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20 Cheap Items That Will End Up Costing You More

Don't skimp on these items, which will cost you more over time if you have to buy them again and again.

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African-American businessman gets money from the wallet
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Sometimes more is more

News flash: Buying cheap things could be costing you more over time! Huh? Think about it: the amount of $5 umbrellas that you’ve bought, only to have them break five minutes later, and let’s not even touch on how many drug store phone chargers end up not being compatible with your device the second or third time you use them. Off the bat, it usually seems like a smart and savvy idea to go with the cheapest option to save money. But as soon as the cheap option breaks, doesn’t work, and ends up costing you more to have to replace it—not to mention the time and stress it causes—it honestly just isn’t worth it. Here are some classic items that you should stop skimping on and just buy a better-quality product from the get-go.

Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.

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Paint brush resting on paint tin viewed from above
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$46 for a gallon

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The hardest part of painting is first choosing a color. Once you’ve made up your mind, it’s time to purchase the paint. It might seem like a tough thing to want to shell out some extra dough on—c’mon, will anyone really be able to tell the difference between a cheap versus a more expensive shade of paint? No one else will notice, but your arm will be able to tell the difference after having to spend so many hours putting up multiple coats of paint that you didn’t plan for. Buy quality paint, like this Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec 500 Interior Paint, from the start to avoid any extra work, and to make your paint job look that much better in the end! Find out the secret meaning behind popular paint colors.

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Closeup of mattress on display in store
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$1,500 for a queen size

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A mattress is one of the more expensive pieces of furniture you’ll have to buy for your apartment, and because of the price tag, you might be tempted to purchase one that is on sale, or possibly even accept a hand-me-down from a friend. What you might not realize is that the sale mattress might be there because the quality wasn’t up-to-par, and the used mattress may be more broken in than you realize, causing you lots of sleepless nights. There are some things that just shouldn’t be bought used. Stop and think about how many hours you spend on your mattress, sleeping, or even just lying, lounging or napping on it throughout the years—it makes sense that it might be a bit costly! You can’t put a price on your sleep, so choose a quality, reliable option—we suggest the PlushBeds The Botanical Bliss Organic Latex Mattress. You’ll get a 100-night trial period, too, so you can decide if it’s right for you.

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Set of quality Sabatier cooks knives in a modern kitchen
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If you love to cook, you know more than anyone how frustrating it can be to dice vegetables, or anything for that matter, with dull knives. The lower price tag looked appealing online, but the amount of time you’re spending having to redo each slice only to then still have to tear apart pieces with your hands, it’s just not worth the money you saved. You’re literally doubling the time it takes to prep dinner every night. The appreciation you’ll feel from a set of sharp knives like this FN Sharp Knives 6-piece set will be life-changing, and you’ll feel it the second you lay your blade on your ingredients.

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Man hand pouring liquid laundry detergent and softener in bottle cap with washing machine.
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Laundry detergent


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Buying a household essential, like laundry detergent, in bulk or in store-brand may seem like a good idea at first. It’s cheaper in the long run, and if you buy a large supply, you’ll have it for a while. But what happens when you take your clothes out of the washer and see that they still have dirt and make up stains on them? You may run them through again, but still the marks don’t seem to disappear. So now you have a ton of detergent that you don’t want leftover. Buy a household name instead, like Tide Pods, that has proven time and again to get stains and smells out of clothes the first time around. Watch out for these 10 laundry products that waste your money.

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Yoga mat
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Yoga mat


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If you enjoy yoga class from time to time, or try to take it on the regular, you may have a $5 or $10 mat or two that you picked up at a discount store. But every time you go to grab it for class, you dread knowing how slippery it is or how it falls apart with each and every flow you go through. Or maybe you rent one from the studio where you take class, which isn’t only expensive over time ($3 to $5 adds up real quick!), but you also can’t practice thinking about how many have sweat on the surface before you. It’s time to own a yoga mat of your own, that will keep you from slipping during your poses, that cleans easily, and over time, you’d end up spending more on mat rentals anyway. The Manduka Begin Yoga Mat is one of our faves.

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Diaper Bag
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Diaper bag


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Being a new mom comes with enough challenges and unknowns—your diaper bag shouldn’t add to that stress. There’s nothing worse than a bag that falls over every time you place it down on the ground (the website didn’t say that!), or one where the zippers break the second you try to cram one extra diaper or onesie in it. Instead, feel comfortable with a cute, durable bag that stands upright when put down, has ten different pockets, reliable zippers, and enough room to fit everything your baby needs and more like one from Freshly Picked. Choose from ten different colorways, too!

