20 Things to Stop Buying That Can Save You Serious Money

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Last Updated on October 30, 2021 by Rebecca Lake

Things to Stop Buying to Save Money

Are you guilty of wasting money on things you don’t need? Would you like to learn how to live below your means?

Who isn’t, right? But you can start saving money instead if you know the right things to stop buying.

Here’s a fun fact: 65% of Americans have no idea what they spend month to month.

If you don’t know what you’re spending, then you could be throwing money away!

By making some simple changes to your spending habits, you can cut out the waste and get your budget back on track.

Ready to stop buying stuff that doesn’t really add value to your life?

Keep reading to learn how to stop spending money on unnecessary things.

Related post: 70/20/10 Budget Method: How to Use It to Spend, Save and Invest

What happens when you stop buying stuff?

Knowing which things to stop buying (and actually doing it) can bring huge benefits. And it can improve your life in more ways than one. 

things to stop buying to save money

Here’s what happens when you stop buying stuff:

1. You can save more money

This is a pretty simple conclusion. 

When you don’t spend money, you can save it instead. 

If you don’t have an emergency savings fund, how good would it feel to have cash you could tap into when you need it?

Or if you have kids, how sweet would it be to help them avoid the boatload of student loan debt you took on to get through school?

Once you get a taste of saving money, it really can become addictive. You’ll love the feeling of seeing the money pile up in your savings account

And that’s something that can happen for you when you decide to stop buying unnecessary things.

Related post: 23 Free Money Saving Charts to Help You Crush Your Financial Goals

2. You can start building wealth

Saving money and investing it are two different things. 

If you save money, that usually means keeping it in a high yield savings account or a CD account. 

You earn a little interest and you can tap into your money any time you need to. 

With investing, you’re counting on your money growing through the power of compounding interest. 

That’s really how you build wealth–you invest your money and it earns interest on interest. If you do that long-term, it could mean the difference between a comfortable retirement and working into your old age. 

If you find even one or two things to stop buying every month, that could give you an extra $100 to invest. And that’s all you need to start building wealth with M1 Finance now.

3. You’ll have less “stuff” cluttering up your house

Living in clutter is not something I can do–I need an organized house

And one of the side effects that happens when you stop buying stuff is that it becomes a lot easier to keep your home from being a chaotic mess. 

This really is a win-win because:

  • You’re not wasting money on things you don’t need
  • You’re not filling up your house with things you may never use

If your house is full of stuff already, the first thing to do to change is to vow to stick to this list of things to stop buying. 

And the next is cleaning out the stuff and selling things you don’t need. Again, this is a win-win.

You get your house organized and clutter-free. And you can make some extra money while you’re at it.

4. You’ll have less money stress

If you ask people what their biggest source of stress in life is, 73% of them will say that it’s money

There are different reasons for financial stress. For example, you might be worried about money if:

When you find things to stop buying, that alone isn’t guaranteed to magically erase those money worries. 

But it can help you to feel more reassured about your financial situation. If you’re not spending money because you stop buying stuff, you can have more money to pay bills and hopefully save a little too. 

5. It can improve your relationships

If you’re married, you’ve probably heard this before: the number one thing couples fight about is money

And even if you’re not married, money might be putting a strain on your relationships. 

For example, you might be constantly hitting up friends or family for small loans. Do that often enough and that can sour the relationship pretty quickly. 

When you consciously look for things to stop buying that can help your relationships if money is no longer a sore spot. And that in itself can be priceless. 

20+ Things to Stop Buying Now to Save More Money

Ready to learn what you should stop buying now to start racking up savings? Here are 21 things to eliminate that can help you drastically cut expenses

1. Bottled water

Bottled water is not great for the environment and it isn’t great for your wallet either. 

So to save money, consider skipping bottled water and investing in a reusable water bottle instead. And if you’re worried about water quality, you can also pick up a filter pitcher or tap filter

2. Cable TV

We haven’t had cable TV years and I can’t say I miss it. Especially not the $140+ I was paying for it every month. 

Instead, we use Roku to stream Hulu, Netflix and a few other channels. 

It’s been a money-saver and honestly, it was one of the best things to stop buying because it was so easy to cut out. 

