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3 things to go cheap on

First off, I am not a cheapskate.

I’ve actually been known to dabble in the “finer” things in life from time to time. I personally believe you should never buy cheap healthcare, cheap car insurance, or—dare I say it—cheap beer.

That being said, I’m convinced that we all waste money on things that we shouldn’t. Yes, there are definitely a few things in life that you can “cheap out on.” Here are a few.

1. Name brand food items

My wife and I were at the grocery store a few months ago.

Walking down the cereal aisle, she reached for a box of, let’s call it “fruity round cereal.” It was $4.25 a box.

On the shelf right next to it was the off-brand equivalent for $2.99.

I picked up both boxes and read the ingredients. Guess what? They were IDENTICAL. Same product—$1.25 cheaper.

This got me thinking about how much money we were wasting on name brand products when alternatives were available. There are many, from mac and cheese, to soda, to salad dressing.

I would challenge anyone to taste a difference. I’m not saying to cheap out on all your food, obviously (I don’t think there’s a substitute for a good steak or fresh produce), but start paying attention at the grocery store to items you can substitute and you’ll notice an immediate savings on your bill.

2. DIY repairs

Last year, our washing machine stopped spinning. So, we called a repair service, only to be told it would cost $150 for the visit, plus parts.

Since I am a semi-handy man, I decided that before we spent the money to fix a 10-year-old washer, I would see if I could tackle the repair myself. I Googled our exact model number and the exact problem.

I couldn’t believe that it was so easy to diagnose the problem, and to find a step-by-step video online on how to fix it. After a trip to the home improvement store to buy a $3 rubber cog, I followed the video and fixed the washer myself. That simple Web search saved me about $200, and I’m proud to report that the same washer is still cleaning our clothes. Not all repairs are “DIY,” but isn’t a simple Web search worth the time to find out first?

3. Household cleaners

Household cleaning products are expensive. And, if you read the ingredients, you might be shocked to learn that they’re often just a combination of other common products (vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, rubbing alcohol, etc.). You’re actually paying for someone to mix them together.

A few years ago, my wife and I began making our own cleaners from recipes she found on the Internet, and we haven’t looked back. Our house is still as clean as it used to be, and we’ve saved a ton of money. As an added bonus, if we run out, we just whip up a new batch.

For added savings, buy the ingredients that are used most commonly in bulk. They have a long shelf life and buying in bulk saves a lot of money.

There are many, many more ways to buy cheaply without being a cheapskate. Following these few suggestions will get you started.