15 things to stop buying to save money – save $500 a month

Do you ever stop to think about how many things you buy just because?

How about thinking about the things to stop buying to save money instead?

Saving money has got to be worth not buying a few things surely?

I do not doubt that you work hard nor do I doubt that you deserve to be treated.

If you don’t have the money then buying something to treat yourself can mean going into debt.

Who wants to go into debt for a treat?

That is worry on a stick. No thanks.

One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to think that spending money when we don’t have much will actually make us feel better.

It might, for about a nanosecond, and then the guilt will kick in and you’ll be worrying about money.

Treating yourself is good. Going into debt and being broke for a treat is bad.

What’s worse is that much of our spending isn’t even to really treat ourselves.

It’s more that we spend unconsciously on little things that make our life easier.

We pay for convenience because it is so easy to do yet the alternative is just as convenient.

Stop buying these things to save money and it will mount up to hundreds every month.

Just a few minor adjustments and you can watch your savings mount up.

coffee cup and strawberries on white background

how to save $500 a month: Things To Stop Buying To Save Money every month

There are plenty of things to do to save money, these are some of the things I don’t buy anymore, to save money.

There are many more everyday items you could stop buying to save money but you have to start somewhere.

Cut these 15 things out and you’ll find yourself with at least $500 more each month.

That’s a great start and surely the best treat you can give yourself?

It’s a whacking great pay rise in fact!

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1. Cheap Things – Because They Are Cheap

I know you know precisely what I am talking about here.

That bargain that you couldn’t resist because it was 50% off.

Those things that were a steal at buy one, get one free!

Or even worse, things to buy to save money that end up not saving anything at all.

It you don’t buy these you save more money. 50% of nothing is nothing. 50% of $10 is still $5, much more than nothing.

And let’s face it, these bargains we buy are not exactly a bargain.

They often end up being an extra, an unnecessary expense that you could easily have done without.

2. Buying Your Lunch

Food is fuel. It can be very nice tasting, it can be cheap or it can be expensive.

Buying lunch at work every day quickly mounts up to a large sum of money:

Lunch at $8 x 5 days = $40 x 50 weeks = $2000 a year!

When you are on a low income, don’t buy expensive lunches – make your own and save that extra money.

If time in the morning is an issue, why not prep your lunches in advance?

These meal prep containers are exactly what you need in order to make all your lunches in one hit.

filled and stacked plastic lunch boxes

No need to stick to a basic sandwich if you don’t want to. You can have a lovely selection of healthy foods when you use these containers.

Lunch out is one of the things I don’t buy anymore and haven’t for many years.

Think how much money you will save if you never buy lunch out again?

3. Stop Over-buying Food

I love grocery stores. The choice is amazing and there are always bargains to be had.

Which is my downfall as I can end up picking up too many bargains which we then struggle to use.

I fall into the mindset of looking for things to buy to save money, because they are a bargain.

I hate food waste too so buying too much is a double negative.

Wasting money and wasting natural resources that someone else could have made use of.

We waste up to 30% of the food we buy. On a $450 monthly grocery budget that’s $150 wasted! 

Wasting food is one of the best things to stop doing to save money!

Don’t waste it, save it.

Check out my post on reducing food waste and download the free food waste audit.

worksheet to log food wastage = how to reduce food waste

Meal planning is your friend here.

When you meal plan you know exactly what meals you are going to eat over the coming week and can plan your grocery shopping around those meals.

No more waste.

Why not check out these posts for cheap and frugal recipe ideas:

55 Cheap And Easy Meals You Are Going To Love

10 Frugal Meals For When You Feel So Broke

$5 Meal Plan

If planning every meal feels a little overwhelming to get right and keep doing every week then the $5 meal plan could be your savior.

For just $5 a month you not only get a weekly meal plan, you get a grocery list of all the ingredients you will need to make those meals.

That’s less than $1.25 a week to ensure you don’t waste food and have easy, yummy meals to make every night.

Given we can waste up to 30% of all the food we buy, $5 a month for recipes and a grocery list emailed to you every week will definitely save you a ton of money over the next few months.

Use the 14 day FREE trial to see how it can save you money.

Start my free trial

Confession – I loved the idea of the $5 meal plan but thought I couldn’t take advantage of it because I am in the UK.

Doh! It’s sent by email – of course I can use it. I wasted months of money saving with that thought!

