10 Things You Should Never Buy at Full Price

IStock
IStock

While major purchases like cars and homes are typically negotiated down to their lowest possible price, there’s no reason smaller transactions need to squeeze every last cent out of your pocket. The next time you’re shopping, keep in mind these 10 purchases can usually be found far below the ticketed price.

1. GIFT CARDS

If you’re in a hurry, a store-bought gift card might be your only option. But if you can plan ahead, services that act as marketplaces for unwanted cards can actually wind up costing you less than the face value of the balance. The exchanges buy cards from sellers, verify they're still good, then sell them below retail price.

2. PRINTER INK

While printer companies caution against recycling old cartridges or using ink kits to replenish them, doing so instead of buying brand-new refills can save you a considerable amount of money. If printing quality begins to suffer, then consider splurging for a new cartridge. Until then, you’ll save well over half the cost ($15 and up) of buying new.

3. CABLE AND INTERNET

If you’ve ever sulked at the rock-bottom offers your cable company offers to new customers, don’t despair. You can often get the same deal by calling and discussing your current plan with a service representative; expressing dissatisfaction with inflated rates or inquiring about promotional offers can usually lead to a discount.

4. TEXTBOOKS

Next to tuition and moving expenses, budgeting for textbooks can be a college-bound student's biggest financial hassle. Try to ignore the sticker price on brand-new books and search for the ones you need online. Putting up with a few tears or stains can slash as much as $60 off a $70 volume.

5. THEATER TICKETS

Slapping down money at the box office for a New York theater show won’t leave much left for other activities. If you’re still uncertain about which performance you’d like to see, official city resources have marked-down tickets for same-day shows available. You can also join rewards programs for discounts and other benefits (unfortunately, you won't find Hamilton tickets for less than face value).

6. CONTACT LENSES

While lens manufacturers often set minimum price points for contacts that prevent eyewear retailers from discounting inventory, they also circulate coupons that can offer substantial savings. Make sure you ask your optometrist if they have any rebates or other offers in circulation.

7. CAR AND HOME INSURANCE

While many people gather price quotes from different insurance companies, not as many bother to ask if “package” discounts apply, or if they might qualify for a reduction not found elsewhere. Not all will volunteer that information, so it’s always a good idea to talk to your insurance agent about possible savings opportunities without sacrificing coverage.

8. DINING OUT

So many discount offers exist from senior clubs, auto rewards, bulk coupon books, and community promotions that paying the full menu price for a meal is harder to do than ever. Check to see if your existing connections—credit cards, for example—offer promotions or consider signing up for memberships that do.

9. FITNESS EQUIPMENT

You can save more than 50 percent off the price of an expensive home fitness machine by finding a used dealer. While it takes a little inspection—you don’t want a health club’s worn out castoff—it’s easy to find gently-used equipment that will look and perform like new.

10. MATTRESSES

If you ever find yourself walking out of a furniture dealer having paid full retail for a new bed, something has gone very wrong. Mattresses are high profit-margin items that are typically marked down substantially in order to draw in customers for the “savings,” but you should be able to get even more off by negotiating the price. A mattress should have you sinking into comfort, not debt.

All images courtesy of iStock.

7 Historic European Castles Virtually Rebuilt Before Your Very Eyes

A reconstruction of Spiš Castle in eastern Slovakia.
A reconstruction of Spiš Castle in eastern Slovakia.
Budget Direct

While some centuries-old castles are still standing tall, others haven’t withstood the ravages of time, war, or natural disaster quite as well. To give you an idea of what once was, Australia-based insurance company Budget Direct has digitally reconstructed seven of them for its blog, Simply Savvy.

Watch below as ruins across Europe transform back into the formidable forts and turreted castles they used to be, courtesy of a little modern-day magic we call GIF technology.

1. Samobor Castle // Samobor, Croatia

samobor castle
Samobor Castle in Samobor, Croatia
Budget Direct

The only remaining piece of the 13th-century castle built by Bohemia’s King Ottokar II is the base of the guard tower—the rest of the ruins are from an expansion that happened about 300 years later. It’s just a 10-minute walk from the Croatian city of Samobor, which bought the property in 1902.

2. Château Gaillard // Les Andelys, France

Château Gaillard in Les Andelys, France
Château Gaillard in Les Andelys, France
Budget Direct

King Richard I of England built Château Gaillard in just two years during the late 12th century as a fortress to protect the Duchy of Normandy, which belonged to England at the time, from French invasion. It didn’t last very long—France’s King Philip II captured it six years later.

