We all want to save money for some reason or other, whether it’s to get out of debt or to save up for that dream vacation, there are plenty of things we can cut back on.
Most of the time our money problems don’t come from big, extravagant purchases but from little things that add up on a weekly basis.
Before you can cut back, you need to sit down and be honest with yourself about the non-essentials. They will look different for everybody, but here is a list of 12 items I stopped buying to save thousands of dollars a year.
How often do you find yourself at a coffee shop? For many Americans, it’s every day. We don’t think much of the $3 coffee. But $3 every day adds up, especially if you (like many) also order your breakfast at these locations.
Acorns reports that the average American spends about $1,100 per year on coffee.
The solution: Purchase a coffee machine and coffee from your local grocery store. You don’t even have to spend big bucks on a fancy one, the Mr. Coffee Coffee Maker is less than $30 bucks on Amazon, and probably cheaper at your local Walmart.
Besides the fact that they aren’t environmentally friendly, plastic water bottles are a horrible thing to spend your money on. A lot of companies are actually selling you tap water that was lightly filtered. You’re not getting a whole lot of bang for your buck.
Purchase a high quality BPA-Free Glass Water Bottle and carry it with you everywhere you go. If you don’t like tap water, you can also buy a Pitcher with a Filter. The filter lasts about two months, which for is a great deal. You pay $20 for two months supply of water. Calculate how much you spend on bottled water in two months and compare.
Paper towels are like water bottles, you’re practically flushing money down the drain. You can replace paper towels in your kitchen with huck towels or microfiber cloths. I’ve found that both of these are more absorbent than paper towels or regular napkins and very easy to use.
If you haven’t heard of huck towels, they’re AMAZING. They’re what they use in hospitals to absorb blood and other fluids during/after surgeries. You can order them online and use them in place of paper towels.
Microfiber cloths are also great because they’re antibacterial and last forever. The last time I bought some was almost a year ago. These are much more common and you can probably buy them in bulk at Costco for cheap.
Full Priced Clothes
Try to avoid buying clothes at full price whenever possible. Always head to the clearance section and shop out of season! At almost any store, items go on sale at the end of a given season; sometimes as much as 60 or 70% off. Go to outlet malls more than you go to the regular ones and monitor the pieces you like.
If you’re into the idea, consider second-hand shops. I know this option isn’t for everyone, but you can find some great pieces at 80% off retail. Sometimes even more. If you have kids, buying secondhand is the best option, kids grow so fast it’s absurd spending so much money every few months.
Female Versions of Products
The exact same ingredients can cost twice as much just because it’s marketed to woman. Next time you’re at the drugstore, compare the men and woman’s version of shampoo and razors. The price difference adds up over time.
Save money by buying the men’s version of items such as razors, deodorant, and other body care items.
Manicures And Pedicures
I used to get manicures every week and pedicures every two weeks. That’s approximately $1,600 a year for something I can very well do myself. There really is no reason for an adult to get manicures and pedicures.
You can purchase the tools and supplies and give yourself a mani/pedi at home.
If you absolutely can’t do your own nails or you don’t like how they look when you do them yourself, you can go to your local nail salon and ask for a polish change. They typically cost between $7-8 and you get your nails buffed, filed, and painted (or repainted, if you come in with the chipping remnants of your last manicure) and it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes. It’s basically a budget manicure.
But overall, you should try and save the mani-pedi’s for special occasions. Don’t be like my past self spending $1,600 a year on nails.
Okay, I understand they’re convenient but is it really that hard to purchase some Spinach, Lettuce, and croutons and make your own? You save a lot of money buying the items separately as the prepped salads tend to be highly overpriced.
Also, you get more quantity buying the items separately, and when there is more spinach in the house you tend to eat healthier and incorporate it more into your meals. Maybe that’s just me though.
Vinegar, baking soda, and some lemon juice can work wonders for cleaning a home. A lot of household cleaners can be made with these ingredients. Its a safe, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly option. Homemade household cleaning products work just as effectively as the store bought one if you use the right recipes.
Check out this video for getting started creating your own household cleaners.
Shaving gel is an unnecessary purchase. There really is no reason to purchase it, there are plenty of items you can use to replace it.
I use coconut oil as a shaving gel nowadays and it has the added benefit of moisturizing my legs. It doesn’t leave me greasy at all and it has helped with my eczema. I think it’s because it’s natural so I’m not putting weird ingredients on my skin.
Another great alternative is olive oil or your regular hair conditioner.
Books and Magazines
Unless it’s a book you will read over and over again, you can probably find it at your local library and read it for free.
Or check out secondhand bookstores. My local one has sales where they sell books for $1 each. Its an amazing deal and although I love Barnes and Noble, I can’t justify spending $15-$25 for a book I’ll read once. Especially when I read on average one to two books a week. That would be anywhere from $1,500 to $2,600 a year at my current reading pace. If it wasn’t for public libraries and secondhand shops, I probably wouldn’t be as avid as a reader as I am nowadays.
If you’re more of a listener, try audible for 30 days free and get two free books. It is $14.95 a month after the 30 days, so think wisely about whether or not that subscription is worth it. Which brings me to my next point…
You probably don’t need them.
I made a list of all the memberships I was enrolled in and realized I was spending $187 a month on subscriptions. Granted I had my gym membership in there too, but that is absurd!
Sit down, make a list of all the subscriptions and recurring costs and then decide if the benefit outweighs the cost. For a lot of them, the answer was no. I was able to slice that $187 a month by more than half. I hadn’t even realized I was paying a recurring fee for an app I had deleted on my phone! Some memberships are worth it, for me, I can’t part from my gym, Netflix or adobe account (for graphics and editing of course). But I assure you, you’re not using half the memberships you are signed up for.
I don’t have a long paragraph for this one. If you are buying doggie poop bags, you’re spending your hard earned cash on an actual bag of crap. Stop. Just reuse old grocery bags.