If you want to save money, it might seem counterintuitive to spend cash to do it. Sometimes, however, you have to give a little to get a little. In fact, certain purchases can even save you money over time.
If you’re looking at the bigger picture, it’s good to know which products will help you keep more of your hard-earned cash.
Did your Roku controller run out of juice? Before you dash out to buy disposable batteries, consider the alternative. Rechargeable batteries have come a long way in terms of capacity and price. Although there is still the upfront investment, research shows they’re a better value overall, according to the technology review website The Wirecutter.
A Wirecutter study showed that after nine months on the shelf, all the tested rechargeable batteries (LSD and Eneloop) had more energy left in them than any disposable brand-new AA battery. Your first set of AA batteries will also pay for themselves after a few recharge cycles when compared to most brand-name disposable batteries.
Be sure to pick up a charger for continued use, which typically ranges from anywhere between $12.99 to $62.99. You can buy a pack of Panasonic Eneloop rechargeable batteries on Amazon for $12.99.
Reusable Shopping Bags
Reusable shopping bags are good for the environment, but did you know it’s another way to save money? Many retailers will actually give you a discount for using reusable bags.
For example, Trader Joe’s sells reusable bags. You can pick one up in-store or on Amazon. Grab these stylish grocery tote bags for $13.74.
A Water-Saving Showerhead
Showering is one of the biggest sources of water consumption in our homes, making up about 17 percent of all indoor water use by the average family, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
You can save money on your next utility bill by trading your existing showerhead for a water-efficient model. Showerheads with the WaterSense label range in price, but you can get this six-setting fixed showerhead for $12.99 on Amazon.
A Protective iPhone Case
Even if you handle your iPhone with care, accidents can happen. Ask yourself what’s the lesser of two evils: spending $20 for a sturdy phone case or forking over hundreds of dollars for a new iPhone?
Even if the phone still functions, anyone who’s dealt with a cracked screen knows it’s less than desirable as you’re stuck attempting to read around the cracks to decode messages. Save yourself a headache and, potentially, a lot of money by investing in a phone case.
The Spigen Tough Armor iPhone case costs $15.99 on Amazon. The case’s dual layers provide optimum protection.
Smart Power Strips
If you don’t like to pay for something that you won’t be using, then you’ll want to invest in a smart power strip. These power strips ensure that electricity is truly turned off when your electronics and appliances are not in use.
Many products continue to consume energy if plugged directly into the wall, even when powered off. This costs the average household $100 per year, according to Energy.gov. You can purchase a smart power strip with Wi-Fi on Amazon for $25.98.
A Coffee Maker
People like their morning cup of joe. Some people, however, make it a costlier expense by heading to Starbucks rather than brewing a cup at home. In fact, an Acorns survey showed that 41 percent of nearly 2,000 millennials spend more on their morning brew than contributing toward their retirement plan.
Sounds a bit crazy, right? If this describes you, do your wallet a favor and invest in a coffee maker that will suit your caffeine needs. You can buy a basic coffee maker — such as this 12-cup Mr. Coffee coffee maker at Walmart — for less than $30.
A Versatile Blender
Similar to a coffee maker, a blender can save you money just by providing you with the option to make a fancy protein smoothie at home. It can also save you the expense of buying premade baby food, which can easily cost over $1 per jar or packet.
If you buy one that is a jack-of-all-trades, such as this Nutri Ninja Blender from Walmart for $120, you can save on buying multiple gadgets. A blender like this is great for making other purees, dips, soups, dough (depending on the style), as well as chopping and mincing.
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An HDTV Antenna
If you haven’t cut the cord on cable TV, it’s never too late. For a flat one-time fee of $20 or so, you can purchase an HDTV antenna and get free channels. One trade-off, of course, is not getting as many channels.
You likely won’t miss those extra channels if you spend most of your time watching Netflix anyway. Plus, this is a much better choice than paying double or more for cable or satellite TV each month. You can snag a 50-mile range HDTV antenna from Walmart for $24.99.
A Filtered Water Pitcher
If empty water bottles are piling up in your recycling bin each week, it might be time to rethink your water drinking habits. One of the best ways to save money when you don’t like tap water is to purchase a filtered water pitcher.
For example, the Geekpure 10-cup water filter pitcher is $35.99 on Amazon. The pitcher is shatterproof and the six-stage filter removes impurities such as chlorine and mercury from the water.
Food Storage Containers
It’s terrible when fresh produce goes bad before you get to use what you paid for. However, if you’re trying to save money on food, you might want to invest in some good, solid storage containers.
For example, Rubbermaid FreshWorks storage containers have little vents that help the flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and the tray insert helps keep moisture away from the produce to prevent spoilage.
A set of three Rubbermaid FreshWorks Produce Saver containers will run you $43.49 on Amazon. Although it’s a little investment up front, you’re likely to see less produce waste and more green in your wallet.
Spending about $100 on an e-reader can be a smart investment if you’re a bookworm. After all, physical books are costly whereas digital copies cost a few bucks or less.
Furthermore, you can download your local library’s app and borrow books for free. The other benefit is that you don’t have to store them, which is a great way to save money and space. If you’re serious about that old school book feel, opt for a Kindle Paperwhite e-reader for $129.99 from Amazon.
An Amazon Prime Membership
If you haven’t already purchased an Amazon Prime membership, now would be the time to finally sign up. With Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, Prime members could essentially receive cheaper groceries.
The $119 membership fee will basically act as a customer loyalty program for the food retailer, with members receiving special perks and in-store benefits, according to a press release.
A DSLR Camera
One of the best ways to save money on family portraits is to invest in a good quality camera. Professional photographs can be quite costly — think a few hundred bucks or more for a family session. Meanwhile, this Nikon D3400 DSLR camera is on sale for $399.99 at Target.
