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 may be someone else’s ‘worth it’ purchase – 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 became a work-from-home writer thanks to being car-free. I’m thankful that the limitation guided me to where I am now, because I genuinely love my work (on most days).
Shoutout to Grab, Uber (RIP Uber Malaysia) and various ride-sharing and car-hiring platforms for helping me get around, when I need to!
Money saved: at least RM1000 a month.
#2 – Extras
‘Extras’ is just a catch-all phrase I use to categorise ‘things I don’t need more than one’. For example, a water bottle. I have exactly one bottle, that’s it.
Another example is phone case – I only have one. Just don’t see the point in having more.
#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 save in 5 years’ timeframe:
- Years used – 5 years = 60 months
- Usual sanitary pads expenses per month = ~RM10
- Rough estimation of money saved: RM10 x 60 months = RM600
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, I got the one from The Hive Shop and recommend it, the quality is good.
#4 – Starbucks
I go to Starbucks (or other coffeeshops) maybe like once a year, and mostly out of necessity, like when my home wifi failed on me.
If not mistaken, the last time I went to Starbucks for their drink was to try their Pumpkin Spice Latte. It’s ok, too sweet for my taste. Managed to satisfy the basic white girl in me.
#5 – Game consoles
God, I used to LOVE playing my PlayStation and Wii consoles. But I don’t think I can or want to go down that rabbithole again. I don’t want to start collecting game consoles again.
In any case, it’s not even a big deal. Steam is there whenever the mood for gaming strikes. This is enough, I don’t need to buy a RM3k device plus hundreds per game (and they don’t even sell pirated DVD games anymore, unlike last time… not that I condone pirating..)
#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 are sexy af.
#7 – Piercings
I used to have 7 piercings in my left ear. Took all but one out.
In all sincerity, it was a failed attempt at self-expression. I’ve accepted 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.
#10 – Home decor
As much as I like the idea of home decor, in my household they 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?
#11 – Contact Lens
Can’t justify the expense when glasses make much more sense. Plus I like my eye colour too.
#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, add stuff to my online shopping carts and turn it into a fun little activity, before closing the tab.
In fact, 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 – Things I Can’t Afford to Pay in Full
And lastly, OF COURSE I won’t buy anything I can’t pay in full.
A house may be the ONLY exception, but for everything else, I will only consider purchasing IF I have the money to pay for it. If I don’t have the funds, then no putting the expense on credit card, no turning into instalments, no BNPL, nada.
Things I Want to Stop Buying
There are still some things I can’t wait to stop buying. Things like 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!