Nothing in life is truly free, except for the following 10 things that under normal circumstances you should definitely never pay for.
1. Using the Bathroom
There are actually some countries in Europe and around the world that charge you a fee to use public restrooms.
While free public toilets still exist, there were a few places in Poland, Hungary, and the Czech republic where I had to pay anywhere from $0.30 to $1 to use the restroom.
2. Local Television
Believe it or not, if you live relatively close to a populated area, you can use a TV antenna to pick up high definition TV signals from a nearby TV tower and get dozens of free public channels like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and PBS.
For this, you’ll need to buy the TV antenna which costs anywhere from $10 up to $100, but once you have it set up, you’ll get free TV for life.
3. Air for Tires
A lot of gas stations charge you money to pump air into your car tires, but at the same time, you can find places that will do this for free.
A great resource to find places that provide free air for tires is freeairpump.com where you can enter your zip code and get a list of such places around you.
4. Bottled Water
Now for this one, I realize you ultimately have to pay for water in some way, shape, or form, but I want to emphasize the ridiculousness of buying bottled water.
A case of 32 bottles of Aquafina water costs $6 at WalMart. This equates to $1.42 per gallon of water.
At the very least, you can get purified or spring water at a water filling station for as little as $0.20 per gallon and fill your own bottles, but an even cheaper idea is to use your filtered water at home to refill a reusable water bottle.
While the cost of doing this will vary, for me I calculated the price of a gallon of water at home to be just a fraction of a penny which is over 700 times cheaper than bottled water!
Same concept here. Don’t pay $2 or $4 dollars for a bag of ice.
Instead, since water is a heck of a lot cheaper in your house, make your own ice at home.
6. Plastic Grocery Bags
Aside from being bad for the environment, plastic grocery bags are something that you should never pay for in the United States.
As a deterrent, some stores will charge you a few cents for each plastic grocery bag that you use. While this isn’t a lot of money, it’s unnecessary.
Instead, bring a reusable grocery bag or use an empty cardboard box to put your groceries in.
7. Cardboard Boxes
Many local companies in your area will happily give you free cardboard boxes that they plan to recycle anyway.
Do a simple Google search for free cardboard boxes, and a website like neighbor.com says that you can get free boxes on Craigslist, at liquor stores, book stores, Walmart, Costco, and many others.
8. Bank Fees
Bank fees include any type of fees associated with a checking or savings account like minimum balance fees and maintenance fees. If you have these type of fees with your bank, you need to switch banks.
Plenty of banks do not charge these types of fees including two banks that I personally use: Charles Schwab and Capital One 360.
9. ATM Fees
Again, if you are currently being charged ATM fees, then you need to switch to a bank that offers 100% ATM fee-free debit cards.
In my case, I’ve been using the Charles Schwab Investor Checking Debit card for the past 4 years now, and I’ve never paid an ATM fee. If I do use an ATM with fees, Schwab automatically reimburses me at the end of the month.
10. Cell Phone Insurance
Typically, providers charge upwards of $5/month per cell phone for protection insurance, but there are certain credit cards offer the benefit of free cell phone protection insurance including the Walmart Capital One credit card and the REI Mastercard.
UPDATE 2022: Cell phone protection insurance from the Walmart Rewards Card and the REI Mastercard is no longer available. Chase Freedom Flex, a credit card with no annual fee, has an identical benefit.
In both cases, as long as you pay your cell phone bill with the associated credit card every month, all phones on your plan are automatically covered by free cell phone insurance.