Products You Probably Don’t Want to Buy Super-Cheap

Products You Probably Don’t Want to Buy Super-Cheap
Contributor: Mike Winters

The old expression “you get what you pay for” is often true, but can be downright generous for household items bought on the cheap. Some even have negative value, because they’re so poorly made that they cost you more in the long run compared to a pricier, better-made versions. The following items shouldn’t be bought at bargain-basement prices, if you can help it.


Discount battery manufacturers make poorly-made batteries with substandard seals that can leak and ruin the devices they power. Top-end batteries leak less, and if they do, the premium brand will offer to replace your damaged device. Cheap batteries also tend to be made from carbon-zinc which doesn’t last as long as alkaline batteries. You might even see a “use for low-drain devices” disclaimer on the packaging, which should tell you a lot.

Mac ‘n Cheese

The powdered cheese in cheap off-brands doesn’t fully emulsify and leaves behind clumps. The good news is that the old standbys like Kraft Mac & Cheese can be found for less than $1 a box if you buy it in bulk.

Toilet Paper

The cheap stuff is usually one-ply and made from a poorer quality of paper made with less fibres. It’s less absorbent and tears easily, so you might end up using more of it compared to a softer-feeling two-ply brand.

Laundry detergent

Those old TV ads with a split-screen showing a top brand cleaning stains better than “brand X” detergent wasn’t just marketing. The cheapest brands will not remove tough stains like dirt and chocolate.


Used furniture found on reseller sites is sturdier, less wasteful, and more widely available than the low-end stuff you’ll find at places like IKEA. Many sellers on sites like Gumtree will even give you their furniture for free if you’re able to pick it up and take it off their hands.

Light bulbs

LED bulbs are the most energy efficient bulb compared to CFL or incandescent bulbs, which is great for your utility bill. But cheap, lower-quality LED bulbs are more likely to make a buzzing noise, have inconsistent colour, and will almost certainly die sooner.

Wall Paint

Cheap paint requires more coats to get the same even coverage than a more expensive paint, so you might not be saving money at all. Premium paint has better-quality pigments and thickening additives that allow for a more uniform surface. Plus, cheap paint fades sooner.


Cheap shoes might save you some dollars, but they can also virtually disintegrate without much use, especially if they get wet. If the quality of materials and manufacturing of shoes are poor, they’ll force you to replace your shoes in weeks or months, not years.


Most brands of condoms are very safe and approved by the health authorities. However, stay clear of “condom-like products” which are not approved (like those weird novelty condoms you can buy in bathrooms) as they may not offer the same level of protection.

What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments.

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