I you want to save more money, it’s important to track your spending, create a budget, and then stop buying things you don’t need! Here is a list of 29 things I stopped buying in order to save more money and begin my journey to achieve financial independence.
29 things I stopped buying in order to save money
So long as I had a little in savings and I was able to pay my bills each month, I was financially healthy. At least, this is what I believed before I discovered the concept of financial independence.
Suddenly, it became very clear to me that living paycheck-to-paycheck and making the standard retirement contributions was not good enough. It simply wasn’t going to provide the secure financial future I wanted.
Learning about financial independence helped me realize that I didn’t have to commute and work long hours in a physically demanding and stressful job for the next 30+ years. I could actually create a life for myself and my son that was more in line with what I dreamed of. There were other options.
Once I made this pivotal realization, I viewed my finances completely differently. And so I started to plan and I started to save.
5 years later, I have successfully increased my net worth by over $300,000 and easily increased my savings rate by over 30%. I’m finally making financial progress.
The changes that I have made were not difficult. I don’t feel deprived and I didn’t give up anything in my life that I miss.
Now, I simply don’t spend money unless it’s important to me. There are so many things that I don’t even think about now that I have a clear financial path to follow.
I’m now able to save an extra $1,500 every month. Where did the extra money come from? Here is a list of 29 things I no longer buy now that I’m on the path to financial independence. I have included and estimate of how much money can be saved every year by not buying something. Each year is a little different, I make changes and adjustments or sometimes I make compromises. The total savings provided doesn’t add up to $1,500, but this is how much I have been able to save regularly by not buying these things.
Before planning for FI I would schedule a pedicure every 6 weeks. I suffer from ingrown nails, and therefore had a good reason for this routine.
Until I started saving for FI. I started paying attention and learned the technique and tools that the professionals use to deal with painful ingrown nails. I ordered all the tools on Amazon for the exact same price I’d pay for one pedicure. It took me a few weeks to get the hang of it, but I’m now pain free and my toes look perfectly fine.
Money saved per year: $268
Before dropping my son off at school, 3-4 days a week we’d go to our favorite coffee shop. This was a normal and enjoyable routine.
Then I tracked my finances. The realization that I was spending around $40/week at Starbucks is seriously horrifying to me now! We still enjoy a nice breakfast together, but he makes his own warm milk, I drip my own coffee and we eat a healthier breakfast. For a fraction of the cost.
Money saved per year: $2,100.
What’s the most popular thing to do in a city on a Friday night? Drinks with friends.
Now, with the newfound clarity that a $15 cocktail is absurd and not worth the calories, I very rarely order drinks at a bar or restaurant. I stick to wine and have friends over to my house for an occasional mixed drink and horderve party.
Money saved per year: $800
There was a time that I bought into the hype that if I wanted to look great, I needed high-end hair products.
I tried out the cheapest, on-sale, drugstore or Amazon shampoo and conditioners I could find, then found one that worked well for me. I haven’t looked back. And no one has noticed a difference in my hair.
Money saved per year: $210
I have to admit, I really enjoy a professional facial. My skin is smoother, well hydrated and glowing afterwards.
However, the benefits last about a week. I’m ok with giving this one up.
Money saved per year: $500
When I lived further away from everything, I didn’t worry about the amount of driving I was doing. Then I started budgeting and realized I was spending close to $500 a month on gas. That’s crazy!
Now, I plan my errands for one afternoon a week and do everything in one trip. I minimize my driving and walk/bike more. This has saved a lot of time and money, as well as maintenance costs a depreciation on my car.
Money saved per year: $4,000
Because I was driving so much, I didn’t like taking the time to plan ahead and prep breakfast and lunch every day during the week. I’d often stop for coffee in the morning and arrange for school hot lunch for my son and buy my own lunch at work.
Not only was this bad for our health, it turned out to be pretty hard on my bank account, too.
Now I allow time to eat at home and pack lunches every day.
Money saved per year: $2,200
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Full price airfare
I had never heard of this thing called travel hacking before. Once a year I was excited to apply my 1% cash back credit card rewards towards a credit card bill. I thought this was utilizing credit card rewards.
Boy was I wrong. Now I use multiple different credit cards and convert my reward points over to affiliate partner airlines for more value. I rarely pay for airfare now.
Money saved per year: $2,000
Learn about travel hacking: Intro to Travel Hacking: How I booked a $980 trip for $22
Full price at the grocery store
I used to go to the grocery store multiple times a week. I also went to multiple different stores, depending on where I was at the time and what I was craving.
Not so much now. If I don’t save more than 20% on my grocery bill, I’m super disappointed.
I don’t cut coupons and I didn’t change the type of food I buy. But I did learn how to use my grocery store’s app. Now I check my app before I go shopping and see what is on sale. Then, I plan my meals for the week around the sales. If chicken is on sale, I plan to make chicken during week.
