Seven outrageously overpriced items

Seven overpriced products and how you can adapt your budget and avoid the extra cost.

movie popcorn

by Anna Pavlou

These days, item mark-up is out of control and can leave holes in your pocket, as well as throw you off your budget. Products that are overpriced may not be worth the hassle anymore, with mark-ups almost triple the price it takes to actually make the item.

Here are seven items that are ridiculously overpriced, and tips on how you can beat these costly blows to your budget.

1. Greeting cards
Yes, these cards are mostly high quality, on good paper with neat detail; however, buying individual greeting or celebration cards can be as expensive as $9 each. If you’re on a budget, purchasing these cards is not an option. There are so many cheaper options at hand: making your own cards or getting the grandchildren to design them for you, making the gesture more sincere and personal. Also, purchasing in bulk may save you up to 40 per cent.

2. Bottled water
On average, bottled water is marked up by 300 per cent over tap water. Mount Franklin sell bottled water for $1 per litre, as compared to the Woolworths brand, which retails for 42c. There is no research that proves that Mount Franklin has any benefits over the home brand, so buying cheaper and in bulk may be right for you. If not, tap water is still the best option in Australia, with filtration available, if necessary.

3. Coffee and tea
The average coffee these days costs around $5, which, added up, amounts to about $100 a month and can reach up to $1200 a year! At home, it costs 16c to 18c a day to make your own, adding up to only $45 a year. It may be time to ditch the coffee shop and brew your own. You could save up to $1155 over 365 days!

4. Prescription drugs
Mark-ups here range form 2000 to 3000 per cent, enough to give anyone a headache and leave them with an empty pocket. On average, prescription medication costs four times more in Australia than the rest of the world, meaning many can’t take their required medication due to the cost.

Saving on prescriptions is easy. Just ask you doctor for free samples and generic substitutes, which are much more cost-effective while equally beneficial. Compare the prices of different pharmacies to get the best deal.

5. Eyeglass frames
For most people, dishing out over $500 for non-branded frames is problematic, so $700 or more for Armani and other branded names is firmly off the agenda. Mark-ups on eyeglass frames are atrocious, reaching, on average, 1000 per cent, which for anyone is a struggle. It costs around $14 for manufacturers to make these frames, so keep an eye out on eBay or Amazon for the cheaper options and discounts.

6. Cinema popcorn and treats
It costs the movie theatre around 37c to make popcorn; however, they can retail for up to $7 for consumers, making a trip to the cinema a costly outing. For four people, a movie meal (regular-to-large popcorn and regular drink) can cost up to $50, not including ticket prices!

An alternative might be to make your own popcorn from scratch, which costs around 95c a bag, or buy pre-made popcorn, costing an average of $2.50 for a 100g bag.

7. Fresh produce
With produce marked up as much as 75 per cent, many of us may not have the cash-flow to purchase the recommended nutrition from fruits and vegetables that we require on a weekly basis. Buying in season is the best way to find a bargain. Additionally, avoiding pre-cut veggies and fruit can save you up to 50 per cent weekly.

Do you have any tips for slashing your grocery bill?



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    Ted Wards
    13th Oct 2017
    Lets go back to the good old days of growing your own and swapping with your neighbours. Better quality and more variety....if only hey!
    13th Oct 2017
    It is not true that we pay "four times more in Australia than the rest of the world" for prescription medications!
    Why have you not presented the facts here and tried to scare people instead with false information?
    The vast majority of prescription medications in Australia are available under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for a capped fee of <$40 and <$7 for pensioners. This is NOT the case in most other countries (especially USA).
    Begging doctors for samples is NOT a long term alternative. Firstly they do not have endless supplies of samples, but more importantly if you need to take a drug long term this would not work.
    Certainly buying a generic brand where available is usually a money saving option, but this should ONLY be done if your doctor agrees.
    Shame on you Life Choices for providing false information here just to boost your story!
    13th Oct 2017
    Bluegum, I reckon you must be a chemist!!!!

    Between me and my wife, it costs us $279 a month for our "capped fee" med's.

    Plus the cost of going to doc's just to get prescriptions every couple of months (no such thing as Bulk Billing around here).

    Of course we reach the "Safety Net" each year, after which it still costs just under $50 a month.

    And in my case, even the generics (most of which are useless because they dissolve in my mouth before I can swallow them) are above the $40 cap, so are no cheaper anyway.
    13th Oct 2017
    Most medical doctors (and specialists in particular) are financially rapacious so-and-sos. Worse, they're often diagnostically incompetent.
    13th Oct 2017
    AusPost Shops often have Greeting, etc Cards for about $2.00 That's where we get ours
    13th Oct 2017
    $2 shops etc, have cards for $1.00.

    Most people don't even look at the cards, just look to see who sent it, put it on show for a day or two, then out in the recycle bin.

    Why waste money on them. Just a hangover from the 1950's when there were no emails, not many people had phones, and calls were relatively expensive, especially interstate.

