THERE are only two ways to become richer — make more or spend less. And the best way to spend less is to stop paying for things you can get for free.
With that in mind, we compiled a list of items that you don’t need to shell out money for.
Places to stay while travelling
Not for everyone, but adventurous travellers wanting a more authentic experience than a hotel stay should check out Couchsurfing — a community of five million members in 100,000 cities offering strangers a place to crash during a visit to their part of the world. The site lets you search by gender, languages, and for safety’s sake, read other people’s references.
For the homeowner, House Swap Holidays and Aussie House Swap also offer an alternative to expensive accommodation, with as their names suggest house swapping. Membership fees mean they are not entirely free, but are the next closest thing to it.
Save money with sites such as Free Samples Australia and PINCHme which aggregate promotions and trial-size offers from manufacturers. They offer a host of freebies from coffee to cosmetics. While these type of freebies usually involve effort, such as liking a brand’s Facebook page or filling out a survey, you may find it worth the effort. Most offers require an email address so create a separate account for deals to prevent your regular one from being inundated with junk.
Household costs are always going to be heading north but eating out doesn’t need to be scrapped from your budget. There are thousands of restaurants and pubs across the country offering free meals for kids, usually with the purchase of a regular-priced adult meal. Check out Great Food Great Value for child-friendly venues and family meal deals. All capital cities have their own sites for families in search of meal deals so look them up before heading out.
Save yourself buckets of cash, reduce fashion waste and spruce up your wardrobe by swapping items of clothing that you no longer want for those that you do on sites such as The Clothing Exchange, or fossick for free clothing, furniture, toys, anything onZilch.
Household goods/gardening equipment
If you don’t mind owning second-hand good, it’s easy to deck out your house for free.OzRecycle, Freecycle, Zilch and Gumtree Freebies match people who have things they want to get rid of with people who can use them.
If you find yourself in financial trouble, it’s important that you seek advice as soon as possible. Avoid the debt services that charge fees and instead opt for a non-profit organisation, such as Financial Counselling Australia. FCA’s qualified debt advisers are in every state and territory, and the service is independent and confidential.
It’s freeware heaven out there. You can get software for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and other uses by going to Open Office Australia. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The net is full of alternatives to paid software that are 100 per cent legal and just as good for your productivity.
There are loads of free gaming websites, such as the appropriately named Play Free Games and Free Games. If it’s best-selling games you’re after, most game makers will allow you to download a demo of it from their site. You won’t get the whole game, but, hey, it is free.
OK maybe a more obvious one but here’s reminder that you can save a bundle by listening to all your music for free online. Spotify is probably the most popular option, although there are a host of alternatives.
Tired of paying a $2.50 “convenience fee” for using an ATM that’s not in your bank’s network? Australians waste $627 million a year on ATM fee surcharges a year. It seems ridiculous to pay money to access your own money, so instead use an app such as Find My ATM to seek our a branch machine.