20 Affordable Substitutes To Everyday Items

Photo: Peter Bond

Gym mats are cheaper if you search for 'horse stall mats' instead. Weddings are cheaper if you call it a birthday party. What are some other things that get cheaper when you call it something else? Here are 20 of the best answers from a recent Reddit thread.

Of course, user mareish replies that gym mats have gotten cheaper than horse mats — prices vary for everything, so don’t act on the tips below without a quick double-check.

  • We’ll start with the one you’re all wondering about: Yes, you can substitute a medical folding wedge for a Liberator sex wedge. Thanks for the tip, Psydaranta.

  • Babies are expensive. You might want to replace disposable changing pads with puppy pads, and pack your nappy bag with dog-poop bags instead of nappy disposal bags, says Sabrina. Adult pads might be even cheaper, says kurinevair666. Gerber cloth diapers work as burp cloths, says junter1001.

  • Any time you find yourself searching for a “baby” product, try shopping for the adult version too, says Sabrina. Your baby doesn’t need its own special baby version of a blender, a humidifier and a white noise machine. Sabrina points out that colour- and fragrance-free detergent works just as well whether or not there’s a baby slapped onto the label. And when you do buy baby-specific supplies like crib sheets, try an all-purpose store before a specialty baby store.

  • Don’t buy grilling gloves, says _hellonasty; buy welding gloves.

  • “Everything related to pools is a giant money grab,” says jreed26. For example, instead of “pool salt,” you should just buy plain bagged salt at Costco.

  • Hardware stores are good for plenty of cheap supplies, including art supplies, according to Milkshimmer. “Pour painting is really popular right now and the big brand is Liquitex, and runs about twenty bucks for a bottle. All you need is school glue and water for the same effect. Dish soap for cells if you want ’em.” Sashabybee adds, “If you need quality paint brushes, use makeup brushes!”

  • Are you podcasting or recording music? Instead of dressing your room in “sound blankets,” get “moving blankets,” says CharlesWiltgen.

  • If you really burn through cat litter, says floongle, you might want to buy it in bulk as “horse bedding.”

  • “Instead of “floor pillows” I buy giant dog beds,” says okdennvm.

  • Melamine foam is a cheap alternative to the Magic Eraser sponge, says harleyquinn1234. A few people warn that it can crumble, but that it’s still worth the savings.

  • “Common misspellings often go under the radar on eBay,” says spinja187. “A few years back we got a beautiful kayak for dirt cheap,” says allthoughtsaside. “The guy couldn’t understand why no one was coming to see his Cajyck.” Check for common typos with TypoHound and FatFingers, says MOGicantbewitty.

  • “Water bottle cleaning tablets? Basically denture cleaning tabs,” says BlondeLacey. “They work amazing but may make your water a bit minty.” (As someone who uses the medical-tasting Retainer Brite, I recommend you test this out before ordering a big batch.)

  • “Baby oil makes a fantastic and inexpensive substitute for shaving cream,” says wiredandwiser. Purozero and jmad888 prefer cheap conditioner for this, and VerbalThermodynamics uses a shaving soap.

  • And baby wipes work as makeup wipes, says hyeonmibeans.

  • “Use silicone spray instead of waterproofing spray for waterproofing fabrics and materials,” says Asstractor.

  • Don’t get “cutting board oil” for your wooden cutting board, says redhotjose9. Use food-grade mineral oil.

  • You know you should check the actual ingredients in medicine and find the version that isn’t marked up for “specialisation,” right? And that you should always check for generics, right? Great.

  • Clownhooker (look, I don’t choose the usernames) says rubbing alcohol makes great white board cleaner. BlastedTrash268 says you should dilute it to 70% to avoid wearing away the finish.

  • “You missed the obvious,” you’re saying. No, we just saved it for last: instead of that fancy-pants Fleshlight renewing powder, just buy generic corn starch, says klevenisms204.

Read the whole thread at r/Frugal. And remember to double-check ingredients and components before you try an unusual substitution.


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