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How much money do you waste buying things you really don’t need? Probably a lot, but what about on things that you don’t even want? Even worse are things you can get just as conveniently for less money!
That’s what we’re talking about today. Not the stuff that makes you feel bad, but the stuff that you don’t need, don’t want, or can get for less money.
Stop Buying These 11 Things
Here are 11 things that you can stop buying to save a bunch of money.
#1. Coffee Shop Purchases
This includes anything you’re purchasing there. Meals, beverages, snacks, etc.,
Let’s say you buy one inexpensive basic coffee a day for $2. That’s $730 a year. If you buy 2 coffees, or your coffee is $4, that’s $1,460.
Plus that muffin you buy once or twice a week, maybe the odd lunch or breakfast sandwich, oh and that new mug is so cute! Do you see where I’m going?
Coffee shops are expensive. And for what? The privilege of waiting in line for 5-10 minutes for someone else to prepare a mediocre cup of coffee for you?
You can make a superior cup of coffee at home for the same amount of time it takes you to get a mediocre cup from a coffee shop.
The easiest way to make your own coffee is to buy a coffee maker. You can get a cheap $10 coffee maker that will make coffee just as good as (or better than) your local coffee shop. Or, you can get a $500 coffee maker that will freshly grind beans for you every day.
If you want something even better (but a bit more work), you can get a French Press or a Pour-Over setup. These make a superior cup of coffee but will require a bit more of your time to prepare.
You’ll also need to buy some coffee. If you like the coffee from your favorite coffee shop, chances are good they sell the beans. If you’re not a huge fan, there are thousands of bean choices.
Try to choose something ethically sourced – yes, it will cost you a bit more money but you’ll still be saving money and doing some good in the world.
You can buy whole beans (my preference, I grind them fresh every day) or already ground beans. You can buy beans from coffee shops, the grocery store, or online. I usually keep two or three different beans so I can vary my morning cup of coffee.
I drink approximately a bag of coffee every 2 weeks. At $14 a bag, that’s $364 a year (my coffee often costs less than this). I also had to make a few one-time purchases: 3 jars to hold my beans ($10 each), a cheap grinder ($10), a coffee maker ($40), a French Press ($40), and a variety of home & to-go mugs ($80). Total to get started? $180. Somethings will need to be replaced periodically but I’ll still spend than $400 a year on coffee and supplies. If I was buying coffee at a shop, it would cost me $1,500+ a year. That’s an $1,100+ saving every single year.
#2. Manicures & Pedicures
Depending on where you live, this could be a pretty major expense.
Manicures and pedicures can range in price from $20 to $60 (or more) EACH.
Now how often do you need to get a mani/pedi? If you’re getting them professionally done every 2 weeks is the usual. If you’re doing them yourself, you might end up doing them weekly.
One trick if you’re doing your own nails is to put a thin clear coat on when you’re leaving the house every morning. It should be the last thing you do (besides opening, closing, and locking the door). By the time you walk/drive to where you’re going, the polish will be dry. This means every day you’re adding a layer of protection to your nails. I easily get 2 weeks out of my home-manicure this way, even without gel polish.
But if you’re looking for a stronger polish (a gel or shellac), you can get inexpensive kits to get you started.
You can buy one of these for the price of a manicure or two and new colors will cost under $10. You’ll end up saving hundreds of dollars a year by doing your own nails.
#3. Bottled Water
Bottled water is a terrible purchase.
Number one, it’s terrible for the environment. Number two, it’s terrible for your wallet.
I carry a reusable plastic bottle with me everywhere. I tried glass but I broke a couple of them. I tried stainless steel but I dislike the metal taste/feel all day.
I didn’t cheap out on my reusable water bottle but bought one that suits my needs so I’ll be more likely to use it.
At home, try to drink your tap water. I can’t blame you for not wanting to drink the tap water if your city adds a bunch of chlorine or something to it. But I can blame you for not trying to filter that.
There are a lot of at-home water options that do not depend on disposable plastic.
#4. Greeting Cards
This is another one of those waste of money & environmentally unfriendly things.
Most people toss greeting cards right away. So they get five minutes (or less) of one-time usage for $4.
I get the sentiment behind greeting cards and I really do support sending meaningful mail (because it’s so nice to receive) but it’s such a waste of money.
