10 Things to Stop Buying to Save Money ($9,000+ a Year!)

Get ready for the reality check you needed with this list of 10 Things to Stop Buying to Save Money – and what to do instead!

We’ll cover the things you need to quit purchasing, tips for breaking bad habits, and how to feel like you’re not missing out.

This list includes changes that real people can make as well as things that everyone can live without.

Eliminating the following purchases has allowed my little family to save nearly $10,000 dollars every year – I’ll even release my inner math geek and do some calculations for you!

Ready to stop buying more stuff? 

Then let’s get to it!

10 Things to Stop Buying to Save Money

text reads 10 things to stop buying to save moneyStop spending and start saving!

These tips for how to save money can benefit busy moms, families, college students, future brides, and more! So, whether you want to learn how to save money on food or how to save money for a wedding, the suggestions below are universal and can be applied to your unique lifestyle. 

Because believe it or not, you can live well and enjoy nice things on a budget!

This post is written in a list format that features:

  • the items and habits you need to break
  • how to cut costs in each category
  • tools to help you get there
  • weekly, monthly, and annual potential savings

In addition to 10 things I stopped buying, we’ll also cover where and how to shop to make the most of your dollars!

I’ll share the tricks that have helped me save between 50 to 70% on so many different things!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I could earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase using one of them. This comes at no additional cost to you and all recommendations are based on my personal experience.

1. Starbucks & Other Coffee Shops

Who doesn’t love getting a cup of coffee on the go? I was definitely guilty of this one when I was younger! 

When I was a makeup artistry student, I used to indulge in a Starbucks coffee between two to three times a week! Yikes! 

Who else remembers the Hazelnut Macchiato? That was my kryptonite!

And have I also mentioned that I’m allergic to dairy? 

The calculation I’m about to do for you below is based on one I did for a friend a few days ago – she drinks Starbucks a whopping five days a week!

So, let’s say we’re ordering my favourite drink at $4.95 for a grande sized macchiato plus $0.70 for almond milk.

This makes my specialty coffee come out to $5.65.

Now, add GST (Canadian Government tax) at $0.28 for a grand total of $5.93.

That’s almost $6.00 a day for a cup of coffee hosting a blog you can make money from starts at $3.95 a month and is my absolute favourite comparison for when people tell me that starting a business is too expensive! 

Annual Cost of a 5 Day Coffee Shop Habit

Now, let’s pretend you purchase specialty coffee drinks five times a week.

$5.93 x 5 days = $29.65 a week

There are also about 4 weeks in a month so: 

$29.65 a week x 4 weeks = $118.60 a month

Oh boy, what’s that annually? 

Well, there are 52 weeks in a year so: 

$29.65 a week x 52 weeks = $1,541.80 a year!

Remember that new laptop you couldn’t afford? That much needed vacation?

$1,500 a year is a lot of money for you to do a lot of amazing things with!

shows a cup of homemade coffee

What to Do Instead

To kick our Starbucks habits, my husband and I invested in this Breville coffee maker as well as a high quality milk frother –  and after four years, it’s still going strong!

The coffee maker is also perfect for decluttering and features a built in grinder – because less things to store in your cupboard and as freshly ground as it gets = winning.

A great cup of coffee is an essential part of both of our mornings – he works 15+ hours a day on set and I’m a work at home mom with a toddler, hah!

To ditch the extra sugar from those oh so delicious pump drinks, we drink this hazelnut vanilla flavoured coffee.

I’m of the belief that investing in quality items at home is one of the keys to enjoying more time here. 

Because why the heck would I need a Starbucks if I can have a beautifully frothed almond milk coffee drink at home?! 

Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top and boom! Perfection at less than 15 calories and one carb!

Side Note: a Grande Starbucks Hazelnut Macchiato contains about 190 calories and 35 grams of carbs! Yikes!

Is the pumpkin spice latte a favourite? Make that 380 calories and 52 grams carbs! :O

On the Go

We invested in stainless steel ramblers to make sure we can get our coffee hits on the road – J has a coffee maker at the office and fills up his tumbler when he needs it too.

