When you’re mindful of your spending or trying to stick to a budget, it can be shocking to see how much everyday expenses add up. A few dollars here and there may not seem like much, but over time they can make a big dent in your income. And often these expenses have substitutes or alternatives that are far cheaper.
Fortunately, there are numerous things you can stop buying today to lower these expenses and put more money back in your pocket. Here are 15 of them.
#1. Packaged nuts, grains, and baking supplies.
Instead, buy these items in the bulk section of your grocery store (if they have one!) or at the bulk foods store. You’ll save money for a few reasons. First, in most cases you’ll skip the premium associated with packaged products. And second, you’ll get the exact quantity you need, preventing you from overbuying.
Write the name of the item on the bag tag so that you remember what it is. I almost confused bulk-bought poppy seeds with chia seeds once when I forgot to do this!
Store your bulk items in containers (we use and love these Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid Containers but this container set is even cuter!) This also better protects your food items from mice. We had a mouse in our kitchen a few months ago which led to throwing out a TON of food. Had we used containers, we wouldn’t have had to toss as much.
#2. Takeaway coffee and tea.
Instead, make your own! You can either make it at home, or see if you can make it at work. Some offices have small kitchens with kettles or coffee machines.
If you’re making your own coffee at home, I recommend using a Keurig. They’re great for single serve coffee and work really quickly. I’ve been using the Keurig K55 Classic Coffee Maker for a few years now and love it. I buy my pods in bulk at Costco to save money.
To save even more money, brew your coffee more traditionally using a french press or coffee maker.
In any case, do the math to see how much you spend on takeaway coffee in a month and how much you’d be spending brewing it at home. That will help you make the right financial choice. For example, if you buy a $3 coffee 5 days a week, that’s $15 a week or $60 (or more!) per month. Buying a $40 coffee maker and spending the equivalent of $0.50 per day in coffee grounds and filters means your monthly cost would be more like $50 the first month when you buy the coffee maker, and $10 per month after for just the ongoing expenses. And that’s well worth it!
If you love reading magazines but find the cost to add up, consider switching to a subscription service like Texture. Their plans start at around $10 per month which is the average cost of 2 magazines. My fiancé is a Texture subscriber and finds it to be a great way to pass the time on his commute. Plus, you can share your membership with others to cut down on the cost! Read more about that here.
#4. A landline phone fee.
As I mention in my post about how to save money on cable, internet, and phone, in many cases we can simply use our cell phones. We have them on us most of the time anyways, and often adding a landline adds unnecessary complexity and cost.
#5. Music albums and songs.
If you’re a music lover, the cost of songs and albums can add up. Instead, switch to a music subscription service like Spotify which even has a free version. And if you want an ad-free experience and some added features, you can upgrade to Spotify Premium for around $10 per month. As I share in my post about how to share memberships, they offer a Family Plan you can share with others for cost savings.
#6. Spice mixes and rubs.
In most cases, spice mixes and rubs can be made on your own without having to buy additional ingredients. I make my own cinnamon sugar, for example, and always search for DIY options when cooking with mixes I don’t have on hand. In most costs, there’s an easy substitute or combination to creating your own mix with what you have.
#7. Face and lip scrubs.
Scrubs are one of the easiest beauty products to make yourself! This post from Treehugger shares some great recipes for scrubs including body products.
#8. A gym membership.
Now take this one with a grain of salt, because if being a member at a gym gives you the motivation to work out, go for it! For those who don’t, however, like going to the gym or who can work out at home or outside, consider cutting ties with that membership.
Check out at-home workouts (I have an entire Pinterest board here!) for routines that often don’t require equipment. You can do these in front of the TV!
If buying equipment, check Craig’s List, Kijiji, or Facebook Marketplace for deals. We got our almost-new exercise bike from someone on Kijiji for about a third of the price of buying it new.
#9. Salad dressing.
In many cases, you can make your own! One of my favourites is Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette (recipe from Averie Cooks!) which you can make with a few simple ingredients. I like being able to make it fresh and in the quantities I need.
#10. Manicures and pedicures.
One easy way to save money is to cut back on the amount or frequency of nail treatments you get. Give yourself a mani pedi, which can double as a self care activity! If you’re hooked on shellac or gel manicures, invest in a UV light, some shellac nail polishes, and DIY it at home. If you normally get a standard manicure, maybe going for a shellac manicure will mean more time between appointments, ultimately saving you money.
#11. Your lunch at work.
If you buy your lunch every day, chances are you’re spending much more than you have to. I used to work in the Financial District in Toronto where the average lunch was at least $10-12 which can really add up.
Instead, start meal planning and cooking more at home. By planning in advance and making food in larger batches, you can make things much easier.
#12. Movie tickets.
Movie nights out can be costly, and for something you could watch a few months later at home for a fraction of the price. Instead, plan an at-home movie night!
Make your own popcorn or set up a fun treat like a sundae bar.
If you really want to see a movie in theatres, go on at a discounted time like Tuesday night. And bring your own snacks!
#13. Greeting cards.
Instead, make your own! Buy a pack of cardstock, and print and make your own. Just search for ideas online. I typically search Etsy for inspiration. I’ll type in something like “funny valentines day card for him” and see what comes up. I then recreate the card on my computer, print it, and fold it. I’ve started using this bone folder to make my cards look more professional. It was roughly the cost of a greeting card and I can use it for years.
#14. Convenience foods.
I’m looking at you, pre-cut fruit! In most cases, convenience food like boiled eggs and veggie trays carry a whopping premium. Instead, do the cutting and boiling on your own and save money.
#15. Bottled water.
Unless you’re in a pinch, try to filter your own water and use your own glass or bottle. Looking for a cute water bottle? Amazon has a ton of options, many of which look like expensive S’well bottles but at a fraction of the price.
So, do any of those suggestions resonate with you? Do you plan on removing any of these items from your shopping list? Leave a comment and let me know! I’d also love to hear how you save money by cutting back on the things you buy.
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