12 Things to Stop Buying: Reducing Costs and Saving Money
Saving money and reducing costs can be difficult, especially since we are surrounded by consumerism on a daily basis and aren’t exactly financially secure yet.
Our society makes us feel like we need this and that in order to live a more efficient and happier life. Not only that, but constant reminders of how others are living their lives only heightens how we think we should live ours. We begin to hang out with our friend Comparison who whispers in our ear how we need to spend money in order to achieve fulfillment.
With available access to whatever we want, it’s easy for our judgement to get clouded when it comes to what we decide to spend our money on. Too easily does ‘want’ become ‘need’ and this interferes with saving money.
Not only that, but sometimes it’s our habitual, everyday or weekly costs that have the most impact. Since these habits have become so routine, it doesn’t occur that they may be significantly contributing to our expenses.
I decided to come up with a list of items and services to stop buying, or to at least cut down on, in pursuit of reducing your costs and saving money.
1) Getting Your Nails Done
I can not stress this one enough.
Getting our nails done is something probably most of us started doing in middle school or high school, and continue to do today.
Many people now-a-days get some form of fake nail service, which is generally the most expensive nail service at a salon. It can cost from anywhere around $30 to over $50. It is a high maintenance service meaning it requires frequent touch ups (generally, every 2 weeks.)
Low end: $30 x 26 weeks (52 weeks in a year/2) = $780/yr
High end: $50 x 26 weeks = $1,300/yr
With one paid manicure, you can buy up to 6 nail polish colors and do it yourself. This would leave you saving $750 in a year.
The skill of painting your own nails may seem daunting when you realize you may not master it your first couple of tries. Just like any skill you have learned, consistent practice is crucial to improvement. With an already existing need to get your nails done every two weeks, it’s inevitable that you will get that practice in. Soon, you will realize how easy and cost-effective it is to paint your own nails.
(Need tips on painting your nails? Leave me a comment.)
2) Monthly-Payment Apps and In-App Purchases
If you’re like me and use Instagram for your business, you may have a ton of apps on your phone that help you achieve various things. Some examples could be: editing apps, Instagram story templates, organizational apps, follower tracking apps, etc.
While some of these can be free, some cost an initial fee, and then some also charge a monthly fee on top of that. Do you really need to be paying $2 a month to see who unfollowed you? And an additional $2 a month for presets when you can learn to make them yourself?
Also, be wary of in-app purchases! In-app purchases are always the features that are most desirable. That’s how they get you to purchase more and stay invested in their app.
While I strongly believe it is important to invest in your business, I urge you to be smart about what all those purchases are and if they are benefitting you long-term.
If you pay for 5 apps at $2 each per month, excluding in-app purchases, you are spending $120 a year.
3) Prepared Sandwiches
One thing I steer clear of at the grocery store is prepared food, whether it’s fresh or frozen. Specifically, I’ve noticed that prepared sandwiches have a significant price difference than overall individual ingredients for making a sandwich yourself.
When you buy individual ingredients, not only is each ingredient cheaper, but your sandwich quantity is about 10x greater than purchasing one prepared sandwich. Plus, you can use those ingredients for other meals as well.
Out doing errands and pop into Starbucks for a quick sandwich? Their Turkey Pesto Panini is $6.45.
$6.45 x 52 (once a week) = $335.40/yr
4) Coffee On The Go
Get this - 83% of Americans drink coffee and 64% of Americans drink coffee everyday. That just sounds expensive.
At age 24 now, I’ve only just started drinking coffee on rare occasions. To be honest, I barely understand how a coffee even machine works! (I still ask my mom to help me if I make one using her Nepresso machine.)
Confession time: Since I was young, I always told myself I would never become a coffee drinker because I didn’t want to waste my money buying it and feeling dependent on it.
That being said, if coffee is a necessity for you, try investing in a coffee machine so you can make them in your home.
Coffee on the go:
Low end: $3 coffee x 365 days = $1,095/yr
High end: ~$6 coffee x 365 days = ~$2,190/yr
5) New Arrival Clothing
Many clothing companies, especially fast fashion brands, are constantly pushing out new products on a weekly basis. This business strategy is not only wasteful and harmful for the environment, but it also gets you hooked into consumerism.
Once you’re hooked, feelings of ‘want’ turn into feelings of ‘need.’
It’s natural to be curious about what new items are on the market, but this can leave you feeling like you need those new items in order to feel trendy, important, relevant, and/or fulfilled. There’s nothing more wasteful than impulsively buying a piece of clothing, only to forget about it the next week when there’s a new set of new arrivals on the market.
