What things should you stop buying to save money?
There are MANY things to stop buying.
This list has the everyday to occasional needs that we stopped buying completely or as much of to manage our finances over the years.
These savings have come in handy particularly over the last year, when I went on maternity leave and we had both a huge drop in household income and an increase in baby product expenses.
For this list, we didn’t cut our spending to the point where it negatively impacted our quality of life.
We minimized spending on little luxuries that were important to us.
We removed what we thought was completely unnecessary, which are activities that don’t add value to our end goals.
Things that will not help us to become the kind of people we want to be.
For example, we don’t want to be wasteful and not use the things we have.
How do you stop buying things?
For the things you don’t need, it’s all about trade-offs. If you decide to spend on simple pleasure a), minimize your spending on simple pleasure b).
For the things you do need, there are probably cheaper alternatives.
The key is doing it once and then twice. Make it into a money habit.
It’s actually much easier than you think.
It was surprising for me that a few small changes can have a minimal impact on my life – but make a big impact on my bottom line!
When I took the time to think about the years of unnecessary spending and thousands of dollars down the drain – it made me sick!
Below’s a list of 19 things I stopped buying to save money.
Hopefully, you can find something(s) on this list to save yourself thousands in the future.
Related Saving Money Articles:
- 7 Important Tips to Simplify your Life You Need to Know
- How to decrease your food expenses by 50%!
- No Spend Challenge: The Complete Guide on How to Not Spend Money
List of Things To Stop Buying
1) Razors and shaving gel
I used to think that the only way you could shave is through disposable razors and shaving gel.
Then I met my husband. One day, I used his Philips electric shaver – the one he uses to shave his beard.
At first, I thought there might be an important difference between the men’s and women’s versions, but there wasn’t.
A shaver is a shaver.
Now we share the same shaver!!!
I love it! It’s quick and easy to use. You don’t need shaving gel. The blades don’t need to be changed or sharpened.
He’s had this shaver for over 15 years! Fingers crossed – we’ll never have to buy anything in this category ever again.
If you calculate the cost of disposable razors, shaving gel x 2 people over a lifetime = $ hundreds of dollars worth of savings!
2) Hair cuts
My husband used to get haircuts once every 2-3 months at $20/visit. For me, it was every 4 months at $40/visit. It would be roughly $220/year.
Then he heard about the idea of getting clippers to cut his own hair. Clippers usually cost less than $50.
He can cut his own hair with the clippers and this hair cutting cloak we got (to help with easy cleaning), but I usually do it for him.
They’re easy to use! The cut looks great. We still use these clippers today. It’s been 5 years.
He also cuts my hair! For my hair, we just watched a couple of YouTube videos.
Between the 2 of us, we’ve saved hundreds of dollars to date, let alone the thousands we anticipate in the years to come.
3) Buying stuff at the mall
Raise your hand if you’re a mall rat! It’s okay. I’ve been there. It’s so easy to hang around the mall for hours – window shopping, actually shopping and getting meals from the food court.
On maternity leave, I’ve met many moms with babies in strollers at the mall – just trying to get their little ones to sleep or be calm. Inevitably, they buy a smoothie at Booster Juice or cute baby clothes at Carter’s.
If you can help it, don’t go to the mall where you’re tempted to purchase. Hang out at the library. Go to the park.
If you need to buy something, do it online where you can get up to 40% cash back through Rakuten (formerly Ebates). For U.S. residents, Rakuten will give you a welcome bonus of $10 after making your first online purchase of $25 or more. For Canadians, it’s a $5 welcome bonus for signing up.
I used to buy clothes ALL THE TIME. I’m talking about dropping hundreds in a weekend – many times a year.
I love mixing and matching clothes to create new outfits.
When I looked at my closet, I realized I only wear 20% of it – the classic, good quality pieces. They’re simple and timeless.
I don’t need any more clothes.
Related: You could also save money on clothes by hosting a clothing swap.
If you REALLY need particular clothing pieces, here’s how to buy clothes on a tight budget.
5) Cable, movies, books/magazines, music, video games
If you have fast Internet, you don’t need cable. You can stream most things online.
On cable, I used to watch the news, movies and TV shows.
