Cutting out or reducing non-essential expenses can help you save money and put more wiggle room in your budget.
It can be hard to see where we’re over spending on frivolous purchases when we’re just spending like we always have.
It can also be hard to think of “giving up” some of these purchases once we identify them.
So instead of thinking of cutting something out of your budget as “giving it up”, think of how you can REPLACE the purchase with a much cheaper option. “Giving up lattes” has become kind of cliché in the budgeting world.
Well, not only a cliché, almost a full on fight- with some gurus claiming you won’t get rich by giving up lattes, and others claiming you can’t underestimate the savings.
The fact of the matter is, if you’re reading lists of things to stop buying to save money, you probably can’t afford $7 per day lattes. So purchase a good insulated mug, and make your coffee at home. I buy flavored coffee syrup that makes my coffee taste (almost) like Starbucks.
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Here are some easy purchases to cut out or cut back on to save money:
Take out. The amount we spend on food is INSANE. It’s not that I don’t like to cook – it’s that I was never prepared to cook at dinner time. You can easily replace take out with cooked at home food… if you prepare to cook food at home. Meal planning is where it’s at!
Bottled water. (Asking myself “how did I ever justify this?!”) I have great tasting tap water, from a well and it’s chemical-free. Oh and also actually FREE. Shame on me for not taking every advantage of that. Plus my new habit of filling my bottle before I leave the house is so much better for the environment. Extra intentional points.
Convenience food. Giving up pre-packaged foods was not entirely budget-related related for. It also had a great deal to do with intentional health and doing things that were good for our bodies, but unless your an extreme coupon-er and getting almost all your canned soup and hamburger helpers for free… convenience food is actually really expensive. We just make extra when we cook supper, and we have leftovers to microwave in a pinch.
Specific brands. We all know that brand loyalty could be costing us big bucks. Open your mind, save your money.
Toiletries that aren’t on sale. This isn’t one specific item, but much like the brand loyalty point, I can not justify buying full price soap, shampoo, deodorant, ect. These things go on sale, and they go on sale often. I love it when the brand I prefer goes on sale, and I stock up then… but when I NEED something and I don’t have it in the house – I buy the one that’s 50% off.
Shaving gel. I’ve always known that cheap hair conditioner works just as well or better than shave gel. It costs a fraction and lasts so much longer. I don’t even know how I was justifying buying the shaving gel.
New books. Thrift stores everywhere are a testament to how wasteful it is to buy new all the time. I usually get the newest books by my favorite authors within a few months to a year of their release. At the thrift store.
New clothes. GAH – this was really hard, actually. I love shopping for clothes. It’s very easy to drop $300 in an afternoon on a “me day” shopping spree. But there are SO MANY thrift stores FULL of amazing clothes, you just have to approach it a little bit like a treasure hunt.
Manicures. I do my own at home. They don’t look QUITE as good, but I don’t think anyone but me can tell.
Gym membership. I did love going to the gym… I really did. But it was becoming less and less practical to get out of the house with small kids, and we had some space in the basement where we set up a “home gym”. The savings here is huge.
Dryer sheets / fabric softener. I got a set of dryer balls at a MLM party and didn’t think much of them… until I started using them! Reusable dryer balls do the same thing as fabric softener and you only have to buy them ONE TIME. Winning.
Home décor items. I LOVE to “window shop” home décor but all those cute nick-knacks just become clutter in my home. In fact, I have a cute little bird cage candle holder thing that my kids confiscated to play with… and my counter top is free-er without it, so I let it go! (And I will not buy anything ELSE to put in it’s spot.)
Birthday / Christmas cards. $7 for a card these days! Honestly, I’d rather spend $10 on a gift certificate to my friend’s favorite coffee place and write “happy birthday” on it. Taking the time to call someone on their birthday and tell them that you love them is worth more than a card anyway.
Cable / satellite. Sure, it’s the thing everyone suggests cutting but we held onto it until just last year. Now it’s gone, we’ve replaced it with Disney+ and we don’t even miss it.
Paper towels and napkins. Invest in reusable dish towels and cloth napkins. They’re better for the environment, and you’ll save money over time.
Disposable cutlery and plates. Next time you’re planning a gathering, use real plates, silverware, and glasses instead of buying disposables. A bit more cleanup, but big savings in the long run.
Latest tech gadgets. The newest version of your favorite device usually isn’t significantly better than the last. As long as your current gadget is working fine, stick with it.
In-game purchases. Those little $0.99 purchases can add up quickly, especially if you’re an avid gamer. Set a monthly limit for in-game purchases or eliminate them altogether.
Single-use cleaning products. You’d be surprised how many cleaning tasks can be done with simple ingredients you have at home. Vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean many surfaces. Reusable spray bottles are also a big money saver.
Unnecessary subscriptions. Are you using all of those streaming platforms? Do you read all those magazines? Look over your monthly subscriptions and cancel any that you aren’t using regularly.
Buying lunch everyday. While convenient, it is much cheaper to bring your own lunch from home. Even if you only do this a few times a week, you’ll see significant savings.
Unplanned grocery shopping. Impulse buying at the grocery store can be a huge budget killer. Always shop with a list and stick to it.
Brand new cars. If you can, go for a used car in good condition. Cars depreciate in value as soon as they leave the lot, so let someone else take that initial depreciation hit. A well-maintained used car can be a great value.
Remember, every little bit counts! By replacing these purchases with cheaper or free alternatives, you can save more than you might think.
There are plenty of ways to keep more money in your pocket.
The key is being intentional and mindful of how you spend your money.