12 Things I Stopped Buying That’s Saving Me Money & The Planet

12 Things I Stopped Buying That's Saving Money & The Planet

My husband gave me a nice compliment today.

Me: “I’m writing an introspection post on the things I don’t squander money on anymore.”

Jared: “But you don’t squander money on most things.”


OK, so it’s not heart melting but he’s an engineer, I’ll take what I can get. Happy b-day to me. Even his romance is based in practical solutions. For my last birthday, he brought me potting soil (which has delivered two healthy spider plants.)

It’s always nice to be able to trim the fat on things if it means padding the wallet. Here are the list of 12 things I stopped buying that’s netting me hundreds in effortless savings. As I hammered out this list, I noticed almost all of them had a sustainable factor too. It’s always nice to be able to save money and vouch for sustainability at the same time. Although, they do seem to work hand in hand more often than not, don’t they? πŸ˜‰

The only caveat for the list is that I can’t feel regret or miss the items in question. These are the things that I crossed off and happily said goodbye and good riddance to.


I admit I was once a big makeup enthusiasts. I didn’t wear or even use much of anything though and I never β€œhit pan” on a product in my entire life. I purchased with the intention of using it someday but I just ended up hoarding them until they expired. There’s approximately $100 worth of Sugarpill cosmetic, untouched, in my makeup drawer for almost 2 years. #frugalfail

You could have gotten my attention if you mentioned Urban Decay and I don’t mean…urban decay…as in failing infrastructures in America cities. Michelle Phan was all the rage when I was in high school. I spent $55 dollars on a Makeup Forever concealer palette in Sephora when I was 16.

Slaps myself

My parents never made more than minimum wage and I was stupid enough to drop more than half a B. Franklin on concealer. I am sweating with shame right now. Dumbest purchase of my life. The concealer quality wasn’t even creamy. It was not sanitary in the palette form. And somehow all the shades missed my skin-tone – which was a feat – considering there were 4 different shades to work with.

My yearly budget for cosmetics is less than $50 dollars now. I don’t have terrible skin and I’m pretty OK with my face after years of disliking it. A good marriage makes everything better.


Skin Care

I spoiled myself with a Peter Thomas Roth haul during Sephora’s F&F sale last year. Despite the rave reviews, I found an exact dupe for their $52 cucumber mask in my garden. It’s called an aloe plant.Β Best part…get this…it grows back. Wow!Β Mother Nature is frugal.Β Trust me, no Peter Thomas Roth product is going to give itself refills.

I’m buying what Mother Nature is selling: olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter and real aloe plant. The testimonial are thousands of years of historical utilization; before the invention of marketing and branding.Β I haven’t purchased any skincare products since because I’ve yet to truly love a product half as much as their marketing team tells me I would.



Well besides the fact that they are complete indulgences (anything the French makes seems to be indulgences of some kind) – I am happy to clarify that I have never purchased an entire bottle of perfume before.

I did have a bit of addiction to Sephora and Ulta. When you shop at these stores online, they gift 3 different perfume samples for all of their orders. I collected close to 40 sample & deluxe sized bottles (not just from Sephora or Ulta alone but gift exchanges and from girlfriends with more cosmetics than me.)

Now that I’m off my small retail binge, I definitely don’t feel the need to go out to buy perfume on their own. Being drenched in overpowering perfume is not something the girl-next-door would do.


Commercial Cleaners

My yearly commercial cleaner consumption isn’t that high but that’s still an extra $20 in our wallet and an adjacent plus for the planet. I use vinegar to clean our home. It’s non-toxic, pet-safe, and inexpensive. When vinegar and baking soda foams up, I get a total kick out of it since, yeah, I am a child. You can also clean decks with the vinegar and baking soda formula. We have 3 decks and no, you don’t need a professional deck cleaner (unless your deck has been completely neglected and turning bright green.)



Not buying any more pens was a happy accident. Does anyone else have a drawer or mug full of pens? I have random pens from banks, schools, whatever business logo that’s stamped on. Does that marketing tactic still work these days? I never grabbed a pen and said “YEAH, I should go get another mortgage from Eastern Enumclaw since they gave me a pen!”


Paper Products

Using disposable paper plates instead of washing regular plates can be tempting. Eating without the clean up is this lazy girl’s definition of luxury! I can’t really go without tissue boxes or paper towels because we run AirBnBs. Otherwise I would cut them out completely as an ultimate frugal challenge. For now, we opt out of any other paper products like cups, plates, snail mail etc.

