How would you like to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year with only a few small changes and no sacrifices? You can -- as long as you stop buying five products that are just a big waste of money, according to Simple changes can make a huge difference.

1. Expensive shampoos and conditioners
The benefits of pricey, salon hair care products are greatly exaggerated. Expensive does not mean better or more effective. What should you do instead? Cheap products are usually just as effective as the expensive ones. Read the labels. Find a generic or store brand that has the same ingredients.

2. Vitamins
People spend a lot of money on vitamins without really knowing what their bodies actually need. What should you do instead? Consult your physician to find out if a multivitamin is sufficient or if you need to supplement that with other vitamins, such as vitamin D or fish oil. Buy only what you really need and do try to get as many of your vitamins as you can from food.

3. Diet products
Of course you want to be thin! We all do. But don't get suckered into buying diet meals, supplements and other products that promise quick weight loss -- whether it's through a diet program or it's an impulse buy at the grocery store. Diet products typically cost a lot more. What should you do instead? Read food labels and determine if a food or product is really worth the cost. Remember, the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat less and exercise more.

4. Extra food
The average American tosses $600 worth of food in the garbage disposal or trash can every year. What should you do instead? First, evaluate the amount of food your family consumes and then create a shopping list that takes into account realistic portions so you don't have so many leftovers that you may not use.

5. Bottled beverages
Tap water is just as healthy for you as bottled water and a whole lot cheaper. What should you do instead? If you don't like the way tap water tastes, install a filter or go half-and-half: Half tap water and half bottled water. You'll also do the environment a favor by not using all those plastic bottles.


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