While you can watch the news online, nowadays, I subscribe to specific news threads and blogs. That way I’m just reading the news I’m interested in.
I no longer see all of the general news. Frankly, some news is just plain depressing! If it’s really important news, I usually end up finding out about it from a family member anyways.
I still watch movies and TV shows, but I rent them from the library.
I also rent books/magazines from the library! You could rent music and video games from the library as well.
Or I use Netflix or Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime not only has free 2 day shipping, it has free access to movies, TV shows, music and books. You can also get 20% off diapers and baby food when you have more than 5 subscriptions through Amazon.
Get the Amazon 30 day FREE trial here. You can cancel at anytime. No questions asked.
6) Convenience foods at the grocery store
If you’re a regular meal planner and you’re busy, it might seem like a good idea to buy the prepared convenience ingredients at the grocery store like:
- shredded cheese
- pre-cut fruit
- bread crumbs
- bagged salads
- spice packets
- chicken broth
The cost of this convenience adds up! For example, 300 grams of shredded cheese costs the same as a 400 gram block of the same cheese!
Sure there’s the time involved with shredding, but a little intentional planning can go a long way.
For the shredded cheese, pre-cut fruit and bread crumbs, you can shred/cut/grind these foods quickly in a food processor.
I make everything from hummus to pesto sauce to veggie burgers with mine! It only takes a minute or so to both process the food and then clean the processor afterwards.
For the salads and spice packets, you more than likely have all of the ingredients in your fridge, pantry and spice rack.
For the chicken broth, the next time you boil or pressure cook a chicken with bones in it, just save the broth for your next recipe!
7) Fitness Classes
I’ve had all types of fitness memberships from yoga to dance to gym classes where I’ve paid roughly $20/class.
I used to think that I needed to sign up for these classes to get a good workout.
Then my husband got me Just Dance for our Wii. After 3 songs, I was sweating buckets!
I realized I don’t need to go to these classes – I can exercise at home!
I started Youtubing workout videos. You can find all types of fitness classes for beginners to advanced levels for FREE on Youtube!
I also started walking more outside to get that fresh air with exercise.
Now I spend $0 on fitness and have easily saved over $500/year.
Cards are nice to get. They come with a nice, feel good message.
If I’m honest with myself, I haven’t re-read a card since I received it. All my cards are now collecting dust in a storage box. I don’t remember who gave me cards and what they said.
As I’m not using them, the more minimalist side of me feels like they’re wasteful.
Over the years, I’ve often only given out cards for Xmas. Between all of the leftovers I have from Xmas card packs, I have enough cards to give out for at least a few years. After I use those up, I don’t think I will buy anymore cards.
Even though cards are a small expense, I think I’ll have my kid DIY them or I won’t give out cards at all. I’ll use a mailing label on the gift (I’ve done this before and it does the job!). I doubt anyone will care.
9) Dryer sheets
We have a dryer, but we no longer use it to save on the cost of running the dryer. As such, we don’t use dryer sheets.
Instead, we hang dry our clothes on an indoor rack near a sunny window. You could also hang dry outside for faster results.
Initially I thought it would be too much work. Once I started doing it, I learned how to streamline my process.
It now takes me less than 7 minutes to hang dry a full load. Here’s my strategy using this indoor rack:
- I put matching socks and underwear along the small perimeter slots on either side.
- Towels, my husband’s jeans, and any pieces that go on hangers will be placed on the horizontal rods on the top tier.
- I put smaller pieces like shirts, shorts, and babies clothing on the bottom tier.
- As the clothes are organized on the rack, it’s easier to fold and organize them in the laundry bin before placing them in the closet.
- A dry towel
- A wool dryer ball
They also don’t have the chemicals that are often in dryer sheets. If you want to give your laundry a fragrance, you can add a few drops of essential oil (e.g. lavender, lemon) on the dryer ball.
10) Cleaning products
I used to buy Lysol disinfecting wipes and bottle spray cleaners.
Then I heard you could just use water with vinegar, baking soda or lemon juice or oil to do simple household cleaning.
I got a bunch of spray bottles and put in water and vinegar and other variations of the above ingredients. It works just as well.
It’s small savings! It’s also natural, nontoxic, and environmentally friendly.