Paper products are costly.Β I’ve been re-watching an old ABC show called ‘WifeSwap.’ Does anyone remember that show? They basically switch two wives from very different families and make them live with each other for 2 weeks. Pretty hilarious.

In one of the episodes, this woman buys thousands of paper plates to avoid the clean up because “cleaning takes time away from her kids.”Β The swapped husband thinks she’s insane and whips out a calculator. For a family of 6, she is spending $3 a day, $90 a month, and $1,080 a year on paper plates alone. The look on her face was priceless and the man’s waving his calculator screaming “you’re spending $1,000 a year on paper plates!” reminded me of myself around spendy girls. “You just spent $320 dollars on fake nails?!”


Dish Detergent

I still have half a box of expensive dish pods left. Buyer’s remorse hit me the moment I brought them home because they were definitely more expensive than powder detergent. I picked them up because they were on sale – not that I saved any money – and they’re fancy looking. When that box is gone, I’m trying out the Groovey’s mixture for DIY dish detergent! Another expense on it’s death bed, yes!


Adult Coloring Books

Hmmm, I fell for the hype. I had 3 complete sets of adult coloring books from Groupon and plenty of spur of the moment shopping on Amazon. The idea of using it to de-stress sounded really pleasant and I do like to color. But when I do color, I actually get a spike of stress if I mess up or color out of the lines. Those adult coloring books should disclaimer if you’re a perfectionist to maybe skip out on the purchase. I leave the books in my AirBnBs for my AirBnB guests to color. No more physical books for me. Kindle & Audible all the way now.


I haven’t turned on a real TV in almost 9 months. I’m the MTV generation remember? Do you know what that means? It means MTV was so bad that even we had to boycott TV. YouTube will be raising my children some day.


Dog Treats

I stopped buying Grace dog treats. When she was in her puppy-hood we brought a lot of training treats during her clicker training. Training treats come in bite sized pieces and make it easier (and more economical) to reward doggies in training. My frugal gene said, “why not just use dog kibble? They’re already bite sized.” But the expert recommendation was to give a variation of foods so they don’t get bored with the training. Now that Grace is all grown up, she doesn’t get treats anymore.

Dog treats are pretty expensive when you look at the fact that some dogs eat anything. Milo’s Kitchen chicken grillers was $9.99 for 16 oz of chicken grillers on sale in my discount supermarket!

Um, Milo, are you mad?! I can get fresh chicken for $1.99 a pound at Safeway!Β Just throw a filet of unseasoned chicken into the oven along with our dinner and Grace will get the same treat at a fraction of the price. There’s no effort in that at all. Why would you pay 500% markup?

I know it’s a nice thing to bring your dog new treats and seeing their reaction but it doesn’t have to cost so much if you can DIY (which you totally can!)

Note: I mean treats, not chews. I don’t mean dog chews. Dog chews keeps Grace busy while I run around cleaning the AirBnBs. Last time I left her without a dog chew (she’s the type that likes to follow me EVERYWHERE) I tripped over her, down half a flight of stairs. So I think it’s a worthy investment. Good news, she’s fine but I got a monster bruise on my leg :\


Mailing Envelopes & Shipping Boxes

We have an IKEA drawer full of used mailing envelopes. I do a lot of back and forth at the post office for my side business. One day, I asked the clerk, “OK, these mailing envelopes are used. There’s already different trackings and labels all over them. It’s clear that I am reusing them – is this OK?” Her reply? “More than OK, it’s recommended to reuse them.”Β Her only advice was to cover up the old tracking to not confuse the delivery person, good advice. USPS shipping boxes are also free to order online. For a lot of online retailers, it’s sizable in decreasing overhead.Β 


Bottled Water

Refills are frugal. We use our Frigidaire water filter dispenser for yummy refillable water. It’s not “free” like tap water but still cheaper than bottled water. If our family only drank bottled water, we would be spending over $400 dollars a year! That’s in wholesale terms; as in if we brought bottled water from Costco only.

A Frigidaire water filter last 6 months so we’re spending $120 a year on water. Even with downsides like higher water usage and upside of making 5 cents a bottle if you take it to a recycling center, it’s still much smarter to buy a water purifier.

