“There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch,” is an economic truism. Even if something is free to you, there is still a cost that has to be paid by someone. However, with many free things, that “someone” is actually you. Sometimes you pay it in cash, and other times you pay it in other costs.

Here are some things that you might think are free or cheap, but are actually costing you a lot.

Social Media

256px-Google_Plus_icon.svgFacebook is great. Twitter is great. Google+, well, it’s Google, so we all muddle through. The best thing about them, though, is that they’re all free. You can get hours of free entertainment and distraction without paying a dime.

But of course it’s free. What does social media really provide you? Being on social media is like looking through the bars at the monkey house–from inside one of the cages. It’s a truism these days that “If you’re not paying, you’re not the customer, you’re the product.” Think of all the revenue that Facebook and Twitter generate from being able to sell access to you and your feeds, and you realize what this free service really costs you.


Apps are another thing that we can often get for free or very cheap, but it can actually cost us a lot. First, free apps have the same problem as social media, although paid apps may not be much better. Free apps do demand more in the way of personal information, which means you are paying with your privacy. Not to mention the ridiculous amount of time that can be sucked up by these free apps.

Free Shipping

Free shipping is a brilliant marketing decision, one that costs consumers a lot. Typically, free shipping is offered if you spend a certain amount of money. Although many people hit the free shipping threshold with a single item, it’s more common that shoppers fall short and decide to buy an additional item or two to make up the difference. Usually, this difference ends up costing more than the shipping itself. As a result, the online store is able to make more money by offering you something for free.

“Free” Phones

Technically, these aren’t advertised as “free” phones anymore, because they never were. Instead, these are called $0 down phones, but it doesn’t matter what you call them, they’re a ripoff! For example, if you look at the cost of getting a $0 iPhone 5s with T-Mobile, you’re looking to pay $27 a month in the device fee for the length of the contract, 24 months. Over those 24 months, you will pay $648 for the phone. How much would it cost to buy the same phone directly from Apple? $199.00. The no-money-down phone costs you more than three times as much.

Economy Dentures

Economy dentures are something else you can pay a lot for. Although they may initially be inexpensive, economy dentures come with a number of hidden costs.

Because economy dentures don’t fit well, they are even worse at stimulating your jawbone than better-fitting dentures, which may mean you have to replace them more often. In addition, poorly fitting dentures can result in more pain and sore spots. If you’re not able to eat properly, you may suffer malnutrition.

These costs in terms of your quality of life can significantly outweigh the savings in purely financial terms.

Whenever you are making decisions about products and services you are buying, you have to make sure you’re factoring in the full cost, and not just the price on the tag.