BillShrink.com has developed the following list of 15 things we commonly overpay for in an effort to help Americans save in today’s economy.
This list includes costs that can easily be avoided, or reduced if customers are willing to shop around or plan ahead.
1. Pseudo Health Products. Like the “protein bars” that are presented as “low fat” or “all natural” even though can end up just as unhealthy as candy bars (the sugar!), while costing up to five times as much.
2. Brand New Technology. It is well documented that technology prices come down considerably once new products have been on the market for several months to a year. Additionally, waiting allows time for other companies to release competitive technology, presumably leading to better overall products becoming available in the marketplace.
3. Bottled Water. This is probably the most overpriced of all regularly consumed products. Over 2/3 of the world is covered in water, and filters to covert ‘tap water’ into filtered water are readily available for under twenty dollars. However, millions of people choose to $1-2 on this convenience item each day.
4. Individual Coffee Cups. Individual cups of coffee purchased anywhere, whether from restaurants, gas stations, or coffee shops, are invariably priced high. Especially when compared to what one could buy and prepare coffee for in bulk at home.
5. Prepackaged Food. Buying prepackaged food items such as sandwiches, sliced apples, or desert cups is one way of overspending on products that are relatively easy to make, and less expensive then when you buy the ingredients which can also give you more servings.
6. Apple Brand Accessories. Apple has built a cult-following over the past decade, and they are able to demand premium prices for many of their aftermarket accessories. There are, however, a number of manufacturers that make products that are compatible with their mp3 players and other products, available for a fraction of the cost.
7. Sending a Fax from a Business Center. There are a number of free web-based fax services, for which you only need an email address and a scanner. Sending faxes from places such as Kinko’s can cost $1 per page for local, and $2 per page for long-distance faxes.
8. Car Maintenance from the Dealership. Unless a car is under warranty, going to a dealership for a repair is one sure way to overspend. Car dealerships often promise that certain work can only be done by authorized dealerships, and are less-inclined to negotiate prices, something that should be done with any type of auto maintenance.
9. Music. There is no longer the need to purchase an entire album, now music fans can compartmentalize music purchases to the individual song level with sites like iTunes or Pandora.com.
10. Additional Warrantees on Electronics. The typical lifespan of electronics products are 3-5 years. So if you think you will upgrade the item within 5 years, or before you will repair it, is the cost (can be up to 50% of the purchase price) worth it?
11. Late Fees/Overdraft Fees. Paying late fees on credit cards and bills, and overdraft fees on bank accounts can be a disheartening use of one’s hard-earned money. Especially when a minimum payment on a credit card of $15 is missed, resulting in a late fee that can be as high as $39 (and perhaps result in an APR% increase). Overdraft fees add up, especially when they are made in quick succession, resulting in fees for each transaction made while an account is overdrawn.
12. Non Bank ATM Fees. ATM Fees can add up. They can also be slightly misleading; it’s not unusual for ATM convenience fees to cost $2.00, and for the card-issuing bank to charge up to an additional $2.50 as a non-bank ATM Fee. As a result, it may cost up $4.50 to withdraw $20.00.
13. Gambling. Most people gamble with a vague sense that they may one day strike it rich. Others, play for entertainment. It cannot be denied that—especially at a casino—the odds are stacked against most gamblers. In any case, gambling is often the source of grief and frustration—presumably, at the thought that any money lost could have better been used by depositing it into one’s money market account.
14. DVDs. Now there are many alternatives for individuals to watch movies without having to purchase them – Netflix offers unlimited monthly rentals, and websites such as Hulu.com, enable users to watch thousands of its titles for free.
15. Flowers from a Florist. Flowers are often overpriced, especially at florists, and always around the holidays, so your best bet is go to your grocery store, they are often a fraction of the price.
BillShrink.com is a unique, free online service that saves consumers money by making continuously updated, personalized, usage-based recommendations on everyday services with very complex bills and offerings that change frequently. BillShrink monitors millions of rate plan/feature combinations, and matches them against individual consumers’ usage patterns, providing simple, apples to apples comparisons and updated money saving recommendations on an ongoing basis as changes occur. Silicon-Valley based BillShrink.com was founded in 2007.