10 Purchases That Prevent You from Saving Money

17-10-2014 | Ramona |

When it comes to saving money we employ all kinds of tactics. Sure, we start by tracking our expenses (so that we can see where this money goes) and also by setting up a realistic budget. These two allow us to see where we’re ‘losing’ money and what purchases are preventing us from saving.

1. Coffee on the go

I wrote about “what’s wrong with the Starbucks latte” before. Sure, the latte (or the coffee) itself is OK, properly made and yummy, the issue is that these little expenses add up, even if we fail to sometimes acknowledge this. It took me years to understand ‘where my money went‘ and only after starting an expenses journal I was able to finally understand why I was living paycheck to paycheck, with no debt (back then) and no family to support.

2. New gadgets, just because they are released now

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make, when it comes to saving money, is to jump to buy a new gadget, just because it got released. iPhone 6? Does it sound familiar? Do you know how many people have perfectly good smartphones (some even the previous model released by Apple) and yet queue for hours to get this new one?

Same goes for DSLR cameras, laptops and any other gadgets. In our family we try to purchase the best options for us (best specs at a great price) and then use our gadgets till they break.

3. A new car every 3 years

I don’t know how often some change their cars, but from what I read, it’s ‘customary’ for people who’d like to look successful to ditch 3-4 year old cars for something new. Sure, most of them just finished paying for the dang thing and are ready to get into debt again (or pay a lot of cash), so that they get the latest release.

I purchased my car in 2008. It was new and I got a car loan for it. Four years passed, I paid off my debt and the car was at about 15K miles. Now, 6 years later, we just ‘broke’ 25K miles. Should I get a new one? Maybe, since there’s a new model and the car is 6 years old. But then again the car works great, is in awesome shape and can be used for at least 4 more years.

Sure, I won’t be the coolest kid on the block with a 6 year old car, but it helps a lot with saving money, since I don’t have to worry about such a huge purchase for few more years. NO, I am not advising anyone to use  a ‘beater’, reason I chose to take a car loan, since I couldn’t afford a new car and didn’t want a very used vehicle. But my car now is still in awesome shape and I’m gonna use it for a while.

4. Shoes and clothing you’ll never wear

If we look closely to our dressing habits we’ll notice we actually go by Pareto’s principle – we wear 20% of them 80% of the time. If I come to think about myself I have 3-4 t-shirts I’ve been wearing like crazy and a pair of jeans close to disintegration. Few months ago I purchased online 2 more pairs (at very small prices), claiming that I can’t wear those ‘rags’ anymore. The new jeans arrived, fit me great and yet I still wear the old ones.

I’m not saying we should dress like homeless people, but having tens of dresses, blouses, suits and shoes is just a waste of money. There’s a lot of saving you can do by just refraining to purchase any new items just because they’re nice and by trying to make the clothing you have match in various outfits.

5. Bottled water and soft drinks

Tap water is pretty good in most places we live, even if we dislike the idea of using it. Sure, there are areas where it’s not healthy for drinking, but we still purchase a lot of bottled water even where tap water would suffice.

If you are still quesy about the entire idea, you can get a filter and then the water is even cleaner (you’ve done the filtering yourself, didn’t you?)

Soft drinks are even worse, they are expensive (as they add up each month) and unhealthy. Maybe drinking less would help you lose weight (or keep a healthy figure), not to mention saving money.

6. Phone / tablet apps

As soon as I purchased my Nook, 4 years ago, I started adding applications from the app store. They weren’t expensive: most were 99 cents, there were few that cost more (3-4 dollars).

The shock came at the end of the year, when I tried to see where my money went in the past 12 months and if I could change something in my habits to save more money. I was indeed shocked, the apps were pretty expensive (when you added them up).

7. Lottery tickets

Sure, there are FEW people who were able to hit the jackpot. There are even fewer for whom this really meant a huge step forward since the majority wasted the money in few years (or less). For most of us ‘regulars’, lottery tickets are a waste of money.

You might want from time to time to try your luck, just as most of us do. But purchasing tickets on a regular basis is just a huge waste of money. Why not think about saving this money instead (put it in a jar for instance) and see where it leads you.

8. Cheap merchandise

From your juice extractor to the shoes you’re wearing, getting the cheapest options is not a good idea. Of course we cannot afford to purchase 500 dollar shoes for instance, but quality shoes, made from good leather and well manufactured don’t cost an arm and a leg. They’re clearly comfortable and will last longer. I had some winter boots that last me for 10 years, I ditched them since I was just sick and tired of them, they’d be good to wear even now.

Getting the cheaply made products might seem like a good deal now (you’re paying less), but they do break easier and will force you to purchase the same thing again.

9. Dinner at the restaurant

One of the things that can really bust one’s budget is dining out. Sure, you’d probably do this from time to time (a special occasion perhaps), but doing this routinely will strip down your wallet like nothing else.

Even someone with a very hectic schedule can work out some menu plans and cooking meals in batch, freezing them and then just use when needed. It does take some effort and preparation, but you’ll eat healthier and save money.

10. Expensive watches and jewelry

I might step on few toes here, but I can’t see the need for a ‘regular Joe’ like us to spend hundreds or thousands of bucks on something that will show the correct hour. After getting my smartphone and now the baby, I don’t even use the watch anymore. It’s a small Citizen watch that cost about 100 bucks.

When it comes to jewelry, my only one is the wedding band (which was also made at a very affordable price). I do have some jewels from my folks, but I’m actually afraid to wear it on a regular basis. I don’t want to get mugged just because someone things I have a lot of money. Same goes with my daughter who doesn’t wear anything. She’s too small, true, but she’ll not have a necklace or earrings to wear until she’s older. I’d rather she won’t have the ‘experience’ of being attacked for few grams of gold.

As I like to say, gold is for safekeeping, not wearing.

So, what’s your list of purchases that prevent you from saving money? Is anything from my list? Something new?

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Recent Comments

  • Julianne F.

    October 17, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Our biggest savings ‘crusher’ was getting a new car every few years. Husband loves cars and always wanted to drive new ones as soon as possible.

    • dojo

      October 21, 2014 at 8:13 am

      My luck is that I love my car soooo much that I just don’t want to part with it. It’s my first car and probably it will take quite some time until I’ll be ready to sell (even when it will no longer be suitable for us).

  • Donna

    October 19, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I’m crazy about shoes, so in our case this is a huge budget problem. I have tens of pairs. In my defense I do try to get them at sales though and not pay top dollar. Still, even in this case, they do cost quite a lot.

    • dojo

      October 21, 2014 at 8:14 am

      He he, at least you save some money looking for sales 😀

      I think we’re all entitled to few splurges, it would be pretty sad otherwise. In our case we love to travel for instance and eat well, so we ‘lose’ money in these areas, but save aggressively on the things that don’t matter to us.

  • aadryanaa

    October 21, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I’m guilty of buying bottled water. It may be safe to drink it from the tap, but I prefer mineral water to plain water and I know you can “make” mineral water at home, but buying it is so cheap, we don’t really “feel” it (it’s about €1 /6 bottles… it’ a shame NOT to buy it :D)

    As for the useless clothing items.. I do have a few I don’t wear a lot, but I almost always buy clothes when they’re on sale anyway so I won’t feel guilty about it 😀 hehe

    • dojo

      October 22, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      We’re also guilty about bottled water, here. And it’s not that cheap anyway, but it’s OK. I haven’t been drinking tap water in more than 15 years (except for when I was training and had to drink the tap water there) and clearly wouldn’t want to have to deal with it anymore. 😀

  • Didi

    September 25, 2015 at 9:59 am

    I call these tips “investments”, because in the long run, they really do save a lot of money!

    I used to have coffee on the go all the time when I was in college (and a few years after I graduated), but then got myself a coffee machine and, instead of paying a few bucks every day (because, you can’t just buy one cup of coffee, you almost always add a scone or something to your purchase) and save a ton of money this way!

    As far as bottled water goes, you can easily invest in a tap water filter, or even get one that turns tap water into fizzy water, if you prefer fizzy water to plain water. Make this small investment once, save money on the long run!

    • Ramona

      September 26, 2015 at 7:00 pm

      We still spend too much on bottled water. A filter might be indeed a great idea. We don’t drink coffee, but do have a coffee machine. Anytime you wish to grab a cup, you just make it fast and at very small costs compared to the one from the coffee shops

  • Maria "Mery" Teresa

    October 13, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Okay, from an Italian’s point of view, reading your 1st tip is like a slap in the face 😀

    But you do raise an interesting point. Coffee on the go here costs exactly €1 (we have Euros, I don’t know how many dollars this is). Most people drink theirs on their way to work, so there’s €21-22 right there! (not counting weekends and not counting the after-lunch-coffee either!).
    It’s not a lot, but for someone who earns a minimal income, those €20 could mean food for a few days.

  • Trixie

    October 26, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    My significant other is ‘guilty’ of buying lottery tickets on a regular basis. We discussed it at length and, even if I’m totally against it (I think it’s a waste of money), I decided I should let it go. He spends about $15-$20 a month on lottery tickets BUT he doesn’t drink (at all!), doesn’t smoke, we almost never eat out, ecc., ecc.! So, if buying those dang lottery tickets makes him happy, then so be it!

  • tabby

    September 9, 2016 at 11:36 am

    I’m not a “BIG” spender. As in the article pointed out, it’s the little things that add up. While I’m NO coffee fanatic, what puts a dent on my budget is McDonald’s Coke Float. Sure, the cost is barely a dollar, but if I tend to order them once daily – it truly adds up. So, to control that craving I usually just bring bottled water. Thus, when the craving for ice cold drink, I’ll just quench the thirst from the water I brought with me. Yeah, it’s not ice cold, but I’ll live.

  • rz3300

    September 9, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    I have never understood the whole lottery craze and how people can throw their money away, but I guess I have my own vices that people probably look at and say the same thing, so to each their own I suppose. I also have particular emotions tied to the cheap merchandise, and I swear that I am the poster boy for the saying “you get what you pay for” and I belong on a poster somewhere with my empty pockets stretched out.

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