Sometimes, you don't have to break the bank to get good quality. There are several products on the market that get the job done and done well, all while remaining at a low price point. Here are some consumer favorites you need to know about:
#1 Gotta Love Pineapples
Pineapples. They take two entire years to grow. Though, fair warning: my dad planted the top of his pineapple once. The plant grew pretty large, and after about five years, a tiny little pineapple finally sprouted. It didn't get any bigger than a pinecone and it died, and then the plant died. Perhaps Nothern Illinois isn't the best place to try to grow a pineapple.
#2 Amazing Amazon
Postage is a deal. Just think about it... I give them under a dollar and in return, they take my sealed envelope anywhere in the US. For a little more, they will take it anywhere in the world. Honestly, modern delivery services are something to marvel at. I live in Canada. I ordered seven items on Amazon on a Monday afternoon by Tuesday evening I had a nice man at my door with my Amazon package. The charge hadn't even posted to my credit card yet, and still, I had my package in about 24 hours. It's amazing.
#3 Cheap Fabric
I worked at a company that makes dance costumes. I like to make costumes in my spare time. Because of my job, I got to see how much it actually cost a factory to produce a costume. Labor and materials came out to $15. FIFTEEN. DOLLARS. In order for me to make the same costume, the cheapest fabric I could get would be $20 a YARD. So, clothes. Manufacturing clothing is so cheap, that it's not even worth it to make your own.
#4 Cars Galore
Cars in the United States. I grew up in Brazil where cars were a luxury for the middle and upper class. Multiple cars were only for the millionaire class. An upper-middle-class family would have one car and they would take care of it lovingly for decades. I moved to the US and grew up here... and I was able to buy a car while working for Hollywood Video making $7.50 an hour.
Granted, it was a used car from 2001 (this was in 2007) but when I told my dad in Brazil this, he flipped the heck out... he had saved for 4 to 5 years to buy a 1993 car in 2005. I didn't tell him that my family back in the US had multiple cars... I had a car, my sister had a car, my mom had a car and my stepdad had one... all bought for less than $10k each. I didn't want to make him even sadder.
#5 Plastic And Silicone
Plastic and silicone goods. You can get a silicone spatula in any color for £0.90 or a plastic cake decorating comb from China for £0.22. How do you manufacture, package, and ship anything for 22 pence? I just ordered a package of 10 dices from Thailand for 1.50 €, free-shipping. It would probably be more expensive to ship them inside of Germany than I paid for those.
#6 The Benefit Of Used
Considering the price of new cars at the dealership, used ones with about 10,000 miles. In 2008, I got a 2007 Fusion with 12,000 km (7500 miles) for half of what it would have cost to buy new. It had a warranty for 100,000 km. My parents thought it was some miracle deal, but it was just good negotiating. Anyone could have got the same deal.
#7 Free Lemons
Lemons are free in California. Everyone has a lemon tree. If you don’t, I 100% guarantee that if you just ask someone—anyone—with a lemon tree to give you lemons they will. You don’t even have to know them. If you see someone with a lemon tree in their yard, ask if they mind you picking a few lemons. They will likely hand you a grocery bag and ask you to please fill it up and take away your lemons. Or just take one or two from a tree. NO ONE CARES. Most people actually like it because no one can use a whole tree full of lemons and that’s less rotting fruit to pick up. When I moved to Virginia, I bought a lemon for the first time in my life.
#8 Big Screen Views
4K TVs. No one I know has one, but you can get even large ones now (55 inches) for under $300. For some reason, no one seems to care about 4K TVs. I just got a 65” 4K for $500 a couple of weeks ago when the living room TV died. To be honest, I didn’t give a heck about the 4K part but the refresh rate, HDMI ports, and size sold me. Also, it was on clearance to make room for the new models about to come in. GoT looked pretty dang good last week.
#9 IKEA Mania
Stuff from IKEA. I saved for nearly 10 years for a down payment on my first home. I didn't want to move my old, tattered, hand-me-down furniture. I wanted a fresh start. My mother-in-law mentioned checking out IKEA, and I was able to furnish most of the house with just a few weekends of overtime work. One of the things I like most about IKEA is that a college student living off residual OSAP and a stable adult family can walk into IKEA and come out with furniture perfect for their style and price point every time. You can buy a $30 coffee table or a $300 coffee table in the same aisle. I used a lot of cheap IKEA furniture at school, I'm redecorating most of my house now as a professional with kids, and still using IKEA furniture.
