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21 Things to Stop Buying to Save Money Every Month

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When you’re on a mission to save more money and improve your family finances, making smart decisions is huge.

Learning how to make a budget is the first step but there’s so much more you can do to save money. And these days, there are lots of families interested in learning how to be frugal and live cheaply.

My family is definitely on the money-saving bandwagon.

After years of living paycheck to paycheck, I decided to take control of my finances as a single mom. And the result is that I’m now able to save and invest over half my income every single month.

One of the biggest roadblocks to saving more money is thinking that it’s just too hard. Especially if you live on one income and your budget is tight.

But you can save more money. And one of the best ways to do it is cutting out expenses that are draining your wallet.

So I’ve got a super helpful list of things to stop buying to save money to help you out.

Related: 7 Smart Ways to Build Emergency Savings Fast

How to Start Saving Money Every Month

Before we get into the list, I’ve got a few tips to help you get into the savings mindset.

Because here’s the thing, saving money is a habit. And if you’re not used to doing it, then it’s a habit you’ll have to learn.

Tracking your spending every month is a good first step. When you pay attention to how you spend, it gets a lot easier to figure out where you can save money.

If you’ve been tracking your spending and you still can’t find money to save, then there are two solutions:

  • Cutting out the fat in your budget
  • Making more money

I’m a big fan of doing both. And if you’re interested in adding more income to your household budget, there are so many ways you can do it.

For example, you could take surveys in your spare time to make quick and easy cash. (Survey Junkie is my personal favorite for this!)

Then there’s selling your unwanted stuff or taking up freelance writing or becoming a virtual assistant.

Getting creative with ways to make money can help you find the cash to save. And while you’re at it, you can also cut out these expenses to put money back in your budget.

things to stop buying to save money

21 Things to Stop Buying to Save Money

1. Dinners out

This might be one of the most important things to stop buying to save money if you’re trying to be more frugal as a family.

Fifty-six percent of Americans eat out two to three times a week. People who spend the most money on meals out spend just over $117 every week.

Think about that. That’s $6,136 you could be saving, not spending.

That’s crazy, right?

But I know that sometimes it can be hard to break the eating out cycle. So there’s a simple solution you can try: meal planning.

Meal planning means you have to be conscious about how you divvy up your grocery budget. If you need help with meal planning, $5 Meal Plan is a greater starter resource.

You pay $5 a week and your meals are planned out for you. If you compare the $260 you’d spend for weekly meal plans to the $6,136 you might spend on eating out, signing up is a no-brainer for saving money.

Get started with $5 Meal Plan!

2. Convenience foods

Convenience foods can make meal planning and prep easy but they aren’t always budget-friendly.

By convenience foods, I mean anything that’s already cooked or just needs to be heated up. Things like frozen lasagnas, Lunchables or a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store deli.

Sure, they can save you time. And that’s important as a busy mom.

But you’re paying a price for it because convenience foods can be more expensive than buying ingredients and making it yourself.

Not to mention, these foods typically aren’t all that great for you anyway. So cutting back on them could benefit your bottom line and your waistline at the same time.

3. Cable TV

When I was first learning how to live on a single mom budget, cable TV was one of the first expenses I cut.

The truth is, most of the time with cable you’re paying for a bunch of channels you don’t watch. Streaming means you’re more likely to use what you pay for every month.

For example, we have:

Altogether, I pay about $50 for these channels compared to the $125 I used to pay for cable. That’s $900 saved per year.

If you haven’t made the switch from cable to streaming yet, that’s 900 reasons to give it a shot.

4. Unnecessary subscriptions

Now, I just told you that subscription services are a good thing for saving money. But it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

Your budget can easily get bogged down when you’re paying for multiple streaming services or subscriptions every month. And even though each one may only be costing you a few dollars, those few dollars could be standing in the way of saving money.

So if you’re primarily streaming, consider which ones you can ditch and won’t miss.