What to do instead: Wait for clothes to go on sale, shop second-hand, and/or invest in timeless wardrobe staples (quality over quantity). Also, reduce your time staying up to date with new arrivals on a regular basis. My trick? Out of sight, out of mind.
6) Large Quantities of Produce
Buying a lot of produce at once can seem like you are a healthy ~queen~ (and trust me, you are!)
Sometimes, it can be hard to keep up with how quickly fruit ripens and spoils though. With about a one week turnaround, it’s easy to get caught up in your everyday responsibilities to remember that there is fruit that needs to be eaten. Not only is throwing out large quantities of fruit wasteful, but it just means you’re going to have to go back out to the store to buy some more.
7) Processed Meat
Whenever I look at my grocery receipt, meat is always the cost that stands out from the rest.
Buying pre-sliced meat for sandwiches, marinaded meat, or already cooked meat is what will drive up your costs at the grocery store. (Notice that these are more expensive because they are convenient goods, meaning because you do less preparation work, you pay more for them.)
If your diet mainly revolves around meat eating, try reducing costs by either buying in bulk (and raw) or limiting your meat intake.
8) Plastic Ziplock Bags
I didn’t want to include that many no-brainers in this list, but I think eliminating plastic ziploc bags is still important to talk about considering how many people I still see using them.
You already know how dangerous they are for our environment as well as wasteful. (If you don’t, 1 plastic bag takes 1,000 years to decompose to give you an idea.)
While you *could* wash and reuse a plastic bag, most people won’t because the convenience of a plastic bag is that you can use it once, throw it away, and get a brand new one.
By eliminating plastic bags and replacing them with reusable Tupperware, you could save money in the long run. It’s not a huge expense, but it’s a cost that could be easily eliminated.
9) Cheaply Priced Clothing
Short term, cheaply priced clothing can feel like such a steal. Trust me, I know what it feels like to snag a $5 shirt in the sale section! Cha-ching!
However, cheaply priced clothing generally has a direct correlation to the quality and lifespan of the fabric itself. Long term, you may end up spending more money on replacing your clothes due to how quickly they wear down.
What do to instead: Try investing in higher quality fabrics. With that, pay attention to the different types of care for each fabric to ensure its longevity in your closet.
10) Greeting Cards
This one is quick and to the point. Greeting cards can start around $5 and can be even more expensive than that. Plus, people are quick to throw away store bought cards after they receive them.
Grab some printer paper, your favorite pen, and hand-write and decorate the most meaningful card you can think of for that special person.
How easy is that?
11) Convenient Parking
Parking right in front of your destination is like an ideal situation. However, if money is tight and street parking is $0.25 per 8 minutes (Hello, San Francisco!) try parking a couple blocks away from your destination. Be sure to leave a couple minutes early if arrival time is strict, wear comfy shoes, and enjoy your stroll.
12) Desserts/Drinks at Restaurants
If you are in high school or college, going out to get brunch, T-pumps, to that cute Instagrammy cafe, or to the bars is a huge part of our culture. It’s fun, enjoyable, and the food and drinks we consume are nothing short of satisfying.
My tip: Skip the dessert and fancy drinks, or at least, buy them for special occasions.
My incentives for skipping dessert: First, because I care about my health and fitness, I am always trying to reduce my sugar intake. Second, it’s another $4-$10+ added to the bill (which increases the tax amount and tip to your final total). Lastly, I love dessert so much that I only try to indulge when it’s a special occasion, making the moment super special for myself.
My incentives for skipping drinks: Drinks, alcoholic or not, can be insanely expensive. Non-alcoholic drinks at Starbucks can cost upward to over $6, around $4+ at T-pumps, and starting at $3-7 at restaurants. Alcohol can start anywhere from $5-$13 per drink at average priced restaurants and most people, especially college students, like purchasing more than one drink. Just like desserts, I like having fancy drinks on special occasions instead of making them a routine and necessary purchase. Further, I like restricting my alcohol consumption for health and fitness reasons too.
Total Costs per Year
With just the specific yearly costs I mentioned (nails, apps, sandwiches, and coffee), you could save $2,330 at the low end. Add on costs for clothing, eating and drinking out, parking, greeting cards, and plastic bags, and you could be spending upward of a couple thousand more dollars.
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What do you do to reduce your costs and save money?
Share the top 3 ways you reduce your costs and save money in the comments below!