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Young woman doing a tree pose on the pavement
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Black leggings


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Not only do we work out in black leggings—these days, we live in them! And every single athletic retailer offers a pair. Some are ridiculously priced (can a plain black legging really be that different?!) while others are quite cheap. It’s easy to go with the inexpensive pair—why not buy a couple since they don’t cost that much. But once you go to wear them you may find that one pair is a bit see-through, while the others fall down with every workout move you make. Best to invest in a pair that won’t break the bank and still provide you the classic black tight you’re looking for that will keep you covered and secure, stays put during exercise, and can easily transition from the gym to the coffee shop or lunch date. Everyone loves the options from Spanx. Here are some other tips to help you rock those leggings as pants, too.

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Pretty girl wear black, using phone with head phones, outdoor. Copy space
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Ah—there’s nothing like an evening jog when you can just zone out and listen to your music. Until static…low battery…dead headphones—but you just charged them the night before. Now you’re stuck mid-workout (or commute!) with nothing to listen to. Don’t skimp on the hardware that helps you enjoy your routine. Yes, the more expensive Apple AirPods Pro may make a slight dent in your wallet upfront, but it will be worth it to never be left high and dry without jams again. Isn’t that music to your ears?

10 / 21
My computer is always clean
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Disinfecting wipes


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You try your best to use natural, non-harsh chemicals to help keep your house fresh and clean. But you’re starting to feel like you may just be scooping up dust and dirt, but possibly just spreading around germs. With flu season in full force and new illnesses like coronavirus running rampant, protecting you and your loved ones and keeping the family healthy is more important than ever. So buy the cleaning wipes with the bleach, think Clorox Scentiva Disinfecting Wipes. You’ll rest assured knowing you’re doing what’s best to keep your family safe and in good health.

11 / 21
Smartphone is charging
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Phone chargers


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Constantly forgetting your phone charger at home? How many times have you walked into the drugstore or corner grocer to pick up a cheap charger, only to get home and realize that it isn’t “compatible” with your device? Or maybe it works the first time, but after that, you just can’t seem to get it to charge. While you may not be able to justify buying an extra charger from the same brand as your phone ($25-plus…no thank you!), the OtterBox Lighting Connector is guaranteed to work for more than a week. You’ll end up saving yourself a lot of money and stress!

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A folded white duvet lies on a table on a blurred background.
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$315 for queen size

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If you’ve been cold at night this winter, your fleece blankets just aren’t cutting it. Yes, you finally splurged and bought another for $25, but even the two layers aren’t keeping you from feeling chilly. You could go and buy another, but at this point, you’ll have spent a pretty good amount of money, have more blankets than you’ll know what to do with when you have to store them come summer, and you still aren’t feeling toasty at night. It’s time to bite the bullet and buy a down comforter, like this Brooklinen down comforter. You’ll be able to use it year after year, and you can rely on it to keep you warm nightly. Find out all the sleep products on Amazon reviewers swear by.

13 / 21
Vase with burning candles on table in living room
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You’re a sucker for scents—every home goods store you walk into and you’re immediately sucked into the candle aisle, sniffing and exploring which smells you like best. Turns out, you’re a fan of three! So you’re going with the least pricey brand so you can get all of the scents you adore, only to come home, light them, and….nothing! They don’t give off any of the aromas that you smell close up. Does this sound like you? Splurge on the pricier Lulu Candles long-lasting soy wax candle. It costs more, so you may have to choose just one favorite, but when you light it at home, your company will be whisked away by the smell you sought after.

14 / 21
tidy bedding of bedroom
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You’ve just bought new pillows last month, but something isn’t right. You find yourself tossing and turning night in and night out, and you’re waking up with a sore neck on the regular. So you went to your local home goods store and bought a more dense pair, only now they’re giving you an earache. All you want is a peaceful night of sleep where you can rest your head comfortably on your pillow. And now look at the money you’ve spent and still you don’t have a pillow you like. A pillow like the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR -Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow you can trust from a reputable brand, that has cooling properties, too, so you don’t wake up with sweaty bedhead ever again. Follow these proven tips to improve your sleep.

