4 Things You Don’t Really Need To Pay For

We all have things that we refuse to pay for when there are free or super cheap alternatives. But while everyone knows that you can get canning jars and scratched furniture on Freecycle, did you know that there are ways to expand your knowledge, see brand-new movies, watch premium streaming video, and listen to audiobooks, all for free? And legally. The “legally” part is key.

Consumerist alumnus Phil Villarreal wrote up four ideas for getting free stuff over at Money Under 30. The four categories, which you might not have thought of, are these:

  • College courses. Yes, there’s Coursera, which lets you audit classes without leaving your couch. You can also audit courses in real life at your local college or university – get to know the professors teaching classes that interest you, get their permission, and soak up the learning. You’ll still have to buy any textbooks required that aren’t available at your local public library, though.
  • Movies. First-run movies, no less. It’s easy to find free screenings of films that are new or are about to come out, even if you live far from New York or L.A. Phil recommends Text Movie Club and Gofobo.
  • Streaming services. This one requires paying attention, but use free trials for services like Netflix and Hulu and cancel them before they expire. This is great if you don’t know which service you like. An underhanded person might churn through different streaming providers over and over by sharing an account with their partner, roommate, friend, or adult offspring so a different adult is signing up each time. We do not condone that: maybe just sign up once, binge on movies, and take a few months to recover before trying out a different service.
  • Audiobooks. If you’re some kind of narration purist, this might not work for you, but you can listen to audiobooks for days and days without buying any at all. The trick? Public domain audiobooks! LibriVox offers free recordings of classic books read by volunteers. If the book you have in mind isn’t available there, put the full text in a text-to-speech app on your smartphone. They’re available for just a few bucks.

Free Stuff you can do That Costs Most People Money [Money Under 30]

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  1. AMysteriousStranger says:

    Your suggestion that people just sign up and cancel streaming services, repeatedly with their friends, is douchey and theft-like. That’s pretty lame. Businesses should be held accountable to the Consumerist for integrity – but the all-power consumer should be as douchey and dishonest as possible? Lame.

    • webalias says:

      Your point is well taken, and I agree wholeheartedly. The consumer behavior encouraged here may be legal, but ethical? It reminds me of another dubious practice — consumers who repeatedly purchase and return items they have no intention of keeping, essentially renting electronics, clothing and other merchandise for free. The problem is, free rent for these freeloaders must eventually translate into higher prices for you and me. It’s this kind of behavior that forced Costco to revise its once extraordinarily liberal return policies, just a few years ago. The behavior recommended in this article is beyond “lame,” it’s selfish, short-sighted and despicable.

  2. Alecto67 says:

    Don’t forget the library – you can download books to your kindle, etc and they have movies as well.

    • SuperSpeedBump says:

      YES!!! My Wife and I re-discovered the library last month and cancelled Netflix the same day. So I may have to wait a few days to get a movie I want, oh wait, Netflix was charging me for the exact same thing.

  3. Xenotaku says:

    Wait, you can audit classes for free at some places? It was $65/credit at my college.

  4. CzarChasm says:

    I make my own free stuff at home.