10 Things I Quit Buying (to Save Money)

Trying to decide what to cut from your budget when you’re broke?

Me too.

You’ve probably heard that in most relationships, there is just one person who is largely in charge of the finances.

It’s a generalization, but one that hits the nail on the head with my husband and me. We make all our major money decisions together – house, car, investments, insurance… anything that costs more than a couple hundred bucks really.

But I, almost unilaterally, do all the spending. I pay the bills, I buy the groceries, I plan the holidays, I buy the kid’s clothes, and I am absolutely not complaining.

I have been wasting a lot of money on frivolous purchases lately.

So I quit buying quite a few things and I also quit shopping without a rewards app!

These days there are SO MANY cashback companies vying for our attention. It’s crazy to do ANY shopping without taking advantage of a rewards app that lets you earn cash back on purchases you’d be making anyway.

The Fetch Rewards app lets you earn points (which you can exchange for gift cards) at ANY store, so it’s currently my top choice.

Try Fetch Rewards here (and get 3000 points just for signing up)!  

I love having free reign over the bank account – which, by the way, G contributes to far more than I do. I make around 1/4 of what he does at my desk job, and do a few fun things (like photography on the side, or taking Survey Junkie surveys for spending money, but really, I don’t make much money.  (Update: this USED to be true until I started this blog – now I make over $5000 from home – read my October Blog Income report!)

Related: How to start a blog for profit and work from home

We don’t have a perfect relationship, but we do have a pretty perfect financial relationship. I don’t believe a lot of people can say that. We do not fight about money.

Now, I’m pretty financially responsible. G wouldn’t trust me with all the spending if I wasn’t. (Hopefully, I can encourage you to be as well, if that’s a goal of yours!)

If you’re not financially responsible, consider getting a budget planner and USING it – I love this one:

printable budget planner pages

But it wasn’t always like that. Over the past few years, as we got older and somewhat more financially secure and lazier, I developed some very bad spending habits. Not bad enough to rack up a bunch of credit card debt (thank goodness) but bad enough that I was spending at least $5000.00 a year that should have gone into savings.

Related: 6 Habits of People Who Stay Debt-Free
Related: Bad Money Habits You Need to Quit NOW

When I started on my intentional living journey I took a very long hard look at my spending. Maybe I’ve been spending poorly for around 5 years.

Maybe I have wasted $25,000. This thought makes me sick. It SHOULD make me sick; I don’t even make that in a year. The stark reality is that I have no way to know how much I have wasted and it’s likely far more than I think.

So I looked at my spending. I watched myself hand over my debit card again and again, and I asked myself to be honest about what I was buying that was unnecessary and not in keeping with intentionally minded spending.

A few things were so glaringly obvious I couldn’t even pretend they were justifiable, and some things were a little harder to give up, but I did it. So here you go;


Ten things I banished from my shopping list, to save money:

1. Take out. The amount we spend on food is INSANE. It’s not that I don’t like to cook – it’s that I was never prepared to cook at dinner time. Meal planning is where it’s at! To make this easy, use a program like Eat at Home Cooks – for less than $15 you get access to FOUR separate meal plans (Traditional, Slow Cooker, No Flour, No Sugar and Wholesome Traditional). Print the plans, color-coded grocery lists, and recipes you want for that month — and never think about what’s for dinner again!

2. Shaving Gel. I’ve always known that cheap hair conditioner works just as well or better than shave gel. It costs a fraction and lasts so much longer. I don’t even know how I was justifying buying the shaving gel.

3. New Books/Magazines. This is hard for me to post because I’m afraid to start an online battle about how authors deserve compensation. I totally agree. But I want this blog to be honest and at this point in my life, new books are something that I can’t justify for me. Thrift stores everywhere are a testament to how wasteful it is to buy new all the time. I usually get the newest books by my favorite authors within a few months to a year of their release. At the thrift store.  ← IDEA! If you read lots and can’t fathom not buying books, try Amazon KindleUlimited FREE for 30 days now. You don’t need a kindle to use it, you can install the app on any device, and the best part is that you get to try it for free. Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial.

4. Bottled Water. Another “how did I ever justify this?!” item. I have great tasting tap water, from a well and chemical-free. Oh and also actually FREE. Shame on me for not taking every advantage of that. Plus my new habit of filling my bottle before I leave the house is so much better for the environment. Extra intentional points. I have these freaking awesome Contigo water bottles… 5 of them. Seriously.

