This post is a shameless cliché (& it includes some affiliate links), but it’s personal & honest. When I was saving for my baby on only my income, one of the most exciting things for me was saving money without actually sacrificing anything.
But for transparency’s sake, my frugal lifestyle was not born out of necessity. I’ve never been rolling in spare cash, but I love NOT WASTING MONEY. There are so many ways to live well on a budget, and that’s my style these days. If I think about it, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shake my “cheap” ways. Because even if I stumble into a pit of $10,000,000, why would I spend it in unnecessary ways?
So when I say “quit buying to save money”, I don’t mean “deprive myself of”
Maybe it’s the wannabe minimalist in me, but a lot of things are just clutter. And that is the core characteristic of avoidable expenses, in my eyes. Clutter. Cutting clutter is hot right now.
I love being frugal because it’s easier to justify the finer things and true, valuable indulgences of mine. Things like
- high quality clothes
When I started taking a good look at where my money was going and thinking about the luxuries I like, it made it much easier to get rid of the crap that isn’t serving those interests.
So here are the things I easily cut from my budget and quit buying to save money!
Cord cutters, unite! We cut cable so long ago, I can’t remember exactly when which I think says a lot… like how little we’re missing out on!
Considering a standard cable subscription gets you 100+ channels that you never even use, you could set a dollar bill on fire every day and STILL spend less than you would on cable. Ya… let that sink in.
I have sooo many reasons why I dislike cable. Seriously, like a ton. It deserves it’s own post, & it’s in the works 😉
But I do want to say how much my quality of life has improved just by skipping out on advertisements, political campaigns, and scare tactic-stuffed news. That stuff is so draining, and definitely NOT worth paying for.
INSTEAD: stream on screen
I use streaming services! Of course they can add up too, but they usually offer a free 30 day trial period so you can see if it’s worth it to you.
The services we use & love are
Netflix – plans from $7.99 – $13.99 +tax
HBOnow – $14.99 flat
Amazon – FREE with a prime membership (the annual membership makes it about the same price as Netflix PLUS all the benefits of being prime <3). They recently added Space Jam to their collection. I’ve never been happier to be a mom and force feed my daughter the great acting skills that blessed our National treasure: Michael Jordan.
Cable-like options are Hulu, SlingTV, Playstation Vue (these pop some commercials in at you, which is why I abstain)
As much as I love the idea of having a home library fit for Belle, it is soooo not worth the price. Unless you find them at a garage sale of thrift store, building a book collection is so expensive.
Even ebooks and using a sweet subscription like Amazon’s
Not to say they aren’t worth it, and I hope people will pay for my books one day, but it’s not something I budget for.
INSTEAD: free is for me
I go to the library & borrow from friends. I don’t always get the books I’m looking for, but I gotta feed the bookworm in me one way or another!
Cheaper by the dozen isn’t just a Hilary Duff movie (with not enough Hilary Duff). It’s usually the case for regular purchases. Right now I’m thinking… doughnuts? Yes please.
That’s why I have a huge list of things I always buy in bulk.
So what are these single-servings I’m talking about?
The solo sodas, ONE roll of toilet paper (??), ONE pack of baby wipes, a singular doughnut.
Even a candy bar at the checkout counter costs an extra buck and change.
INSTEAD: Buy in bulk, baby!
There are a number of things that we use often or a lot of. That’s the stuff I’m always sure to buy more than one of, and never buy ONLY one of. Get what I’m saying?
I have a hard time buying a soda at a restaurant or a beer at a bar. I’d rather buy a 12 pack and drink at home (boozey or not!).
Even these gel pens, my all time favorite 90s kid past time, are like $3 EACH at my local art store. Sorry, but I can buy more for less on Amazon.
I just recently quit buying bottled water, simply because of the price. It wasn’t an easy decision either! I’m a total water snob.
During my pregnancy, most water made me sick. Except for purified bottled water. I don’t do spring water, and our tap water isn’t awesome… I can usually TASTE the dirt and it’s just not… appetizing.
