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, freebies are 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.
10 things you're paying way too much for
10 things you're paying way too much for
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 best-seller your heart desires from your local library.
In addition to e-books, your local library likely has at least a few 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. Text the word SIGNUP to 727272 to receive promotions from Redbox. 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 might use a cooking or woodworking magazine again and again. But are you really going to look at celebrity wedding photos more than once? Get those kind of quick reads from the library.
There is a secret behind bottled water: Although companies promote it as crisp, pure spring water, it’s often just water that comes out of the ground — much like the water that pours from your faucet.
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 concerned about the quality or taste of your tap water, buy a faucet filter or filtered pitcher. And buy a refillable bottle to chill and carry your own “free” water with you.
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. Some health insurance plans now also have higher co-pays for brand names.
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 inches away.
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.
7. Credit cards
Things like credit card rewards can blind us to the high interest rate we might pay on a card we’re considering.
It’s an even worse deal when we have money sitting in savings, earning practically nothing, while we pay through the nose for credit card interest. The better deal might be to pull money from savings, pay off the card and file the plastic away.
8. Annual credit reports
Credit report offers can be among the worst “deals.”
Unscrupulous companies offer to send you a “free” report in exchange for your personal information, which might then be shared with identity thieves. Or, there might be a small processing fee and tiny print that says you’ll be signed up for some credit monitoring service you certainly don’t need.
Under federal law, each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — must provide consumers one free report every year. However, the only official place to get your free report is at AnnualCreditReport.com.
9. Anti-virus software
Like an annual credit report, anti-virus software is something you need. It’s just not something that requires you to open your wallet.
A variety of free anti-virus programs are available online. PC Magazine recently selected what it considers to be the best of 2018.
You may also be able to download paid anti-virus software for free via your Internet service provider.
10. Smartphone apps
It’s so easy to push the “buy” button for that 99-cent app. But more often than not, we’ve spent money on something we either won’t use or could have gotten free.
Do some research before you buy an app. There are plenty of great free iPhone apps and Android apps.