5. Convenience Food. I can admit those first four things were pretty easy to give up, and I don’t miss them very often. Now it gets trickier. Giving up pre-packaged foods was not entirely budget-related. It also had a great deal to do with intentional health and doing things that were good for our bodies, but unless your an extreme coupon-er and getting almost all your canned soup and hamburger helpers for free… convenience food is actually really expensive. (But I do miss just putting a pizza in the oven sometimes, or microwaving a cup of noodles. *sigh*) But really, why would you buy pre-made potato wedges for 10x the cost when you can make AMAZING WEDGES at home for pennies (+ they have no weird additives).

6. Specific Brands. We all know that brand loyalty could be costing us big bucks. Open your mind, save money. (With the exception of my three exceptions, see next point.)

7. Toiletries that aren’t on sale. This isn’t one specific item, but much like the brand loyalty point, I can not justify buying full price soap, shampoo, deodorant, ect. These things go on sale, and they go on sale often. I love it when the brand I prefer goes on sale, and I stock up then… but when I NEED something and I don’t have it in the house – I buy the one that’s 50% off. There are three things in this category that I make an exception for. Q-tips, big sexy hairspray and Bioderma Hydrabio Serum moisturizer – Because I love those things with my whole heart and they have proven their worth over and over 😉

Related: How to save money on groceries 

8. Curcumin Pills. This is one of my proudest money-saving revelations – I’m sure someone else has thought of it before, but that doesn’t make me any less thrilled about it. Anyhow. Curcumin is the active agent in turmeric that makes everybody talk about how great turmeric is for you. “They’ve” processed it into a supplement mainly used for inflammation. The thing is, turmeric is available in great big bags (and organic) for a fraction of the cost of the pills. I add a tsp – tbsp of turmeric to my shake every morning now, and I don’t need to buy $60.00 bottles of Curcumin pills. It is not, like, the yummiest thing I’ve ever done, but I take a lot of supplements so finding a way to save money this big in this area in a huge win.

9. Almond Milk for my smoothie. I thought I needed it. We don’t drink dairy milk in our house, I have a smoothie for breakfast every morning and I never gave any thought to not having almond milk. One day I was out so I made it using water and honestly with all the fruit and seeds and protein powder in there already – I really couldn’t tell the difference. I was buying it in bulk for a bit of savings, so it only cost me $10.00 for 6 cartons, but saving $10.00 every month is saving $120.00 a year. I think about you once in a while, almond milk.

10. Manicures. I invested in a gel nails kit from the cosmo proff store and taught myself to do gel nails. And they look professional.  Well, they usually look professional. When they don’t, they still look like 50 bucks that stayed in my bank account, minimum 12 times per year.

So there you go. 10 things that I have deemed too downright wasteful of our hard-earned money. Are there any frivolous regular purchases in your life that need to go? (I asked myself this question, and did a self-audit of the things I DO still buy.)

Share your money-saving epiphanies with me – I’m always looking to build my frugal muscle and save money!

Don’t forget to check out our adorable budget planner here! 

More from Mommy on Purpose:
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7 things we do that save us over $5000 / year
15 little ways we save big bucks

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the things i quit buying to save money

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241 thoughts on “10 Things I Quit Buying (to Save Money)”

  1. When I dropped milk from my morning health smoothies, I began brewing green tea, keeping a bottle of it in the fridge, and using it as the liquid. It’s healthy, adds great flavor, and maybe helps mask the turmeric I add (but also I add cinnamon to help w/blood sugar, and maybe it masks turmeric taste?). My fave so far is a goji-raspberry green tea. Tea bags are cheap.

    • Hey Whitney – what a great idea! (And I’m VERY interested in the cinnamon, I’ve heard of cinnamon for blood sugar – does it work well for you?)

  2. Buy a micro fiber cloth at the dollar store for using on swiffer mop. Washable, and they are great for dusting as well.

    White vinegar is great for cleaning too. Google to find many uses.

    Make your own whipped cream! Easy and delicious. Save money over buying Reddi whip spray can and no chemicals, and adjust sugar to taste

    • Vinegar! Ginger, thank you for that! Why didn’t I think to put vinegar on the list?! I clean EVERYTHING with vinegar, not just because it’s cheap but because my mom had chemical poisoning and cleaners ect made her sick, but vinegar is so not dangerous. I’m all about the Norwex and vinegar these days. Making your own whip cream is also SO much tastier than the can stuff… more of a treat – I’ve never considered that it’s probably 1/2 the price too.

