There are some items and experiences that are worth paying a little extra for, while others are simply not worth it.
When deciding whether to spend or save, it’s important to figure out if the more expensive option is really the better one.
Click through to find out which items are worth the money — and why these other ones aren’t worth it.
Hermès Birkin bag: starting at $9,250
A high-end designer handbag can set you back thousands of dollars. A Hermès Birkin bag recently sold at auction for $379,261, an amount that could buy an entire house in many U.S. states. While high-end bags can serve as a status symbol, your money is better spent elsewhere.
Tibetan Mastiff purchased from a breeder: $2,500
Buying a purebred dog from a breeder can set you back thousands of dollars, making purebreds among the most expensive dogs you can buy. The cost of adopting or rescuing usually ranges between $25 and $300.
In addition to saving an animal’s life, there are added financial benefits to adopting. Most rescue dogs are mixed-breed, meaning they are likely to live longer and cost less in vet bills than a pure-breed. Purebred dogs are more likely to develop health problems, such as breathing difficulties and hip dysplasia, which can be expensive to treat.
Frontier Communications Fios TV: $65 per month plus fees
With the many affordable streaming services now available, more and more people are opting to cut the cable cord. The average consumer spends $103.10 on cable per month, according to the Leichtman Research Group, while subscription streaming services cost significantly less.
Netflix and Hulu can cost as little as $7.99 per month for each. Amazon Prime Video is included with the $199 yearly Prime membership fee — just one of many benefits of a Prime membership — or it can be purchased for $12.99 per month. Subscribing to all three will cost you $28.97 each month, which will save you just under a thousand dollars each year compared to the average monthly cable fee.
Non-Chase ATM fees for Chase Total Checking customers: $2.50
ATM withdrawal fees are usually between $1.50 and $3.50 if you’re not that bank’s costumer, and while that amount seems minimal, it can add up. It’s also a fee that can be easily avoided by only withdrawing from your own bank’s ATM, or opting to get cash back while at a grocery store, drugstore or another retail establishment that offers the option.
Powerball ticket: $2
While it might seem tempting to spend two bucks for the chance to win millions, the odds are not in your favor, and those dollars are better off in your savings account. Your chance of winning a Powerball grand prize is only about 1 in 292 million. To put that in perspective, your odds of being killed by an asteroid impact are about 1 in 700,000.
“A Game of Thrones” hardcover book: $30.80
Buying books is arguably a waste of money, as you can likely borrow the same books at your local library for free. However, if you insist on buying, it’s better to opt for the paperback or e-reader version, which cost much less.
For example, Amazon sells “A Game of Thrones” for $30.80 for hardcover, $9.99 for paperback and $6.99 for Kindle. At those prices, you can buy two Kindle versions for less than the cost of one hardcover.
Going Out to Lunch
Applebee’s lunch combo: $6.99-$8.99
Going out to lunch every workday is a costly habit. If you pack lunch instead of buying it every day, you can save $5 to $15 per meal — which can save you more than $100 each month.
Do It Now: 31 Easy Ways to Save Money
Dasani Purified Water 20 oz. bottle: $1.89
Buying bottled water is bad for the environment because it consumes resources and creates waste. And it’s also bad for your wallet. Purchasing one bottle of water daily, even at only $1 per bottle, will cost you $365 for the year. You can easily buy a reusable water bottle for less than $10, and fill up daily with tap water, which costs an average of 49 cents per year.
Cadillac Escalade: $73,995
There are some pros to buying a luxury car, but they don’t outweigh the costs associated with owning one. Most luxury cars are made with higher quality materials, have better handling and might provide a better ride than a mid-level car. However, luxury models of mid-level brands often come with the same bells and whistles as a luxury car for less.
For example, a Cadillac Escalade and Chevrolet Tahoe share many mechanical components, but the Escalade starts at $73,995, while the Tahoe starts at $47,215. There are also additional increased costs that come along with having a luxury car. Most require premium gas, come with higher insurance rates and have more expensive replacement parts and repair costs than a standard vehicle.
Want to Buy a Tesla? 6 Things You Need to Know
Pricey Hotel Rooms
Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane: $786 per night
If you’re looking to save, skip the five-star hotel. This holds especially true if you’re going on a vacation where you’ll be spending more time out exploring than in the hotel. If you just need a place to sleep, opt for a lower-tier location to save some serious cash.
For an illustration of the cost differences, compare average hotel prices for three- and five-star hotels in London: a three-star hotel costs an average of $115 a night, while the average five-star hotel costs $300.
