We all have plenty of bills to worry about, on top of needing to keep our living space clean and take care of our own personal health and hygiene. Some things are just essentials. Looking at a receipt after a big household shop can be somewhat scary, and we are often at a loss when it comes to figuring out where all that money actually goes.
Tightening up the budget sounds like a good idea, right? But which corners can you afford to cut without sacrificing comfort and basic needs? Well, if you want to manage your funds more effectively, then you should definitely stop paying too much for these nine common items.
1. Overpriced medication
I can already hear some of you saying, “Oh, come on, everyone needs medicine. You can’t cut any corners there.” However, there are ways of getting all the medication you need without breaking the bank.
The first thing you need to do is avoid heavily marketed drugs with fancy names and shiny packaging – they usually have the same basic ingredients as generic options and what you are really paying all that extra money for is the package design and marketing. You don’t need Super Headache Remover 3000 when just any old tablet of aspirin will do the trick.
It is also good to buy larger doses of some medication and then cut the pills in half – you may be able to get a better price for the same weight. Important note: not all drugs are safe to split, so ask your pharmacist if such a solution is possible for the medication you need. If not, try and find a cheaper alternative or look elsewhere for a better price.
There is no noticeable difference when it comes to the effects a cheap tube of toothpaste has on your oral health as opposed to heavily marketed, popular, brand name toothpaste. The same goes for shampoos and creams. You’ll need to pick out shampoo based on your hair type and choose a fragrance that you like, but other than that there is no real benefit to shelling out for the very expensive ones.
Moisturizing creams do a very particular job and the active ingredients that have been proven to work have been used for decades now. Don’t fall for marketing hype surrounding revolutionary technologies – a hand cream is a hand cream. Of course, if you go for the very bottom of the barrel you risk getting a product that went through virtually no quality control, but any reasonably priced product will be more than enough to get the job done. Apart from choosing a face cream based on your skin type there isn’t much more to say about it.
3. Liquid personal hygiene products
While I’d be the first to say that liquid soap and hand sanitizer are excellent products, you can end up spending more money than you need to on packaging. A simple solution is to switch to bar soap or just keep refilling your bottle when it becomes empty. You can get liquid soap much cheaper if you buy larger quantities, so you can pitch in with several family members and friends and then split the stash up into equal parts.
Body wash bottles are often thrown out with a small amount of the liquid still stuck on the inside walls. Cutting the bottle in half with scissors allows you to scoop every last bit up, and there are plenty of great soaps that moisturize and have a beautiful fragrance and are a cheaper option.
4. Cleaning chemicals
Just as with other product types on this list, the basic ingredients that make a detergent, window cleaner or drain cleaner work are the same, and fairly inexpensive to boot. You can pick out the cheapest product on the shelf and get the same results as incredibly expensive alternatives. But an even better way to save money is to avoid using store-bought chemical cleaners whenever possible. You’ll need things like laundry detergent and fabric softener, sure, but simple ingredients found in every household are proven cleaners and can be used for over 90% of problems. White vinegar, baking soda, salt, lemon juice, bleach, carbonated water and heated tap water are enough to clean everything from spilled wine to clogged drains.
5. Cable TV
In this day and age you can get all the entertainment you need off the internet. You may need a few channels to get your news and sports fix, but you can simply watch your favorite movies and TV shows online, and go through a whole season in one sitting if you so desire. You can also get DVD box sets of various shows and find all sorts of pop culture news on YouTube. If you’ve got a PC, you can download games from Valve for incredibly low prices, particularly if you catch them on sale. There are so many options available that you don’t really need to waste money on premium cable packages.
6. Bottled water
Americans tend to spend a whole lot of money on bottled water, and it’s not unusual to see fridge compartments filled with water bottles. This is, for the most part, an unnecessary expense. In most parts, your regular old tap water is perfectly safe to drink, and even if you have your doubts you can get a water filter or water softener. You don’t need to be a handy man either. As long as you pick a good professional who’s not out to rob you blind, your local plumber can install these devices for you at a very reasonable rate. It’s a one-time investment that will end up saving you a lot of money in the long run.
7. Heavily processed food
My mind boggles when I hear people talking about how they can’t afford to go on a weight-loss diet or eat relatively healthy food, as if you needed to sprinkle everything with gold to stay healthy. The truth is, most fruit and vegetables are fairly cheap. No, you don’t have to spend a ton for organic food, any old fruit or vegetable will do. And if you aren’t too lazy to spend half an hour in the kitchen, you can buy all kinds of food in bulk and keep it in the freezer. With a few relatively cheap ingredients and some spices you can make a true gourmet meal while staying within your budget.
8. Room deodorizers of all sorts
Everything from incense sticks, scented candles, scented oils and spray deodorizers are used in a vast majority of households to create a fresh aroma and mask different kinds of nasty odors. While lighting up a couple of scented candles every now and then can be a great way to rekindle your romance, if you want to get rid of odors you can simply pour baking soda – an excellent deodorizer – on the desired area and let some fresh air in. You can lightly sprinkle baking soda over a rug before vacuuming to keep the room fresh. Things like orange peels can be placed in bowls to cheaply give a very fresh scent to your home.
9. Seemingly high-tech, but ultimately useless electronics
Now, don’t get me wrong here, if you are an avid gamer and want to invest a few hundred dollars in a next-gen console and a couple of hundred more on some new games, then there is nothing wrong with that. You get very good value for your money and you are actually going to use it all on a daily basis. What you don’t need is a super high-end blender with an LCD display, the ability to be remotely accessed via smartphone and modern tooled-steel blades that spin so fast they create a whirlwind. A $40 blender will do a splendid job of collecting dust in a forgotten corner of the kitchen and making the occasional smoothie! There is no need to pay hundreds of dollars for a virtually useless feature on an appliance that you barely use anyway.
As you can see, you can save quite a bit of money if you just reevaluate some of your basic needs around the home. These are things that you really shouldn’t be wasting money on by paying too much for them. You are not going to be giving up on luxuries and sacrificing comfort to cut costs, you are going to become a smart consumer who makes careful assessments and informed decisions.