For example, I recently canceled Disney+ and Sling TV. My kids watched Disney+ maybe three times and Sling kept raising the prices.

Altogether, that added almost $50 back into my budget that I can add to the savings pot.

If you’re not sure which subscriptions to cut, let Trim help. Trim is a financial manager that finds subscriptions and unnecessary fees and cuts them out of your budget.

Get started with Trim!

5. Name brands

It’s easy to buy name brands because they’re recognizable. But swapping them out for generic is a simple money-saver.

Spend some time comparing prices for name brands and store brands the next time you go grocery shopping. Add up how much you could save by choosing the store brand or generic.

If you can’t go cold turkey with avoiding name brands, pick a few things to splurge on.

For example, I always bought Huggies diapers when my kids were babies, even though the Walmart brand was cheaper. But those things just never seemed to hold up as well so I shelled out the extra money.

Your kids might be beyond the diaper stage but you get the idea. Keep those must-have name brands and get rid of the rest. Chances are, you won’t even notice the difference for most things.

6. New clothes

Clothes can make up a big part of your budget when you have growing kids. But that doesn’t mean you always have to buy new.

There are plenty of ways to get kids’ clothes (and clothes for yourself) on the cheap. For example, you could:

  • Host a clothing swap with other moms
  • Shop local thrift stores and consignment shops
  • Look for deals on used clothes on thredUP

Those are all ways to spend less on clothes and save more money every month.

7. Brand new anything else

While you’re adding new clothes to the list of things to stop buying to save money, think about what else you can buy secondhand.

Some things aren’t negotiable. Like, if you’re having a baby then you probably want to get a brand-new car seat.

But other things you might have wiggle room with.

For example, I just bought a house and I don’t have a dining table and chairs yet. I’ve been looking in local bargain groups and thrift stores to try and find one used because I don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for a set.

Meanwhile, our dishes came from a thrift store, we got our rug from the previous owner and I bought a used riding lawnmower for $300 versus paying $1,000+. The house feels like home and I don’t care at all that everything isn’t new.

So next time you’re planning a purchase, whether it’s big or small, ask yourself if you need to spend money on new stuff when secondhand might do just fine.

8. Clearance items and markdowns

Ah, the clearance section. Here’s a secret about that: It’s totally a trap.

Buying clearance items and markdowns may seem like a great way to save money. The problem is that you might end up spending money that you didn’t plan to.

The next time you’re lured in by those red clearance stickers at Target or you’re drawn to a bargain bin, stop and ask yourself whether there’s really anything you need there.

Sometimes the best way to save money is to walk away, even from something that seems like a great deal.

9. Kids’ toys and games

How much do you spend on toys and games for your kids each year? Do you even know?

If you’re a typical family, it’s probably a lot more than you’d like. But if you’re serious about saving money then this is one spending category you have to be prepared to cut out or at least cut back.

And not buying toys or games doesn’t mean your kids can’t or won’t have any fun. In fact, less stuff can be a good thing if it encourages them to find creative ways to fill their time.

10. Bottled water

I’ll go ahead and tell you that I still buy bottled water. But I have a reason for that. The county we live in was recently ranked #1 in a study of places with the highest “forever chemical” concentrations in our water.

So we don’t drink the water ’round these parts because we’re not sure how safe it is. But if your drinking water supply is okay, then cutting out bottled water and investing in a good reusable water bottle is a no-brainer.

Think of it this way. If you spend $10 per week on two or three cases of bottled water, you could save $520 per year.

That’s a nice chunk of money you could set aside for emergencies or use to pay down debt.

11. Fancy cell phones

It’s stunning to me how much people are willing to pay for a cell phone these days. An iPhone is what–$1,000?

That just sounds crazy. It seems like it would make more sense to save that money instead and go with a cheaper phone.

Another way to save money is by cutting out the contract cell phone plan and sticking with prepaid. With Tello, for example, you can get a family plan with unlimited data and unlimited minutes for $39 a month.

