20 Common Expenses You Should Stop Spending Money On


When your budget is really tight, it can be really disheartening to try and cut your expenses but not be able to cut them back far enough. What most of us don’t realize though is that usually we’ve overlooked a boat load of extra money in our budgets. Money that we’re currently spending, but we’re so used to buying those things that we don’t even consider cutting them. Trust me, it’s happened to me more than once and usually it’s a pretty big face palm moment when it finally clicks. For a lot of families, the expenses that can be cut are usually the ones that are very easily over looked. They can be things that only pop up once every few weeks or months or they can be things that we’re so used to paying for that we can’t “see” another way of doing things. These 20 common expenses you should stop spending money on are just the tip of that iceberg. They’re a good place to start and once you get this particular ball rolling? The rest gets to be quite easy.

Are you wasting money without even realizing it? I'd bet you are! Check out these 20 common expenses you should stop spending money on and you'll soon find extra money in your budget!

 

Sometimes though, your budget will fail and there isn’t much you can do about it. A lot of the time, that budget failure is caused because you just simply don’t have enough income coming into your home. Unfortunately if you’re in that case, no amount of cutting expenses will fix it completely. It will help, but the plain and simple truth is that no budget can be successful unless there is enough money to cover the expenses within it. Don’t let that stop you from cutting your expenses though. A budget with the expenses cut takes a lot less to fund than one that is running wild with the unnecessary.

If your budget is extremely tight, you might need to look at adding extra to it. That sounds hard, but really it isn’t when you look for different ways. I personally add over $225 a month in income using nothing but my phone and computer. Another nice way to add extra money to your budget would be to start a blog just like this one! If you don’t want to start a blog, it isn’t hard at all to find a quick and easy side job that will allow to you bring in extra cash when you need it.

20 Common Expenses You Should Stop Spending Money On

When you read this list, keep in mind that these expenses will be different for everyone. For some people, they’ll be over the line and things that they would never ever consider doing. For some though, they won’t be enough. My advice to you is that you pick and choose which ones will fit with your own lifestyle and just skip over the ones that make you uncomforable or that are over your own personal frugal line. It’s okay if one or more of them are. It is your home and your budget.

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Cable – Most of us know that we should at the very least drop down to a smaller package, but have you considered dropping it all together? We haven’t had cable for almost 3 years and we don’t regret it at all. Instead, opt for Netflix and Hulu Plus and you’ll never miss a single thing. Another one that a lot of people ignore is Amazon Instant Video for Prime members. The number of movies that are available on Prime usually make it worth the yearly fee. If you’ve never been signed up for Prime before, Amazon offers a free 30 day trial to Prime that includes Amazon Instant Video access so that you can try before you buy.

Bagged Ice – Do you buy bagged ice? If so? You could be wasting some serious cash depending on how often you buy it. Instead, pick up some ice cube trays and make it at home instead. It’s easy to store too so that your freezer isn’t full of trays. We use a 5 gallon ice cream container that we got from a friend. It sits in the freezer perfectly and we’re tray free unless we’re actually refreshing our ice bucket. Don’t think that making your own ice can really save you? If you buy 2 bags of ice per week at $2.00 per bag, that’s $104 per year you could be saving!

Bread – It’s much more cost effective (not to mention healthier for your family) to make your own bread than it is to buy it and these days, there’s no reason to stand in the kitchen kneading bread for hours (unless you want to). Pick up a bread machine, find a great homemade bread recipe and begin to make your own. Not only will you actually save money doing it, but your family will love the fresh bread more than the store bought stuff. The taste difference is amazing!

Hair cuts – For the men and boys in your life? Stop spending $20+ per cut and instead, invest in your own hair clipper set and cut their hair at home. If you aren’t sure about how to cut certain styles, Youtube is a GREAT resource for learning and is totally free.

Fabric Softener Sheets – At an average of $2.00 per box, it’s much cheaper to make your own reusable dryer sheets. They’re super simple to make, use all natural ingredients (yay for no chemicals!) and even if it only saves you 1 box every month, that’s an average of $25.00 per year saved.

Window Cleaner – Why pay for the blue stuff when you can make your own window cleaner for much cheaper? Homemade versions generally only cost a few cents to make and they’re much healthier for your family.

Laundry Detergent – Like dryer sheets, laundry detergent is much cheaper to make at home than it is to buy. You can make your own powdered laundry detergent for pennies on the dollar and it works so much better than the store bought stuff.

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Pasta Sauce – Want a tastier, cheaper version of the jarred stuff? Try this homemade pasta sauce recipe instead. It’s delicious, cheaper and so simple to make that you’ll wonder why you haven’t made your own before.

Pizza – Don’t pay for delivery when you can make the same thing at home. Instead make your own homemade pizza for around $3.00 each. Family fun night just got a whole lot cheaper!

Air Fresheners  – Baking soda in a dish, stashed in a hidden part of the room will do the job just as well. If you need some heavier hitting power, make your own Febreeze instead.

