When you area just starting out in your career and adult life, it’s really easy to just spend money on other people’s “must buys”. I know the feeling – I’ve fallen into the same trap myself. But just because other people live their lives a certain way doesn’t mean you have to fall into the trap of doing the same thing.
What’s Going Down
You can save a lot of money by making some simple small changes to your life. No need to skip coffee, these changes won’t hurt your heart at all!
- Spending to Keep Up With the Fashion Machine
- Substitute Disposables for Eco Friendly AND Cheap Reusables
- Stop Spending on Easy DIYs
Now, the average American household is only spending about $6,000 a year on non-essentials according to Market Watch. But you can choose your fun spending more wisely- and you can find affordable alternatives to a lot of necessary spending to boot!
Note: not all of these categories are exclusive to women. There are some ideas that can help others save, too!
Stop Spending to Keep Up With the Fashion Machine
Getting a manicure every week
Sure, manicures are fun. It’s important to look polished at work so people will take you seriously, and you know, sometimes it’s just nice to look good. Nails never let you down, even when your skinny jeans do. But you don’t have to shell out for your manicures. I have gone to a few manicurists around the D.C. area as well as the district itself as an occasional treat, and the prices range from $10 to $90 for a mani-pedi. Can you believe it? Almost a hundred dollars just for someone to tickle your feet in torture and stew yourself in a foot bath before they slap some paint on you.
And what kind of nail polish is getting applied, anyway? I have always heard that nail salons thin down their nail polish so that a bottle goes further. What I didn’t know was how severely they do it! 3 coats of China Glaze which will last on my fingers for two weeks without a single chip when I apply it at home with my undoctored polish was chipped and some of the nails were even completely bare after just one day. That’s ridiculous!
Skip the headache of perfectly applied thinned down useless nail polish and figure out how to apply your own polish properly. You’ll save yourself from brittle nails (nail salons file nails left and right, and soak your nails, even though both of those individually make your nail bed separate and get super weak!) and you’ll save a ton of money. Especially if you only want the 7 colors of the rainbow in high quality polish, you’ll be paying $42 a year instead of $120-$600 for just the manicure.
Save $78-$558 a year doing all manicures at home
Getting new clothes for every trend
So, you know my thoughts on fast fashion already, right? Basically, supporting slavery to get clothes that fall apart in less than 5 years isn’t worth it to me. But even if you aren’t stuck in the Zara, H&M, and Forever 21 habit, really super expensive designer clothes that you know you won’t be caught dead in in a mere year or five are also no good. Do yourself a favor, stock your closet with clothes that fit you nicely, have long lasting aesthetic appeal, and will be really tough to sell on Poshmark for even a fraction of what you paid for it when it’s not cool anymore.
It’s fine to have fun pieces you love and continue to love. I myself have a ragged patch applique jacket that makes me look like a circus tent but feels awesome and fun and I have loved it and will continue to love it. I’m not a minimalist, and I’m not suggesting you should throw out the things you love if they aren’t practical enough.
I’m just suggesting on cutting down your purchases of things that you really only want because everyone else is wearing it at work or in your city and you don’t want to be left out. We all have some pieces that everyone else swears by that we just don’t like (I personally get a lot of flak for not being a fan of jeans and hating denim in general). Don’t spend hundreds of dollars to keep up with the Joneses. Buy clothes you love, and skip clothes you are iffy about, and you will save a lot of moolah.
Save 50% from your clothes and fashion spending a year
Buying makeup you don’t need
Makeup is one of those things that everyone is spending a ton of money on. Except for the few Zero Wasters and Minimalists who skip it entirely for their personal values, most women wear at least some makeup regularly.
American women spend on average $8 a day, according to Skin Store via Huffington Post. It’s good to take care of your skin, and get the makeup that fits your fav look. But girl? Seriously? Are you spending $96 or more a year on makeup of all things?
It’s okay to spend a lot on things you care about. For some women, makeup can be their self care routine, or a beloved hobby. And that’s cool! Have interests! But just make sure you are spending that money on things you like and feel bring value to your life and beauty routine, instead of just spending on the latest and greatest that comes out.
Especially since beauty brands are doing so many releases a year now, don’t try to keep up with all of them! You should not be spending your money the way a beauty guru does. You really shouldn’t have an entire dresser of makeup like beauty gurus do unless you can afford to be spending thousands of dollars like that.
Take some easy steps to make an anti-haul just for yourself on what makeup you will NOT buy anymore, going forward:
- Things you, yourself specifically, don’t need
- Example: if you have great brows, don’t buy brow products. Don’t buy products to correct or emphasize features you love just the way they are!
- luxury makeup
- Drug store brands are doing better and better since they’ve been held accountable by public Youtube reviews in recent years. Don’t buy top of the line makeup that has an equal quality drug store alternative! I’m looking at you, Naked palette addicts!
- Subscription Box Makeup
- Look, I made this mistake too when I bought a beauty box. But make no mistake, it was a mistake. You’ll end up with refills for products you still have more of, products that don’t work for you, and products you just aren’t interested in. Don’t do it if you don’t have money to burn on things that you don’t want or need!
