Here’s a list of things to stop buying to save money and gain control of your financial situation. Throughout my adult life, I’ve gotten stuck in a few financial ruts. I’ve done a lot of thinking over the last few years on how to decrease my monthly spending and finally get ahead.
At the end of the day, there was a lot I could cut from my spending. There are a couple things included at the end of the list that I stopped buying as much of but didn’t entirely cut out of my life. I hope you find this list valuable!
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post, so I receive a small commission from purchases made through them at no extra cost to you. This helps me keep my blog running, so thank you! I wouldn’t recommend anything on this blog unless I’d use it myself.
1.) Bottled water
As a kid, my family used A TON of plastic bottles. When I moved out, I started buying water bottles from the store when I went grocery shopping. I guess I was just so used to my family doing things that way!
It didn’t take me long to cut plastic water bottles out of my life. Aside from being a lot more expensive than using a Brita (or similar) pitcher, they’re so needlessly wasteful.
This article assumes a family of four is getting all of their water from bottled water and spends about $6 on a case of water, saving them over $3,000 a year.
I think the average price for a case of 24 water bottles in my area is closer to $3, so a family of four who buys water bottles exclusively could expect to save around $1350 by removing plastic water bottles from their routine. (The amount is adjusted for the cost of a water pitcher and several filters for it.)
Here’s some more information about water bottles and why you may want to cut them out of your life, if you’re interested.
2.) Subscriptions that don’t help me earn money or live better
Netflix, Hulu, and even Spotify, for me. The first two are no-brainers. You might argue that you’re more productive with music on, which very well may be the case! I can’t listen to anything at all when I’m writing, sadly. But if a music subscription adds value to your life, I say keep it.
For the work I do that allows me to listen to something (design work or photographing clothes to sell online), I tend to gravitate toward podcasts.
I get so much value out of listening to any one of these seven amazing podcasts. They’re perfect for work at home moms with an entrepreneurial bug.
Another subscription I had to ax was a gaming subscription. I used to love playing video games, and at heart I still do. But right now I’m trying to raise my daughter, build my design business, and grow my blog, so I’m setting it aside for the time being.
Subscriptions I kept?
- Grammarly (For quickly correcting grammar errors in my writing)
- Tailwind (For scheduling Pins for my blog)
- Adobe CC (Creating graphics for my blog and business)
Even canceling one subscription can save you hundreds a year. You can always resubscribe in the future.
3.) Prepackaged foods (including frozen foods)
Frozen food. The ultimate convenience? Not for your bank account.
If you’re like me and convenient lunches and dinners are part of what helps keep you sane, break out your crockpot or instant pot. Then, take some time to plan your meals weekly or monthly. You’ll rarely find yourself spending more than 20 minutes on dinner.
Premaking large meals that you can stick in your freezer and heat up later (like lasagna) is another option. This amazing and super generous freebie from New Leaf Wellness is a set of 17 freezer meal plans, including grocery lists.
4.) Takeout and fast food
No one wants to hear “stop ordering pizza” on a list of ways to save money! And I totally get it… takeout food and pizza are delicious, comfortable, and satisfying.
For years, I was so guilty of spending money on food when I should have been saving money. At the end of the month, I’d never have an extra $100 to throw into my savings! But I would have spent that much or more on fast food throughout the month.
Not spending money on fast food and takeout has been one of the best financial decisions I’ve made in a long, long time. That $100 a month goes straight into my Roth IRA. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that I’m eating less junk food regularly!
5.) Plastic baggies
Ziploc, I’m looking at you. Plastic baggies are super convenient, especially for those of us who love to cook! (Or those of us to have to.)
But there are so many alternatives available today and there’s probably something on the market that will work for your needs and save you money. Buy a set of reusable silicon bags or some insulated, reusable sandwich or snack bags and you’ll start saving money. Not to mention, you’ll be keeping more plastic out of landfills and oceans.
As someone who worked in a clothing store throughout my teenage years and early 20’s, I love clothes. Maybe a little too much. Learning how to ditch my shopping habit wasn’t something that came easily to me. There are a few reasons I was able to stop buying clothes for myself:
- I felt overwhelmed by the amount of clothing I had and I needed to downsize my closet to get rid of that mental and physical clutter
- My husband joined the military and we had a baby all within a few months. Goodbye disposable income!
- I was getting started as a clothing reseller using eBay and Poshmark and really loving it. The feeling I got from making a successful thrift flip was amazing. So, I started listing my own clothes on both platforms and ended up selling through most of it.
- I just didn’t need/wear most of my clothes!
I go out and shop for clothes to resell a few times a month and sometimes I end up keeping a piece or two. Then, I’ll sell it! I get to rotate out my wardrobe, reuse clothes rather than buy new ones, and my annual clothes shopping actually makes me money.