My purified water “addiction” had me going through 6-8 bottles a day. At $3.50 per 24, it wasn’t a huge expense, but by cutting it out I’m saving almost $400 a year (which isn’t including my husband’s water drinking)!
INSTEAD: we finally bought a filter for the faucet
This might sound like an obvious solution, but it’s still not the same for me! Still, I’m sucking it up for money-saving’s sake. My faucet filter is a lot cheaper (& better for the environment) than my water bottle landfill contribution.
I chill a pitcher in the fridge at all times, and cold water makes it easier to get down.
Paying for shipping is stupid!
There. I said it.
It isn’t the most polarizing statement, and probably because it’s so obvious.
With the exception of having something massive delivered to your front door (ie. furniture, appliances, etc), it’s a total scam. Shipping is free at the right places, or there will be a minimum purchase required for free shipping. I’m totally ok with that.
A lot of times there will be a free shipping coupon code you can easily find with honey, my favorite coupon code finder.
INSTEAD: go free or go somewhere else
The best places for free shipping on virtually EVERYTHING:
Free shipping with a Red Card (I only have the debit version that comes right out of my bank account. No line of credit. No monthly bill to pay. Just amazing & 5% off always ugh I love them)
You can get everything in the entire world here. (seriously. it’s MF’ing global) With a prime membership, you get free 2-day shipping on just about all of that stuff. But even without a membership there is usually only a $35 minimum purchase for free shipping! Still amazing.
& my favorite places for CLOTHES:
Free shipping. Free returns. The best customer service. EVER. They’ll even make adjustments to the clothes. FOR FREE! Nordstrom is the best place ever. I’d live there if I could.
- Old Navy/Gap
There is typically a $50 minimum required for free shipping, but they also give amazing deals DAILY for 30%-40% off everything you buy. It’s insane. I love them both for baby clothes, & mommy clothes 😉
They seriously have the cutest kid stuff, and I have never ever paid for shipping with them. Even if you don’t really want alll $50 worth of merchandise, you can order it and return it for FREE.
You might be thinking, “easy. don’t fly.” That’s the simple answer! But my husband and I just spent a year with a thousand mile commute for him to go to school. So flying was not optional. We were flying… often.
Part of why I quit my job was because we needed the flexibility to fly to each other. But then of course that created a new problem: paying for it. So I scraped together a solution.
INSTEAD: rake in rewards
There are airline specific, and general credit cards that will get you free flights with your points/miles/rewards. You’ve probably heard of them, and I will admit it can get confusing.
This is the best breakdown I’ve found giving you the dirty details.
I’ve used Capital One Venture Card, Chase Sapphire, and Southwest Airline’s Visa. Personally, I love Southwest but that’s because they flew where I was flying! My close second is Chase.
Almost Everything from a “convenience store”
Ahhh the convenience fee, as I call it. The gas station will charge you a dollar more than the grocery store, and you’ll pay it! Simply because it’s convenient. They know this. They thrive on it. Which is great for them. But not for me, if I can help it.
INSTEAD: stock up ahead of time
The few occasions that truly call for convenience stores (road trips, traveling in general) can be prepared for! I like to stay stocked on the essentials that get a huge markup in one of those stores.
Things like drinks, food, first aid, diapers, hand sanitizer, napkins.
This is another “convenience” thing. Cut watermelon looks great, but you get more for less with a whole watermelon! It take’s a little space – in your schedule & on your counter, but it’s so worth the savings.
No more pre-sliced pineapples, apples, onions (never!), mushrooms, tomatoes, or any fruits or veggies.
INSTEAD: learn to cut!
Simple cutting skills are easy to find. I only have a couple good knives and an Ikea cutting board.
Besides, you can learn how to cut/chop/dice food on youtube (along with everything else)
Some of the easiest budget clutter to cut is anything disposable. I will admit that I love using paper plates and paper towels, especially as a busy mom (who doesn’t have a dishwasher). But when I’m in money saving mode, this is the first stuff to go.
