Our country is legendary for our affinity towards big things. We love skyscrapers, we built Mt. Rushmore, we have the Grand Canyon, invented the idea of supersizing something and drive SUV’s to our children’s’ soccer games. Out of our love for all things huge a new type of store came around that catered to our desires for all things large. Many of us are guilty of wandering into our local warehouse store “just to browse” and walk out with 200 rolls of toilet paper and a 5 gallon tub of ice cream. In many cases we justify it by comparing the size to the price and saying that it’s a good value, but there are some items that we commonly buy in bulk or buy in sizes that are too big that we can save money on buying smaller.
1. Bulk Food
Let’s get this out of the way first, there are many food items where you can buy in bulk and it’s a great deal. A big bag of frozen chicken will last in the freezer for months and is much less expensive than hitting the store to buy fresh before every meal so this is one area you definitely want to buy in bulk. However, do you really need a 4 pound bag of tortilla chips? Many food items available in bulk at warehouse stores are just more than a regular family needs and ends up spoiling or going stale and getting chucked in the trash before it can be used. The next time you’re tempted to buy a giant bag of green beans consider if you’ll be able to use them all before they expire and you might discover you’re better off going to a regular grocery store.
It’s the American dream to become successful and buy a big house, but there are expenses associated with a big home beyond the price tag that can make it very costly. First, buying a bigger home carries a higher price tag and if you’re taking out a mortgage that higher price means you’re paying more in interest charges over the course of paying your mortgage. Second, the bigger your house is the more space you’ll have that will require ongoing maintenance. When you repaint your home, you’ll have more space to paint, which will cost more money. The same goes if you need to replace or repair your roof, or put in new carpet or finish the hardwood floors. When you’re shopping for a home don’t fall in love with the bigger house because it’s bigger, think about how much space you really need and whether you can afford the additional carrying costs of having a large home.
Like I said earlier, we Americans love our big SUV’s. They’re convenient and have tons of space for our family, our pets, and our gear for our hobbies. However, these big SUV’s also have big price tags and cost between 10-30% more than even a smaller SUV or a car. In addition to the extra cost up front, these big vehicles require significantly more fuel than smaller cars and with fuel prices as expensive as they are being faced with a $150 bill every time you fill your tank can be daunting. When you’re considering purchasing your next vehicle, think about buying something smaller than that SUV you wanted and you can save big over the lifetime of your new vehicle.
4. Designer Clothes and Accessories
Designer clothes are cool, they’re luxurious, they’re trend setting, and they’re expensive. There are so many ways that you can find similar products to the big name designers for less money. If you insist on having the real deal, shop through online discount sites and you can find many retailers selling authentic designer gear for 20%-80% off. If you’re like me and like the thrill of the hunt, check out the outlet malls for discounts or look at “rack” stores where department stores send their discounted merchandise. Your best option is to just not buy the designer piece you’re looking at and to find something similar but non-designer.
5. Exercise Equipment
If you’ve ever watched late night television you’ve seen ads for home gyms which promise to get you toned and looking like a model in no time. You may have been inspired and went to the store to start taking a look and the salesperson is getting your fired up about a full gym setup. Hold on a second and think about what you really need in a home gym. While machines make big promises to get you fit you can do plenty of exercises using just your body weight or with free weights. Buying a set of used dumbbells is very inexpensive and will help get you in great shape.
Movies and sports are just better on a huge TV, but like most things in this list bigger means more expensive. Most televisions now are very advanced and you don’t need a big TV to get the best quality picture. Though you may be tempted to get the 50 inch screen, you might actually get a better experience buying smaller and getting the 42 inch screen. Another thing to consider is whether the size of television you’re looking at is appropriate to your space. A rule of thumb to use here is to measure how far you will be sitting from your television and then divide it in half and that should be how big your television should be diagonally. For example, if you are sitting 5 feet from your TV you should look at about a 40 inch TV.
7. Home Appliances
Realistically the main purpose of having larger appliances is pure convenience. A big fridge can store more food and a big washing machine can let you take care of more laundry in less loads. Just like other items on this list bigger machines mean a bigger price tag. It’s tempting to spend a little more up front for more convenience but the other side of the coin is that these bigger appliances cost more to run. Your monthly power bills will be higher with larger appliances and over time this adds up to a significant cost.
What woman doesn’t like jewelry, specifically diamonds? The markup on pieces of jewelry is extremely high and if you don’t know what to look for you can get taken for a ride and buy something that costs way too much for what it’s actually worth. Buying a big diamond, for example, is going to be expensive but the quality of the stone tends to drop the larger it gets. Look instead for a smaller higher grade stone for the same amount of money and it will retain its value much better. Another way to shop for jewelry is to look for used pieces. It isn’t like a diamond loses value because it’s been worn, a diamond is a diamond. Check out estate sales for some great vintage pieces and also look at your local upscale pawnshops to see what they’re offering. They buy jewelry at a significant discount so you can get great savings this way.
9. Laptops and Tablets
This isn’t so much about the size of the machine but the specifics of what’s inside it. When you’re shopping for a laptop now there are a lot of different options and features to consider and they all will affect the price. For example, many new laptops also have a touch screen and can be used like a tablet. In this case paying a little more for this machine may save you money over buying both a laptop and a tablet. Think about the features you care the most about and then look for deals around the holidays or try and buy a refurbished model. Another tip is to follow the product cycles and when a new laptop or tablet is released you can pick up the older model at a steep discount as stores try to clear them out of their inventory.
For me, I swear by my high thread count sheets, but don’t think I paid full price for them. Look at outlet stores and online for huge discounts on extremely high quality sheets that would retail in a department store for 2 or sometimes 3 times the price you can pay elsewhere. I’ve had great luck at outlet malls looking for sheets from big name brands and found them for much less than other places. My good friend has ordered all of her sheets online from places like overstock.com and says if you look you can get great values.