The world is full of stuff to buy. New gadgets, comfy pillows, and dozens of online services to entertain you.
And that's great... for some people. But if you're trying to save money or just embrace the simple life, it's not so great for you.
Here are 20 items you should stop buying right now. You just don't need them. Promise.
1. THE LATEST CELL PHONE
In two years, that brand new super cool cell phone will be old news. But you'll still be broke if you upgrade yours all the time. If you really need a new phone (like yours is actually broken), consider buying last year's model on the cheap.
2. MORE THAN ONE STREAMING SERVICE
Many people are turning to streaming services as an alternative to cable, and for good reason. Streaming services offer a great selection of content and can be a more affordable option than cable.
However, if you want to watch everything that's available on streaming services, it can be expensive. If you have all the popular ones (and most people do, you're looking at at least $60/ month.)
And I actually like all of them, but I don't have them all at the same time. For example, sign up for Netflix first, then move on to Disney+. Don't get sucked into the annual plan. Pay monthly, and set a reminder to cancel. If you're not using one of the services as much as you used to, let it go. You can always sign up for that service again later if you change your mind.
Better yet, just pick your favorite and stick with it. If there's nothing on, do something else. It's just TV and it's a colossal waste of time.
3. BOOKS (EXCEPT FOR KIDS, YOU SHOULD TOTALLY BUY THOSE)
A lot of people are weird about books and too wrapped up in them. They're just things, and there's no need to stuff your house with them when you don't read mot of what you buy.
And there's a free way to get each and every one of them, funded by your tax dollars. Use the library. Request ones you want and go pick them up. Yes, you'll have to wait a bit to read the most popular ones. It's good for you.
4. DECOR OF ANY KIND
There's a fine line between decor and junk. And let's be honest, most of it's junk. Many people make the mistake of buying things they don't need or want in order to decorate their homes. This often leads to an accumulation of clutter, which does nothing but takes up space and add stress.
It's important to remember that functional often trumps decorative. If you're not going to use an item on a regular basis, then it's probably not worth buying.
Here are examples of stuff you just don't need:
- Decorative pillows
- Plates or bowls that for display only
5. EXPENSIVE GROCERY DELIVERY
I hate going to the grocery store just as much as the next person, but I would rather do it than pay the 8% markup + fees + tip that some of the popular services offer.
It's just insane.
Alternatives that are way more affordable:
- Curbside pickup (this is usually free)
- Delivery of shelf-stable things (you can get free 2-day delivery of plenty of grocery items through Walmart Plus.)
6. DRYER SHEETS AND FABRIC SOFTENER
Dryer sheets and fabric softeners are often seen as a necessary part of doing laundry. But... they aren't. These products can actually increase the cost of laundry, and they can also be harmful to our clothes, skin, and the environment.
There are a few easy alternatives to using dryer sheets and fabric softener in your laundry. You can add vinegar to your wash cycle to give your clothes a fresh smell without any harsh chemicals. Alternatively, you can use wool dryer balls to reduce static and save time on drying your clothes.
Or, you can do what I do and skip both. I'm still alive.
7. SINGLE-USE PLASTICS
In addition to being more expensive in the long run, single-use plastics come with an environmental cost. For example, when you use a plastic straw for just one drink, it can take centuries for that straw to decompose.
Let's say you don't care about any of that. Totally fine. Think of your wallet. You're just buying things that will be trash by the end of the day. Depressing.
Invest in some reusable sandwich boxes and just pack your normal silverware in your lunch box.
You heard me. Huge waste of money. Birthdays and Christmas, fine. But do not buy toys for your kids because "they need them", "they're bored," or any other reason.
It can be easy for parents to get carried away with buying toys for their children, but it's important to remember that kids often don't appreciate or use the majority of the toys they receive.
Instead of buying them more stuff, here are some ideas to keep them busy:
- Send them outside
- Teach them to do chores
- Bake with them
Let them be bored. They'll eventually read, color, or find something else to do.
9. MOVIE THEATER SNACKS
When you go to the movies, do you buy concessions? Concession sales are a huge part of movie theater profits, and theaters have come up with all sorts of ways to make money on them. Don't let them rip you off as part of their plan.
Bring your own snacks, skip them, or just don't even go to the movies.
