A few years ago, I had just finished a long, unpaid internship. It was a great experience and I even got a paid role with the organisation – but my first salary wouldn’t come through for another month. And at that point, I literally didn’t know how I’d pay rent the next month. This meant that I absolutely needed to figure out what I could stop buying to save money.
It was unbelievable how easy this ended up being.
I quickly saw that my life was almost completely unaffected by switching some of my spending habits.
Getting rid of paper towels and changing to reusable cloths? Same outcome for my day-to-day living but way better for my wallet!
Same thing with trading in almost all of my cleaning supplies for just one product!
It quickly became apparent that what we buy is largely thanks to habits we form, rather than really needing to keep doing that one thing.
For example, if you’e always bought paper towels, it may seem easier to just keep doing that without even thinking that there may be a cheaper (and more environmentally friendly!) option that’s just as good.
In my case, when I stopped and thought about it, I was actually embarrassed once I figured out how much I’d wasted all in the name of convenience.
Literally thousands of dollars had been thrown away because I hadn’t taken a few moments to consider an alternative.
So I told myself: not anymore.
Some of these things were insanely easy to switch from. Others took a little bit more effort.
But all were absolutely worth it.
So take a look at the changes I made to my spending habits to hopefully inspire you to do the same!
What things to stop buying to save money
1. Take out food
I work in an office and for a long time, it seemed way easier to just grab a sandwich from the cafe downstairs for lunch each day.
Except that sandwich cost $7.40 – which is almost $1,800 per year. Nope.
So I’ve stopped buying take out. Instead, I meal plan to make sure that I always have food ready.
This lets me either grab it as I’m rushing out the door to work or, if I come home exhausted, I know that I don’t have to stand in the kitchen for hours – as dinner’s already there!
And because I’m not so good at thinking of new things to make each week, I pay a little bit to have the meal plans sent to me.
$5 Meal Plan costs just $5 a month and sends you meal plans each week, including recipes and shopping lists.
The amount of money AND time I’ve saved is worth way more than $1.25 per week. And better yet, the recipes only cost about $2 per person to make, so my wallet’s even happier about it.
I personally choose the standard version, but there’s a gluten free weekly plan as well if you’d prefer that.
So if you’d like to try it yourself, sign up here for a 14-day free trial.
RELATED ARTICLE: HOW I SAVED $300 ON MY GROCERY BILL IN ONE MONTH
2. Cleaning supplies
Did you know that white vinegar can replace pretty much all of your cleaning supplies?
At $4 for half a gallon, you can seriously clean just about everything in your house.
(Just keep it away from stone surfaces as it can ruin the finish)
It’s a fabric softener, carpet cleaner, floor polisher, drain cleaner, window washer, oven cleaner and deodoriser – all for next to nothing.
This page gives you some tips on how it can be used.
Also, I fully acknowledge that I’m a bit weird, as I really like the smell of vinegar. But if you’re not like me, stick it in a spray bottle with around 10 drops of essential oils and it will cover the smell nicely.
3. Feminine hygiene products
Ladies, let’s give a special thanks to our bodies for forcing us to spend money each month.
Luckily, there’s a cheaper, more environmentally friendly and WAY more convenient option.
You’ve probably heard about menstrual cups before but they may seem a bit strange or scary.
Trust me, while the first time can take a few attempts to figure out how it works, once you’ve got it, it will be the best decision you’ve ever made.
You can’t feel a thing, it can be ignored for longer than disposable options and they can last up to 10 years!
This is the one that I’ve used for years now, which I picked because the reviews said that it’s softer/more flexible (which is useful when, er, trying to insert it).
I’d really recommend it, but there are a ton of other options available out there which are all just as good depending on what you’re looking for
4. Expensive cosmetics
It can be really easy to get sucked in to the marketing hype that you absolutely must pay a lot of money for good cosmetics.
Not true. For example, out of the top 20 best-selling mascaras on Amazon, 13 of them are under $10. So clearly the cheap drugstore options are doing something right.
And having tried some of the more expensive options in my time, I honestly can’t tell the difference between them and my personal choice: this $5.64 Maybelline mascara.
5. Paper towels
Paper towels are a classic example of literally throwing away money. Especially when there are other options that are just as convenient.
(Also, I was appalled to read that the amount of paper towel waste each day requires 51,000 trees to be cut down. That’s a staggering number.)
Instead, these reusable sheets can each be washed and reused 100 times with one roll replacing 429 paper towel rolls. That’s crazy good value, much easier for you to store around the house – and unbelievably better for the environment.
RELATED ARTICLE: 11 INCREDIBLE IDEAS FOR YOU TO SAVE MONEY AND SAVE THE PLANET
6. Lip balm
I get super dry lips so always have to have some lip balm on hand to make sure my mouth doesn’t peel off.
Lanolin is the gold standard in keeping your lips protected. Unfortunately, popular options like Lanolips charge way too much compared to how much product you actually get.
So instead of paying $20 for 0.8 ounces of Lanolips, I pay $8.79 for 1.4 ounces of lanolin nipple cream!
It’s exactly the same product for 1/4 of the price per ounce! And it’s not like anyone will know – or care – that you’re rubbing nipple cream on your face.
7. Shaving gel
No need to spend your hard earned money on shower gel – conditioner does the job even better!
Just buy the cheapest conditioner you can find and lather it on. It lasts ages and is great for moisturising your legs.
And I suppose it goes without saying that you’ll save even more money if you use it on your hair as well!