Keep in mind, I’m not great at meal planning. But I do tend to buy the same products over and over again and make our favorite dinners often.
Learn more tips to saving money on groceries.
For meal planning help, visit $5 dinners.
Money saved per year: $720
Target was like my therapy. It was where I went when I needed a break. There was something oddly addictive and instantly gratifying about wandering the isles and buying crap I didn’t need.
It got to the point that every time I went in, I had something to return from my last visit. I would buy just for the sake of buying, then get home and realize I didn’t need what I had, then I’d return it and spend my store credit on something else I didn’t need.
As soon as I started tracking my finances, I realized how much I was spending unnecessarily. I now go to Target about 2-3 times a year. And I can proudly say that I’m no longer a Target addict.
Money saved per year: $960
Movies at night
I vividly remember a time when I was in school to learn a new career and start supporting myself and my son after my husband passed away. I had no money and rarely had time to do anything.
There was a blood drive that offered free movie tickets if you donated blood. I signed right up and happily collected my movie tickets.
As soon as I finished school and started earning a full time income, I was so excited to be able to afford movie tickets. I’d meet up with friends once or twice a month for dinner and a movie.
Once again, as soon as I started increasing my savings rate, going to dinner and a movie seemed like such an exorbitant luxury. There was just no reason to not invite the same friends over and have dinner and watch a new(ish) movie right from home. I ended up not missing it.
When a new movie comes out that I really want to see in the theater, I go in the afternoon.
Money saved per year: $480
This is a category that clearly demonstrates the money mindset shift once I started focusing on FI.
I used to fall into the trap of buying everything for my son that I thought he should have. The cute and trendy clothes and the toys that all the other kids had.
Once my mindset shifted, I began to see this as wasteful and unnecessary. I wanted my son to learn the value of money and delayed gratification. I began providing a weekly allowance and it became his sole decision to buy the toys he wanted.
If it was a big ticket item, he learned to save his money until he had enough. When he gave into instant gratification, he learned the feeling of not being able to afford everything.
Now, I catch him commenting on all the consumerism around him and how spoiled and entitled some of his friends are. He recognizes that much of the “stuff” that kids want is fleeting and unsatisfying. This is a really valuable lesson to learn before he goes to college and discovers credit.
Money saved per year: $600
Tips on teaching kids about money management
Going out a lot
My son was always restless at home. He hated being home all day. So, we’d hop in the car and find somewhere to go. Which is fine, so long as where you end up doesn’t require money.
We’d meet friends for lunch, go to a museum, eat frozen yogurt, visit the amusement park, arcade, or mini-golf. All things that required money. It was fun, but it all added up to more than I could realistically maintain.
Now we invite people over, have game nights, plan picnics at the park or go for hikes.
Money saved per year: $600
Full price clothes
With the exception of a few key items a year, everything comes from my favorite second hand consignment store (thredup) or is a hand me down for my son. He doesn’t care and I still receive compliments on my wardrobe.
Money saved per year: $600
I substituted my cable package for Hulu. I haven’t looked back.
Money saved per year: $540
In the days that I was working longer hours and commuting more, I just didn’t have energy to cook dinner. I often relied on a meal delivery service. I tried a few of them, from the pre-packaged and ready to heat type, to the box of ingredients with recipe cards, to the ones that delivered each day already warm and ready to eat.
Not only did I not find a service I absolutely loved, the price just wasn’t worth the extra convenience.
I changed jobs so that I’m closer to home, work less hours, and make more money. And plan ahead and cook dinner more often.
Money saved per year: $700
A new car
My biggest money mistake is that I’ve switched cars so many times. If I had just stuck with the trusty Honda CRV my husband and I purchased before our son was born, I would have saved so much money. I just kick myself everytime I see that car on the road.
While I didn’t purchase any brand new cars since that Honda, I did go through 4 other cars. I would have saved thousands by not switching so often.
Now that I know just how much my car is costing me in fuel, maintenance, repair and depreciation, I actually want to downsize. My current used car is worth somewhere between $9,000-$10,000. I’m selling it before it hits 100,000 miles and buying, not a newer car with less miles, but an older car that has already done it’s depreciating. Then I can pocket the extra money and use it for investing.
Amount spent unnecessarily: Around $30,000 over the last 10 years
Sparkling water or soda
I love sparkling water. If I have it around, I won’t drink regular old tap water. But when I started saving more, I stopped buying bottled or canned water. I don’t like the extra waste or expense.
Money saved per year: $240
Appetizers or dessert when eating out
Not only was I eating out a lot but when I did, I almost always ordered a drink, an appetizer or a dessert. Sometimes one of each. This all adds up over time and doesn’t add much to the meal other than overeating and extra calories. Now I just pick the meal I want and maybe a glass of wine. If I still want dessert after, I make something at home later.
