There’s always something new to spend money on when it comes to tech. Here’s a secret these companies don’t want you to know: There’s a lot you can get without spending a penny.
Take photo storage. Are you using the free storage you can get from Apple, Google, and Amazon?
Here are some more freebies you can thank me for later.
image editing software
Photoshop is the photo editing program, but the software subscription is expensive. Here are some free ways to crop, lighten, and otherwise adjust your photos:
Canva: This easy-to-use browser and app-based editing software is ideal for creating presentations, social media graphics, marketing materials, posters, and anything else you can think of.
Pixlr X: This tool runs in your browser; No download is required. It has advanced features like photo filters and drawing options, but it really shines with easy-to-use crop and resize tools.
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GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program): This professional photo editor works similar to Photoshop. Unlike Photoshop, GIMP is free to download.
Photoshop is also testing a free, browser-based version for Adobe Account users.
Video editing software
This is one of those things you don’t need until you really need it. Maybe you’ve been commissioned to put together a video for a wedding or class reunion, or maybe you’re finally looking to start a YouTube channel.
Most reliable video editing programs cost an arm and a leg. Note that I said the most. When it comes to free options, DaVinci Resolve takes the cake.
If you have a Mac or an iPhone, you’ll be glad to know that Apple iMovie is a surprisingly good video editor.
word processing software
When it comes to productivity software, Microsoft Office is the gold standard. Of course it’s expensive. I’ve been recommending LibreOffice for years. It’s an open-source software suite that works similarly to the apps in Microsoft Office.
It also saves new files in Office formats, so you don’t have to worry about file conversions.
Brush up on your college Spanish
Duolingo is a top-notch language learning app, and with good reason. It’s easy to use, engaging, and surprisingly simple.
Duolingo offers 37 languages including Spanish, French, Japanese, German, Latin, Korean, Scottish Gaelic, Ukrainian, Italian and Chinese. Having trouble staying engaged? Duolingo offers daily reminders that keep you accountable every day.
eBooks for your summer vacation
Digital books can add up, especially if you’re a voracious reader. OpenLibrary.org you can browse thousands of books to find your next favorite. Sign up, confirm your email and you’re good to go. You can start surfing in just a few minutes.
Thanks to the USPS, you can get free envelopes and boxes.
It’s not just one or two either. You can get a packet of 50 Priority Mail Express packets for free. You can get medium sized boxes, shoe boxes and more.
Update your passport photo
Go to ePassportPhoto.com and follow a few steps to capture the perfect picture. It’s pretty simple, and the website tells you exactly what to do.
Magazines for leisure
Do you have an Amazon Prime account? You can access a rotating library of popular magazines for free for 30 days. The Prime Reading benefit is an excellent way to save money that you would otherwise spend on expensive monthly subscriptions.
Titles include Wired, Popular Science, Reader’s Digest, Taste of Home and more.
Weekend project ideas for you and the kids
If you or someone you know loves to sew, check out FreeNeedle. It includes step-by-step tutorials, sewing and crochet patterns, and helpful articles.
Instructables.com has an excellent library of projects for all ages and skill levels for those more interested in crafts and woodworking. There is something for everybody. Here are some of my favorites:
Build a spaceship-shaped chicken coop
Design a custom fighting game controller
Burner Email Addresses
Want a coupon code but don’t want the spam emails that come with it? Use a burner email address.
You can use a free one-way email service like 10-Minute Mail. It’s easy to create a temporary email address to ensure your security, so you don’t have to reveal your personal and work email address.
Do you use an iPhone? The Hide My Email feature is powerful, easy to use, and requires no additional downloads.
Internet Speed Tests
Free internet speed tests can help determine if you’re actually getting your advertised plans. One of the most reliable free speed tests is Speedtest.net. This site measures various statistics like ping time, download speed and upload speed of your internet connection.
If you’re a fan of streaming videos, try Netflix’s free internet speed test. Fast.com.
Cheap or free internet
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program offers up to $50 per month for broadband service. To qualify, you must meet one of five criteria, one of which is an income of 135% or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.