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9 Things You’re Paying Too Much For Around Your House

9 Things You’re Paying Too Much For Around Your House

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

assorted medicine with money with spoon

    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.

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    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.

    2. Toiletries

    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.

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    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

    Chemical cleaning agents

      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.

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      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

      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.

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        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.

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        Ivan Dimitrijevic

        Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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        Last Updated on August 20, 2019

        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

        Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

        In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

        5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

        Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

        1. Be Clear About the Objectives

        Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

        It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

        Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

        2. Keep Them Realistic

        It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

        It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

        3. Account for Inflation

        Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

        Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

        For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

        4. Short Term vs Long Term

        Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

        As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

        More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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        5. To Each to His Own

        The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

        It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

        By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

        11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

        Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

        • Ensuring healthy savings
        • Making smart investments

        You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

        Ensuring Healthy Savings

        Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

        This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

        1. Track Expenses

        The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

        Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

        2. Pay Yourself First

        Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

        Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

        The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

        Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

        3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

        Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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        Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

        At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

        Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

        You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

        4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

        Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

        If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

        Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

        All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

        5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

        In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

        Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

        Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

        If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

        If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

        So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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        6. Talk About It

        Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

        Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

        7. Maintain a Journal

        For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

        So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

        Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

        When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

        At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

        Making Smart Investments

        Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

        8. Consult a Financial Advisor

        Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

        Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

        9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

        Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

        Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

        Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

        It is here where that classification will help.

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        So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

        10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

        Einstein once remarked about compounding,

        Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

        So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

        Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

        11. Measure, Measure, Measure

        All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

        If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

        If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

        Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

        The Bottom Line

        This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

        As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

        More About Personal Finance Management

        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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