This post was inspired by one of my favourite personal finance websites, The Financial Diet. Check out their version of the article here.
‘Don’t buy shit you don’t need’ – how many times have we all heard this six-word money advice? It sounds so simple, right?
The thing is, the definition of ‘shit you don’t need’ will differ greatly from person to person. What I think I don’t need and can cut from my budget is someone else’s necessity item, either required for their life/work or something they decided is worth the expense and thus budgeted in (instead of budgeted out).
Here are 15 things I have personally stopped buying and realised I didn’t miss.
#1 – A Car
Sometimes, the fact that I don’t own a car really surprises people around me. It’s considered a rights-to-passage-to-adulthood expense, something people buy as they start working.
I used to have a car. Not mine, my family’s. Am privileged enough to be loaned a car by my Dad, who is something of a car enthusiast. He enjoys buying still-in-good-quality secondhand cars. And I benefited from it. All throughout college and uni, I had no problems going around.
But after I lived in KL for a few years, I realised I didn’t need it, I can take the public transport to work. In 2014, I returned the car and never looked back.
Not having a car had its downsides, definitely. But I think it also led me to this career path. I think I became a work-from-home writer partially due to this reason. I’m thankful that the limitation guided me to where I am now. I love my work.
Shoutout to Grab, Uber (RIP Uber Malaysia) and now MyCar for helping me get around, when I need to!
Money saved: at least RM500 a month.
#2 – Water
That water bottle in my going-out bag have probably saved me hundreds of ringgit. The money-saving benefits are obvious here, especially when I eat at restaurants with pricey drinks, but I also like the time-saving benefits that comes with this habit. I don’t have to look around for water when I’m thirsty while I’m out and about. Time is money.
But also, it encourages me to drink more plain water. I think it benefited my skin a lot. It rarely acts up, so I don’t need to buy special skincare or makeup. My beauty routine is pretty minimal.
#3 – Sanitary Pads/Tampons
One of the best purchases I made is a menstrual cup. It saved me so much money, no joke!
Rough calculation on how much I saved so far:
- Years used – ~5 years = 60 months
- Usual sanitary pads expenses per month = ~RM5-10 (median: RM7.50)
- Rough estimation of money saved: RM7.50 x 60 months = RM450
My menstrual cup costs around RM80, so you can see how much it paid for itself several times over. If you don’t like the idea of menstrual cups, there’s also the washable sanitary pads option. If you’re interested to try, look at the selection available at The Hive Shop.
#4 – TV Set
Everything I want to watch is online anyway. I bought a set last time, back in my rented apartment in KL, when I still had housemates. We didn’t use it much.
I do miss the bonding time when we did use it though.
#5 – Weight Loss Products and Services
Detox Slimming Tea. Slimming sessions. Fat-reducing pills. Weight loss shakes.
I tried them, and STILL the only thing that worked was good ‘ol watching the diet plus exercise.
Exercise especially benefited me A LOT. For in-depth write-up on that, see my [Personal] I Never Imagined Exercise Would Help My Career and Income, Until It Did article.
#6 – Hair Colouring Products & Services
I’ve done red, jet-black, blue-black and light brown. And my favourite hair colour is still my natural hair colour.
My sisters say my white hair makes my hair appear lighter in colour. I’m okay with that! Plus I think women with silver hair is sexy af.
#7 – Piercings
I used to have 7 piercings in my left ear. Took all but one out. It was a failed attempt at self-expression. I’m just not edgy enough to live with the inconvenience.
#8 – Red meat
Okay, technically I still sometimes buy them, but very, very rarely. Beef is expensive. And I know they take a lot of energy to produce and generate a lot of waste to the environment.
When the cravings do kick in, I simply plan social dates around it. Others can cook it much better than I can anyway.
#9 – Jewellery
I get enough jewellery hand-me-downs and gifts that I never need to purchase more of them. I still check out Lovisa at the malls though because God they’re pretty.
Btw, if you’re losing weight, don’t buy rings yet. Your fingers might slim down too. I can’t wear my rings anymore 🙁
#10 – Paper Towels
Reusable kitchen rags for the win! I bought 3-pack microfibre cloths from Tesco a few years back, and they serve really, really well as kitchen rags.
My system is:
- 1 x clean one for hand-drying
- 1 x for wiping counters and spills (after the clean one is slightly dirtier)
- 1 x on standby, freshly laundered
- Rotate all three
If there are bigger spills, I simply go to my bag of old clothes and cut out some rags to use. They get thrown away.
#11 – Contact Lens
Can’t justify the expense when glasses make much more sense. Plus I like my eye colour too.
Related: Hack: How to Get Below-RM100 Glasses
#12 – Tote bags
Companies at events can’t seem to stop giving them away for free, so why should I buy them? I have like 10 now.
In the same context, I’m still using the reusable bags HappyFresh used to give out last time. I can’t recall the last time I bought a reusable bag.
#13 – Panadol
When I do need to get medicine for simple colds, I get the generic paracetamol, not Panadol, the branded version. Does the same thing but big price difference.
#14 – Clothes and Makeup I Don’t Think I’ll Wear Often Enough
Clothes-shopping and makeup-shopping take me forever. Whenever I see something I like, I will always ask myself if I will wear it enough to justify the expense.
It’s still fun to browse in shops and add stuff to my online shopping carts. Every time I didn’t make the purchase, I do a little joy-dance inside. I feel happy overcoming all their marketing efforts, you know? In a you-don’t-have-that-much-power-over-me sort of way.
#15 – Home decor
Home decor, in my household, have the tendency to become clutter instead. I have no idea how people maintain living spaces full of knick-knacks. Is there magic involved? How do you find the time and energy to dust everything?
Things I Want to Stop Buying
There are still some things I can’t wait to stop buying. Paperback books, for example – I’m eyeing the Kindle Paperwhite (do you know where I can get them for a good price in Malaysia? My budget is around RM500). I also want to stop buying tobacco and fast food, for obvious reasons.
Then there’s all the plastic in my life that I want to significantly reduce. The zero-waste community gave me some great ideas. Maybe I’ll stop buying plastic toothbrushes (and use bamboo ones) and stuff with unnecessary packaging. I like the idea of switching to soap bars and shampoo bars too.
What Have You Stopped Buying?
What have you realised you didn’t need and stopped buying? What do you plan to stop buying? Share in the comments!