The idea of saving money by not making small unnecessary purchases has been around for centuries.
The old English saying “if you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves” was first recorded in 1734 and became very popular a century later in the Victorian mindset of thrift and virtue.
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Bestselling author Dave Bach coined the phrase “latte factor” in his book “The Automatic Millionaire”.
The latte factor is a modern take on the idea that little purchases add up and if you can eliminate mindless spending, you can build capital effortlessly. The premise is that cutting out your $5 dollar latte (or $2 ATM fee, or $3 sandwich) every day can add up to huge savings if you invest the money instead.
Cutting out 3 $5 unnecessary purchases a week from your budget will save you $780 a year
If you invested this money for 20 years and assumed an average interest rate of 8% (based on market fluctuations), you would earn $22,868.33 in interest alone.
At the end of 20 years, you would have $38,286.33 (interest + savings)
It definitely makes it worth looking into easy expenses you can cut and save without affecting your quality of life.
Try the Latte Factor Calculator for yourself!
That being said, I find that this kind of saving is much easier said than done. It’s so easy to think “it’s only a couple of dollars” or to purchase convenience foods to save time.
Most people have no trouble trying to save a buck on a new TV or car but happily get a coffee and bagel when out and about without thinking of it.
If you are looking to easily cut some expenses, these small purchases can be easily cut out of your budget.
10 Unnecessary Purchases to stop buying now
1. Paper Towel and napkins
Not only are paper towels terrible for the environment, they are a huge waste of money too. You can use rags for cleaning up messes and cloth napkins for mealtimes and save a bundle.
2. Bagged Salads
Yes, they are convenient but is it really that hard to throw some spinach in a bowl and add croutons and dressing?
3. Spice Packets
Another one I was guilty of until I realized I can make my own homemade taco seasoning for a fraction of the price. Same goes for Shepherd’s pie mix, beef stew seasoning and all the other little packets you can buy at the store.
Plus, it’s a lot healthier when you can control the salt portions.
4. Greeting Cards
My head actually aches when I see the extortionate prices of cards in the stores. $5.99 for a piece of paper? What a rip-off. The average family is spending over $300 on pretty bits of card that are thrown away the day after the shower/birthday/event.
A few alternatives to a store-bought gift card:
- If you have kids, get them to make a nice card. It doubles up as a fun activity for them.
- Make your own cards using dollar store craft supplies
- For kids or baby showers, get a $1 book from the dollar store instead
- Forgo the card entirely and just use the gift tag on the bag or present (I stole this idea from one of my “cheaper” friends after her husband banned her from buying cards).
5. Female versions of products
Did you know that the exact same products can cost almost twice as much when they are marketed to women in pink packaging or flowery scents? This so-called pink tax is outrageous. You can see some shocking comparisons done by Business Insider last year here.
6. Books and Magazines
I’m all for buying books and magazines that you know you will keep or read over and over. For other reading material, consider borrowing from your local library or checking out yard sales and thrift stores.
For more awesome freebies you can get at the library, check out this post.
If you are more of an e-reader type of person, consider getting an unlimited Kindle membership for under $10 a month. Get an Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial here
If you are more of an audiobook fiend like myself, make sure to check out this free trial offer from Amazon Audible – Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks.
7. Dryer Sheets
A friend of mine recently gave me these cute Hedgehog Dryer Balls as a natural alternative to fabric softener and dryer sheets. They work so well! I can’t imagine ever going back to using chemicals again.
8. Household Cleaner
Save a bunch of money by using vinegar and lemon juice as an all-purpose cleaner. Vinegar and newspaper work wonders for glass and mirrors too. For cleaning the toilet bowl, sprinkle baking soda and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then throw down a cup of vinegar and flush. I also use a combo of baking soda and vinegar to disinfect my drains when they get stinky.
9. Plastic cups of cut fruit
10. Apps and In-app purchases
If you are addicted to phone games like Candy Crush or love to have a million apps, be aware that all those $1 purchases can add up quickly. Look for free apps wherever possible and try to factor in the cost: savings benefit when making a purchase.
Are there any other unnecessary purchases you would add to this list?
For more money saving ideas, check out my other frugal living posts:
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