9 Things You're Paying Too Much for Around the House (And How to Pay Less)


If you're looking to trim your monthly budget, a quick peek around the house might uncover several things that you're paying too much for. Some people complain that they never have cash. The problem, however, may not be too little cash — but rather not knowing the right ways to stretch their dollars. (See also: 35 Grocery Items You Should Make at Home)

Whether you're looking to increase your disposable income or stay within budget, spending less on these nine things will keep cash in your bank account.

1. Medications

Over-the-counter and prescription medications provide relief from minor and major illnesses, but if you're buying brand name meds, you're probably spending more than necessary for treatment. The truth is, you can save tremendously with a generic or store-brand medication, as much as 40%. Generic meds include the same active ingredients, quality, and strength of brand names. (See also: How to Pay Drastically Less for Pricey Products)

2. Household Cleaners

There's really no need to have every type of cleaning product underneath your kitchen sink, especially when there are solutions that include multiple ingredients for multiple surfaces. Read the label on cleaning products and you might discover that a product designed for dusting can also be used to clean glass, thus eliminating the need to purchase a stockpile of products. You can also save money with homemade cleaners using water, vinegar, and baking soda.

3. Bottled Water

It's convenient to grab bottled water from the fridge. And although the price per unit is relatively inexpensive if buying in bulk, it adds up quickly if you're buying several cases a month. However, you can save money by skipping disposable water bottles and using a basic pitcher-style water filter or a sink/faucet mount filtration system. In fact, "a family of four can potentially save $2,878.57 each year by switching from bottled water to a water filter." (See also: The 5 Best Water Filters)

4. Cable Television

It's nice to have options when you're ready to relax with the remote control. But if you don't have much time for television, or if you only watch a few select programs, it doesn't make sense to pay a hundred bucks — or more! — each month for a top-notch cable package. You can save a nice chunk of change by downgrading to a package that matches your viewing needs, or ditching cable altogether and streaming your favorite television programs from Netflix or Hulu. (See also: How Everyone Can Cut Cable and Still Watch the Shows They Love)

5. Toothbrushes

With thousands of rotating motions per minute, there's no denying the benefits of an electronic toothbrush or its ability to reduce plaque and gingivitis. These toothbrushes essentially take the work out of brushing your teeth, but with a price tag as high as $100, not everyone can afford a fancy toothbrush.

The good news is that you don't need a fancy, expensive toothbrush to keep your teeth healthy and clean. Your hand might not be able to mimic the rotation of an electronic brush, but if you're brushing properly, using mouthwash, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist every six months, you can keep your mouth just as healthy with an old-fashioned toothbrush.

6. Pre-Packaged Foods

When you're busy and hungry, it's definitely easier to buy pre-packaged meals at the grocery store or purchase vegetables and fruits that are already chopped and sliced. However, this costly convenience adds to your grocery bill. Ready-to-eat meals can be as much as 6 to 10 times more expensive per serving than preparing the item. The trick to paying less is simple — plan ahead and purchase fresh ingredients to prepare meals yourself. This approach is not only cheaper, but healthier since you're able to control the sodium and portions of each meal.

7. Home Fragrances

"Consumers spend more than $5 billion each year on room deodorizers, scented oils and candles," reports Forbes. This might be a small price to pay if you need to quickly eliminate a stale odor in your house before guests arrive. But rather than pay $15 for a fancy candle, open a window and allow fresh air inside, or give your place a thorough cleaning.

8. Shampoo

Paying $20 for a bottle of expensive shampoo won't necessarily result in cleaner hair, although your locks may smell amazingly fresh after each wash. If you're only concerned with cleanliness and couldn't care less about a lingering sweet scent, you're better off with a cheaper store shampoo, such as Suave or Garnier. (See also: Dryer Sheets, Shampoo, and 15 Other Everyday Things You Can Make at Home)

9. Non-Refillable Goop

Detergents, hand soaps, and cleaning products keep the home and body clean, but you're probably paying too much for these items if you buy a new bottle each time you run out. For a cheaper replacement, keep your original packaging or bottle and purchase refill packs. Since you're not purchasing a new dispenser, you'll save money in the long run.

Do you have other items to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

I have a disability, so I've made my peace with the cost of convenience food. Otherwise, I'm a huge fan of vinegar as a cleaner/sanitizer. Baking soda is good if you need to scrub a little.

I do like the pricier shampoos, but I wash my hair every other days, which is better for your hair anyway. In addition, I intersperse it with a $1 bottle of Suave clarifying shampoo because of our hard water. It was a beauty mag recommendation, if you can believe it.

We love, love, love the savings from switching to Hulu. It's padded our savings account very nicely.

As for bottled water, we live in Phoenix where the tap water is disgusting. And a Brita doesn't cut it. That said, the cost and environmental issue of bottled water meant that wasn't an option. Instead, we bought a used water cooler on Craigslist for $40, I think. Going on five years later, it still runs perfectly, and 5 gallons is $1.25.

Guest's picture

I love foaming hand soap and I reuse the dispenser, but why pay even for a refill that's mostly water? I use about a 4:1 water to liquid soap or body wash ratio (about 3 T) in my foaming soap dispenser. Just make sure to mix very gently to combine so it doesn't suds all over the place. If it clogs, I briefly pump warm water through it. Works great! And I'm finally using up that enormous bottle of liquid soap that's been decaying under the sink since I switched to foam.

Guest's picture

I'm guilty of forever buying bottle water when I could easy refill

Guest's picture

Make your own convenience foods! In lieu of pricey convenience foods (which most of us turn to from time to time when we need something already-made but want to avoid the expense of take out), I try to keep 2 or 3 premade home cooked meals in my freezer at all times. When life gets unexpectedly hectic, instead of eating out or paying outrageous prices for premade meals, I just pop a frozen homemade meal in the microwave or oven.

The next time you're making a recipe that's easily doubled, make twice as much and freeze half. Even cooking a double batch of cubed chicken or browned beef to freeze as a starting point for an easy meal in the future can will save you both time and money on those what's-for-dinner crazy nights.