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Don't Pay Too Much: 10 ways you might be wasting your money

By brass Staff on February 14th, 2012 • Budgeting, Buyer's Remorse, Going to college, Managing your money, Shopping, Value
Originally appeared in: Spring 2012brass 10

Whether you budget extra money for healthy food, brand-name clothes or a time-saving tech gadget, you can justify paying extra for a product if it has value. Then there are these products that can cost extra for no apparent reason.

  1. Gold-plated HDMI cables. "Regular" cables run under $10. Cables with gimmicks like gold plating can cost $200--$300, but offer no discernable difference in quality.
  2. Greeting cards. Three bucks for a piece of paper stating "Happy Birthday"? Try making your own. It's cheaper, more memorable and is less likely to be thrown out with the wrapping paper.
  3. Premium gasoline. It costs an extra 20¢ to 40¢ per gallon, but provides little improvement for regular rides.
  4. Brand-name medication. Generic versions of drugs are required by law to have the same active ingredients and effectiveness as name brands.
  5. Fountain Drinks. Soda is one of the most marked-up restaurant items. Water is free at most restaurants, and you can use the savings to buy cheaper soda elsewhere.
  6. Bottled water. Bottled water is convenient… and hundreds of times more expensive than tap water. Eschew $3 bottles and it won't take long for a filter and a reusable bottle to pay for themselves.
  7. Cable TV. For local programming, pick up an HD antenna. Some live sports stream over watchespn.com and univision.com. Most major network shows are available the next day on their respective websites, hulu.com, or are available for rent or purchase on iTunes or Amazon.
  8. Textbooks. You can rent textbooks from sites like chegg.com or ecampus.com, download free classic literature at gutenberg.org, and check your school and city libraries. If buying, use sites like bestwebbuys.com/books or biblio.com to compare prices.
  9. Smartphone plans. Many smartphone owners buy a bigger data plan than they need, fearing overage charges. However, over half of iPhone owners use less than the 200MB of monthly data allowed with the cheapest data plan. Still worried about overage charges? There are many free or cheap apps that track your data usage.
  10. Portion-controlled packaging. Many companies have begun packaging products in smaller portions -- but with a higher price. Try repackaging bulk buys in smaller reusable containers to portion food yourself without downsizing value.

Sources: msn.com; popularmechanics.com; cnet.com; amazon.com; finance.yahoo.com; consumerreports.org; askmen.com; floppyhead.com; howstuffworks.com; lifehacker.com; moneyland.time.com; investopedia.com; caranddriver.com; fraudguides.com

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