18 items you should never pay for

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Nothing in life comes absolutely free, but there are things you can take advantage of getting for free in your everyday life.

Why go to a cafe that charges you for Wi-fi when you can go to one that offers it free of charge? And why shell out for someone to help you with tax preparation and filing when there are tons of reliable online resources you can use for free?

Being frugal is about being smart, and sometimes there are ways to cut expenses without having to sacrifice the services or items that you need.

There are alternative options and different methods for everything on this list, and paying for any of these is a spending mistake.

Here are 18 everyday items and services that you should never pay for:

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18 things you should never pay for
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18 items you should never pay for

ATM fees

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Napkins

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DVDs/VHS tapes

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Bottled water

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Travel-sized toiletries 

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Foreign language lessons

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Travel/navigation apps

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Tax preparation

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Museum tickets

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News

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Wi-fi outside of your home

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Cable TV

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Books (hard copy or on an e-reader)

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Extended warranties on big purchases

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Credit card usage abroad

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Memory sticks/cards

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Credit report/score

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Long-distance phone calls

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Sometimes, it's as simple as utilizing the free version of an app instead of upgrading to the premium or taking advantage of free water in cafes and restaurants.

SEE ALSO: 15 money-making items you didn't even know you had in your attic

Of course, it's difficult to cut the necessary costs in life, like groceries and gas.

But the good thing to know is that when you need to cut corners, there are certainly ways around the everyday expenses.

Here are a few more easy ways to put more money in your pocket:

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Easy ways to put more money in your pocket
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18 items you should never pay for

Automate your finances. 

Set up your finances so that money is taken straight from your paycheck and deposited directly into your savings account or a retirement savings account. You can also set up your fixed bills like your Internet and cable to be automatically deducted from your checking account. Automate your finances to save time and prevent overspending. If you see extra money in your account, chances are you’ll find a way to spend it, leaving you little to invest in your future. Automation helps keep your priorities in line so that as money comes in, it is dispersed to your other accounts immediately.

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Cut back. 

At least twice a year, look at your expenses line by line and see if you’re getting the most bang for your buck. For example, do you read the magazines you subscribe to or maximize that gym membership? If the answer is “no,” consider canceling or negotiating a better rate. Take that money you save, and apply it toward bigger payoffs like debt reduction, retirement or an emergency fund.   

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Get rewards. 

Lots of people use debit cards to make it easy to buy and budget for groceries, gas and other routine purchases. Instead of doing that, look into a credit card with a great rewards program for those daily purchases, and set it up to automatically pay the statement balance from your checking account each month. Over the course of the year, you could potentially pocket a few extra hundred dollars just by using a card with a good rewards program instead of your ordinary debit card (just make sure you’re paying off your credit card every month, so you don’t pay extra in interest).

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Boost your income. 

If you love your job and want to grow your career, it's time to think about boosting your income as well. Make it a goal to negotiate a raise this year. Consider your strengths and look at the value you've provided to your company over the last six months to a year, and discuss it during a performance review. This can feel intimidating, but it never hurts to ask.

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Get a side gig. 

Take advantage of your skills, or turn a hobby into profit. Doing so can help you generate extra income – which you can put toward reaching your financial goals. Etsy, for example, is a great place to sell one-of-a-kind products.  If you have Web design, copy editing or other creative skills, consider offering your services on freelance websites such as Fiverr or Elance. These types of side gigs will allow you to earn extra income while also growing your skills.

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Track your progress. 

You can’t save money if you don't know where your money is going. Every month, track your net worth using a personal finance tool or app that will show you exactly where your money is going. This will make you think about your entire financial picture from income and expenses to investments and taxes. With this focus, you can ultimately make the greatest impact on your finances in 2015.

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