I bet you can come up with a whole variety of things you should stop buying; whether it’s that morning coffee or a pastry at lunchtime, everyone has those little things that they love to splurge on. When you look to cut down on spending, it’s natural to stop those little habits first, but you could save much more by looking elsewhere. Check out these things you should stop buying, and see if you can save enough to keep your little treat.
Everyone wants to make their days easier, and mornings are the worst: you're time-pressured, stressed and want to get everything done quickly and easily. Which is why pancake mix is a big seller in most supermarkets, despite pancakes being one of the easiest things ever to make. You don’t need to magic up more time in the morning, either; just put pancake mix on the things you should stop buying list, and make your own in advance. 6 cups of flour, 6 teaspoons of baking powder, 1.5 teaspoons of salt, mix and put into a airtight container. Use 1 scoop of the mix, combined with an egg and a cup of milk, in the morning. Easy.
It might feel like landlines will be around forever, but a survey in June 2012 found that 34% of US households have already banished the landline, and many more are set to follow suit. Costing between $180 and $480 a year, on average, landlines can be an expensive way of getting in touch with people. Historically, people were advised to keep a landline in case they needed to contact emergency services, or for use when mobile signal was sketchy. Mobiles now have great signals, and contain the technology required to make emergency calls from anywhere even with no signal, so landlines are completely outdated. Cut the cost, and feel the financial benefit!
3 CDs and Albums…
Next time you find a song you want to buy, stop for a moment and consider a Spotify subscription instead. At between $5 and $10 a month, it’s the same cost as a CD or album, and you’ll be able to listen to the song as much as you like. Different packages give different benefits, but some even allow you to stream to different devices, download the song and listen to it offline, and you can listen to the next song you love too – and the next, and the next, and the next.
4 Spice Rubs…
While they might be branded as magical, or promise to transform even the most sub-standard meal into something delicious, spice rubs are simply a mix of spices with some chemicals added. That means it’s very easy to make your own, and you’ll avoid a host of chemicals that your body doesn’t need, like silicon dioxide or maltodextrin. In fact, using 4 teaspoons of smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 1 tablespoon of ground coriander and 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, you can create a rub that’s perfect for chicken, beef, pork or vegetables. Delicious, and cheap.
Okay, so colorful acrylic containers with special twist-lock lids and silicon seals might look great, and they are pretty fun to stack and match up, but they cost a fortune. One small tub can cost around $10, and if you invest in a few, you’ve quickly spent a small fortune. Instead, collect up big jars and tubs, and wash them thoroughly in the dishwasher. Peal off the label, and use markers and masking tape to label them. These containers can easily hold large amounts of pasta, rice, cereal or beans, and they look nice – and you can always paint them with watercolors to add a more colorful touch.
6 Dryer Sheets…
Dryer sheets are one of those really bizarre products that nobody quite understands. They are packed full of chemicals, they cost a lot and they have plenty of alternatives, which makes using them feel silly. If you use them to stop static, try putting a tennis ball in with your laundry, to stop the clothes from sticking together. If you like the scent, use a lavender sachet in the dryer, and if you want softer clothes, put half a cup of vinegar in the fabric-softener compartment. Easy, and much cheaper.
7 Expensive Face Creams…
Add any crazy-claim-making face creams to your ‘things you shouldn’t buy’ list: they often lie. Even supermarkets which aim to save money by importing products and refusing to use carrier bags seem to stock a variety of expensive face creams, all of which claim to prevent wrinkles and give you baby-soft skin. Realistically, the only thing that’ll visibly make you look younger is sun-cream. Save the dosh from your face creams and invest in a daily sunscreen, and wear it on your face every day. Yes, it feels crazy putting sun cream on at Christmas. But yes, it works.
8 Cooking Spray
Most of you might be surprised to see this one on the list, but let me tell you why you should quit spending $2-$3 on those chemically- laden bottles of nonstick cooking spray. First, they're filled with junk! From soybean oil, to many different nasty chemicals that produce the effects they do, trust me- you are waisting your money! Instead, invest in some coconut oil, and grease your pans with just a teeny sized amount before you cook. Coconut oil holds up well during cooking and a whole jar lasts forever! Plus, it has nothing but good ingredients for your body. I prefer to buy organic and cold pressed for the best flavor and nutrition. Don't worry, your food won't taste like coconut at all, but instead, just have a really rich flavor. Don't fear the fat either. In such a small amount, you're only using it to grease the pan, not douse your food in it! Plus, you'd be surprised how much better your food tastes when you don't have those nasty sprays all over it!
I used to keep notepads everywhere! I'm sure you're guilty of this too. From to-do lists, to jotting notes down, journaling, etc. You really don't even need notepads if you have a smart phone, or you at least don't need more than one. I use my Notes app and my Reminders app on my iPhone for all my note jotting, to-do lists and more. There are many other apps you can use for this same purpose, even journal apps. Best of all, you won't ever leave home without your list since you'll have your phone with you! Sure, notebooks are pretty and notepads aren't that expensive, but saving every little bit of money helps. Plus, you pay enough for that phone, so get your money's worth out of it!
