17 Things We Used to Pay for But No Longer Have To

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By Darryl Henderson

While the cost of living is increasing, thankfully, there are certain things we can get for free nowadays. If you’ve been living under a rock, here are 17 things that we used to pay for, and you can now get them for free!


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The world of music has progressed to provide free streaming services—albeit with ads—that we can use on any device at any time. This is a far cry from the days when the only option was to purchase records, tapes, and CDs.

Maps and Navigation

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If you wanted to explore a new place in the past, you usually needed to buy a physical map or a GPS to keep you on the right track. These days, maps and navigation cost nothing; they’re provided for free with Google and Apple Maps installed on all devices. It’s super convenient!

Long-Distance Communication

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It used to be that you had to make a long-distance call with extra charges, especially overseas, but now free instant messaging services are the norm. CNN reports that one-third of Americans prefer to text rather than take a call, and that’s no surprise considering that it’s essentially free.


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Encyclopedias used to be the go-to for any information, yet they came with a price tag – either to buy them for your collection or to gain access to them in public spaces. Nowadays, you don’t have to pay a penny for online resources or academic databases to find the information you need.


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Back in the old days, you had to buy your local newspaper to find out the latest headlines, but all of that is in the past, thanks to free online news portals. Social media also provides a stream of real-time updates for no cost at all, although you have to watch out for misinformation.

Movies and TV Shows

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Streaming charges are very much optional these days, as there are many free streaming platforms and websites to watch for free with ads. Most people pay monthly subscriptions to access their favorite shows, but when it’s only a few bucks for thousands of shows, it kind of feels like it’s free! 

Language Learning

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The BBC shares that learning even the easiest languages takes at least 480 hours of study, but unlike in the past, this doesn’t have to be expensive. Previously, you had to pay for every hour of classes, but now, free language learning apps mean that you do not have to pay a penny!

Fitness Classes and Workouts

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Another thing we no longer have to pay for is dedicated fitness classes or workouts, as all of these can be accessed online for free, down to very specific exercise requirements or even details such as class length. Most people can avoid a gym fee altogether and still have professional workouts at home!


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It used to be normal for dedicated software to come with exclusive price tags. Nowadays, there are so many free alternatives to paid software that are just as good as the original, with even the advanced models offering basic features without having to pay. It’s a computer nerd’s paradise.

Textbooks and Educational Material

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The advancement of the Internet means most educational material, including PDF versions of textbooks, can be found for free online. That’s a far cry from the educational textbooks of the past, which were incredibly expensive. Still, students had no choice but to buy a physical copy.

Stock Photos and Graphics

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Trying to find a photo online used to involve fees and permissions for using stock photos, but now, many websites offer the use and download of stock photos for free. Additionally, free graphic design tools are available online for everyday use, so there’s no longer any financial excuse for not getting creative.

Cloud Storage

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Cloud storage used to be costly until recently; if you needed extra storage, you had to pay for it. These days, you can find many free storage solutions online, including Google Drive and Dropbox, meaning you can safely back up your work without spending a penny.

Banking Services

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Years ago, the only option for banking was to use a brick-and-mortar bank and all the fees that came with it, but online banking now means that many services are quick, easy, and, more importantly, free. Most online banks don’t even require a minimum deposit to open a new account, points out Investopedia.

Event Invitations and RSVPs

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Many people used to have to factor in the cost of printed invitations to events like weddings—not to mention the postage costs. Thanks to online tools that offer free design templates for emails or even enable us to send a social media message, paying for invitations is now optional!

Classified Ads

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Wanting to place an ad used to come with significant fees—there was no way to advertise something without paying, despite there being no guarantee of success. Nowadays, you can use free online classified ad websites to list whatever you need, which comes with zero risk in the event of a flop!


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There used to be very limited options for reading books if you wanted to avoid buying them outright, usually limited to your local library. Thankfully, online resources and the development of e-readers now allow you to get many titles these days for no cost at all. Libraries are even offering e-book lending.

Cooking Recipes

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Finally, we once had no choice but to buy a cookbook or ask a friend for new recipes, but now, you can find everything online. According to HuffPost, trying out a new recipe can make you more mindful about your diet, so these free recipes can significantly improve your life. If you’re not using them, you’re missing out!

Up Next: 17 Things That Will Soon Cease to Exist in America

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The modern world has brought with it a world of advantages, with convenience and speed key to every new invention. Sadly, this is rapidly making many existing things useless in America, just like the following 17 examples that won’t be around much longer.


17 Fish You Should Never Eat

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Fish is a staple food in many diets worldwide, with an average of 7.1 million tons consumed per year in the USA alone. However, not every fish species is appropriate for consumption due to various environmental and health reasons, as the following 17 examples show!


17 Subtle Signs of a Toxic Family Member

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Having a toxic family member can be tough, especially if you live with them in the same house. They can make you feel bad about yourself and trap you in a cycle of self-doubt. So, let’s reveal 17 subtle signs of an extremely toxic family member.