How to avoid the false economies that end up costing a fortune

Weigh up the quality of an item rather than getting enticed by a cheap price. Photograph: PA
Weigh up the quality of an item rather than getting enticed by a cheap price. Photograph: PA
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Sometimes, in the quest to save money, we can end up spending more than we would have done in the first place.

Seven in ten people say they have fallen for false economies in the past, with a fifth admitting they do so at least once a month, according to a report by, with fear of missing out on a good deal cited as one of the most common reasons for doing so.

So how can we avoid paying more for what initially seemed like a bargain? Here are some of’s top tips.

Don’t buy cheaply if you’ll end up paying more

Buying cheap items may seem like a saving, but if the product doesn’t last and you end up having to replace the item regularly, it can soon become a false economy. When shopping, weigh up the quality of an item rather than getting enticed by a cheap price tag.

Pay off more than the minimum on debts

Although it’s tempting to put something expensive on a credit card and then pay off the minimum balance each month, you often end up paying a lot more for it because of interest charges. Unless you have an interest-free credit card, it’s always best practice to pay off your credit card balance in full each month.

Be aware when bulk-buying

It’s tempting to stock up on “special offers” to avoid paying more later on. However, if your bulk buys are going to end up shoved to the back of the cupboard for months, they may end up going out of date by the time you get round to digging them out again. Or if you forget you have them, you may end up buying duplicates.

Remember to complain

If you buy a product that turns out to be faulty or doesn’t deliver in the way you expected, make a complaint or try to get your money back, rather than just grumbling to family and friends. Letting the item take up space around the house, or simply accepting the fault is basically chucking money away. Contacting the company, Tweeting the customer service team or going in store can go a long way towards getting some (or all) of your money back, or money off your next purchase.

Think about DIY carefully

Trying to do something around the house yourself, whether it’s putting up shelves or doing some plastering, may seem like a cheaper way to get things done, but can cost a lot if you end up having a mishap. Before you get stuck in, make sure you have the right tools and the know-how, and if you don’t, it’s probably worth getting in a professional.

Be savvy in supermarkets

When browsing the aisles, think about whether it’s worth buying a bigger packet that costs slightly less, if the items are going to go to waste anyway. Loyalty points and reward cards could help to cut the cost of your shop. Try to avoid shopping when you’re feeling hungry or tired, which could make you more likely to pile up your trolley, just so you can get out of the store.

Do your research

Take time to research what a good deal really is, rather than spontaneously investing in items. TopCashback’s research suggests many people find it hard to work out the maths when weighing up an offer, so doing some research beforehand may help.