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#10 No Needles
When I was a kid, instead of buying a huge chopped down Christmas tree, we bought a smaller one with its roots intact and all of that in a plant pot. After Christmas, we would plant it in the neighborhood. Over the years, there were quite a number of trees in one patch growing which was all our old Christmas trees, becoming pretty big. It was a lot cheaper than the huge Christmas trees. Sure, they were a lot smaller, but we had a pretty small apartment anyway and there were almost no needles lying around.
#11 Sending Signals
GPS service. It's cheap because you're not bouncing signals off those satellites—you're not sending anything to them at all. Each satellite sends out timestamp signals, which your device picks up. If your device can pick up three or more signals, it can compare the timestamps and the known locations of those satellites, do a little math, and come up with your exact location based on how long it took each signal to reach you.
The real jaw-dropping part is the precision involved. The timestamps have to be super-accurate because you're timing signals that are traveling at light speed, and your device has to take both special and general relativity into consideration when making the calculations because the satellites are so far away and moving so fast.
#12 The Dollar Tree
Literally anything in the electronic aisle at the Dollar Tree. A lot of Dollar Tree's stuff is actually sold to them by companies that couldn't sell off their items already. It's a pretty common tactic and they are ABSOLUTE sharks when it comes to a deal because they know these companies are having a product that is burning a hole in whatever warehouse they've got. Pallet space that is eaten by old products gets extremely costly after a while.
#13 A Dumb Deal
Ceiling fans. I thought for sure they would be like $300 at the lowest. Turns out you can get one for as low as $80 at Lowes or Home Depot. To resign my apartment lease, they offered a deal where I either get $1,000 rent credit on my account or I can have them install a ceiling fan in any room of my choosing (my apartment has no ceiling fans). If anyone took the fan deal, they are an idiot.
#14 Pricey Ink
Printer ink. It costs like $0.50 to manufacture and is sold for $50. You'd think that the ink was made from the glands of endangered whales and dust collected from comets at the prices they sell it for. And the way printers won't print if they're low on ink. “Low” means “it has some.” "Low" means “it has more than the machine is letting on.” We know our printers are lying to us, and that’s why we hate them. I know there are probably a lot of good, fine people who work in the printer business, but I suspect that most when questioned by others about their occupation would prefer to say they test cosmetics on the eyes of bunny rabbits.
#15 Vet Bills
"Cheap" might not be the best word, but my cat needed to have an operation earlier this year and I was shocked at how not-expensive the vet bill was. $500 to put him under, remove all of his teeth, sew up the wounds, stay at the vet all day long while they watched after him to make sure everything was okay, plus a month's supply of prescription pills and a follow-up examination. At a person's hospital, it's a $500 bill just to let a doctor ask you a couple of questions. I was just about losing my mind when they first said he was going to need surgery, thinking it would be thousands of dollars.
#16 Indian Food In Japan
Food in Japan seemed really cheap to me. It seemed really easy to cheaply eat a healthy meal, for every meal while there. When my friend and I ventured out to restaurants, we still left surprised at how reasonable it was. The best Indian food I have EVER had in my life was in Kyoto. It was a full course meal (papadam, unlimited buttered nan, rice, and three different curries) that included a drink for $15 per person. At bars, drinks seemed really cheap too.
#17 Fly Your Heart Out
Plane tickets. I never had a real vacation growing up and I assumed it was because it was way too expensive to fly anywhere and only really wealthy families could afford to do it. I figured all tickets were in the thousands. When I found out recently (I'm only 17) that I could get a round trip across the states for just a few hundred dollars I was shocked.
#18 About Bananas
Bananas. Most in the United States are imported. They’re shipped, stored in a room that ripens them, then shipped out that have like a max of under a week once it gets to the store. Compare that to apples that are grown here and might even be grown locally. Bananas can be like 19 cents each versus $1 to $3 for apples.
#19 Life Liquid
Water. From what I have been taught in school, around the time I was twelve or something, water is harvested from underground water sources. How can we find so much water and keep the entirety of Europe, for example, supplied without having to use filtered ocean water? Sorry for being a dumb-dumb, not into this kind of stuff, just had this on my mind.
