Gina Martinez

Gina Martinez is a freelance writer who teaches college-level composition and literature courses and has an M.A. in English. She lives on the cheap in New York City with her majestic lapdog.
  • Retail

    Lowe's or Home Depot

    Do-it-yourself season is that time of year when you suddenly feel compelled to organize the garage, do something about your outdated kitchen, build a deck, or apply a fresh coat of paint. Whatever the project or task may be, chances are you'll check the offerings at Lowe's and/or Home Depot. Cheapism sent a researcher to outposts of both hardware giants to determine which offers the better value for your limited renovation dollars. These big-box bigwigs are highly successful and fiercely competitive, making it impossible to pick a winner based on the cost of merchandise alone. Although prices at Home Depot and Lowe's sometimes fluctuate, they're often exactly the same, and the differences we noted typically were slight. In the end, the service and overall experience we got for our money earned Lowe's the title of value champ.

  • Appliances

    Best Cheap Space Heaters

    Smart bargain hunters can save some money on energy bills this winter with a little help from a strategically placed electric heater. A cheap space heater is just the right size to keep a small room toasty, letting you comfortably lower the central heating -- and your energy costs along with it. The budget segment is full of portable, effective space heaters that can warm up the room you’re in without putting your budget on ice. Lasko, Vornado, DeLonghi, Honeywell, and Holmes dominate the low end of the market with a bevy of choices for less than $35.

  • Accessories

    Best Cheap iPhone Cases

    There's no denying it: An iPhone is a big expense. Even with a low upfront price under contract, the current models cost many hundreds of dollars to replace. Users naturally want to protect their phones; Apple has found that 78 percent of iPhone owners buy cases. After spending so much on the phone and plan, many consumers don't want to drop another $100 on a case, but the cheapest iPhone cases don't provide sufficient protection. Look to spend between $10 and $20 for a case that will keep an iPhone safe through the daily grind.

  • Groceries

    Best Cheap Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Chocolate chip cookies, allegedly invented by accident more than 75 years ago, are now the most popular variety in America. There's no shortage of brands and variations to choose among. As shoppers know all too well, Nabisco and Keebler have a lock on the snack aisle in most grocery stores. Their cheap chocolate chip cookies compete against other stalwarts such as Famous Amos, Pepperidge Farm, and Entenmann's, which tend to have slightly higher prices. Many retail chains also stock chocolate chip cookies under their own private labels and some bake up batches right in the store. Meanwhile, at artisanal bakeries and gourmet markets, a single cookie might cost more than an entire package of supermarket treats.