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8 cheaper alternatives to expensive products—and why they’re better

I wish I owned these dupes before I bought the expensive version.

8 cheaper alternatives to expensive products—and why they’re better Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

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Since I started working at Reviewed over two years ago, I’ve researched, reviewed, and written about a ton of products. While I’m often tempted to buy a lot of the stuff I write about, like bike shorts on sale at Amazon or a Nintendo Switch for quarantine entertainment. I’ve thankfully become a smarter shopper. In fact, working here has led me to discover cheaper—and better—alternatives for more expensive things I already owned

From an incredible hair dryer brush to a product that made eliminating cable easy, these are eight inexpensive products that I wish I knew about before I purchased their pricier counterparts—and why they’re worth it. Hopefully these things help you save money in the long run.

1. This $15 French Press that replaced my Keurig

French press for Keurig
Credit: Keurig / Reviewed

My morning coffee is cheaper than ever.

My original purchase: Keurig K-Select Coffee Maker—$128.18
The inexpensive, better purchase: Bodum Brazil French Press—$16.54

I (unfortunately) used to be a die-hard Keurig fan. I liked the convenience of them and wasn’t too confident in my coffee brewing skills. But once I took into consideration the environmental impacts of K-cups and realized that coffee pods were twice as expensive as ground coffee (not to mention the cost of the machine itself), I decided to make the switch to a French press.

I found using a French press was the easiest way for me to brew a single cup of coffee each morning compared to doing so with a coffee maker, and at just $15, my Bodum model is significantly cheaper than a Keurig machine. Keep in mind, though, that although this French press was a cheaper and better alternative to my old Keurig, it is not the best French press according to our experts. After testing different French presses, our experts found that the SterlingPro model was the best at maintaining heat and preventing coffee grounds from slipping through.

2. A HDTV antenna in lieu of cable

Antenna for cable
Credit: Getty Images / Reviewed

I've saved hundreds of dollars on cable thanks to my antenna.

My original purchase: Basic cable—about $30/month
The inexpensive, better purchase: Mediasonic Homeworx Indoor HDTV Antenna—$9.99

I don’t watch a ton of live TV. My Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ accounts pretty much cover all of my entertainment needs. However, for a long time, I still paid for a basic cable subscription so I could watch a few select shows live (namely: The Bachelor, Riverdale, and award shows). After becoming frustrated that I was paying around $30 a month to watch this short list of programs, I purchased this $10, 25-mile range HDTV antenna on Amazon and was finally able to cut cable out of my life for good.

It’s not the best HDTV antenna on the market, but it allows me to watch those three or four basic channels that I enjoy, which is good enough for me. Our experts recommend the ClearStream Eclipse TV Antenna for most people because it has a wider range to pick up TV stations and has the best reception of all the antennas we tested. Though it’s more expensive than my pick, it’s still much cheaper than paying for cable in the long run.

3. The Revlon drying brush swapped my high-end hair dryer

Revlon brush for hair dryer
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

This Revlon hair dryer brush is better than any hair dryer I've ever used.

My original purchase: T3 Micro Featherweight Luxe 2I Dryer—$250
The inexpensive, better purchase: Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer And Volumizer—$49.99

Although I prefer to wear my hair naturally curly, there are times when I want to dry it straight. In the past, it would take the power of both an expensive hair dryer and a high-end straightener to contain my twisted locks. That is until I discovered the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer. I got to try the cult-favorite product while our beauty writer was testing it, and in less than 30 minutes, it got my curly qs pin straight with a little voluminous flip to boot. I didn’t even need to touch it up the next morning, which I always had to do when I blow dried my hair the day prior. The best part? It’s only $50, which is much cheaper than the combined price of a hair dryer and flat iron. I am not the only one who’s obsessed with this drying brush. It has a 4.4-star rating from over 5,000 reviews on Amazon, and has sparked a ton of conversation on Twitter over the past year.”

Get the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer And Volumizer at Amazon for $49.99

4. A Kindle book subscription over physical books

Kindle books
Credit: Getty Images / Reviewed

E-books are cheaper and easier to access than physical books.

My original purchase: Physical books—about $14 to $18
The inexpensive, better purchase: Kindle Unlimited subscription—$9.99/month

I love to read. This year alone I’ve devoured more than 40 books (which, to be fair, is a record for me thanks to quarantine). But buying physical books can be expensive, and they take up a ton of space on my bookshelf. This is why I recently made the switch to reading mostly Kindle books. Not only do e-books tend to be a few bucks cheaper, but Amazon frequently runs sales where you can buy popular titles for just $2 or $3. You can alsoget a Kindle Unlimited subscription for just $10 a month, which gives you unlimited access to thousands of popular titles. Plus, you can rent Kindle books from your local library for free, though you may have to wait a bit to access the book.

