6 Surprising Things You're Paying Too Much For

Dollars & Sense on 04.04.13
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It's quite possibly the least favorite thing on many people's to-do list: Spending their hard-earned money on paying bills and purchasing necessities instead of the things that are fun in life. But can you believe that there's a really good chance that you are paying too much money for the items that are already a huge expense? It's true. There are many ways to pay less for the things you need so that you can put more money away for the things you want, like a nice vacation. Here are six things you're probably paying too much for.

1. Food

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There isn't just one reason that you are paying too much for your groceries. There are many, which means that you are actually paying way, way too much for your groceries. First, Americans throw away an average of 40 percent of the groceries they buy due to food going bad because our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs, and not just when it comes to portions. Right off the bat, you can cut back your grocery expenses by just planning out your meals for the week and only buying as much as your family can (or should) eat. Shopping store sales and with coupons will also cut back on your grocery expenses, and buying store brands instead of name brands will keep a lot of extra cash in your pocket. You've got to eat, and you want to eat healthy, but you don't have to go broke to feed your family a well-rounded diet.

2. Clothing

clothing store
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There's no debating it; you've got to wear clothes. Whether the kids have gone through a growth spurt or looking good and being on trend makes you more confident when you head out the door each morning, it's ok, and sometimes even necessary, to pick up a few new pieces of clothing each season. But if you are paying full price for any item of clothing, you are paying too much! Between discount clothing super-stores, flash sale web sites, and store-wide discounts available through email promotions, you can almost always get a deal on whatever clothing you like. Full-priced stores begin displaying seasonal clothes several months before you'll be ready to wear them and often put them on sale right at the time when you need them. And even if you don't want to buy pre-worn clothes, thrift stores and online shopping sites such as Ebay often feature items that still have the tags on them, and at significantly reduced prices.

3. Cable Television

cable television
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It may be hard to imagine living without instant access to 500 channels on your giant flat-screen television, but how many of them do you watch regularly, and do you realize how much those extra ones actually cost? With so many shows now available on the internet, and via streaming through Netflix and AppleTV, chances are you can significantly downsize your cable subscription to basic, if not eliminate it altogether, for a savings of as much as $600 each year. Not ready to give it up altogether? Make sure you are getting the best rate you can. Even if you don't currently have a home phone, bundling your services for phone, internet, and cable can save you as much as $200 a year.

4. Cars

car dealer
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The old saying goes that a new car loses value the second you drive it off the lot. A car can lose as much as 60 percent of its value in just two years, so why do so many of us buy brand new cars? Sure, the lure of the latest and greatest in new cars is exciting, but it's always exciting to get new wheels, even if they've been used. Buying a car that is just a year or two old with fewer than 30,000 miles isn't that far off from getting a brand new one, except that you'll save several thousands of dollars on it while still getting a reliable car. Buying a slightly older car will also save you money on car insurance since your car's valuation won't be as high.

5. Appliances

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Unless you are planning a big kitchen renovation or are purchasing a new home, buying new appliances may very well be an unexpected and very large expense. Most people will head to their local home improvement or appliance store, but even if they are having a sale, that's not where you'll get the best price. Check your local listings for scratch and dent appliance stores which sell brand new products that may have as little as a nick on a side panel that will be hidden once installed but will be marked down hundreds of dollars. If you don't have a store like this in your area, ask your local appliance dealer if they have any slightly damaged pieces they're looking to offload.

6. Mortgage

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If you haven't refinanced your house in the past 12 months, you are paying too much for your monthly mortgage payment. Fixed-rate mortgages are at record low rates, and you can save hundreds of dollars each month by refinancing at a lower rate. Rates are so low that you may even be able to refinance for a shorter term which will save you thousands of dollars over the life the loan and get you free and clear on your home faster.

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