Although many folks raise an eyebrow at anything promoted as free, the truth is that free is good. There are so many no-cost products available, but most people just don't know where to look. Here's a list of five free things we all can use.
Exercise: Yes, running around your block is free, but so is following a professional weightlifting, yoga or Pilates routine. Between free videos checked out from your local library to an endless list of websites offering step-by-step tutorials on just about every form of physical fitness, there's little reason to fork over those monthly gym membership fees.
Education: Did you know you could go to college for free? You won't get a degree to hang on your wall, but you'll be able to take advantage of high-quality online courses and lectures at Johns Hopkins University (ocw.jhsph.edu/), MIT (ocw.mit.edu/index.htm), University of Notre Dame (ocw.nd.edu/) and others.
Food: Restaurants have caught on that if they offer free kids' meals, the parents are more likely to dine there. So many eateries have figured this out that there are now websites to help direct you to daily specials. Try Kids Meal Deals ( www.kidsmealdeals.com). You can search for restaurants by city, ZIP code, day of the week and type of cuisine. Find one near you and enjoy free food for the kiddies and a break from the dinner routine.
Books: Check out Project Gutenberg ( www.gutenberg.org) and you will find more than 30,000 books in electronic format. That should keep you bookworms busy for a while. Naturally, there's also your local library if you're old-school and prefer to have the book in your hand. The public library also offers free videos, CDs (yes, those still exist) and every magazine you've ever wanted to read but didn't want to buy.
Movies and music: Hulu offers TV shows and movies for free every day. You can watch them on your computer whenever you want. Pandora allows you to not only listen to music for free, but it also helps you set up your own personal radio stations for any theme or genre you prefer.