You Probably Pay Too Much for These 10 Things

Did you get a great bargain last week? If it fell into one of these 10 categories, you may have been hoodwinked.

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As a smart shopper, you probably spend a lot of time searching for the best deals. However, some of those great finds aren’t really all that terrific.

In fact, a lot of “good deals” are actually on items you could get free. Following are our top 10 things for which people overpay.

1. Book downloads

Unless your tastes run to the esoteric, there is no excuse for paying to download e-books. You can probably download just about any bestseller your heart desires from your local library.

If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you get free downloads there as well.

Amazon also maintains links to databases with free public domain books. Finally, plenty of e-books get marked down to free on Amazon as promotions.

Blogger Crystal Paine at Money Saving Mom keeps a current list of free e-books in the parenting, family and food genres. For everything else, you might want to head to Freebook Sifter.

Find the best price on everything you buy on our deals page!

2. Movie rentals

In addition to e-books, your local library likely has at least a couple of shelves of DVDs and Blu-rays just waiting to be picked up for family movie night. If your library doesn’t have the title you want on the shelf, it may be able request the movie from another library system.

Another free movie rental option is the Redbox Text Club. Send the word SIGNUP to 727272 to receive promotional messages from the company. At least once a month, I receive a code for a free rental.

3. Magazine subscriptions

While we’re discussing the great things you can get at the library, let’s not forget magazines.

How many times do you spend 15 minutes flipping through a magazine and then toss it into the recycling bin?

Sure, you may use a cooking or woodworking magazine again and again, but are you really going to look at the wedding photos from Kim Kardashian and Kanye West more than once? Get those kind of quick reads from the library.

If you really want to have magazines delivered to your house, ValueMags has a selection of free subscriptions. Or, see if you qualify for some free business-related titles through Mercury Magazines.

4. Bottled water

There is a secret behind bottled water. Companies promote it as crisp, pure spring water, but it’s typically just water that comes out of the ground, much like the water that pours from your faucet.

Practically all groundwater can be considered spring water. Unless you live in an area with known contamination, there’s no guarantee the bottled water you pay for at the store is any better than the water coming out of your own tap.

If you’re really concerned about the quality or taste of your tap water, buy a faucet filter or filtered pitcher.

5. Brand-name medications

Brand-name drugs are big business, and pharmaceutical companies spend a lot of money trying to convince you to buy items with their name on the label.

Instead of jumping on the brand-name bandwagon, consider buying a generic instead. Generics are held to the same standard as the brand names and can save you a bundle. Many health insurance plans now also have higher co-pays for brand names.

You can read more in our article about whether generic drugs are safe.

6. Brand-name everything else

Brand-name medicines aren’t the only deal you should be rethinking. Practically any brand-name product might be a bad deal when lower-priced generics are literally inches away.

I realize that some people bristle at the thought of generics, envisioning watered-down shampoo or cardboard crackers. Certainly, there are some low-quality off-brands.

However, your grocer’s store brand is often just as good as the national brand when it comes to quality and taste.

Don’t take my word for it. Consumer Reports did taste tests and found generics to be on equal footing with their brand-name counterparts. We also have an article with advice on how to decide when to go generic.

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  • compustrat

    This is stupid. Almost all of this is shifting costs on to others. Libraries are public funded and in my opinion should all be shut down unless they can earn their keep. Someone has to pay for those rentals and magazine subscriptions. Plus you pay in gas to go there.
    Free iPhone Apps? Again, if App developers don’t get paid, there will be no Apps. Sure you can get some for free that are ad supported, but thats an indirect cost (bandwidth, time wasted, etc).
    You should pay for what you consume, not others.
    If you are good with credit cards and don’t carry a balance, you can save 1-3% on purchases.

    Here’s my advice on how to save money that actually impacts more than a minor budget item and doesn’t shift costs on to others.
    1) Don’t buy new cars, ever. Always, always buy 1-2 year old used. A 5 year old car will get you there just as well as a brand new one.
    2) Buy a smaller house and get a smaller mortgage. Don’t get a mortgage that needs dual incomes to pay!
    3) Don’t eat out that much!
    4) Even if you don’t have a 401(k) through work, put all your retirement savings in an IRA as this will save on taxes.

    • cybrarian_ca

      Libraries more than earn their keep. Numerous studies have proven that the return on investment for every dollar invested in a library is anywhere from $65-350. Libraries help small businesses, help people locate funding for community initiatives, provide reliable health information, provide ESL services, provide tutoring services and homework clubs, and much, much more. Use has gone through the roof. And no, I don’t work in a public library – I just know them well.

    • Amy Livingston

      Well, of course libraries are publicly funded. But if you’re paying taxes for them anyway, shouldn’t you get your money’s worth out of them? Otherwise you’re just throwing the money away because your knickers are in a twist over having to pay for it in the first place. Between books, movie rentals, and public events, I am convinced I more than get my money’s worth out of my local library. I don’t know how exactly much of my tax money goes to support it, but I do know it’s obviously cheaper for an entire town to buy one book that everyone in that town can read than it is for each person who wants it to buy a separate copy.

  • Lisa Shea

    First, Amazon Prime is hardly free. At $99 a year that’s much greater than zero. So that shouldn’t even be in the article. Second, there are hundreds of thousands of authors who aren’t in libraries and aren’t in Prime but who have fantastic stories to tell. Now we are saying librarians are gatekeepers to what we’re allowed to experience.

    Couple that with the statistics that a majority of teenagers lose interest in reading – and a core reason is that what’s available to them at their local libraries doesn’t align with their interests. So they stop reading – and that then negatively impacts their education, their career, and their long term income prospects. If we shoehorn this age group into “only read what the mass market says you should read” then we cause immense long term harm.

    25% of adults haven’t read a book in the past YEAR. This doesn’t sound like going to a library and finding something they’re interested in is working. This article is indicating that people should be forced to read 50 Shades of Grey and its ilk because that’s what is “selling” at the moment. It indicates that reading mass-market tastes should satisfy our intellectual and emotional curiosity.

    • SpeedoReido

      You are totally on the money. Your suggestions are more solid than these ideas. I thought the article was stupid too.

  • equivilency

    I was expecting specific items, but still a bunk article nonetheless.

  • Raven Dupres

    Having some bottled water around is essential for those of us who depend on a private well with an electric pump. I have had to go several days without running water because the HOA was trying to get a better deal on repairing the electric pump on the well. Ridiculous as that may sound. But in general, the way I save a lot of money is if I see something I want to buy, I write it down and then leave it for a month while I consider it. If I have managed to survive a month without it, I don’t buy it. I also wait for movies to become free at the library. Hey, I don’t have to see them the minute the DVD is hot off the press. Same for books. The library is a wonderful source of free downloads right from my home. I listen to their audio books, watch downloaded movies from their rather limited stock of older movies (some from the 1940’s) and don’t need to be up to date in my entertainment, as long as what I am listening to, reading or watching is interesting. I do subscribe to a music service for $10 a month. Rhapsody allows me to keep playlists of my favorites and i get much pleasure out of listening to these playlists over and over again so it’s a bargain for me. I do not burn CD’s though. Eventually, I get tired of the music and create new playlists. I figure that the $112 a year I am spending for the music service could only buy me around 12 albums whereas I have unlimited music and the free Pandora streaming service is something that is loaded onto my Smartphone so I can have music whenever I want it, over the WiFi in my house. So, unless I need it for work or it will pay for itself 10+ times over in entertainment value, I usually leave it in the store, on the shelf and don’t waste hard earned money on it.

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