  3. We no longer buy paper napkins or paper towels. We use cloth dinner napkins and I make our “paper” towels from a soft absorb-able material. HUGE savings and great for the environment.

    • Hi Marva! I hear so many people say this – I think I must be sort of different cus I never HAVE spent that much on paper towels. Maybe 15 – 20$ / year? I do feel guilty about the waste when I use them though!

  4. I always think people who never use paper towels must not have animals. We use rags to clean and towels to dry hands but paper for hair balls and the like.

    99% of what we buy that isn’t consumables comes from thrift shops or yard sales. Books, magazines, clothes, decor, furniture, you name it, it’s all available at deep discount there.

    Another site you can check out is Book Mooch. Basically, it’s an online place to trade books for the cost of postage. When a person mooches a title from you, you pay shipping. When you request something the sender pays. There is a wish list, too, so it’s possible to fill out series or try new authors using that feature.

    This is kind of vague, but I find that “shopping my house” is a thrifty habit, too. Do you need a container/gift/thing for the front door or dining room table. Walk around and look in closets and cupboards. It’s amazing how often a great solution turns out to be already there.

    • Hi Michele! I’ve never heard of book mooch – is that a USA only thing? I’ll have to check it out! I don’t think your idea of shopping your house is vague at all! What a wonderful example of a smart way to save – instead of running out and spending money, see what you can get away with using differently! Great tip.

  5. I use coconut oil for makeup remover and shaving. I apply to my legs before showering and shave in there. When you come out pat dry and your legs are nice and soft. Add a little more for extra moisturising. I use the less expensive version from Walmart I save the expensive kind of coconut oil for eating.I cannot speak enough about its many uses. Just don’t use it as facial moisturizer as it can make your face more prone to breakouts.

    • Hey Christine! I love coconut oil too – I’ve never tried it for shaving, what a great idea! My legs could defenitly use a little extra oil love lol, too often they get lizardy! I buy the big bulk coconut oil at Costco so I don’t find it too expensive.

  6. I recently started making my own facial scrub, mask and toner using homemade recipes from the web. The recipes call for coconut oil, coffee grounds, essential oils, mint leaves and other items that are in my pantry or cost very little. Saves lots of money and is much better for my skin.

    • Hi Jay 🙂 I’m looking into making my own moisturizer right now, but I can’t settle on what I should use as a base. I’ve read mixed reviews as far as coconut oil for the face. Any suggestions??

      • One thing I gave up on is spending $30 plus bucks (Liv Aveda mind you)on a haircut- and that’s cutting it dry! I now go to Fantastic Sams and get it cut for half the cost and it still turns out great!

      • HI Laura! I am SOOOO lucky- I have a wonderful mom hairdresser who cuts my hair for free (I know not everyone is blessed that way!). Saving 15 bucks per haircut can really add up… Good for you!!

  7. My biggest savings of late are paper plates & take out pizza.
    As the mom of 8 ( 5 yrs away from empty nester) I make subtle changes as not to frighten the little darlings.

    • Hi Rita! Ungh paper plates… sometimes it’s just so nice to be able to get away with no dishes lol. With 8 kids I can only imagine you need a break from dishes once in while 😉 When we have a bbq I still go for paper plates once in a while. When my hubby went gluten free we quit take out pizza and it’s DEFINITELY a big unnecessary expense.

  8. Paper towel and brand new clothes and haircuts are things I refuse to buy. And I didn’t even know about shaving cream for women. You are all ameteurs. He he

    • HAHA Georgette, you aren’t missing anything with the shaving cream!

  9. Here is a great money savor – when you are in need of glass cleaner – I buy windshield washer fluid! It does a great job and costs a lot less money. I also buy most all of my cleaning supplies, picnic supplies,snacks, party supplies and birthday cards at the dollar store. In fact most of the cards are usually 2 for $1 and they are really cute/funny cards. No need to waste a lot of money.

    For the kids check out your community calendars. Lots of things go on around where I live (Columbus, OH) that are free for families. That also includes the neighborhood libraries (don’t be afraid to venture to other neighborhoods as well).

    If eating out did you check for a coupon – either through a mailing, on line (if you like a page or get a weekly newsletter lots are filled with coupons), or an entertainment book? Lots of places tend to be slower on a Monday so they will have a sale or do they have a kids eat free night?

