Reporting Leigh Ann Adam
If you like free stuff raise your hand. Okay so we have established that everyone does.
If you feel like that in recent years you have been receiving less freebies than you used to, its because you have.
Here is our list of 10 things that used to be free that you now have to pay for, and some tips on getting these items as cheaply as possible.
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.