15 Things That Are Cheap to Produce – But Incredibly Expensive to Buy

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The retail industry really drains you of every penny. Not everything you buy is worth its hefty price tag.

While you might think more expensive products should have a higher production cost, that’s not true for many items because companies keep an extremely high-profit margin for themselves, leaving you wondering why you’re broke.

For people who like to splurge, it’s essential to know what you’re getting for the prices you’re paying. This might not stop you from making the next big purchase, but it will definitely make you think twice before throwing money down the drain.

1. Candles

Woman making homemade candles
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Scented candles are absolutely divine. Their warm aroma fills the air, leaving you feeling calm and collected. However, they’re often costly. According to 96North, if you purchase 8 pounds of wax for 32 candles and spend $30 on all supplies and equipment, your cost per candle would be approximately $0.93!

Imagine the money you’re wasting just to get something that’s branded well but is the same as any candle you can make yourself.

2. Eyeglasses

Woman wearing eyeglass
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Everyone wants a sleek pair of glasses, from fancy brands to designer eyeglasses, that go with all their outfits. However, you don’t need to get the top-tier brand that costs a fortune when you can get something cheaper with the same aesthetic.

According to Vox, eyewear costs around fourteen dollars to manufacture, which means a profit percentage of 1,000%. Yikes.

3. College Textbooks

College textbooks
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Education already costs a kidney, but college textbooks ramp up expenses even more. Experts at Research state that some textbooks costs are even more expensive than college tuition in some cases.

Funnily enough, they take an average of ten dollars to manufacture, which means the manufacturers swallow an extremely high profit markup.

4. Greeting Cards

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According to CBS, the average cost of a greeting card is between $4–$5. While the manufacturing cost is only around two dollars. This might not seem as daunting as some other items on this list; however, they’re ripping you off by keeping 50% of the money as profit per every card. It’s better to make one yourself.

5. Printer Cartridges

Color ink for printer
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Printers are an all-time essential if you’re working in a corporate job or are a student who has to hand in printed assignments. But their cartridges cost a kidney and then some.

According to Business Insider, these cartridges cost more than some of the printers in the market, which sounds pretty absurd because they cost around $2–$3 to make, so the price point seems unfair, to say the least.

6. Soda Cans

Coke can
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Many of you must be wondering why soda cans are on the list, considering they’re not really that expensive to purchase. However, their selling price looks pretty high, considering how much money production takes.

According to IndexBox, 12-ounce aluminum cans can range from $0.12 to $0.25 per can. So, is soda really cheap?

7. Mattresses

Woman siting on mattress in furniture shop
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If you’ve recently shifted houses or just needed a mattress replacement, you’ll find that they break your bank. Experts at Sleep Foundation put a price range of as little as $250 and as much as $3,500+ for a mattress. The inflation rates are so high that even sleeping comfortably has become unaffordable.

However, surprisingly, materials needed for a mattress can cost as little as $75.

8.  EpiPens

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Unlike other items in this list, EpiPens are an absolute necessity for some people, so it can be very frustrating when they cost hundreds of dollars to purchase. According to CNBC, the cost of production for these is only a few dollars.

While you can’t really avoid buying them, it’s absurd to think of how accessible they could be if the medication industry were a little less greedy.

9. Smartphones

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As new models drop into the market, smartphone prices seem to skyrocket increasingly, making it frustrating for people who can’t afford the luxury. But the cost is justified because they’re using the latest tech, right? Wrong.

According to Techwall, smartphone manufacturing takes half of the shelf cost, which means enormous amounts of money are funneled straight into the pockets of tech giants.

10.  Designer Jeans

Reusing Denim
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You can get cheap jeans, but there’s something about the quality and comfort of designer jeans that makes them better than their lower-cost counterparts. If it’s comfortable, breathable, and looks fantastic, it’s worth the price. But that’s not always the case.

Budget Fashionista states that a premium pair of jeans has a manufacturing cost of around $50 only. To save money, try bypassing the retailers and go straight to wholesale.

11. Bath Bombs

Bath Bombs
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To kick back and de-stress after your daily nine-to-five, running a delightful shower with your favorite bath bombs seems phenomenal and relaxing. However, when you hear how cheap they are to make, you won’t be relaxed anymore.

According to Bath Bomb Guide, they only take a dollar to make, which is not what you’ll be paying in a store.

12. Sneakers

Air Jordan sneakers
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While businesses obviously run on profits, it’s unfair to charge your customers with such a high price point when the cost to make it wasn’t nearly the same.

Experts at Shoe Makers Academy state that making a $70 shoe costs about $15. Those white kicks might look sleek, but they’re not the quality you expect at that price.

13. Jewelry

Jewelry Making
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A solid pair of hoops can go with any outfit you want. However, jewelry costs a kidney, so you can’t buy it on a whim. According to Mintly, the cost of making it depends on factors like the material used and size, etc.

However, on average, the manufacturing cost is about $40. Think twice the next time you head into a shop to buy that crescent necklace.

14. Wedding Dress

Sewing wedding dress
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Considering weddings come once or twice in a person’s life, getting a hefty wedding dress is a priority, despite costing as much money as a new car. Designer dresses have a massive price tag, earning them a high profit margin.

However, The Knot states you can get a custom-made dress for as low as $100–$700. Not only do you get what you’re looking for, but for much less of the price.

15. Premium Beauty Products

Woman wearing lipstick
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It’s safe to say this last one is among the worst on the list. Beauty product prices are so high that you might need a loan to buy them. Jokes aside, companies charge you for their branding and packaging, not the product itself.

According to Racked, lipstick costs less than $3 to produce, but when you buy your favorite shade, you’ll have to pay between 10 and a hundred dollars.


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