My main goal for 2020 is to work towards paying off my student loan debt and the way to do that on a limited budget is by finding out where to cut back. This post is going to round up 20 Things to Stop Buying to Save Money and teach you simple ways to do so! Now I’m pretty sure everyone wishes there was a guide on “How to stop buying things.”
Even though that guide doesn’t exist, this post will come as close as you can get! The reason I wrote this post is 1) because my Instagram followers said they wanted more advice when it comes to money and 2) I am saving money myself to pay off my student loans. If you find yourself saying “I need money,” then you should keep reading!
Have You Been Wasting Money? Here are 20 Things to Stop Buying to Save Money
I am a coffee addict and have been since I was in college! It all started when I had a meal plan on campus and part of it was money we could spend at restaurants on campus. I’d get coffee on the way to class, in the afternoons while studying, and on the weekends when I was studying!
Now as an adult I still have a coffee problem. While an intern in New York during the summer of 2018 I became a regular at the Dunkin’ on the way to my job in less than three months!!! If you spend $5 on a coffee every day, that’s roughly $150/month. Even if you cut it down to a couple times a week, you can still manage to save around $50/month! Thats a whole week of groceries OR a a tank and a half of gas.
Instead of buying coffee every day, invest in a coffee maker! I really love my Keurig (linked here) and McCafe kcups are the best tasting coffee pods I’ve found. If you want to keep the latte taste, I suggest grabbing a carton of Oat Milk (it’s life changing), and finding an espresso maker that works for you! If you’re buying coffee every day you’ll end up saving money even if it’s an expensive model.
2. New Clothes
This is a very hard tip for me to follow. As a fashion blogger, it’s EVEN HARDER to not spend money on clothing! If you’re trying to stop buying stuff, clothes is the first place to start for a girl who loves a new outfit every week. A way to curb this is by avoiding places you regularly spend! I shop at Target a lot, so generally I try to avoid going more than once a week.
If you DO have to go to Target (or your store of choice), try to order ahead or on your app and pick up what you need after work! The pickup locations are always in the front of the stores so this will allow you to no be distracted by whatever else is trying to catch your eye.
If you aren’t able to get rid of the itch to spend money on clothing, set yourself a rule. If you’re going to buy new clothing, then you can only spend money you make on selling your old clothes! Not sure where to sell your clothes? I have a post about 5 Great Apps to Use to Sell Your Old Clothing that you can read (here). They take a plethora of brands from designer to boutique and you can set the price you want!
3. Physical Copies of Books
As a bibliophile, I am a SUCKER for a physical copy of a book. Every time I find another book about successful women (or black women who have changed the world) I’m virtually rendered defenseless. I love books so much and it’s hard not to pick up a new one every time I’m at the store!
To save money, try getting a library card at your local branch. Yes, that’s so 2000 of me to suggest, but they’re seriously amazing places! They’re also a more sustainable too. Some libraries even offer free audiobooks through the app Libby! I’ve also heard of some branches offering home delivery of books too which is so exciting to me. Be sure to look into your own branch to see what they offer!
4. New Shoes
This is one that’s hard for me to take my own advice with. I LOVE SHOES! There was a shoe pop-up here in Atlanta last weekend and I’m ashamed at how much I spent. I can’t resist a new pair! If you’re like me and you just NEED a certain pair, I have a few suggestions.
Go to a second hand store (Plato’s Closet, Uptown Cheapskate, Goodwill, etc.) and look for name brand shoes with new tags! I have found Jeffrey Campbell shoes at places like this for a literal fraction of the cost. Another way to get new shoes but spend no money is to do a swap with friends! I’ve seen bloggers get together and swap closets and it’s a great way to keep clothes out of landfills and find new styles for your own closet.
5. Home Goods/Nicknacks
Home goods (the concept and the store) are also a massive weakness for me. I love getting new items for my home to spruce it up and give it a new look. It’s a great way to find centerpieces, decor, and organization items too! If you’re trying to stay on a budget though, it’s an entire store of things you want and don’t need to buy.
My biggest tip here is to just AVIOD YOUR TRIGGER STORES. Sometimes on the weekends I’m like, “maybeeee I’ll just stop in,” but don’t give yourself a chance to spend the money if you don’t want to! A way to still get something new but at a cheaper price is to stop by your local Goodwill or Salvation Army. I’ve been able to discover some amazing finds at them and most of the time they’re under $5.