7 Meal Planning Strategies All Beginners Should Know

9 Meal Planning Mistakes You Need Solutions For

For help in taking back control of your grocery budget join the grocery budget challenge

money and necklace with pink gift box and candle - things to stop buying to save money

4. Buying Coffee To Go

Coffee shops are BIG business. And they are big because so many people buy a daily coffee or two at $3-4 each. Daily!

$3 a day x 5 working days = $15 a week x 48 working weeks = $720 a year

For one coffee a day.

Is that really worth it? Why not brew your own coffee at home and take it with you in your own hot drink mug?

purple hot drinks flask

Mr2p always takes a morning coffee with him to work. Likewise I take my English breakfast tea in my stainless steel mug.

In fact we use these mugs daily whether we are working or not. I do not consider it a treat to spend $3 on one teabag – do you?

You can buy a stainless steel hot drinks mug like the one above here.

5. Beauty Treatments

30 years ago we didn’t have nail bars, now they are on every high street. Manicures and pedicures have become a normal thing, possibly not even seen as a treat.

Getting a manicure and set of nails done at $30 a time might not seem too expensive a treat.

Multiply that by 26 (2 weekly treatments) and you are staring at a whopping $780 a year.

You can do your own at home for a fraction of the cost with a nail care kit.

nail care kit image of it's contents

Personally I am down to using a pair of nail scissors and very occasionally a nail file.

My thinking is: life’s too short to file my nails. But I know that might be a bit too extreme for most people!

6. Ditch Your Dryer And/Or Dryer Sheets

I don’t use a dryer any more. I wash clothes according to the weather forecast with the aim of hanging it outside regardless of the season.

If I can’t hang my washing outside then I use this indoor drying rack as it holds a full load of washing.

I tend to hang shirts and trousers on hangers and use the spare bedroom doorway as these dry really quite fast this way.

My washing machine is a big load washer. Yet it only takes me about 10 minutes to hang it up.

For best results what I do is:

  • Plan washing according to the weather forecast
  • Use the inbuilt timer to wash overnight, finishing as I wake up
  • Use a high spin speed to get rid of as much water as possible
  • Take clothes out as soon as the washer has finished
  • Shake shirts to reduce creasing and put on a hanger
  • Shake trousers and hang from the waist band on trouser hangers
  • Socks and pants are also given a good shake (in fact I shake everything) and hung on the inner tiers leaving the outer tiers for jumpers, tops etc.
indoor metal dryer

You can buy this dryer right here.

If line drying or indoor drying isn’t feasible for your right now then you can still quit buying the dryer sheets.

Wool dryer balls are a cheaper and better option as they don’t contain all the chemicals that dryer sheets do.

bag of wool dryer balls with a few alongside it

You can buy the dryer balls here.

7. Scented Candles And/Or Air Fresheners

Candles can be a lovely addition to make your home feel more hygge. And scented candles can add that little something extra.

But they come at a cost, a significant cost if you choose the big brand candles.

Take the plunge and opt for basic unscented candles (or go without).

I love the color options of these pillar candles.

4 pillar candles, 3 purple and one pink

They look so good you don’t need to light them, thereby saving more money!

8. Leisure Trips To The Mall

Shopping as a leisure activity is a great way to spend too much money.

Even if you plan on not spending, just looking it doesn’t work out like that does it?

Because you do see something you like and you end up buying it as a “treat”.

It’s actually very hard to purely window shop. Don’t put yourself under pressure. Learn to say no.

Don’t go to the mall. Go for a walk outside instead. You’ll feel better for it.

9. Brand Name Clothing

As much as you might like certain named and styled brand they are not a necessity.

When you treat yourself to brand name clothing on a regular basis it stops being a treat and becomes your new norm.

Reserve the clothing treats to birthdays and Christmas and opt for cheaper options.

If you want to be extremely frugal, try only buying from thrift stores, yard sales and charity shops.

well dressed woman with many shopping bags - things to stop buying to save money

10. Branded Medications

If you inspect the ingredient labels of branded and generic medications you’ll notice that often they are exactly the same.

I mean exactly the same down to the last 1% of each ingredient.

Why pay triple the price for the brand when you can get the same effect from the generic brand?

11. Junky Snack Foods

Don’t tell me you don’t buy junky snacks, I won’t believe you!

I’m talking sugary and savory snacks. Even if you are out all day you can and should avoid these.

Not just for the savings to your wallet but for the health benefits that abstinence brings.

If you want snacks, plan in advance and make and take your own. Cereal bars, muffins and cookies can all be made much more cheaply at home.

I didn’t bake snacks for a long time because I worried we would eat them far too quickly.