You can make your own greeting cards for significantly less money than purchasing pre-made ones (and it doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming).
Check out these printable greeting card templates:
If you want to be environmentally awesome (But spend more cash), check out Bloomin Cards which are made on seed paper.
#5. Dryer Sheets & Fabric Softener
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of fabric softener because I’m sensitive to the scents and “unscented” tends to cost nearly twice as much where I live (crazy, amiright?).
But dryer sheets? Totally worth buying the scent-free ones because they really do fluff out your clothes and make things less staticky. But they’re not your only option!
Instead of buying dryer sheets (and fabric softener), you can get reusable dryer balls that work even better!
Dryer balls will tumble around in the dryer with your laundry. They help the airflow more efficiently around your laundry by lifting and separating it. This leaves you with soft and fluffy laundry without the need for expensive dryer sheets and fabric softeners.
#6. Gym Memberships
This may or may not apply to you. There are people in the world that buy and USE their gym memberships, but those people are the minority of any gym.
Gyms count on people signing up and then never showing up. That’s how they turn a profit (and keep from being super busy).
Make sure you’re not one of those people subsidizing the gym membership of someone else.
If you’re not using your gym membership NOW the chances that you’ll start using it next month are slim. Cancel it.
You don’t need a gym membership to exercise. You could try running outside (the horror!) or any number of at-home (free!) workouts. Check these out:
#7. Fast Fashion
I’m talking about cheap “fashion” brands like H&M, Forever 21, etc.,
The reason these brands are so cheap is because the quality is so shit.
Instead of buying 5 shitty shirts that will need to be replaced in a less than a year. Buy 1 quality shirt that will last 5+ years.
This is better for your wallet and better for the environment.
An even better option is to shop at thrift stores. Value Village, Goodwill, small private resale shops, any of them are fine. You can find some really great options at amazing prices.
#8. Skin Products
Switch to the Ordinary. Seriously, it’s an amazing and very inexpensive line of skincare products. My face looks so much better since I switched. I know so many people who love the Ordinary.
Here are a few reviews (and a usage guide):
Alternatively, you can replace a lot of your expensive products with easy homemade ones. Many people swear by coconut oil as a makeup remover (I do not. It clogs my pores and looks awful).
There are entire websites devoted to natural skincare products such as Don’t Mess with Mama, Savvy Homemade, and Earth 911.
#9. Premade Spice Mixes
This is advice I’m giving to myself.
“Bitch! Stop buying taco mix!! You know how to make it AND you make it way better!”
Now over to you. Do you know how expensive those mixes are? I know it doesn’t seem like much at the time, but they add up.
Plus, if you make your own you’ll have a totally well-stocked spice pantry so you can cook anything.
And truly, homemade spice mixes are so much tastier.
Check out these easy recipes for some of the most popular pre-made spice mixes:
#10. Certain Organic Products
Some organic products are totally worth buying. Others are a total scam.
In short, you shuold buy food items from the dirty dozen. Anything else, you should look further into.
In the US and Canada, the word “organic” is only regulated for food. Otherwise, it’s just a word that companies can use as they see fit.
For more information about organic food see The Complete Guide to Eating Organic (or not).
#11. Chemical House Cleaning Products
You can do a lot with simple (cheap) items you probably already have in your kitchen.
Got vinegar and baking soda? You’re on your way to being able to clean everything.
Check out these great guides to natural and homemade cleaners from:
9 Methods to Avoid Shopping
It’s easy to say “don’t buy stuff” but it’s often much less easy to actually not buy stuff. So how can you avoid buying stuff you don’t need? Try these # methods.
#1. Remind Yourself of the COST
Sometimes it’s easy to dismiss smaller amounts of money.
“Oh, it’s just $10.”
You can forget that al those “just” amounts add up. Stop saying that. Stop thinking that a small amount is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Instead, put it into numbers that are meaningful.
If you spend $50 a week on groceries, $10 is 20% of your weekly grocery bill! That means that 5 ten-dollar purchases (that aren’t a planned par to your budget) is the same as buying a week of groceries. You might find yourself spending “just” $10 a lot less when you think of it in practical terms like this.
You can also compare it to how many hours you’d have to work for it.