I joined a plant Facebook group the first week of this year and it’s proved to already be a problem! I have only spent less than $20 on plants this year though so I personally think I’m winning. Plants are so lovely to have in your home, but they can easily rack up a high price tag (especially for more rare breeds).
A way to get new plants but not spend money is to reach out to friends/family! Some people might have plants they’re willing to give to you outright, or they might be able to give you some cuttings. Facebook also has a multitude of plant related groups that you can join and in a lot of them you can ask for cuttings. I also found a post that shares places you can get plants for free that you can read (here).
7. Disposable Utensils/Plates
Not only is this bad for your bank account, but it’s bad for the environment! I’m very into sustainability (and even have a post about 10 Easy Ways to Be More Sustainable as a Broke Millennial) and not spending money on disposable dishwear is the place to start. I cut these out when I was in college because I realized it’s better to just have plastic/ceramic plates!
Another way to save money in this same ballpark is to use the dishwasher! I feel like the thing everyone believes is that dishwashers use a lot of water. WELLLLL I’m here to tell you that using your dishwasher saves more water (and money) than hand washing dishes in the sink! As long as you use full loads, you’ll be on the way to savings (read more here).
If you’re trying to stop buying things, I highly suggest cutting out cable! In this day and age of streaming services, decide what shows/movies matter the most to you and cut out th e rest! Now, I personally cannot live without Amazon Prime. It’s $9.99/month BUT you also get all Amazon Prime movies/shows for free! They add new things all the time and sometimes classics too. Plus you get free 2-day shipping with everything too!
When it comes to the streaming services I use, I have Hulu and Amazon Prime! I’m still mooching off of my family’s Netflix account, but if you can use a friend or family member’s account, do that as long as you can! There is no shame in getting help when and where you can. If you’re into Disney and/or sports, get the Disney+/Hulu/ESPN bundle that Disney now offers which is only $12.99/month. Just switching off from cable can save you up to upwards of $140/month!
9. Gym Memberships
I have always considered joining a gym, but have never been able to justify it. Monthly gym memberships range anywhere from $10-$100/month! Even just spending $10/month on a membership is $120/year that you could save. If you’re living in an apartment, it’s also likely that your complex has a small on-site gym!
My complex has a small gym; however, I choose to just go on a run around the area I live in (there’s a small park near my apartment with cameras so I feel safe). I also have been trying to do more ab and arm workouts as well, but I have been using YouTube! YouTube is amazing because you can find answers to literally everything you need and so many YouTubers have exercise workouts you can watch and utilize.
10. Unused Memberships
I have an issue with signing up for free trials and then getting charged for them when I forget to cancel! Luckily I haven’t done this a lot, but there have been quite a few times this has happened. I also feel like I’m not the only one this has happened to either! This is a really easy way to save money that you maybe didn’t even realize you were spending.
If you’re not sure how to track this, there are a couple ways to realize this is happening! The way that I usually check is by going through my bank statement for the last month. You’re able to see everything you have purchased and find anything you don’t remember that you bought. Another way is by using the app “Mint!” I signed up for it and it tracks your recurring purchases. I think the “TrueBill” app does the same.
11. Going Out to Eat
When I was thinking to myself “how do i stop overspending,” the first thing that came to mind was going out to eat! I feel like most people think of this as when they go out to eat with friends or family and not smaller food purchases that can come up. At least that’s what I first did!
When I started tracking my spending, I realized that small expenses do add up (yes mom I know you told me this every week growing up). I forgot to get breakfast the first week of January and ended up purchasing it every day that week. A few $3 breakfast purchases over 5 days and then a couple lunch ones thrown in became a much larger expense!
12. Full-Price Movie Tickets
Now an occasional movie isn’t going to break the bank, but buying full-price tickets weekly is not the way to go! My mom has a really cool system with Regal where she can see three movies a week for the price of one. Most theaters also have similar programs where you can get deals for repeated viewing!
AMC has a program like this called AMCStubs and it offers the same deal plus free online reservations! They also have a weekly deal (to everyone) where every Tuesday you can get movie tickets for $5 each. It’s perfect for a cheap date night because you can grab candy from the dollar store and only spend $10 on tickets!
13. Bottled Water
Bottled Water is SUCH a waste of money! Even though it’s only about $5/package, if you have to buy one package a week that’s $260/year which is a lot of money! A better, and more sustainable, option is to buy a Brita pitcher (I have the one linked here and I LOVE it). It’s only $15.99 and comes with a starter filter!
