What is it about being broke that makes us want to spend, spend, spend? The worst enabler for me is YouTube – I worship at the altar of many beauty channels and I. Want. It. All.
Since swapping all my products for ones which are cruelty-free, the problem has abated a bit – brands like Revlon, L’oreal and Maybelline were always bringing out new, innovative products that I couldn’t resist, but a blanket ban has now been thrown over all of them, which makes things easier.
It’s taken a while, but I’ve learned which products I actually need, and which ones I just want. I’m the absolute best at convincing myself that the new Real Techniques brush set will transform me into Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, despite evidence to the contrary from dozens of other brushes. I mean Real Techniques brushes are freaking amazing, but I don’t need any more. Not until I’ve bought a house anyway. I MUST BE STRONG.
Anyway, let’s actually get to the point and discuss what not to buy when you’re broke. Well, what I don’t buy anyway. As always, you do you.
1. Scented Candles
The expensive ones are seriously pricey for something you literally SET FIRE to, and the cheap ones are rarely any good (although suggestions are always welcome) and normally fill the house up with smoke and a vile fake vanilla smell. Buy some tealights from Ikea for the effect and open the window for a bit of freshness – it’s free. If you make videos and neeed candles, buy a pretty candle holder (like this pretty one) that you can use over and over again.
I’m veggie so this is a no-brainer for me, but my boyfriend isn’t, and meat can really amp up your food shop bill. You can use replacements like Quorn or even a can of chickpeas/cannellini beans – any kind of beans. If you have to have meat, I’d definitely go down the less-but-better-quality route.
Unless you’ve been doing the frugal thing for a while and think you can resell them for a profit. Chances are, you’ve already sold all your stuff anyway. Get yourself to the library. Just think of all the space you’d save – pinterest-ify your newly empty shelves with rose-gold succulents and driftwood and your new candle holder.
4. Branded medication
Swap Nurofen for bog-standard Ibuprofen – you’ll save about £3. It’s even cheaper if you buy it from a chemist. Look for decongestants if you have a cold. For pain, try drinking a cup of coffee with your medicine – it’s what they use to make ‘plus’ medication plus. Make sure you’re not mixing things you shouldn’t be. It’s all the same stuff.
5. Snacks in big chain coffee shops
Their food is predominantly pre-packaged crap.What I’m about to tell you is sad, and for that I’m sorry. It’s money saving, but unintentionally. There’s a bakery nearby that does the most amazing sandwiches on big, thick, freshly baked bread buns.
Not so good.
The solution? Start out in Costa, have a delicious Americano for a couple of quid. Then hop across the road to the bakery for a sandwich.
The coffee may be similarly priced in Costa, but by god, it tastes better. The sandwiches in Costa are full of additives, overpriced and measly portioned (I am a pig). We get the best of both worlds, for the price of crossing a road (it is quite a busy road, though). This is our Sunday treat, and we class it as a meal out (the sandwiches are that good) and all in it costs under £15 for two people. Grab a pasty from Greggs (or two for all my fellow pigs) and save even more.
This is more of a message to myself than anyone else, because I always, always regret getting a takeaway. If I feel that I’m going to crumble, I go and get a baguette, some delicious sandwich fillings, and all the crisps. And some ice cream. It’ll be more satisfying, (maybe) healthier and definitely cheaper.
7. Bottled Water
Bobble bottles are the way to go – they have a filter in the top so it filters the water as you drink. I have a litre one, although the one in the link is for 550ml – if you want to carry it around, I find that the litre one is just that bit too heavy. The key is, as ever, organisation – I tend to buy water in order to make some change – usually for parking, so I’m making a conscious effort to carry change with me.
You’ve got this far without them. There’re plenty of free ones. If you feel it’s going to change your life at least read the reviews/think it through for a couple of hours. I’m proud that I’ve never succumbed to in-app purchases for Candy Crush (I learned my lesson from the whole Smurf’s Village debacle, but we don’t talk about that) and I’m UNAPOLOGETICALLY on level 477 *flips hair*.
9. Sweets & chocolate
I develop bad habits quickly. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth really, but if I have one slice of Vienetta (if you’ve never had it try it, it’s ice cream at its lowest quality and most delicious) at the right time, it can be weeks before I go a day without some. That £1.59 soon adds up (also the extra 500 calories). If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, I can highly recommend Alpro Chocolate Milk as an alternative. Yes, yes, I’m sure it’s packed full of more sugar than is strictly necessary, but it’s also got a decent amount of protein in it (3.3g per 100 ml – not bad) and isn’t as carb-y and fatty as ice cream.
10. Stuff I don’t need
I know that’s obvious, but I have a tendency to buy crap and convince myself I need it. If I see a skirt I like, my brain’s all ‘OH MY GOD I NEED THAT SKIRT I NEEDITINEEDIT I NEED IT FOR WORK AND I CAN WEAR IT AT THE WEEKEND AND TO THAT PARTY AND TO MY WEDDING AND I’M ALREADY IN MY OVERDRAFT SO WHAT’S THE HARM???’
I’ve had to train myself to look at the bigger picture. Imagine a week from now. Will you even remember the skirt? Do you have a similar one already? If you don’t buy the skirt, how different will your life be?
You’ll feel exactly the same, but with the added burden of more stuff and less cash.
Bear in mind, nobody’s perfect except for Taylor Swift. Yes, once in a while you’ll buy the skirt, but every now and then you’ll think first, and maybe put the packet of Starburst back on the shelf. Do this enough times and it’ll become a habit in itself, and before long you’ll be able to afford whatever it is you’re after, be it a new camera, to be debt –free, or even a down payment on a house. We all have to start somewhere! If you have any awesome (or crappy, I’m not fussy) ideas on what stuff poor people shouldn’t buy, leave me a swell comment.
P.S I forgot luxury nail polish. Nail polish in general really, but if you wear it a lot, Barry M have amazing ones for under a fiver.