21. Free everything else
You have something you don’t want, but it’s too valuable to throw away. You might donate it to charity, but you also might give it away at sites like Craigslist or Freecycle, a nonprofit set up to help you find free stuff and keep it out of landfills. From used furniture to sport equipment, you’ll be amazed at what people give away.
Bottom line? While the best things in life are always free, so is lots of other stuff. If you want to find some extra money in your budget, stop paying for things you could have for nothing.