3. Prepackaged food items

Prepackaged food is definitely something to stop buying if you want to save money on groceries

Any type of prepackaged or convenience food is almost always going to cost more than buying fresh ingredients separately. 

woman shopping

Sure, you get the benefit of time saved if prepackaged food is easy to make. But you’re going to pay for it in your budget. 

And not to mention, a lot of prepackaged or convenience foods are not that healthy. So that’s another reason to add them to your list of things to stop buying. 

Pro Tip: Use Ibotta to save money on groceries

If you’re not using Ibotta to save money on grocery shopping then you’re really letting money slip through your fingers. 

With the Ibotta app, you can earn cashback on groceries and shopping at plenty of top retailers. All you have to do is download the Ibotta app and link up your store loyalty cards. 

This is a simple way to earn money back on every purchase. Plus, you can get a $20 Ibotta cash bonus when you sign up using this link!

4. Take out coffee or smoothies

David Bach talks about the latte factor in pretty much all of his books

And while I don’t necessarily think skipping a daily or weekly latte is the secret to becoming a millionaire, I think it can definitely help with saving money. 

Think about it. Say you spend $5 a day on takeout coffee, smoothies, boba–whatever your taste. 

Do that 365 days a year and you’ll spend $1,825.

Now, do that every year for 40 years and you’ll spend $73,000 on coffee. 

That’s not $1 million but it isn’t pennies either. So that’s 73,000 reasons to consider buying a quality coffee maker or smoothie maker and whipping up your own drinks at home. 

5. Paper towels/paper plates

Giving up paper towels and paper plates can be one of the toughest things to stop buying. Because they’re just so convenient. 

But really, this money you’re literally throwing in the trash. 

You use a paper towel or paper plate and into the garbage it goes. You’re better off using washable cloth towels and regular plates instead if you want to save money. 

6. Extended warranties

Extended warranties are one of the biggest scams in my opinion. 

Because really, what are you paying for? Every time I’ve tried to use an extended warranty I’ve purchased I’ve been told that because of some condition or another it’s no longer valid. 

Bottom line? 

Unless you know with some degree of certainty that you’ll use an extended warranty, you’re better off skipping it. 

And you might already have warranty coverage without realizing it. If you used a credit card to buy something, one of your card perks might include an extended warranty or purchase protection. 

7. In-game or in-app items

Playing video games or using apps can be a stress reliever. And some apps like Swagbucks will even pay you to play games. 

But they can be a money-waster if you’re spending on in-game or in-app purchases. 

So if you’ve connected your favorite games and apps to your debit card, credit card or mobile wallet app, disconnect them ASAP. 

This removes all temptation to spend because it’s not so easy to throw away money at the click of a button. 

8. Online purchases that don’t earn cash back

I’m a fan of online shopping. But I don’t shop online without making sure I’m getting something back. 

Using cash back apps means that I don’t have to stop buying things online altogether because I’m saving money. 

Cashback apps work by paying you back a percentage of what you spend. This is essentially free money that you get when you shop as you normally would. 

apps to help save money

Looking for some cash back apps to try? Here are three of my favorites. 

RakutenRakuten pays up to 40% cashback when you shop online or in stores at brands. I love Rakuten because they pay you through PayPal so you don’t have to wait for a check to get the cashback you’ve earned. Plus, you can earn a $10 bonus when you sign up with this link and earn more cashback for referring people you know to the app. 

DoshDosh is another great option for earning cashback on shopping, dining or travel. Dosh doesn’t offer a big sign-up bonus the way Rakuten does but you can earn referral bonuses for every new user you get to try the app. 

IbottaI already mentioned Ibotta for earning cashback on groceries. But you can also use Ibotta to earn cashback on shopping, too. Again, you just have to download the Ibotta app and link your store loyalty cards. Sign up now and grab your $20 Ibotta cash bonus!

DropDrop is another cash-back rewards app that pays you to shop. Over 3 million people are using Drop to earn cashback and if you’re not one of them yet, you can sign up with this link!

Related post: 12 Best Cash Back Apps to Download for Making Easy Money

9. Clearance or sale items

Clearance and sale items are the absolute worst culprits for wasting money. 

But I know what you’re thinking. How can that be if it’s a deal?

