In an era of austerity and growing corporate manipulation you would be forgiven for thinking that everything has a price and nothing is free – but you’d be surprised to learn that this is isn’t the case.
There are free Wi-Fi hotspots all over the UK, in all major cities and particularly in areas where there are significant concentrations of students or businesses. Wi-Fi is key to making sure that you don’t go over your phone contract data allowances and can be essential for anyone without Internet access at home. From public buildings, to cafes, and even buses, you’ll find free Wi-Fi wherever you see the radar symbol.
2. Social media
One of the biggest communication revolutions of our time, social media has proven itself to be a fundamental for individuals and businesses. It can open up job opportunities, promote products, connect old friends and forge new networks and – for now, at least – it’s free.
3. Mobile handsets
It’s perfectly possible to go through your entire life never paying for a mobile handset again – just upgrade your phone every time you renew your contract and you’ll always have a relatively up to date model, for free. The only situation in which this doesn’t work is if you insist on having the very latest tech, in which case your bill could be up the several hundreds. If you choose a pay as you go phone, as opposed to a contract option, then you will most likely have to pay for your handset too but these start from as little as £10.
4. Information about your credit score
Organisations such as Experian and Equifax offer free insight into your credit score so that you can see exactly what lenders see when you’re applying for loans, mortgages or credit cards. While some of these organisations put a time limit on the free access, if you shop around you will always find other options where there is no fee to pay.
5. Kids meals
There are still thousands of restaurants all over the country where the ‘kids eat free’ slogan still applies. If you want to keep your family costs down then do a bit of online research before you head out to eat and find a local establishment offering children’s meals for £0. In London alone, the Tate, British Museum, Belgos, Bodeans, La Tasca and even hipster locations such as Tramshed, all offer free food deals.
There is no legal requirement for bars, cafes and restaurants to provide free tap water but most do, as that’s what customers expect. So, next time you’re presented with the options of ‘bottled still or bottled sparkling’ when you’re out to eat, try asking for ‘just tap water thanks’ instead.
7. Travel size toiletries
Yes, you could go into a high street chemist and spend a fortune on miniatures of all your favourite products – or you could get them for free instead. Asking brands direct for sample sizes or signing up with websites that aggregate promotions and trial size offers from manufacturers means that you can stock up on holiday essentials, for free.
Some specialist or insider information will always come with a price tag but the great thing about the connected world that we live in today is that you should never have to pay to find out what’s going on. While some newspaper websites and apps charge for content, most don’t, and there are databases of everything from whitepapers on the environment, to TED talks on global issues, all available for free online. If you come up across gated features when you’re searching then simply open a new window and you’ll likely be able to find the same content on a free site.
9. Money management tools
Whether you’re looking for a simple piece of budgeting software or an app that will alert you every time your bills are due, the best money management tools are free to download and use.
10. New music
While paying for new CDs, vinyl or downloads is a great way to show your support for an artist that you love, if you want to discover new musical talent without a charge then there are plenty of ways to do this for free. Try Spotify’s music streaming service or turn on to any of the hundreds of different radio shows and broadcasts, most of which are available digitally, online – for free.
11. Other Items
If you look around there is still free banking, free car parking, free exercise (avoid the gym and get down to the local park), free books/magazine (get to your local library), free computer software (but be careful what you download), free trips to museums and art galleries, interest-free periods on some credit cards, free long distance phone calls (use Skype or Facetime), etc. With a bit of research you can find numerous examples, and even if you can’t get the thing you need for free then you can probably find a lower cost alternative, and of course you can probably get hold of vouchers or coupons to get the cost down substantially.