Now I make, bake and freeze. That way we cannot gorge ourselves too quickly.

a plate of muffins - things to stop buying to save money

12. Salon Haircuts

Our hair, especially for women, is a big part of who we are. And boy do we pay a premium for it.

You don’t get much change from $50 at a salon, nor is it a once a year treat. It’s every 6-8 weeks with many hair styles.

Be bold, be brave. Go for a different style, one you can manage yourself without regular salon visits.

YouTube is great for tutorials on cutting your own or someone else’s hair.

If you do need/want a professional to cut your hair, go to a hairdressing college.

The students are closely supervised and you pay a fraction of the salon price.

The only downside is that it can take somewhat longer as the students take their time to get your hair cut right.

13. Stop Buying Stuff

When you remove temptations like going to the mall and unsubscribing from your favorite stores email lists you naturally reduce how much you buy.

We all have enough stuff in our houses already. Give your purse a break, stop buying stuff and just watch the savings mount up.

I reckon I used to spend more than $100 a month on stuff.

Bits for the house, the odd magazine, plants (that I later killed through neglect) you get the picture.

Nothing super expensive but it all adds up.

string bag with lemons - things to stop buying to save money

14. Full Price Goods

There are so many deals to be had that there is no reason to buy something at full price. Grab a discount, a coupon or ask for money off.

But if you really want to ramp up your savings, the things to stop buying to save money is anything brand new.

Opt for something used and secondhand.

You can save up to 90% of the price when you buy something used.

Think how the price of new cars drops so much in just 3 years.

We bought our new-to-us sofa’s from a furniture store run by a charity. 2 leather sofa’s for less than 20% of their original price.

They’ve lasted 8 years so far.

15. Pre-Cut Veggies And Fruit

Convenience sure comes at a price if you buy pre-cut vegetables and fruit.

Not only are you buying a small amount in single use plastic, you are paying for the privilege of doing so.

At my local Asda/Walmart I could buy 200g of pineapple fingers for £1 or I could buy a whole pineapple for the same £1.

It takes me 3 minutes to prepare a pineapple and I probably get around 400g+ chunks. That’s a 50% savings for 3 minutes of my time.

15 Things To Stop Buying To Save Money

When you focus more on what you spend your money on you end up not spending so much. Which does wonders for your budget.

To have peace of mind about your money is a precious thing. Stop buying these things to save money and give yourself that peace of mind.

Just think what you could do with the money you save every month!

Have you got a tip on something to stop buying? Why not share in the comments?

For more help in saving money grab your free copy of the Money Saving Mini Bundle

Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!

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Last Updated on 5th April 2023 by Emma

About Emma

I'm here to help you become confident in making the best money decisions for you and your family. Frugal living has changed my life, let me help you change yours.

4 thoughts on “15 things to stop buying to save money – save $500 a month”

  1. Lockdown has made it much easier to be frugal! No chance to browse and impulse buy. Unless you go online of course.

    I’ve been following you for over a year now and changed my mind set completely. And with the money ive saved im fulfilling a dream at the ripe old age of 72. Ive started an MA (with help from the Welsh government ‘s bursary for over 60s too). I’m living proof that It’s never too late to learn!

  2. I have been taking my lunch every day to work, we cook extra at meals and I bring food in pyrex dishes to heat up. As well as plain yogurt with fruit, and a piece of fruit. My coworkers are always asking what smells so good. I bring my coffee in a stainless steel mug, no buying it out and I bring a small jug of tea to drink throughout the day. Salon visits are expensive, and time consuming. We have been doing haircuts at home for years, hubby is the family barber and stylist, I take a seat every couple months and get my hair trimmed and my teen boys get their haircuts every three weeks. He has easily hundreds of haircuts to my boys, me, my mom, my best friend and a couple other friends of mine. It is so convenient as it takes him ten minutes each to give my boys a haircut and twenty minutes to trim my hair. Less time than it would take to drive one way to a shop. He invested in the proper tools and supplies to do the haircuts properly and it was money well spent. I save over $1000 a year and never a bad haircut, I can’t say that about the salons. There are great tutorials on YouTube, but I believe some people just have a knack for cutting hair and others should never attempt it.

    • Hi Carolyn. A homemade hot meal at work is just the ticket on a cold winter’s day. When I wasn’t eating my regular salad I would have homemade soup along with fruit and yep I also made my tea in a flask. Totally with you on the home hair cuts, your hubby sounds like the perfect home barber 🙂


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