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8 Things to Buy Cheap While Looking Rich

Table of Contents
1. Skincare 2. Coffee 3. Toilet paper. 4. Outdoor equipment. 5. Jewelry 6. Manicures 7. Furniture 8. Clothes

Need to tighten your belt, but don’t necessarily want everyone to know? We hear you. While we’re proud to be thrifty here at Team Planswell, we know there are times to keep this on the downlow. Your parents might worry. Your frienemies may snicker. A new love interest may be scared away. Sometimes, it’s best not to call attention to a little financial setback. 

Below, we’ll lay out eight ways to cut costs without sounding the alarm bells. The good news: with some small adjustments, you can improve your current situation and hopefully live comfortably again in no time.

1. Skincare

You can go broke at Ulta or Sephora by buying cleansers, eye cream, moisturizers, etc. One product we found promises, “Each drop of this extraordinary formula delivers the full power of fresh Rose de Granville Oil from handpicked, full bloom roses” at the low, low price of $1,550 for 1.5 ounces. Hard pass, Dior!

Skincare afficiendos will tell you they wouldn’t spend that kind of money on products even if they had all the money in the world. One of those people is Meagan Terrel, product designer at Planswell, who happens to have beautiful, glowing skin and many, many hours of skincare research under her belt.

“It’s all BS,” says Meagan, “You just have to know your ingredients. A super cheap cleanser completely transformed my skin.”

She recommends watching Hyram on YouTube to learn more. Spoiler alert: Hyram and Meagan both recommend the CeraVe line, available at drugstores and big box retailers, starting at under $10. (Worth noting: we do not get paid for endorsing any products.)

2. Coffee

We’re not here to come between you and your coffee. You couldn’t pry our reusable cups from our cold, dead hands. If, like us, you’re highly dependent on your morning wake-up cup, it might be time for a wake-up call.

How many days a week are you hitting the Starbucks drive-thru? Some menu items are over $5 per drink. At that rate, those with a daily Starby’s habit are spending over $1800 per year (and taking in an abundance of sugar and calories). Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but stay with us for the most sensible solution…

Brewing coffee at home is an easy way to tighten your belt. Even if you switched to Keurig or another single-use brewing system at home, you’d cut your costs in half. But here’s a bombshell: Keurig inventor John Sylvan doesn’t own one of his own machines.

“I don’t have one. They’re kind of expensive to use,” Sylvan said of K-cups. “Plus, it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make.” Dang. He has a point.

Get yourself a big ol’ can of Folgers. A 48-ounce canister costs just $10 and it will last roughly a month or so. 

3. Toilet paper.

Ok, we admit this is controversial. Some members of our team swear by the good stuff. “My toilet paper is like a flannel sheet. It’s glorious,” said one Planswell CEO who shall remain nameless. For others, TP is a good opportunity to cut back. 

“I’ve never understood why we need a whole aisle of toilet paper choices,” says Jen Mastrud, Planswell’s Chief Marketing Officer, “Why wouldn’t you just get the cheapest option?”

Despite the debate, toilet paper made our list because it’s unlikely anyone will notice if you stock your shelves for 17 cents per roll.

4. Outdoor equipment.

Yes, you can enjoy the great outdoors on a budget. In fact, you should always skimp on outdoor equipment according to Shaun Esau, a Planswell software developer. “These things are tools, not jewels,” he says.

He recommends buying used for big things like bikes or kayaks, for good reason.

One of two scenarios are sure to happen, according to Shaun. You may get a ton of use out of the equipment and it’s not going to be shiny and new for long. Your equipment will display every scrape and scratch like a badge of honor, reminding you of your amazing adventures. Or, adversely, your new expensive equipment is going to collect dust in the attic while you pay off the credit card bill for eternity. 

Either way, sporting equipment is not intended to be showroom-ready once it leaves the store. No one will know if it was someone else who broke it in.

5. Jewelry

Can you look rich without jewelry, you ask? We don’t even want to know. We have a thing for bling. 

However, when buying precious metals, you’re paying for markup twice—the manufacturer has a hefty markup as does the reseller. By the time you get that bracelet around your wrist, you’ve paid two to three times wholesale cost, or even higher for prestige brands. Let’s hope it doesn’t go out of style before you’ve paid it off.

That doesn’t mean you can’t afford to have a fun new ring on your finger when you lunch with the ladies. Opt for costume jewelry made from silver-plated brass, pewter, or nickel. To keep cheap metal from discoloring your skin, brush the inside of the ring with a coat of clear nail polish and it’s as good as the real deal. You’ll find you don’t need more money, but you’ll wish you had more fingers.

6. Manicures

Speaking of fingers, have you been in the nail polish aisle of any big box retailer lately? It’s a new frontier.

There is now a whole category of elevated press-on nails at your, um, fingertips for about six bucks a package. There’s never been a better time to break up with the manicurist who’s been charging you $30-$60 every week or two.

The new options come in every shade, shape, and pattern under the sun and last for WEEKS. Plus, they are so quick and easy to apply, you could give yourself a perfect manicure at a red light.

7. Furniture

Home furnishings make the list because there are so many ways to furnish your home on a dime. From farmhouse chic to mid-century modern, the best pieces are not found in furniture stores. “I like old furniture because it’s simply better. It’s better made. It looks nicer.” says Planswell Illustrator Tamara Antonijevic. 

Tamara considers herself a flea market professional, but flea marketing is just one way to score cool stuff for your home at bargain prices. Estate sales, auctions, Craig’s List, Facebook Marketplace, thrift stores —to name a few.

Nicolette Bertsch, a customer service rep at Planswell, let us in on a phenomenon called “stooping.” This is when people put their gently used items on the curb and announce on social media that the stuff is FREE for the taking, first come/first served. Simply follow the hashtag #stoopingNYC (or wherever you live) on sites like Instagram or Facebook and let the games begin. 

8. Clothes

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include used clothing on our list. Like vintage furniture, vintage clothing is also a hot commodity. 

Jonathan Inada, an account executive on Team Planswell, prefers the unique looks he finds at thrift stores. “People are super hipstery where I live and they love stuff that’s like 40 years old, like Nikes from way back in the day,” says Jonathon, “It’s super cool to find that stuff in thrift stores for really cheap prices.”

If vintage clothing is not your thing, it’s still worth stopping at your nearest thrift store. Nowadays, you can find this year’s styles, new with tags, in almost any thrift store. We assume these are online orders that didn’t work out and never found their way back to FedEx. Perhaps the return period closed, the receipts were lost, or the packaging was hastily ditched. Score!

We’re also seeing a lot of “truckload” merchandise in our local thrift stores these days. These are donations of new items from your favorite stores that didn’t sell fast enough and had to go. With coronavirus lockdowns everywhere, many, many retailers struggled to move inventory at the expected pace. Now, their best bet is to just ditch it and look onward. It’s never been a better time to update your wardrobe.


In closing, it’s worth mentioning that there is affordable help available if you need a professional to get you back on track with your finances. A qualified financial advisor can help you maximize your assets and protect you against future hardships. The first step: take advantage of free, personalized financial plans from Planswell and speak to one of our partnering advisors about next steps. This call is also free to you, so there is no reason to pass on the opportunity.


We’d rather have you feel rich than look rich any day.



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