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I have a 6 figure savings and investments portfolio.
Now, I’m not here to brag. I’m not at all special, I didn’t do anything super savvy, and I’m no different to any other random on the street.
So how did I save enough money to be financially free?
Actually, it’s quite simple:
I stopped buying things I didn’t need, I budgeted, I saved, and I invested. That’s pretty much the winning formula.
But while this seems so incredibly obvious that you’re sitting there rolling your eyes, this is all much easier said than done.
Often, we become stuck in our ways and day-to-day spending habits so much that we forget the long-term impact they have. And time…it’s on your side, even if you’re saving just a buck a day and investing it. It snowballs.
And no matter what lifestyle you live or spending “needs” you have, we all can stop spending on certain items in order to save money— a lot more money!
Well here’s my list of 21 things I stopped buying to save money and build a 6-figure portfolio.
- How to Do a No-Spend Challenge and CRUSH Your Savings Goals
- 21 Extreme Frugality Tips That’ll Save You $1000s!
- 27 Hacks to Live Frugally on One Income
21 Things to Stop Buying to Save Money
Me and clothes have a love-hate relationship.
I absolutely love following fashion bloggers and buying new pieces for my wardrobe, thinking that I’m going to look just a fashionable wearing them…and then I don’t.
For whatever reason, I’m just not a style icon to say the least. I can’t quite understand how different pieces fit together to form killer outfits, so I end up buying a bunch of items that I never wear.
Basically, just wasting money.
Now, you’d think that I would’ve come to this realization pretty fast, but for years I was in denial. I kept spending money on the latest fashion trends and then wouldn’t wear them, either because I was (and still am) far too body conscious or simply because I didn’t know how to create cool outfits with them.
But finally, I came to my senses.
I realized that I was spending an average of $100+ a month on clothes, stuffing my already over-flowing closet with more junk, and was none the happier for it.
Nowadays, I still admire my fave fashion bloggers from afar, but I don’t spend money on anything besides wardrobe staples that’ll last me for years.
Essentially, I just maintain a capsule wardrobe of sorts. Although admittedly, one that’s a bit too large to earn the title “capsule.”
But I know every piece I have in my closet. I have clothes for every season. And lastly, I’m saving a ton of money every year instead of chasing the latest Insta trends.
TIP: When I do decide to buy clothes, I always look for cash back opportunities and coupons using Rakuten. This way, I can buy the clothes I need for the best price and save even more money. Umm, win. Sign up for Rakuten today and start saving money on your online purchases, be it clothes, household items, you name it. You’ll even receive a $10 bonus, too!
2. Salon Visits
As an introvert, I’ve never been a fan of going to the salon.
You’re stuck there for hours, forced to make small talk, and leave $100+ dollars poorer. The entire experience is just downright painful.
Seriously though, salon visits are expensive.
If you want to get your hair cut and dyed, you’re easily looking at over a hundred bucks including tip.
And if you’re like me, someone with an enormous amount of hair and wanting highlights, good luck escaping within 4 hours and spending less than $150.
So even though my hair is so important to me that it literally has the power to determine whether I’ll have a good or bad day, I just couldn’t keep spending this much money all the time.
I was spending around $130 every 6 weeks or so, adding up to nearly $1000 a year! Yikes!
Trust me, when you do the math, trips to the salon is one thing you can live without to save money. Or, at the very least you can cut back on to save a significant amount of money.
You can also embrace your natural color and say goodbye to all the upkeep! Sounds liberating, right?
And finally, if you want the professionals to handle it but need to save money, just reduce the number of times you go per year. If you’re currently visiting the salon every 6 weeks, try every 10 weeks instead.
Over time, these small changes to your spending habits will boost your savings a ton.
3. Manicures & Pedicures
Alright, so I’m not the girliest of girls. Just the sound of the word “mani-pedi” makes me gag a little.
But I’m not gonna lie, a few years back I discovered something:
I love a good manicure. And pedicures? Just icing on the cake.
Even though I can’t stand nail files and my feet are incredibly ticklish—so much that I’ll give my pedicurist a little kick—I still love a mani-pedi sesh. Ugh, still don’t like that word.
But while it’s nice to have your hands and feet looked after by the pros, it’s not exactly a “necessary” expense.