The filters last three full months and you can get a pack of three re-fills for only about $9 from Walmart. Right there you’ve saved over $200 AND it’s better water for your body. It’s also better for the environment because you’re likely keeping about 1,200 BOTTLES FROM BEING SENT TO LANDFILLS just in one year.
14. Name Brand Items
This was something that I realized I didn’t need to worry about once I started college. I realized name brand foods and products are honestly a joke! Half of the time name brand and value products are made in the same factories. Often they’re even the exact same product, just with different packaging.
I have even found that I like some “knockoff” food products better! Walmart’s Great Value brand has so many food options that are unique to other brands. About half of the products I purchase are from this line of foods! This same thing goes for medicine as well. Equate versions of medicines are EXACTLY THE SAME as the name brand products! Don’t be afraid to grab those instead and save a few extra $$$.
15. Scratch Offs
I don’t recommend gambling at all, but scratch offs can become a crazy problem if you let them. Even spending $1 once a week for a whole year is $50 total! They’re fun to do occasionally, and $1 every so often obviously won’t break the bank, but you’re not guaranteed a win so it often is a waste all around.
A great idea if you use scratch offs a lot is to just make sure you only purchase one a month. Also, if you really feel the need to use them a lot, ask for them for your birthday/other holidays! It’ll give you the item that you like, but you’re not actually the one spending the money on them.
16. Getting Your Nails Done
I have never been a gal who gets her nails done. My mom has always been a really frugal woman and I honestly love her more for it! I have never officially had my nails done and I don’t know if I ever will (the concept kind of grosses me out). That being said, I now a lot of women (and men) do get them done!
The polish that I use is actually amazing and has lasted me over 6 months. It’s Essie’s Gel Couture Nail Polish and comes in so many shades! I use this on my toes (I don’t really love paint on my finger nails) and it lasts me over a month usually (and the darker shades last almost two). This polish is pricey at around $12, but you’ll easily save $35 in one month just by doing your own nails! It gives the professional look at a fraction of the cost.
17. Subscription Boxes
Now I am a huge fan of subscription boxes! I love having a box randomly show up at my door and being surprised and excited as to what’s inside. That being said, subscription boxes are very expensive and frivolous when you’re trying to save money. FabFitFun by itself is $49.99 and some of the cheaper ones are around $10/month!
Instead of a really expensive one, I would suggest maybe trying out Ipsy! It’s only $10/month and even though you’ll be spending a little money, you’ll be getting makeup every month. It’ll be money you’re spending every month, but you’ll also be saving money on makeup!
18. Car Washes
As someone who just got a new car, it’s super tempting to want to take my car to the car wash every week. I totally get wanting to have a super clean and shiny car! That being said, those car washes can add up. If you’re going to get your car washed and detailed, try and go to one that’s $10 or less.
If you have a house, you really won’t even need to go to a car wash! When I lived at home we just used an extension cord and used our vacuum to get rid of the dirt and dust inside the car. You can also use a bucket of dish soap, some old wash cloths, and towels to clean the outside of your car!
19. Fast Food Delivery
I recently discovered the magic of UberEats, Postmates, and GrubHub. Once you do it once, it’s really hard to ignore that convenience again. It’s hard to figure out how to stop yourself spending money on food when you’ve come home from a long day of work and don’t feel like cooking!
That being said, if you break down all the costs of what you’re ordering, it’s likely you’ll be paying AT LEAST $5 more. My last few orders have ended up being over $15 which, in hindsight, is totally insane even if you split that food into two meals. Thinking about the breakdown of costs, you really realize you’re spending way too much on delivery.
When I was in New York City, the price of groceries at both bodegas and grocery stores shocked me! I went from a tiny college town in south Georgia to one of THE most populated cities in the United States. When I saw that one container of chicken was $17.99, that was when I wondered can you save money buying groceries online? Groceries are something you need, so I wondered how to stop overspending on them!
I found out that using Amazon Fresh allowed me to buy the groceries that I wanted at small town prices! The best part? You can set up when you want groceries delivered. I usually did it on Sunday afternoons when I knew I would be at home working on my blog! This was my plan for the whole summer I interned in New York and highly suggest this option.
If you’ve been wondering how to stop spending money on unnecessary things, I hope this post was helpful for you! A great idea is that during the month, keep track of all the money you would have spent, but didn’t! Then at the end of the month, put all of that money into your savings account or towards your debt.
I’ve also been working on building my credit! I have an entire post on How to Build Credit in College and After Graduation that I’ve linked (here). If you’re looking for any tips, or if you were interested in finding a company to help you handle your credit, then this post is for you!
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