I sell my daughter’s clothes online to pay for whatever the next size it is that she needs. Aside from keepsake items, there’s no reason for me to have all of her clothes piling up in her closet.
7.) Premade coffee
I used to go to Starbucks all the time. After I stopped doing that, I was buying iced coffees at the store when I went grocery shopping. I’m not cutting out coffee entirely because I love the taste of it and I work best at night, translating to long days for me.
Between brewing my own coffee and switching to a reusable coffee filter, I’m saving hundreds a year.
If you love fancier drinks, like lattes, you can buy a milk frother for under $20 and make your own beautiful + delicious lattes at home. An immersion blender will also froth your milk, so if you have one of those there’s no need to get a milk frother. Pumpkin spice latte? No problem.
8.) Cleaning products and toiletries that aren’t on sale
There are tons of coupons and rebate offers out there. If you’re tightening your budget and you haven’t started couponing yet, it’s easier than ever to get started. Today, there are so many websites, Twitter pages, and Instagram accounts dedicated to helping you score the best deals.
Sign up for Ibotta if you haven’t done that. I’m not including my Ibotta referral code in this article, because I don’t want it to appear as though I’m plugging Ibotta for the $5 bonus. Ibotta can help you save money on your groceries and shopping.
Here are some helpful resources for anyone new to couponing, stacking deals, and getting amazing prices on toiletries and household goods.
I tell pretty much everyone who is interested in saving money to search for “#couponcommunity” on Instagram and follow pages that post deal breakdowns regularly. These accounts create detailed posts about some of the best deals out there and tell you exactly which coupons to use and where to get them.
9.) Paper towels
I save over $100 a year by not buying paper towels. That’s probably on the low end of the average amount an American family spends on paper towels. We’re just a family of three and would probably use one pack (your avg. pack of 8 rolls) of paper towels a month.
To clean, I use a set of microfiber cloths and a couple sets of cheap terry dishcloths I got from Walmart for $1 each. The microfiber cloths are also great for dusting and cleaning off electronics.
10.) Swiffer products or similar
I used to use a Swiffer and I was spending $12 a month on the presoaked pads you buy to stick on the end of the mop. At the very least. For a small apartment. So, over $120 a year.
Now, I use a spray mop with a detachable cleaning pad, which you can get at Walmart, Target, or Amazon. It holds enough cleaning solution to last a couple weeks or more, depending on how often you mop. I usually do it three times a week.
My only gripe about this mop is that their branded reusable microfiber mop heads are something like $7 each, which is pretty annoying. You can get a set of 12 on Amazon for $3-$4 each, which is so much better.
11.) Movie tickets
There’s probably a hundred free events and shows going on in your nearest metropolitan area this month. Why not bring your family to a free theater performance next time you go out? If you can replace a few of your monthly outings with free shows, festivals, and events, you’ll save hundreds of dollars a year.
Flip through your community newspaper or search around online for free events in your area.
12.) Decor and fancy home products
My husband and I used a Star Wars comforter of mine for a few years before making an expensive bedding purchase. While you’re building your business or on a tight budget, don’t feel the need to purchase home items to impress anyone. Not your in-laws, your parents, or your friends. Even if what you bought was beautiful, you’ll get instant buyer’s remorse and you’ll wish you had used that money more efficiently.
Save that money or reinvest it into your business. If you want to, you can buy all the pretty home decor later on, when you’re in a better financial situation.
13.) Stuff that’s on sale
If I don’t need it, I don’t buy it. I’m not saving money by buying something on sale if I wasn’t already going to buy it. Next time you grab something you “didn’t know you needed,” put it back on the shelf. Transfer the exact amount you were going to spend on that item to your savings account. Your future self will thank you.
Stuff I now buy less of
I didn’t stop buying these things completely, but I cut down on a significant amount.
1.) Meat and dairy
I understand that this list item may not jive well with everyone reading this list. Meat and dairy are pretty expensive, though. We also (as a country) consume a lot more of these products than we need to be consuming. That’s a generalization – and this article is about saving money.
I’d definitely recommend you do some research about plant-based eating (and Keto and Paleo and the “Carnivore diet” and whatever else you’re interested in) and come to your own conclusion about the benefits of reducing your meat and dairy intake.
Health benefits aside, reducing meat and dairy will cut your grocery bill significantly.
2.) Bath and beauty products
It’s so easy for me to spend money on new makeup and skincare products. I think part of this is because I haven’t quite found my favorite foundation or my favorite body wash. I’m always on the lookout for something new that might work better than what I have.
After buying and using a literal ton of beauty products, I now just work with what I have.
I hope you liked this list of things to stop buying to save money! Cutting your spending doesn’t have to be a permanent change. There’s no shame in taking steps to better your financial situation – which is exactly what you’re doing by cutting some of these things out of your life for now.
What have you stopped buying to save money? I’m curious! Let me know in the comments if you’ve thought of something that I haven’t. And thanks for reading!