We all have areas were we can cut back on spending in order to save money. Personally, I had (and still have) a lot of those areas. I have to reset my money mindset all the time. Hello, Heather, save that money! So I’ve been trying so hard to get better at money management. That’s where this list of things to stop buying to save money came from.
I started thinking about ways I can cut back and I’ve already started or plan on implementing each of the ways I’m about to share with you all. Mine and my husband’s finances have been so out of wack for so long. We have just been letting our money run amok. But your money should be working for you, only going where it’s assigned. So it’s time we take control and you can too! As I progress in my new budgeting and savings plans I will keep sharing things I’m learning with you. For now, check out these super easy places to start saving money.
THINGS TO STOP BUYING TO SAVE MONEY
1. Name Brand Anything
I’m starting with this one because I just left TJ Maxx where I purchased a discounted Kate Spade phone case and I’m feeling cheated. Why would I feel cheated? TJ Maxx is the place to go for savings, right? I absolutely got a deal. But I thought about it and started looking into it. Guess how much the same kind of case would have cost me coming straight from the Kate Spade website? 50 freaking dollars. YOU GUYS. What!? It’s a flimsy, rubber-ish, super simple case. I got it at TJ Maxx for $15. Do you know how much the exact same kind of case with no name brand sells for at Walmart? Ten dollars. Five bucks when it’s on clearance. The only difference is the name.
This isn’t the time or blog post for me to go into branding and how we, the consumers, drive these crazy trends and what we buy into and all that craziness. But I’m here to tell you, for the love of sensible financial decisions, put down the name brands.
Okay, okay, let me backtrack a little here. Right now I’m wearing a super cute pair of Vans sneakers and I did buy the Kate Spade case. I bought them because I liked them and I got them both at a super discounted price (more on that later). There are also some things that will last longer if you buy more expensive, higher quality brands. BUT there are so many things that we buy at much higher prices than necessary.
Over the counter medicine for example. I purchased the generic, store-brand equivalent of a popular, big brand allergy medicine the other day. I chose the store brand because it had the exact same active ingredient at the exact same percentage for almost $15 less, for the same number of pills. All you are paying for when you buy the name brand, in this case, is the name. Also, the inactive ingredients may be different and may also be lower quality. But in my opinion, any medicine is typically as harmful in some ways as it is helpful in others, so the $15 extra is not worth it to me. No thanks. Especially when the difference is much bigger.
- Tip: Always be diligent in comparing the name brand and the generic. The generic brand isn’t always the equal choice but it often is. Give it a chance and you’ll save so much money! If you’re like me, you’ll end up having some brand name favorites you won’t compromise on and buy generic in everything else.
2. New Books and Clothes
These two might seem weird to group together, but these are two things that I’ve learned can be purchased used to save a ton of cash. Let’s start with clothes because I get the most kickback when I mention buying used clothes and shoes.
Buying Used Clothes and Shoes
First of all, I know you’re thinking it, but buying used clothes and shoes is not gross. I mean, I guess it could be depending on where you’re buying them. But I have not found there to be a shortage of really cool thrift stores who not only stock themselves with trendy and classic apparel but also only accept gently used and clean clothing and shoes. Also, you can frequently sell your clothes and shoes at these thrift stores and get all new (to you) clothing to keep your wardrobe updated constantly.
For about a year now, I haven’t bought a single piece of clothing or pair of shoes without first checking local thrift stores for what I want/need. Remember those super cute Vans I mentioned earlier? $15 thrift store find. And guess what, they still had the tags on them. Brand new. They would have been, at the very least, $65 in a regular retail store. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of money I’ve saved on jeans! You’ve got to give thrift stores a shot.
Buying Used Books
I’ve been buying used books almost exclusively for as long as I can remember. My mom loved books and she was also the most frugal person I have ever known in my entire life. She taught me how crazy it is (money-wise) to buy books in a typical retail store. She was a thrift store junkie when it came to books. I am more of an online used book buyer. Either way, you should rarely (if not never) pay full price for a book.
The reason I prefer online shopping to thrift stores when it comes to books is that newer publications tend to take a lot more time to find their way into thrift stores than they do online shopping platforms like Amazon. So if you’re looking for a recently released book or a specific book in general, it’s typically a better bet to hit the internet. If you just like to browse and see what you find, like my mom loved, the thrift stores are cool for that.
The best example is a book I recently purchased, Friend of Sinners, by Rich Wilkerson, Jr. I was doing this strange thing I like to do, strolling through Barnes and Noble to see if there are any new books I want to search for and buy online. I saw this book and the price tag said $17.99. So I hoped on my amazon shopping app and entered the title. The price for the exact same book (a new copy at that) was $11.48 with free two day shipping because I am an Amazon Prime member. That’s a great savings, but I didn’t stop there. I clicked the “Used” option and purchased the book in “like new” condition for $7.46 with free shipping. That’s $10.53 cheaper and the book arrived looking brand new.