3. Dunnottar Castle // Stonehaven, Scotland

Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven, Scotland
Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven, Scotland
Budget Direct

Dunnottar Castle overlooks the North Sea and is perhaps best known as the fortress that William Wallace (portrayed by Mel Gibson in 1995’s Braveheart) and Scottish forces won back from English occupation in 1297. Later, it became the place where the Scottish monarchy stored their crown jewels, which were smuggled to safety when Oliver Cromwell invaded during the 17th century.

4. Menlo Castle // Galway City, Ireland

Menlo Castle in Galway City, Ireland
Menlo Castle in Galway City, Ireland
Budget Direct

This ivy-covered Irish castle was built during the 16th century and all but destroyed in a fire in 1910. For those few centuries, it was home to the Blake family, English nobles who owned property all over the region.

5. Olsztyn Castle // Olsztyn, Poland

Olsztyn Castle in Olsztyn, Poland
Olsztyn Castle in Olsztyn, Poland
Budget Direct

The earliest known mention of Olsztyn Castle was in 1306, so we know it was constructed some time before then and expanded later that century by King Casimir III of Poland. It was severely damaged during wars with Sweden in the 17th and 18th centuries, but its highest tower—once a prison—still stands.

6. Spiš Castle // Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia

Spiš Castle in Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia
Spiš Castle in Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia
Budget Direct

Slovakia’s massive Spiš Castle was built in the 12th century to mark the boundary of the Hungarian kingdom and fell to ruin after a fire in 1780. However, 20th-century restoration efforts helped fortify the remaining rooms, and it was even used as a filming location for parts of 1996’s DragonHeart.

7. Poenari Castle // Valachia, Romania

Poenari Castle in Valachia, Romania
Poenari Castle in Valachia, Romania
Budget Direct

This 13th-century Romanian castle boasts one previous resident of some celebrity: Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad Dracula, who may have been an early influence for Bram Stoker’s vampire, Dracula. It also boasts a staggering 1480 stone steps, which you can still climb today.

[h/t Simply Savvy]

America’s 10 Most Hated Easter Candies

Peeps are all out of cluck when it comes to confectionery popularity contests.
Peeps are all out of cluck when it comes to confectionery popularity contests.
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Whether you celebrate Easter as a religious holiday or not, it’s an opportune time to welcome the sunny, flora-filled season of spring with a basket or two of your favorite candy. And when it comes to deciding which Easter-themed confections belong in that basket, people have pretty strong opinions.

This year, CandyStore.com surveyed more than 19,000 customers to find out which sugary treats are widely considered the worst. If you’re a traditionalist, this may come as a shock: Cadbury Creme Eggs, Peeps, and solid chocolate bunnies are the top three on the list, and generic jelly beans landed in the ninth spot. While Peeps have long been polarizing, it’s a little surprising that the other three classics have so few supporters. Based on some comments left by participants, it seems like people are just really particular about the distinctions between certain types of candy.

Generic jelly beans, for example, were deemed old and bland, but people adore gourmet jelly beans, which were the fifth most popular Easter candy. Similarly, people thought Cadbury Creme Eggs were messy and low-quality, while Cadbury Mini Eggs—which topped the list of best candies—were considered inexplicably delicious and even “addictive.” And many candy lovers prefer hollow chocolate bunnies to solid ones, which people explained were simply “too much.” One participant even likened solid bunnies to bricks.

candystore.com's worst easter candies
The pretty pastel shades of bunny corn don't seem to be fooling the large contingent of candy corn haters.
CandyStore.com

If there’s one undeniable takeaway from the list of worst candies, it’s that a large portion of the population isn’t keen on chewy marshmallow treats in general. The eighth spot went to Hot Tamales Peeps, and Brach’s Marshmallow Chicks & Rabbits—which one person christened “the zombie bunny catacomb statue candy”—sits at number six.

Take a look at the full list below, and read more enlightening (and entertaining) survey comments here.

  1. Cadbury Creme Eggs
  1. Peeps
  1. Solid chocolate bunnies
  1. Bunny Corn
  1. Marshmallow Chicks & Rabbits
  1. Chocolate crosses
  1. Twix Eggs
  1. Hot Tamales Peeps
  1. Generic jelly beans
  1. Fluffy Stuff Cotton Tails

[h/t CandyStore.com]

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