Some things in life are just best left un-purchased because they simply don't provide their money's worth — or have much cheaper alternatives. Here's a list of six everyday items we don't really need. Ditching them all together could save an average of $1,500 a year.
Last year Americans spent $58 billion on lottery tickets or about $200 per person. But, according to Powerball stats, the odds of hitting the jackpot are just one in 195 million. Instead, create your own luck by investing that $5 a week into a retirement account. Over 30 years, earning say 6% a year, your lotto habit could turn into $9,000 investment.
Retailer Extended Warranties
Extended warranties from retailers rarely prove beneficial. First, they can end up costing more than just repairing the product on your own. Also, beware of the fine print on these types of warranties, which may include language that could later disqualify your claim. Bottom line, researchers say: skip it. Some products, like cars, with an average warranty cost of $1,000, have become more reliable over time, which means they aren't likely to break down within the time frame of the warranty, according to Tod Marks of Consumer Reports. For a large appliance like a gas range, a 3-year warranty period is typical, she says. However, researchers find that only one in five actually need repair in the first three years.
Keep in mind that if your purchase ever breaks or fails within the first few months or year of use, you can always try negotiating with the manufacturer directly for compensation or a free replacement.
Unlimited Cellular Plans
It may seem like a wise purchase, but based on data from BillShrink.com, we may be overdoing by buying unlimited cell phone plans. In fact, we waste an average of $336 a year because we overestimate the number of voice minutes and texts we're using. If you lower your plan by one payment bracket, you can save at least $10 to $20 a month, or up to $240 a year. Before you make the switch though, track your usage for a few months, and find the plan to match.
The markup on cleaning supplies has much to do with packaging and advertising. Otherwise, it costs very little to make a cleaning detergent. We can save by creating our own natural alternatives with simple, inexpensive household ingredients like vinegar, ammonia, baking soda and water.
For example, to make a window and glass cleaner, simply mix a half-cup of white vinegar, a quarter-cup of rubbing alcohol, and 3.5-cups of water. The total cost comes to just 50 cents. Compared to the $3 to $4 you'd spend on a similar product at the grocery store, this one home-made formula could save you more than $40 per year.
Another household basic that makes little sense to spend money on is plastic bags. Simply re-use this free commodity provided by your grocery store, and you'll rarely have to pay for plastic bags again. Uses include kitchen and bathroom trash can liners, packing material for mailers, compost or kitchen scraps, lunch bags, pet cleanup, and more.
Ultra-High SPF Sunscreen
Think SPF 80 is worth paying up for? Think again. Experts say don't bother splurging on any sunscreen with more than SPF 45. In fact, FDA regulations are now limiting the maximum SPF to 50, since there's little proof a higher SPF works any better. Topping Consumer Reports' "most-recommended" list is the SPF 45 "No-Ad" sunblock with aloe and vitamin E. It was also the least expensive sunscreen in the test at just 59-cents per ounce.