Potential Savings (at the Price Point We Paid):

If we get just one daily use for five years out of the coffee maker and frother setup: 

1 year of speciality coffee x 5 years – our coffee setup = total saved

$1,541.80 x 5 years = $7,709.00 – $503.98 = $7,205.02 savings – minus the cost of coffee*

That’s a down payment on a new vehicle!

*Realistically, let’s also assume that 100% of coffee drinkers keep coffee at home!

The dollar value for this expense shouldn’t increase by much more than what you’re already spending – perhaps maybe the cost of one bag a month which is equivalent to two or three coffee shop beverages!

What is your coffee habit costing you?

Plug your numbers into the following equation: 

You coffee order x how many days a week you purchase it = weekly bill

Weekly bill x 52 weeks = your yearly coffee habit cost

So, what are you sipping away? 

Potential Annual Savings: approximately $1,500+

2. Takeout & Dine In

I have a feeling that this one’s going to bring a lot of people to tears – takeout and restaurant bills are one of the first things to stop buying if you really want to start saving money!

It’s a real eye opening moment when you discover just how much money you’re wasting on other people prepping your food.

For the sake of time (and how long this post already is), we’ll only cover a fast food example.

It’s kind of scary how fast food chains and apps like SkipTheDishes have made takeout super convenient, isn’t it? 

Hungry and don’t want to think about your next meal? A quick fix is just a few taps away!

Fast Food

How much are tips and delivery fees costing you? Let’s say we’re ordering sushi: 

Teriyaki Bento Box = $10.95 + GST

+ 10% driver tip = $1.10 – we’re tipping on the low end too!

+ $3.99 for delivery

$10.95 + $1.10 + $3.99 = $16.59

But wait, you say!

I can get free delivery if I order over $20!

And while it might seem like good value to pay for additional items over a delivery fee, you just doubled the cost of your order!

That chicken teriyaki could actually pay for a couple of days worth of meals.

What to Do Instead

I’ll split this part into three sections: 

  • On the go
  • Prep and materials
  • Grocery shopping

On the Go

Lucky for us, J’s lunches are provided by work!

When M and I go on day trips, I like to bring this cooler lunch bag and a stainless steel flask* for her drinks – they keep them cold for 12+ hours so, I don’t have to worry about whether or not her milk, etc. is still good.

*I’ve tried practically every stainless steel for toddlers and the Thermos Funtainer and Munchkin Miracle cups are the most leakproof I’ve come across (I prefer using the Funtainer for day trips though).

In the past, we’ve also tried the Skip Hop Bottle, Thermos Foogo, and Kleen Kanteen – they’re great at keeping liquids cold but not as leak proof, in my experience.

I bring a stainless steel water bottle with a straw for myself as well – in case M has one of those days where she drinks all of her liquid in a matter of moments, it’s nice to be able to offer her some fresh water from a toddler friendly container!

In our cooler bag, I pack a keto bar for me, cheese, crackers or a sandwich for M, and some fresh fruit and veggies – like strawberries, apple slices, cucumbers, baby carrots, or cherry tomatoes.

You could even throw in an individual sized dip like hummus or guacamole, if you want!

I like to pack snacks rather than a meal when we’re running errands – its easier to snack and makes eating on the go less of an event. 

Prep and Materials

Once, we’re home, I reheat pre-made food or start meal prep for that day/evening. 

These glass containers for tots are one of the best investment I’ve ever made for toddler meal prep! I’ve been using them to make homemade food since M started solids. 

They’re also perfect for meals and snacks like: 

  • overnight oats
  • pre-chopped fruits and veggies
  • mac and cheese
  • plus other toddler favourites!

I opted for glass storage containers when it comes to family meal prep too. 

Like we talked about with coffee, it’s a small investment upfront but you’ll end up saving hundreds on Ziploc bags and cling wrap in the long run!

Plus, you can pack lunches to go for work or a day trip in the smaller sizes and throw them into your cooler bag 🙂 

I opted for glass when I started getting frustrated with our food waste situation. 

Things often got hidden behind one another, are in dark packages you can’t see through, or aren’t as resealable as they claim.

We’d end up throwing out much more than we should as a result.

Glass is great for organizing, repackaging, and stacking so you can actually see what you have – and it even helps some foods last longer. 

