1. Fancy mascara brands.
Why spend $25 on a tube of DiorShow mascara that you have to throw out in three months anyway? Perhaps not all mascaras are created equal, but you will be the only person who can discern the very slight plumping effect that your high-end mascara gives you.
2. HDMI and A/V cables purchased IRL from a store.
If you need some cables to go with your new electronic purchases, always plan ahead and buy them online from Amazon or a store like Monoprice.com where the prices are more like $12 per cable rather than $72. The quality is usually the same or better, and if you don’t believe me, head on over to this heated forum discussion on CNET about why Monster cables are all hype.
3. Bread machines.
It’s almost appalling how easy it is to make your own bread, for very cheap and with very little effort.
And if you’re not a fresh-baked bread fiend, here’s a blog post that argues in menacing detail why store-bought bread is actually cheaper than making your own.
4. Expensive skincare that won’t reverse your impending signs of aging.
Beautiful skin is priceless, but so much of it has to do with diet, proper cleansing, drinking water, abstaining from drinking and smoking, and wearing sunscreen religiously.
If you want to add an anti-wrinkle cream to your regimen, choose Oil of Olay or RoC over La Mer. Experts in the beauty industry claim that mass-market brands have a lot more money to spend on research and development.
If you spend $30 a week on a mani/pedi, that’s about $1,500+ per year. Not saying you should appear in public with less than impeccable nails, but keep in mind that the more you do your own, the better you’ll get at it. Plus, there’s really no excuse now that nail polish strips exist at the low price of $5 per set.
And frankly, your feet are gross no matter what anyone does to them.
6. $300 Beats by Dre headphones.
If you value branding over quality, then by all means, buy a pair. But even an amateur audiophile will agree that Beats are not worth the money or the hype. Go with the $10 Sony earbuds instead. Or for truly stunning sound, get a pair of $140 ATM-50s.
7. Designer handbags that cost more than your car down payment.
They’re bound to get knocked off anyway and you’ll just end up carrying a design that looks, at best, pedestrian.
8. Buying into diamonds, which are basically an international conspiracy.
The price of diamonds is kept artificially and grossly inflated, and the idea that they are indestructible is actually a myth. Less-expensive lab-created diamonds are practically indiscernible from real ones, while the moissanite is actually more brilliant and reflective than the diamond. Or you could be nonconformist and go with an opal or Alexandrite engagement ring instead.
9. Shelling out thousands of dollars for a purebred dog or cat (notwithstanding the moral implications).
You can’t help the special affinity that you have for corgis, and undoubtedly, the internet makes those pangs far worse. But if you wait long enough, the dog of your dreams will appear in a shelter or breed rescue group near you and it will cost you $200 instead of $2,000.
10. Logo and brand-emblazoned clothing that will seem passé a year later.
Flickr: opacity / Creative Commons
Sometimes splurging on clothes can save you money in the long run, but printed items (T-shirts, caps, bags) will inevitably seem dated. Although, granted, that Von Dutch hat is poised to make an ironic comeback anytime now.
11. A wedding that lands you in debt.
The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $28K. To put that into perspective, the average household income is $58K. Even a modest DIY wedding budget will end up costing more than your typical party. Try to save money on catering and photography (those are usually the biggest expenses), forgo the flowers, and buy your own alcohol.
Or just elope and have a bomb honeymoon.
12. New and expensive furniture that has no resale value.
One day, when you’re strapped for cash, that epic movie pit sofa is NOT going to come to your rescue.
13. Excessive usage of weed, alcohol, and cigarettes.
You probably don’t need a lecture on how much drinking in bars and smoking cigarettes can add up over time. But if you’re spending $100 a week (that’s a quarter ounce of weed), you’re looking at around $40,000 over the span of 8 years.
14. Expensive olive oil, if you’re using it for cooking.
When heated to 300°F, there is no discernible taste difference between olive oil and vegetable oil. Extra virgin olive oil has a very low smoke point of 200° F, which means you risk releasing cancer-causing carcinogens into your food if you cook with it.
15. Unlimited texting, if you also have a data plan.
With services like iMessage and WhatsApp, you should easily be able to get by without a texting plan.
16. A $100,000-plus law degree that sinks you even deeper into student loan debt.
The sad truth is that the field of law, especially for recent grads, is insanely overcrowded. So unless law is your absolute passion and you’re able to gain top admittance, studying law JUST because you think it’ll guarantee you a high-paying job could be a decision you’re paying off for the entirety of your twenties.
17. Pricey vacations to faraway places.
Live in California? You can go skiing at Big Bear. Live on the East Coast? The idyllic beaches at Acadia National Park in Maine are only a road trip away.
You can and should splurge on traveling when you can afford it, but if the point is just to unwind for a bit, a plane ticket isn’t necessary.
18. Buying a home if you’re not at least 90% positive it’s a good investment.
If god forbid the value of your house drops, you’re basically stuck there. Not to mention all the headache and expense that comes with maintenance. If you’re under the age of 30, you could regret saddling yourself down with debt, especially if your job or career is less than secure.
For more information, here is a disheartening article titled “The 20 Hidden Costs of Home Ownership” you should read before taking the plunge.
19. Overpriced steakhouse dinners.
You can make a restaurant-worthy steak in your oven in 15 minutes that costs $9 tops. Throw in some steamed broccoli, a baked potato, and a bottle of wine, and you’re basically eating the same meal for a quarter of the amount you’d pay at the steakhouse.
20. Your cable package.
Unless you need it for your job or you spend 40% of your life watching sports, you’ll be fine with a Mohu Leaf antenna and a high-speed internet connection.
21. Prescription glasses or contacts from a real store.
When you walk into a Lenscrafters or a Pearle Vision, you are paying a horribly inflated price for your “name brand” glasses, all of which are owned and produced by the same company anyway (Luxottica). So always buy your glasses online – even if you have to pay for your exam, you’ll probably still end up saving money.
22. Newfangled “must have” baby accessories.
Before you buy that $30 wipe warmer, remember to do your research, don’t go overboard, and consider how long you’ll be using the item for. Babyhood is ephemeral.
Babble has a helpful list of superfluous baby supplies.
23. Buying things the second they come out.
If you are older than the age of 12, you don’t need to be the first person on the block to own a coveted item. Things like gadgets, games, game consoles, and cars go way down in price if you just wait a few months.
24. A materialistic partner who is most likely in love with your money and not with you.
Supporting someone while they’re in school or trying to get off the ground career-wise is one thing. But a partner who’s a little too motivated and reigned in by material goods will only lead to a toxic relationship. In five years, long after you’ve broken up, you will look back and shake your damn head. You probably could have paid off the car by now.