15 Things to Stop Buying When Trying to Save Money

By Dan Miller · May 20, 2024 · 8 minute read

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15 Things to Stop Buying When Trying to Save Money

Short of getting a raise, the only way to save more money is to spend less. While that may sound like a bitter pill to swallow, tightening your budget could be a lot easier than you think.

Thanks to the constant allure of consumerism, many of us mindlessly overspend on small recurring expenses that can seriously add up over time. We often don’t realize how much we waste on things we don’t need or, in truth, really care all that much about.

By becoming more intentional in your spending, and cutting out unnecessary costs, you could potentially save hundreds per month with much sacrifice. That’s money you can then put towards things that are important to you, like going on a great vacation, buying a car, or putting a downpayment on a home.

While everyone’s spending habits are different, we’ve got 15 ideas for how to spend less and save more starting today.

Key Points

•   Cutting out unnecessary purchases can significantly boost savings, such as opting for fewer streaming services.

•   Unused gym memberships are a common area where money can be saved by switching to free workout alternatives.

•   Premium cable packages often include unwatched channels; consider cheaper alternatives or cutting the cord.

•   Daily coffee purchases add up; brewing at home can reduce monthly expenses significantly.

•   Opting for generic brands over name brands can offer similar quality for a fraction of the cost.

Tips For Saving Money

One of the best ways to save money is to take a close look at where your money is currently going each month. You can track your spending by scanning your credit card statements and receipts over the last few months. But a simpler way is to use a budgeting app that syncs with your accounts and keeps track of what you spend in different categories in real time.

Once you have a bird’s eye view of your cash flow, you may realize that you’re spending more than you thought (or want to) in certain categories. You may also find some easy places to cut back — such as getting rid of a monthly subscription you rarely use or switching to a cheaper cell phone plan.

If you want to get started saving right away, we’ve got some simple suggestions for things you can stop buying right now. Eliminating even small recurring expenses can add up dramatically by the end of a year.

💡 Quick Tip: Help your money earn more money! Opening a bank account online often gets you higher-than-average rates.

15 Things to Stop Buying If You Are Trying to Save Money

To start saving money right away, stop buying these 15 things.

1. Multiple Streaming Services

With the proliferation of streaming services now available, it can be easy to sign up for more platforms than you can possibly watch. Consider picking one or two services that you actually watch consistently and getting rid of the rest. Or, stagger your streaming services so that you have each one for a few months out of the year. That can give you access to all the shows you want but keeps the price down.

2. Unused Gym Membership

A gym membership can be worth the cost if you’re actively using it. But if you rarely see the inside of your gym these days, it might make sense to cancel your membership and find lower-cost fitness alternatives, such as running/walking outside, lifting weights at home, or following free workout videos on YouTube.

Recommended: 27 Fun Things to Do for Free

3. Premium Cable

Premium cable subscriptions come with a high monthly price tag and often include tons of channels you never watch. To save money fast, think about cutting back to basic cable or negotiating for a cheaper rate with your provider. Or, cut the cord entirely and just use a few streaming services. If you still want live TV channels, consider options like Sling TV or YouTube TV.

4. The Daily Coffee

You may really enjoy your morning (or afternoon) takeaway coffee, but if you add up how much you’re actually shelling out on coffee drinks each month — and year — you might decide that there are better uses for this money. Consider buying a quality coffee maker or French press and (if you don’t have one) a portable coffee mug, so you can make your delicious brew to go at home.

5. Name Brand Items

Generic brands typically have the same ingredients and offer comparable quality to name brands but for a fraction of the price. Whether you’re shopping in the supermarket or a drug store, opt for the generic option whenever it’s offered. This small change can lead to significant savings without compromising your needs or lifestyle.

Recommended: How Much Should I Spend on Groceries a Month?

6. Extended Warranties

These days, you can get extended warranties on practically everything — appliances, cars, electronics, and even homes. While having that extra protection may sound like a good idea, it typically comes at a hefty cost. And, the odds of you using an extended warranty is low. Companies have done the math and generally offer warranties that end before the usual problems crop up — otherwise they would lose money. A better bet: Skip the extended warranty and put that money into your emergency fund.

7. Greeting Cards

Surprising but true: A greeting card can set you back as much as $10. Rather than a canned card from a greeting company, most people would likely rather you share your own words and thoughts. Consider stocking up on a box of pretty cards that are blank inside. You can then personalize and customize each one for any occasion, whether it’s a birthday, baby shower, or wedding.

8. Bottled Water

While keeping bottled water on hand is convenient, the cost can add up, especially if you have a family. A simple way to spend less at the grocery store each week is to give each person in your household their own reusable water bottle to fill with tap or filtered water. You can then take bottled water (and if you really want to save, all store-bought drinks) off your shopping list. This will not only save money but also reduce plastic waste.

9. Impulse Purchases

Those little purchases you make here and there without thinking can add up. Consider setting a 24 hour (or longer) waiting period for any item you have a sudden urge to buy but really don’t need. You may find that the urge passes. Or, try a “no-spend” week or month where you pause all unnecessary spending for a set time period. This can not only save cash but shed light on things you’re buying but can easily do without.

10. Pre-Cut Fruits And Vegetables

Pre-washed and cut produce (and bagged salads) are certainly convenient, but generally cost a lot more than whole fruits and veggies. This is an easy thing to stop buying — prepping produce at home doesn’t take that much time and you may find that your fruits and veggies actually taste fresher.

11. Books

Instead of paying for books, consider getting a (free) library card. This will give you access to countless print, digital, and audiobooks, both at your local library and through partnerships they might have with other libraries and streaming services. This is one of the easiest ways to cut back on spending.

12. Disposable Products

Buying disposable items — like paper plates, plastic cups, napkins, and paper towels — adds up and all of it an unnecessary expense. Consider using real dishware, cloth napkins, and washable cleaning cloths. Your weekly grocery bill (and bags) will get instantly lighter. Avoiding disposable items is also kinder to the environment.

13. Takeout/Delivery

It’s fine to get takeout every once in a while, but if you’re looking to save cash quickly, consider writing off all takeout/delivery for a month (or maybe two). Instead, plan and shop for your meals and do some meal-prepping on the weekend. That way, cooking won’t feel like a chore at the end of a long work day. You’ll end up saving money on food while still eating well.

14. Bank Fees

If your bank charges you monthly maintenance or minimum balance fees, consider switching to a bank that offers free checking and savings accounts. To avoid getting hit with hefty overdraft fees, keep tabs on your balance to ensure you can cover your checks and debits. To avoid ATM fees, plan ahead and stop at an in-network machine before you go out.

💡 Quick Tip: Bank fees eat away at your hard-earned money. To protect your cash, open a checking account with no account fees online — and earn up to 0.50% APY, too.

15. Fancy Cleaning Supplies

Nowadays stores carry a different cleaning product for every spot in your home. There’s tile cleaner, sink cleaner, floor cleaner, window cleaner, you name it. Rather than purchase a dozen different specialized cleaning products, you can simply make your own all-purpose cleaner: Mix one cup of distilled water, one cup of white vinegar, the juice of half a lemon and about 15 drops of essential oil and put it in a spray bottle.

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The Takeaway

Everyday items that drain your budget include expensive daily coffee, unnecessary subscription services, takeout/delivery, brand name products, and daily impulse shopping. Once you stop spending money on these things, you should start to see extra money in your checking account that you can now transfer to your savings account — cha-ching!

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

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Photo credit: iStock/pixdeluxe

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

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