6 Things You Should Never Pay For

When I was much younger, I had a great-aunt who was 97 years old. One day I asked her why she thought she had lived so long. Her response was that she wasn't willing to settle - and she lived her life always looking for the best deal and better terms. But even if getting the best deal won't necessarily ensure a long life, it will save you a lot of money.

What's better than a good deal? Getting something for nothing. In fact, there are a number of items you can get for free - if you just know where to look:

1. Credit Report
There are a myriad of websites that offer credit monitoring services for a fee. But the fact is you can do it yourself. Once per year, request a copy of your credit report for free from each of the three major credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com. Mark it on your calendar to check once every four months with one of the three agencies.

2. Anti-Virus Software
Sure, you can pay for anti-virus protection - but why spend that money? You can get all the protection you need without spending a dime. Avast and AVG are the two most popular free options. Just pay attention during the download process - if you're not careful, you may find yourself with unneeded toolbars and other unnecessary features.

3. Batteries
Sign up to receive the email newsletter from your preferred office supply retailer. Most office supply stores make all battery purchases eligible for 100% cash back rewards throughout the year. Just be sure to redeem rewards for items you would have bought anyway.

4. Computer Software
The website CNET links to and reviews a variety of computer software programs available for free. Also, instead of purchasing Microsoft Office, check out OpenOffice. It offers a close replica of the more popular Microsoft Office - but it's free of charge.

5. Document Backup Service
Backing up your sensitive files online is always a good idea. Carbonite is a great option, but it's fairly expensive. Instead, consider a service like Dropbox. You get 2GB of online storage for free, and you can download an app for easy document viewing from your smartphone or mobile device.

6. School Supplies
The same newsletter you signed up for from your favorite office supply store will also tell you when school supplies are eligible for 100% cash back rewards. This deal usually runs during back-to-school time, but is often available at other times of the year as well.

Final Thoughts
When it comes to finding the best deals, it's mostly a matter of knowing where to look. And if you aren't already doing this, check out Freecycle.org for other items you need before you purchase them. The site is designed for people who simply want to give away no longer needed items with no hassle. You might be surprised at what you'll find. What other items have you obtained for free?

David Bakke is a contributor for Money Crashers Personal Finance, a website and resource dedicated to helping people save money and shop smart.

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