FAHMIDA AZIM / "Johar Joshanda" / Editorial Illustration for Eater

You keep making the same mistake. When you're in the drug store picking up contact solution or toilet paper or a candy bar or condoms or a pregnancy test or hair dye or however you spend your week day evenings, you pass a sale on the invariably overpriced cold medicine and just walk on by.

Stop it. Stop it right now.

Cold and flu season is already hard enough on your body, your mental health, and your wallet, with drug stores carrying an average of 300 cold medicine products at any given time. Why are there so many products? It's not about what you need to remedy symptoms but about your spending power as a consumer, with reports tallying more than $30 billion spent on over-the-counter medication in 2017. The cornucopia of cold and flu products usually results in choice paralysis, as you stand in the aisle facing a barrage of information until you finally select whatever packaging looks more trustworthy or whichever one's had the most memorable commercial.

Don't fall for it. Consider these tips from pharmacists, doctors, and legions of people who barely get by on living wages but who've learned to hack the system during cold/flu season:

1. Buy Generic

Consider this: Pharmacists and doctors who have studied the ingredients in brand name medicine often buy the generic versions for themselves (up to 90% of the time, according to some surveys). With the power of Dr. Google (and all those skills acquired from those spot-the-differences games as a child), you can save a lot of money by just studying the ingredients on the boxes of brand name and generic versions. Learn the generic names of your medication, and you can save 20% to 50% on your cold medicine.

2. Search for Manufacturer's Coupons

If you simply prefer brand names and take comfort in the extra placebo effect, by all means indulge yourself. But you can also go to the manufacturer's website to find coupons. While you're waiting in the check-out line, take one moment to search on your phone to find that brand name medications like Zyrtec, Allegra, Tylenol, and Advil usually offer coupons and savings clubs through their websites.

3. Sign Up for a Discount Program

Similarly, discount programs like FamilyWize, GoodRx, and WellRx are easy-to-use apps that bring discount codes straight to your phone. These programs work with common drug stories like Walgreens, CVS, Target, Rite Aid, and Walmart.

4. Timing (Stock Up!)

Most manufacturers start offering coupons in late October, and when combined with in-store coupons, you can save double. So don't walk past sales on cold medicine just because that office bug hasn't hit you yet. It's best to stock up! Also keep in mind that cold medicine does expire, so check for boxes with the latest expiration date you can find.

5. Ask Your Pharmacist

A little known fact is that pharmacies will create their own saving programs to incentivize customers to shop there. As Caroline Carpenter, financial adviser and creator of the website mycouponexpert.com, told USA Today, "Almost all pharmacies do this, but you have to ask. 'Why?' They don't advertise it." Additionally, some pharmacists will even match competitors' prices if you can prove you can find it cheaper elsewhere.

6. Shop Smart: Don't Duplicate Ingredients

With similar ingredients appearing in multiple cold remedies, it's possible to overdo it and cause more harm than relief. So another reason you should familiarize yourself with the ingredients list is to make sure you don't go overboard with the acetaminophen (Tylenol). That won't help your wallet or your liver.

Ken Majkowski, chief pharmacy officer of FamilyWize, advises, "Most products have multiple ingredients that do the same thing. You just need two: one for day and one for night." Ideally, you should stock up on a non-drowsy decongestant for the daytime and a nice, sleepy Nyquil knock-off for the night.

7. Ask a Doctor for Free Samples

The next time you check in with a doctor to make sure your cough is just a cough and not the black lung or throat cancer (because who doesn't fall into a WebMD spiral from time to time?), ask for a free sample instead of a good-job lollipop. Doctors' offices often have an overstock of common medications like ibuprofen, and there's no harm in asking.

The reality is that medicine is undoubtedly, unfairly expensive, and it's only getting worse. Lea Prevel Katsanis, a former pharmaceutical marketing executive and author of Global Issues in Pharmaceutical Marketing, says, "Drug companies employ many scientists, physicians, marketing people, and others who really are motivated by helping others, but there are some industry leaders who don't get it. They just don't understand that when they raise the price of a drug by 300 percent, they get pushback."

But the good news is: We're all in this together (aside from the 0.8% of the world's population who hold 44.8% of the world's entire wealth, but screw them). So, yes, always wash your hands, get as much sleep as you can, and eat well, but when that cold inevitably hits you, demand to talk to the pharmacist and your local doctor. Self-advocate and demand the best healthcare you can get, and don't stop asking until you get it. As the wise slogan of the Area 51 raid said, "They can't stop all of us." With enough discontent, the system will be forced to change.

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Home garden and porch

As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.

Extensive Plants and Greenery

A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.

Lawn Care

As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.

Paved Pathways

There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.

Usable Outdoor Furniture

Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.

A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.

Unfortunately, giving back can sometimes go haywire. If you're ready to make a donation, first consider common mistakes made when giving back.

Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.

Acting Quickly Out of Emotion

Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.

Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.

Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation

Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.

If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.

Donating Unusable Materials

Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.

Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.

Strictly Giving at Year's End

As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.

With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.

Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.

The Age of Your House

Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.

The One-Percent Rule

An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.

The Square-Foot Rule

Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.

The Mix and Match Method

Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.

Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.