For myself, one type of makeup I don’t buy anymore is mascara. I know it’s a staple for most people, but the ends of my eyelashes are fairly dark, so I don’t really need it. I also don’t buy contour kits, because even though they’re very popular I don’t like the look on myself.
Feel free to stop buying makeup that is on everyone’s must have list even though you don’t actually want it. Don’t waste money on “should haves” when you could be saving that cash for “wants”!
Save $876 if you cut back on 1/3 of your makeup spending
Substitute Disposables for Eco Friendly AND Cheap Reusables
Stop Buying disposable water bottles
Everyone has heard how bad disposable water bottles are for the environment, right? But did you know you could be risking your health with every sip you take as well? The World Health Organization (via the BBC) has launched an investigation into the dangers of plastic polluted water bottles.
You may have been told that bottled water is safer for you, but that’s very unlikely. Most bottled water is just tap water you could have gotten for 2000% cheaper and with 2000% less energy waste in your own home according to Business Insider and the Pacific Institute. And much less quality checks are done to be sure the water that gets bottled is safe.
Do you have $100 a year to waste on bottled water that isn’t even good for you? I didn’t think so.
The solution? Well, if you don’t care about the energy use or the quality that is equal or less than bottled water, you could switch to buying Voss water for an eye watering $6 a bottle to reduce the plastic pollution and the risk of contaminants.
Or you could be cheap AND convenient with my own personal hack of simply refilling several water bottles the night before and picking up a filled one during the day when you are on the go. It’s just as convenient as hauling disposable bottles around, and you can save cash and the environment in one smooth move. Pretty nifty, huh?
Save $100 a year (Per Person) By Cutting Bottled Water
Skip The Expensive Disposable Razors Marketed to Women!
The pink tax is real for grooming supplies in the US (when you understand it’s a result of items women tend to be willing to pay more for raising the actual purchase prices to get the most money out of these self made price victims), but who says you need to limit yourself to buying products marketed to you? I’ve been saving money for a long time buying razors aimed at men- they cost less, they cut more cleanly, and they tend to last longer! (Note: men’s electric razors cost more than women’s disposable razors. Hundreds more. So I’m talking about regular manual razors that work just as well and cost less here.) According to Harper’s Bazaar UK, women in the UK tend to spend around $8,000 on shaving gear in their life time. That’s crazy!
Reusable razors, like safety razors, are even better than buying men’s disposable razors. They last for a long time, and you can sharpen the blades yourself to save cash. Alternatively, you could get the blades recycled when they start to dull and buy new blades for cheap, instead of paying the cost of an entire razor each time.
Save yourself extra cash if you not only switch to a reusable safety razor, but also start letting your hair conditioner do double duty as shaving cream. It’s still moisture you can use in the shower, it saves spaces in the shower to have less products lying around, and it saves you money to use less specialty products!
Save around $7960 in your lifetime
Stop Buying Expensive Disposable Period Gear!
They Cost a Ton
According to Medium you might be spending $1,030 or more over a lifetime of using even budget tampons. And, if you are in the US, you are spending extra each time to cover the luxury goods tax most regions charge on these.
They Suck for the Environment
Disposable period supplies cause a lot of waste. A clean up of just a single beach found more than 400 tampon applicators washed ashore. And that’s less than half of what you’ll use in your entire lifetime!
And They Cost Even More Over a Lifetime
Besides, there are better things you could be doing with your money. Including the amount I wrote above for tampon costs, you’ll be spending a ton of other money on the other aspects of period care: occasional missed days of work for severe cases, pain medications, you’ll be spending $6,701 on all the expenses associated with your period during your life according to The Huffington Post (not including their birth control costs estimate).
Skip The Waste By Using the Most Popular Reusable Period Solutions
- Reusable Pads
- Reusable Period Underpants (Like Thinx)
If we estimate that using a cup or reusable pads breaks down to $10 a year for 38 years of periods, that $1,030 you were projected to spend on even the cheapest of tampons goes down to $380 assuming you choose to use a menstrual cup just for the very basic sanitary product portion of your period costs.
That means your lifetime period costs go down to just $6,080!
Save $621 Over a Lifetime
Stop Spending on Easy DIYs
Diy Home Care and Small Home Repairs Instead of Paying Hundreds for Them
Maintaining Your Home Doesn’t Have to Cost So Much
You might not be able to do all your home repairs yourself. But you can do some of your home maintenance all on your own.
The average family spends $749 a month to maintain their house in the US according to Go Banking Rates’ estimate (which has a lot of expenses bundled in that I would consider the costs of home ownership rather than being technically maintenance costs, so I subtracted those costs of insurance and taxes for you). But you don’t necessarily need to pay that much money!
You can easily save money by shoveling or snowblowing your own sidewalk and driveway, and taking care of your lawn yourself. It might take some upfront costs but you can cut your utility bills down by using less electricity or switching to solar (or a combination of solar and house mounted bird safe wind turbines, so you get power in any kind of weather!)
