16 Things Frugal People Never Ever Buy

NEWS & TRENDING - MONEY NEWS
Skip these purchases to stretch your dollars further.
Updated May 17, 2024
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Frugal folks know how to stretch a dollar. Sometimes that means hunting for a great deal, but it also means knowing what items are a total waste and should be avoided completely. 

If you’re looking to keep more cash in your wallet, here are a few purchases you can safely skip.

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Paper towels

New Africa/Adobe woman using paper towels

Before paper towels were a thing, your grandma used rags. They still work just as well as paper towels, and you only have to buy them once since you can wash them over and over again. 

Unless you’re cleaning up motor oil or bodily fluids, a rag will work even better than paper towels and cost you less.

Books

motizova/Adobe hardback books on wooden table

Local libraries are still in the business of letting you read books for free. Don’t see a title you want? Ask your librarian if they can order it for you; patron requests are how many librarians choose what to add to their shelves. 

You can also check out the little free libraries in your neighborhood if you’re in the market for a good read.

Bottled water

mipan/Adobe pet packed bottled water

Save your money and the planet by investing in a single, durable water bottle rather than buying disposable water bottles. The world doesn’t need any more plastic, and much of the bottled water is from the same municipal water supply as your tap water.

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Technology upgrades

H_Ko/Adobe holding apple iphone

So what if Apple comes out with a new iPhone? Frugal folks know that the model they have works just fine. 

Even when a laptop or tablet breaks, you can save big by going with last year’s model or a refurbished one. Most of the specs and functionality aren’t noticeably different.

New cars

scharfsinn86/Adobe used cars in a row

New cars lose up to 20% of their value in the first year. If you finance a new vehicle, it means you’ll be underwater on your loan the instant you drive it off the lot. 

Rather than suffer the depreciation, you can capitalize on it by purchasing a reliable car that is a few years old.

Cable

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe TV remote control

It’s wild but true — 40% of Americans still had cable TV as of January 2023. With cheaper streaming and pay-per-view services available, a cable subscription should be first on the chopping block. 

If you’re looking for a sign to cut the cable cord, this is it. (There’s still nothing good on.)

Sodas at restaurants

Rawpixel.com/Adobe colorful soda drinks

The markup on sodas is staggering, especially at restaurants. The same fountain drink that you can buy for $1.60 at the gas station costs $2.89 or more at a sit-down restaurant. 

Sometimes we don’t think twice about paying this price as it’s only a few dollars, but the restaurant soda is over 80% more expensive!

Extended warranties

Uuganbayar/Adobe wooden blocks with words 'extended warranty'.

Warranty companies make money on the most likely scenario — that you purchase a warranty and never use it. 

Even if your item breaks, what are the odds that you’ll remember that you bought a warranty and can find the information to get compensated for the faulty product? Keep a decent emergency fund instead and skip the extended warranty.

Fast fashion

Marcus Friedrich/Adobe colorful clothes on rack

New fashion fads come and go every year, and so does the cash from your wallet when you chase after them. Sticking to classic pieces that stand the test of trends and time will help you look great and save money.

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Pre-packaged snacks

Minerva Studio/Adobe couple shopping in a grocery store

Small bags of crackers, chips, and treats can help with portion control, but it’s the most expensive way to buy these foods. If you love a small snack, buy a large box of your favorite treat and divide it between your own baggies or better yet — reusable containers.

Unused subscriptions

DragonImages/Adobe female customer paying for service subscription with credit card

We’ve all been guilty of forgetting to cancel a free trial or keeping a subscription we only use occasionally, so no judgment. But subscriptions leach money out of your budget that you can use on more meaningful things. 

Do a subscription audit a few times a year and ditch the ones you don’t use.

Lottery tickets

Happy Hues/Adobe scratching lottery tickets

Odds are very good that this will be a complete waste of time and money — much better than the off-chance you could win the jackpot.

Single-use kitchen gadgets

Stepanek Photography/Adobe boiled egg slicer

This is as much of a space saver as it is a money saver. Focus your dollars on appliances that perform multiple functions — for example, an instant pot that can also saute and work as a slow cooker. 

You don’t need to buy or store a dedicated hard-boiled egg slicer when a kitchen knife will do.

Fancy coffee

weedezign/Adobe heart shape latte art

Everyone loves to hate on lattes, but for good reason. Like soda, the markup on coffee is massive. If you love fancy coffee, buy the syrups and creamers that make your morning brew feel special at home.

Brand-name clothing

liliyabatyrova/Adobe white mannequins wearing clothes

Sometimes, a brand name can indicate quality, but not always. Opting for generic or store-brand clothing often offers comparable quality at a fraction of the cost.

Pre-cut fruit and veggies

MdAbdul/Adobe fresh fruit salad to go

If you’re not doing it yourself, someone has to cut the produce, and that person doesn’t do the job for free. The cost of labor is packaged into that fruit or veggie tray, so consider saving money shopping and chopping the apples yourself.

Bottom line

Drobot Dean/Adobe cheerful young woman holding money

Being frugal doesn’t mean minimizing every expense. Rather, it’s about buying quality over quantity and spending your money mindfully to get ahead financially

It’s possible to buy the things you love and stretch your dollars simultaneously, as long as you don’t waste your money on inconsequential items.

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Author Details

Jenni Sisson Jenni Sisson is a freelance writer and editor who focuses on personal finance, real estate, and entrepreneurship. She has been published in Business Insider and The Ways to Wealth. In addition to writing, Jenni hosts the Mama's Money Map podcast to help fellow stay-at-home moms on their journey to financial freedom.

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