Glass storage containers make the serving and reheating process so much easier for us too. 

shows a woman prepping food in the kitchen

Grocery Shopping

Invest in quality foods you’ll be excited to eat!

Stick to produce, dairy, meat and/or alternatives. 

Preserved foods should be purchased in moderation – consider the meals you spend way too much money on and try to replicate them at home! 

For me, that was sushi! But when we started a keto diet, we completely ditched takeout. 

To conquer my cravings, I pick up canned wild Salmon and smoked salmon – a little sprinkle of soy sauce does the trick 😉

What cravings do you often experience?  

What is fast food costing you?

Let’s use our fast food example and pretend you have a full-time job that you go to five days a week. 

So, roughly $12.05 a day!

Multiply this by 5 days a week – $12.05 x 5 = $60.25 a week. 

Consider how many hours you need to work just to cover this expense!

And now the reality check – $60.25 x 52 weeks a year = $3,133

That’s over $3,000 for someone else to cook your meals!

Now, do you visit restaurants once or more a week as well? Be sure to consider these expenses as well.

Like our coffee example, simply fill in the blanks below:

How much you spend on fast food a day x how many days a week x 52 weeks = annual cost​

Potential Annual Savings: approximately $3,000+

Prep and eat more meals at home – you’ll save more money and waste less food!

Bonus: Delete food delivery apps from your phone!

3. Bottled Water & Drinks

Packaged drinks are such a waste of money. 

Milk, juice, pop, beer, and coolers! My goodness do these things add up – and most of them aren’t even good for you with added preservatives and loads of sugar!

What to Do Instead

As I mentioned above, I take a stainless steel water bottle with a straw lid everywhere I go since it’s also perfect for sharing with my little one! 

Find a water bottle you love that: 

  • fits into the side pocket of your backpack or a purse compartment
  • is convenient to travel with
  • actually fits in your car’s cup holder!

You’ll be more inclined to actually remember it and spend less money on drinks while you’re out.

Feel like mixing it up?

These fruits are perfect for making delicious fruity water: 

  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Oranges
  • Grapegruit
  • Cucumbers
  • Watermelon
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Apples

Fruit not looking as vibrant as it once did? This is the perfect time to add it to your water bottle!

No waste!

Alternatively, you can also prep delicious teas or iced coffee at home for a drink that’s healthy and budget friendly too. 

What are bottled drinks costing you?

For this example, we’ll pretend we have one bottle of Fiji water a day. 

We have expensive taste but we bought it in bulk to save a bit of money 😉 *

So, pretending each bottle of water costs $2 x 7 days a week (since realistically, many people consume bottled drinks at home on a regular basis too), that’s equivalent to $14 a week.

Significantly less than our other habits but it adds up!

Multiplied by 52 weeks brings us up to $728. 

Drink more than one a day? Be sure to add it to your tally!

Note: This example is given as a half way point between the cost of pop and juice versus alcoholic beverages like beer – US friends, beer is significantly more expensive up here too!

Potential Annual Savings: $500+

4. Trendy & Designer Clothing + Seasonal Colours

When I first heard the term capsule wardrobe, I found the idea incredibly intimidating! 

Fast forward to know, I actually look forward to saying goodbye to worn out clothing and accessories!

Sticking to core colours allows you to dress well and never worry about pieces that don’t go with anything. 

How much do you spend on clothing and accessories?

While I’ve never really been that enthusiastic about fashion, opting for fewer high quality items in staple colours has made a difference – my home and my wallet are loving it!

A $100 pair of pants may seem like a huge investment upfront but if you’re still wearing them years later, it’s actually cost you less than replacing seasonal items like cheap leggings and/or tights. 

What to Do Instead

Choose quality and durability over cheaply priced and made items to extend your dollar further.

Shopping secondhand on Facebook bidding groups and the Marketplace can also land you a killer deal!

Now, to determine our savings.

Let’s say we spend $50 a week on clothing – I’m sure this is actually on the low end for some people as well – $50 x 52 weeks = $2,600

How to Downsize

Ready to clear out your closet? Learn how to use the Facebook Marketplace to sell your preloved items!