See, as a thorough budgeter and someone who lives frugally to remain financially free, I’m always examining and re-examining my spending.
And unfortunately, mani-pedis just aren’t something worth spending money on. So I cut them out.
But how do I keep my nails and feet looking good, you ask?
I do it myself. Yup, this not-so-girly girl.
Instead of paying for convenience, I pay for quality products that I can use for many DIY mani-pedis at home.
Not only can I cut back on or completely eliminate spending on salon mani-pedis, but also I don’t have to leave my house. HUGE perk for this introvert!
To create your mani-pedi experience at home, invest in a few key products to get started. Here are some excellent ones that I use:
- Mineral Fusion nail polish remover
- An 18 tool manicure and pedicure kit
- A set of nail files and buffers
- Pedicure spa with bubbles
- Gold Bond softening foot cream
- Yoga Toes gell toe separators
- OPI Infinite Shine ProStay Duo Pack – base coat and top coat set
- OPI nail polish
The cost of makeup is outrageous.
And if you’re wearing it every day, then that cost can really add up fast.
So when I was looking for things to stop buying to save money, makeup was a big one. But I was somewhat stuck on the fact that I like makeup and didn’t exactly want to go “au-naturel” all the time.
So what did I do?
Well, a few things actually. I took a hard look at my makeup routine and:
- Reduced the number of makeup products I used.
- Opted for higher-quality products that lasted much longer than the cheapies I was using previously.
- Reduced how frequently I used certain products, coming up with a slimmed-down “every day” makeup routine that excluded some items, and a “going out, wanna look hot” makeup routine.
Doing these things, especially reducing how frequently I used liquid foundation as opposed to a bit of powder, really impacted my spending and allowed me to save more money.
As well, high-quality makeup products might come with a scary-big price tag, but this is often because they give you more bang for your buck in the long run.
For example, I used to buy cheaper eye shadow palettes that I’d go through pretty quickly. I’d usually end up finishing my favorite color and then have to buy another one, wasting the remaining eye shadow and money.
Instead, now I opt for larger, higher-quality eye shadow palettes that give me more colors to choose from and offer many different mix-and-match shades that all suit me. I absolutely adore Urban Decay’s Naked palettes and their eye primer potion (for my “going out” makeup routine only—saving money!).
And finally, now that I use far fewer products, I pretty much fit my entire makeup routine into one small cosmetic bag. Ah, the simplicity.
5. Spa Days
Okay, so I never really spent a ton of money at the spa anyways, but still some.
And, I know that there are more than a few of you out there who visit the spa regularly enough to call it an expense, not a “treat.” Consider yourselves guilty as charged!
If you’re spending money on going to the spa a couple times a month, then massages are certainly one thing you can stop buying to save money.
Now, I get it. The spa is probably your retreat from the stressors of every day life, or maybe you need regular massages to alleviate back pain (I’m with you, there!). If this is the case, then reducing your spa spending is much easier said than done.
But everyone of us, no matter how vital our spa days are to our own happiness, can cut back on these or find ways to get the same experience at home.
Hear me out.
What if you stopped paying someone to give you a massage and instead asked your partner to? Not only will this save money, it’ll also bring you closer and maybe, just maybe, spice things up a bit.
Without getting too personal here, might I recommend some coconut massage oil and massage cream to get started. You’d be surprised how much more enjoyable it is to both give and receive a massage from your partner. After all, even though they might not be a pro, their touch means a hell of a lot more.
6. Excess Groceries
This one’s a killer.
Grocery spending is one of the biggest things you (and everyone else) can cut back on to save money.
But while you can’t stop buying groceries entirely, you can astronomically reduce the amount of excess food you purchase.
A couple years ago, our household grocery spend circled around $600 a month for 2 people. At the time, my boyfriend and I felt like we were only buying what we “needed” and couldn’t possibly imagine there was that much room to cut back on our food spending.
Oh, how wrong we were.
In preparation for yet another international move, we took a hard look at our expenses and started to budget our income more throughly. And when it came to groceries, we realized that yes, our cabinets and fridge were always stuffed with food, but we had no clue what our meals would be each week or day, for that matter. We were really just winging it.
