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In our second installment of "Buy This, Not That," Chelsea gives our recommendations for smarter places to put your spending money this winter, from DIY-ing a Peloton to making the most from your grocery budget.

The Financial Diet receives cash compensation from Wealthfront Advisers LLC (“Wealthfront Advisers”) for sponsored advertising materials. The Financial Diet a client and this is a paid testimonial. The Financial Diet and Wealthfront Advisers are not associated with one another and have no formal relationship outside of this arrangement. Nothing in this communication should be construed as a solicitation, offer, or recommendation, to buy or sell any security. Any links provided by The Financial Diet are not intended to imply that Wealthfront Advisers or its affiliates endorses, sponsors, promotes and/or is affiliated with the owners of or participants in those sites, or endorses any information contained on those sites, unless expressly stated otherwise. Investment management and advisory services are provided by Wealthfront, an SEC registered investment adviser. All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of money you invest, and past performance does not guarantee future performance.

Frozen vs fresh produce:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889157517300418
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200427-frozen-fresh-or-canned-food-whats-more-nutritious
https://www.eatingwell.com/article/290575/fresh-vs-frozen-vegetables-are-we-giving-up-nutrition-for-convenience/

Exercise clothing dupes:
https://www.dsw.com/en/us/product/avira-vibe-power-stretch-pocket-womens-high-rise-leggings/517977?activeColor=340
https://www.cnet.com/health/fitness/how-to-find-the-best-workout-clothes/

Refurbished computers:
https://www.apple.com/shop/refurbished/mac
https://www.laptopmag.com/articles/refurbished-laptop-tips

Homemade taco seasoning:
https://www.budgetbytes.com/taco-seasoning/

Unused gym memberships:
https://www.finder.com/unused-gym-memberships&ved=2ahUKEwjvkJ7y5uP0AhVESN8KHXoGBiIQFnoECAkQAQ&usg=AOvVaw2hjerwKSJxtRnGpXIlZ4u8

Blowouts vs. home hair styling:
https://www.salonrates.com/what-is-a-blowout/#:~:text=Most%20blowouts%20will%20only%20set,coming%20in%20at%20approximately%20%24400
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H9XB7G6?linkCode=ogi&tag=goodhousekeeping_auto-append-20&ascsubtag=[artid|10055.g.29035773[src|[ch|[lt|

Stationary bikes:
https://www.retailmenot.com/blog/is-the-peloton-worth-it.html

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http://www.thefinancialdiet.com

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It's pretty straightforward. I don't know how I can explain it to you more than that, things to not buy and what to buy instead. So let's get right into it.

Number one, instead of buying all fresh produce, buy frozen or canned. Now here's a little personal anecdote. While I'm very reticent to do any kind of a formal New Year's resolution, my husband and I have been really talking about changing the way we shop and eat in 2022 and beyond.

Specifically, that means sourcing as much as we possibly can locally and sustainably, which inherently means buying seasonal produce, or at least as close to seasonal as you can get. I live in New York City, so when we go to the farmer's market every week, that means right now it's like, kale, onions, maybe some apples. It's slim pickings.

And occasionally, I might want to eat a strawberry every now and again. That's where canned and frozen produce has to come in and will a lot more for me. But it's not just for eating seasonally because somewhere in our public obsession with getting healthy and eating clean, we come to the conclusion that fresh produce is unilaterally the best thing to be eating, when it's not always the case.

Not only do frozen or canned fruits and vegetables last longer, they don't necessarily mean you're sacrificing any nutritional value, depending on the type of produce you're buying. In fact, according to a 2017 study from the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, some frozen vegetables are even more nutritious than their five day fresh stored counterparts. And consumers' assumption that fresh produce has much more nutritional value than frozen is incorrect.

Canned vegetables have shown more nutrient loss than frozen, but the amount significantly depends on the type of vegetable. For example, foods with more vitamins E and A, which are found in high amounts in canned carrots and tomatoes, fare much better during heat treatment, which is part of the canning process. Listen, my mom's Italian, and I learned to cook from her, so basically half my bloodstream is canned tomatoes at this point, and I'm doing great.

But additionally to not sacrificing on nutrition and allowing you to eat more seasonally when you do eat fresh, it also in many cases means saving a lot of money. The average price for frozen cauliflower is $1.68 per pound, whereas fresh cauliflower florets are closer to $3.13 per pound. The American Frozen Food Institute published a white paper showing that a grocery list comprised of 95% frozen food could be in line with the dietary guidelines for Americans for an adult woman for only $8.52 a day or $59.66 per week.

Number two is instead of overpriced workout clothes and leggings, buy dupes from places like TJ Maxx, DSW, et cetera. Here is a small but sobering reminder for you if you are doing what a lot of Americans are doing this year and shopping online. If you're looking for certain types of clothing, you are often only going to be shown certain brands because of the affiliate commissions that various publishers, blogs influencers, et cetera will be receiving for promoting them.

