Making, saving, and managing money wisely is essential for anyone who wants to become financially secure and independent. However, it’s easy to mindlessly overspend on small recurring expenses that add up dramatically over time. We often don’t realize how much we waste on things we don’t need.
I was stuck in this trap for years until I decided to analyze my spending habits to find opportunities to save closely. I discovered that eliminating unnecessary purchases allowed me to save and invest over $300 more each month. This added up to thousands in additional savings annually, which made a difference in reaching my financial goals faster.
In this post, I’ll share the nine things I stopped buying so you can identify similar areas to cut costs and free up money in your budget. With some effort and discipline, you, too, can leverage frugality into greater financial freedom.
1. Morning Coffee
Like many people, I used to start my day by stopping at the coffee shop. I didn’t realize how quickly buying a cup of coffee daily started to add up. At around $4 per cup, getting coffee five days a week costs me $80 a month or $960 per year.
I saved thousands over time by brewing my coffee at home instead and carrying it in a reusable mug. I invested in a reasonable coffee machine and grinder and bought decent quality beans in bulk for a more robust, tastier brew. Making my coffee costs less than $1 daily, freeing up substantial money for other priorities.
You can also switch to cheaper instant coffee or buy coffee in bulk to save. The key is identifying those small “luxury” purchases that you can painlessly eliminate or replace with cheaper alternatives without negatively impacting your lifestyle.
2. Packaged Snacks
During grocery trips, I often mindlessly tossed enticing chips, granola bars, cookies, and other pricier packaged snacks into my cart. I didn’t pay much attention to how these impulse snack purchases added up. When I started tracking my spending more closely, I realized I was wasting around $40 monthly on snack foods alone.
To save money, I switched to buying essential snack items like nuts and fresh fruits and making my homemade protein-rich snacks in bulk. Packing snacks at home rather than purchasing them on the go saved me several hundred dollars annually.
Evaluate the convenience foods and packaged snacks you usually buy. Opt for healthier, cheaper options you can prepare in bulk at home. You’ll save money and likely eat better, too.
3. Magazine Subscriptions
I used to subscribe to several magazines that would arrive in the mail each month. While I enjoyed reading them initially, I often didn’t have time to read each issue thoroughly. I realized I could save by only subscribing selectively to one or two favorites and reading the rest online or at the library for free.
Review all your entertainment subscriptions and be honest about which ones you use regularly. Make a list of subscriptions you can cancel to stop wasting money every month. Every dollar saved from canceled subscriptions can be channeled towards more critical goals.
4. Unused Gym Membership
I was wasting around $50 monthly on a gym membership I hardly used. I’d make plenty of excuses for being too busy to work out. Eventually, I realized it made more sense to cancel my membership and find lower-cost fitness alternatives.
Now, I do free workout videos on YouTube, run outside, and look up inexpensive local exercise classes. Getting into shape is still my financial priority, but I found ways to cut my costs substantially. Evaluate what you are currently overpaying for activities and entertainment versus cheaper or free alternatives.
5. Impulse Shopping
It’s so easy to buy things on impulse, whether clothing, household items, tech gadgets, toys, etc. Those little purchases made without planning can add up. I saved money by pausing and thinking carefully whenever I wanted to buy something. As a rule, I started waiting at least 24 hours before purchasing anything unnecessary. This helped me avoid many impulsive buys that I would have regretted.
Avoid stores and websites when you have free time and money burning a hole in your pocket. Avoid sales, limit window shopping excursions, and unsubscribe from promotional emails. Controlling impulse spending takes discipline but pays off tremendously.
6. In-App Purchases
I mindlessly spent about $10-15 monthly on random in-app purchases for games and apps I didn’t need. Once I learned of this spending leak, I turned off in-app purchase options to control the temptation.
Be strict about sticking to free app versions to avoid these unnecessary costs. Most premium in-app features and upgrades provide little real value anyway.
Whether it was pizza, Chinese food, or sandwiches, ordering takeout several times a month added to around $200 a month, and I could easily save. Cooking basic healthy meals at home allows me to save substantially while still eating well.
Meal prepping a few days a week prevents the temptation to order takeout when I’m too busy or lazy to cook dinner. Pack your lunch to bring to work instead of going out as well. Getting into this habit can save you $ 1000 every year.
8. Premium Cable
By downgrading to a basic cable TV package and watching some shows through low-cost streaming instead, I cut over $50 from my monthly expenses. Premium cable with extra channels I wasn’t even watching was an unnecessary luxury.
Look at your entertainment expenses like cable TV, streaming services, movie rentals, etc. Prune unnecessary services and subscriptions to those you use frequently. Also, explore free streaming options and digital rentals from your local library.
9. Luxury Beauty Products
I loved indulging in expensive cosmetics, skincare, and hair products from high-end brands. But I realized drugstore products worked nearly as well at a fraction of the cost. Generic brands allowed me to get my beauty fix while saving immensely. I switched out my favorite costly products with cheaper replacements that worked great.
Analyze your typical supermarket purchases. To save substantially, buy generic medicine, vitamins, household products, and certain foods. Skip luxury beauty and personal care brands – go for budget-friendly options instead.
How Cutting Unnecessary Expenses Changed My Life
Eliminating these nine daily “money-wasting” habits saved me a lot. I put the money I saved towards maxing out my Roth IRA to save for retirement, paying off student loans faster, and building my emergency fund.
Cutting unnecessary costs allowed me to pursue my financial goals more aggressively and made me happier. I spend more intentionally on the things that matter while feeling in control of my money and less stressed. I have peace of mind knowing I can handle unexpected expenses if needed.
By tracking my spending, I identified hundreds of dollars I was wasting each month on recurring expenses like:
- $6 per day on lattes – $150 monthly
- Packaged snacks at work – $80 monthly
- Two magazine subscriptions – $40 monthly
- Expensive cable package – $110 monthly
- Weekly takeout/delivery – $80 monthly
- In-app game purchases – $30 monthly
I freed up $490 monthly for my debt by cutting these six unnecessary expenses. Over a year, eliminating these budget leaks allowed Emily to pay off $8,400 extra on my student loan principal. I was debt-free in 22 months instead of taking 4+ years.
Examine your credit card statements and receipts to identify potential savings opportunities. You can make meaningful progress toward your most significant financial goals by cutting out a few small unnecessary purchases. Eliminating waste from your spending is one of the most effortless and rewarding ways to manage money better.
I encourage you to thoroughly analyze your spending to identify areas to cut back and be strict about eliminating unnecessary costs. Frugality is a simple yet powerful habit that leads to increased savings, less financial stress, and more opportunities to build wealth over time.
Try picking 2-3 expenses to cut from this list each month. Over a year, you’ll discover how minor tweaks can add to big savings wins and bring you closer to your most important financial goals.