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 so-called “good deals” can actually be found for free. We mentioned a lot of these no-cost items in our article “How to Find Thousands of Freebies.” As we pointed out in that story:
Want something for nothing? Go online. All you have to do is look to find free beauty products, children’s items, restaurant meals, furniture, electronics or even cellphone service.
Sometimes this means a one-time sign-up, but ongoing sources of goodies also exist, letting you browse whenever you have a minute.
However, “free” is not the only way to save money. In this story, we look at some free things, but also highlight lower-cost options you might be overlooking when purchasing items you need on an ongoing basis.
Following are our top 10 things for which people overpay.
1. Book downloads
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Unless your tastes run to the esoteric, there is no excuse for paying to download e-books. You can probably download just about any best-seller 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.
2. Movie rentals
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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 to 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
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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 might 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.
4. Bottled water
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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
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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
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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.
We have an article with advice on how to decide when to go generic.