And therein lies the problem. You see a clearance or sale item and think, hey I’ll save money if I buy it since it’s marked down. 

But you forget to ask the key question: Do I need this? 

And if we’re being honest, the answer is probably no 9 times out of 10. 

So if you’re looking for things to stop buying to save money, develop a blind spot where the clearance bin is concerned. 

10. Books

If you’re a book-lover, then this might be one of the most difficult things to stop buying honestly. 

I say this as someone who loves books and still dreams of having a library like Belle’s. 

But if you want to save money, then you have to be realistic about spending your hard-earned dollars on the latest hard backs. I mean, some of those things can easily cost $30 or more. 

So here’s what I suggest: stop buying hard backs or physical books altogether. 

Instead, try reading them on your Kindle or tablet. Amazon has a great selection of books for Kindle that cost way less than what you’d pay for a paper version. 

And if you’re skeptical about reading on your Kindle then you can always try audiobooks instead. In fact, you can snag two free books from Audible with this link!

11. Clothes that need to be dry cleaned

Dry cleaning can be a sneaky cost that drains money away from your budget. 

Consider this. Say you spend $50 a week on dry cleaning. That’s $2600 a year you could be saving instead. 

So a simple fix is to stop buying clothes that need to be dry cleaned or any clothing that needs special care. 

If you can’t get it clean with your washer and dryer at home, then skip buying it. 

And if you need a specialty item (like a formal dress or a suit) see if you can pick something up from a consignment shop before you pay full price at a department store. 

Related post: Laundromat Near Me? Where to Find a Safe, Cheap Place to Do Laundry

12. Streaming services you don’t use

Earlier, I mentioned cutting cable and switching to streaming services instead.

But it’s important to be choosy about what you pay for. 

Because even though you may pay $5 or $10 a month to stream your favorite channels, you could easily end up spending just as much as you would on cable. 

The hack for saving money? Regularly audit your streaming services and online subscriptions and ditch the ones you don’t need. 

The Trim Financial Manager is a big help for this. 

Trim reviews your spending and helps you cut out subscriptions you don’t use. And Trim can also save you money on bank fees and other expenses, too. 

If you’re not using Trim to save money yet, give it a try to see how much you can cut from your budget. 

13. Takeout food

The typical household spends $3,526 a year on food away from home

That works out to about $300 a month. And really, that’s quite a bit of money to spend on takeout food or restaurant meals that you could be saving. 

But there’s a simple fix. 

If you want to save this $3,500 a year, you just have to start making meals at home. 

save on groceries

Meal planning can help with that. When you meal plan, you decide ahead of time what you’re going to make. 

This can save you time because you don’t have to guess about what’s for dinner. And you can save money because you can tailor your grocery list to your meal plan. 

If you’re overwhelmed at where to start with planning meals, you can always try a low-cost service like $5 Meal Plan

With $5 Meal Plan, you can get preplanned meals for pennies. It’s a great investment if you want to try meal planning with minimal headaches. 

Get started with $5 Meal Plan and save money on meals at home.

14. Haircuts and beauty treatments

Haircuts, facials, pedicures and manicures are all nice-to-haves in your budget. But they can get expensive if you’re paying for these things weekly or monthly. 

Instead of spending money on beauty treatments, consider what you can do at home. 

For example, I save money by cutting my son’s hair at home. I did have to make a one-time investment in a set of quality hair clippers but I’ve more than made up for the cost in savings. 

Unless salon or spa visits are an absolute must for self-care, then consider if you can add them to your list of things to stop buying. 

And if you can’t cut them out completely, think about cutting back on how you often go. For example, instead of going every month try every other month instead. 

Every penny you can save this way adds up. 

15. Name brand items

Name brand items cost more because a lot of what you’re paying for is the name brand itself. 

Now, I will agree that some name brand things tend to be higher quality than generic brands. There’s a clear difference between Charmin and generic brand toilet paper. 

So you don’t necessarily have to ban all name brands. But switching out some name brands for generic is an easy way to save money. 

Look through your pantry, kitchen cabinets, laundry room and bathroom cabinets. Make note of all the name brands you see. 

Now, consider which ones you’re comfortable swapping for generic. 

Give the generic brands a test run to see how you like them. And if you don’t see a noticeable difference then you can stick with this money-saving strategy. 