If getting professional photographs are part of your yearly expenses, now might be the time to invest in a nice digital camera. Ask a friend to snap a picture for your upcoming holiday card, or snap photos of your baby’s milestones for a one-time expense.
A High-Efficiency Washing Machine
One of the best ways to save money in your home is to purchase a high-efficiency washing machine. It can cost a bit more than a traditional one and wash cycles tend to take longer, but it will use less water, energy and detergent. The savings could be $35 a year, according to Energy Star.
You can even get one delivered to your home for free when buying through The Home Depot’s website. Consider this Whirlpool high-efficiency washing machine on sale now for $497.70
A Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker
Every household worries about what’s for dinner, and having to prep a meal after work can be exhausting and time-consuming. A Crock-Pot or an Instant Pot could be a meal and money saver. Rather than ordering takeout or signing up for a fancy meal delivery service, purchase one of these products. You can snag a 6-quart Crock-Pot from Target for $39.99.
An Instant Pot is a pressure cooker that reduces meal cook times and therefore uses less energy. Although a bit pricier than a Crock-Pot, this must-have appliance generally gets your meals on the table faster. Grab this 7-in-1 Instant Pot at Target for $99.99.
A Car Wash Kit
A professional car wash in some places might still cost under $10. But with options to upgrade, clean the interior, polish tires and more, even a basic car wash can get pricey.
So how do you save money? Purchase a car wash kit that supplies you with everything you need. It might take a little bit of elbow grease, but not having to make trips to the car wash can save you big bucks over the life of the car. Purchase an Armor All Complete Car Care Kit on Amazon for $12.39.
A Stash of Cheap Snacks
Everyone has cravings and needs a snack every now and then. The worst thing for your waistline and wallet is to buy on impulse when you’re hungry. The better alternative is to stock up on snacks that you actually enjoy eating. That way, you can save a trip to the vending machine or local convenience store, which might cost you more than you’d like.
If you opt into Amazon’s Prime Pantry option, Amazon will deliver snacks right to your door. Try this 1-pound bag of Blue Diamond Roasted Salted Almonds for only $5.99.
Reusable Snack Bags
So, what do you use to store all those snacks? Reusable snack bags would be the best way to save money. They’re not only more practical but also cheaper than wasteful disposable sandwich bags.
Amazon offers plenty of options, and the price is relatively cheap — $10 to $20, on average. Better yet: Most bags are machine washable and dishwasher safe. These cute reusable snack bags are available on Amazon for $7.95.
A Quality Wardrobe
Ask any clothing expert and they’ll say everyone should have a few quality clothing staples in their closet. For one, they’re timeless, meaning you’re less likely to replace them for being out of fashion. On the other hand, they’re higher quality, which makes them more durable in the wash.
So if you’re worried about your attire showing its wear, and you want to save money on clothing — spend more upfront to save in the long run.
For women looking for a nice middle-ground option for workwear, check out Target’s Who What Wear collection, which offers affordable, sturdy and chic workwear aimed at career women.
A Food Saver
You’ve likely opened your freezer door to discover your food has freezer burn. Rather than serve it, you have to throw it away — which is a waste of money.
Break the cycle of potential food waste and purchase a food vacuum sealer system. That way, you can conserve a variety of foods, such as meat, cheese, nuts, sauces, soups and more.
For example, a FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing System sells for $125.37 on Amazon (but currently on sale for less than $100), which comes with a heat seal roll and a few heat seal bags in quart and gallon sizes. To restock, you can buy 44 FoodSaver bags for $19.99.
A Gel Nail Polish and Curing Kit
When it comes to manicures, it doesn’t get better than gel nail polish. However, at a nail salon, the service can easily cost $40 or more.
If you love gel polish and want to know how to save money on the look, you can buy your own gel nail polish and curing kit, and do it yourself. Start by purchasing this curing light for $26.99.
A Space Heater
When you get a chill at home, do you immediately turn up the thermostat? If you’re looking for ways to save money, here’s a window of opportunity.
A better solution is to have a portable space heater. Maybe the bathroom is cold and you hate stepping out from a hot shower — rather than heat the entire house, plug the space heater in where and when it’s needed. For only $14.99, you can score this Honeywell 360 Surround Heater from Target.
An Herb Garden
Cross some items off your grocery list and invest in an herb garden. You can purchase rooted herbs at the supermarket, from a local farm stand or grow some from scratch for cheap. The startup costs are minimal.
Purchase a few herb pots and place them in your kitchen, so the next time a recipe calls for cilantro or basil, they’ll be at arm’s reach. If you want to get started right away, you can buy an Indoor Herb Garden Starter Kit on Amazon for $19.79.
A Gadget to Get the Last Drop
We’ve all been there, whether it’s getting the last squirt of ketchup or last drop of shampoo from the bottle. But investing in a Flip-It Bottle Emptying Kit for $5.25 could potentially save you money over time.
When the bottle is nearly empty, replace the regular cap with the Flip-It cap, which allows the bottle to stand upside down. Then, let gravity do its work and get the last bit out of the bottle. You’ll likely make fewer trips to the store for condiments and toiletries in the future.
Homemade Cleaning Solutions
One of the best ways to save money on cleaning supplies is to simply not buy them. Instead, stock up on some cheap pantry items. You can check your local Target for the basics for under $4.
You can use baking soda, vinegar and even lemon juice to whip up a basic cleaning solution that’s natural, multipurpose and budget friendly.
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Taylor Bell contributed to the reporting of this article.
Prices are accurate as of Feb. 26, 2019, and are subject to change.