    Clothing and household items can be picked up at the thrift stores. Here in Columbus every last Tuesday of the month everything is half price at Volunteers of American Thrift Store – get way to save a lot of money! I have bought tons of things that even still have the tags on them.

    Thanks for sharing all your great ideas!

    • HI Karie! Thanks for sharing your great tips – I’ve never even thought of checking the community calendars for free fun stuff! That’s an awesome idea. (I’m gonna have to really work on this mom thing :p) I LOVE thrift stores, they can be addictive. Which I suppose, in itself, is actually not good for saving money lol.

  10. I now use the dryer balls and don’t have to buy fabric softener. Coconut oil, whipped, makes face cream, body cream, cuticle softener and any other part of the body. Great for shaving your legs or if a man, your face. Add a few drops of tea tree oil and you have an anti-bacterial cream. Sites for free e-books, Google “free e books” and you get multiple sites. I use several and haven’t bought a Kindle book in several years and have more than I can read.

    • Hey Frances! I’d love to know more about whipped coconut oil – do you do that in a blender? I just bought all these essential oils to make stretch mark cream and and I figured they’re probably good for the face too, but I’d like to put them in a base of something. Have you tried bookbub for free ebooks? My mom mentioned to me the other day that she gets free books from there all the time! I’m gonna have to check it out.

      • Hi Carly. Thanks for the great ideas. I also got a lot of wonderful suggestions from all the user comments as well! I just wanted to let you know about another free online ebook resource I have used called openlibrary (org). It is a library catalogue but you can also borrow books from their lending library – up to 5 titles for 2 weeks each. They even have kids books. 🙂

      • Hey Tina! Thanks for reading! There have been awesome suggestions from readers, I almost have to write a follow up post (with a big section on how no one should ever buy new books! lol). A FREE online library is something new though I think – thank you 🙂

  11. Wow, these are great ideas and I need all the help I can get with saving a few dollars! I buy all our clothes at thrift stores and thankfully have family and friends for hand me downs for some. I wish I could get away from paper towels (something to work for). I am a cookbook collector but have slowly started downsizing because I find amazing new recipes on Pinterest or googling.

    • HI Lenoria! Thanks for reading! I loooooove thrift stores. Especially now for maternity clothes, because the thought of spending 70$ on pants I’ll wear for 5 months makes my insides shrivel up, lol. I still buy a few paper towels here and there. IF you USE your cookbooks, I think it’s ok to have ’em. It’s the dusty ones in the closet that should go 😉

  12. HI Carly, I usually make my smoothees with water but sometimes I make my own almond milk. We stopped our garbage pick up and take our garbage to the recycle center every Saturday. I also stopped doing manicures/pedicures but then I only did them for special trips I went on. So happy to find you.

    • Hi Amy – I’m glad you’re here 🙂 Stopping garbage pick up is an AWESOME money saving idea… how much convenience do we pay for?! And how on earth do you make almond milk?

  13. Not sure if anyone has suggested http://www.bookbub.com
    If you have Kobo, Nook or the Kindle app on your phone or tablet and you aren’t picky about the type of books you read, it has a MILLION different free books to download! I thought it was too good to be true, but it really is true!! They also have deeply discounted books, so if you want popular titles you can generally get them for 99 cents to $2!

    • Thanks Jennifer! I love bookbub! I didn’t know about the cheap popular titles tho – I only ever glance through the free ones lol.

  14. I stopped buying paper towels and paper napkins. I love to sew, so I made a nice selection of cloth napkins form leftover fabric. However, I often see cloth napkins on clearance for a great price. So, even though I have to wash them, adding a few extra cloth napkins or dishcloths to the laundry each week doesn’t seem to be much of a hassle.

    • Hi Kathie – Cloth napkins are a great idea! There would totally be room in my wash for them, and it’s not like throwing things in the washer is hard.

      • Great ideas…for cloth napkins I buy inexpensive wash clothes in bundles. They are very absorbent and wash great. When they get really worn they get used as rags or dishrags.

      • Wonderful tip Alli, I have some I use for rags and they do hold up well in the wash!

  15. If you have young kiddos that like to make things Lowe’s and Home Depot both have one or two kids workshops a month. You just have to sign them up online. They usually build a toy or some useable gaffet best of all it completely free. Lowe’s is our favorite as far as quality but Home Depot always lets you paint your project.

