Supermarket overpaying groceriesOpportunities to overspend are everywhere. Unless you're armed with a healthy helping of self-control and a fair amount of common sense, it's easy to overpay for most things we need in our everyday lives.

Given the way capitalism works, we're all bound to overpay sometimes. The key is to avoid making it a habit.

Here are 10 common things you're most likely paying too much for, and tips for keeping more of that cash in your pocket.




Motley Fool contributor Sean Williams (on Twitter @TMFUltraLong) has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intel, Tesla Motors, and Teva Pharmaceutical. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.


Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Intro to different retirement accounts

What does it mean to have a 401(k)? IRA?

View Course »

Economics 101

Intro to economics. But fun.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

30 Comments

Filter by:
Nate (Seattle, WA)

The crux of this article is "screw everybody else to improve your bottom line".

Is there a better summary of the philosophy of people in modern finance?

Use loopholes to pay less in taxes. It doesn't matter that somebody has to pay for schools and roads ... make the other guy responsible for that. Oh, and the percentage people pay in taxes now is very low, historically.

Don't buy products from the companies that invent them, buy the knockoffs. If everyone did that, there would be no innovation, as nobody would get rewarded for inventing new things. Whether that's an iPhone, a nice Sony TV, or a brand-name drug. Those development costs have to be paid by someone, or development doesn't happen.

Don't buy green stuff. We can keep moving full-speed ahead on fuel sources that are in finite supply, require us to pay for trillion dollar wars, and pollute our air and water. Those costs can be paid for by the government, or my children. Screw 'em.

Isn't it wonderful how this society just revels in being selfish and greedy.

April 18 2012 at 1:16 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Tess

I concur with most of the remarks made here. The author really didn't take into account items and services which people can easily function without, however bloat a budget. Here's my list in how to same money (yes it works):

10-Cell Phone Plans: opt for a pay as you go plan, or downgrade from a smart phone to a regular cellular device which accepts calls and texts. If you don't need to rely on accessing your e-mail, you really don't need a smart phone (ie iPhone, Blackberry, Droid). Smart phone plans are double the amount due to apps and web service fees.

9-Cabelvision: no one needs 1000 channels of stuff. Just buy the most affordable plan. Even better, wait for series (like True Blood, King of Thrones, etc.) to be released on disc. You don't need to pay exhorbinent cable fees for just a few hours a week watching TV.

8- Buy Bulk: join costco, Sam's Club, etc. and every other month stock up on the essentials like toilet paper, cleaning products, canned goods, and cereals. Go to regular market for weekly stock up on diary, etc. Your most expensive items are non ediable and canned goods.

7- Cut Down on Dining Out: aveerage cost to take a family of four is $100. Reduce dining out to special occassions. Buy an insulated lunch bag and pack your lunch. Buy and insulated coffee mug and bring your own tea or brew your own coffee. Starbuck should be a once in a while treat.

6- Internet Provider: Choose the lowest plan offered by your provider if you rely on saving your e-mails or opt for Google which provides free accounts.

5- Satellite Radio: Yeah it's great, but for $12 a month, do you really listen to the radio that much? You also support a company which sent its jobs overseas. Not worth paying for Sirius XM (sorry Howard).

4-Gym Membership: If you don't use your gym at least 3x per week, cancel your membership!

3- Save the Spare Change: Grab a jar or large can and anytime your change purse or wallet is about to bust, empty your change in the jar/can. My family accumulated over $110 in just six months throwing our spare change in it.

2-Save Your Own Damn Retirement! If your company only pays 3% or less tto match your 401K, don't even bother. Try saving at least half a pay check per month and open your own annuity and IRA. You can also look into more flexible plans which don't have heavy penalties if you need to use it.

1-No Stroe Credit Cards: Do not open and use store credit card accounts. Average interest for most department store credit cards is near 25%. That's just nuts! My rule of thumb--if you can't pay off your bill within three months, don't charge it. Banks and municipal credit unions also often offer low interest rate specials. Just avoid using credit if you can.

April 17 2012 at 9:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MARK

My top one is gasoline and 2 is diesel and my other 8 is because of one and ewo.

April 17 2012 at 8:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
AgentG

The premise of this article appears to completely contradict fundamentals of market economics and supply and demand. At the very least, the author is discounting the value proposition that consumers in the free market are making decisions based on the value provided to them. In that sense, this article (like many other purported advice articles) smacks of condescension and vast over-simplification of consumer decisions. The idea that somehow people would be helped by this advice really shows how ignorant the author is of real-life conditions and economics of real human beings.

For example, the item on electronics, which advises to buy older models to save money. However, the article admits that lifecycles for products are very short, and thus, discounts the loss in utility (through lost functionality) derived from an older device, which can be substantial.