I can’t bring myself to drink tap water. I don’t care how frugal I’m trying to be, tap water (no matter where) taste bad to me…especially after the Flint’s water horror story.



Whatever they’re selling, I’m not sold on any of it. No one on that Hill is going to care about me as much as I care about myself. End of story.


I have some purchases in the works I’m still trying to ween off but that’s the list for now. What is the one thing that you gave up that’s been good for the planet as well as the wallet?

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39 thoughts on “12 Things I Stopped Buying That’s Saving Me Money & The Planet”

  • One of the first things I was honest to Ms Blue Ribbon was how happy I was she didn’t wear makeup. Wasn’t even the money side of it!

    I’m even more grateful financially now!

    We’ve started getting into homemade cleaning products. Started with window cleaner when the first born started licking will. 🀒
    Need to try that dish cleaner. Our first try at toilet bowl cleaner did not work 😣

  • You have to admit, Michelle Phan did some Awesome make up applications. I was impressed (by daughter was obsessed with her but too young to buy expensive make up – score).

    Fortunately, perfume gives me a headache. So that’s a win for me. I use those hippie oils where the scent never lasts as long as i would like. apply repeatedly, as needed.

    I also use homemade cleaning products. Coarse salt and lemons on the cutting boards for a good scrub. Or just vinegar and hot water for a wash. Baking soda and hot water for my cast iron pan.

    Great list.

    @Budget on a Stick ^ buy a 2L of Coca Cola on sale for your toilet bowl. πŸ˜‰

  • LOL! “But when I do color, I actually get a spike of stress if I mess up or color out of the lines” that sounds like a typical perfectionist for sure. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know that adult coloring books existed o_0 to each his/her own I suppose. And I don’t watch TV either. I’d much rather do side hustles. Or work out. Read a book. Or listen to podcasts. I love me some podcasts! I do sometimes find myself zoning out on YouTube though. It’s rare, but it happens.

    • Wait wait, you didn’t know they existed?! They’re everywhere!!! I much rather not color than deal with my deeper perfectionists issues haha. YouTube robs me of some serious time too – the auto-play feature is pretty dangerous.

  • I’m a huge fan of cleaning with vinegar and baking soda! It costs just pennies and it works so well! I’m excited to try the dishwashing detergent! Mr. NA does dishes in our household and he likes the pods so I’m hoping I can convert him to the homemade stuff

  • Baking soda and vinegar is my cleaning jam, too! I keep a bottle of vinegar with some orange peels in it, and it’s like lysol but for pennies on the dollar and I’m not breeding any supergerms.

    Did you know you can make your own HE laundry soap with baking soda, borax, and a grated up laundry bar (99 cents each, in my city)? I’ve got the recipe in the frugal section of my blog. It’s waaaaaay cheaper because I’m no longer paying someone to haul water. I started giving batches of it away to friends because I’m so proud of it.

    My dish soap recipe is baking soda, glycerin and castile soap. I got the recipe from my work and I’ll get around to posting it online… someday…
    Meow recently posted…Should You Cosign for a Family Member?

  • Haha great list, Lily! And yes, you DO have really nice skin. I think I asked you about your skin care routine once πŸ˜‰

    I don’t buy a lot of the things on your list either (i.e. perfume, adult coloring books, pens, TV, dog treats). The last item – Politicians – is very original! πŸ˜‰

  • There is so much pressure on girls to spend money on “beuty” products. It is staggering to hear what some girls spend every month on nails, hair, spa, make up, tanning etc. Luckily the wife is pretty solid in that department.

    I will give the DIY cleaner a try after I use up my chemicals, I mean disinfectant spray.

    Love the pen comment. Maybe it is like a sub concious thing.

    • Yes!!! I wasn’t exaggerating the $300, my friend did go out for UV whatever false nails. The owners said it’s worth it because it’ll lasts a few months, but it still blows my mind. And she did it 3x times. That’s a $1,000 spent on finger nails! And no, she isn’t rich in the slightest.

      You got yourself a fine woman Grant πŸ™‚

  • We also have so many pens, markers, highlighters, and crayons. Every drawer I open I encounter them. They can last for a lifetime. But it’s so annoying that the first one pen I try almost always is out of ink, lol. Also I recently bought 1 stamp from the grocery store because that’s all I needed. Pay as you mail I say πŸ™‚
    SMM recently posted…Simple Stock Analysis – Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM)

  • I used to buy SO much makeup and perfume, all so I could stare at that luscious packaging! I never really used it much either, though I do still use a couple products here and there…I’ve completely eliminated buying things just because they’re pretty. I can spend *plenty* of time staring at great packaging on sephora’s website! πŸ˜†

    I’m still guilty in using detergent pods, but maybe when we run out I’ll go for the DIY recipe.