    • That’s so cool J.J – I wonder if we have that in Canada? I will defenitly have to find out… Thanks for sharing!!

      • Home Depot Canada has free monthly kids workshops. You need to sign up but they are great fun for both kids and parents. I ran these workshops for several years and recommend them. Not sure if Lowes offers them or not.

  16. Just an FYI, in order for your body to process turmeric properly you also must consume either olive oil or coconut oil with ground fresh pepper corns. Otherwise your body can’t use the curcumen.

    • Hi Amanda, I have read that – about the pepper before, but I thought it was just a “booster” not a necessity. Good to know!! (I always do take it with fats – ground up seeds and nuts generally!)

  17. I regrow vegetables. One bunch of Spring onions lasts a year, for example,if you cut them off a little above the roots, plant the rest, use leaves, cut off and regrow, over and over. I cut sprouting pieces off potatoes and plant them in pots, growing a meal or two for each piece cut off. I picked most of the leaves off a bunch of hydroponic spinach this Winter, planted the roots and have had three more meals off the bunch so far. A slice of tomato covered in soil will grow a number of plants. Sweet potato slips can be grown from a small piece of sweet potato. Then pieces of the vine can be rooted in water and grown for another crop. Let a lettuce go to seed and there will be self sown lettuces growing all spring.

    • Linda that is amazing! I always see pins about re-growing food but I think I’ve never been able to believe it works lol. And think – no pesticides and stuff!!

  18. This may sound drastic, but here goes: CABLE TV! I cut mine off many years ago when my son’s grades were slipping. I began buying him little paperback books whenever we went shopping. He became a voracious reader. His grades shot up, but I never reinstated the cable TV.
    My house was the favorite gathering place for all his friends because they could have bon-fires, and climb trees, and get muddy, and catch turtles and craw dads, play swords using sticks, and put pennies on the railroad
    tracks . . .
    You may say we were “lucky” to live in such a rural locale, but I say it doesn’t matter where you live, you can always find things to do that are fun and don’t cost anything. Even working in the yard or washing the car can be fun.
    My son is 28 now, and my husband and I still don’t waste our money on cable, or our time, not to mention what watching all that garbage does to us spiritually, mentally and emotionally. All advertising is designed to make us feel discontent with what we have, but we have all we need!
    We check out movies, music and books at the library, we read to each other, we talk to each other a lot, we work on projects together, we eat together, hubby plays his guitar, drums or piano for me, and I dance for him, sometimes! Life is so good without cable TV.

    • Fiona I LOVE THIS! I especially love the thing you said “All advertising is designed to make us feel discontent with what we have” – this is SO true, and realizing it sooner is better. I find I need less and less all the time, and the less I need the happier I really am. Wise words lady. Thank you for sharing!

  19. I stopped buying cleaners. I now use vinegar & water spray for fruits and vegetables as well as cleaning countertops and bathroom cleaner. I use vinegar and rubbing alcohol to do glass and mirrors, and it is FABULOUS for the inside windshield of your car.
    Several years ago, I was going to throw out our flannel Christmas sheets because they were becoming threadbare. Instead I cut the fitted and the flat sheets into rectangles in assorted sizes and serged the edges. I use these for EVERYTHING, from washing and drying dishes, to cleaning up spills. When they are dirty I through them in the wash. I use baking soda as detergent and vinegar as fabric softener. I also use wool dryer balls! Love them!! I also use baking soda and vinegar to clean my oven and to get rid of soap scum in the shower and to clean the toilets. Plus, it’s good for our septic system.
    As for food, I do freezer meals, buy meat on sale and use coupons! Oh, and coconut oil! 1001 +1 uses for that too!

    • Thanks for the great suggestions Sandi! I use vinegar as my number one cleaner too – just straight white vinegar. took me a while to get use to the small haha. I would LOVE to have some flannel rags… you’ve inspired me to look at the thrift store!

  20. There is no reason to buy books when your local library would be happy to see your patronage.

    Give up your cable/satellite. Free channels are getting better and better. And without all those channels to surf, maybe you could go for a walk or join an interest club or …. or ….

    • For me it’s “Or BLOG!” haha. I never have time to watch TV anymore :p

    • Im in love my unlimited kindle. I have read so many more books and found amazing authors I wouldn’t have tried in the past. It’s about $10 a month and you get to check out 10 books at a time.. return and get 10 more as many times as you want. Now I honestly will buy a book from kindle too, especially my favorite Arthur.


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