This is one you hear all the time, but it’s true that it actually works.
On this site, we’re all for becoming financially free without giving up your coffee addiction – at least not completely.
But if you’re buying a takeaway coffee every day, then you really need to look into some alternatives.
For me, I like to make coffee at home then take it with me for my commute.
This is the travel mug that I use and I really recommend it – the auto-seal makes it great for not spilling coffee all over my white shirt each day!
And when a latte at the cafe around the corner from my building costs $6, the fact that I’m saving over $1,500 a year is pretty good too!
9. Water bottles
I used to be so guilty of just buying a bottle of water if I was thirsty while I was out and about. Then I did some reading.
Did you know that if you drink your recommended eight glasses of water a day from disposable water bottles, this will cost you around $1,400 annually?
Whereas if you just carry a reusable water bottle with you, as I now do, you’ll spend about $0.49 per year on tap water.
This is such an easy way to save money – and, once again, the environment is pretty pleased too!
10. Magazines and books
When someone told me the goldmine that’s available in my local library, I almost didn’t believe them.
Try to go this weekend and prepare to be amazed at all of the free stuff on offer. Not only are there books (including audiobooks), but you also have – for free – magazines, movies, music and…electricity home monitoring kits?
(Take a look at this post to see just what your local library may have on offer.)
All of this means that I’ve completely cut my magazine subscriptions. Why bother spending money on something that I’m going to read once when I can get it for free at the library?
And the same applies to books. The library has more than I could ever buy myself, so that’s another expense cut for me.
On that point, another great discovery was that Audible offers a 30-day free trial which lets you download TWO audiobooks.
And then even if you choose not to continue to use Audible once the free trial is over, you get to keep the free audiobooks!
11. Toilet paper not in bulk
I live in a fairly small apartment, so storage space is at a premium.
Toilet paper unfortunately does take up quite a bit of room, so it can be tempting to just buy a smaller packet.
But let’s be honest: we’re going to use it eventually.
So if I can get the equivalent of 96 regular rolls at $0.25 each, then it’s worth the effort of shifting some things around to make space, rather than spending more (and more often) on the exact same thing.
12. Clothes just because they’re on sale
It can be crazy tempting to talk into a store that has signs blaring that there’s a sale on, “just in case” there’s something that I “need”.
But that jacket that’s a “great deal” because it’s half price at only $50 still means that you’re spending $50 that you wouldn’t have spent otherwise.
Now, I always try to practice intentional spending. It means that everything you buy, ask yourself if you really, truly want it.
This isn’t exactly asking whether you strictly “need” it, because I definitely also buy “wants” too.
Instead, it’s about really thinking whether the item is actually worth spending money on. If you truly think that buying the item will bring you more joy than saving the money (and you can afford it), you should be good to go.
In most cases though, those “great deals” don’t meet the threshold. So while I may not get that new jacket, I get to keep that $50 securely in my pocket.
13. Gym membership
Not only are gym memberships expensive as hell, but it can also be an absolute battle to cancel them. So often it can seem easier to just keep paying for it as “it will force me to go”.
Except we don’t go. And we keep paying.
So when I found that pretty much everything I do at the gym is available for free online (yoga sessions, pilates classes, running programs, bodyweight training etc.), I cancelled my gum membership as soon as I could.
It’s a massive saving each year. It’s also way more convenient as I can just exercise at home!
MORE INFORMATION: 5 WAYS TO SMASH YOUR FITNESS GOALS – FOR FREE!
For me, cutting cable was an easy decision when there are so many better, cheaper options.
Netflix is the obvious king. But if you have Amazon Prime already, you have access to an amazing range of videos as well that legitimately compete with Netflix in terms of range and quality.
And if you don’t have Amazon Prime yet, you can get a free 30-day trial here.
(I actually pay for Prime as I find what I get for the service to be totally worth it. But feel free to cut it off before the end of the trial!)
15. Shredded food
If I could survive solely off cheese, I would. So I always like to have some cheese in the fridge to add to whichever meal needs it.
And it’s super easy to just have a packet of shredded cheese on hand at all times. Except did you ever stop and think what you’re paying for the convenience of it already being shredded?
You pay far less for a block of cheese and get far more in total. And when it only takes a few minutes to grate the entire block, it’s well worth the savings.
The same applies for things like grated carrot. Sure, it’s easier to just buy it in a packet.
But it’s not that much harder to buy actual carrots and spend a few minutes grating them when you get home.
So despite the slight amount of inconvenience, stopping myself from buying pre-shredded food was an easy decision.
Now, I’m not the most coordinated person in the world, so it did take some practice to get this down pat.
But it costs so much money to go to a salon to get your nails done. I found just buying several colors of polish and some basic equipment paid for itself almost immediately.
And it also means that it’s far easier to touch it up when I inevitably chip it the next day!
17. Name brand household items
I mentioned above that part of the problem with spending too much money on household goods is that we get into a habit.
After all, if you’ve always bought a certain brand, it’s easier to just keep doing so.
But a very slight shift can have a real impact on your savings. Especially if you switch from name brand to a generic one.
After all, you don’t need a specific brand of dishwashing liquid when the one that’s less than $2 will do the same job.
So I’d recommend taking a few moments to think about the things that you buy regularly and consider just why you keep buying them.
If it’s because of “brand loyalty” or “I can’t be bothered finding another one” then taking another look at the cheaper things that are on offer next time you’re at the supermarket.
What changes have you made to your usual spending habits to save money?