Bigger isn't always better: 10 products worth skimping on

Size matters for some purchases (including the recently-launched iPhone 6 Plus), but there are a few products where you're actually better off 'skimping' and getting the smaller, less expensive option. Read on for tips for downsizing your shopping. 

Rick Wilking /Reuters/File
A technician walks by a Hummer H3 in for service at the Burt GM auto dealer. Bigger cars rarely have gas mileage that is competitive with compact cars, so it's financially smart to go small if you can.

America is a land of bigness: we're the home of the Grand Canyon, the Cadillac Escalade, and the Big Gulp. If the nation had another Latin motto, it might be 'Grandior Melior Est': Bigger is Better. (Note: rough translation.)

That might be true for some things (like the new iPhone 6 Plus, which is drumming up more interest than it's smaller sibling), but there are a few products where you're actually better off "skimping" and getting the smaller, less expensive option. For perishable goods or things that are expensive to maintain or store, bigger isn't always better. Read on to see our tips for downsizing your shopping.

1. Exercise Equipment

A big home gym set-up can cost you hundreds of bucks, if not thousands. Not only do these giant workout systems take up tons of space, but they're a hassle to set up. If you're just starting out with a fitness regime, you can save yourself a ton of money by buying free weights and using bodyweight exercises to bulk up.

2. TV Sets

Big screens are awesome, but you can often get comparable picture quality in a smaller set. It's also been my experience over the years that many of the smaller sets have longer lifespans than the big sets, particularly the big sets that are the first to feature new leaps forward in technology. Plus, the larger the screen, the harder it is to find a good place in your home for it, to say nothing of optimum seat placement.

3. Laptops and Tablets

Bigger screens usually mean a bigger drain on the battery, which means terrible battery life. Plus, a bigger screen means more weight to lug around, which is bad news for the backs of college students and busy professionals everywhere.

4. Home Appliances

Having a bigger fridge or a family-sized washing machine sounds great on the surface. Who doesn't want to be able to hold more food or wash more clothes? But bigger appliances often have a bigger power drain, even if they are Energy Star-certified. That's not to say you should swap out your home fridge for a college dorm fridge, but keep your projected energy costs in mind when you're buying a new appliance.

5. Bulk Food

Bulk buys of food are great for some people. However, smaller families often waste their bulk food purchases because a smaller family can't get through the entire container before the expiration date. Only buy foods in bulk if you can actually consume them in bulk.

6. Cars

Bigger cars rarely have gas mileage that is competitive with compact cars. If you have a big family, then you might not have a way of getting around the need to own a big SUV or van. If you have the choice, however, consider buying a smaller car when you next visit a dealership.

7. Designer Handbags

Ladies, you know that the laws of physics don't apply inside of a handbag. The inside of a purse feels cavernous, and it's impossible to find anything you need in a handbag in under 30 seconds. A smaller handbag not only carries a smaller price, but it's less of a strain on your shoulder, and takes less time to search through. Plus, if you go for the smaller handbag, you might be able to afford two bags, making it easier to match your bag with your outfit.

8. Homes

Between property taxes, energy bills, and general upkeep, there are many reasons why a smaller home is a better buy than a big one. Think of Downton Abbey. That stately manor is beautiful, but it took a whole fleet of servants to keep it running. Unless you've got your own personal Carson the Butler (and an heiress wife to finance your reservations), a bigger home can be more trouble than its worth.

9. Bedding

I just bought new pillows for my bed, and fell victim to the old "bigger is better" misconception. My giant Calvin Klein pillows seemed luxurious on the shelf, but they were murder on my neck. They were just too big! In addition, you may sometimes find that a thinner comforter with more high-tech stuffing keeps you warmer than a very thick comforter filled with down or cotton.

10. Diamonds

Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but they are also overpriced. Instead of a giant rock, opt for a smaller stone that has perfect clarity and a dazzling cut. A big diamond will always be impressive, but a piece of jewelry with oodles of small diamonds can be just as mesmerizing, and will cost just a fraction of the price. After all, the Hope Diamond may be a big stone, but it also carries a big curse. We'll take the small stones over the big ones anytime.

Tucker Cummings is a contributor for, where this article first appeared:

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