Side note: If you have a disgusting mess that you don’t want to touch, use baby wipes. They’re much cheaper than Lysol disinfecting wipes and do the job! If you already have baby wipes on hand, there’s definitely no need to have additional wipes!
11) Paper towels
Paper towels are a small cost that can add up over time.
Instead of buying paper towels, you can use old clothes.
If you’re worried about scratching paint or other surfaces, you can use microfiber cloths. I like to use these cloths as they also absorb quicker.
I used to get occasional manicures, but now I don’t get manicures at all.
It’s difficult to maintain the manicured look! I’m very hands on. I can easily mess up my manicure in 1 or 2 days. Every time it happens, I feel like the manicure is money down the toilet!
Now I just cut my nails using nail scissors and leave it at that.
Manicures cost $20/visit. Say you go once a month, that’s over $200/year. DIYing it is so much cheaper!
13) Starbucks/Tim Hortons coffee and tea
While it’s nice to go to the coffee shop and have someone else prepare your coffee or tea, this is a habit that gets expensive over time.
There’s the $5 coffee expense. When you think about the gas to/from the coffee shop, the cost can shoot up.
Say you treat yourself to takeout coffee 3x per week. That’s $780/year!
When you have an instant coffee and tea maker like a Keurig, it’s just as easy and faster to get the hot beverage you need in the morning.
When you buy your own coffee grounds and use refillable K-cups, you’re saving even more money and being environmentally friendly.
14) Takeout and Dine In
I have to say I love takeout and dining in at restaurants. I love having someone else cook my meal and clean up my mess.
Cooking at home is just one of those things I had to make into a habit.
We still get the occasional takeout and dine in at restaurants. Here are a few things that helped me cook more at home.
- Meal planning – If you’re new to meal planning, check out the $5 meal plan. For only $5 a month, you receive a delicious meal plan that only costs $2 per meal! If you’re interested, they offer a 14 day free trial (approximately 40 recipes) – regular or gluten-free – that you can cancel at any time.
- Instant Pot – Using the Instant Pot changed my cooking game. I used to take all Sunday meal prepping for the week. Now it takes me a fraction of the time. Side note: We just cooked a whole turkey in 45 minutes in the Instant Pot for Christmas. And it tasted amazing!
- Instant pot accessories – To make it easier to use the Instant Pot, you can purchase some additional accessories like an extra pot (so you can make multiple dishes quickly without having to clean or this non-stick version for sauces, soups, chili, rice cooking, slow cooking etc)or extra sealing rings (to separate your sweet and savory dishes and avoid odor transfer). There’s also this Instant Pot accessories bundle , which contains 2 steamer baskets, 1 steamer rack, 1 non-stick springform pan, 1 egg rack, 1 egg bites mold and other accessories for a decent price.
- Nice cooking tools like this heat resistant silicone spatula set that’s comfortable to use, durable and doesn’t peel. I got one for Xmas and I love it!
If you have a cell phone, ditch the landline. At $20/month, that’s $240 worth of savings right there!
Unless you live in an area with poor cell coverage and significantly more expensive cell plans, there’s no financial reason to have a landline.
With apps like Whatsapp, you can talk and text on your cell around the world for free.
If you want to take it one step further, we experimented with using 1 cell phone between 2 people for a year when we were abroad.
It actually worked well. Unintentionally, it made us more productive because we weren’t constantly checking the phone notifications. I got a lot of reading done that year.
16) Disposable pads
I’m sorry to exclude my male readers.
These reusable cloth pads are too practical to not share with my female readers! Not only do they save money, they’re more comfortable than disposables and environmentally friendly
As the cloth pad wraps around the underwear and snaps to itself, it might slide around. If you wear tight underwear, it will prevent the cloth pad from moving.
If you already cloth diaper your baby, the transition to using adult cloth pads is seamless. I don’t cloth diaper my baby, but I find using cloth pads easy to wash and maintain.
If you use tampons, you might want to also consider the Diva cup. It’s a reusable menstrual cup that collects rather than absorbs. It’s made of 100% healthcare grade silicone. It offers up to 12 hours of leak free protection.
17) Cheap things just because they’re cheap
I’m a sucker for 50%+ stickers, especially if I’ve done my research and know it’s an excellent deal!
