2014 was a bad year for my family financially. We suffered an income loss of over 70% which meant we were living on very little income each month. When we set out at the beginning of 2015 to revamp our budget and get things back on track the way they should be, we knew that our grocery budget had to be one of the first places that we took a ball bat to. One of the best ways that I know to save money on groceries easily is to stop buying as much as possible and to start making things at home. So I made that my mission for 2015; to stop buying and start making what I could. It has worked out much better than I planned and by the end of 2015 we had saved over $2500 simply by making these things ourselves!
That’s a crazy amount, right?! I sure thought so and I know that it might seem impossible that we saved that much, but the truth is that none of us actually stop and think about how much those everyday items add up to each month and year. Aside from the fact that we saved so much, my entire family ended the year feeling much better. You would not believe some of the stuff that is put into our foods and the other items that we use on our bodies or in our homes. Just removing a handful of those things has helped us all to get back to feeling better overall. In fact, we were actually able to nail down (with the help of my doctors) that the chemicals in store bought products were causing debilitating chronic pain for me that I had lived with for years. I wish I could pinpoint for you exactly which chemicals caused it, but the truth is that I can’t. The really sad part about all of this is that most of these “recipes” I have had for years. In fact, I used to be really good at using them but life happened and somewhere along the way we had stopped using them and stopped making things ourselves.
30 Things I Simply Stopped Buying (and Why You Should Too!)
All of that aside, the money we’ve saved is a big factor and one that drives me forward to continuing to make our own products and if you’re really looking to cut your cost of living? It should drive you to give it a try as well. $2500.00 a year for a family of 3 is a lot of money in my opinion. If your family is larger? You would likely see even more savings than we have!
What products have we stopped buying and started making? Take a look! While it is true that some of these products do cost more to start making, the savings they provide over the long run far outweighs their start up costs. However, if you’re concerned with the cost of creating these items, take a look at the per unit cost of making them versus buying in the store. I think you’ll find that in most cases, the homemade version will always be cheaper.
If after you’ve put these things into play your budget is still tight, take a look at how I add $225 or more each month to my budget then make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for a budget failure. If you need to earn more money than that, consider starting a blog. You can start a blog with Bluehost for only $3.95/mo and get a free domain name. If you do get started on Bluehost, I have a step-by-step tutorial on how to set up your Bluehost blog that can help walk you through setting it up. Combining good budgeting practices with frugal living tips like these is the only surefire way to not only save, but to grow your bank accounts too.
Since this post was originally posted in November 2015, we have added another quite a few more items that you can stop buying and make at home yourself. In addition to this post, you can also check out 30 (more) things I stopped buying and started making as well as the huge list of 200+ things you can stop buying and make at home. Both posts contain different items so it is well worth checking them out!
Onto the original list!
Shave Cream – I tend to use Tom’s shave cream anyhow which means we were using around 1 can every few weeks. Instead of buying it, I started making this homemade shave cream and ya know what? It conditions our skin better than any store bought product ever has and is super cheap to make.
Shampoo – Both Emma and I have crazy thick hair, shampoo can get really expensive really quick. I’m allergic to a lot of the budget friendly brands so I was having to pay around $10.00 per bottle just to wash my hair. Now? I’m using this homemade coconut shampoo recipe and my hair has never been cleaner. No allergy issues either!
Dishwasher detergent – Dish tablets are usually pretty expensive and since I hadn’t been able to actually snag a great coupon deal on them in a while (bare shelves when there were deals), I started making my own homemade liquid dishwasher detergent.
Aftershave – My Tom still likes to use aftershave, but I didn’t see a point in buying it when I could make it for him instead. He actually prefers my version because it soothes his skin better.
Lotion – I have incredibly dry skin if I don’t have a great lotion. The issue that I was having was that I couldn’t find one that would work. So as almost a last resort, I tried my own homemade dry skin repair cream and I haven’t looked back since.
Laundry Detergent – I wish that I could tell you just how much I adore my homemade laundry detergent. We use the powdered version only and now instead of $0.10 or more per load, its more like $0.01 per load. Our clothes? Never been cleaner.
Fabric Softener Sheets – When the laundry detergent went, so did the fabric softener sheets. Luckily, I fell in love with my reusable dryer sheets. Trust me. You’ll love them just as much.
Window Cleaner – When I wanted to get rid of commercial Windex, I took at look at making my own. What I found works better than the store bought stuff and is so much cheaper!
All-Purpose Cleaner – Want a super quick and powerful all-purpose cleaner that won’t harm your family? Make your own homemade all-purpose cleaner for pennies on the dollar over the store bought stuff. We switched completely and I don’t regret it at all.
Floor Cleaner – If you’re looking for a good floor cleaner, skip the store bought stuff. Instead, use vinegar, castile soap and lemon or orange essential oils or you can check out this homemade floor cleaner recipe.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner – Want a sparkling clean and germ free toilet? Toss some baking soda into the bowl, follow with a few drops of tea tree oil and then toss in 1 cup of vinegar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes and clean like normal.
