15 Unexpected Things People Used to Pay for But Are Now Free

Technology has transformed access to goods and services. Many expensive products and services are now freely available resources. The following are fifteen things that used to cost money but are currently free. 

1. Taking Pictures

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Taking pictures is so commonplace in our society that it's strange to imagine there was a time when taking photos was a long process that actually cost you money. If you had a camera, you'd have to purchase film, develop it, and then pay for printing. Anyone who didn't have a camera of their own would have to go to a photo studio to have their pictures professionally taken. Currently, taking pictures only costs you the energy it takes to unlock your phone. 

2. Credit Reports 

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There were no free options to request a credit report in the past; it would cost money or require a subscription to a credit monitoring service. Since the U.S. government has declared that everyone is entitled to one free report yearly, numerous sites offer free credit reports to help you monitor your financial health. 

3. Text Messages 

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Text messaging has come a long way since customers had to pay for each individual text message sent. Currently, text messages are typically bundled into phone packages and are often unlimited. There are also free text messaging options like WhatsApp and Apple's iMessage that only require an internet connection to send messages. 

4. Fitness Programs

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Fitness programs have evolved from gym memberships and personal trainers to include free YouTube channels and apps to help keep you in shape. Whether you prefer yoga, dance workouts, or pilates, several free options are available to get fit from the comfort of your home.  

5. The News

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Gone are the days when newspapers and cable news channels were the only reputable news sources. Currently, news is freely available at your fingertips, on your phone, through social media, and on free news sites. While several paid platforms offer high-quality journalistic pieces, the news is free for the average consumer. 

6. Music

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Imagine paying a fee every time your favorite artist releases a new song. A  few decades ago, before free music streaming services, you had to purchase a CD to listen to music. While there are still several music subscription platforms, several free options exist. 

7. GPS 

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Once, getting lost meant stopping at a gas station to buy a map. Paper maps were eventually replaced by costly standalone GPS devices. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. If you need directions, several free apps like Google Maps and Waze can direct you to your destination with real-time traffic updates. 

8. Classified Ads 

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A few decades ago, if you needed to publish a personal ad, you would have to pay to place one in the newspaper's classified section. Now, with platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, your classified ads are accessible to everyone online free of charge. 

9. Educational Courses

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Education has historically been expensive, but several platforms offer free online options. Websites like Coursera, edX, and Khan Academy offer courses from universities worldwide on a wide variety of subjects. These platforms make education accessible to anyone who couldn't afford it. 

10. Budgeting Tools

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Imagine having to spend money to learn how to manage your money better. For several years, budgeting tools for personal and business use would come with a price tag or through a paid financial service. Currently, several apps and websites offer budgeting tools for free. 

11. Long-Distance Calls

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It's hard to imagine how difficult and expensive long-distance phone calls used to be. To save money on your phone bill, you'd be careful not to talk for too long when calling friends and loved ones overseas. With free calling services like WhatsApp, Skype, and more, you're free to speak to anyone worldwide without fearing a massive phone bill. 

12. Public Wi-Fi

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Public Wi-Fi was nonexistent a few decades ago. If you needed access to the internet while on the go, you would have to pay an internet cafe to access their internet. Now, restaurants, libraries, airports, supermarkets, and even some public parks provide internet access for free. 

13. Photo Editing Software 

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Photo editing software has long had hefty price tags that made them unattainable to the average user. However, with apps and websites like Microsoft Designer and Canva, the average, untrained individual can now access free photo editing software and tools. 

14. Language Learning Classes

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Have you ever wanted to learn a new language? People have spent a lot of money learning a new language for decades. However, with the latest free language learning apps and platforms like Duolingo, learning a new language can be enjoyable, interactive, and, most importantly, free. 

15. Sending Letters

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When was the last time you sent an actual letter? While paying to send mail through the post office is still an option, email has made communicating with anyone, anywhere, at any time, easy and free. 


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She started her blog, The Money Dreamer, when she realized the 9-5 job was not the lifestyle she wanted anymore. After designing for a while, she wanted a more meaningful life, which was freedom, so she decided to venture out. She took action so that she can live her dream life and decided to help people to live theirs by helping them how to save, budget, and invest.

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