Let’s be honest… as human beings we waste a lot of money. We each, personally, could probably create a laundry list of things we could afford to stop buying to save money.
If you are reading this, you may be at a place in your life where you are trying to figure out how you can make small but impactful changes to your budget and habits in order to save money. What can you stop buying to save cash without feeling like you’re robbing yourself of what you enjoy? I am willing to bet that you are hoping to find ways you can save without feeling like you’re doing a complete 180.
Sam is way better at telling himself “we need to save money, so I can pass on this $1.99 candy bar.” Whereas I am more like, “rather than buying $10 glasses of wine at the restaurant, I am going to save by buying a $10 bottle at the liquor store instead.” He’ll give up pretty much anything, no problem. We are not the same!
I’m not going to lie… I am not wild about completely cutting out things that I like because to me, it can make saving money that much harder – regardless of what it is that I am cutting back on. If I give up things completely, it feels like more of a force than simply making a habitual change. I don’t like feeling totally restricted.
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But, saving money is not all about making sacrifices that feel like you’re giving things up completely. It’s also about not wasting money on stuff we don’t need and on stuff that can be purchased in a more affordable form! This means giving up or cutting back on a combination of things that bring us pleasure as well as things that we don’t even realize we are wasting our money on.
So, what can you cut back on or stop buying to save money?
1. Stop Buying Disposable Water Bottles
A case (24-pack) of disposable water bottles can range from $10-20 depending on the brand. If you’re like me and drink a ton of water every day, that case can be gone in a matter of days.
Get a reusable water bottle. Not only will you be helping the environment by not throwing out so much plastic, but you’ll be spending way less. Bottles like Swell keep your water colder for much longer. The bottles cost about $30, but you could spend that much on plastic in a week or two so you’ll break even really quickly.
Just don’t bring this topic up to my mother or you will be stuck in an hour long vent session about the uselessness of disposable water bottles.
2. Forgotten Mobile App Subscriptions
How often do you mindlessly purchase a subscription app only to forget about it? Who cares, it’s only $1.99/month, right? We purchase apps with the best intent, but they often end up going unused. And we keep on paying for them.
For example, I was traveling and didn’t have access to a gym, so I bought a home workout app that looked great! It had all sorts of workout routines I could do from home, without any type of gym equipment. A perfect way to stay in shape, right?
I used the app for workout ideas twice before I opted to do what I wanted to do from home with the knowledge I already had. I forgot about the app for a solid three months before I noticed it sitting in my “Health” folder and remembered that I was still paying for the damn thing! I quickly cancelled my subscription, thankful that I noticed it before I wasted too much money.
In hindsight, the problem boiled down to habit. I already knew many of the recommended workouts. So, it wasn’t a matter of having access to awesome new moves that would motivate me to exercise from home; it was a matter of motivating myself to workout period. The app had nothing to do with whether I was going to take the time to exercise. If I was going to workout out, it came down to mind over matter, rather than having this cool new app to “motivate” me into working out.
Regardless of the type of app, you’ve probably done the same: purchased an app or subscription that you didn’t end up using, only to continue renewing each month or year. It’s time to clean up shop and get rid of those recurring charges!
💡 How to cancel app subscriptions on an iPhone: Head to Settings and click iTunes & App Stores. Select your Apple ID and enter your password. Scroll down to Subscriptions to find a list of all apps that you are paying for monthly or annually.
See any that you don’t use anymore? Or an upgrade that you don’t need after all? Cancel subscriptions that you don’t use and/or downgrade to basic plans to save some money. The payments may have been small, but when you are being charged monthly or annually, (possibly) unbeknownst to you, those charges can add up fast. Why continue to pay for subscriptions that you don’t need?
WANT TO SAVE ON OTHER SUBSCRIPTIONS? GET TRIM!
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One of the coolest things about Trim is that he will help get you cash back for free by cancelling unwanted subscriptions.