And as higher end workout clothing has become more of a staple, and in year three of the pandemic people are living more and more in things like leggings, the combination of that rising popularity with the kickbacks that so many influencers will receive from promoting certain brands has given rise to a situation in which it has become totally normalized to be spending hundreds of dollars on clothes that realistically shouldn't be costing that much, or at minimum, shouldn't be representing that much of your budget. I'm a proponent of generally going more affordable when it comes to workout clothes, because let's be honest, they're built to be beat up and also recycling things like promotional t-shirts, and hoodies, and whatnot that I'll receive through work and other engagements, because what the hell else am I going to do with a t-shirt that has the branding of the hackathon at my husband's old office? TFD's commissioning editor, Soraya, swears by a $30 pocketed legging from DSW that's almost exactly the same as $100 pair you can get from Athleta.

And when buying activewear generally, pay less attention to the brand and what it says it does and more attention to the fabrics, fit, and comfort level, arguably the most important part, because if you're not comfortable, you'll never want to work out. And we'll link you in the description to a breakdown of the best fabrics to get for workout clothes, depending on your activity, location, and time of year. Don't go with what's trending on Instagram.

Go with what actually suits your needs at a reasonable price. Number three is instead of a new computer, buy a refurbished one. While you may not be able to buy the absolute latest model of laptop when it comes to buying refurbished, you are making a choice that will often make no difference in terms of performance, but potentially save you hundreds of dollars.

And let's be honest, the ghost of Steve Jobs is putting out a new model like every three weeks at this point. I don't have the new model of everything, and I'm doing just fine. Apple's refurbished program has laptops for up to 15% less than new, and they still come with a one year warranty.

And this is especially relevant if you're only buying a laptop for limited personal use. Most of us don't really need hardcore gaming computers. And beyond work hours, you're likely to spend more time on your phone than a computer anyway statistically.

To make sure that you are buying a vetted and high quality piece of tech, though, do make sure to buy refurbished rather than just used, unless you're willing to deal with all of the other repairs it might need, because the difference is that refurbished tech is still assessed for quality, while used is not. Here's a quick breakdown. Regardless of its route to the laptop spa, manufacturers or third party authorized refurbished offers typically sanitize, sort, and grade the units based on physical look and functionality.

They disassemble each one, checking for damaged components, battery function, screen quality, power supply, loose connections, hard drive, and optical drive. If a seller does not follow a process like this, the product isn't really refurbished. It's used.

Missing or defective components like RAM, graphic cards, capacitors, ICs, and hard disks are replaced and the machine undergoes a complete data wipe. The laptop is then tested, cosmetic defects repaired, and a new OS is installed before being packaged for its new home. My mother-in-law is actually currently in the process of picking out a refurbished Mac, and all of her techie sons are walking her through the process of doing it.

And for her needs, it makes just as much sense as a new one and is saving her a bunch of money. We love to see it. Number four is instead of store-bought seasoning mixes, sauces, and oils, try making your own, like I do.

One of the things that I have learned in my years as a pretty avid home cook is that-- Sometimes things that are expensive are worse. No, but in all seriousness, there are so many of these chili oils that are premade, and premade spice mixes for all of your various cooking endeavors, and premade sauces that would be really easy to make at home and would taste way better and would cost way less to put together yourself. It really marked my journey from just messing around in the kitchen to being a true home cook when I started making those things myself and liking them better.

For instance, packets of taco seasoning can cost $1 to $3 for enough seasoning for one meal. And that doesn't sound like a lot, but you do often throw away what you don't use, and you have less control over the flavor. Instead, try DIYing taco seasoning from spices you likely already have or should, like cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, paprika, oregano, et cetera.

And if you do have to restock, most spices won't cost you more than $5 a jar, depending on where you buy them. And if you really want to level up, go ahead and buy them in bulk from stores that sell bulk spices. It's way less expensive, and the quality is often a lot better.

We'll link you to a Budget Bytes recipe for homemade taco seasoning that comes out to just $0.67 a packet using ingredients you likely already mostly have. And this applies to tons of other things, like it's super easy and delicious to make your own homemade chili oil or your own dressings. I make all kinds of vinaigrettes, depending on what I'm in the mood for.

My husband loves to make his own blue cheese dressing. Even things like your own barbecue sauce are incredibly easy to make and that way it can be made to your specifications, and also therefore not using things like tons of stabilizers and corn syrup. Anyway, level up your kitchen, game level down your spending game, start making your own spices, seasonings, and sauces.

Number five is instead of signing up for an expensive class or membership, try a few sessions with a one-on-one tutor. This time of year is incredibly popular for people to be throwing themselves into new endeavors, whether in the fitness, or arts, or personal development genres, often by buying things like expensive subscriptions, class memberships, gym memberships, and so forth. But often throwing yourself into the deep end of something and thinking that just spending the money on it will keep you to a level of accountability is very much mistaken.

What actually typically keeps humans accountable is another human being. And yes, sometimes the buddy system can work. But when you're specifically trying to learn something new, that can just amount to the blind leading the blind.