10 Gym Memberships
Quit spending all that money on a gym membership and start exercising outside, or inside. You can find tons of free videos and workouts on YouTube, and even invest in inexpensive weights or kettlebells, which I love. I couldn't afford my gym membership anymore a couple years ago that I had loved having for about 10 years. I was heartbroken, but decided to make the best of it and make my own gym at home. I paid about $20 for my set of kettlebells, and use them as hand weights. They've paid for themselves over the last three years, and I just do floor exercises like squats, hip raises, leg lifts and the traditional pushups and situps to keep in shape. I also do yoga DVD's and YouTube videos, and walk everyday outside or on a treadmill I got from a jockey lot. You can also find many things on Craigslist to help you purchase your own home gym. I hardly had any room at all in my room, but rearranged my furniture so all my floor space could be dedicated to my "home gym".
11 Salad Dressing
You really do not need those fancy salad dressing in a bottle at the store. Even organic ones, gluten-free, etc. aren't that healthy for you. Most all are filled with nasty ingredients that just aren't good for your body. Make your own instead and try one of my favorite recipes, which is a simple vinaigrette. I use 1 tsp. mustard, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, black pepper, juice from one lemon, and 1/4 cup olive or hemp oil. Shake it all in a glass storage jar, use 2 tbsp. for your dressing and save the rest for later. You can even make your own homemade ranch dressing with pureed cashews or Greek yogurt. Experiment, save your money and enjoy the amazing flavor you'll get from homemade dressing. There's simply nothing quite like it!
I still haven't figured out why creamers were even invented. They're filled with unnecessary ingredients, and they're just a waste of money! Even powdered creamers are just pointless. I simply use unsweetened almond milk or nonfat organic milk for creamer. You can flavor it with stevia, agave, honey, etc., and use extracts like vanilla, peppermint, etc. if you want flavor. I make a skinny peppermint mocha at home using nothing but coffee, cocoa powder, peppermint extract, stevia and unsweetened almond milk as my creamer. You avoid nasty ingredients like partially hydrogenated oils, corn syrup solids, cane sugar, palm oil, etc. that are found in everything from powdered creamers, to dairy creamers to even nondairy creamers. Quit wasting your money and just use milk.
I love nut butter as much as the next girl, but I never ever buy it at the store. Have you seen how high nut butter is? Unless you buy a cheaper brand that is filled with sugar, salt and unhealthy fats, you'll pay a pretty penny for the good stuff. Instead of going through all that, just make your own! All you need is a food processor, about 3 cups nuts and any flavors you want like vanilla, cinnamon, stevia or honey, or even chocolate. Just process for about 10-15 minutes, stirring down the sides, and you'll save about $5-$8 per jar on nut butter, depending on what type of nut, brand, etc. you usually purchase. The only exception is peanut butter, which you can find natural brands for pretty cheap.
I quit eating standard bread 10 years ago, and aside from the nutritional aspect, it's a smart thing to do financially. It is just more economical and healthy, to eat grains in their whole form, not processed. Bread, even the most healthy breads on the market, are processed, and the healthier they are, the pricier they are. Just use regular whole grains instead like oats, quinoa, brown rice, etc. You can make your own bread at home if you really want to get fancy using these plain grains too. There are many recipes online you can find that don't require a lot of time, or money, and you'll avoid all the unnecessary additives in the process, not to mention extra dollars!
15 Face Wash
It kind of pains me how much I used to pay over the years for face wash. It didn't seem that bad to drop $3-$5 on a bottle of face wash every two to three months, but really and truly, I didn't even need it! Now, I just use a $2 all natural sea salt soap bar infused with olive and shea butter. It is the best $2 I ever spend over three months because it keeps my face clear from breakouts, and it keeps it soft. It is also so much better for your skin and has no nasty chemicals. There are many brands on the market to choose from and I use it as a body soap as well.
16 Body Wash
Once again, don't waste $4-$5 on body wash when you can use an inexpensive soap. I know they are marketed so well, you'll be tempted to, but you truly don't need them at all! I never buy body wash anymore, and don't even miss it a bit.
Another thing I quit wasting money on years ago was lotion. All those chemicals, even in natural brands, just aren't necessary, so don't waste your money on them. Instead, just invest in a $16 tub of organic coconut oil from Vitacost, Costco, etc. Most generic brands are just as great to my experience as organic varieties from name brands are. One of these tubs lasts me about 4 months, and I use it for everything from lotion, to eye makeup remover, and shaving cream in my bathroom. This has been the best thing I've ever done to save me money, and save my skin from unnecessary ingredients.
To identify other things you shouldn’t buy, collect up the receipts from everything you buy over the next week, and then check out what’s on there. Do you buy pre-seasoned chicken? It’d be much cheaper to buy chicken and seasoning, and do it yourself. Spend a fortune on house cleaners? Try mixing up natural, and cheaper, alternatives. Have you found a great way to cut out something useless and save money? I’d love to hear about it!