With Trim, I cancelled almost $40/month of subscriptions I no longer use – some of which I completely forgot about or was too lazy to cancel on my own! That’s $480 in savings a year! All I had to do was tell Trim to cancel them for me.
Not only did Trim save me that money, but he got one subscription service to refund me a previous month’s charge (without me even asking him to) even though the charge was made weeks prior.
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3. Stop Eating Out So Much
If you need to get out of debt, changing the way you eat is a huge way to start saving money. Dining out gets expensive very fast, especially if you do it often.
Like I mentioned previously, I am not a huge fan of making COMPLETE sacrifices because then it feels like highway robbery – and it makes saving more difficult. I love going out to eat, but fortunately, I also really love cooking. Rather than cutting out your dinner dates completely, limit them and meal prep at home.
First, figure out how much you spend on eating out in any given week. This number should include coffees, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and treats like ice cream. Next, scale it down, regardless of the regularity.
This means that if you find that you’re eating out most meals of the week, you should be cutting that number by at least half. Pack your lunches, eat leftovers, and cook at least 3 or 4 of your dinners each week.
If you find that you eat out just a few times a week, try limiting the indulgence to one meal out on the weekends.
If you only eat out a few times a month, choose one date night a month.
Get the idea?
No matter how much or how little you eat out, you can scale back in some way. Find a nice balance between eating in and going out and you will be wasting less money. And dining out will feel more like a treat!
$5 Meal Plan
An awesome food prep option is the $5 Dollar Meal Plan which is a money AND time saver. It’s a simple weekly meal plan service meant to make your meal planning easy and headache-free.
How much time do you spend planning your meals for you and your family? It’s can be a pain in the butt TBH. For just $5/month, you will receive a delicious meal plan where every meal costs just $2/person, and often less! To learn more about how it works and to see a sample meal plan, check this out.
You can try it out for FREE for 14 days, and if it isn’t for you, you can cancel at any time without spending a penny!
4. Skip the Pre-Packaged Foods
I know, they’re sooo much more convenient. But that’s why they cost more. Convenience is expensive!
For example, those bags of mixed greens and lettuce may make salad-making easier, but:
- They cost more than a head of lettuce
- You get less than you would out of a head of lettuce
- They go bad faster than a head of lettuce
AKA, buy that head of lettuce.
Or, how about those individual-sized packs of chips and snacks? Such a money-sucker!
Say you want to buy some potato chips, and you are torn between a 12-pack of individual bags and one large bag. Look at the Unit Price of each, marked in orange on the grocery store shelf. Which one has a lower Unit Price? Most likely the one larger bag. The reason is that you are paying for convenience. Purchase the large bag and break the bag down into smaller individual packs yourself at home.
Quit being lazy… buy a box of snack sized Ziploc bags and a family-sized bag of chips and make your own to-go snacks. Always make sure you are getting the best value for your money.
Want to know how else you can save money on groceries? Check out this list!
5. Turn Off Your Cable
According to USA Today, cable TV companies report an average spend of about $85/month per subscriber, while satellite TV providers report an average of $100/month. I’ll do the math for you… that’s $1,020-1,200/year on TV! If your cable isn’t that high, I am willing to bet that your plan is no less than about $50/month.
My question is, how much do you watch it?
If your answer is “a lot,” well, maybe this money-saving tactic isn’t for you. If your answer is “sometimes/here and there,” you may want to consider an alternative. If your answer is “almost never,” what are you waiting for?!
If you only watch your TV sometimes, consider one of the cheaper options: Netflix currently costs $11.99/month and is rapidly increasing the amount of TV shows and movies available. Hulu’s cheapest plan is $7.99/month, with the option to upgrade to Hulu Live for $39.99 (streams tons of live TV shows).
There are also plenty of other great activities you can do with a little less TV time! Consider picking up a side hustle and then eventually, the cost of cable may be a bit more justifiable.
If you don’t want to cancel your cable… you may still be able to save some money by lowering your monthly bill! Remember Trim? Sign up and he will negotiate with your cable provider to lower your monthly bill by up to 30%!