Expensive All-Purpose cleaners – Buying commercial cleaners can not only get really expensive, but it opens your home up to harmful chemicals that can cost more in doctor bills if you happen to have a reaction. In reality, you need very few items to clean your home. I personally use a Lavender Lemon All Purpose Cleaner that costs me just over $1.00 per batch to make.

Drying costs – Your dryer is the single most expensive appliance that you own so cutting back on how often you use it is a great way to save. Is the weather warm? Keep the dryer off and use an outdoor clothes line. Weather cool? Use a portable drying rack instead. You’d be surprised at just how much you can save this way and this is one way to save that you’ll notice from the first month.

Paper Towels – Not only are paper towels bad for the environment, but they can be really bad for your budget too. Instead, pick up some unpaper towels and you’ll save over time. We made the switch to these herringbone weave kitchen towels about a year ago and we haven’t regretted it a single time. We’re paying less and they work just as well, if not better than the disposable ones we used to buy.

Feminine pads –  Instead of wasting money on disposables, consider making the switch to cloth. You’ll pay more out of pocket at first, but you’ll save BIG in the long run. I recently made this switch and I will NEVER go back! You can read my thoughts HERE. If cloth isn’t your thing, the Diva Cup can be a budget friendly alternative for those wanting to ditch disposables.

Diapers – If you’re wondering if you can save money with cloth diapers, the answer is maybe. For the majority of people, cloth diapers will be a way to save, but for some they won’t. Do your research and if cloth is for your family, make the jump to save.

New printer cartridges – Instead of buying new cartridges, pick up an ink refill kit instead. Yes, they can be messy, but if you take your time filling them, they can save you hundreds over the course of a year. If you have a laser printer, you’ll really want to look into toner refills. You will see a significant savings over buying new cartridges.

Chocolate Milk – You’ll pay almost twice as much per glass buying pre-made chocolate milk than you would if you just bought the syrup and mixed it yourself. Want to take it a step further? Make your own chocolate syrup.

Gym Membership – You have an outside? Use it instead. It tends to be pretty free most of the time.

Sweet Tea – Stop wasting money on Arizona. Grab a pitcher and some sugar and make it yourself. I use an iced tea maker to make it easy on myself so that I can make a larger pitcher all at once. It’s less tempting to pay for drinks if I have a pitcher of tea in the fridge.

Frosting – If you’re baking a cake? You’re wasting money by picking up the canned stuff. Most frosting recipes can be customized by adding an extract to get the flavor you want so all you really need is a good base. When I’m looking for a cream cheese frosting recipe, I use the one that is used in my Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling recipe. It doubles very well as a frosting. For buttercream, I use this buttercream frosting recipe. They’re both fantastic recipes and mean that I don’t have to spend money on the canned stuff.

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Stacy Barr
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Stacy Barr

Stacy Barr is the face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family. A true gypsy soul, her newest blog, Unsettled Hearts, chronicles the journey of her family to become full-time travelers. By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Her book, also called Six Dollar Family, has sold more than 7,000 copies since its release.

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Comments

  1. I’m so with you on the cable, chocolate milk, sweet tea, and frosting! One of the benefits of cutting cable is that there’s no excuse to sit and mindlessly channel surf— I feel like I actually get more done. (but that’s only because I’m not big on binge-watching on Amazon Prime or Hulu)

    I’ve definitely got to try some of the other items on the list— disposable products like paper towels get on my nerves with the cost for sure.

  2. Goddessoflubbock says:

    We already do a lot of those. The single biggest savings? We haven’t made a car payment since 1994. We only buy used vehicles, for cash. I currently own a 2003 Montana that’s in pristine condition right down to the leather seats. Paid $6,000 for it with 72k back in 2010. Just regular maintenance.

    Also we only eat out one time per week, (never fast food) Saturday dinner. I make sure we have a coupon or other promotion to discount the bill. For special occasions we will go somewhere really nice and order off the starter menu. It’s the same food and we can never finish the full meal anyway.

    • Sounds like you guys are doing great!

    • We just bought a 2005 Kia Sedona for 1400 dollars. Even if we buy another one every single year, it’s still cheaper than a car payment. With good maintenance, we can drive for quite a few years before having to replace it. I wager we save about 20 grand in car payments in 5 years just by being content with an older but still nice vehicle that meets our family’s needs.

  3. I like posts like this that make you re-evaluate what you are doing. I switched to a menstrual cup. Thanks for posting. Hello from Thrifty Thursday.

    • I absolutely LOVE the Diva Cup! No more waste to fill the trash cans and landfills. One of the best purchases I’ve ever made!

  4. Heather @ Simply Save says:

    Great list! I’m trying to eliminate all disposable items by replacing them with something reusable when they run out. Switching from paper towels to rags, paper napkins to cloth napkins, etc. Cheaper and more eco-friendly!

  5. Hi! Found this on Pinterest and was like “Hey! This might be a great blog to start following!” I started going through your list until it came to the pads. Ahhh. No. I would rather not eat for a day and use that $ for tampons than do that. It just seems a bit unrealistic.