Money saved per year: $300
More food than I need
Another consequence of going to the grocery store more than once a week is the temptation to buy more food than you actually need.
I was often hungry when I stopped at the store and more likely to give into impulse buying based on what I was craving. The result was that I couldn’t actually get around to making all of the food that I had in my refrigerator.
When I started tracking my spending, I started seeing that food as a form of currency. Every food item that was tossed in the trash was money being tossed in the trash. I became much more aware of what I was buying and started planning meals ahead and only buying what was on my shopping list.
Money saved per year: $1,000
The wrong farmer’s market
Like so many others in my community, I love going to the weekend farmer’s market. Being in California, there is so much amazing, fresh and local organic food available. Why not support my local farmers?
But I discovered that all the produce being sold at my local farmer’s market was marked up about 30% compared to the exact same produce at the market across town.
Money saved per year: $200
I work at a University and the parking is $160 per year. My commute was around 2.5 to 3 hours a day in horrible traffic.
Then I discovered the commute club. My work actually pays me $25/month plus unlimited free public transportation to hand in my parking permit. You bet I handed over my permit!
Now I bike to the train, keep my bike on the train with me, then bike right to my building on campus. My total commute time is around one hour, not counting the exercise time I get by biking.
Money saved per year: $460 (which doesn’t account for the added gas savings and maintenance costs of driving so much)
Gym or expensive fitness classes
I really love my local gym and I also wanted to try out CrossFit for awhile. The gym is $90/month and CrossFit was $170/month.
Now, I just use a home video workout subscription and workout at home for just $15/month. The workouts are intense and there is plenty of variety.
Money saved per year: $1,240
I loved decorating my house for the changing seasons. Fall was my favorite time of year. I had fall themed dish towels and rugs, and decorations around the house.
The same went for Easter, spring and Christmas.
Instead of buying and storing extra stuff around my house, I sold or donated most of it, and stick to higher quality home decor. My space looks cleaner and more organized and I’m not buying random holiday mats at Target.
Money saved per year: $700
Books I don’t want to read many times over
Not that I have much time to read for pleasure anymore, but if it’s a book I don’t need to reference to over and over again, I just check it out at the library.
Money saved per year: $90
Sirius XM radio subscription
When I bought my car it came with 3 months of free XM radio subscription. When the trial period ended, I missed it. And I received all the offers in the mail, each one a little better than the last. Before my FI goal I would have automatically renewed my subscription and not thought twice.
Now I listen to podcasts on blogging and personal finance anyway, I don’t miss it.
Money saved per year: $60
Running or cycling organized races
My main stress outlet during the difficult periods of my life has been exercise. The bigger the event, the more motivated I’d be to simply focus on my training and not worry about all the other stressors in my life.
I was running or biking in at least one event a month. Each one was around $75 in registration fees, but many also required additional travel expenses.
I still run an occasional race, but only one or two a year.
Money saved per year: $950
“Everyone else has a house cleaning service, you totally deserve to have one, too!”
Or so I was told by many of my friends and family members that enjoyed the luxury of a cleaning service. And I did try it out for a few months. I only used them once a month, instead of the customary and recommended twice a month.
But then I couldn’t justify, or stomach, the added expense anymore.
Money saved per year: $1,800
Pre-cut fruit and veggies
In another effort to minimize the amount of time and hassle of cooking dinner after a long day, I would often buy pre-cut veggies at the grocery store. It’s surprising to me now. Often they don’t last as long due to the increased exposed surface area, and at nearly twice the cost, it’s just not worth the small amount of saved time.
And honestly, it’s really not that difficult or time consuming to wash lettuce and chop it up.
Money saved per year: $240
Once I made the conscious decision to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck and start saving more money, I knew I needed to change my money mindset.
Surprisingly, this wasn’t difficult to do. I tracked my monthly spending and identified the main areas where I was overspending. With the added awareness of my spending, and a new budget in place, I was able to make better spending decisions.
I can look back now and wonder how in the world I was able to justify all the eating out when I already had a refrigerator full of fresh food. There were so many things I was buying and it was holding me back.
If you want to save more money, it’s time to take a close look at your spending habits and discover what you don’t need to buy anymore in order to take back control and save for a secure financial future.
- Track your spending for 3 months
- Create a monthly budget based on debt payoff and your savings goals.
- Stick to that budget!
- Before making a purchase, ask yourself:
- Do I need this right now?
- Does this make my life better and is it inline with my savings goals?
- Can I buy this for less?
- Sit on it and make sure you still want to make that purchase tomorrow or in a few days.
Do you need to clean up your finances so you can pay off debt, save more money and begin building wealth for a secure financial future?
Check out the 7 Steps to a Financial Clean House email course here.
Mary Fortney says
I’m doing really good on your list of ways to save money, except for the Starbucks part! Or Caribou in my case.
Mary Fortney says
And the paper napkins!