The cheapest place to buy everything

Here are the cheapest places I’ve found to buy the things you really do need to buy. Tell me about your own ideas in the comments, and I’ll go investigate!

Looking good

Glasses

Blind as a bat, like me? Glasses are ridiculously expensive, and for no good reason. I mean really, it’s two pieces of glass held together by a bit of metal or plastic, why should it cost thousands of rands? The truth is that most of what you’re paying for is brand, and the fact that the glasses industry, internationally, is a crazy monopoly and a crock of shit.

Local online store, Eye Cafe, lets you email them your prescription (which you can get very cheaply at any optometrist or physical glasses store) and then they will ship glasses or prescription sunglasses to you in a couple of weeks. They’re cheap, and pretty good quality. Prices start at R490, including the lenses, frames, the whole shebang. I’ve been rocking glasses from them for years now.

Tech

Tech is always chasing a hype cycle, which means that buying a good quality device that’s a year or two old can snag you pretty good savings (because most people want the NEW SHINY ONE, because NEW AND SHINY). But actually, most consumer tech doesn’t get THAT much better in a year or two.

If you need a new laptop, it can be smart to buy a better brand, but second-hand. Second Bite sells good-quality refurbished Macs at a decent price (as far as Macs go). Try PC Laptops for high-quality PCs.

The Cell Store sells second-hand phones, and they’ve been tested to make sure that they’re in perfect working order. Phonetradr has also been recommended by our excellent community (thanks guys!).

You can buy even cheaper tech on Gumtree, but with no guarantee that stuff will work. If you do decide to risk Gumtree, use the escrow service Shepherd to protect yourself from scams.

If you need a second-hand camera for that side-hustle of yours, try Orms.

Random shopping

If you can plan ahead, AliExpress is a great way to order cheap things from China. Shipping is usually free to South Africa, but your stuff can take as long as 3 months to get here. You can find all sorts of weird and wonderful gizmos, tools, t-shirts, toys and more, so it’s a great place to hunt for presents. I have it on good authority that their kids’ clothes are pretty good, too. The quality (and sizing) of the clothing can vary quite a lot, so read the reviews before you order. There are some great curation sites, like Thieve and Aliholic, to help you find the best deals on the site. Remember, just because it’s cheap, don’t buy crap you don’t need.

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