Have you ever heard it said that when you get something free, you get what you pay for? There are many variations of the saying. Even more concerning is the axiom that when you don’t pay for the product, you are the product. There are echoes of truth in each of these sayings. It is often the case that it is more troublesome to get something for free than to just go ahead and pay a fair price for it.
Also disturbing is the number of people who just rush to get the cheap or free thing without a moment’s pause. Something of quality might be on the shelf for a little more money that wouldn’t strain their budget. But they pursue the budget item anyway thinking they are being smart with their money. In most cases, the appropriate aphorism would be something like, “penny wise and pound foolish.”
That said, there are still a few things out there that don’t cost much, if anything, and are safe to recommend to the people you love. While in consumer terms, it is debatable whether or not the best things in life are free, there are some free things that are pretty good. Here are a few examples:
If you already have a free checking account from a great banking institution, you already know the joys of paying no pesky fees that are frankly superfluous and insulting. Some people aren’t so lucky. They have always had excessive fees that nickel and dime them to death. Perhaps they were convinced that paying those fees assured more or better service. They were wrong.
Some people go in the completely opposite direction and remain unbanked altogether. They get paid by check and cash that check every payday. That is the only relationship they have with a banking institution. They pay their bills in person. They keep their cash in the house, under the mattress, or in a jar buried in the back yard. Perhaps they could benefit from the good news about free checking.
Even checking accounts with fees or restrictions often keep the fees low and the restrictions to a minimum. What you get in return is far more than a couple of dollars worth of fees. Some such accounts pay dividends for maintaining a certain balance. You make money over time. There has never been a better time to take advantage of some excellent banking products. They’re worth it.
It is a myth that education is too expensive. Formal education is too expensive. A university degree is too expensive. But education has never been more affordable. It has always been free at libraries, but not always convenient or accessible. Now, for the price of an internet connection, you can get all the education you can handle.
On the internet, you can learn everything from the latest Mac tips, to how to code your own software. For years, people have been using the internet to learn how to cook, how to sew, how to type, how to play chess, how to speak a new language, how to fix a car, and so much more. All these life-changing lessons are available for free with a little digging around.
You can also focus on the most valuable skills, according to at least one futurist. And you can get them for free. Knowledge is power regardless of how much or how little you paid for it. So get out there and grab all the free knowledge you can hold.
Public transportation is not free. But it is heavily subsidized. In a city like New York, you can quite literally go to any destination for about $2.50 via one of the most extensive bus and subway systems in the world. New Jersey has full-size passenger trains that get you everywhere you want to be. The network of transportation allows you to freely travel between New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, in many cases, for less than it costs to take an Uber to Walmart. Before deciding there is nothing to do and no place to go, check your local public transportation options. They might be better than you think.
Free checking, free education, nearly free public transportation – may be the best things in life are free after all.