If you make $8 an hour, you have to work 1 hour and 15 minutes to earn that $10 you’re thinking of spending.
If you make $20 an hour, you have to work 30 minutes to earn $10.
If you make $4 an hour, you need to work 2.5 hours.
Not every $10 you’re thinking of spending is going to be worth the labor you’ll have to do to earn it back.
#2. Know What You’ll Do With Purchases
Before you buy anything, think about what you’ll do with it.
Not the first thing that comes to mind, try to list out several things you’ll do with it now and in the future.
If it’s something you “plan to start doing,” it doesn’t count. For example, my mom is always sayings she’s going to start hosting large dinner parties. She’s always buying serving platters and fancy napkins and whatever. She never has more than 2 people over for dinner at a time but she’s collected enough dinnerware to host a party of 50.
If you plan to start doing something, do it a few times with what you have and then you can consider purchasing new items for it.
When it comes to making purchases NOW, only consider things you currently do.
What kind of use will you get out of the purchase? Kow what you’ll do with it before you buy it.
#3. Stay Away from Temptation
What does that mean? Don’t go places where you buy unnecessary stuff. Stay away from the mall, Walmart, coffee shops, window-shopping downtown, etc.,
If you’re going for a walk, walk through a park or residential area. If you have to go to Target, bring a list and just enough cash to pay for what’s on the list.
This might take some conscious thought and effort on your part, but eventually, it will be normal. It will also save you money right from the start. Saving money is just another way of saying you’re not spending money.
#4. Wait 24-72 Hours to Purchase
This is my favorite thing to do. I never buy anything the first time I think about it.
If it’s on sale today, it’ll be on sale again in the future. If I hadn’t already planned on buying one and set myself a target price, I don’t need to buy it today.
95% of the time (or more), I don’t return for the product.
An online bonus: if you leave stuff in your cart for 24 hours (or more) some retailers will email you a coupon. Sometimes waiting also leads to savings.
#5. Don’t Carry Plastic
By plastic I mean don’t carry any payment cards.
You can pay for things in cash. If you struggle with not buying things, don’t carry any money (or money alternatives like debit and credit cards) with you except enough cash to cover your planned purchases.
Disable your Google/Apple/Samsung/Whatever Pay. Request new cards with numbers you don’t know. Do whatever it takes to be unable to spontaneously purchase things.
Restrict your access to money and you’ll be less able to make any unplanned purchases.
#6. Know What You Want (in the Future)
It’s a lot easier to say NO to short-term inexpensive purchases if you know what you want your money for later.
Saving for a down payment on a house? Want to go back to school? Want to help your kids pay for college? Always dreamed of taking a trip to Australia or somewhere? Interested in scuba diving (or another expensive hobby)?
Any of those – or whatever dreams you have – would be a better use of $5 than the coffee you may have bought this morning.
#7. Get (and Use) a Budgeting App
If you’re not tracking your spending, you’re probably very wrong about how much you’re spending on things.
Get AND USE a decent budgeting app (or notebook).
I use Toshl Finance and like it. There’s a free version that’s going to be more than enough for 99% of people. Mint and YNAB are also popular options.
Start tracking your spending today. Then come back and let me know what thing(s) you’re spending more on than you realized.
#8. Don’t Reward Yourself with Purchases
This is one of the biggest (and easiest) mistakes people make. They don’t consider how all those little “rewards” add up.
They also don’t realize how they’re trivializing regular activities.
You can’t reward yourself for doing the bare minimum like it deserves a prize or suddenly you’ll be rewarding yourself for every action you take.
Reward yourself with activities (that are inexpensive or free). Take a bubble bath, have a picnic in the park, go for a walk, do something you’ll like.
#9. Know What You Own
Perhaps you read that and felt a little heart flutter. It would take you AGES to inventory everything you own.
That’s kind of the point though.
If you don’t know what you already own, how can you possibly know if you need something new?
Stop buying things until you have a complete inventory of your possessions.
Bonus: While taking inventory of what you own, sell and donate anything you’re not using.
Cut These Things & Save Cash
Saving money doesn’t have to be hard! Start by making some easy cuts and changes (like the 11 suggested in this article).
Ready for more? Check out the Guide to Budget Methods & Templates next!
Have you cut any of these things? Did I miss a big money-saving item? Let me know in the comments below!