Some of the best things you can get for free
Only one thing beats getting a good price on something, and that’s getting it for free.
Our list of freebies is packed with something-for-nothing deals. We don’t allow any useless junk on our list — only quality goods and services that you would happily pay good money for (perhaps you’re already doing so).
Go ahead. Put away your wallet. We insist!
Whether you are a fan of true-crime, comedy or technology podcasts, there are apps and websites that help you avoid subscription and download fees so you can tune in to your favorite episodes while you’re at work, in the library, or tackling a home repair project on the weekend.
Stitcher, TuneIn Radio, and Spotify let you listen to unlimited podcast episodes without paying. You can listen online, or install their free apps to listen on-the-go.
Free music lessons
Have you always wanted to learn an instrument, or are you itching to revisit your glory days of playing the drums in your best friend’s garage? Those dreams can become a reality with free websites and apps that help you beat the often steep prices of private music lessons and recording and editing software.
Violin Lab, Hoffman Academy and Drum Ambition offer free tutorials and practice sheet music to beginning learners. MusicTheory.net offers free lessons on music theory for those looking for a more advanced understanding, and MuseScore is a free, open source site for composing and notating sheet music.
Sometimes you just need somebody to talk to. The website 7 Cups provides free counseling and listening services to those in need. The site (and its corresponding app) is based around an instant messaging model where you can either volunteer as a listener or message confidentially with a volunteer.
The site does have a premium version where you can chat with licensed therapists, but it’s designed to be an initial step for those seeking help.
Similar to 7 Cups, Blah Therapy offers a premium version where you pay a monthly subscription fee to message a licensed therapist. However, it also has a completely free version that connects you with a trained listener who most likely has also been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Reachout, while not designed to take the place of in-person therapy, is a network of people diagnosed with chronic illnesses who provide peer counseling to each other.
Free smoke detectors
According to the National Fire Protection Association, three out of five home fire deaths occur in houses that don’t have properly working smoke detectors. In January 2018, Maryland passed a law requiring all residents to have a working smoke detector installed, and Virginia lawmakers have now made it legal for localities to implement similar policies.
Several local fire departments offer free smoke detectors, and will even come to your house to install them. For example, residents of Baltimore City, Washington, D.C., Fairfax City, and Arlington, Loudoun and Prince George’s counties can call their fire department’s non-emergency number to request a free smoke detector. Montgomery County offers free installation of smoke detectors bought by residents.
Free resources for income investors
You can find millions of pages of free information online, but how many of them enable you to reap a tangible benefit? Consider our favorite free sources for reasoned discussion and hard-to-find financial data for income investors.
For example, the Closed-End Fund Association has a tool for sorting and screening more than 600 closed-end funds. InvestingInBonds.com offers real-time market data on bond trading action and prices. Screen the tax-free bond universe for top yields with the Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) system (www.msrb.org) And get monthly updates by sector (such as the High Yield and Mortgage Market updates) from www.tcw.com.
Free ETF Trades
The less you pay in investing fees, the more you will have left to actually invest and see grow with the magic of compounding. So it really pays to focus on trading commission-free exchange-traded funds.
Most online brokers offer a host of commission-free ETFs. Vanguard offers the most, with roughly 1,800 funds, including names from iShares and State Street.
Fidelity currently offers 95 commission-free ETFs, while Charles Schwab offers more than 200 ETFs with no commission. TD Ameritrade, meanwhile, offers more than 300 ETFs without a commission.
At Gutenberg.org or the University of Pennsylvania’s Online Books Page (onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu), you won’t pay a cent to legally download thousands of books that have expired copyrights, including War and Peace, Moby Dick and Little Women. You can also search for free e-books at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and iTunes.com.
If you have a Kindle or the free Kindle reading app, you can swap e-books with your friends for as long as 14 days per book.
© 2018 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.