10 things that used to be free
Remember when TV and food delivery were free? Today we're paying for those services and many more.
This post comes from Renee Morad at partner site Money Talks News.
We love free stuff, whether it's an autograph after a concert, a towel to wave during football games or chocolates on a hotel pillow. Sure, we paid for the tickets and the hotel room, but nevertheless, the extras were "free" -- and that feels good.
But in recent years, freebies, ranging from no-fee checking to in-flight meals, have vanished.
So what types of goods and services now require that we pay a pretty penny? And what can we do to make sure we get these items as cheaply as possible? Here are some things to consider:
1. Airline services
From baggage and leg room fees to charges for in-flight movies, meals and even bottles of water, airlines have "unbundled" many of their complimentary services and passed on these costs to the consumer.
How to save: Consider all of the extra charges before simply selecting the carrier with the lowest fare. Also fly prepared: Pack snacks and consider bringing your own entertainment, like a mini DVD player or a tablet.
2. Food delivery
Many restaurants now charge a delivery fee, usually anywhere from $1.50 to as much as $6. Then you're expected to tip the delivery person on top of that.
How to save: Simply ask if there's a delivery fee before placing your order. If so, consider doing takeout, or call another restaurant that offers free delivery.
Today, charges abound -- from monthly charges to overdraft and ATM fees. Some banks have even charged for talking to a teller. According to Bankrate's 2011 Checking Account Survey, only 45% of non-interest checking accounts were free, and maintenance fees averaged $4.37 a month last year, up from $2.49 in 2010. The average AMT withdrawal fee for a noncustomer was $2.40.
How to save: Comparison-shop for checking accounts, just as you would for, say, a new flat-screen TV. Ask about hidden fees to make the most informed decision. Also, limit ATM withdrawals to the financial institution where you hold that account.
Years ago, TVs with "rabbit ears" might have looked silly, but the programming was free. Today, local TV is still free, but more than 100 million American households pay for it through cable and satellite providers, according to research company SNL Kagan, and monthly costs average $50, or $75 for the digital version.
How to save: Negotiate the best rate, and don't be shy if a competitor is offering a better deal. Your cable company might match it.
Sure, there's still plenty of news out there for free, but 20% of U.S. newspapers require readers to pay to access online content, according to Mashable.
How to save: If the news outlet that you can't live without has a pay wall, keep an eye out for special promotions to reduce monthly or annual fees.
6. Trash pickup
Trash removal is certainly something we wouldn't want to pay for, and often it's included in your property taxes. But in some areas, that's changing. According to a survey of 70 Indiana cities conducted by Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman, 46 of those cities have a trash fee, while only 24 have no fee.
How to save: If your city charges for trash removal, make a conscious effort to limit your household waste. Recycle more or take your trash to your local landfill yourself -- although some counties charge a fee to do that too.
7. Gas station services
There was a time when gas station attendants would pump your gas and clean your windshield for free. Today, this complimentary service is nearly gone, with the exception of New Jersey and Oregon, where state laws prohibit self-service. Often, you'll even have to pay to pump air into your tires.
How to save: Since gas stations aren't exactly rolling out white-glove service these days, focus on navigating the car-wash scene instead to find the best deal.
8. School activities and facilities
As if college tuition wasn't high enough -- the average in-state tuition at public colleges is $8,244 a year, according to the College Board -- schools are increasingly charging extra fees for fitness facilities, parking garages or even campus health services.
Some public elementary and high schools have jumped on the bandwagon too, collecting fees for extracurricular activities and lab or course activities. Even field trip costs are on the rise in some schools.
How to save: Ask if a specific fee can be waived if you're not going to use the service.
9. Directory assistance
Back in the day, you weren't charged for calling directory assistance. Today, calling or texting your carrier's 411 service could cost you a couple bucks.
How to save: Look up a phone number for free online or do it the old-fashioned way -- the phone book.
10. Paying a bill by phone
Today, you often have to pay a fee just to pay your bill -- over the phone, that is. For example, DirecTV charges $5, and Verizon charges $3.50 for over-the-phone payments.
How to save: Pay online or send a check by mail. If you sign up for paperless billing, you'll eliminate the cost of a stamp each month. If you tend to forget to pay your bill until the last minute, put reminders on your calendar or make your online payments automatic.
More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:
Drawing Blood. It's my blood, if you want it, it's gonna cost you.
Answer a survey. My time is expensive, if you want answers prepare to pay for it.
Filling out forms multiple times. I was just in here 6 months ago and provide you with this information. If you want it again, crack out your check book. Otherwise, check your friggin files!
My apartment complex has recently removed the drop box to pay rent and taped notes to our doors asking that we use the new online bill pay, what they didnt say was that to pay online you will be charged an additional $25.00 "convenience fee"!!! What the hell??!! Its more convenient for THEM if I pay online so why would I pay more to save them a trip to the bank? Drop box or not I still pay by check, if the office is closed I force the envelope in thru the door and if they slip on it in the morning, oh well! Should've left the drop box where it was!
Thank you but . . . stuff it!
For 30 yrs we have had to pay for trash pick-up, in addition to that, we have a yearly "fire fee" we have to pay to the local volunteer fire dept. as we are just out of the city limits ( if you don't pay it, they won't pump the water to put out your fire and the insurance company won't pay for your damages) we have to pay for our fire protection and yet, beginning this year we now have a fire fee added to our property tax. The worst is the water and sewer bills, water bills allow nothing for outdoor usage and the sewer bill is 1 and 1/2 times the water bill.
We cut our electric bill in half by replacing all our bulbs with the compact fluorescents, before incandescent bulbs were eliminated, but what happens ? The power company loses money so they raise their rates, 5 rate hikes in 1 yr, so we're almost back to where we started. How can you win ?
TV is still free. I did away with cable 15 years ago and have never missed it.
People are always shocked to find out I don't have cable. I have the "silly" rabbit ears (and a converter box now that we've gone digital and I still have an old TV - nope, I won't spring for a new one, either) and get about 25 channels, which is more than enough.
Funny thing is, people are shocked to hear I don't have it, but at the end of my conversation with these shocked people, they ALWAYS say the same thing: "Well, there's nothing on cable, anyway."
So why on earth are you paying for it?! Sheesh!
There's no such thing as a 'good deal', and no such thing as a deal that stays the same. Every time you turn around, there's something new on the bill and 'they just can't do anything about it".
There was also once a concept for Free Breakfast for Hungry Kids.
Free glasses of water long before bottled came into view
A Salad used to be served prior to the entree atfancy restaurants, now it is an addition menu item.
I'm sure I will think of more!
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