6. Household Knick-Knacks
If you are hurting for cash but still going crazy at HomeGoods, you HAVE to stop!
(I am also speaking to myself)
I LOVE me some picture frames, house decorations, kitchen supplies, throw pillows, yummy candles, lotions and hand soaps… but just because they are priced nicely doesn’t mean I need them.
I’d be lying if I didn’t justify my candle-buying habit as a need, though. Because I do truly feel like candles chill me the eff out and make me an overall more reasonably behaved person, but I suppose I could limit my monthly candle allowance to save money.
Do you really need another set of throw pillows for your bedroom’s Autumn theme? Or would the ones you already have (that you remove each night before bed) work just the same? How about that throw blanket you had to have because it was just *TOO* soft to pass up on? For the sake of this post’s argument, I would call these things a waste of money. An area we can work on!
Learn more tips & tricks for making and saving money!
7. Stop Buying Drinks At Restaurants
As I mentioned before, I am a lover of wine. But when our finances got tight, I knew I had to stop indulging as often as I was.
An average glass of wine at a restaurant can cost anywhere from $6-14 depending on where you are eating and the quality of the wine. Big range, I know, but if you like wine you know what I mean.
If you are going to indulge in more than one glass, that quickly becomes an extra $12-42 on your bill (depending on the quantity and the price per glass). Rather than drinking at the restaurant, opt for a night cap at home for the price of one glass at the restaurant. Because let’s be honest, you can get a bottle of decent wine at a liquor store for the same price as a glass of decent wine at a restaurant.
If you really need to save money, like… badly, try cutting alcohol [almost] completely. A bottle of wine can cost anywhere from $10-20, depending on your taste. If you’re a bottle-of-wine-on-the-weekend person, that’s a minimum savings of $520 a year, excluding the times that you have more than that bottle, and the times that you get drinks when you go out.
You know your own personal habits… you do the math, you’ll see how much you can adjust and save!
8. Grocery Store Produce
This particular money saving hack may only be applicable if you have access to a farmers market. Farmers market produce is DIRT CHEAP. I don’t know why but every time I buy local, I walk away shocked by how much I got and for how little. I’m talking $45 worth of grocery store produce for 12 measly bucks!
Many farmers markets also sell eggs, other dairy products, loaves of fresh bread, honey, jams and more!
Not only is this skipping the grocery store produce nice on the pocket, but it’s also super great to support local farmers!
9. Expensive Makeup & Personal Products
It hurts me to even write this because I am hella guilty of getting sucked into the high-quality (and high-priced) skincare and makeup… but man, it shows in my bank account.
You may have select hair, skin and makeup products and brands that you use… I know I do. But, if you’re trying to save money, maybe it’s time to explore more affordable options and stop wasting money on the expensive stuff – especially because some people won’t even be able to tell the difference. Something as simple as changing your shampoo or face wash brand could save you a nice chunk of money.
I am a lover of department store skincare products like Lancôme and Estée Lauder. But they are a bit on the pricier end. Lately I have been using Simple products which are both affordable and of good quality. For example:
Lancôme Bi-Facil Face Makeup Remover – $40
Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water – $5.12
Pretty big difference, huh? I love Lancôme but when I can’t swing it, I can’t swing it. It costs me $35 less to use Simple make up remover, which gets the job done and is quite nice on my bank account!
This doesn’t mean going completely cold-turkey on the brands you love… but you can definitely find affordable alternatives for the things you don’t care as much about, like maybe your lipstick or mascara.
10. Paper Towels and Napkins
This falls into the same vein as a reusable water bottle. Think about the amount of paper towels and napkins we use each day. I am crazy guilty of using half a roll of paper towels while cooking dinner. What can I say? I am a messy cook.
Rather than drying your hands on paper towels after each wash, get a pack of cheap kitchen towels. Rather than using paper napkins with dinner, get a set of cloth napkins and wash them after a few uses. Unless you’re a slob, in which case you may have to wash more frequently.
