Shopping Smart

8 Things I’ve Replaced With Cheaper (And Better) Alternatives

By | Wednesday, June 14, 2017



1. My moisturizer — more than once.

I’ve always been here for drugstore makeup, but when it came to skincare, I always felt like my problem-skin warranted some pricier goods. I wrote last year about a moisturizer from Lush that I spent $80 when my skin was particularly terrible and I was willing to do anything in my power to repair it. The product definitely helped, so I don’t necessarily regret that I spent that much on moisturizer — but I certainly hope I never have to again. After about six months, I switched to another Lush moisturizer, which was significantly less expensive, but still over $30.

However, I’ve recently replaced it with a cheaper and much more effective alternative — Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Heavenly Night Cream (which I wrote about in this article here). I had pretty much stopped searching for the ~holy grail~ of inexpensive-yet-effective moisturizers, and luckily just happened upon this one when I left my moisturizer at home and borrowed this while visiting with my mother. It is amazing, and although I always came from the “more $$$ = better results” school of thought when it came to skincare, I think this moisturizer is the best one I’ve tried — all for under $20!!!

2. Almost all of my groceries.

Trader Joe’s has a reputation for being bougie as hell, which keeps a lot of people away from it. The people (like myself) who pretty religiously grocery shop there are laughing all the way to the checkout, because we know the secret: it is cheaper than pretty much every other grocery store. I spend about $60 on groceries that last Drew and I for 2-3 weeks — a haul that would cost somewhere around the $110 mark if I were shopping at Stop & Shop or BJ’s like we sometimes do.

If there is a TJ’s near you, give it a shot — it takes some getting used to if you’re religious about your brand-name food, but you can find suitable replacements there, and tbh, Trader Joe’s Honey Nut O’s taste exactly the same as Honey Nut Cheerios if you ask me — and they’re cheaper (provided that you buy them in-store).


3. My coffeemaker.

I was a Keurig person for a good while, which is, in my opinion, a terrible waste of money if you’re a moderate-to-intense coffee consumer. The upfront cost of a Keurig is about 5x more than a run-of-the-mill Mr. Coffee, and K-Cups can be twice as expensive as ground coffee, depending on where you buy them. So if you’re someone who has one cup sometimes, maybe a Keurig is a good deal if you get one on sale somewhere — but if you’re someone who routinely drinks 3-5 cups in the morning (and lives with a partner who has the same amount), you may need something that yields a bit more coffee for the money. When I moved in with Drew, I left my Keurig with my parents (who enjoy it regularly, and, to be fair, have a lot more money than I do) and instead of buying a new one, replaced it with a $25 coffeemaker from Target. I get a 12-cup pot of coffee in the morning for less money than it would cost me to brew half that amount in a pricey Keurig


4. My floss.

Ok, I haven’t fully switched this yet (as I still have some of the old stuff left), but I’m working on it. I am weirdly passionate about flossing — it is one part of my daily routine that I genuinely notice if it doesn’t happen, and I feel terrible and gross if I miss it. To make it easier and more convenient, I bought those little plastic floss-picks and have been using them for a long time now. However, recently I noticed at the store how much cheaper it is to get regular dental floss — the amount of regular floss you can get for about $3 compared to the amount you get in a $3 package of floss picks is wild (about 200 yards of regular floss, and about 100-150 floss picks depending on the brand) Also, when I consider the fact that I’m literally using and tossing away single-use plastic floss picks twice per day, I want to hang my head in shame because I need to be better than that to Mother Earth. Also, it is just as effective — if not more. (But don’t quote me on that part — you can maybe ask your dentist instead.)


5. Puppy training pads.

The “Wee Wee Pad” brand is well-known, but holy hell is it expensive. I bought a pack once when I got my last dog, Lilo, a few years ago after trying the much less expensive Target brand (which kind of didn’t work for me at all). I gave up on trying to find a store-brand package of training pads that actually soaked up puppy messes, and gave up, continuing to use pricey brand name ones until Lilo was entirely trained.

When I got Gaston a few weeks ago, I thought I was going to end up sighing and swiping my card on a $50 box of training pads when something possessed me to give the Stop & Shop brand a try. It was only $14 for 150 pads, and they actually are amazingly absorbent and work just as well as the more expensive brands. If you get a puppy, I recommend giving a few different types of training pads a shot to see which ones actually work, and how you can spend the least amount of money on something your dog is just going to pee on anyway.

6. $10+ nail polish.

I’m a sucker for an aesthetically-pleasing bottle of Essie like any other girl, but the truth seems to be that the $9 bottle of nail polish chips just as quickly as the $2. I had quite the Essie collection building up (funded mostly by Kohl’s Cash that my mom gave me when she didn’t need to use it for anything), but have switched over to a pretty exclusive relationship with the basic Sally Hansen nail polish range. There are tons of colors, they never cost more than three bucks, and they stay on my nails as long as I respect my hands and don’t bang them into stuff — just like the more expensive brands.

7. My bronzer.

A long-time favorite makeup product has always been Smashbox Bronze Lights bronzer. I love the color and matte finish, but I don’t love the $35 price tag. I couldn’t bring myself to buy it again last time I ran out of it, and ended up picking up this Wet n Wild contouring palette, which has a nice matte-bronzer on one side that is perfect for my skin tone, blends easier than the pricey Smashbox one, and costs under $4. Yasss.

8. My ~girl products~.

I’ve tested a wide range, and I have to be honest here: Target brand pads and tampons appear to work just as well as Tampax or Playtex or whatever other name-brand you may spend $7+ on for a package that will barely last you two cycles. It is bad enough that most women have to shell out cash each month just to exist with a uterus (we didn’t ask for this!!!) so I’ll do just about anything to make it slightly more bearable and affordable. To be honest, I find that I’m more comfortable with some of the off-brand ones anyway. Is this too much info for TFD? Oh, well.

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at!

Image via Unsplash


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