That’s super-cheap and much less than the $250+ we used to pay for a family plan with Verizon. Instead of paying $3,000 a year for cell service, you could pay less than $500.

Try Tello now and get 50% off your first month!

12. Paper towels

Paper towels are convenient for cleaning up messes but the cost can add up. If you pay $8 a week for a six-pack of paper towels, that’s $416 a year.

On the other hand, you could spend $15 or $20 on some quality dish towels that will last you a year or more. This is an easy way to save money and once you get used to using dish towels, you’ll wonder what took you so long.

13. In-app purchases

Here is a really easy and smart hack for saving money: Disconnect your bank and credit cards from your phone’s app store. 

Do you know what happens when you do that? You can’t just spend money at the click of a button anymore.

Because that’s so easy to do if you play games or use other apps on your phone. Plus, it can also save you from unauthorized purchases your kids might make if they’re using your mobile devices.

14. Impulse items near the checkout

The checkout lane at the grocery store is a danger zone, my friend. The aisles are filled with crap that you don’t need but is oh-so-tempting, am I right?

There are two ways to avoid falling into the impulse buy trap when checking out.

One, commit to developing serious tunnel vision when it’s time to pay. Or two, take advantage of your grocery store’s pick-up service.

Most of the time pick-up is free when you have a minimum dollar amount on your order. Letting someone else shop for you means you don’t have to worry about spending on impulse.

15. Magazines

Magazines can be fun to read and some of them are useful but they can be a drain on your family finances. This is one of the things to stop buying to save money that can be hard to let go of if there are certain ones you just have to have.

But there’s an easy fix for that. Instead of spending money on magazines, you can earn them by taking surveys with RewardSurvey.

RewardSurvey is one of the best sites for earning rewards and you can redeem them for subscriptions to your favorite magazines. You still get your magazines and you save money–it’s a win-win!

Get started with RewardSurvey and claim a $30 instant reward!

16. Dryer sheets

Dryer sheets can make your clothes smell good but they don’t do you any favors in the saving money department. You’re better off using wool dryer balls instead.

They can help your clothes dry faster so you use less energy, they cut down on waste and you can use them over and over. And the best part is they’re not very expensive. You could even make them yourself.

17. Cleaning products

Buying cleaning supplies might seem like a necessity. But this can be one of the best things to stop buying to save money.

Why? Because you could make your cleaning products cheaper than you can buy them. And homemade cleaning products that are chemical-free can be healthier for your family.

18. Ziploc bags

Ziploc bags are handy but unless you’re diligent about reusing them, they’re just a waste of money.

I stopped buying Ziploc bags last year and switched to other ways to store food, including drawstring bags, beeswax food wraps and glass storage containers.

Trying out one or all of these options can help you save money each month. And going with reusable is also eco-friendly.

19. Extended warranties

Raise your hand if you’ve ever purchased an extended warranty for something you bought.

(I’m imagining lots of hands raised here.)

Now, raise your hand again if you’ve ever actually used an extended warranty.

Not so many hands up now, right?

I’m guilty of this myself. I’ve paid extra for extended warranties, then never used them even when the thing I bought them for needed to be replaced.

It’s just money wasted. So this definitely belongs on the list of things to stop buying to save money.

Here’s what you’re better off doing instead. Focus on buying quality stuff that’s designed to last. Or just buy less stuff altogether.

Either one can help you keep more money in your pocket long-term.

20. Gym memberships

Gym memberships can be a cash suck, especially if you don’t use yours as often as you thought you would.

Instead of paying money to go to the gym, you can save that cash and look for other ways to break a sweat.

YouTube is always a great resource for finding free workout routines. Or you could invest in a piece of workout equipment that you know you’ll use over and over again. (I love my recumbent bike!)

Even taking a walk around the block with the kids is a free way to get active. Plus, you might have more fun chatting with them and checking out nature than you would watching other people sweat at the gym.