What this meant was:
- Some food was going to waste, especially perishables like vegetables and fruit.
- We had multiples of items without even knowing it.
- We ended up just cooking the same meals all the time, because it was easier than making sense of all the things in the cupboards and fridge.
Really, we were just plain wasting money on food we never ate. Seemed pretty darn silly.
So how did we turn this all around?
Well, we meal planned.
One day a week (every week) we sit down and figure out our meals for the week. From that meal list, we then create our grocery list and only buy those items. And before anything earns its place on the grocery list, we double check our fridge and cupboards to make sure we don’t already have the ingredient.
Meal planning sounds super simple, and it is once you make it a habit.
And although I can’t give you an exact number as to how much meal planning has saved me and contributed to my 6 figure savings, I can tell you that:
Our monthly grocery spend has gone from around $600 a month…to $400 or less.
Yeah, huge savings right there.
TIP: Don’t ever go grocery shopping without Ibotta. It helps you earn cash back both in store and online at your favorite grocery chains. Just simply download the free app, link your store loyalty cards, and scan them at checkout. You’ll get cash back within 24 hours! Sign up today and get up to $20 in Welcome Bonuses!
Related Read: How to Meal Plan Like a Pro (and Save $200+ a Month!)
With all that meal planning and money-saving happening, you’ll soon discover how few snacks you need to keep around.
We used to always buy tortilla and potato chips, crackers, string cheese, Oreos (how I miss you), and a variety of cereals that would far too frequently serve as meal substitutes.
But when you meal plan, you already know when and what you’re eating. If you get hungry between meals, snack on some almonds or yogurt and muesli, and you’ll be good till dinner time.
As well, with meal planning your work lunches become delicious leftovers from the night before, and you’ll start eating more cheap and healthy foods like veggies and legumes. You’ll no longer need all those chips, cookies, and crackers anymore.
Basically, meal planning not only saves you money, it also reduces the need for unhealthy snacks.
And oftentimes, these snacks are prepackaged and produce more waste. Yet another perk to stop buying them!
Over time, not spending money on all those tantalizing and seemingly irresistible snacks will positively impact your wallet and waistline.
8. Ready Meals
Ready meals, like frozen dinners and pizzas, are super convenient.
But let’s face it:
They cost more than if you made it yourself from scratch.
So when it comes to things I stopped buying to save money, this was an obvious one to eliminate.
Again, with a meal plan (no, I won’t stop singing its praises) you have all the ingredients to cook delicious meals from home, from scratch. No more ready meals!
See, the biggest perk to frozen dinners is how little effort and time is require to make them. But if you meal plan properly and take into consideration your work schedule and other commitments, then you’ll already have a fast, homemade meal on the menu.
Or, you’ll have already prepped and cooked your homemade meal. All you need to do is reheat and enjoy.
Say goodbye to frozen dinners forever and start prepping and planning your meals beforehand. Get these handy meal prep containers that you can stack in the fridge and take with you to work. That way, you’ll always have a healthy home-cooked meal ready to go.
Related Read: 55 Clever Products That’ll Save You Money Down the Road
9. Food and Drinks at Restaurants
One thing I stopped buying pretty early on was food and drink at restaurants.
Used to, I’d split appetizers with people, have a couple glasses of wine or beer, and probably go all in on a dessert because, let’s face it, it’s the best part of a meal.
But this wasteful spending was killing my checking account. After payday, it was all well and good until I couldn’t make it until next payday.
So instead I:
- Stopped buying appetizers because portion sizes for mains are HUGE anyway.
- Treated myself to the occasional glass of wine or beer, but not every dinner out like before.
- Started splitting desserts or getting a side as my main as well as a dessert. The cost comes out around the same, and I get my sweet treat at the end. Win!
Whereas before my money would quickly dwindle away before my next paycheck, now I no longer had to worry about my balance.
But the moral of the story with this one is:
Don’t completely stop going out to eat if it’s something you enjoy—I mean, who doesn’t?
Instead, focus on those little things you can stop buying to save money on your nights out, so you can enjoy your dinner without the worry.