#20 German Mail
Okay, this is specific to Germany, but the postal service offers a service to forward your mail to your new address when you move. It includes the option to send an automatic notification of your new address to the people and companies sending you mail. It costs 27 Euros for a YEAR. A YEAR!
While I do realize they implemented a system that makes it basically work automatically, they could charge double and I'd still be happy and surprised to pay so little. I mean if I were to notify all the people and companies myself. That's so much work and I'd probably miss a few. 27 Euros.
#21 Globally Connected
The internet. Just look at the connectivity we have all over the world at super speeds with an unlimited amount of communications we can do over it. There's an amazing video on YouTube from one guy who talks about the first transatlantic cables they laid and it's amazing to think just how we take it for granted and pay just a few dollars a month to use all that.
#22 Wakey, Wakey
Digital alarm clocks. Go to Walmart and you can buy a cheap digital alarm clock for less than $5. Think of how much labor and materials go into something as simple as an alarm clock. First, oil is extracted from the ground, piped overland to a port, loaded onto a ship, and freighted to a refinery. The refinery splits the crude into different grades of hydrocarbons.
One of those grades of hydrocarbons is taken to a plastic plant where it's heated, mixed with other chemicals, injected into a press mold, and then cooled. The molded plastic generally has sprues and other channels that are cleaned off by hand to just make the plastic shell. Now imagine the amount of material processing and labor has to occur to make the microprocessor components, the LCD screen, the PCB, the wires, etc. just to make the basic parts of the alarm clock. These components are screwed, soldered, and press-fit together, surrounded with packing material and placed into a cardboard box.
It's then placed on a ship, sent across the Pacific ocean, offloaded, carried by train and truck to your local Walmart store, stocked on the shelf, and sold to you for $5. Somehow, everybody on the whole logistics chain, from the oil and metal extractors and refiners, the component builders, the assemblers, the shippers, absolutely everybody, cover their costs, pays their salaries and makes a profit off of their share of that $5.
#23 The Truth On Oil
Oil is a resource that takes thousands upon thousands of years to make. It is completely irreplaceable and has an unrivaled energy per quantity gain. Because it is so intertwined in our lives we have a foolish complacency about it. Our economies depend on cheap oil but it is an unsustainable illusion. A liter of bottled water is often cheaper than a liter of oil which is absurd if you stop to think about it.
#24 Chicken Thighs
Chicken thighs. I can cook them 100 different ways and every other week they're always on sale for 88 cents a pound. Also, it doesn't take much chicken to make a large quantity of chicken fried rice. Imagine an amount of chicken fried rice that is too much, like if I served it to you, you would say, "No, dude, that's too much"—that much chicken fried rice probably costs about $0.50 to make.
#25 A Rare Gas
Helium balloons. We're running out of helium and we need it for important medical equipment. We're not supposed to put it in balloons. It belongs to MRI machines. Helium can be created synthetically but yeah, at this point it's a rare gas and should not be filling fish and bird-killing mylar balloons. People always forget about how many people buy stupid helium balloons every day of the week for birthdays and other celebrations.
#26 YouTube Lessons
DIY house and car maintenance. The cost of labor is expensive and the satisfaction of fixing something yourself can often inspire you to see what else you can do. YouTube for all its flak is a gold mine for simple tutorials like fixing a burnt-out car light or replacing the wax seal on a toilet. These could reach hundreds with labor cost alone but a car light is a few bucks and wax seals the same. However, if you aren't comfortable with something electrical, call a professional. Never mess around with electricity.
#27 Kings Of Present
Literally everything. People today live like kings of the past never could. Everyone has a toilet IN their house. Every house has fresh, danger-free water you can drink straight away without boiling! And we BATHE in it! The house is heated, by things we do not need to see as if by magic. I can walk down the road to a bad store, a store I do not wish to go to because it is expensive because it is convenient and buy produce that was shipped there from around the planet. I can spend 5 minutes' worth of minimum wage work and buy a kiwi that was grown on another continent. For three o four hours' worth of minimum wage work, I can buy a ticket to fly through the sky to a country far away that would have taken weeks or months in the past.
#28 Not That Deep
Blinds. I was yelled at several times because I had destroyed the blinds in my room (it wasn't my fault they were used as a headboard for the bed). I reorganized my room, did some cleaning, and decided to go to Home Depot to see about replacing them. I measured the old ones and knew what size I needed. I was expecting to see a price tag of somewhere near $100+ but no—all that complaining for $15 blinds.