16. Impulse purchases

Impulse buys can kill your budget. Even small things can add money to your shopping trips. 

So make a conscious effort to put the brakes on impulse purchases. 

This can include:

  • Clearance or sale items
  • Items that are near the checkout
  • Anything that you weren’t planning to buy when you walked in the store

This is where shopping with a list can help you avoid overspending. 

Make a list before you leave home, then set your budget for shopping. If you feel the urge to give in to an impulse buy, make a deal with yourself that you’ll remove something that’s already in your cart. 

This forces you to make a choice. And if you’ve come into the store knowing what you need, it can be great motivation to stick to your list. 

17. Magazine subscriptions

I used to buy magazines all the time. And you know what? Magazines are not cheap. 

Some of them cost $12 or even $15 for one issue. Getting a subscription could save you money. 

But it’s not really worth it if you’re not reading what you’re buying. 

So magazine subscriptions could be one of the best things to stop buying if you’re trying not to waste money. 

And here’s a tip: if you really want magazines to read, you can earn them for free instead of buying them. 

RewardSurvey pays you with points that you can redeem for magazines. All you have to do to get those points is take quick surveys on your phone. 

Free magazines for little effort sounds good, right?

And when you sign up for RewardSurvey now, you can get a $30 credit toward your first magazines!

18. High end phones

Spending $600 on a cellphone is something that will never make sense to me.

I can understand purchasing a high end phone to create amazing videos for a TikTok or YouTube channel you’ve monetized. Or using it to snap jaw-dropping photos as a paid Insta influencer.

In that case, spending hundreds on a phone could be justified if you’re using it to make money. 

But if you only use your phone to text or make calls or look at cat memes, then are the extra bells and whistles really necessary?

make money with apps

Before you drop a bunch of money on an expensive phone, consider how much you’ll use it and how long it’ll last. Phone technology is always changing so that $600 phone you buy might be outdated in six months. 

And think about switching your contract plan to a prepaid cellphone plan while you’re at it. 

Prepaid cellphone plans, like the ones from Tello, can cost under $50 a month. And you can still get a decent phone for a fraction of the cost. 

Looking to save money on cellphone service? Compare plans and pricing with Tello today.

19. Dryer sheets

Dryer sheets smell great but they’re just money you literally throw away. 

And they can be one of the easiest things to stop buying if you want to save money. 


Because dryer balls make a great substitute. Dryer balls are designed to be reusable and they can help dry clothes faster, which can save on electric bills

Check out some of the different dryer ball options on Amazon. 

20. Anything you can’t reuse or recycle

Any time I buy something, no matter what it is, I ask myself if it’s something I can recycle or repurpose later. 

Recycling and reusing things cuts down on waste. And the more uses you can get out of something the more money you can save. 

For example, instead of using Ziploc bags or cheap plastic containers, try some durable glass food containers instead. 

Or instead of using aluminum foil, try reusable beeswax wrappers

Those are just two examples. Before you buy something (or throw it out) think about all the possible ways you could use it. 

This can help you figure out which things to stop buying that would otherwise end up in the trash. 

One more thing to stop buying: The idea that you need to spend money to be happy

So this idea that money can buy you happiness isn’t a physical thing you can stop buying.

But I’ve included it here because FOMO is a real thing that can lead to overspending.

If you find yourself assuming that you can only be happy when you’re spending money or buying things, ask yourself where this idea comes from.

It might be social media or your friends. Or it might be the way your parents handled money when you were growing up.

Then consider whether spending really does bring you happiness, beyond a temporary rush.

Chances are, the answer is no. And if you’re struggling to get overspending under control consider talking to a nonprofit credit counselor who can help.

Bonus tip: Negotiate your bills down to save money

This list of things to stop buying is a good place to start for saving money. But you can also grow your savings by cutting down on your bills. 

For example, some of the bills you might be able to save on include:

  • Car insurance
  • Home or renter’s insurance
  • Cellphone service
  • Utilities

Sometimes, saving money on bills is as easy as making a phone call and asking for a better deal. 

But if you don’t have time for that, you can always use Billshark to lower bills for you

Billshark is a bill negotiation service. Their experts work with your billers to help you reduce your bills and save money. 

