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15 Things Everyone Pays Way Too Much For

You know when you shell out for those designer shoes or luxury vacation it'll set you back big bucks. But truth is, every day there's a lot that you're unwittingly paying too much for. Here's how to get what you need and keep more cash in your pocket.

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Brand name foods

The patents on many brand name food products expired decades ago, so generic brands can replicate their ingredients very closely. “Why pay $4.99 for a box of Cheerios when you can buy the store brand of $1.99?” says Richard Best, a writer for dontpayfull.com. “You can find similar savings on just about any food product, including dairy products, lunch meats, snacks, condiments, coffee, and bread,” Here are more grocery store shopping secrets from top grocery stores that will save you money.

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A new car

When you buy a brand-new car, it depreciates by thousands of dollars the minute you drive it off the lot. “By buying a low mileage, late model used car, you pocket that savings and wind up with a car with just as long of a road life—assuming it was well-maintained,” says Best. Many pre-owned models are offered as “certified,” which provides the same manufacturer’s warranty as new models. Here are 13 more items that you should never buy new.

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Managed mutual funds

“Retail investors pay through the nose for managed mutual funds, up to 2.5 percent, and don’t get anything close to that much value in return. These fees compound over the years and put a massive damper on your portfolio’s return,” says Anjali Pradhan, a chartered financial analyst with Dahlia, a company that helps women build wealth. Index Funds that invest in all the stocks in a given index, i.e., the Standard & Poor’s Index, with their low fees are a smarter option.

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Car rental insurance

It’s all too easy to get ripped off when renting a car—starting with extra insurance, for one. “We are often pressured to buy double insurance when we book,” says Pradhan. If you pay with your credit card, it may automatically—and at no extra charge—cover the rental car insurance. Check with your credit card issuer before you book. You’ll also want to avoid these other hidden fees to save on rental cars.

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Life insurance

Many people are paying more than they should for their coverage. Why? In many cases, it’s due to insurance agents who add unnecessary riders to the policy. A good example of this is the “waiver of premium rider,” a rider that pays your policy’s premium should you become disabled. On the surface, this isn’t a bad thing, but it can add more than 40 percent more to your monthly premium. “What consumers fail to realize is that many times, they’re double insuring themselves as many people have disability benefits through their employer that provides income to pay for insurance premiums,” says Sam Price, owner of Assurance Financial Solutions. If you have adequate disability insurance, you can do without this one.

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Vitamins

Avoid purchasing vitamins at wellness or grocery stores where you’ll likely pay a markup, and instead opt to buy your favorite brands for less online at retailers including The Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, and Healthy Directions. Before you click “checkout” search for promo codes for the product and website, as you can often score deals on vitamins, says Jill Caponera, a money-saving expert for Promocodes.com. Find out the vitamins that are a total waste of money.

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Contact lenses

Instead of paying a premium for buying contact lenses through your eye doctor, consider shopping and ordering from online retailers such as ContactsDirect and LensDirect. Discount site Groupon also often features deals on contact lenses.

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Financial advisor fees

Pradhan says there are “hidden fees” that come in the form of kickbacks and commissions for selling expensive financial products. “Some mutual funds charge fees when you invest and when you withdraw.” Be sure you read the fine print in any investments you make to avoid pricey surprises. Read on for more mistakes first-time investors often make.

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Gourmet coffee

Forget those fancy-schmancy, expensive brews from boutique coffee shops. “Make your own in a good old-fashioned drip pot or invest in an espresso machine,” says Kelly Lewis, a financial advisor with John G. Ullman & Associates.

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Bottled water

Not only are those plastic bottles bad for the environment, they’re a waste of money that adds up. “Buy a filter for your faucet or your refrigerator,” says Lewis.

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Cell phone plans

WiFi is so common these days, your data usage may be way down. Check in with your cell phone carrier regularly to see if you’re paying for data you’re not using, says Lewis. Try these effortless ways to save money.

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Credit card interest

Many people don’t pay attention to how their annual percentage rate (APR) fluctuates over time. “Paying your balance in full by the due date will ensure you stay interest-free,” says Jennifer McDermott, a personal finance expert for Finder.com. Can’t do that? “It also pays to shop around for credit cards regularly to ensure you’re getting the best deal,” she says. CardRatings.com is a good first stop to find the best rates on credit cards. Remember too, if you transfer a balance to a lower-rate card, it can effectively lower your monthly payments and save you money on finance charges. Check out these easy ways to improve your credit score.

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Food delivery

While for some the convenience of food delivery may outweigh the savings benefits of a homemade meal, delivery fees and tips hike the price up significantly, especially if only purchasing for yourself. “If you must order in, pick restaurants close to home and either walk or drive the short distance instead,” says McDermott.

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Greeting cards

Buying a greeting card at the store can cost you upwards of $5, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you have a lot of friends and a big family it adds up fast. There are plenty of cost-effective ways to avoid overpaying for cards. “The easiest and most heartfelt way is to make the card yourself. Not only will it save you money, but it will also show that you put more effort into creating the card for the individual,” says Jacob Dayan, CEO and co-founder of CommunityTax.com. He also recommends sending free e-cards.

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Amazon purchases

Amazon, among other online retailers, fluctuates prices on millions of products throughout the day, week and month—commonly referred to as dynamic pricing. If you don’t track the price on a particular item, you could easily overpay and never even realize it until it’s too late. To make sure you’re getting the best deal, you should always comparison shop, says Andrea Woroch, a Marcus by Goldman Sachs Ambassador. “Simply copy the make, model, and any other product details of an item you want to buy in a Google search to see which other stores are selling it and for how much,” she says. “You can also use RankTracer.com, which provides in-depth price tracking on products sold by Amazon so you can see recent price history to know if there’s a chance it will be sold for less.” Try these money-saving ideas to save $100+ every month.