September 26, 2010

Free Stuff We Used to Have to Pay For

The other day I was posting an ad on Craigslist and it occurred to me how nice it was that I didn't have to pay the local newspaper $40 to run a 2 line add for 3 days.  I started to think about how there are a few things we used to routinely spend money on that are now generally had for free.   Heres a list of a few things I thought of that I get for free now but paid for in the past.

Classified ads - It used to be that the only real way to do any kind of classified ad was to call up the local newspaper and pay for an ad.  Now Craigslist is used by the vast majority of local classifieds and its free.

Long Distance Phone Calls - I remember when long distance phone calls were around 10¢ per minute.   I would easily spend over $20 a month on telephone calls just to call my family.  Now its very easy to avoid paying for long distance as most people use cell phones which do not charge extra for long distance.  Even without a cell phone many phone plans offer free long distance and you can use Google voice or other online methods for free long distance.

Newspaper and Magazine articles - With the internet you can usually get the content of your local newspaper and many magazines free on their website.    Of course not all papers and magazines have everything free but many do.

Checking Accounts - When I first got my first checking account in the late 80's the standard was to pay a monthly fee for the account.  Now most checking accounts do not have monthly fees so this expense is easily avoided.

ATM Fees - I recall paying for ATM usage when the machines came out.   Nowadays you should easily be able to avoid paying ATM fees.   Some banks and credit unions do charge you fees for using their own machines but it is very common to find free ATM usage at least for a banks own machines.

Stamps for bills - I used to sit down once a month to pay my bills.   Now I have everything on auto pay.   Using auto pay saves the postage you'd have to spend to mail the bills.  

Encyclopedia sets - In the "olden days" people would spend a LOT of money to buy an encyclopedia set.   Today with all the information freely available on the Internet the need or practical use for encyclopedia sets is all but dead. 

Faxes - I don't remember the last time I had to send a fax.  I never owned a fax machine myself so if I did have to send one I'd have to go to the copy store and pay them $1-$2 or something.  Nowadays email has essentially replaced the fax.  

I'm probably forgetting some other items that are now free. 

Can you think of any other things that are commonly free today but we had to pay for in the past?

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