Some expenses just aren’t necessary, and we spend on them either out of routine or because nearly everyone does. When you stop and consider them, these things aren’t actually pulling their weight as far as improving the quality of your life and could easily be eliminated completely, saving you lots of money.
We all know that buying pre-chopped veggies and fruits costs about quadruple over buying the item whole and chopping it yourself. If you’re willing to take a few minutes to wield your own knife and put things in your own tupperware, you’ll save a pretty penny. If you batch your chopping for the week, you can save time and money and encourage yourself to use up the food you’ve bought during the week because you’ve already sunk some work into it and it’s all ready to go.
But one of the biggest trends grocery stores are using now is pre-prepared meals that you just cook yourself at home.
If you’ve been near the front entrance of your local grocer recently you’ve probably noticed this ever-expanding section. It’s advertised as cheaper than going out and the meals always look well-balanced and actually pretty good. This is actually one of the biggest growing grocery trends, and is catering to busy people who don’t have the time or mental space to meal plan and prep themselves. But they’re charging you out the butt for that convenience.
Instead of condemning that whole section as a money-waster, I say browse that area and then buy the individual items needed to make those meals for yourself and your family at a fraction of the price. They did the planning work and even list all the ingredients on the package and the cooking instructions. Snap a pic and walk yourself to the back of the store and assemble those ingredients. You’re already at the store already.
And if you need more meal plan and prep inspo, check out my Budget meal planning playlist where I put together a grocery list, week-long meal plan and show you what I make for around $50 a week.
Bottled Water and Drinks
Bottled water drives me crazy. The single use plastic it comes in is not only terrible for the environment but it’s expensive as HECK. If you buy water regularly, that $1+ price tag is going to add up to so much money over the course of your month and year.
There is an insanely easy swap for this. Get a few reusable bottles, you almost definitely already have some, and take them with you or place them permanently where you often are. I have a dedicated bottle at work at my desk for water, which I wash regularly and fill up daily. It helps me drink more, stay hydrated and never pay a cent for drinks.
If I’m headed out on errands for the day I grab a reusable bottle from my fridge or cabinet and take it with me. I’ve never once regretted bringing it, and nearly always regret not bringing it – because then I end up in a drive through or gas station, spending money that could have gone to a new plant friend … or my retirement. Same thing.
If you have bad water in your area, you have some options. they sell reusable water bottles with a filter built right in, — you don’t even have to wait for it to filter, it does it as you suck.
I’m lucky enough to have filtered fountains at work and access to an ice maker, but at home I have a simple Brita pitcher that I’ve had for about 5 years now, and drink from that instead of the tap. I get replacement filters on sale or with coupons about once a year – those suckers really do last a long time. I fill up reusable bottles and have them waiting in the fridge for grab and go. Same thing as the disposable, No continuing costs.
In the same arena, if you regularly buy drinks when you’re eating out, you’re bloating your restaurant bill and robbing your eating out budget. They mark up soda at restaurants up to 500%. You can save up to 10% overall on your bill when you opt for refreshing, free water and over the course of a month or two, you could save enough to eat out an extra time just for the cost of your usual coke.
If you really love soda, buy it at the grocery store on sale and take it with you from the fridge. It’s so much less money. The same thing goes for alcohol. Try dinner out and do drinks at home. It’ll add up plus then you don’t need a Designated driver!
Disposable Kitchen Items
Paper towels, paper plates, napkins, and disposable silverware are all expensive and almost entirely unnecessary. It shocks me how many people regularly buy disposables and use those for at home meals and snacks to avoid clean up. I get it, a stack of paper plates sitting on top of the microwave is tempting to heat up a quick meal, but if you’re buying those even once a month, that’s money down your trash can.
If you’d like to save some money every month, get yourself some reusables and use them all the time – it was good enough for your grandma and we all know she had her stuff together.
Instead of paper towels, which are so not cute, invest $10 or less in some washable kitchen towels, which can clean gunky messes and be tossed in the wash with your bath towels, leggings and stinky socks.
I use these to wipe down counters, dry dishes, clean up spatters and any other kitchen mess that doesn’t involve grease.
How do you deal with bacon grease if you don’t have paper towels? First off don’t put it down the drain unless you want more money or landlord problems later. Pour it into a small ceramic bowl and let it harden, then scoop it out with a piece of paper, food packaging or plastic bag right into the trash.
Next switch your paper napkins with some cloth ones. This isn’t just a money saver, its a life upgrade. Cloth napkins make it like eating at a fancy restaurant every night. Also cloth napkins feel better on your face and hands, last longer and are just plain impressive. Try it and thank me later. By the way, I pick up my cloth napkins at yard sales and thrift shops for about 10 cents each. Bandanas also work great and can be bought for a maximum price of $1 each.
Unless you’re picnicking, use real plates. They don’t have to match (I didn’t have three that matched until I became debt free) and you can get them at the thrift store for pennies. Paper, plastic or styrofoam plates are a huge waste of production resources and just shouldn’t be something you’re regularly putting your money towards. Soap is cheaper. Same with silverware. And no excuse if youre in college – a real plate or two is cheaper and you can wash it in a bathroom sink – I did all through college!.
I’ve had a zero waste kitchen for years and couldn’t imagine it any other way. I use about one roll of paper towels a year, brought by my paper-loving family every Christmas and its pretty much exclusively for dog messes.
Now I’m not talking about a princess costume. If you want a princess costume for yourself or your dog, you do it — and tag me on instagram @gobudgetgirl because I wanna see that and leave you a heart emoji comment.
I’m talking about clothing that requires the care and attention of a royal to be a participant in your life. These are your dry-clean only items, the things you have to spend two hours a week ironing, the hand-wash nonsense.
They’re pretty, I get it. And we all deserve beautiful things, But if we’re being honest with ourselves, are we really wearing those finicky items as often as we do our go-to pieces? Those great cotton or heck, even poly blend options that you can shove in a backpack and throw on and look great?
I gave up spending my money on anything that requires too much time or effort to maintain years ago and i’ve never been happier. I don’t even own an iron, nor have I ever brought anything to the dry cleaners. That’s money I just don’t have to spend.
And that doesn’t mean I dress like a slob — well on weekends I do, but I dress nicely, especially to work. I just think about how much maintenance a piece will require before I purchase it. I know myself well enough that I will just not wear something that requires care beyond washing and drying. So if I buy any princess clothing, it’s not going to be a reasonable cost per use for wear. So I don’t buy it. Stop wasting money on princess clothing – once again unless its a princess costume in which case you do you — unless you have to iron it. Screw that nonsense.
I’d love to hear what you’ve eliminated from your spending because you thought it was a waste of money and what you think of the things I’ve cut out to save money.