It’s a super simple way to put money back in your budget. You can sign up for Billshark now to get started.

Related post: Check Cashing Near Me (Best Places to Cash Checks With Low Fees)

What is the 30-day rule and how do you use it stop buying stuff?

The 30-day rule is a really simple way to get yourself to stop buying things you don’t need. 

Here’s how it works:

If there’s something you want to buy that isn’t essential, you wait 30 days to make the purchase. 

Why? Because that 30 day waiting period is enough time to decide whether you really want to spend the money. 

If you decide you want to spend once the 30 days is up, then you’ll have thought the purchase through first. 

And if you decide not to spend, then that’s more money you have to save. 

How do I stop unnecessary spending?

Unnecessary spending can be a drag on your finances. If you’re committed to stop buying things you don’t need, here’s how you stop the spending waste. 

1. Learn how to make a budget that works for you

A budget is the most basic financial tool you can have to save money, live better

When you budget your money, you’re deciding what to do with it. You’re directing your spending instead of letting your spending control you. 

There are lots of ways to budget. For example, you can:

It doesn’t matter that much which way you decide to budget. What matters most is that you create a budget that’s realistic for you. 

Why is that so important?

It’s simple. When you pick the right budget method, it’s a lot easier to stick with your spending plan. 

And that can help you stop buying things you don’t need all the time, which means–you guessed it. Saving more money. 

2. Separate wants from needs

One of the secrets to get out of spending mode and stop buying stuff is knowing what’s a want and what’s a need. 

A need is anything you need to spend money on to take care of yourself and your family. So the biggest needs for most people are things like:

  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Utility bills
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Insurance
  • Basic clothing

Anything that isn’t required to maintain a basic standard of living is a want. 

If you want to stop buying things to save money, take time to figure out what your wants vs. needs are. 

Go through your monthly spending, line by line. (And if you’re not tracking your spending, Personal Capital is really helpful for this.)

Take a hard look at where your money is going and decide what stays in and what gets cut from the budget

This can make a huge difference when you’re trying to stop buying unnecessary things because it forces you to be intentional about your spending. 

3. Embrace the idea of living on less

Living below your means is a good thing if you want to be able to save money and get ahead financially. 

When you live below your means, you don’t spend more than you earn. 

Instead, you have money left over each month that you can save or invest. Or use it to pay down debt if you have student loans, credit cards or other debts. 

If you want to cut out unnecessary spending and stop wasting money, then you really have to learn to live below your means. (And like it.)

So, some ways you can do that are:

  • Negotiating your bills down as much as possible (Billshark is great for this)
  • Figuring out your needs vs. wants
  • Creating a workable budget and sticking to it
  • Using the 30-day rule to save money
  • Learning to be happy with less “stuff” or less spending

One really simple way to start living below your means is to try a no-spend challenge. 

A no spend challenge means you don’t spend money on anything other than essential needs for a set time period. 

For example, you may try a no spend week or weekend. If you’re really driven to get on the live below your means bandwagon, a no spend month might be better. 

A no spend challenge is an effective way to stop spending money on unnecessary things because you really have to be committed for it to work. 

Related post: 10 Simple Tips for Crushing a No Spend Challenge

things to stop buying

Final thoughts things to stop buying (that you don’t really need)

Making the decision to stop wasting money on unnecessary things can completely change your financial picture. 

It’s possible that once you see how much money you can save, you won’t even miss those things you decided to stop buying. 

If you’re still struggling to wrap your head around the idea of cutting out certain expenses, don’t try to do this list all at once. Instead, pick one thing at a time to stop buying. 

Then as you get used to buying less of that thing, you can add something else to the list. This is an easy way to cut back on spending without feeling deprived. 

Do you have something to add to this list of things to stop buying? Head to the comments and tell me about it, then don’t forget to share this post!

21 Things to Stop Buying to Save Money

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About Rebecca Lake

Rebecca Lake is a freelance writer, personal finance expert and homeschooling single mom of two. Since 2014, she's paid off nearly $100,000 in debt and grown her net worth to seven figures. Her work has appeared online at top personal finance websites, including Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Investopedia, The Balance, CreditCards.com and U.S. News & World Report. Find out more.