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I often get asked how my family of 4 survives on less than $1,300 a month. The answer is simple. I don’t buy “extras”, and by extras, I mean the everyday things many people consider necessities. When I tell people that I save thousands by not buying things like shaving cream they are always a little skeptical. So, I decided to make a list and break it down. Below are 34 things I don’t buy, and a little of the math to show how much you can save a year. I even included some less expensive alternatives, because even I can’t go without EVERYTHING!
Personal Care Products
- Shaving Cream ($3 x 12 months = $36 year): Use body wash, works the same.
- Expensive Razors I saw some refill packs for $27. Really? No.
- Feminine Douches ($2 a pack = $24 a year): These aren’t good for you, but if you insist, water and vinegar will work just fine.
- Mouth Wash ($2-$10 a bottle x 12 month = $24-$120 a year): As long as you are flossing and brushing your teeth you don’t really need mouth wash.
- Specialty Hair Products I use shampoo. That’s all. I can’t even begin to calculate how much I save every year by not buying hairspray, conditioner, gel, mouse, or any of those fancy hair products.
- Face Cleaning Pads ($3×12 months = $36 year): Use a rag.
- Multiple Make-Up Brushes These can get crazy expensive. I’ve seen some sets for $100+. I have 2 brushes, not even sure where I got them. Most make-up products come with their own applicator. Works just fine.
- Expensive Make-up This is another product that people say they spend $100’s on every year. I spent about $5 last year (eyeliner). Don’t believe the commercials, you don’t really need the newest thing.
- Drain Cleaners ($13 a bottle, maybe 3xs a year $36) Green products like baking soda work just as well.
- Paper Towels These are horrible for the environment and if you spend just $2 a week that’s $104 a year. Use a rag.
- Dusting Spray $4 a bottle. No thank you. I make my own for pennies. (vinegar, water, olive oil, and lemon essential oil in a spray bottle)
- Cook Top Cleaner $4 a bottle. Do people really buy this? Baking soda and vinegar. Works like a charm.
- Disposable Cleaning Wipes These are handy, I know. But, they’re expensive. You can easily use 1 can a week. That’s $156 a year. A rag can easily be used in place of all types of disposable cleaning wipes.
- Expensive Garbage Bags Nobody really needs smelly stretchy super heavy duty extra special garbage bags. Saving a few dollars a box on standard off-brand garbage backs can save you a ton of money in the long run.
- Febreze This stuff is $5 a bottle! Uuummm. No. If this is a must have for you, make your own. Use baking soda, warm water, and essential oils of your choice.
- Dryer Sheets I have never used these. Never saw the point in them. At $7 a box I just couldn’t justify it. That easily adds up to $84 a year.
- Fabric Softener Another product that I just don’t understand and another $60 a year saved. Vinegar and essential oils of choice are a much cheaper way to go.
- Laundry Pods We must wash our clothes. Yes, I know. But these things are SOOO much more expensive than regular laundry detergent. Stick with the powder (yes powder). It is the cheapest option, and the cardboard box it come in is much better for the environment than the plastic bottle liquid detergent comes in.
In the Kitchen
- Keurig $70-$100 dollars for a coffee maker? I spent $15 on mine and I have had it over 2 years and it still works like brand new.
- Disposable Coffee Pods Once you spend all that money on the Keurig you must buy the coffee cups. I was SHOCKED when I saw the price for these things. $23 for 32 cups? One person would save $276, two people would save more than $550 a year.
- Specialty Kitchen Appliances If you’re buying an appliance that only has 1 use, you’re wasting money. Sandwich maker? Quesadilla maker? These novelty items just cost you time and counter space.
- Specialty Kitchen Utensils Basically the same rules from above applies here. Lemon squeezer? Melon baller? Keep your drawers clutter free and skip the one-time use utensils.
- Paper Plates Bad for the environment and expensive. Just use regular plates and wash the dishes.
- Plastic Utensils There is nothing worse than biting into a broken fork prong or breaking a spoon in your ice cream. Just buy a set of metal utensils. They will last forever.
- Baby Food Maker If you are going to make your own baby food and you have a blender, you really don’t need this. Any quality blender can puree.
- Prepackaged Baby Food Kids eat a lot, and you’re going to spend a lot of money on their food. You can off-set a lot of that cost by making your own baby food. It’ll taste better too!
- Nursing Pads If you are breastfeeding you could end up going through a lot of these. Each box cost about $7, so it can add up quick. A better option is to buy washable ones. A box of 4 pads is about $4.
- Diaper Rash Ointment If you have a sensitive baby like I did you will go through A LOT of this stuff. Problem is that store bought has harmful chemicals. Make your own with zinc-oxide powder, beeswax, and coconut oil.
- Diaper Genie This is one of those thing that first-time parents buy and use for a week. The Diaper Genie itself is about $35, then you must buy the refills. Just throw the diapers in the garbage. If it’s a bad one, tie it up in a grocery bag first. Better yet, check out #34.
- Wipe Warmer Another novelty item that will end up in the yard sale pile. Don’t add an unnecessary hassle to your life.
- Baby snacks Those cute little puff things? $3 a can. I have one word for you here: CHEERIOS!
- Prepackaged Toddler Meals Fix your child’s meals. Give them leftovers. Anything but these horrible things. They smell like dog food and can run $4 a meal. One a day is $120 a month and over $1,400 a year.
- Baby shoes Ok, even I admit it’s adorable. But save your money. Babies don’t walk. Cute socks will suffice.
Hint: I had TONS of these sneaker socks that I found on Amazon for my little ones. I was always getting compliments on them!
- Disposable Diapers Hopefully if you have or are going to have a baby you know how expensive diapers are. Depending on brand and how often you’re little one needs a change. you can spend almost $3,000 on diapers.
Hint: I recommend these cloth diapers that I also found on Amazon. You’re little one will look so cute, and you’ll be saving a ton of money!