Cut Your Expenses: Quit Buying These 8 Useless Things

lady with shopping bags on a mall escalator

Consumerism pervades our everyday life and it’s very easy to spend money mindlessly. To prevent regret, you should not buy eight types of useless things such as those you can get for free or do not suit your lifestyle.

Mr Wow and I have a policy of buying only what we need. Most purchases we make are strictly out of necessity, e.g. to replace a broken item. Nevertheless, we weren’t always so sensible. In our younger days, we used to buy a lot of useless shit. 

If you have been overspending and wish to get your financial life in order, you need to reduce your expenses and stop buying things that do not add value to your life. To serve as a reminder, here are the eight types of useless things you should not buy:

  1. Don’t Buy Things that You Can Get For Free 
  2. Don’t Buy Things that You Can DIY
  3. Don’t Buy Things that You Use Once in a While 
  4. Don’t Buy Things that Will End Up in the Trash Almost Immediately 
  5. Don’t Buy Things that Do Not Suit Your Personality
  6. Don’t Buy Things that Do Not Suit Your Lifestyle 
  7. Don’t Buy Things that Do Not Satisfy You Completely
  8. Don’t Buy Things that are Alive

1. Don’t Buy Things that You Can Get For Free

Inflation might have eroded our purchasing power, but thanks to globalisation and technological advancement, we can get certain things at a much lower price or for free. An example is information. Not too long ago, newspaper and magazine subscriptions were the norm. Now, we have free access to news and information from countless sources on the Internet. Online subscriptions (for full access) are also substantially cheaper than newspapers and magazines, so if you are still paying for physical copies, you are wasting hundreds of dollars a year.

The same applies to cookbooks. Why buy them when you can find free recipes for every dish imaginable on Google or watch cooking videos on YouTube? Best of all, you can read the reviews and tips before deciding on a recipe to try.

cooking chopping up cilantro
Why buy cookbooks when you can find free recipes for every dish imaginable on the Internet?

2. Don’t Buy Things that You Can DIY

I like to look good, so I pay great attention to personal grooming. That said, my beauty regime is uncomplicated and inexpensive. For instance, I’ve only had my nails professionally done once in my life and it wasn’t for my wedding. I was on vacation in Bangkok and got suckered into getting a manicure while enjoying a foot massage. Frankly, I’ve never understood why some women spend so much money on manicure and pedicure. They don’t last long even if you don’t lift a finger to do housework. And you can DIY! If you can put your own make-up, you can do your own nails!

Similarly, you can do your own hair and beauty treatments. I know, it’s not the same when someone else is doing it for you. It’s nice to just sit back and be pampered. How about limiting the frequency if you must?

3. Don’t Buy Things that You Use Once in a While

Mr Wow and I have 12 champagne glasses and 12 wine glasses somewhere in our kitchen. They have been with us for more than 20 years, but we have only used them once when we had a housewarming party. The habit of buying things for special occasions, then storing them away indefinitely is so stupid if you think about it.

This habit really gets out of control every year when we get closer to Christmas (the season of overspending). Just think about the boxes of decorations many people buy. Some of these decorations will be kept and reused the following year, some will be kept and forgotten, some will be thrown away. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to skip the decorations and keep the cash.

Check out: 5 Reasons for Vacation Overspending

4. Don’t Buy Things that Will End Up in the Trash Almost Immediately

Things that we purchase and discard almost immediately are mostly single-use disposable items. A classic example is wrapping paper. Why are we wasting money and harming the environment buying paper just to tear it up? Will a gift lose its significance if it’s not wrapped? If the surprise element is so important, how about using Kraft paper or even newspaper?

And let’s not forget fancy paper napkins such as those with Christmas designs. They are so unnecessary! The plain ones are more pocket-friendly and you can always pick a colour that matches your theme. My point is, if you absolutely have to buy a disposable item, don’t spend too much on it unless you enjoy throwing money away.

Why are we wasting money and harming the environment buying paper just to tear it up? Will a gift lose its significance if it’s not wrapped?

5. Don’t Buy Things that Do Not Suit Your Personality

Are you a fashionista? Do you follow every trend religiously? That might not be a good idea if you are trying to curb your spending. Fashion trends come and go, and not every trend suits your personality. You should always shop and dress according to the person that you are and your body type.

Don’t be a fashion victim and squander your hard-earned money on clothes, shoes, bags and accessories that do not reflect your true self. Wasting money is actually not the worst thing in this case. It is feeling uncomfortable in what you are wearing.

Are you spending too much money to keep up with fashion trends?

Check out: 6 Types of Spending Triggers and How to Overcome Them

6. Don’t Buy Things that Do Not Suit Your Lifestyle

Mr Wow and I used to stay in a bigger place than our current one. To fill up the space, we decided to turn one of the rooms into a gym, so we bought ourselves a treadmill, an exercise bike, a sit up bench and a few dumbbells. At first, we used the equipment a few times a week. Nonetheless, the novelty soon wore off and it eventually became a white elephant.

The fact is we are no gym rats. We prefer outdoor pursuits like swimming and hiking. Working out hour after hour in an enclosed space just ain’t us. The moral of our story: When you buy something, make sure it fits your lifestyle.

7. Don’t Buy Things that Do Not Satisfy You Completely

Should you buy a deep fryer if you love to eat fried chicken? NO! You should just eat KFC or its equivalent. First, a deep fryer uses a lot of oil, is difficult to clean and takes up space in your kitchen. Second and more importantly, your fried chicken probably doesn’t taste as good as KFC’s. I know mine doesn’t.

It’s the same with foot massagers. A machine will never beat the soothing hands of a masseuse and I speak from experience. The bottomline is don’t buy something that does not satisfy you completely. If it’s not better than what’s offered out there, why bother? It will only be a matter of time before the item becomes another white elephant.

8. Don’t Buy Things that are Alive

This might seem a little extreme to some people, but Mr Wow and I have a policy of not owning anything that’s alive. That means no pets or plants.

I know pets bring tremendous joy to their owners, but they are also a huge responsibility and financial commitment. If your finances are not in good shape, you should not ask for trouble by getting a pet. As for plants, they wither and die if you do not know how to take care of them. So if you find yourself buying replacements all the time, consider getting artificial plants. Granted, they are not as nice as live ones, but they last forever.

studio pic of a couple of cute outfitted dogs
A pet is a huge financial commitment. Think carefully before getting one.

To have good financial health, you need to put a stop to wasteful spending. Before buying something, pause and ask yourself if you really need it. If you can do without it, hang on to your cash and walk away. 

You might also want to read my article How We Resolve Our Money Differences as a Couple if your spending habits are a source of conflict between you and your spouse.

Related posts: Why You Should Track Your Expenses Down to the PennyCash Stuffing Budgeting System: No Thanks! | The Compulsive Consumer vs the Austere Saver | 5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Monthly Cash Flow

Mrs Wow

Mrs Wow (aka Lynn) achieved Financial Independence with Mr Wow in 2019. She believes in staying invested even if there’s a level-5 shit storm. A homebody, she spends her free time reading, blogging and listening to music. Follow her on 𝕏 (@wowpursuits).

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