There's nothing better than scoring a much needed item or service at a discount -- unless, of course, you can get it for free. Many of you may write off finding free products or services since most freebies are limited to laundry detergent and toothpaste. Believe it or not, though, you are likely paying for a service right now that you could be getting for free. From home phones to hair cuts, here are six services you may not be able to live without but you don't have to pay for, either.
Cable and Internet providers like you to believe that bundling your home phone is a great way to cut monthly costs. Though you may save a few bucks this way, you're still looking at paying an average of $40 a month for a landline. Why pay this pricey home phone bill when you can get free Internet phone service from providers like Ooma without sacrificing service or quality? Rated #1 for Home Phone Service by Consumer Reports for three years in a row, Ooma lets you make crystal-clear calls anywhere in the U.S. for free: Simply connect the device to your high-speed Internet and regular home phone, and activate online for free calls anytime. You are only responsible for paying applicable taxes and fees, saving you nearly $500 annually.
These days, our fingers do all the talking as we turn to text messaging for instant communication. While this feature seems inexpensive at an average of $15 per month for an unlimited plan, the markup on this service is outrageous at 6,500 percent. According to CNN Money, text messages use very little data and cost mobile carriers nearly nothing to send so it's pure profit. That's why you will be happy to hear that there are a growing number of free messaging apps like TextFree, ChompSMS and Google Voice that let you send and receive messages at absolutely no cost while cutting your mobile bill by $180 or more a year.
A survey conducted by Tresemme shows that women spend $50,000 on hair services over a lifetime including cuts, color, shampoo/conditioner and other styling product purchases. Though this figure is shocking, you don't have to give up taming your tresses to save money. Beauty schools are a great place to get free cuts and even color application as students need real models to practice on. Though this makes some people quiver, rest assured there is a licensed professional supervising the trainees during each session. Check out the website for The National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Science to find an accredited institution near you. Don't forget to ask your local salon about free or deeply discounted stylist-in-training services, too. For instance, Bumble in Bumble in New York offers free haircuts, styles and color through the University Model Project.
We've all seen the promotion for "buy one adult entree, get one kid's meal free," but not every restaurant that offers this special advertises it. According to MyKidsEatFree.com, 80 percent of Kids Eat Free specials are promoted via word of mouth, which means you could be missing out on such deals. Next time you plan your family outing, review this list of 101 Restaurants where Kids Eat Free from MrFreeStuff.
Massages are not just a luxury service: they are often touted for offering multiple benefits to overall health including improved blood flow, reduced anxiety and strengthened immune system, as explained by Science Daily. Unfortunately, massage services can be pricey and regular visits are far from an option. Though you can usually score a daily deal for nearly 50 percent off a back rub, you still have to cough up the rest of the cash plus tip (at usually 20 percent of the regular rate before discount). That's why I suggest heading to a massage school where you can find free or reduced rate massages in return for students gaining experience. Aside from massage schools, check your local community college or hospital for massage training programs. Since appointments are typically limited and book quickly, check back frequently.
Did you know that your oral health directly affects your overall health and has been linked to various diseases like endocarditis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes? Though daily brushing, flossing and eating healthy foods play important roles in keeping your mouth healthy, regular dental checkups and professional cleanings are a must. If you don't have dental insurance don't worry about the high cost of care because there are plenty of free options. For instance, you can find free dental clinics in your area by searching FreeDental.org or call a local dental school to find out about free services provided by students. Though you may have to enter a pool before you become a patient, it's a great way to keep costs down without compromising your health.
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Andrea Woroch is an established consumer-savings expert passionate about helping individuals discover financial freedom. She understands everyday costs quickly add up and life can get expensive. Her goal is to teach consumers how to live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance and savings advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. AndreaWoroch.com