    And what? It was your birthday?! Happy birthday Lily!
    Jing recently posted…Money Diaries: July Week 1

    • Hehe hi girlie!! I’m exactly the same way. I could collect just perfume bottles if they weren’t so objectively pointless. I fall for cute packaging all the time – the Asian cosmetics are so cute. There’s an Asian lip balm that’s clear/see through and there’s a small 3D rose suspended in the middle…I’m very tempted to buy it off eBay…:P

  • Wait…adult coloring books? Never heard of them before, guess I’m missing out haha!!
    We have about two mugs filled with pens and most of them were free with company’s logo on it. I don’t think that marketing strategy works where you feel obligated to create a relationship with that company, just another pen to add to your collection.
    I’m with you on TV viewing, I barely watch any of it. Watching youtube, listening to podcasts and reading books is my form of entertainment nowadays.

  • Bottle water is so crazy expensive when compared to tap water or even buying a filter – same type of savings as buying a coffee machine!

    Do you wash your clothes with washer/dryer? Mr Money Mustache recommended a dryer rack in one of his blog posts awhile back. I’ve been using one ever since. Why?

    My apartment has a laundry room, so it cost 1.50 per load and air drying makes them last longer!

    Thanks for sharing – I’ve been meaning to look up a facial routine for better skin care (financial confession?).

    • Hi DD! Thanks for stopping by cutie!! We don’t usually use a drying rack because we do our load with AirBnB’s laundry and AirBnB laundry needs to be done quick in time for guests.

      My dad air drys stuff though. He lays it out in the sun on a good day, only downside is there’s underwear hanging in our driveway πŸ˜…πŸ˜…

      • LOL that’s hilarious. I visited Italy a little while back, Venice to be specific. They all had their clothes hanging outside their window – it very different.

        The laundry reasons make sense – does your husband use a face routine? I could use some recommendations on products.

  • Great post, Lily! Very inspirational.

    I’m ashamed to admit this, but I still use bottled water =O. I just like the convenience and the taste of it. However, regarding the makeup and perfumes I have found a few hacks. I only purchase eyeshadow, mascara, eyeliner and blush (sometimes). I also occasionally like to wear lipstick, but hate buying it because of how infrequently I use it. I have an entire bag of lipsticks, though, that I’ve gotten only as free samples! I also have an entire bag of sample size perfumes that I use for traveling, also all free samples!

    • Thanks Courtney πŸ˜€ and thanks for dropping by! I have loads of samples too. They’re excellent for traveling. My two main things are eyebrow powder and face powder (which I have tons of and they don’t expire as quickly as glosses or cream!)

  • Great post, Lily! I’ve been thinking about this myself lately. I’ve almost completely stopped using makeup except for very special occasions, and I’ve never been one to buy a lot of bottled water. I think the next thing I’m going to give up is plastic sandwich bags. We already reuse them several times, but I’m going to make the switch to those beeswax-covered cloths and see if it works for us!

  • Nice post Lily. For me TV is definitely the ultimate useless thing when you have stuff like Netflix available for like 1/10 of the price! In fact where I lived before (France) you had to pay a tax each year depending on the number of TV you had in your house (to the tune of like $200 per TV per year), so this was another which made me ditch it early on in my life!

  • Great post! Bottled water is the latest expense I have cut out of our household budget. Looking back, it seems crazy how much money I have spent on something I can get from my tap … filtered of course :).

    I wish I could cut out TV as well but it is part of our HOA and we’re stuck with it for now. Keep the money saving posts coming!!

  • Great list. I love how you tied it to being environmentally conscious as well!

    My wife and I got rid of cable as well, a few months ago. It’s been great having an extra $60/month. Plus I never realized how much time we actually spent just watching tv! Having all that extra time to read or spend more time outdoors has been awesome.

  • I like to tell myself on particularly onerous bus rides that by not having a car at least I’m saving the planet.

    Can you go into a little more detail about the natural ingredients, frugal skin care? I’m, uh, asking for a friend. (Hint: that friend is me.)

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