10. Take-Away Coffee
I don’t understand it, but there’s just something about take away coffees that make me so completely and utterly happy. For whatever reason, carrying my little cup o’ coffee around provides me almost as much emotional support as my pooch. Don’t tell him I said that…
But unfortunately for me and all you coffee addicts out there, a Starbucks coffee, for example, costs an average of $3. That’s $780 a year, assuming you’re getting one before work every day. Eeeek!
So sadly, I’ve largely cut Starbucks out of my life. Or when I do get one, I utilize ways to get free Starbucks drinks instead.
Do I miss take away coffees?
To be completely honest with you, not really.
The coffee I make and bring from home is just as nice (if not nicer) and my thermos keeps my brew hotter than any take away paper cup.
Related Read: 11 Hacks to Get FREE Starbucks Drinks
11. Bottled Water
Here’s a business idea for you:
I’m gonna take something you have access to at home and in nearly every public place, package it in plastic that’s barely (if at all) recyclable and that will ultimately end up in the ocean or giant landfills, and then I’m gonna charge you money for it.
Yeah, didn’t think so.
The entire concept of bottled water both baffles and infuriates me. Yes, it’s good in the occasional (very occasional) pinch, but it’s over-priced and, oh yeah, killing the planet.
If you’re buying bottled water every day to take with you to work, or keeping it stocked in your home because it’s easier than washing glasses all the time, then you’re wasting money.
12. The Latest Technology
I’m a tech nerd. I always have been.
I used to spend hours on our old PC after school, chatting in Lord of the Rings online forums, designing LOTR wallpapers and avatars, and even building an LOTR fan site.
Okay yeah, I was a little obsessed.
But besides being a huge LOTR nerd, I was also the computer geek of the house. If something wasn’t working, I’d fix it. If someone didn’t know how to do something on the computer, I’d teach them.
Tech and I have always been two peas in a pod. It’s no surprise I ended up working for a major technology company later on…
But all that clever gadgetry and the rapidly evolving tech sector meant I always wanted to own the latest products.
I was buying a brand new iPhone every 2 years. I was buying new Mac laptops (yup, plural!) every 4 years. And I was always lusting after the latest Canon DSLR model, even though the one I had worked perfectly fine.
I was keeping up the Jones’s, as they say.
Nowadays though, my 2 laptops are 4 and 7 years old. I only get a new iPhone when the battery is shot and the software slows. And I’ve had the same Canon 5D Mark II for 7+ years (and it still works fabulously).
So if you’re a tech nerd like me, figure out how often you’re buying new gadgets just to stay hip and not out of necessity. Chances are, you can save some serious money here.
13. Bank Fees
Is there anything worse than paying a bank to hold your money, i.e. do its job?
Bank fees are one of those things I refuse to spend money on, and yes it’s considered spending to me. Because like a lot of these other things on this list, bank fees cost money and add up to a hefty chunk of change.
For the longest time, my checking account required a $500 minimum direct deposit every month or I’d be charged a $12 monthly fee. $12!
And while hopefully we all get paid our $500+ salary into accounts like that, at the time I was living and earning abroad for nearly 5 years and not meeting that minimum. My paycheck was going straight into a local bank account and that US bank charged me $720 over 5 years!
Imagine if I had invested that $720 over 5 years in the stock market at a 8% annual return…Ugh, I can’t even think about it.
If your bank charges you silly fees every month, switch to another one now. I waited way too long and literally paid the price.
Now, I bank with Charles Schwab which has 0 fees and 0 foreign transaction fees. It’s a bank that better suits my she-who-travels-alot lifestyle and money habits.
So find your perfect bank and say goodbye to banks with tons of hidden fees. Otherwise, it’s daylight robbery.
14. Gym Memberships
Gym memberships is one of the first things I stopped buying to save money.
Let me start by saying that I’ve never in my life been able to make going to the gym a habit. As in, physically leaving my house, driving to a place, getting sweaty, and then driving back.
I know some of you enjoy this, but I sure as heck don’t.
Maybe it’s my introversion. Or maybe it’s that I get so red in the face when I work out that people have actually asked me, “Are you okay?” The gym has just never been a particularly enjoyable place.
But I did pay for gym memberships for years. I tried my small local gym, paying around $20 a month. And I tried the mega-gym that all the cool kids go to for $50 a month.
But no matter which gym I paid for, I never went often enough to warrant spending $250-$600 a year.