- Tip: Sometimes you’ll have to buy a full price option, but more often than not this can be prevented. My rule is thrift/online first, discount store (TJ Maxx, Marshalls, etc) second, full price is always a last resort.
3. Cleaning Supplies
You’ve probably heard a lot about what a good cleaning product replacement white vinegar is. I think this is true and I use it myself sometimes. It’s super cheap, goes a long way, and it’s highly acidic so it loosens up gunk and makes cleaning easier. It’s also great to have around if you have pets. It neutralizes odors so you can use it for anything from cleaning up when your dog has an accident (reduces the likelihood of them returning to that spot to use the bathroom again) to tossing some in the washer with anything that has an unpleasant smell that’s hard to get rid of. I’ve heard it said that white vinegar doesn’t have any or enough disinfectant properties. I honestly don’t know for sure, so I don’t use it as my one and only cleaner.
Another way you can save some money is not buying different types of cleaners for specific areas of your house. Companies market to you in a way that’s going to make them the most money. You’ll see cleaners labeled kitchen, bathroom, toilet, shower, etc. Some things are made specifically for your toilet like gels that stick and you can leave to soak. But they just aren’t necessary. You can use one general disinfectant for your kitchen and bathroom — sink, toilet, shower, and all.
- Tip: Mix one part water, one part white vinegar for cleaning. You can buy a spray bottle in the cleaning section at most grocery stores. I also use white vinegar for cleaning floors when I want to do a good deep cleaning. I never measure, I just dump some in the water since it’s safe and you can’t really overuse it. Make sure it’s safe for whatever floor surfaces you have.
4. Tampons and Pads
Ladies, I get it. These have been your go-to since day one and switching to anything else is scary. That’s why I haven’t actually done it yet. But I’ve heard that we are seriously missing out on saving money and having a better experience all around during that time of the month. Not to mention how bad tampons are for our bodies. According to those brave women who have paved the way to trying a better, safer alternative, we need to get on the menstrual cup bandwagon.
I won’t lie, this sounds unappealing to me in a lot of ways. But also extremely appealing in some ways. All of my fears are pretty silly and pale in comparison to the benefits. I plan on making the switch. Since I haven’t just yet, I’m referring you to someone who knows more about it than I do. If you’re interested, read this blog post about why every woman should use a menstrual cup.
- Tip: My plan is to get a menstrual cup and try it out on a day when I can stay home. My biggest fear is that I won’t use it right and the results will be embarrassing leakage.
5. Shaving Cream/Gel
Personally, I have never seen the need for these. Again, my mom was super frugal so if you think I got shaving gel when I was finally old enough to shave, you would be wrong. That’s a big negative. I mean, I think she did get it for me and my sisters a couple of times because we asked for it and she wanted to give us everything we wanted. But we didn’t have a lot of money and she had to put her foot down when it came to wants vs needs.
So when I started making my own money I didn’t consider shaving gel a necessity. I’ve always just lathered up soap to shave. These days I even skip the soap and just keep my skin under running water as I shave (you all think I’m crazy, I’m sure). You might be a big fan of shaving creams/gels and that’s totally cool. If you’re willing to cut it out though, it’s a money saver for sure.
- Tip: Try the conditioner or body wash you already have in your shower if you don’t like the idea of the lather from a bar of soap.
6. Cable/Satellite Television
My husband, Chad, and I ditched cable about four years ago. We were constantly having two conversations. One was, “How is it possible to have so many channels and still not be able to find something we want to watch?” The other was, “Why the heck are we paying all this money for something we don’t even like and find frustrating?”
Finally I stopped watching cable all together and subscribed to Netflix. For a couple of years we had cable and Netflix. Then we added Amazon Prime Video to the mix we decided cable had to go. Sure, we miss access to a couple of things. But overall it has been one of the best financial decisions we’ve made. It has saved us around $85 a month and that’s a pretty basic cable package. That’s over $1000 a year that we were wasting. Now we spend about $264 a year.
To us, that kind of entertainment should not consume so much of our budget. We would rather spend that money on entertainment outside of our home like concerts, movies, shows, etc. If TV isn’t super important to you, this money saving tip can make a big difference in your budget.
- Tip: There are TV services now that allow you to have certain packages, like sports or news, for a much lower price than cable/satellite and without a contract. Sling TV is a good option for specific packages. We use it during football season and just cancel it in the off season. As long as you have a good internet connection it’s great.
7. Bottled Water
Unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard what plastic is doing to our planet and animal life. I promise this is money related, keep reading. I won’t get into all that that here and now, but one day a few months ago I decided to watch a TED Talk, A drop in a plastic ocean: how one person can make a difference by Emily De Sousa. It just so happened that I was getting ready to go to the grocery store while I was watching it. When I got there, the first thing on my list was bottled water. I was stumped.
