Retirement Income

11 things to stop buying that’ll save you tons of cash

11 things to stop buying that’ll save you tons of cash

You can save a heap of money when you’re a little more savvy about where, and what you’re spending it on. Cut these simple things out of your life and you’ll be amazed how much you can save.

Lunch bags

Sure, your plastic lunch bags are convenient, and we’ve gotten into the habit of buying box after box. But the frequent buying of single-use plastic bags does add up at the end of the year. And they are contributing (negatively) to our mounting plastic pollution problem. In fact, plastic bags may spend 500 to 1,000 years or longer in landfill. Although you will have to outlay more for reusable silicon sandwich bags initially, they are endlessly useful. Easy to wash (you can even stack them upside down in the dishwasher) and re-use, these non-toxic bags seal well, are biodegradable (when they have finally passed their use-by-date) and are also microwave safe.

As we’ve discussed, the world is drowning in plastic, but there are many countries that are leading the way in how they deal with the plastic pandemic.

Impulse buys

We’re not just talking about the items that catch your eye when you shop hungry or wait in the checkout line ­– but certainly resist those too. The amount of time we spend online makes it easy to see something we never knew we wanted and then, thanks to a few touches and swipes, have it heading our way within minutes. To resist impulse buys, make a rule that all items must sit in an online shopping cart for a minimum of one day before buying. Bonus: some companies offer you a discount when they notice you haven’t yet popped in your credit card details. But, be sure in the end, that need, not the discount, informs your decision.

Cleaning products

So many of the store-bought cleaning products taking up your cupboard space really could be replaced with a few pantry items (cleaning vinegar and baking soda are two that top the list). DIYing your own is easier than you think – it’s mostly a matter of getting into the habit – and the right formulas really do work. Commit to replacing just one of your regular cleaning products with a homemade option. Get used to that, then keep going!

Unnecessary groceries

One third of all food produced for human consumption ends up being uneaten and discarded every year – around 1.3 billion tonnes of food – costing the global economy close to $940 billion. That’s bad news for your wallet and the environment.

Some tips to help:

  • Check the fridge before you shop, plan your meals and make a shopping list.
  • Get creative with leftovers – overripe fruit and veggies make great smoothies. If you don’t want a smoothie right there and then, pop the overripe fruit and veg in the freezer to use at a later date.
  • When eating out and you don’t finish your food, ask for a ‘doggy bag’.
Paper towels

While microfibre cloths will cost you more than paper towels, they will last you way longer. Invest in a stash of pretty cloth napkins, colour-coded for different cleaning jobs, and pop them in the washing machine when they get grotty. This way you will effectively keep paper products out of your kitchen.

Greeting cards

All those $3 and $5 purchases really do add up. Switching to free ecards instead of sending across the kilometres saves you money on postage, too. Can’t stand the thought of not giving them something to have and to hold? If making cards is up your alley, go for it! (Hold an afternoon card-making session to build up a stash.) Or, just buy an inexpensive box of all-occasion cards, and you’re good to go for years to come.

New clothes

Stop before you buy new and consider less expensive (and more eco-friendly) thrift and vintage items instead. When looking for current fashion, visit op shops. There are plenty of online alternatives to op shop, too. Vintage items – those 25 years or older – are great for special occasions and statement pieces. They’re easiest to score at local vintage stores or specialised online sites such as the Etsy vintage section.

Eating out

Dining out costs Australian households almost $5,000 a year, according to Eating Out In Australia. While no one wants to give up going out altogether, there are all kinds of ways you can bring that number down. Plan to take lunch to work or school more often. (Make it fun so it doesn’t feel like you’re skimping.) Go out during happy hour, meet for lunch instead of dinner, or opt for a potluck meal at home – using whatever food is available in your kitchen – instead of an evening out once in a while.

App and in-app purchases

Schedule some time to review your app subscriptions and quit any you no longer use. (Subscriptions that are automatically billed each month are easy to forget about.) If there are any you do use that have a particularly high in-app purchase rate, research free or low-cost replacements. You could also set a monthly limit that you’re comfortable with, and disable in-app purchases once you’ve met it. And here’s an idea: use apps to save money instead. Apps like You Need a Budget are designed to do just that.

Bottled water

If you haven’t already, it’s time to stop paying for bottled water when you can get it at home for virtually nothing. If you’re concerned about taste or quality, invest in a water filter. Sparkling water isn’t exactly cheap, either. If you’ve developed a fizzy-water habit, consider a Soda Stream and make your own. You’ll also be cutting down on piles of plastic. And you won’t have to lug home heavy shopping bags full of something you can get out of your tap or water filter. Also, invest in a reusable water bottle so you can take water with you while out and about, and refill at water stations.

Name-brand items

While it’s true that some generic items don’t compare quality-wise to their higher-priced brand-named counterparts, it’s also true that some generic products are literally identical. This is true of hundreds of items, including patent medicines, food and household items.

Written by Elizabeth Flaherty. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. Find more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.

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