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Saving money is not always easy for me. I’m not a natural saver – in fact, growing up, I was always the one to spend every single penny that I got from part-time jobs and birthday money. One of the easiest ways for me to save money was by no longer buying certain things that did not bring me a lot of value. Below I’ve included a list of ten things we stopped buying to save money.
By cutting out things that did not bring me joy or by figuring out other ways to get the same thing for free, I’m still able to enjoy myself without feeling deprived. Finding substitutes for some expenses has always been a fun mental exercise for me.
I think it’s important to spend money in areas that actually bring me satisfaction and focus on cutting down the rest. That’s how we manage to save a lot of money and live debt-free – by focusing our spending.
In our house, I’m the one who does all of the regular household shopping and account management so it was up to me to cut expenses in areas where I felt we did not get good value. Below are ten things that we stopped buying to save money.
1. Impulse purchases
One of the biggest ways we’ve been able to save money is by curbing impulse spending. This used to be a huge problem for me. If I saw something on sale and had the money in my account to buy it, I would. Impulse purchases were draining all of my hard-earned money.
I eventually figured out that the majority of things I’d buy on impulse did not get used. For the most part, any clothes, shoes or other items I bought on impulse would just sit around barely getting used. When I took the time to actually plan out my purchases, I ended up buying things that I use and enjoy.
Now, when I want to buy something, I make a note and usually move on. Later, when I get home, I spend some time researching the item to see if I can find a better price or a coupon. I’ll wait at least 24 hours and sometimes longer before buying the item if I determine it’s something that I need and will be useful.
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2. Books and magazines
I used to subscribe to several magazines, which added up to a good chunk of money. In addition, they would add clutter all over the house since I usually kept old issues around “for reference.”
One day I took a good hard look at how much money (and physical space) those magazines were costing me and decided right then and there to unsubscribe. After some quick research, I realized that my local library offers digital issues of many magazines for free. Now, I just check out the ones that I want to read and download them on my tablet.
I also no longer buy books. Even though I usually bought most books second-hand, I quickly realized that I was running out of physical space to store my growing collection. In addition, once I read a book, I rarely wanted to go back and reread it.
The library was an excellent solution for me since I still got to read most of the books on my list but then I could return them once I was done. The library has been a great resource for free entertainment, including movies and TV shows. Movies and TV shows were are also some things we stopped buying to save money and now mostly borrow from the library.
3. Cell phone contracts
One of the biggest money savers has been cutting our cell phone contracts. We used to have AT&T two-year contracts with two iPhones and, needless to say, we paid more than $100 for two phones. It was ridiculous. Once we found pre-paid phone plans, we never looked back. Subsidised phones were something we stopped buying to save money and switched over to paying for our phones in full (there are lots of refurbished options for iPhones).
Since we like the AT&T network because it works well in our area, we switched over the Cricket Wireless as soon as our contracts were up. This cut our cell phone bills in half. If you are on the Sprint network, Republic Wireless is an excellent option.
4. Name brand groceries
While we still buy name-brand groceries for a select few items, for the most part, I’m not a slave to brands. Once I realized the savings that could be had by buying generic, I was hooked. There are certain store brands that I prefer over others but for the most part, if there is a name-brand and a generic version available, I go for the generic 99% of the time.
This switch right there has saved us thousands of dollars. Aldi is an excellent example of how going generic can save you a lot of money. Aldi sells pretty much exclusively their own store-branded items for a lot less than other stores.
Pretty much everything we’ve bought from there has been the same quality or better than the brand-name equivalent for a fraction of the price. They’ve also started carrying a number of organic options.
5. Bottled water
We were buying bottled water all the time until I realized how much money was being wasted that way (not to mention all those plastic bottles!). This is something we stopped buying to save money but it’s also good for the environment. I ended up buying a couple of reusable water bottles by Kleen Kanteen and a Brita water filter and never looked back.
This has been a pretty easy switch for us and has saved us a lot of money over the long run. When we remodeled our kitchen, we finally got a refrigerator with a built-in water and ice dispenser, which has been such a luxury. I know, it’s the little things.
6. Personal care products
Now, before you think I stopped buying shampoo and soap, let me clarify. I used to be a personal product junkie. From different styling creams, gels, leave-in conditioners to expensive makeup, face lotions, perfumes, etc., I used to spend a lot of money on personal care products.
However, I ended up trying and not really liking the majority of things I bought so they would just sit in my cabinet, unused. So this is something I stopped buying to save money (and my cabinet space!). I ended up really simplifying my makeup and personal care routines. Now, I only buy things that I actively like and use. If I want to try something new, I only try one new thing at a time.
I’ve used the same shampoo and conditioner for the last couple of years with no issues. I also stopped buying expensive name-brand makeup and mostly stick to Physician’s Formula from the drugstore (or from Amazon). Cutting back on personal care products has not only saved me money but helped me get rid of a ton of bathroom clutter.
7. Shredded cheese
Once I realized that block cheese was cheaper and tasted better than shredded cheese, I made the switch and haven’t looked back. Now I just shred my own cheese from a block and I can tell you that it’s so much meltier and gooier (those are real words, right?).
Shredded block cheese is head and shoulders above bagged shredded cheese – both in price and in taste. I actually read an article recently that mentioned that pre-shredded cheese contains cellulose as a way to keep the strands from sticking together so I’m definitely sticking with block cheese. My wallet and my belly are both happier that way.
8. Cable TV
I’ve wanted to cut cable for a while but my husband resisted. As a huge sports fan, cutting cable was not an option for him since he wanted to follow his favorite sports teams. The only channel I ever watched was HGTV and I’m totally fine giving that up.
We finally cut the cord earlier this year. We have Amazon Prime, which is great for TV shows for the kiddos (no commercials!). We also ended up getting PlayStation Vue because it had certain sports channels although this is a much cheaper option than cable for us.
If you don’t have to have certain sports channels but still want to have some cable channel options, Sling TV is a great alternative. If you’d like to try it for 7 days free, click here.
9. Lunches out
Eating out can be a huge expense, especially on a daily basis. We ended up cutting out lunches out and bringing our own food to work instead. This has not only saved us money but helped us eat healthier.
We still like to eat out from time to time but that’s usually with other people. One thing I’ve learned to do is to make the money I spend on food outside the house count. Any lunch out should be intentional and planned rather than me forgetting to bring lunch or being too lazy to cook. I usually go out with a friend to lunch to catch up and enjoy some nice patio weather.
10. Airline tickets
After talking to someone recently who was complaining about the price of airline tickets, I realized that we have not paid for plane tickets in several years. Don’t get me wrong, we love to travel and we take vacations at least two to three times a year and we usually do fly.
So how do we not pay for airline tickets? Travel hacking! Once I discovered travel hacking, this really helped cut down our travel budget. We now spend about $2,500/year on travel and go on at least 2-3 nice vacations a year. In fact, I just came back from a 3-day trip to New York with my sister to visit some friends and we are headed to a ski-in/ski-out resort in February.
Travel hacking is easily saving us several thousand dollars a year. It has also allowed us to travel more and do things we otherwise couldn’t afford. That ski-in/ski-out resort? It would’ve cost us $1500+ just for the hotel, not including flights (which would be another $600-$700).
So this is a quick list of 10 things we stopped buying to save money. What are some of the things you’ve stopped buying to save money? Share in the comments.
Resources that I love:
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