    Most of my friends no longer send cards, and I stopped ages ago.
    13th Oct 2017
    Just a quick question

    So in Melbourne, do $1 shops have cards for $2.00?
    13th Oct 2017
    Govt is supposedly so concerned about diabetes, but for those not receiving any benefits, the cost of a pack of test strips is an outrageous $65. The value of production would be negligible and yet pharmacists expect that money. There is a 'justifiable' reason - hot air really, for this.
    OK, not expected as a cheapie ... this is most unreasonable. Who can make the change??
    13th Oct 2017
    Doubly outrageous, given that diabetes is in epidemic proportions in Australia...
    13th Oct 2017
    Just don't buy bottled water at all. There are absolutely NO health benefits over tap water and you avoid extra plastic pollution. Buy fresh fruit and veg at farmers markets. Grow your own veges: silver beet and sweet potato in pots are easy. Take along your old spectacle frames when you need new lenses: there may be a bit of a wait over using new frames but huge savings. Loose tea and single cup perforated baskets saves over tea bags. When making a cuppa, just boil enough water for your cup and no more: saves on power. Another saving is using loose dishwasher detergent over dishwasher tablets: the loose stuff is about half the price and probably works better.
    13th Oct 2017
    Bellbird, with my private health insurance I can get 2 pairs of NEW glasses per year at NO COST from SpecSavers or similar budget suppliers.
    BUT if I want to use my old frames, they charge me over $100 out-of-pocket each time. This is (they and my health fund have told me) because they can't access the system rorts and subsidies unless they provide new frames.

    Next time I'm going to try signing up for some new frames (so they qualify for the rorts), then throwing them in the bin, then asking them to make up the new lenses to suit my old frames. (I have 6 pairs of old frames made from the "bendy" metal, which I can sit on without damaging them)
    13th Oct 2017
    Australians consume enormous quantities of medications for raised cholesterol, arthritis, diuretics, hypertension, stroke prevention, diabetes, sleep disorders etc. The conditions they need the medications for are largely preventable. If people stopped eating huge quantities of carbohydrate and fat loaded food and alcohol, exercised more, stopped gobbling foods that increase cholesterol they’d lose weight, sleep better and have reduced rates of nearly all cancers, significantly reduced risk of coronaries and stroke, liver and kidney disease and less painful joints. Eating healthy food, exercise, maintaining a healthy BMI and reducing the amount of alcohol consumed usually leads to a reduction in the number of medications required to keep us alive. BTW frequent exercise tends to reduce the rate of clinical depression,
    13th Oct 2017
    Spot on, Puglet. Yet once the damage is done, many of these things become very difficult.

    13th Oct 2017
    "These days, item mark-up is out of control..."

    These days, GREED is out of control.

    "On average, prescription medication costs four times more in Australia than the rest of the world, ..."

    I totally agree. Matters are even worse in the U.S.A.: just watch Michael Moore's documentary "Sicko".

    "Do you have any tips for slashing your grocery bill?"

    Shop at Aldi.

    So many things nowadays are an essential. Try to avoid the rip-offs as musch as possible. Many of them are not essential.
    13th Oct 2017
    165km 2hour round trip to shop at closest Aldi negates any savings
    13th Oct 2017
    Correct Puglet, if the general public were to read books such as Eating Ourselves Sick by Louise Stephen or the Wheat Belly Book they would realize that we have been lied to by most dieticians since Ancell Keys and any Dr. that tells the truth about low carb high fat nutrient dense dieting will be threatened, pilloried and threatened with expulsion from the medical " profession !!!
    13th Oct 2017
    we always share our home grown produce
    locals come and pick flowers for birthdays and funerals etc
    i invite someone for tea most weeks
    share my baking
    14th Oct 2017
    Fresh food has a self life and they have to factor in the losses.
    Medicines are relatively cheap but vitamin tablets and health food products are very expensive.
    The rest - Yep - I agree.
    almost a grey hair
    14th Oct 2017
    When we have our eyes tested at the local optometrist, I believe we should be given printed prescription so that we can shop around for the best deal, just like when a GP writes a script we can go to the chemist of choice. Try getting out of an optometrists after having eyes tested without buying then and there. Hard to believe its not just another Medicare port by the medical proffession
    16th Oct 2017
    $5.00 for a cup of coffee? True if you wish to sit outside a Cafe with polution , car exhaust. Try 7/11 they sell coffee for $1.00 make it yourself. OR just take a small thermos of coffee with you. Wife and I always take a thermos of hot water in the car to make a cuppa.
    16th Oct 2017
    You can get 3 greeting cards for $2 at those shops like The Reject shop. It's what you write inside that counts.
    I would spend $9 for a on a very special occasion eg wedding, first communion, 50th,90th milestone.
    2nd Feb 2018
    Private Health Insurance. We pay just over $100 a month for ancillaries. As a pensioner, I would far rather pay this to Medicare instead and access the things covered by ancillaries in the Public system. But the mechanism is not there.