7 Dumb Things You Should Stop Wasting Money On
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Looking for ways to keep your budget from spinning out of control? Here are a few money-wasters to avoid.
1. Pet insurance
Is it worth it to insure Fido? Many think not. Consumer Reports analyzed a variety of policies and concluded that when you consider various factors, such as your pet’s lifespan, the number of vet visits you can expect on average, and the chance of emergency, pet insurance doesn’t pass muster. If your pet has long-term health issues or needs life-saving surgery, insurance might save you money, but these scenarios are uncommon. You should also know that pet insurance doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions.
Pet insurance is expensive, and regular stuff like vaccinations or dental care are often pricey add-ons. Consumer Reports says you’re better off putting away some money in an emergency fund. You can also check to see if your auto or renter’s insurance offers a multi-policy discount with pet insurance.
2. Shower gel
Once upon a time, someone had the clever idea of taking ordinary soap and adding water, foaming agents and chemicals to make it all stick together. The result was packaged in a spiffy bottle, and behold! Shower gel was born. Today, liquid body wash accounts for the bulk of shower/bath sales. People are hooked.
But it is really better? Bar soap actually works more effectively than gel to remove dirt, though it’s harder to get moisturizers in it, so some people find it dries their skin. Of course, unless you are really dirty, you probably don’t need much, if any soap when you take a shower, as good old water and a washcloth will remove most of it quite easily. On the other hand, the foaming ingredient in shower gel, sodium laureth sulfate, can irritate skin, so you have to be sure to wash it all off.
On price, soap is the clear winner. The folks at Daily Finance crunched the numbers and found that soap can cost as little as $0.012 per wash. Gel, on the other hand, adds up to about $0.17 per wash. If you really want to get down-and-dirty with saving, take those leftover soap slivers and stick ‘em in a little fabric soap pouch.
3. Organic seafood
Thinking of buying organic seafood? Small problem: it doesn’t exist, at least not in the U.S. Yet this doesn’t stop deceptive marketers from trying to convince you it does.
Watch out, because right now there isn’t any U.S. government-approved organic seafood. To be labeled “organic,” you’ve got to meet certain criteria. It’s difficult to control the conditions in which fish grow and feed.
A label you’ll often find is “wild,” which pretty much tells you that the conditions were not controlled. And yet wild seafood may have swum in cleaner waters than farm-raised fish. You can control the conditions of farm-raised fish, but there may be cramped conditions and dirty water at some farms.
Carnivorous fish, like salmon, pose a special problem, because while you can control what they eat, you may not be able to control the diet of the fish they feed on.
And there’s more marketing confusion. You might see the label “organic” on seafood in a restaurant because the fish could be foreign, and the rules and enforcement of labeling foreign fish are a complete mess. Also be on the alert for the word “natural” to suggest organic. What does natural mean, exactly? Nobody seems to know.
Bottom line: when it comes to fish, you may not get what you think you paid for.