You may be able to save on the homeowner’s fee estimate if you live in a neighborhood that has the pool pass, gym pass, or trash pickup charged separately, so you can choose if you want to take care of those yourself instead of paying for a monthly service.
My parents decided they wanted to take care of garbage themselves, and that also had the super cool side affect of be able to make sure the recycling was actually put into the recycling areas at the city dump instead of being thrown in with the trash and wasted as I’ve seen the professional garbage collectors do all the time!
Keep in mind that it depends on which of these savings strategies you follow how much you’ll get on your savings for just your maintenance costs.
Save With DIY Home Repairs
The same estimate projected $168 as the average monthly costs of repairing a home. That’s crazy when you consider that for most repair professionals, that is the cost to fix a single small repair!
If your home needs a simple repair like fixing a clogged sink or toilet, fixing an ugly lawn, or any of the other “so easy a newb can do it” repairs on The Family Handyman’s list of 100 stupid simple repairs, you can easily pocket the money and do it yourself. Usually, you can do it without anything more complicated than a screwdriver or hammer, too!
Save $298 if you DIY basic repairs and lawn care
Fix Your Own Buttons
And your hems, for that matter. How much does the average woman spend on tailoring in a year? Frankly, I couldn’t find any study on the subject. None. Maybe I’m a bad researcher, or maybe we need some people to get on this.
But I do know that in college, I made a killing fixing buttons and other small repairs for fellow students who had never sewn a single knot in their life. I made about $100 a month on this side gig. It helped, of course, that I went to a school stuffed with rich kids who were far removed from the ramen diet kind of college student I was. But still, I was charging less than the local rate (granted, D.C.’s and Arlington’s local rate is going to be way higher than a quieter area’s) and making a healthy amount of money on repairs that took like ten minutes for me to do extra carefully.
What about you? Are you provided someone else’s side gig? For very basic alterations you are probably spending $20 a pop in most parts of the country. (This is not based on my local average cost, but the average cost for basic tailoring if you average out the difference between sleeve hemming and pants/skirt hemming.) For fixing a button you may be spending $4 each. So if we average that out and say you need a button and an alteration done every other month, you are spending around $144 a year on a seamstress doing just the basic fairly unskilled repairs you could probably do yourself.
Save $144 a Year on Just Basic Repairs
Buying Convenient Food all the time
Okay, I know every post about saving money attacks takeout. I get it, you need to work. Especially since in the US the average full time employee now works 47 hours a week (unlike the max of 40 hours a week at the end of the 1900’s) you actually really do have less time to cook than full time workers did in times past- especially when you consider those full time workers of yesteryear often had a spouse that stayed at home to do the cooking. But that restaurant addiction could be costing you a pretty penny, considering the average restaurant dinner adds up to a total of $20 per person (not based on statistics, just my own experience when you heap the bare acceptable tip and the required tax on top). If you went out to eat for dinner every work day that would add up to $5,240!
I’m not crazy enough to suggest you should just make time appear out of thin air and spend it on cooking just to save a few bucks. Frankly, I don’t want you to use your limited time budget on a chore you don’t like, instead of spending it on self care or hobbies or spending time with people who care about you. Nope. Instead, I’ll suggest you figure out how to get easy food that is cheaper.
Meal Delivery Kits
Restaurants are just plain convenient. But they aren’t your best option. When you cut out the cost of tipping and transportation, meal delivery services can sometimes be much cheaper.
Spoon University did a full rundown of comparing the price of different meal delivery kits, and found that Home Chef was the cheapest full meal option at about $8 per serving. $10,048 is the final cost if you buy a meal kit every single work day for dinner.
Hiring a Personal Chef
I hesitate to mention this one, because for most people this costs way more money than restaurants or meal services.
Personal chefs get rid of even the hassle of assembling pre-prepped ingredients: they make the entire dish for you. The way a personal chef works is a lot like most house cleaners do, coming to your house once a week to make all your dinners for the week ahead and then going away to visit their next client. A personal chef can cost around $10,000 a year, BUT this still might be saving you money still if you go to more expensive restaurants, live in a very expensive area, if you have a lot of associated health costs from eating unhealthy restaurant or fast food, or if you pay for expensive restaurants or food that serve a specialty diet like vegan or multiple allergen free food.
Bottom Line: Your most affordable option for convenient dinners will depend based on where you live and what you order
Savings Depend on if You Are Already Doing the Most Affordable Option for You
If you save on even just the specific minimums divided into yearly costs from what I calculated above, by my estimate you’ll have saved quite the chunk of change!
Don’t just save that money though-make it grow! Set your checking account to automatically siphon the money you are now saving each month into an investment account. You’ll be on this planet longer than men, on average, so you’ll need more money to keep you going through the rest of your life.
Savings: More Than $3,000 a year!
Saving Money Doesn’t Have to Hurt With These Easy Budget Fixes!
Hey, I’m the last person to tell someone to skip their morning coffee. Some people are hardly people without coffee, and besides that visiting a coffee shop can be a key part of people’s social lives. But if you need to make a little wiggle room in your budget, there are some easy changes you can make to cut costs without causing any pain!