15 / 21
A stack of white spa towels folded
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You might think buying towels for your new apartment or house is simple—find a color your like, and then look to see what’s on sale. Not so fast! There’s nothing worse than feeling cheap, rough fabric against your skin the second you step out of the shower. And even worse—towels that shed all over you no matter how many times you wash them. Choose a set of towels that feels great and can hold up over time, like these SONOMA Goods for Life 6-Pack Ultimate Towel. While each one may cost a bit more, you’ll appreciate how good they feel against your skin every day. Then follow these 10 tricks to make them last longer.

16 / 21
Reusable water bottle on a wooden table outdoors
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Water bottle


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Buying bottled water isn’t just bad for the environment, it will drain your wallet, too. Some estimates peg individual water bottle consumption as costing an average of $240 a year. Isn’t it time you do yourself—and the earth—a favor and invest in a reusable one? A stainless steel Klean Kanteen bottle is better for your health than a plastic one.

17 / 21
Tissue box on small white table against wall
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4 boxes for $12

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Tissues may seem like an easy thing to buy on sale or to choose the cheapest brand available, but have you bee sick recently and had to use cheap tissues every five minutes for your runny nose? If not, trust us when we say it’s not ideal. Read: chapped, red, sore skin around your nostrils, and each time you reach into the box for another sheet it feels like sandpaper on your skin. Give your nose the TLC it deserves and spend just a little more for the Kleenex tissues that are soft and infused with lotion.

18 / 21
umbrella blunt
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How many times have you got caught in the rain and had to buy a drugstore umbrella? Now, how many of those umbrellas do you still have? Chances are your answer to the latter is none, usually because the umbrella broke when it got caught in the wind, or you forgot it somewhere. Well, that $5 here and $5 there adds up over time. Instead, invest in a rip-resistant, wind-resistant, compact Blunt Metro Travel Umbrella that you can bring with you in the morning, so you’re prepared for anything Mother Nature throws your way.

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Mother enjoying walk carrying her little child in his baby trolley.
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There are some things that you just shouldn’t buy used, and a stroller is one of them. While strollers don’t expire, certain parts of it may not function as well. The wheels might go bad over time, the brake may not hold tight, and it might just not be that comfortable overall for your little one over time. We have to ask—is that a chance you’re willing to take? If you end up getting a cheap or used one, it may end up causing more issues than good if it gets stuck or is hard to maneuver every time you use it. Opting for a high quality, new stroller instead not only comes with a manufacturer’s warranty in case anything goes wrong, but you can also feel good knowing you’re giving your baby quality comfort. We like the Thule Urban Glide 2 Jogging Stroller.

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Overstuffed suitcase on top of bed.
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Yes, you started buying a lower end piece of the price range suitcase, only to have the wheels break when you checked it. So you replaced it with a similar bag and ended up with a broken zipper, which wasn’t an ideal way to travel on a business trip. Don’t even think about going for another budget-friendly bag. Instead, it’s time to invest in a quality piece of luggage, like the Away Bigger Carry-On with pocket. If you travel a lot for work and are using a suitcase on the regular, it’s even more important that it be durable and reliable.

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Clean bed sheet hanging on clothesline.
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$240 for queen set

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If you’re buying sheets for the first time, don’t breeze by the thread count number! You might think that all cotton is made alike, but your mind will change real fast when you lie down at night and feel the rough fabric of the bargain brand sheets against your skin. Why feel like you have to live with your decision and sleep uncomfortably? Why not avoid the mishap all together by purchasing sheets that are 100 percent organic cotton so your bed will feel luxurious at the end of the day? One set to try: Boll & Branch Luxury Fair Trade Long Staple Organic Cotton Sheet Set. Be sure to wash them weekly to keep fresh and clean.

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Amy Schlinger
Amy Schlinger is a skilled reporter, writer and editor who regularly interviews world-renowned doctors and medical professionals, elite trainers, nutrition experts, professional athletes and celebrities. She has 11 years of experience covering health, fitness, wellness, nutrition, and lifestyle topics for a variety of national publications, both freelance and on staff. She has been featured in DailyBurn’s Live to Fail workout video series, is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT) and is certified in Kettlebell Training. Amy is passionate about healthy living and can often be found researching and testing out new wellness trends and fitness programs or strength training at the gym. She has run six half-marathons, completed one triathlon, biked two century rides and finished two Tough Mudder races and four Spartan races, including a beast at the Spartan World Championships at Squaw Mountain in North Lake Tahoe.