21. Trendy items

Trendy items are the worst when you’re trying to save money.

You know how it is. Something comes out that seems like a must-have and everyone else is buying one, so hey, why don’t you?

The problem with buying something that’s trending is that you have no idea how long it’ll be useful or popular.

So before you buy something that’s trending, give it some time to cool off first. You’ll find that some things have more staying power than others.

Instant Pot is a great example. Not long ago, everyone and their cat was buying one. I was skeptical but it turns out, it’s actually quite useful to have in the kitchen.

The bottom line, by being thoughtful with your purchases and not giving in to trends, you can save money and avoid ending up with a closet full of junk.

Do you have suggestions for things to stop buying to save money?

This was a long post so I hope you stuck with me ’til the end. If you have something you’ve cut out of your budget to save money, I’d love to hear about it! Drop me a line in the comments.

And don’t forget to pin and share this post!

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  1. You basically covered it all! cable in Canada is really expensive. Nights out in Toronto are insane. Dinner for 2 always ends up around 100$ for a sit down restaurant.

    • Thanks, Amanda! We’re lucky to live in a fairly low cost of living area but having lived in more expensive places, even cutting out one or two things can make a big difference when trying to save money.

  2. I totally agree that clearance sections are traps! Just because it’s half off doesn’t mean that you “need” it! So many great tips on cutting costs here!

  3. I can relate with this post so much, Rebecca! We have been meal-planning for a couple of months and we love that we get to save time, money and actually cook the food that we like to eat! We also don’t buy phones that often, every single phone I’ve had in the past I’ve used until it stopped working (one got stolen!). And my husband gets a new phone & laptop from work every couple of years so he’s lucky. We’re still guilty of using paper towels though.

    • Thanks, Corinne! Food waste is a huge problem and we’ve been working on wasting less. Meal planning has been a big help. Paper towels aren’t so bad if you can get multiple uses from a single sheet. Baby steps is the way to go if you’re trying to stop buying things to save money. 🙂

  4. Cool list, I’ll definitely bookmark this page. You really mentioned some reasonable points to consider. I’ m also into personal finance, retirement, financial freedom related niches. You can also check out my blog. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Buying things is a big struggle for me. I’ll go months without spending a dime and then have a conference or special occasion and undo all my progress. Reading this was very helpful in giving specific spending traps to avoid. Thank you.

  6. There are so many things on this list that I need to stop buying now! Paper towels and eating out are two really big things to quit that I’m sure my piggy band would benefit from! Thanks for the list., it’s really helpful and many of us don’t even realize how much we’re spending on these things!

    • Eating out is a budget-killer for sure! There are more things we’ve stopped buying to save money (like haircuts) but these seem to be some of the biggest money-wasters.

  7. I feel like printing out this list and sticking it on the fridge. One thing we stopped spending on recently was takeaway food and eating out, which is great. Buuuuut, we seem to be spending a lot of money on cleaning products because you know, #coronavirus. Cleaning products are still cheaper than takeaway food though.

    • Thanks, Corinne! Cleaning products and paper products are the new black market items ’round these parts it seems. But you’re right, cleaning stuff is cheaper than takeout food just about any day of the week.

  8. I am surprised by the number of people that still pay for cable television with all the streaming options available. We have an Amazon Firestick with a variety of options to watch shows including live-streaming apps to see television live. While we occasionally have to deal with buffering, more often than not we can watch all our favourite shows live without an issue.

    • I agree, my mother still pays over $100 a month for DirecTV. And only watches two channels. We stream everything, haven’t had cable in years and don’t miss it a bit!

  9. So true. We have not bought paper towels in years. People actually being paper towels when they visit us 😂.
    Everyone thinks we are crazy. But now we are almost debt free and financially independent, they aren’t calling us crazy anymore!

    • That’s awesome, Kayla! I’ll probably have a hard time telling people not to buy paper towels right now, considering the ongoing hoarding of paper products, lol.

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