So how do I get my exercise in instead?
Surprise, surprise: I exercise at home!
I either invest in a treadmill, which is far cheaper than paying a gym to use theirs, or I go for brisk walks outside with my dog.
Just by cutting spending on gym memberships, I’ve been saving at least $500 a year for over 8 years now. Not bad.
15. Cable Television
I’m one of those freaks that loves putting live TV on just for the background noise. Don’t know what it is, but it actually helps me concentrate better. Weird.
But if you haven’t noticed, cable television packages are getting more and more ridiculous in price. Only 10% of Americans pay less than $50 a month for cable. That means 90% of us are paying between $51-$200 a month!! Wtf.
Needless to say, I ain’t footing this bill anymore. Cable television packages are one of those things you can actually live without.
Nowadays, there are many different cable TV alternatives that you can mix-and-match to access live television AND thousands of movies, TV shows, and mini-series.
Currently, we’re only paying for Netflix and Disney+. To be honest, there are more than enough shows and movies for us to watch with just these 2, all while still saving money.
We also take advantage of free full episodes of our favorite shows on major networks, like NBC, ABC, and Fox. Depending on what shows you watch, you might find free versions available after they air on their website and/or streaming apps.
At one point, I owned over 500 DVDs. Sheesh.
But hey, I’m a film school graduate, sooo there’s that excuse.
And even after the death of the DVD, I’d still find myself spending $15 on an iTunes movie here and another $10 there, until I’d amassed an army of digital movie copies.
Today, I still have my iTunes purchases and all, but I had to rein in my movie addiction or I was surely gonna break the bank.
Admittedly, the rise of streaming services definitely helped in this department, but before then I’d already made a conscious choice not to buy any more movies.
Now, I pay for just a few streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, and Prime. All of these give me thousands of films to watch, which keeps this girl happy and my checking account looking good.
I could do nothing but read books for days and never be bored.
In fact, that’s exactly what I did throughout college instead of going to college parties on the weekends. My social anxiety flares up just thinking about them.
Books are a form of escapism for me, and I absolutely can’t live without them.
My monthly Barnes & Noble spend…was getting just a bit out of hand. Yes, every month I’d go and buy my month’s supply of reading and spend $100+ every time.
In fairness, I would read all of the books I bought. However, I was paying a lot for those fancy hardcover editions that I loved so much and for that smell of a brand new book. Mmm.
Now, not only have I stopped my monthly Barnes & Noble spree, I’ve also found other ways to save on my hobby. For instance, I trade books with coworkers and friends. I shop at secondhand bookstores and buy the scruffy-looking books with personality.
As well, I’ve truly embraced the switch to eBooks, something I never thought I’d hear myself utter.
And for you audiobook fans (me included!), Audible offers one of the best deals around. Even for their cheapest Audible Plus plan, you get access to thousands of audiobooks and podcasts. And with an Audible Premier Plus account, you even get a free audiobook of your choice every month!
So even though I can’t live without books, I don’t have to to save money. Free Kindle reads and Audible audiobooks feed my book addiction just fine and allow me to still save.
18. Brand New Furniture
Who doesn’t love a good wander around IKEA? And especially the fact that you can top it off with an ice cream frosty at the end of the maze.
But even though IKEA furniture draws you in with that sexy-sleek design and affordable price-tag, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the cheapest option.
When my boyfriend and I were living in Shanghai, furnishing a place was never a problem. Furnished apartments are standard practice, and when you think about it, it makes a heck of a lot more sense than moving heavy furniture around with you all the time.
So we were spoiled. And then…we moved to the UK.
All of a sudden we needed to furnish a 3-bed house. My inner frugal was triggered, to say the least.
But I wasn’t going to make past mistakes again and buy a bunch of new furniture like I always did while living in the US. I’d go to IKEA, pick my perfect furniture and room decor, and then cringe at the checkout.
No this time, we were going to stop spending money on new furniture and start exploring the used furniture market.
And guess what?
We ended up furnishing our entire 3 bed house for less than $1,500. Yup.
We went to every used furniture warehouse we could find, charity shops, and scoured eBay and Facebook Marketplace to find excellent pieces at a fraction of the cost.
