Working in the service industry my whole life, money has always been tight. There are times when I had less than $10 in my account and more than a week to go until my next payday. In 2018 I made myself a promise to stop living paycheck to paycheck and start living below my means.
It was normal for me to end a day at my job and feel crappy about myself because of the way I get treated there. (ps. please be nice to your servers, we are people too, ok? anyways that’s a story for another post) So after finishing my long shift, it was easy for me to go to the shops and buy all these nice things to treat myself and make me feel better about the day I just had.
This senseless spending though, left me broke and even more miserable.
So in addition to making extra money in 2018, I decided to also get smarter with my money and stop buying things I didn’t really need.
These are the 15 things I completely stopped buying or replaced with a cheaper alternative to save my money this year and thanks to doing this I’ve already managed to save over a $1000 in only 4 months.
PS. Are you looking for even more great tips on saving money? Try these 11 Fool-Proof ways to Save Money On Electricity!
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15 Things I Stopped Buying To Save My Money (And You Should Too)
1. Shaving Gel / Shaving Cream
I have to be honest and say I’ve actually been using this for years! This money-saving hack really changed my life when I discovered it back in 2016. I just buy the cheapest conditioner that I can find and use it instead of shaving gel. This leaves my legs silky smooth while also beign able to save my money.
A bottle of $1 conditioner usually lasts for about 3-4 months as my shaving gel so the savings are huge!
2. Makeup remover
I used to spend $20 for the expensive makeup remover that would last me about a month. While it left my skin feeling clean it also dried it out quite a bit because of the harsh chemicals in it.
After researching extensively for a more natural alternative, I came across one that I already had in my cupboard. Coconut oil!
Coconut oil is an excellent makeup remover. Just rub a tiny bit of oil between your fingers to solidify it, then slather it on your face and rub it in for a minute or so and wipe it off with a cotton pad.
Since I started to use it on my face for about 2 months the condition of my skin has drastically changed and is now much more moisturized and it even reduced my acne since the oil cleanses out your pores.
This is the exact coconut oil I use on my face.
3. Manicures and Pedicures
Previously I would spend roughly $30 every 2 weeks to get my nails done. The gel would look beautiful on my nails but it came at a cost of $780 a year! That’s not even taking into account the occasional pedicures I used to get at $40 a pop every month or two.
I decided enough was enough and researched for a DIY nail kit that would be simple to use and take less than 30 minutes.
I found the Sally Hansen Gel nail kit that comes with a free UV lamp to seal the gel under $40!
I use this kit once a week or once every 2 weeks depending on how rough I am on my nails and it takes me around 20 minutes to do my nails. I can honestly say it lasts around a week and a half on my nails and I am constantly washing my hands so they would probably last longer on someone with say an office job.
The starter kit comes with 1 color and you can buy additional colors at about $6 a pop! My favorite colors are Wine Not, Raisin The Bar and Shell We Dance.
4. Buying Coffees
Buying coffees at a cafe every day used to add $4-$8 a day to my daily spending. It might not seem like a lot but it ended up adding $1000-$2000 up in spending every single year! T
hat’s a lot of money.
Since I am completely addicted to coffees I didn’t want to just stop drinking it(or switch to that nasty instant coffee!!). So instead what I did was ask my lovely partner for a coffee machine as my birthday present and I now make my own coffee at home. This specific machine I got makes cappuccinos just as good as my local cafe for less than a quarter of a price. All I do is buy a bag of coffee beans at about $10 a kilo and that lasts me for over a month of 2 coffees a day! It even froths the milk and makes it suuuuper tasty!
I also got a reusable thermal coffee mug to take my delicious homemade coffee to work every day and it keeps my drink warm for hours. It really is one of the best methods of saving money.
5. Buying My Lunches
Another unnecessary expense that was adding up to $5 to $10 a day every single day I worked.
Now I take the time to get up 15 minutes early and actually make my lunch whether it’s a simple sandwich or pack up some leftovers to take to work. I am still quite slack with this and continue to buy my lunch 1-2 times a week but by the end of this year, I plan to cut it down to 0 a week and save myself a ton of $$!
6. Gym Membership
Even though I hate going to the gym (and always have) I used to keep a membership which I paid $12 a week for every single week *just in case* I ever wanted to go to the gym.
Spoiler alert. I never went.
Because I thought of it as such a small expense I didn’t even bother canceling my membership. I didn’t even realize this pointless spending was adding up to $624 a year!
