6 Things To Stop Buying To Save Real Money

Small savings goals are important, but are you really going to save for a house deposit or a Europe trip in foregone takeaway coffees alone? Here are six substitutions to make on things you’re already buying – that could save you thousands per year. Stop buying to start saving.

#1 Alcohol

This isn’t a self-righteous request to cut out socialising and fun: it’s just a suggestion to be smarter with your boozing.

When you go out for dinner and drinks, choose a BYO restaurant so you’re not forking out $60 for a bottle you know retails for $12. If you’re a fan of top-shelf spirits, consider restricting yourself to a single night at the bar per week, or head in happy hour so your whisky nip doesn’t cost more than your taxi fare home. If you’re really committed, head out with cash only, and just stop buying drinks once your wallet is empty.

Of course, cutting out alcohol completely will improve your health and save thousands in the long run, but starting with sensible choices a couple of times a week at dinner and knockoffs could still see your bank balance start to pile up nicely.

Estimated saving: $200–$400/month (depending on how much you drink)

#2 Subscriptions

If you listen to music, watch TV or movies, or like reading, there’s a good chance you’ve got an online subscription to something quietly deducting from your bank account every month. Sure, they’re fun, but if you’re not using all of them all the time those quiet transactions are costing a lot.

A quick test: name everything you have a subscription to, and the last time you used it.

If you’ve got a Foxtel subscription but use it only for sport and watch everything else on Netflix, reduce your package for most of the year, and suspend Netflix when you’re glued to AFL in winter. If you’ve got a New Yorker subscription coming out weekly but only read once a month, consider cancelling, and reading your five free online articles instead. If you’ve got ClassPass debiting every month but skip yoga in winter, why not activate your subscription in summer only and stretch at home in the warm?

Estimated saving: $150/month for all the above, but check your own superfluous subscriptions

stop buying gym

#3 Gym membership

Exercise is important, but you can improve your health without parting with thousands per year. Be honest with yourself about how often you really go to the gym and what you do there, and work out whether a handful of casual classes, some free at-home exercises or a membership to a simpler but cheaper fitness centre may suit you and your bank balance better.

If you’re currently lifting weights and jogging on a treadmill at a flash 24-hour gym twice a week, a $10 drop-in at your local council’s recreation centre and a jog in the park could give you the same but help you save. Same with swimming laps at the local pool, finding an in-training yoga teacher who gives $5 classes, or making yourself a mini circuit class in the yard with a skipping rope, a mat, and some cheap hand weights.

Estimated saving: $100/month

#4 Phone plans

Sure, your iPhone 7 takes beautiful photos and it’s great to know you’ll never run out of data, but if you’re on wi-fi all the time do you need to be paying more than $100 per month for your handset, SMS and data? And if you’re on a plan with limited internet, how do you finance the unexpected $60 bill when you go a few gigs past your data limit?

Prepaid plans are cheaper, ensure you’ll never see surprise charges, and permit you to BYO handset, saving thousands of dollars over your phone’s lifetime and freeing you up to move to a better deal if you see one around.

Estimated saving: $80/month


#5 Beauty products

Again, you don’t have to cut it out completely, but if you’re dropping hundreds of dollars on online makeup orders per month, a few easy substitutions could save you serious cash.

Keep track of which products you use regularly and consider skimping on the ones you buy just for fun. Coral lipstick is cool, but if it’s not your signature, is a $70 Tom Ford tube worth it? Or does your nose really know the difference between your $160 Chanel fragrance and a simple Body Shop essential oil blend?

Estimated saving: $50–$200/month, depending on your personal beauty approach


#6 Casual meals out

A takeaway coffee grabbed on your way to the office. Food court lunch with a colleague. A quick UberEats pad Thai ordered to arrive at home at the same time as you do (with rice paper rolls to meet the minimum delivery charge). All of a sudden, you’ve spent $50 on food in a day without even realising.

You’re still allowed to have lunch with a colleague or bail on cooking when you just can’t be bothered. But being more mindful about when you’re eating out just because you don’t feel like it could save you hundreds per month. Instead of walking with a colleague for takeaway $12 burritos, grab a cheap ready-made soup and a roll from the supermarket. If you’re cooking at home, make a double batch to take for lunch so you’re not empty-handed and hungry at 12pm the next day.

While skipping that takeaway coffee won’t by itself build your fortune, passing it over once in a while in favour of mindfully saving money will set you up with the perspective and plans to save thousands per year.

Estimated saving: $200/month


These things may seem like small fry on their own – just a drop in the ocean of your monthly spending – but taken together they add up to $1,130 per month, or $13,560 per year. Sure, they’re just rough estimates, but you’d better bet that you have some capacity to make a few little cuts to make big long-term savings. Blindly paying up for all these things simply without thinking can set you a long way back in your savings efforts.

A little thought goes a long way – and all the effort adds up. Remember you’re not sacrificing everything you enjoy and you’ll look forward to those splurges all the more. You’ll definitely find it worth it in the long run when you’ve made headway on your house deposit, or when you can afford that Europe trip, all that much sooner.

Sophie Raynor is a writer and list-maker from Perth living in tropical Timor-Leste. She loves ethical development communications and taking about sweating, and tweets at @raynorsophie.

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