When you're struggling financially, it's time to break the bad money habits. Here are some things you should stop buying so you can get back on track.
- Books and Magazines. Whether they're digital books or magazines you pick up in the grocery aisle, they'll easily run you $5 or more a piece. Check your local library for books and even the newest issue of your favorite magazine. If you have Amazon Prime and a Kindle, you can get one Kindle book a month for free from the Kindle Lending Library.
- Cable TV. If you haven't cut the cord yet, take a look at your bill. How much can you save if you drop your cable package? Take a look at what shows you watch regularly and see if you can get them from an app or two, or if you might be able to watch them for free on their channel's websites. You could save a ton!
- Bottled water. A more eco-friendly and wallet-friendly option is to use your own refillable and reusable bottle that you fill up at home.
- $4 lattes. Whether you're getting a latte, a mocha or even a drip coffee, stopping at the local coffee shop for your daily cup adds up fast. Make it a once in a while treat, but the regular stops need to... stop. Make it at home.
- K-cups. They're convenient, but expensive. A pack of ten Verona blend K-cups sells for about $8.99 at my local grocery store. But you can get about 16 cups of coffee from a 12 oz bag, which sells for $7.79. If you love your single-cup brewer, pick up a reusable k-cup filter and buy your coffee by the bag instead. There's less to throw away, and at those prices, you'll save about $12 over the course of the month.
- A checking account that isn't free. Tell me you're not paying for your checking account. Typically if you don't maintain the bank's set minimum balance, you pay. Take a look around and see what you can get from a local credit union. You'll likely get better interest rates and a no-cost checking account from a credit union. If you find one that doesn't have a lot of branches, see if they'll waive any cash machine fees when you use another bank or credit union's ATM in the same network.
- Home decorating. Stop making things pretty with Target runs. That doesn't mean you can't replace things that are worn out. But if you don't need it, don't buy that new throw pillow.
- The newest cell phone / a NEW one. This one can be really hard for a lot of people that always want the newest tech. (Notice I said "want," and not "need.") First, honestly ask yourself if you can make your phone last a little longer. If your phone is really worn out and needs to be replaced, see if there are any refurbished models on your carrier's website. Sometimes people get one and decide they wanted the silver one instead of the black. That black one can't be sold as new, even though there's nothing wrong with it, so it's marked down. You may also be able to get a great phone by getting a lower model NEW phone. I just checked our wireless carrier, and the difference between the latest iPhone and a model two steps down (but still brand new) is $300. What could you do with that $300 savings?
- A new car. Let me ask you this - can you really afford those payments? If you've got a vehicle that you need to replace, but you're working on debt, you really need to look at your cheapest monthly cost. That's likely a used car. Better yet, see if it makes sense to repair your vehicle and get it to last a little bit longer, compare the cost of that option, too.
- Hair color in the salon every two months. The price of salon color varies widely, depending on your service - for example, "all over" color costs much less than a Balayage service. But if you can get by with all-over color, check out the home coloring options. I tried Madison Reed back when the salons were closed in early 2020, and I have to say it was easy, inexpensive, and left me with long-lasting auburn color (yes, long-lasting red!) and healthy hair... for less than $30. I was a first-time home colorist, and it was super simple!
- Trips to the nail salon. Skip the mani-pedi and paint your own nails.
- Eating out at restaurants. This one should be a "gimme." Learn to cook at home and stop paying $10 for a burger when you can make burgers for a family of four for less than that.
What else could you avoid buying to ease the strain on your finances?