Don't Buy That

There are just some things you shouldn’t spend your money on. You probably don’t need a hot dog toaster (though I received one as a gift once) or a lifetime supply of hot sauce, so maybe its better to save those precious dollars instead. But what about the things you do need like clothing, books and apps for your fancy mobile device? 

Okay, so maybe apps aren’t a necessity. The good news is you don’t have to spend money in the app store to deck out your smartphone. You can get apps and other things for free or cheap if you know where to look. It's possible to save your pennies and still get what you want. 

Books

Does your city or town have a library? Instead of buying a book to read, take a trip to your local library and sign books out for free. Some libraries even offer DVDs, CDs and small electronics on loan. 

If you like to read on your iPad, Kindle or other mobile device, you can get some eBooks for free through the Maine InfoNet Download Library. Over 140 Maine libraries participate in this program with over 2,500 popular eBooks that you can borrow just like a real book. The eBook will remain available on your device for 7 to 14 days and is “returned” to the library when it is due.

There are also a number of free eBooks that are out of copyright and therefore have entered the public domain. These free eBooks have no due date and can also be downloaded through the Maine InfoNet Download Library or at Project Gutenberg. You can download these books on most mobile devices and enjoy as much classic literature as your heart desires without a library membership.

If your town doesn’t have a library, see if you can join a library in a neighboring town for a small fee. In some communities, towns without libraries will reimburse the cost of one membership per household at a participating public library. 

Apps

In an effort to get smartphone and mobile device users to purchase their products, app developers often offer a free version of their programs. Some free versions have limited features, but many have all the same functions as the paid version with a few ads displayed on the screen. Before buying that new app, see if there is a free version available first. You can test out the app before you buy, making sure you’ll be satisfied with your purchase. You may find that the ads in the free version don’t bother you, saving you the cost of the paid version.

Special Occasion Dresses

This one is for you, girls. Do you have a big event coming up like prom, formals or a wedding to attend? Don’t buy a brand new dress. You’re only going to wear it one night and it will spend the rest of its life tucked in a garment bag in the back of your too-small closet. Save yourself money (and precious closet space) and rent a dress instead. 

Rent the Runway features designer dresses, gowns and accessories for rent at a fraction of the cost to buy the same items. You could wear an $1100 Oscar de la Renta gown to that formal event for $175. Dress rentals start at $30 and you can keep it up to four days, or longer for a small fee. They’ll even send you two sizes so you’re sure to have a dress that fits. When you’re finished, just pop the dress back in the pre-stamped package and put it in the mail. No one will be wearing the same dress and you’ll look like a million bucks without draining your account.

How do you get things you want and need for free or cheap?