DVDs and Blu-ray Discs
Almost Famous DVD: $4.99
Physical discs are relics of a bygone era and just like cable, DVDs and Blu-rays are now playing second fiddle to streaming services. An inexpensive DVD movie at Target costs $4.99, while an inexpensive Blu-ray costs $7.49. Even those bargain prices are too high, however. With streaming sites starting at $7.99 per month for unlimited access to movies, there really is no financial reason to buy physical discs anymore.
Bottles of Wine at Restaurants
Bottle of wine at Olive Garden: $25 and up
Restaurants often mark up bottle prices at least 300 percent from their wholesale cost, according to wine and beverage site VinePair — just one of many crazy restaurant markups.
A bottle of Sutter Home White Zinfandel that retails for $5.49 will cost you $25 at Olive Garden — nearly five times its worth. You can often save money on wine by bringing your own bottle and paying a corkage fee, which usually ranges from $20 to $40.
Nexium 24HR Delayed Release Heartburn Relief Capsules: $18.44 for 28 capsules
Generic versions of brand-name drugs must have the same active ingredients, strength, dosage form and route of administration in order to obtain FDA approval. Opting for the generic over the name brand will save you an average of 85 percent, according to the FDA.
For example, a 28-pack of Nexium 24HR costs $18.44, while a 28-pack of the generic Equate Acid Reducer costs $12.87 — 43 percent less.
Generic Drugs and More: 21 Hacks to Reduce Your Healthcare Costs
High-End Gym Memberships
Equinox Sports Club San Francisco membership: $210 per month
A membership to Equinox costs over $200 a month at many locations, while the average gym membership is just under $60 per month. While the machines might be upgraded and the facilities might be swankier at a luxury gym, you can still get a good workout at a lesser gym and save about $140 a month.
Department Store Mascara
Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara: $24
Various tests have shown that drugstore mascara works just as well — and sometimes even better — as the department store brand, so there’s no point in shelling out the extra bucks.
TotalBeauty’s No. 1 rated mascara is L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Miss Manga Mascara, which sells for $7.99, while one of Sephora’s top-rated mascaras, Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara, sells for $24 — three times more than the drugstore pick. Many drugstore brands work just as well as luxury brands.
National average for premium gas: $3.07 per gallon as of March 7, 2018
Unless your car specifically requires you to opt for premium at the pump, you’re better off filling up with regular gas. Using regular gas is safe for most engines, and can save you 20 to 40 cents per gallon at the pump, according to Edmunds. As of March 7, the national average cost per gallon of premium gasoline was $3.068, while the national average for regular was $2.526.
Coffee at Starbucks
Tall coffee at Starbucks: $1.75
It’s significantly cheaper to brew your own Starbucks coffee than it is to pick it up on your way to work. A pound of most varieties of Starbucks coffee costs $12.95 and makes approximately 22 12-ounce cups, the size equivalent of a Starbucks tall coffee. That makes the cost of a homemade tall 58 cents, compared to $1.75 for a tall coffee purchased in-store. Every day you brew at home you save $1.17, which adds up to $427.05 over the course of a year.
More Savings Tips: The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money at Starbucks
Brand-Name Cleaning Supplies
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes: $4.79 for a 75-count tub
For general cleaning needs, store brand supplies are just as effective as name brands, according to the Huffington Post, and they are almost always cheaper. For example, while a 75-count tub of Clorox Disinfecting Wipes costs $4.79, the same number of Target up & up Disinfecting Wipes cost only $3.99.
Certain Organic Foods
Large organic Haas avocado: $2.99
Organic foods can cost up to 47 percent more than their non-organic versions, and for certain foods, the extra cost isn’t worth it.
Skip on the organic versions of fruits with inedible peels, vegetables with thick skins, quinoa, maple syrup, seafood, eggs and spices. Those categories of foods are just as safe for you to eat whether you opt for organic or not, so you might as well save. Instead of buying an organic Haas avocado for $2.99, for example, you can save over a dollar and get the non-organic version for only $1.88.
Fancy Hair Salons
Haircut at Nine Zero One salon: $175 and up
When you go to an expensive hair salon, you might be paying for the overall experience rather than the quality of the cut. If you’re just going in for a simple trim, discount salons like Supercuts can do just as good a job as a place that charges hundreds.
Omega Aqua Terra 150M in rose gold: $29,200
If you are thinking about buying a watch as an investment piece, don’t. The watch market is unpredictable, reports Money, so it’s better to invest your money elsewhere. If you do insist on buying a high-end watch, go for a Rolex, which might even appreciate in value over time.
