Get more for your money by balancing quality and cost
From food to medication to automobiles, you want to get the best quality your money can buy. Follow these tips to help you decide when to spend a little more and when to hunt for bargains.
Fill your grocery cart for less.
Let’s start with a place where you probably spend a lot of time and money: the grocery store. To get more for your money, try house brands. Not only are they 27 percent cheaper on average than name brands, but the ingredients are usually comparable to national brands (sometimes they’re even made by the same companies). Also, don’t forget to check the bulk bins for candy, nuts, even cereal. This can be less expensive than purchasing individually packaged goods. You can buy as much as you need, so you’ll waste less.
Saving is the best medicine.
About half of U.S. prescriptions these days are filled with generic drugs. Are they the same as branded medications? Medicinally, yes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates generic medicines to ensure that they are as effective and safe as their branded counterparts. Ask your pharmacist if there is a generic version of the medication you take and you could save $5 to $10 (or more) on a prescription or bottle of vitamins.
A new or used car? A few things to consider.
Buying a car is a big expense and commitment. So it’s no wonder that choosing between a new and used car is a tough decision. Think about:
- Up-front and ongoing costs. You may pay less for a used car, but it could cost more in maintenance and repairs. Research the vehicle’s reliability record using online resources. Insurance is another big factor: The cost to insure a used car can be hundreds of dollars less per year versus a new one.
- Choice. If you’re picky about the details of your car, like color, interior, and stereo system, you may be attracted by the choice you get with a new car. These details may not be as important to you if you’re purchasing a second car or your child’s first car.
- Warranty. A new car’s warranty will likely cover a lot of maintenance for the first year or more, thereby reducing regular costs. But do your research before buying an extended five- or ten-year warranty. You usually spend more for a new car’s extended warranty than you end up seeing in savings in parts and services, unless you buy a lemon.
What's next? Living on a budget: The envelope system