Money Management

8 Common Items You Are Overpaying For

Paying for quality makes sense for most items, but do you really know when you’re getting a good deal? When you’re trying to live within a budget you need to make sure that the things you spend money on regularly are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck. Whether it’s clothing, travel, pets, or other typical expenses you might be surprised how many ways you can save money that will add up and make a big difference over the course of a year.

1. Designer Clothes and Products

While you may be tempted to purchase expensive designer products, can you say that you honestly need them? Think hard about the last designer product you bought and think about the relative value it has given you for the price you paid. Could you have bought something similar for less money that would have been as good? If you’re honest with yourself you know that there are more than a few items you’ve splurged on that you could have paid less for and been just fine.

If you do insist on buying designer, consider looking at outlet stores or online discount sites. You might be surprised at the variety and quality of items on the web at deep discounts to traditional departments Stores.

Better yet, look to buy items that are not designer but are functionally the same. Do you really need the Chanel purse or could you survive with a sturdier bag that looks similar but without the logo? What about that new Mercedes you’re looking at, do you think it is truly that much better than something less expensive? Being honest with yourself about the brands you aspire to own and whether they are a good value can save you big bucks over the long run when you substitute less expensive items.

2. Pets

I grew up with a purebred Labrador Retriever and she was a fantastic pet and an important member of our family. However, plenty of our friends and neighbors had pound puppies that were just as loving and loyal and didn’t cost over $1,000 to buy from a breeder. Purebred animals are expensive and in most cases the price comes with the reputation of a good breeder who is ethical in their practices. Paying less money for purebred dogs could get you an animal that will be sickly and cost tons in vet bills.

When you’re looking for your next pet, look at your local shelters first. They have many animals that are in need of a good home, and some will be purebred. While you will still pay an adoption fee it is bound to be significantly less than the purchase price of a pet from a breeder.

3. Razors

Razor blades are one item you will purchase many times but the prices can be extremely high. Does your razor have 3 blades, 5 blades, 6 blades? The more blades they pack onto a cartridge the more money they’re going to charge you. If your razor is one that vibrates or swivels then you can get stuck paying even more! An easy way to avoid paying too much is to buy a razor with only 2 or 3 blades. Studies have shown that the higher blade numbers don’t provide a significantly closer shave than the lower blade counts. You can also buy cartridges in bulk from warehouse stores or online at a significant discount. There are new companies that provide blades as a subscription service that are as low as $1 a month, which is a deal that you really can’t beat.

4. Gifts

I’ve got a terrible habit of buying gifts for my loved ones that are just a bit outside of my budget. I want my friends and family to enjoy the gift I bought them which leads me to stretch on the price I want to spend when I see something I know they’ll love. I also tend to spend too much on office gift exchanges because I don’t want to look cheap.

When you’re buying your next gift think hard about what you really want to spend and what items your intended gift receiver really would like. You might be surprised with what you come up with. Just last month I found a great wallet for my brother at a local craft fair that he’s using every day now that was way less than the one I’d wanted to buy him at a brand name store. Look around, be creative, you don’t have to break the bank to make your gift special.

5. Makeup

This one is obviously for the ladies, but you probably know that you spend a lot of money on makeup because you’ve found the brands you like and can’t believe that something less expensive can be as good. However, right now we are seeing many new makeup companies springing up that offer high quality makeup at a fraction of the price of the expensive brand names. With makeup, there is only so much quality that you can add in the ingredients for a $30 item that differentiates it from a $10 item. In fact, the majority of makeup is made in one of a handful of factories around the world using almost the same ingredients so you really are just paying for the brand name on many products. By being open to trying some newer less expensive makeups from startup companies or even store brands you might be able to find something you like as much as your brand name cosmetics but at a fraction of the cost.

6. Bank Fees

Do you really know what your bank fees are every month? Do you pay for checking? What about getting money from another bank’s atm? Do you have maintenance fees? By just understanding what the fees you pay each month are for your bank accounts you can find quick ways to save a few dollars a month. If you pay for checking find a free account. While free checking is harder to find since the financial crisis there are still plenty of accounts out there you can use.

Look into using a credit union for your banking needs. They are typically less expensive than the big banks and have better customer service. You can also look online to banking that doesn’t have any branches. Online banks like USAA and Ally have significantly lower fees, pay higher interest on savings accounts, and can save you hundreds a year on bank fees. Their lack of brick and mortar store branches allows them to save money on their business costs which they pass on to you.

7. Electronics

If you purchased your last television from a store I bet you were told by the sales person that you should also invest in quality cables for your new set. They may say that more expensive cables have better picture quality or last longer, but the fact is that expensive cables work just about the same as generic cables that are a fraction of the price. For example, a name brand HDMI cable for $40 claims to improve picture and sound quality but generic cables I found the same cable online for $2 with free shipping so I bought both. Not surprisingly, the cheap cable worked EXACTLY THE SAME as the expensive cable. A quick return of the pricey cord and I saved myself $38.

What about the actual electronic device you want to buy? There are tons of options out there for everything from e-readers to smartphones to televisions and stereos so make sure to do your research before you buy. Even within specific brands they will carry several versions of the same item with a few added or subtracted features that you may or may not even want. Understanding what it is you actually want and need in a device can help keep you informed about prices so you can avoid overpaying when a sales person tries to get you to upgrade from an item you would be happy with.

8. Cleaning Supplies

Name brand cleaning supplies can be pretty expensive and may not work much better than store brand or generics. Think about the cleaning products you use on a regular basis and compare the active ingredients to the store brands. You will likely find that store brand cleaning products are either identical or very similar to the name brands but cost significantly less. This is one area that the name brand does not always mean a better product so shop around.

You can also save money by making your own cleaning supplies. A quick online search for “DIY Home Cleaning Products” will send you to dozens of great websites where people have figured out how to make their own cleaning products that cost pennies and take a few minutes of your time.

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