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In this episode, one woman lists the inexpensive swaps that are even better alternatives for the things she used to spend lots of money on. For more approachable money advice, click here:

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Through weekly video essays, "Making It Work" showcases how *real* people have upgraded their personal or financial lives in some meaningful way. Making your life work for you doesn't mean getting rich just for the sake of it. It means making the most of what you have to build a life you love, both in your present and in your future. And while managing money is a crucial life skill for everyone, there's no one "right way" to go about it — you have to figure out what works best for *you,* full stop.

Video narration by Allyson Briggs

Video by Grace Lee

Based on an article by Mary Parisi

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Start rebuilding your credit today. One of the cardinal rules of personal finance is to think in terms of cost per use rather than outright cost.

And while it's true that investing in long-lasting items is more cost effective in the long run and that the cheapest option isn't necessarily the best one, I regularly find inexpensive swaps that work just as well as the more expensive items I'm used to spending on. Here are several items I've replaced with cheaper alternatives that actually ended up being better quality than their more-expensive counterparts. Number one, my moisturizer.

When it comes to skin care, I've always felt like my problem skin warranted pricier goods. I used to use an $80 moisturizer from Lush that definitely helped. So I don't necessarily regret that I spent that much on it, but I certainly hope I never have to again.

I recently replaced it with a cheaper and much more effective alternative, Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Heavenly Night Cream. I had pretty much stopped searching for the holy grail of inexpensive yet effective moisturizers, and luckily just happened upon this one when I left my moisturizer at home and borrowed this while visiting my mother. It is amazing.

And although I always came from the more money, better result school of thought when it came to skin care, I think this moisturizer is the best one I've tried and for less than $20. Number two, almost all of my groceries. Trader Joe's has a reputation for being bougie as hell.

But here's the secret, it is cheaper than pretty much every other grocery store where I live. I spend about $60 on groceries that last my partner and I for two to three weeks, a haul that would cost somewhere around the $110 mark elsewhere. If there is a TJs near you, give it a shot.

It takes some getting used to if you're religious about your brand name food, but you can find suitable replacements there. Number three, my coffee maker. I was a Keurig person for a while, which is, in my opinion, a terrible waste of money if you're a moderate-to-intense coffee consumer.

The upfront cost of a Keurig is about five times more than a run-of-the-mill Mr. Coffee. And K cups can be twice as expensive as ground coffee, depending on where you buy them.

If you're someone who routinely drinks a few cups in the morning, you may need something that yields a bit more coffee for the money. When I moved in with my partner, I left my Keurig with my parents and, instead of buying a new one, replaced it with a $25 coffee maker from Target. I get a 12-cup pot of coffee in the morning for less money than it would cost me to brew half that amount in a pricey Keurig.

Number four, my floss. I am really passionate about flossing. It's the one part of my daily routine that I feel terrible and gross when I miss.

To make it easier and more convenient, I bought those little plastic floss pics and have been using them for a long time now. However, I recently noticed how much cheaper it is to get regular dental floss. The amount of regular floss you can get for about $3 compared to the amount you get in a $3 package of floss pics is wild-- about 200 yards of regular floss and about 100 to 150 floss pics, depending on the brand.

Also, when I consider the fact that I'm literally using and tossing away single-use plastic floss pics twice per day, I want to hang my head in shame. Number five, puppy training pads. The Wee-Wee pad brand is well-known, but holy hell is it expensive.

I bought a pack once when I got my last dog Lilo. I gave up on trying to find a store brand package of training pads that actually soaked up puppy misses and continued to use pricey brand name ones until Lilo was entirely trained. When I got my next puppy, Gaston, I thought I was going to end up sighing and swiping my card on a $50 box of training pads when something possessed me to give the Stop & Shop brand to try.

It was only $14 for 150 pads, and they actually are amazingly absorbent and work just as well as the more expensive brands. If you adopt a puppy, I recommend giving a few different types of training pads a shot to see which ones actually work and how you can spend the least amount of money on something your dog is just going to pee on anyway. Number 6, $10 nail polish.

I'm a sucker for an aesthetically pleasing bottle of Essie like any other girl, but the truth seems to be that the $9 bottle of nail polish chips away just as quickly as the $2. I had quite the SE collection building up but have switched over to a pretty exclusive relationship with the basic Sally Hansen nail polish range. There are tons of colors, they never cost more than $3, and they stay on my nails as long as I respect my hands and don't bring them into stuff, just the more expensive brands.

Number seven, my bronzer. A longtime favorite makeup product has always been Smashbox's Bronze Lights bronzer. I love the color and matte finish, but I don't love the $35 price tag.

I couldn't bring myself to buy it again. Last time I ran out of it and ended up picking up this Wet-and-Wild contouring palette, which has a nice matte bronzer on one side that is perfect for my skin tone, blends easier than the pricey Smashbox one, and costs under $4. Number eight, my monthly products.

I have to be honest here. Target brand pads and tampons appear to work just as well as Tampax, or Playtex, or whatever other name brand you may spend $7 plus on for a package that will barely last you two cycles. It is bad enough that so many of us have to shell out cash each month just to exist with a uterus, so I'll do just about anything to make it slightly more bearable and affordable.

Plus, I find that I'm more comfortable with some of the off-brand ones anyway. Cheaper isn't always better, of course, but if I can find a cheaper, better swap for a product I need to buy, I'm all for it. Finding ways to save money is just one aspect of taking control of your financial life.

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