30 Cheap Choices That Can Cost You in the Long Run
By some reports, users spend 27 minutes a day on their laptops. In three years, that's 450 hours, which is more time than most of us will spend reading, relaxing, or exercising. If your using a subpar laptop, you’ll be spending a lot of that time waiting for video to load, correcting wonky typing, looking at a muddy display, or recharging a constantly underpowered battery. Consider something better than a base model.
You can keep buying incandescent or halogen bulbs if you'd like, but you're wasting time and money. A $1 incandescent bulb lasts 1,200 hours, requires 21 changes in 23 years, uses $180 worth of electricity and costs a total of $201 over a 23-year lifespan. An LED bulb, on the other hand, costs $8 or less, lasts 25,000 hours, uses $30 of electricity over that same 23-year span, and doesn't need changing. Yes, $8 is more expensive than $1, but $201 is a lot more costly than $38.
Eyeing generic or dollar-store cleaners for home and laundry? Be warned that the cheapest detergents are underperformers that have trouble dissolving, leaving clumps of detergent in clothing. Meanwhile, the lowest-cost window cleaners often leave streaks instead of clear windows -- though many DIY experimenters swear by a mixture of vinegar, liquid soap, and water.
Honestly, this is something you should be making at home for far cheaper than you're buying it by the jar. But if you are stopping off for a quick jar of sauce to go with that night's dinner, shouldn't it at least taste as if you used some real ingredients? Consumer Reports' Consumerist called generic pasta sauce "akin to pouring ketchup on your spaghetti," and when that costs $2.70 for 25 ounces and Classico is $3 for 24 ounces, it doesn't cost all that much to trade up.
There are plenty of automotive fixes you can make on your own, and some a friend might be able to help out with. But this isn't the '70s, and cars are now very complicated machines that may require professional service. Even an unseemly professional or pushy insurance company can turn a cheap repair into a nightmare. Do the homework and find a trusted mechanic, even if that shop isn't the cheapest.
Cheap glasses are a gamble on size and prescription and don't necessarily match the quality from more knowledgeable outlets or optometrists. Even fans of cheap online glasses note that not every service is equally reputable. While Consumer Reports lauds the quality and price of glasses at Costco, Kaiser Permanente facilities, Walmart, and ZenniOptical, consumers need to be cautious and adjust expectations when going cheap.
As if travelers didn't know, budget hotels should be approached with caution. Yes, the general cleanliness of budget hotels often leaves something to be desired, but be wary of how budget services sell packages with reputable hotels as well: While some promise an incredible price, make sure taxes and fees are included in the price they're pitching.
To really cheap out on personal training, ditch it altogether and go to the gym on your own. But if you really need help, stop dithering with that free personal trainer app and either find a trainer online who fits your financial needs or take advantage of a gym's personal training sessions.
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