11. Flowers For Yourself
I hate to say this, because flowers are super sweet and make the house smell good, and are bright and cheerful and wonderful… but if you’re on a budget, they’re a waste. This is because, well, they die.
This is not to say that giving flowers to another person as a gift is a problem (PM me for my address, I like ’em. JK, kind of). No, not at all. But if you’re the type to buy flowers for yourself, purely because you like how they look sitting on your mantle, you might as well save yourself some money and quit it.
Flowers are one of those luxury items that seem like a great idea in the moment but aren’t so great when you’re reviewing your billing statement and see, “$30.99 from Pete’s Flowers? Whose birthday was it? Oh wait…”
If you’re a flower lover, treat yourself to them on special occasions and save your money during the rest of the year.
12. Magazines & Books
No, no, no… I am not telling you to stop reading! In fact, Sam would be in a load of trouble if he told me I had to cut back on my reading so we could save some money.
Stop buying physical magazines and books. This one is a bit tough for me because I have always dreamed of having a library of books in my future home… but I don’t need physical copies of every single book I pick up.
Those magazines lining the shelves at the checkout counter with the gorgeous home inspo and the delicious looking summer salad recipes are a total waste of money. Yes, the content is great but guess what? You can find ALL of that information online… for FREE!
You can also get a subscription app like Nook or Kindle. With Kindle Unlimited, you can get access to a huge library of books for just $9.99/month. That is the cost of one book at the bookstore! Some subscription programs even have digital magazines. Better yet, get a membership to a library and you can read all the books you want for free! Some libraries even have digital access so you can download books and magazines rather than checking them out.
13. Plastic Grocery Store Bags
Not only do these destroy our beautiful Earth but they are a waste of money! You may be thinking, what’s 5 cents a bag in the grand scheme of things, but if you are taking home 10-15 bags a week, that adds up! Do yourself a favor and buy yourself some reusable grocery bags. You’ll be saving money, the planet, AND they are way easier to carry!
If you must spend money on these things, well, it may be time to create a “for stuff I like wasting my money on” fund. The best way to avoid the need to “cut back” is to make more, right?
If you’ve made it this far, let’s keep on keepin’ on. One of the most immediate ways to make some extra cash is by taking online surveys. All you have to do is share your opinion when you have some time to spare, and get paid! It’s really easy, not to mention FREE!
Here are our favorite (and the most trusted!) survey sites to earn money online. We would recommend signing up for as many as you can to increase your survey qualification potential:
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This is by far my favorite website to take surveys and earn rewards. Swagbucks has been around for years, and is a fun rewards program that gives you FREE gift cards and cash for the everyday things you already do online.
You can earn points (or “Swagbucks”) when you shop at your favorite retailers, watch videos, search the web and participate in surveys!
Survey Junkie is another one of my favorite sites to take surveys online. It is one of the most used options to earn cash and rewards for sharing your opinions, and for good reason! There are over 3 million members registered and you can earn anywhere between $2 and $75 for taking surveys.
The longer the survey, the better odds you stand for earning more! Especially if you get paired with a focus group! Another plus? You can cash out at $10 (1,000 points) which is a much better threshold than other sites! Sign up just takes 5 seconds!
Get rewarded for watching TV and making purchases online, in addition to taking the surveys. We already watch TV and shop so why not get rewarded for it?
Vindale Research is one of the survey sites that has more options than most. Surveys are anywhere between $1-5, and they even offer some up to $50 if you are lucky! A plus? You can redeem via check or PayPal.
For a longer list of online survey sites (and to get some pointers on how to navigate them), check out this article.
Harris Poll Online is a high paying survey panel that is backed by market research company Nielsen. One of the great things about Harris poll is that you not only get points for each survey completed, but also those that you may not end up qualifying for. This sets it apart from many other survey companies where you may not be rewarded for the qualifying portion.
In addition to surveys, you may also get invites to focus groups, polls, phone surveys and sweepstakes.
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