Body Wash – I know. A lot of people would never consider making homemade body wash, but for me? It was so worth it to make the change! It’s incredibly easy to make and since I use homemade Castile soap in it, it’s incredibly budget friendly too!
Pasta Sauce – Jarred pasta sauce is expensive to make and generally tastes really bland. Instead of buying it, I now make our own homemade pasta sauce saving myself an average of $2.00 per jar. If you eat pasta once a week, that comes out to almost $100 each year by itself.
Graham Crackers – Another food item that we make ourselves. Homemade graham crackers taste so much better in our desserts than anything else!
Bread – While you can find bread at the store for less than $1.00 a loaf, I can make it at home for around $0.49 per loaf. Plus? Fresh baking bread always tastes better and makes your home smell so nice! If you don’t want to spend your days kneading, a bread machine can be a huge help. It’s a more expensive investment but it’s one that will pay for itself many times over!
Tortillas – Like bread, tortillas are easy to make at home and taste better. They’re cheaper too. The last time I saw tortillas in a local sales ad? They wanted $5.00 for 16 name brand tortillas. That is insane folks! Instead, buy a tortilla press and make them from home!
Pizza – I’ve admitted it before but I will again. I am a huge pizza snob. It really is true though that making it yourself can save you big so even though I’ve been making them myself for years, this year we stopped ordering them completely. Just grab your favorite pizza crust recipe and bake on! Want a tip from someone who has baked plenty of pizzas though? The pizza pan that you use really does matter.
Liquid Castile soap – Castile soap is great for a lot of things, but it’s used in so many of our homemade recipes. The liquid stuff is super expensive to buy though. Making your own homemade Castile soap is a great way to save. I can get a huge batch made for around $5.00 and it works just as well if not better!
Canned Chicken Noodle Soup – My Emma is a huge chicken noodle kid but at $0.98 per can it was causing me to go broke. Instead, I started making up monthly batches of this homemade chicken noodle soup and freezing it in individual servings for her.
Frozen Chicken Fingers/Nuggets – All kids love chicken nuggets but the frozen ones often don’t contain meat that isn’t filler. Instead of buying them, I now make my homemade chicken fingers recipe once a month and freeze them. They reheat the exact same way as the store bought ones but taste so much better!
Heavy Cream – I rarely need enough heavy cream for a recipe to justify buying it, so most of the time I just make this homemade heavy cream substitute. I still have to buy it if I’m making homemade whipped cream, but for cooking needs it works fantastic!
Cooking herbs – Seriously. Why pay $2.00 per bottle or more for quality cooking herbs? This year we started growing our own indoors and saved. I dry them out in my dehydrator then chop them with my food processor. Voila! A homemade version of the same stuff you get in the spice aisle.
Refrigerated Pie Crusts – So I had this bad habit of buying refrigerated pie crusts whenever I needed to make a pie. I don’t know why though since I’ve had a perfectly awesome homemade pie crust recipe for over 10 years.
Homemade Deodorant – I’ve always hated having to spend so much on deodorant. Especially when it’s full of stuff that I can’t even pronounce. Instead, we started making our own homemade deodorant for right around the same price or less than we would pay in store.
Ricotta Cheese – Do you know how easy it is to make your own ricotta cheese? You might be surprised and you’ll end up saving a bit if you use it regularly since it can be so expensive. Homemade ricotta cheese is extremely easy to make and once you taste it? You’ll never go back to the store bought stuff.
Pasta – Pasta is cheap but why eat processed pasta even if it is cheap? Instead, learn to make your own like we did. Trust me on this. You won’t regret it.
Sleep medications – I have always had trouble sleeping and usually require a little bit of help to get there. Now instead of paying $8 or $9.00 for a box of sleeping medications that aren’t good for me, I use lavender essential oil and make a homemade sleep cream which can double easily as a wound cream/diaper rash cream. Three uses for one product!
Tylenol – Another product that we nixed was over the counter pain medications. Instead, we use Peppermint, Lavender and other oils that are around the same price but last longer to manage minor aches and pains like headaches. Another great option for managing pain is Tart Cherry Juice. It has properties that are very much like Ibuprofen which means you won’t be spending as much for the same “healing” properties.
Feminine products – Believe it or not, these were the first to go. No, I didn’t stop using them (ew). Instead, I switched to cloth. I paid more up front to build my stash, but I’ve saved that amount many times over since we started.
Pepto Bismol – Another OTC medication that we stopped buying. Just like with some aches and pains, we swapped to Peppermint tea for upset tummies. It works just as well, if not better than Pepto, but at a much lower cost. Plus the brand that we love is organic which means a lot less chemicals.
$2500.00 saved in one year. Have I convinced you to stop buying and start making? I sure hope so!
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