What Is Worth It? 10 Collectible Investments More Valuable Than Gold
Trendy Fashion Items
Gucci Princeton Leather Slipper: $650
Super-trendy fashion items won’t get much wear beyond one season, so it’s not worth buying designer. A fast-fashion store like Forever 21 or H&M will likely carry the same item for much less than you’d pay for a luxury brand. Why splurge for Gucci’s Princeton Leather slipper for $650 when you can get a very similar style at Forever 21 for only $48?
Super Pricey Skincare Products
Crème de la Mer skin cream: $315 for 2 oz. jar
When shopping for skincare products, the pricier product is not necessarily the better one. Pay attention to the active ingredients in the product, read product reviews and look for clinical trials that demonstrate its effectiveness before buying. Many times you’ll be able to achieve your desired result with a drugstore brand or even by trying out a money-saving beauty hack. Luxury brands like La Mer set a high price point to attract a certain type of consumer.
Buying Magazines at a Newsstand
Redbook magazine: $3.99 per issue at a newsstand
You can save over 80 percent off newsstand prices of some titles by buying a subscription. So if you are planning on buying more than two issues of the same magazine in a year, it’s worth it to just subscribe. For example, Redbook’s newsstand price is $3.99, but you can get a year subscription for $8 and get 10 issues for just over the cost of two.
Unnecessary Baby Products
Dekor Diaper Plus Diaper Disposal System: $51.57
The baby product market is now a $10.3 billion industry, according to Statista, but many of the products out there are simply not worth the money. According to Parents.com, wipe warmers, diaper disposal systems, special “baby” detergent, baby timers, expensive crib bedding and baby food processors are all unnecessary purchases.
AKG N90Q Headphones: $1,499.95
It’s generally true that the more you pay for headphones, the more you’ll get in terms of sound quality and added features such as Bluetooth or noise canceling, but you don’t need to spend over $1,000 to get a good pair of headphones — especially if having all the extra bells and whistles isn’t that important to you. Review site Wirecutter rated the Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II as the best noise-canceling headphones, and they cost only $349 — a far cry from headphones that cost more than your rent.
Premium Rental Cars
Premium Rental Car from Enterprise: $44.99 per day
Unless you need the extra room for passengers or additional trunk space, it always makes financial sense to opt for the economy class of rental car. At rental car chain Enterprise, an economy rental costs $24.99 per day, while a premium rental costs $44.99 per day. If you’re renting a car for multiple days, those savings can really add up. And you usually end up getting a better car than you pay for anyway. Although rental car sites usually show a subcompact car as their example of the economy rental, they rarely actually have these super-small cars on the lot, according to The Points Guy. The travel advice site says that if you select the smallest rental car class, you are likely to get a free upgrade on-site, so why shell out the extra cash?.
Separate Laundry Detergent for Dark Clothes
Woolite Darks Laundry Detergent: $10.97
There’s no need to buy separate laundry detergent for your light and dark clothes; instead, buy one high-quality detergent that works well on all normal laundry loads. Review site Wirecutter rated Tide Ultra Stain Release Free, which costs $10.99 at Target, its best overall detergent because of its ability to both lift stains and fight odors, and reviewers say it keeps colors fresh, so it’s safe to use on dark clothes, too.
Cheap Paper Towels
Family Dollar Paper Towels: $1
When it comes to buying paper towels, you get what you pay for. You might feel like you are saving money by buying bargain paper towels, but if they don’t work well, you end up having to use more product than you would have if you had just sprung for a better brand. In a Consumer Reports paper towel test, Bounty DuraTowel, which sells for about $2.50 per roll, got the highest marks, while store-brand rolls like Family Dollar’s Family Values Paper Towel and CVS’s Just The Basics Paper Towels were ranked among the worst.
100-Calorie Pack Snacks
Snyder’s of Hanover Mini Pretzels 100 Calorie Packs, 10 Count: $3.99
Instead of buying pre-packaged 100-calorie pack snacks, save money by buying the regular size bag and portioning it out into snack bags yourself. A 10-count box of Snyder’s of Hanover Mini Pretzels 100 Calorie Packs sells for $3.99 and contains 9.2 ounces of pretzels total, which comes out to a cost of 43 cents per ounce. However, a family size bag of Hanover Mini Pretzels sells for $2.50 and contains 16 ounces of pretzels, which comes out to a cost of about 16 cents per ounce.
Cold and Flu Fighting Essential Oil Blend: $12
The market for homeopathic products is now a $3 billion-a-year industry, according to NBC News. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, there is little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific condition, and it is not advisable to use a homeopathic treatment instead of a proven conventional treatment or as a substitute for an appointment with a healthcare provider. Save your money and buy a treatment that’s proven to work instead.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank advertiser, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. This site may be compensated through the bank advertiser Affiliate Program.