Between the summer and fall of 2018, I made over $7,000 clearing out our used stuff and junk!

You’ll be blown away by how much unwanted stuff is worth to others.

If you love the idea of a reduced wardrobe – think how liberating 50 pieces would be – consider switching to velvet hangers to make the most of your storage space.

You’ll be able to fit more without clothing falling down or being left on the floor and nearby furniture!

Potential Annual Savings: $2,500

5. Books & Paper Goods

Collecting books is such a popular hobby that in Japan, there is a specific word for picking up books and never reading them – that word is tsundoku!

I confess – I’m a former bookaholic! But purchasing brand new releases and only ever getting part way through them was costing me an arm and a leg – not to mention valuable space in my home! 

What to Do Instead

I invested in two things: 

I use my library card to check out books I think I’d like to read and fresh reading materials for my toddler to enjoy.

I also have the Amazon KindleUnlimited add on that offers Unlimited book downloads anywhere – most options are self-published but it makes for a much less expensive learning experience and/or refreshers than expensive e-courses! 

Pinterest searches for relevant blog posts and my Kindle are actually how I learned to make money blogging!  

Learning how to cook, knit, or how to start a blog, doesn’t have to be expensive or clutter up your home. 

How much do you spend on books and paper goods?

I love reading and gorgeous stationary – I could probably spend all day looking through various aisles at TJ Maax and Marshalls!

But this is a recipe for disaster on my wallet, haha. 

At my worst, I’d guess that I spent about $25 a month on books and paper goods.

So, $25 x 52 weeks = $1,300 a year

Yikes! Most of these things are one time use as well!

Potential Annual Savings: $1,000+

6. Greeting Cards

How many times have you read a card after initially receiving it? Maybe once when you found it in a storage box full of other greeting cards? 

As lovely and sentimental as they may be, cards have a very short life span. 

We’ve ditched purchasing cards and include hand-written notes with gifts on special occasions. 

For us, cards used to include: 

  • Birthdays x 3
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Christmas x 2
  • Valentine’s Day x 2
  • Anniversaries x 4 (we celebrate both our wedding and the start of our relationship)

So, 13 occasions x $8 a card = $104 a year

This example is for a family of three. Adjust values according to your own situation.

What to Do Instead

Handmade is much more meaningful!

If you can’t imagine life without greeting cards, consider taking a trip to Michael’s and creating your own with craft and arts supplies.

Alternatively, there are a ton of totally free eCard services out there.

Potential Annual Savings: $100+

7. Things Purchased Only Because They Were on Sale

Have a favourite brand and struggle passing up what seems like a good deal? It’s time to start! 

Buying things and not using them is such a waste of money!

Whether it’s a size you’d like to fit into, a “unique” colour, or other justification, this is not a good reason to buy something.

Some discounted items you should consider passing on include: 

  • Clothing and accessories
  • Books
  • Cosmetics
  • Food

What to Do Instead

Before you purchase anything, answer these three questions honestly: 

  • Will I use this?
  • Do I actually need this?
  • Will this improve my life? 

Potential Annual Savings: $500+

8. Makeup & Skincare

Who else is guilty of being a Sephora Rouge member at one point in their lifetime? 

Unless you’re a professional makeup artist, I don’t think anyone needs to spend that much on cosmetics a year! 

Makeup and skincare are one of the easiest things to stop buying!

Just check the expiry dates on your favourite products. 

The majority of them are between 3 months and one year (for mascara, and eyeliner eyeshadow, etc. respectively)!

Many items also feature a batch number on the product – usually located on the bottom. 

For Estee Lauder brands, this could look something like A68 – I used to work for Clinique and often found myself decluttering the makeup counter! 

So, what does A68 mean?

The letter here represents which batch of the month the product was made in – A represents the first one. 

The first number, in this case, the number 6, stands for the month it was made – so, June. 

And the second number represents the year it was made in. In this case, that would mean 2018.

And thus, this is an expired product!

Old cosmetics can become contaminated with bacteria and as a rule of thumb, better safe than sorry. 

Breaking out recently? Check those dates and wash your makeup brushes regularly!

shows three bottles of skin care

What to Do Instead

How to Save Money on Cosmetics + Get Organized!