#29 Streaming Services
Probably unpopular, but standalone streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. There's a huge uproar any time they increase the monthly rate by $1. But they are each $8 a month. There is nothing I pay less for on a monthly basis. I pay $15/month for music! Sure, there is a lot of bad content on both of them, but there is also plenty of good content to justify $8. The cable is pretty full of bad content too, but it cost a hell of a lot more than $8.
#30 Accessible Caviar
I may sound like a rich jerk, but caviar? Like, I know the really good stuff is very expensive, but the regular Romanoff brand caviar can be picked up from most supermarkets for like $7 to $8. Sometimes, TJ Maxx sells it for like $5. I know it’s the cheap variety, but it amazes me that anyone in relatively stable economic conditions can still try basic caviar for not much money at all.
#31 A Kwik Kar
I needed a car quickly and didn't have time to look. The local Kwik Kar sold me one that came from the family of a little elderly lady who'd recently passed away and her son didn't want to pay for the annual inspection. A 2007 Buick LeSabre for $500. No dings or scratches. I drove it for five years and then my niece for the last three. She's still driving it 150 miles a day, five days a week. No repairs ever needed except new tires. Best deal I ever got. Actually, my niece got the better deal because I just gave it to her for free to help them out.
#32 So, So Cheap
Small electronic parts. Mostly switches and potentiometers and stuff. You can go on AliExpress and buy a 20-piece lot of three-pole slider switches for $0.29 including shipping. That's a fraction more than a single cent for a piece of technology that has to be made out of specific materials to feel, look, and function properly. How is that even possible? I can barely even wrap my head around how much a single cent actually is.
#33 Fill 'Er Up
Gasoline. Hear me out... Where I live, gas is currently about $3.90 per gallon. For a finite product that needs to be pulled out of the ground, transported to a refinery, refined (probably the most costly of the process?) then transported to a gas station and sold that's actually kind of cheap. People constantly complain about how expensive gas is, yet have no problem walking into the convenience store- often times while fueling up- and pay $1.00 for 20 oz. bottle of water, which is the most abundant resource on the planet.
#34 Japanese Art
Buying manga in Japan. Where I live, it would be close to $10 in English. I went to Japan and found some Japanese for $4. I went to a second-hand store and single manga was a little less than a dollar. I also bought artbooks online from Japan. It saved me $20 or so. Second-hand stores there had artbooks I bought for $10. Very good condition.
#35 Cheap Clothes
I worked for an online store (a very famous one). I don't know if my NDA will pursue me if I say the name; however, clothing that they would sell for at least $70 they buy it for 20 cents at most. If a client called in that the clothes they bought were damaged, it was cheaper just to send the clothes again and letting them keep whatever they received in the first place.
#36 Waste Disposal
Trash. Waste disposal. If companies had to build in the costs of disposing of their goods once they were no longer in use, CPG industry costs would probably be astronomical... and yet we pay a trash disposal company just a bit to cart our garbage away and... Well, generally just store it, which has other costs to it. It is crazy how little we are required to pay into this, considering the scale of what we are talking about.
I work in a quarry. We sell one ton of limestone for $8. You buy a full four trucks of quality limestone for below $200 We have another sandy material that we produce more than we can sell. This material costs about $4 per ton. I never would have guessed I would get a highway truck of anything for less than $100.
#38 A Delicate Cycle
Clean water. It's so cheap it's basically free. You never turn on your tap and think, "How much is this costing me?" And yet that water goes down a tap, into some complex pipes, through a water treatment facility, etc. All to be released and eventually cycles back. Even crazier is that it's not exactly "renewable" with our growing population, so we are all literally relieving ourselves into clean, drinkable water and it's slowly going to run out, but I still pay like $40 for three months of water supply, and the cost of water is not factored into any foods or goods.
#39 Play Your Heart Out
Pianos. There are some really high-quality grand pianos, like Steinway-designed Essex and Boston, that you can get for $15k. And uprights for $7k. Those things are so complex and have 12,000+ parts... Insane. The used market is also so saturated, it’s unreal. Old uprights for free. Zero dollars. Play your heart out!
#40 Canada's Wonderland
I grew up in central Florida and theme parks are very expensive. I've developed a fondness for theme parks, I have moved a lot and I've been to a lot of them all over the US. I moved to Canada and Canada's Wonderland is world-class; easily the most bang for your buck out of all of them. It's operated by the same people that operate Cedar Point so it makes sense.