10. LOTTERY TICKETS
Lottery tickets may seem like a harmless purchase, but they can actually be quite costly. For one thing, the odds of winning are not in your favor--you're basically lighting your money on fire if you buy them.
And worse, it puts you in this weird mental place of fantasizing how much better your life would be with more stuff and more money. That's not good for you, and it costs more than the few dollars you're throwing away on tickets.
11. HOLIDAY DECORATIONS
It's that time of year again! The leaves are changing color, the weather is getting colder, and department stores are filling up with holiday decorations. And it's time for you to rush out to Hobby Lobby and buy some faux greenery and pillows with cardinals on them, right?
Cut some greenery and bring it in, cut out some snowflakes with white paper, or just stick some candy canes in a jar.
P.S. Go to your basement and look at all the junky Christmas stuff you've bought over the years that you now hate. Do you really need even more?
12. GREETING CARDS
Of all the overpriced things in the world, this might be the worst. All anyone cares about is being remembered. Get some plain notecards. and write a note from the heart inside. I guarantee it will be treasured more than the perfect sparkly, pop-up greeting card.
Ask your kids to draw a picture and fold it inside if you want.
13. COFFEE DRINKS AND TREATS
Coffee is a great way to start your day, but it's also a great way to waste your money. Especially if you're buying coffee drinks or treats from coffee shops.
A basic cup of coffee at most places will set you back at least $3, and that's before you add any extras.
If you looooove Starbucks (and I do!), let yourself have one drink a season. That's four a year. We can handle that.
14. NEW HANDBAGS AND SHOES
Wouldn't it be cool to have a wall of designer shoes and handbags on their own little shelf? Maybe. But what's cooler is not spending thousands of dollars on dumb accessories.
Save your money and buy something practical you'll actually wear.
15. KIDS' BIRTHDAY PARTIES
It's hard to say no to our kids when they want a birthday party, but it's important to remember that they really don't need one.
I know this seems mean, but a party every year is just crazy. What about a cake, presents, and a trip to the park? And then a party every other year? Hosting parties is stressful, expensive, and unnecessary.
16. BOTTLED WATER
Americans spend over $12 billion each year on bottled water, according to Business Insider. That's a lot of money that's been totally wasted. Pretty embarrassing, really.
Most newer refrigerators come with a built-in water filtration system. If you don't have one or don't like it, buy a freestanding filter like Brita.
My favorite trick: buy that super cheap frozen lemonade concentrate and decant it into a mason jar in your fridge. Pour a drop or so into a glass of tap water and it tastes delicious.
17. CLEANING SUPPLIES
I get it, buying cleaning supplies feels almost like cleaning. But alas, you could easily clean your house with a damp rag and you just haven't done it.
If you're looking for specific items like glass cleaner, fine. But endlessly shopping for cleaning things like special polishes and mop attachments are just keeping you from the cold, hard truth: it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Here's my guide on budget-friendly cleaning supplies (hint: there's very little you actually need.)
18. SNACKS & JUNK FOODS
It's easy to spend (literally) hundred of dollars snacks every month without even realizing it. I know this because I've done it. If you have a few kids and they're all eating little bags of chips and crackers on a daily basis, that adds up... fast.
They can have fruits and veggies for snacks, which aren't cheap, but aren't a complete waste of money.
19. NAME BRAND ITEMS
Name brand items are often thought of as being the best quality products available, but this is not always the case. In many cases, store brands or generic products are just as effective, work the same, or taste the same but cost much less than name brands.
All stores have very generous policies on returning their store brand. If you don't like it, get your money back. If you do like it, you've found a cheaper alternative for the rest of your life.
20. FAST FOOD
Spending money on fast food is easy and tempting. And let's forget about the health benefits for a minute: it's a rip-off.
You could easily make a meal for yourself or your family for half the price (or less!) of what you would pay at a fast-food restaurant. And you'lll have leftovers and your car won't smell grosss.
If you're feeling overwhelmed with dinner, check out my tips for planning breaks in your meal plan.
YOU'LL SAVE MONEY AND FEEL BETTER
To save money, it's important to stop buying things that are expensive and unnecessary. One way to do this is by cutting out the big-ticket items like designer handbags or shoes. But you can also cut down on your monthly expenses with smaller purchases such as snacks or bottled water.
There's no need to find alternatives for the things on this list. They're just junk you don't need