  • Store your items in a clear cosmetics organizer so you can see what you have – you’ll discover things you forgot about and be less inclined to bring more home!
  • Since I’ve downsized my cosmetics so much, I now use this single pocket organizer that clings to my bathroom mirror – it holds my concealer, mascara, eyebrow pencil, eyelash curler, tweezers, and a few brushes.
  • Find ways to make products multi-purpose
    • i.e. I apply moisturizer close to when I’m about to apply foundation – I don’t need to add a primer and my makeup application still goes on incredibly smooth – it’s amazing what you can learn after 10 years in the cosmetics industry 😛
    • i.e. you don’t need a separate brow powder! Find an eyeshadow palette that features a colour close to your natural brow colour – I’ve worked at beauty counters and on movie sets – there is virtually no difference between these powders!

Stop buying stuff you don’t need by organizing the things you already have!

Potential Annual Savings: $500+ (more if you’re a Sephora addict!)

9. Vitamins & Supplements

Consuming a healthy diet filled with real whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts remains the best way to ensure adequate vitamin and mineral intake. 

A study conducted by Jenkins et al. (2018) evaluated 179 clinical trials published between 2012 and 2017 found the same results.

Researchers discovered few positive effects amongst the four most commonly used supplements – multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C. 

So, check with your healthcare provider and see if you need to actually be taking those supplements!

What to Do Instead

Seek the guidance of a healthcare professional (or two!) before you invest in vitamins and/or other supplements. 

Consume a healthy diet filled with natural foods.

Potential Annual Savings: $200+

10. Bulk Sizes

Buying in bulk seems like a good idea but I’ve always found there to be some food waste when purchasing fresh foods in extra large sizes. 

While our daughter loves apples, neither my husband and I eat many of them so, we’d often end up with a few that go to waste!

What to Do Instead

Purchase items with a short shelf-life as you need them.

Minimize your waste by doing the following:

  • Determine what your family eats and how much
  • Adjust for how many of you there are and only buy what you know you’ll consume
  • Plan your meals in advance and only buy as much as you need for the week ahead
  • Display fresh produce that doesn’t need to be in the fridge in a way that makes you want to eat it – this might be something as simple as a pretty fruit basket!

Potential Annual Savings: $200+

More Ways to Save

Everyone does it – we buy things we don’t need! But learning to separate wants from needs can have a dramatic impact on your wallet.

If in doubt, choosing retailers with an amazing return policy also helps. 

My top three choices are: 

The reasons below barely scrape the surface as to why!

Amazon

I love checking out Amazon’s daily and warehouse deals when I’m in search of something – setting up subscriptions for coffee, food staples, and previously, diapers, also saved me a boat load of time and money! 

Costco

When it comes down to major purchases, I save almost all of them for Costco – their return policy is like no other and you don’t need to worry about regretting a buying decision later on. 

In the past two years, we’ve purchased almost all of our home renovation materials at Costco and IKEA.

Although it can get busy, especially around the holidays, I find the shopping experience at Costco quite nice too!

IKEA

Live near an IKEA and need some new furniture? 

Pop in first thing in the morning to check out their as is section

We’ve scored up to 70% off this way! 

It changes daily and items that are discontinued, returned, or were on display in the store are sold here for a massive discount. 

In summary, the top 10 things you can ditch to save $9,000+ this year include: 

  1. Starbucks and specialty coffee drinks
  2. Take out and dine in
  3. Individually packaged drinks
  4. Trendy and seasonal clothing
  5. Books and paper goods
  6. Greeting cards
  7. “Bought because they were on sale” items
  8. Makeup and skin care
  9. Vitamins and supplements (unless recommended by a health care professional)
  10. Bulk sizes

Make the most of your dollars by only purchasing what you need and making what you already have accessible. 

Organize your home, be realistic about what you’ll use and what you actually need, and you’ll be on your way to saving more money in 2020!

Which ideas on how to save money did you need most? What’s something you’ve recently stopped purchasing that’s had a dramatic impact on your wallet?

How will you set yourself up to make better choices in 2020?

Share you experience in the comments below!

text reads nikki xo

Leave a Comment