I prefer to read books on my Kindle Paperwhite, which happens to be the best e-reader we’ve ever tested. But if you don’t want to invest in this device, you can also easily access Kindle books using the Kindle app on your phone or tablet.

Get Kindle Unlimited subscription for $9.99/month

5. Reusable sandwich bags that replace plastic ones

Sandwich bags
Credit: Getty Images / Reviewed

Switching to reusable sandwich bags has saved me money over time.

My original purchase: Ziploc Sandwich Bags—$8.69
The inexpensive, better purchase: rezip Lay-Flat Reusable Storage Bag, 5-Pack—$19.99

I used to buy way too many plastic sandwich bags. Yes, they’re good for storing random snacks and freezing bananas, but at around $10 a pack, they’ve really added up over the years. Aside from the environmental implications, I felt like I was throwing money away every time I tossed one. That’s why I switched to these reusable bags from rezip, which are our favorite reusable sandwich bags. Although they cost $20 for five bags, each bag can be reused up to 300 times, meaning that one $4 bag is less expensive than a $10 pack of 280 plastic sandwich bags. Not to mention, you’ll feel better about the environment while using them.

Get the rezip Lay-Flat Reusable Storage Bag, 5-Pack at Amazon for $19.99

6. An Ozark Trail tumbler that's as good as the Yeti

Yeti Ozark Trail
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The only difference between the Yeti and Ozark Trail tumblers is the price tag.

My original purchase: Yeti Rambler 30 oz Tumbler—$34.98
The inexpensive, better purchase: Ozark Trail 30-Ounce Tumbler—$8.74

Yeti tumblers are hailed as some of the best tumblers and coolers by outdoorsmen and fraternity brothers alike. Fans claim they’re great for insulation and the clout that comes with owning one is nice, too. However, these items are also known for being pricey.

After I heard rumors that a $9 tumbler from Walmart performed just as well as a $35 Yeti one, I had to put it to the test. Not only do the two tumblers look nearly identical aside from the logo, but they performed very similarly when it came to insulation. From that point forward, I decided to trust Ozark Trail as a cheaper alternative to most Yeti products.

Get the Ozark Trail 30-Ounce Tumbler at Walmart for $8.74

7. Zella leggings that match the quality of Lululemon

Lululemon Zella Leggings
Credit: Lululemon / Zella

These Zella leggings are half the price but are high-quality.

My original purchase: Lululemon Wunder Under High-Rise Tight—$98
The inexpensive, better purchase: Zella Live In High Waist Leggings—$59

I love quality leggings as much as the next active gym-goer and barre enthusiast, which is why my closet is filled with Beyond Yoga matching sets and the coveted Lululemon Wunder Unders. But thanks to the Nordstrom Anniversary sale and recommendations from a coworker, I discovered leggings that perform just as well as the pricey yoga pants in my closet at a fraction of the cost.

Zella, Nordstrom’s athletic brand, sells incredible leggings for just $55, which is half the cost of the more expensive brand—and you can snag them for less than $40 when they’re on sale, which they often are. From my experience, I’ve found these leggings to be soft, durable, and sweat-wicking, and they’ve become my go-to leggings for barre, hiking, and bodyweight workouts. They’ve also garnered more than 6,000 reviews and have a 4.6-star rating at Nordstrom, so I’m not the only one obsessed. I will note, though, that our Shopping Director, Sam, who owns Zella leggings, claims that they are not as good as Lululemon’s Align leggings. However, at half the cost (or less if purchased on sale), Zella leggings are a fantastic budget option.

8. A drugstore dupe that replaced my favorite mascara

Mascara dupes
Credit: Benefit / Reviewed

Switching to a cheaper mascara has saved me money.

My original purchase: Benefit They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara—$25
The inexpensive, better purchase: Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara—$6.78

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, I’ve been wearing makeup less often, as there have been limited reasons to get dressed up. While I used to religiously apply my favorite Benefit They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara, I simply couldn’t justify the $25 expense when I recently ran out. Knowing I won’t be using it enough and will still have to replace it in three months, I decided to purchase the more affordable Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara, which is only $7. It’s one of our favorite drugstore mascaras, and after modeling these mascaras for some review photos (the life of a Reviewed employee), I felt like this brand coated my lashes best and still look similar to my They’re Real! application.

Get the Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara at Amazon for $6.78

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.