Five Everyday Items You Don't Need

TheStreet.com

People spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year on products they don't need. They might seem like small costs, but they can add up.

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Simple changes and a little preparation can help people trim the amount they waste on basic necessities. Here are five examples:

Bottled beverages: You probably have a favorite drink and it's not tap water. If you drink too much of it, it will take a toll on your budget. You don't have to give up your favorite beverage completely. Just substitute half the amount you usually drink with tap water.

Food: The average person throws away $600 worth of food each year, according to study by the University of Arizona. To keep more money in your wallet instead of the trash can, evaluate the amount of food you eat and consider how much of it goes bad before you consume it. Create a shopping list with more realistic portions and look for deals at local grocery stores.

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Diet products: Americans spend a lot of money buying meals, supplements and products that promise to help them lose weight, whether it's through a diet program or an impulse buy. These items are typically more expensive than the versions that don't make the same health claims. Read food labels and consider whether a food or product is worth the cost.

Vitamins: People spend a lot of money on vitamins that merely pass through their bodies every time they go to the bathroom. Instead of purchasing a wide array of supplements, figure out what your body needs and buy only those vitamins or, better yet, get those nutrients from food.

Cosmetics and toiletries: Cosmetic and hair care companies exaggerate the benefits of their products. Paula Begoun, author of The Beauty Bible, says that sunscreen is the only true anti-aging product. Creams that claim to get rid of cellulite or wrinkles usually don't.

Begoun says expensive hair products are no more effective than cheap ones. Usually they're made with the same main ingredients or produced by the same company. Try store-brand or less expensive products the next time you're stocking up.

Jeffrey Strain has been a freelance personal finance writer for the past 10 years helping people save money and get their finances in order. He currently owns and runs SavingAdvice.com.

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