Similarly, the item brand-name products assumes equivalent utility by all generic products, even though massive investments in research and intellectual property by brand-holders is made to provide value to customers. One simple example: Try buying a generic store brand razor and tell me there is no difference over the major brand products!

The one I really find offensive is taxes, which assumes, a priori, that taxpayers have sufficient disposable income to even sock away in retirement savings. Therefore, this advice does nothing for those whose income does not permit them the flexibility of saving more, which is perhaps 80% of wage earners.

Truly foolish and advice by the blind.

April 17 2012 at 3:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Vanquished

I laughed when (even though it's #11) a slide came up with a big picture of the Motley Fool. Kinda a bad place to put an ad, in a slideshow about things you over pay for. :D

April 17 2012 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Thomas

I find it really odd that a lot of these article point out that buying a "green" car is a waste of money since they cost more and you may not get a return on that investment. People buy cars with hundreds of horsepower and really never use it - especially since we have such a low speed limit. If someone feels good by driving a "green" car let them. The choice is just as valid as buying a BMW M5 or other performance car.

April 17 2012 at 11:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Thomas's comment
Vanquished

Thats not true... You do use the cars with more horsepower. It allows you to accelerate faster (which is not illegal) and may I point out that an underpowered car is actually worse on power than an adequately powered vehicle. Go look at the economy of some SUVs with different engine options.
Green cars are still useless at the moment. I love the Volt. rented one and thought it was the greatest thing ever, it was fun to drive and pretty cool. Of course, that was when it was on battery power. Something, which only lasts 36 miles... Even the Nissan leaf gets only 65 miles on a charge. What can you do with that? I certainly wouldn't risk driving the leaf to work and have to worry about making it home or not...

April 17 2012 at 2:46 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Nate (Seattle, WA)

Actually, the article's argument is ridiculous for another reason. They use the Tesla as an example. A Tesla is not just an electric car, it's also a luxury car. There is no luxury car on the market that's a good "investment". A luxury, by definition, is an excessive expenditure, made because people want performance, looks, status, creature comforts, etc.

A much better example would be the Nissan Leaf, which has sold vastly more models than the Tesla. My 2011 Leaf cost $27,600 after the federal tax credit (and there's also no sales tax on that in my state, saving another $2600). With the fuel savings, and reduced maintenance costs, the car will easily be less expensive than a comparable mid-sized car (e.g. Nissan Versa) with a gas engine, over its full lifetime. It may take 5-7 years to break even, but cars last much longer than that. Even if you sell the car yourself after 5 years, the ownership costs will be reflected in its resale value, so you don't actually need to keep the car until it dies for it to be as cost effective as a Versa.

The last car I sold was a 45+ mpg diesel VW Golf, and the resale value on that was amazing, largely because fuel is expensive, and people were willing to pay top dollar for an efficient, used car.

April 18 2012 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Nate (Seattle, WA)'s comment
Bob

I love how people have no shame in telling us they took $7500 from the rest of us to pay for their car.

April 18 2012 at 9:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
RightWingExtremist

Keep in mind.
Nothing would cost as much as it does, if there weren't people willing to pay it.
If people stop paying these prices, guess what happens ?

April 17 2012 at 10:55 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to RightWingExtremist's comment
Nate (Seattle, WA)

Guess what happens? You live in China, or some other third world country where people take cheapness to ridiculous extremes. Thanks, but no thanks.

You simpleton teabaggers can't seem to grasp the idea that spending not only is not evil, it represents 100% of our economy. All of it. Every dollar you earn is spent by someone else.

America's prosperity is due in no small part because we're a nation of spenders.

April 18 2012 at 12:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
thepetermedic

lets not forget cable tv

April 17 2012 at 7:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Neuroguy2

Indeed, store brands can be just as good - or even better in some cases - as brand names. In fact, the store brands are made by the same manufacturer who just slap on a different label. For instance, CVS tall kitchen garbage bags are in the same box and are stamped with the same coding as the Hefty brand. And, I have found lots of Food Lion branded items to be the same or better than national brands - their salsa and wing sauce come to mind. However, some are not, such as their take on A-1 steak sauce for example. You just have to give each item a shot. Finally, if you're not using the store's frequent shopping card, you're wasting a ton of money.

April 17 2012 at 7:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eric

This is such a horribly marketed/publicized article. Titled 10 "everyday things" yet taxes are once a year, a house isn't an "everyday item," neither is a car,the big electronics are maybe every other year purchases, a green vehicle is just a variation of a car and also might happen every 3 years, and on down the list. Grab a dictionary, Daily Finance.

April 17 2012 at 1:57 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply