The number of things I stopped buying to become debt-free may seem like a lot, but the sacrifice was well worth it. My hubby and I paid off $72,000 of consumer debt in two and a half years, all on one income. We made sacrifices and saved wherever we could to find money to throw at the debt. Paying for disposable or ready to use, convenience products are expensive. Most of the items we stopped buying did not change our lifestyle. It actually improved our life. We create less waste, use fewer chemicals, and our food tastes better. Here’s a list of things that I stopped buying to become debt-free.
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Items I Stopped Buying
Kitchen / Food Products
- Disposable Freezer bags: Purchase BPA plastic containers to store food that you would normally store in a storage freezer bag. I used to throw everything in these bags. It was such a waste of money.
- Disposable Sandwich Bags: Buy reusable sandwich bags. Just wash and reuse. You’ll make up the initial investment in no time.
- Keurig Coffee Pods: Buy a Keurig coffee filter and fill it with coffee grounds. It’s cheaper to refill it yourself.
- Sodas, juice, or iced teas: Drink water and flavor it with lemons, lime, or berries. Make lemonade or brew your own iced tea. It’s a healthier option since you can control how much sugar you want to add. Or better yet, don’t add sugar or sweetener.
- Sliced and shredded cheese: Make your own shredded and sliced cheese at home. You’ll be amazed at how you’ll save when you buy a block of cheese and shred and slice it yourself. It’s fast and easy to do, and well worth it.
- Pre-packaged salad mixes or individual salads: Prep it yourself and save more than half the cost of purchasing the ready-made versions. Your salads will taste fresher and you can add your favorite vegetables or fruit.
- Bottled water: Invest in an insulated water bottle and a good water filter. It’s cheaper and better for the environment if you fill your own water bottle at home.
- Coffee creamer: Buy half and half or heavy creamer and flavor it with flavored extracts or coffee syrups.
Laundry and Cleaning Products
- Fabric softener dryer sheets: Use dryer balls instead. Using fewer chemicals prolongs the life of your clothes too.
- Name brand spot removers: The off-brand spot removers are just as effective.
- Various house cleaners: You really only need one good all-purpose cleaner for most surfaces. Don’t buy separate kitchen and bathroom cleaners, or make your own natural cleaners at home. Here’s a great article on making your own natural cleaning products at home.
- Paper towels: Buy flour sack towels in place of disposable paper towels. We still use paper towels for certain messes, but we’ve cut down how often we buy them.
- Dry shampoo: Use baby powder instead. Sprinkle it on your hairbrush and brush through.
- Deep hair conditioner: Use coconut oil as a hair mask. Wet your hair, put a small amount in your hair, and leave on for 30 minutes. Put on a shower cap, and wrap a towel around your head. Rinse out and be amazed at how soft and silky your hair will be.
- Boxed hair dye: Mix your own at home. Go to your local beauty supply store like Sally’s Beauty Supply and buy your own developer and hair color yourself. Don’t feel intimidated. A lot of the products are easy to mix, a one-to-one ratio and the sales associates are always happy to help.
- Expensive face products: Find cheaper alternatives. Be open to trying new products. You might be surprised at what you may find.
- Expensive face primers: Ulta Beauty products are a great alternative to the more expensive brands. Ulta’s Ultra Matte primer is similar to PoreFessional by Benefit Cosmetics.
- Expensive Face Masks: Freeman face masks are absolutely amazing for the price. Don’t buy the individual face sheet masks. Choose the masks packaged in a squeeze tube, and it will last for months.
- Baby wipes: If you use baby wipes to remove your makeup, stop! Use simple face soap and witch hazel as a toner to remove your makeup.
- Fancy Bath & Body Products: Bath & Body or Victoria Secret products are pricier than drugstore products, even if you buy them during their mega sales events. Choose simple, no-frill bath and body soap to save money.
- Shaving Cream: Use cheap hair conditioner instead of shaving cream. It works just as well.
Feminine Hygiene Products
- Disposable tampons and pads: Use a menstrual cup and cloth menstrual pads. You’ll save money and cut down on the chemicals you expose your body to. Here’s a good article explaining menstrual cups and cloth pads.
- Books and magazines: Rent books and magazines from the library, or find free downloads on the Internet.
- Holiday decorations: Even if you need new decorations, resist the temptation. Save your money and throw it at your debt instead. You can buy holiday decorations with cash when you’re out of debt.
- House decor: Live with what you have until you’ve paid down all of your debt. Embrace a minimalist lifestyle or get creative with what you have.
- Gym membership: Find ways to exercise for free. Start walking or running which costs you nothing. Search YouTube for free exercise videos. Some of my favorite cardio dance channels include The Fitness Marshall and Shine Dance Fitness. Dance and sweat at home for free. Plus, you won’t need to buy cute, coordinating gym clothes.
Final Thoughts on Things I Stopped Buying to Save Money and Become Debt-Free
Paying off $72,000 of debt in two and a half years took hard work and sacrifice. Slashing expenses to find extra money to pay down debt is not a new concept. How to do it may seem daunting, but it’s not as hard as you think. Take a look at what you’re spending your money on. Chances are there are items that can be eliminated or replaced with cheaper alternatives. I hope you were inspired to check your shopping list. You’ll be amazed at what you’re willing to cut or replace to save some serious cash so you can pay off debt.
Articles you may find interesting:
- Debt-Free Guide: A Beginner’s Guide
- Best Tips for Becoming Debt-Free
- Benefits of Being Debt Free
- Crazy Ways to Pay Off Debt
- No Spend Weekend Challenge
Share what you have cut or plan to cut out of your budget to save money and pay down debt.