Bottled water was always a non-negotiable for me. I try to drink a lot of water and I like it portable and clean tasting. Tap water is not an option because I think it tastes bad and I don’t have a fancy refrigerator with filtered water. So, I stood in Walmart that day and spent about 10 minutes in a random isle out of the way, Googling my options. I couldn’t possibly buy a case of bottled water after the video I had just watched.
Finally I decided to head over and check out the water filter pitchers. Remember, brand names aren’t always better or necessary. So long story short, I left there with a brand new, store brand water filter pitcher. Chad and I have found a few things to be true since then. First, our store brand water filter pitcher gives us the best water we’ve ever tasted. Second, life is better since we don’t have to carry a huge case of water from the store to the car, from the car down the hill to our house once a week (not a huge deal, but nice). Third, we have so much less plastic waste (yay for contributing to saving the planet). Fourth, when you factor in the $5 per month replacement filter, we save about $30 a month.
- Tip: Invest in a water filter pitcher and a few reusable water bottles. It’s not just a money saving tip, it’s also super convenient. Also, buy replacement filters in bulk to save even more money.
This is coming from someone who was used to get her nails done every two weeks like clockwork. I promise you that I understand how nice it feels to have fresh, beautiful nails all the time. I was actually forced into quitting this habit. It wasn’t to save money, it was to pay bills. Life happened and I had to cut back, like it or not. And I did not like it. But after some practice, I got good at doing my own nails and even though it’s not the same, I adjusted to the change. I have been doing my own nails for years now.
I rarely, if ever, got pedicures. So I was spending around $750 a year just on my fingernails. That’s crazy, even if you have the extra money. Do you know what we can do with $750? Yikes. These days I treat myself to a pedicure now and then, but if my nails are done it’s because I did them myself.
- Tip: Invest in some really good nail products and practice. I only manicure and paint my nails, but you can do acrylic, gel, shellac, and all that jazz yourself if you’re willing to learn. The internet can teach you in a jiffy.
9. Health Supplements
While in some cases cutting out some of your health supplements could mean that you need to do a big diet overhaul (because you aren’t getting nutrients from food), if you are already a healthy eater you shouldn’t need many. Health supplements are hugely popular in America. Mainly because our Western diet is basically destroying us from the inside out and these companies are capitalizing on our lack of education surrounding our diets. Once again, another topic for another time. But as a personal trainer I have had many conversations with people who have started shifting to a healthier lifestyle altogether, including diet. One of the most common questions I get early on is, “What supplements should I be taking?”
The answer to that is, it is not the same for everyone. If you’re just taking something because someone said it’s good for you but you don’t even know if you need it, you’re wasting money. If you are consuming healthy, whole foods regularly, you should be getting all those nutrients that you need. Supplements can be so expensive and in so many cases, much less effective in supplement form than they are coming from food.
On the other hand, if you get blood work done and know you have deficiencies that you’re not able to correct with your diet then you might need supplements. For example, I have to take a sublingual (dissolves in your mouth) B12 supplement because for some reason my stomach does not absorb B12 from food. Or if you want a healthy alternative to medicine for things like pain or maybe you want to boost your immune system during flu season. Those things make sense. Just make sure you know you need what you’re taking.
Please Note: I am not a doctor or nutritionist. Never just quit taking something prescribed to you without consulting medical/holistic professionals. Still, I do not believe that you should take anything unless you have deeply researched even what your doctor tells you. Find legitimate, research-based information. Always look into what anyone recommends to you. Also always ask your doctor if you can manage the deficiency by changing your diet.
- Tip: If you are interested in learning more about how whole foods can heal you or prevent illness, watch this documentary, Foods that Cure Disease
“What stuff are you referring to?” you might ask. Stuff is what I call things that have no real, practical use. Now don’t get me wrong, I decorate my house with some of that “stuff.” But how much stuff do we really need? Think about how much clutter we have (most of us). It’s not just decoration. It’s also stuff we thought we would use but never do.
Sometimes I look around my house and really take it all in. I once looked at decorative piece on my wall and thought to myself that it had been longer than I could remember since I even noticed it there. That’s just money hanging on my wall, serving practically no purpose. In fact, that particular piece of “stuff” might has well have been a $50 bill taped to the wall. Just hanging there, not serving me at all. And our closets. Shew, I know that’s an issue for most of us.
Again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t decorate our homes and make them feel cozy and comfortable or that we shouldn’t buy new clothes and gadgets. But we all know that we don’t need to buy every beautiful or cool thing we see. I guarantee that most of us can walk through our house and pick out at least ten items that we wouldn’t miss if we got rid of them. Try it! Just go through and calculate the cost of ten items that you don’t need.
- Tip: Sell some of the stuff you already have if you want more. Or sell some of your excess (or all of your excess) and put that money in savings or toward debt.