I canceled my membership in February 2018 and since then have saved $168 already by not paying for the gym. Instead, I now exercise by running with my dog and using the huge selection of free exercise videos available on Youtube! If you want to make your at-home workouts more effective I suggest investing in some basic resistance bands that cost less than $5 and allow your to perform strength training excercises without any actual weights.
I also bought some ankle weights that I wear when walking my dog (although mainly at nighttime only because they do look a bit funny!) But they add so much more fat burning to just a simple walk, so it’s totally worth it for the extra calorie burn!
7. Brand Name Clothing and Accessories
I completely stopped buying brand name shirts, dresses, and accessories. The truth is, cheaper alternatives like Forever 21, Fashionnova and H&M offer clothes with equally great quality at a quarter of a price.
The only exception to this rule I make are exercise clothes and specifically running shoes and leggings.
I only ever buy Nike and Asics running shoes and leggings because they simply last forever! I’ve had the same Asics shoes for 4 years and they still look brand new, so to me they were worth the $350 price tag as opposed to buying $50 shoes that would only last me a couple of months.
8. Cooking Foil and Baking Paper
Even though I was only spending a couple dollar a month of these I really cut out this expense for my health and also the environment sake.
Studies have shown that regular use of foil in cooking could be harmful to your health so I prefer not to use it at all. Instead, I use silicone cooking mats which are reusable and make cleaning up a breeze!
9. Floor Cleaner
I stopped buying expensive floor cleaners to clean our tile floors because I discovered that using some hot water and regular old white vinegar works just as well!
The vinegar costs just $2 for a liter bottle and lasts for months. Previously I was buying floor cleaner for $15 and needed to buy a new bottle every 2 months.
10. Bottled Water
Not only is bottled water bad for the environment but it can also add up a ton in spending. You can expect to pay $1 to $3 for a simple bottle of water while it is completely free from your tap.
Just buy a BPA free water bottle that you can refill at home and bring it with you everywhere you go. You do need a water filter at home or a Brita water filter jug that I use at my home.
11. Air Refresher
Air refreshers are a complete waste of money in my opinion. I used to spend $5 a month on them which adds to $60 a year.
Now I make my own air refresher using old mason jars, some essential oil, paper and baking soda. It is so simple to do and you can find a guide for it here!
12. Organic Fruit and Vegetables
Here’s a shocker. There’s not that much of a difference between some organic and non-organic fruit and vegetables!
Organic fruit and veg always come with a higher price tag but the truth is you can get away with buying most of them non-organic. There are a few fruit and veg I still always buy organic though because of the high risk of heavy pesticide residue.
Some of these heavy risk food items include strawberries, spinach, apples, and tomatoes.
And the fruit and veg that is safe to buy non-organic are avocados, pineapple, onions, and broccoli.
Read more about the ”dirty dozen” here!
13. Pre Made Spice Mixes
I have to confess I used to be a slave to certain pre-made spice mixes! I love the fajita mix, curry powder mix and more.
But when I was looking for ways to cut down on my food spending I discovered that most of these spice mix only contained 5-7 ingredients that were really cheap to buy in bulk. So I decided to start making my own spices mixes and it saves me a lot of money and best of all I know exactly how much salt and sugar goes into my food.
You can find some awesome recipes for creating your own spice mixes here!
14. Dryer Sheets and Fabric Softner
Instead of buying expensive dryer sheets and fabric softener I decided to invest in these adorable hedgehog dryer balls that are reusable, dumble in my dryer to lift and separate laundry allowing hot air to flow more efficiently, (thus saving money off my power bill) and they soften the fabrics naturally while also reducing static.
15. Pharmaceutical Drugs With Brand Names
Here’s a secret the big pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know: most generic drugs do exactly the same thing as big brand name ones.
Often times you’ll hear your pharmacist ask if you want the generic version of the medicine or specific brand. I used to always buy the brand name one but after learning this truth I now always buy the generic version. The specific medicine I buy every month used to cost me $17 a month but now I only pay $9 because I opted for the generic version! That’s a saving of $96 a year!
The generic drugs are equivalent to a brand name product in strength, dosage, quality and desired outcome but it doesn’t carry a specific brand name, therefore, is often a lot cheaper.
Hope you found some great ideas on which things you should also stop buying to save money. Let me know which thing is going to be the easiest for you to stop buying and if you have any other ideas on how to save money, let me know down in the comments!
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