So the lesson I learned here was:
Stop buying new furniture. It’s up there with new cars on the list of things with the worst resale value. It’s a terrible investment.
So for buyers, buy used furniture and save big-time.
I lump a lot into this category. What I call “knick-knacks” are pretty much anything you buy solely for decoration and that serves no other purpose than to make your home look more HGTV-ready.
Pretty vases? Knick-knack. Mass-produced wall art? Knick-knack. Stuff on your bookshelves and dressers that you have to dust all the time, because it literally just sits there for no reason? Knick-knacks.
I get that creating a classy and cozy home environment is important, but I think you can still do this without buying pretty-looking yet generic home decor items.
Needless to say, knick-knacks are another thing I stopped buying and haven’t regretted it one bit.
Instead, I much prefer buying useful and functional items from my travels, like a drip coffee gadget from Vietnam or an incense burner from Tibet. And rather than buying paintings from Bed Bath & Beyond that millions of other people have hanging on their walls, I pay to have my photographs professionally printed and framed.
No, my house isn’t magazine perfect, but every item I own has a memory attached to it and serves a purpose, be it functional or emotional.
And I’m sure you far-more-savvy-than-me home decor enthusiasts could create that HGTV look without wasting money on dust-gathering home decor pieces that mean nothing to you.
So give it a try.
Only spend money on things that actually add meaning to your home. And before you know it, your house will feel more like your own for half the price.
20. New Cars
A new car loses value as soon as you drive it off the lot.
If you haven’t heard this before, then there’s your wake up call.
In fact, cars depreciate in value roughly 15-20% each year you own them, making it one of the absolute worst investments in the history of investments.
If I asked you to give me your money so I could invest it in a stock that is guaranteed to lose 15% value year over year…you’d laugh in my face and say, “No thanks, bye!”
Yet people keep buying new cars!
And I get it, you can totally get ripped off with a used car that ends up sucking your money dry from repairs, but that’s not the norm. You can purchase models from 5 years ago that are in great condition and significantly cheaper than buying new.
Spending money on a new car is just a straight up bad financial decision.
If you live in a city like me, try using public transportation instead of spending money on a car payment, insurance, and gas. Do I miss driving? Heck yeah, but I definitely don’t miss spending a couple hundred bucks a month on a car!
And if you can’t live without a car because you need one in the area you live, then buy used. End of story.
21. Sale Items
I love a good sale just as much as the next person.
But more often than not, we just buy things because they’re on sale, not because we actually need them.
Resisting those ever-so tempting sales signs is a serious challenge. You’re up against enormous, Godzilla-sized signs screaming “50% OFF!” and “BUY ONE GET ONE!”
But before you’re sucked in and come out of the store poorer, stop to think about whether or not you actually need the things that are on sale.
Do you really need another pair of blue jeans, or are you just being greedy? Even if there are some stellar deals on shoes, can your closet really fit any more? And if you actually need a new television, should you really get the 55” that’s on sale or just buy the 43” you were planning on getting before?
Our minds like to play tricks on us and make us think we need things when we don’t. Store sales, clearance items, and just the thought of getting good deals on things trigger a dopamine release in our brains.
But in reality, a good deal isn’t actually good if you weren’t going to spend that money in the first place. Resist the urge!
Final Thoughts on Things to Stop Spending Money On
Pinpointing things to stop buying to save money is the first step towards taking control of your spending and your financial situation.
But it’s just part of the solution, not a magic cure.
Ultimately, to reach your savings goals and become financially free, you’ll need to:
- Create a budget that works for you.
- Reduce your spending by adopting frugal living strategies.
- Take advantage of money-saving apps like Rakuten and Ibotta.
- Save up a rainy day and emergency fund.
- Boost your income through side hustles and easy ways to earn online.
- Start investing in your retirement via your 401k, brokerage account, and/or IRAs.
All of these things combined are the key to financial stability and freedom. And everyone can do it—you included.
So if you’re not the best budgeter, focus on finding a budgeting method that works for you. Or if you never keep track of what you spend, start tracking everything you buy.
In a nutshell, take those smalls steps today that’ll help you save more money in the long run.
And trust me:
Before you know it, you’ll have a sizable savings account to wash away your financial worries.