INSTEAD: we use fewer dishes
To take the burden out of using REAL plates and reusable kitchen towels, I like to keep it simple. I only keep 3 or 4 plates and bowls on hand at any given time, and my towels are all bleachable whites.
Extras are stashed away to keep my sink from overflowing with dirty dishes! Basically, you can’t dirty a dish without cleaning one first.
Full Price Holiday Decor (& all things seasonal)
I understand the temptation.
It’s Halloween/Christmas/Easter and the marketing and decoration for these holidays is on point. I want to live in a catalog, I’ll admit it. Who doesn’t?
But the thing is, that stuff goes on so fast it’ll make your head spin.
If you watch the sales at your favorite places, the prices actually go down temporarily before the holiday is over. But if you’re really patient.
INSTEAD: save it for next year
I like to see what I can score within the weeks after the holiday has passed! You’d be surprised by how many things don’t leave the shelves right away.
A lot of times I miss out on the stuff “I really wanted”, but let’s be real. How necessary is it, really?
Expensive Furniture & Decor
I have what I consider expensive taste for home decor. But my time for nice furniture is… not right now. My husband told me he knew we were ready for a dog when I said “I don’t really care about this couch. It was cheap.”
At this point in my life, my priorities include a messy, massive dog and a wild toddler who always seems to have food on her face and/or hands.
Buying nice and expensive stuff for my house hurts me in a few ways. My money reserves take a hit and my mental health suffers from ongoing turmoil. I have enough on my plate, so I definitely don’t need to add “rapidly decaying home furnishings” to the list.
INSTEAD: buy used or budget-brands
Furniture has a pretty low resale value. You can score awesome things from places like Pottery Barn or Anthropologie from an online marketplace. I scoured Facebook while I was in New York and those rich folk are practically giving away the couches of my DREAMS!
But truth be told, I’m still in love with IKEA. Their stuff is cheap and easy to style so it doesn’t have to look like you live in a garage sale of mismatched everything….
& my give a f*ck level for this stuff is no where near what it would be for a $6,000 couch from Restoration Hardware.
I’ve never been big on trends as it is. My style is pretty traditional. I like my stuff timeless. And that is entirely because trends are often soooo short-lived and I don’t want to waste money on clothes I can’t wear next year.
“Fast fashion” from places like H&M, Forever 21, and even Zara might seem like a good deal until you wash it a few times. So not only is it a risky investment in the eyes of the fashion gods, but it’s a money pit.
INSTEAD: quality over quantity
I trade in being on trend for high quality, neutral items I can wear for years. I’m going to throw together my full capsule wardrobe of splurge-worthy essentials, but the basics like jeans, white & black separates, and shoes are the only items I’ll spend good money on to make them stand the test of time (and washing machines).
Now the higher quality comes with a price, but ThredUp is the brilliant online consignment store that let’s you shop for gently used everything without fishing for gems at your local situation.
Use this link to get $10 to shop on ThredUp & thank me later 😉
I quit buying makeup. & not because I don’t need it. Ha.
Don’t get me wrong, I still use makeup, but I stick to the essentials. Concealer, mascara, a nice eye shadow pallete, a simple bronzer, and some chap stick lol. My “full face” of makeup is pretty simple to throw together these days.
INSTEAD: less is more
My simple skincare routine has made my skin better and my work-at-home job has put less of a strain on my small makeup stash.
I used to love doing my makeup just for fun in my free time, but I don’t really have a lot of that. ha!
Expensive wall art
I love a good gallery wall as much as the next girl, but when it comes to awesome art pieces for the walls – that stuff can run you well over $100. It’s an investment, for sure. But if it’s coming from Wayfair, it’s probably not a good one.
INSTEAD: Frame free photos!
Some of my favorite pictures came from stock photo websites, & others are on my Instagram feed! I can print them virtually anywhere in any size, and frame them in a cheap frame from IKEA, TJ Maxx, or a yard sale.
Budget clutter you can cut right now
So many of these things were so easy to cut out, it hardly affected my lifestyle. But my budget thanks me everyday, so I can deal with the small adjustments I’ve made.
What are your favorite easy ways to save? What did you stop buying?
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