Save vs. Splurge
You get what you pay for, right? Maybe. Sometimes, picking the pricier version is the smart spending choice. Other times, the bargain brand is just as effective. Check out our list of items that are worth the money, and those that you can skimp on or skip altogether to save some serious dough.
- Paper Towels: The average American family spends close to $300 each year on paper towels. That’s a lot of money going in the trash and into our over-flowing landfills. Use washable dish towels or cloths as much as possible instead.
- Cleaning Supplies: Don’t blow $4 or $5 per bottle on store-bought cleaners. Mix up your own using easily available ingredients like vinegar, water, lemon juice and more. Your versions will be cheaper and, since they’re all natural, safer for you and your family. Try this basic, all-purpose cleaning spray: Soak slices of lemon and orange peel in distilled white vinegar for 48 hours. Discard the peels and mix 2 parts water to 1 part of the citrus vinegar in a spray bottle. Use to wipe down kitchen and bathroom counters and other hard surfaces. Don’t use on unsealed granite.
- Organic Fruits & Veggies: “Organic” has become a household word in the last decade, with shoppers clamoring to pay more for produce that hasn’t been tainted with pesticides. But there are quite a few fruits and veggies that, thanks to their thick skins, aren’t as susceptible to soak up the toxic substances used to grow them on conventional farms. Avocados, corn, pineapples, onions, sweet peas, kiwi, mangoes, cabbage, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe and eggplant have some of the lowest pesticide residues, so feel free to roll your cart past the organic aisle when buying them.
- Sheets: The experts at Consumer Reports recently uncovered the truth behind high-end bed sheets. What they found is that 1,000-thread-count sheets are usually no better than those with lower thread counts. First, the thread-count number is often a marketing ploy. The bigger number is achieved by using thinner threads, meaning the sheets won’t hold up well to use and repeated washing. Focus more on the material the sheets are made of to achieve softness and longevity. Look for 400-thread-count pima cotton or Egyptian cotton versions.
- Rotisserie Chicken: It’s easy to grab a hot-and-ready rotisserie chicken when you’re in a pinch for dinner, but compared to the cost of roasting your own bird, they are pretty costly. Take a Sunday afternoon to cook several at once and then remove the meat and freeze it in zip-top bags. Thaw in the fridge overnight, and you’ve got golden yummy goodness ready to reheat when you get home. You can also shred the meat and freeze it for use in casseroles and soups.
- Toilet Paper: Buying better toilet paper is worth the extra cost for several reasons. One, it feels better. Two, since its usually thicker and more absorbent, you’ll use less of it, and you may end up saving money.
- High Heels & Running Shoes: Ask any lady who’s spent an evening teetering around in cheap pumps, and she’ll tell you, the pain is not worth the savings. Invest in one nice pair of heels in a neutral color, and your feet will thank you. The same is true of running shoes. Take the time to get properly fitted for a pair that fits your running style. You’ll stave off injury and soreness and be able to run better and longer.
- Candles: The idea of spending $20 on a candle may sound ridiculous, but these luminaries usually burn longer than their cheap counterparts and are often (but not always!) made with healthier ingredients. Some scented candles contain toxins that you’re breathing in every time you light them. Read labels and look for candles created with all-natural oils and eco-friendly, sustainable waxes like soy, beeswax and palm oil.
- Wardrobe Staples: While it makes sense to go cheap on trendy styles, consider putting a little more money into classic clothing items you’ll use season after season, year after year, things like dressier pants, coats and that closet essential for ladies, the little black dress.