I just can't believe they only charge $40 for entry. Canada's Wonderland doesn't invest anything in the "magic" and "lore" of a theme park, their theme is "You like going fast? Cool, here's 16 world-class rollercoasters." It used to be owned by Paramount and the theme used to be movies but they sold it to Cedar who quickly threw that by the wayside.
#41 Charging Cables
I had a charging cable for a bit that had a traditional Android end, then it had adapters attached to the cord for a lightning end and a Samsung type-C end. The cord lit up green when powered and it only cost $2. I had a light up charge cord that lasted for about a month that had only Android with a lightning adapter, that cost 20-something dollars. The $2 one lasted about 5 months. I still can’t find a replacement cord, though I haven’t checked online. I think they were bought out pretty quickly in the store. They were hidden in the back of the electronics department at Walmart.
#42 Lots Of Pens
Ballpoint pens. A while ago I had a quest looking for the cheapest ballpoint pen I could find (quantity 100 pieces without shipping cost). The cheapest one I could find was $0.035 per pen... 3.5 cents for a complex product with moving parts and tight tolerances (the ball). Amazing. I did a quick cost estimation and ended up with a production cost of 1.5 cents; the rest is profit and overhead.
#43 Boat Insurance
Boat insurance. I pay less than $20 a month for full coverage including medical coverage and full replacement of the vessel, motor, and accessories plus collision. My previous boat sunk four years ago. They hired a guy to find a new one exactly like it. The new boat is worth twice what my previous one was. I got knocked over on my boat last week by the wake of a speeding boat while tying off and broke my shoulder. Insurance is paying all medical costs. Zero deductible and no out-of-pocket cost for me with either claim.
#44 Do It Yourself
Fixing your own vehicle. Some YouTube videos, a few forum posts, a maintenance manual, and a few trips to Harbor Freight. Almost every job I've done has been cheaper to buy the stuff required to do it and do it myself rather than pay the guy who already owns the tools. I've probably saved over $10k in repairs over the years, not including being comfortable enough to continue owning an older vehicle when most people would sell it at the first sign of trouble.
#45 A Quick Fix
The thing that most struck me as cheap was fixing tires. I am from Brazil. The first time I had a flat tire on my car, I drove to the local Borracharia (tire fixing place), and the dude there located the hole in the tire, plugged it and filled it up, then put the wheel back on my car. Whatever the cost was in my head, it certainly was more than the 5 reais he charged (about 1.30 US dollars).
#46 Affordable Housing
Houses in the American South. Seriously. For my entire life, I’ve lived in large West Coast cities and the housing market has just exploded. In cities like Seattle, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a halfway decent home for under half a million dollars. But in places like Alabama? In Alabama, you can get a nice four thousand square foot house with a pool for as little as two hundred thousand. That’s just unheard of on this side of the mountains. Not to mention decent lots of land for as little as ten thousand. That’s just crazy to me.
#47 Fast Fashion
Clothes. It's so obvious that with very cheap clothes, the environmental impact must be ridiculously bad, and combined with the horrible social impact these cheap garments have on the producing countries, it's surprising how many people still keep flocking to the stores and buy into the big marketing campaigns that promise great working conditions and eco-friendly materials. Honey, your 10$ H&M/any fast-fashion company T-shirt is not and never will be environmentally friendly or ethically produced.
#48 Advancing Tech
Computer storage... My first computer had an 8 MB hard drive. I remember my best friend getting his first CD-ROM and showing me that he could play a CD on it. I asked if he could copy the CD onto the computer and he was like, "No way, man! That would take up way too much space!" I now have a USB stick that cost me $40 in my van that has over 700 CDs copied onto it.
#49 Glass And Ceramics
Basic glassware and ceramics. People always make a big fuss about department store-bought glasses and porcelain breaking, but that's probably more from the danger of broken shards all over the floor. When I was younger I remember being stunned at how cheap we could buy drinking glasses and plates for.
#50 Internet In Finland
Internet... at least here in Finland. I still remember the time when simple connection cost "arm and a leg." I have a 100-connection that costs 9.99€ a month, and now I got some bulletin info that the apartment complex I live in made a deal with the same company that provides my current connection and I'm able to get the same 100M for 0,98€ a month...