    • LOL! There are actually A LOT of women that use them Rose. You might just be surprised. 🙂

      • As a teenager, my mom reminded me that there was a time when disposable feminine products were not on the market (like when she and her mom and her mom before that were teenagers); so she taught me her methods. I thought her ideas crazy, but now am grateful for the information.

    • I’ve been using them for over 2 years now… Reusable pads. I also have a cup, but prefer the pads. I used to break out every month from reusable pads… And I would dread that time of the month. Since switching to reusable.. It’s so much easier… And etsy has all sorts of designs… Shapes and sizes and I swear they work better.

      I also make my own toothpaste, laundry detergent, cut my own hair and my husband’s and we utilize our crock pot for dinner at home.

      We do most of your list… But also do prepaid phone plans and pay cash for our phones up front.

      • That’s awesome Celeste. On the phones, have you see THIS post that I did? It’s not prepaid, but we’re actually saving MORE with them than we were with prepaid.

    • Rose, try the Diva cup! It’s expensive at first but you save SOOO much in the long run!

    • I agree with you 100% Rose!!

  6. Portia Tebandeke says:

    I like this list! I especially like your points about making your own pizza and sweet tea. We have gotten so lazy when it comes to pizza; we often just buy frozen pizza or splurge for papa murphy’s. We definitely have room to improve here. One thought I have about cloth diapers: we live in a rental and have to pay for every load of laundry we do. I am not sure that we would end up saving that much. What are your thoughts?

    • Portia, I would weigh the cost of washing the extra laundry versus the costs of disposables. You may find that it actually is cheaper, but it will all depend on what you’re paying per load of laundry. You could also look at picking up a portable washing machine that hooks up to your sink for diapers too.

  7. Patricia Renwick says:

    Great post.The only one I could do is the bread. Too hot at the moment but last winter I started making my own and hope to do the same this year. One thing I need to eliminate is buying an ice-cream each time I go shopping! Save money and good for my weight!

  8. Great advice! I do most of it already. 🙂 Take the chocolate milk a step further and make your own chocolate syrup.

    • Awesome Pat! I’ve never tried making my own chocolate syrup but its on my list of things to definitely do!

  9. I bought a kitchen aid stand mixer on sale online and it was the best purchase ever, I rarely buy bread, sometimes for convenience – like before/after travel, but I don’t bother to freeze my homemade bread). Anyways, I’ve been making beautiful mashed potato/roasted root veg. breads, buns, cakes and pizzas etc. it cuts down on the work and dishes so I look forward to baking/cooking.

  10. I would add make your own yogurt to this list. I spent $28 on a yogurt maker and a nut milk bag. This allows me to make amazing greek yogurt at home for the price of whole milk. I save the whey that is strained out and use it for smoothies or in baking. I can get the equivalent of 2 24 oz tubs of Greek yogurt from a gallon of whole milk, with a little milk left over.

  11. Even better on the TV one you did is to just get the basic stuff and quit paying for the premium stuff. Find better stuff to do with your time.

  12. We buy used cars, cloth napkins from thrift stores, cloth diapers, make homemade pizza in double batches (freeze one for next week), homemade snacks and whipped cream and I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for three years and will never go back to buying it. I can’t imagine the amount of money we have saved just on the laundry detergent us we hang dry as often as possible. Also find great deals at the dollar store most times I can find soap deodorant shampoo toothpaste and toothbrushes mostly brand name too. Also pick up the Sunday paper at the dollar store for great coupons. A ling with boxed foods.

    • Stacy Barr says:

      Alicia, the dollar store can be great! For us though it’s cheaper to make all of that ourselves since I am sensitive to the chemicals that commercial products contain. We end up spending far more on medical bills than we do to make the items.

  13. Arlene Salary says:

    A few years ago when things were feeling particularly tight, I did turn off cable, we use Netflix and I’m a prime member. A couple of other things I did were changing my bank to one with free checking and bill pay and shopped around my insurance and found much better and CHEAPER coverage. Really it was a few phone calls and saved me a ton every month. Love your blog, your ideas are always sensible and doable. 🙂
    Arlene

  14. What has saved our family a ton of money is becoming vegan. No more expensive meat or cheese. We eat really tasty and healthy dishes. In the long run we will be (hopefully) saving money on medical costs by creating a healthier lifestyle. Veganism doesn’t have to be expensive. I don’t buy all those specialty vegan snacks. A lot of products are vegan by default…

  15. Here’s another one for you…

    We went to habitat for humanity and picked up a meat slicer for $10 and an ice cream maker for $5.

    Now we make our own sliced deli meats and splurge in ice cream at home. No more running to Tim horton’s for an ice cap either. We take our old coffee from the a.m. with milk & sugar and make our own iced coffees!

    The price of deli meat is so expensive nowadays… 2 packages of salami for pizza was $11. So we bought a whole one that we can slice with our slicer. It can also do veggies, and bread as well! Soon we’ll be making our own loaves at home!

    Here’s another tip: buy whatever is in season for produce, and then freeze it. Fruits can last for ages in the freezer. Locally grown tastes better too. Not only are you saving money but you help the environment by saving gas because transportation of those exotic fruits n veggies is not cheap!

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