For example, when I wanted to learn Pilates years ago, the first thing I did was invest in a few upfront sessions with a trainer one-on-one so I could learn the basics of the workouts so as not to hurt myself and also not feel like a total jackass in larger, less expensive classes. And as some of know, [SPANISH] In any case, the point is for me, investing in someone who can actually help me through the process has always paid much greater dividends. Now, does that mean that you are exempt from having to practice on your own time or in other ways that don't cost money or cost much less?

Of course not. That is a huge part of the process as well. But having not only the accountability, but the real one-on-one expert helped to get you over the hump of just starting out, which is often the most difficult part of learning any of these skills, is worth the investment.

Lastly, just to end on a depressing note, according to research from Finder.com, Americans spend nearly $400 million a year on unused gym memberships. Don't be part of that stat. Number six, instead of blowouts, invest in a well-reviewed and adapted to your needs hair tool.

There are many people out there who feel as if they can never do their hair themselves, even if they would want to. And those also tend to be the people who are spending on hair treatments in the salon, like a blowout. And listen, with the right dry shampoo, yes, you can probably get a good six days out of a blowout.

That's ambitious, maybe five days. I could get eight. But I don't know, four?

Either way, it's not a sustainable financial option. And before any of you guys in the comments are like, I'm not spending money on blowouts to begin with, I'm not talking to you. Not everything's about you, God.

An average blowout is going to cost you about $45, with higher end services costing $90 or more. And if you get one a month at $45, that's $540 spent on blowouts per year, not even including your tip. And in terms of learning to do it yourself, similar to home cooking, home grooming is one of those areas where learning to do a few basic things and recreate a few staples will save you tons going forward.

So investing in the right tools and learning with the right tutorials, and in fact, I would say this is another area where your expert can come in. One thing I would recommend doing if you have a hairstylist who does something that you like would have a hard time recreating is pay that person for an hour or so of their time just to walk you through the process of doing it. I found that hair stylists and makeup artists are generally pretty open to doing that and wouldn't mind at all, provided of course, they're being paid for their time.

And that is how I've learned to do things that I wanted to be able to recreate on my own. And as far as tools, the cult favorite Revlon hair dryer brush is only $45 and has over 250,000 5-star ratings on Amazon, which is literally the cost of just one generic blowout session. And we all know I'm loathe to give money to Jeff Bezos.

But when he's right, he's right. Or just don't buy it at Amazon. Buy it at Duane Reade, which I'm sure is like not much better ethically, but whatever.

I can't tolerate any more of these divorced billionaires. Number seven is instead of a Peloton, the thing that killed Big, build your own DIY Peloton set up for a fraction of the price. Several TFD team members have literally done this, so you know it's vetted.

If you are one of the many people who is at least partially still working from home and also dealing with these cold ass depressing ass winter months, you may be considering getting something like a Peloton. But that will cost you at least $1,495, on top of the $39 monthly fee you have to pay for their all-access membership, which you need in order to take classes on the bike, the scam. If you're just trying to move your body and don't really care about the stats part of a Peloton, a DIY setup, while not as seamlessly integrated with the app, may do the job perfectly well for what you're looking for.

You can find solid stationary bikes for $400 or less that you can use with the Peloton app via your phone or tablet. We'll link to some of these less expensive alternatives in the description. And if like me, you have a bike bike, you can also get trainers for your bike that allow you to convert it to a stationary bike in the colder months.

And if you don't have a Peloton using the app, it's much cheaper at just $13 a month for a basic membership. You can't access the leaderboard or see your live data, but you still get access to Peloton's huge library of all types of classes, which is honestly the most important part. Lastly number eight is instead of a meal kit subscription, try other meal shortcuts.

Now here's the thing, some people may be in the part of their cooking journey where a meal kit is just necessary. This is really good for beginners who are looking to get over the hump of feeling totally overwhelmed by the process of anything autonomous while cooking. I know many people who have used meal kits as a gateway drug to becoming comfortable home cooks.

And that can work. But for many people, they can also become a crutch. I know many people, some of whom in this room, who continue to use meal kits well past the time that they probably needed to given their overall abilities.

She'll specify it was her husband, but we'll let the jury decide. Wow. Now if your problem when it comes to cooking is just being overwhelmed at so many different things to do, things to chop, things to mix, things to season, there are many other shortcuts you can provide yourself that do not represent the same cost as a meal kit, nor which represent the same level of limitation in terms of final product.

If the convenience factor is part of the attraction for you, there are other shortcuts you can take to cut down meal planning and prep time. For example, pre-cut produce can make meal prep take way less time. I will sometimes default to that pre-cut mirepoix.

God, it saves so much time. And also harkening back to my previous point about making your own batches of spice blends, you can expand that, various dips, sauces, compound butters, things that make meal planning a bit plug and play, where you just need your protein or your starch. And the rest you can just add with what you already have in the fridge, pre-boiling hard boiled eggs so you can easily crumble them up over a salad, getting shredded cheeses rather than blocks, and just generally finding different ways to make the process of meal assembly a lot easier for yourself, as that is often the biggest stumbling block to wanting to do it and don't forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new and awesome videos.

Ciao.