Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

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

These are six 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 £17 French Press that replaced my coffee machine

Winsford Guardian: My morning coffee is cheaper than ever. Credit: ReviewedMy morning coffee is cheaper than ever. Credit: Reviewed

My original purchase: Pod Coffee Maker: £150 

The inexpensive, better purchase: Bodum French Press: £16.99

I (unfortunately) used to be a die-hard pod coffee 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 and economic cost of coffee pods, 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 £17, my Bodum model is significantly cheaper than a coffee machine. 

2. The Revlon drying brush swapped my high-end hairdryer

Winsford Guardian: This Revlon hair dryer brush is better than any hair dryer I've ever used. Credit: Reviewed / Betsey GoldwasserThis Revlon hair dryer brush is better than any hair dryer I've ever used. Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

My original purchase: T3 Cura Luxe Dryer: £235

The inexpensive, better purchase: Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer And Volumizer: £50

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 hairdryer 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-favourite product while our beauty writer was testing it, and in less than 30 minutes, it got my curly locks 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 hairdryer and flat iron. I am not the only one who’s obsessed with this drying brush. It has a 4.5-star rating from nearly 3,000 reviews on Amazon, and has sparked a ton of conversation on Twitter over the past year.

3. A Kindle book subscription over physical books

Winsford Guardian: E-books are cheaper and easier to access than physical books. Credit: ReviewedE-books are cheaper and easier to access than physical books. Credit: Reviewed

My original purchase: Physical books: about £14 to £18

The inexpensive, better purchase: Kindle Unlimited subscription: £7.99/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 also get a Kindle Unlimited subscription for just £8 a month, which gives you unlimited access to thousands of popular titles. 

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.

4. Reusable sandwich bags that replace plastic ones

Winsford Guardian: Switching to reusable sandwich bags has saved me money over time. Credit: Getty Images / ReviewedSwitching to reusable sandwich bags has saved me money over time. Credit: Getty Images / Reviewed

My original purchase: Ziploc Sandwich Bags: £5.74

The inexpensive, better purchase: Kollea Reusable Sandwich Bags: £11.99

I used to buy way too many plastic sandwich bags. Yes, they’re good for storing random snacks and freezing bananas, but at around £5 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. Although they cost £11.99 for 12 bags, each bag can be reused up to multiple times, meaning that one bag is less expensive than a pack of disposable plastic sandwich bags. Not to mention, you’ll feel better about the environment while using them.

5. Zella leggings that match the quality of Lululemon

Winsford Guardian: These Zella leggings are half the price but are high-quality. Credit: Lululemon / ZellaThese Zella leggings are half the price but are high-quality. Credit: Lululemon / Zella

My original purchase: Lululemon Wunder Under High-Rise Tight: £78

The inexpensive, better purchase: Zella Live In High Waist Leggings: £45.40

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 £45, which is considerably cheaper than the more expensive brand—and you can snag them for less than £30 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 several positive reviews and have a 4.5-star rating at Nordstrom, so I’m not the only one obsessed. 

6. An affordable alternative to my favourite mascara

Winsford Guardian: Switching to a cheaper mascara has saved me money. Credit: ReviewedSwitching to a cheaper mascara has saved me money. Credit: Reviewed

My original purchase: Benefit They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara: £28.89

The inexpensive, better purchase: Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara: £9

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 favourite Benefit They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara, I simply couldn’t justify the 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 £9. It’s one of our favourite mascaras, and after modelling 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.

The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest deals, product reviews, and more.

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