Just because things are severely discounted, doesn’t mean you should buy it.
Let me give you an example.
My husband and I used to love getting Halloween stuff AFTER Halloween. We used to buy Halloween candy, decorations, and costumes.
Not only is the candy not good for you, but do we really need that many Halloween decorations? Are these Halloween costumes going to be relevant next year?
Don’t make our mistake! We didn’t do the Halloween haul this year and we’re hoping to continue the tradition for next year.
It’s always a good rule of thumb to think carefully about your purchases before you purchase them. Give it a day or 3.
18) Brand name stuff
This is something that hits home for me. I used to work in marketing for a branding department.
A brand is a PERCEPTION customers have about a product or service.
Companies spend millions of dollars trying to create this association with a certain quality and build brand loyalty.
Each product and service should be judged by its unique features regardless of the brand name.
For example, you might find that “No Name Brand” cheese has the same ingredients as Kraft cheese even though Kraft is a household name.
If “No Name Brand” cheese tastes similar to Kraft cheese, but it’s cheaper, why wouldn’t you purchase it? Unless Kraft is rewarding you with loyalty program points that more than make up for the price difference, there’s no point in being loyal to Kraft.
This might seem a bit extreme, but I no longer buy shampoo.
I don’t buy it for myself. I’ve never bought it for my 2 year old. Yes – you read that right. She’s never had shampoo on her hair.
How do I clean our hair?
I just use water and this boar bristle brush to make the scritching and preening process faster.
Scritching is when you massage your head, loosen the dead skin cells and oil and transfer your scalp oils to the pads of your fingers.
Preening is running the pads of your fingers down the length of your hair to distribute the oils throughout, particularly at the ends.
If you’re interested in trying this, here’s my complete no poo guide.
When I wrote this guide, I hadn’t started no poo for myself yet. I had only done it with my toddler. I’m happy to report it worked well with my hair too.
My hair is healthier and stronger than it’s ever been.
Other Resources for Saving Money
Do a no buy challenge.
What’s a no buy challenge?
It’s when you don’t spend money over a set period like a weekend, 1 week, 1 month or 1 year.
This might seem like an impossible task, but you can give yourself allowances and rules for flexibility.
Check out my No Buy Challenge Guide here.
Looking for other ideas to save money?
Here are my favorite money saving resources:
Rakuten (formerly Ebates) is great because you can get up to 40% back for shopping online at over 2500 stores – many of which you would normally shop at like Amazon, eBay, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Walmart etc. It’s FREE to sign up.
For U.S. residents, Rakuten will give you a welcome bonus of $10 after making your first online purchase of $25 or more. For Canadians, it’s a $5 welcome bonus for signing up. You can read more about how to use Rakuten here!
Checkout51 is an app that gives you cash back for your groceries!
If you purchase any groceries on their list (which sometimes includes everyday essentials like bananas), you can snap a picture of your receipt on your app (they make it super easy). The approval takes roughly a few days and then cha-ching – you’ll get money in your Checkout51 account!
$5 meal plan
If you spend hours meal planning every week only to stress out some days and eat out, you might be interested in the $5 meal plan. For $5/month, they send you a weekly meal plan where every meal will cost approximately $2/person! They save you time and money so that you can focus on doing things you enjoy like hanging with your kid!
They offer a 14 day FREE trial (approximately 40 recipes) – regular or gluten-free – that you can cancel at any time with no questions asked.
This membership has 2 great benefits: free 2 day shipping and free access to movies, TV shows, music and books. You no longer have to worry about last minute items. You can cancel your other movie, music and book subscription services. You can also get 20% off diapers and baby food when you have more than 5 subscriptions.
Get the Amazon 30 day FREE trial here. You can cancel at anytime. No questions asked.
Recap of 19 things I stopped buying to save money every day
- Razors and shaving gel
- Hair cuts
- Buying stuff at the mall
- Cable, movies, books/magazines, music, video games
- Convenience foods at the grocery store
- Fitness classes
- Dryer sheets
- Cleaning products
- Paper towels
- Starbucks/Tim Hortons coffee and tea
- Takeout and Dine In
- Disposable pads
- Cheap things just because they’re cheap
- Brand name stuff
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