23 Common Buys That Are Complete Rip-offs

Ever found yourself wondering why your wallet feels lighter after a shopping spree? It might be because you’ve fallen for some classic rip-offs. Take a look at our list of 23 sneaky purchases that empty your pockets faster than you can say “buyer’s remorse.”

Bottled Water

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Why pay for something you can get for free from the tap? Bottled water is often no purer than tap water, and its environmental impact is massive. According to the NRDC, “Just because a bottled water company produces ads and labels that connote purity… doesn’t mean that’s what consumers are getting… Chemicals called phthalates, which are known to disrupt testosterone and other hormones, can leach from the container into the water over time.”

Designer Sunglasses

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Sure, they look cool, but do they really protect your eyes better than a $20 pair? Unlikely. You’re mostly paying for the brand name and a fancy case. Your eyes won’t know the difference, but your bank account will.

USB Cables

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Need a new USB cable? Skip the overpriced ones at electronics stores. The cheaper versions you find online often work just as well. They charge your devices just the same, without the fancy packaging and hefty price tag.

Extended Warranties

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Extended warranties sound good in theory but rarely offer value for money. Most products don’t break within the warranty period, and repairs often cost less than the warranty itself. Consumer Reports says, “According to our 2015 Repair and Replace Appliance Survey, when appliances do break, the repairs, on average, cost not much more than the average cost of a service plan.”

Hotel Mini Bars

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We all know the temptation of those little bottles and snacks, but resist! You’ll pay triple the price for that tiny can of soda or bag of chips. Instead, hit a local store and stock up on essentials before settling into your room.

Name-Brand Pantry Staples

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Flour, sugar, and other name-brand pantry items often cost significantly more than their generic counterparts, with no difference in quality. Save your dough for something more exciting than flour—like actual doughnuts.

Pre-Packaged Produce

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Convenience comes at a cost. Pre-cut fruits and veggies save you time but can be twice as expensive as buying whole produce. Grab a knife and do the chopping yourself—it’s cheaper and usually fresher.

Fancy Gym Memberships

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Why splurge on a swanky gym membership when most of us barely use it? Many people sign up with the best intentions but end up visiting sporadically. USA Today reveals that “67% of [gym] memberships go unused.”

Branded Cleaning Products

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Many branded cleaning products have generic versions with the same ingredients at a lower price. Your surfaces won’t know the difference, but your savings will shine bright after making the switch.

Pre-Made Guacamole

food Guacamole
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Sure, it’s tasty, but pre-made guac is usually overpriced and can’t compete with the freshness of homemade. Avocados, a few key ingredients, and a little effort will save you money and taste way better.

Novelty Kitchen Gadgets

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That avocado slicer might seem genius, but how often will you actually use it? Most novelty kitchen gadgets end up collecting dust. Stick to versatile tools that serve multiple purposes—save your cash for something more useful.

High-End Makeup Brushes

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Do you really need that $50 brush? Budget options often work just as well for applying makeup. Save your money for the cosmetics themselves; after all, it’s the product that truly makes the difference.

Printer Ink

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Printer ink is more expensive than vintage champagne by volume! The high cost of replacement cartridges can burn a hole in your pocket. Yahoo! Finance says, “Branded printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids that consumers can buy.”

Bottled Salad Dressing

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Bottled dressings are convenient but often overpriced and full of preservatives. Making your own salad dressing takes minutes and allows you to control the ingredients, making it healthier and cheaper.

Brand-Name Prescription Drugs

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Generic drugs have the same active ingredients and are just as effective as their brand-name counterparts but at a fraction of the price. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist for generic options to save money.

Lottery Tickets

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The odds of winning big are slim to none, yet Americans spend billions on lottery tickets each year. Consider it entertainment rather than an investment, and don’t spend more than you’re willing to lose.

Fancy Shaving Cream

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A fancy label and fragrance don’t necessarily mean a better shave. Many affordable shaving creams and gels work just as well, if not better, than their pricey counterparts. Focus on a good razor instead.

Fashion Magazines

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With endless style tips and trends available for free online, spending money on fashion magazines feels outdated. Save your cash and browse fashion blogs or Pinterest boards for inspiration instead.

Expensive Phone Accessories

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Those $40 phone cases and $30 screen protectors add up quickly. Budget-friendly options often offer the same protection and functionality. Shop around for deals, and don’t fall for the “you get what you pay for” trap every time.

Premium Fuel

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Unless your car specifically requires premium fuel, sticking to regular gas is just fine. The extra cost does not translate into better performance or mileage. Premium fuel might sound like an upgrade, but for most cars, it’s just a pricey placebo. Save the extra money for something that actually matters!

Diet Foods

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Special “diet” foods often have jacked-up prices without significantly better nutritional value. Whole, unprocessed foods are generally healthier and cheaper. Stick to real food and save your money.

Premium Pet Food

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Your pet deserves the best, but expensive doesn’t always mean better. Many premium pet foods have the same nutritional value as more affordable options. Consult your vet for recommendations that won’t break the bank.

Cable TV Packages

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Why splurge on an extravagant cable package when you’re only watching a handful of channels? Cable companies bundle in loads of extras you’ll never use, and those hidden fees and surcharges add up fast. Do yourself a favor and switch to streaming services.

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