This is one of my mottos and it has saved me a whole lot of money over the years. Were conditioned to not think about doing things ourselves- too often something very simple becomes so commercialized that people as a whole accept it as something they either have to buy or do without. I challenge you to choose a third option. Make (or do) it yourself.
I’ll give you a simple example. Macaroni and cheese. What comes to mind for most people is cartoon-character shaped Kraft instant mac-and-cheese with that sickeningly orange cheese powder. This one blows my mind- I’m a good cook and I don’t think I can think of a single meal that is easier to home-make than macaroni and cheese. And more than that, homemade macaroni and cheese consistently beats kraft in taste tests. So lets think about this- you can boil water, add the kraft noodles, strain the noodles, and then stir in the powdered cheese, or you can boil water, put in real noodles, strain them, and cut slices of cheddar cheese and stir them in until they melt. That is it. Exactly the same amount of steps, but there is some big mystery about macaroni and cheese that keeps us from trying to make it ourselves.
And its not just mac and cheese- it is everything. One product that baffled me was a scarf I bought online from American Apparel. I never would have bought it if not for the fact that I was given a discount that was more than the cost of the scarf- but it arrived in the mail and it was literally just a long piece of fabric cut with a scissor. Even fancy scarves are simple to make- just cut a piece of nicer fabric and embellish the edges. Yet we are paying sometimes upwards of $30 for one, without even a brand name attached. Why?
Even houses have been completely shrouded in mystery so that people think they either have to buy one that has already been build by professionals or have one custom-designed by an architect and built by contractors. Only recently did I learn that even my almost non-existant handy skills would be enough to allow me to build my own house entirely on my own, for only a few thousand dollars. (Read this post to learn more.)
So the next time you are about to buy something, step back and ask yourself how it is made. You may be buying something extremely overpriced not because it is complicated to make, but because you are conditioned to think it is.