When my hubby and I decided to pay off our combined $117,000 of student loan debt in just three years, I knew I would need to make some major changes in order to achieve this aggressive (and slightly insane) goal.

I’ve never been a huge spender, but I used to splurge on certain things that aren’t really needed.  When I started my three year spending ban, I stopped buying 25 things.

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If you’re interested in reducing your spending, this list may give you some ideas of items you can cut out of your budget while you build up savings, pay off debt, or adopt a more minimalist lifestyle. Keep in mind that budget cuts are only temporary! You can spend money on things you value once you’re in a better place financially.

  1. Expensive Perfume and Lotion – I used to be slightly obsessed with expensive bath/body products, and I thought it was awesome when I could get 6 products for $50.  Now, I buy my lotion and perfume at The Dollar Store.  It doesn’t smell as good, but you can’t beat the $1 price tag (6 items for $6 definitely beats 6 for $50).
  2. $60 Shampoo – Yes, it’s ridiculous that I used to buy $60 salon shampoo. Now, I buy a similarly sized bottle at the drugstore for $5.  My hair doesn’t look as good as it used to, but getting out of debt is more important than having nice hair.
  3. Hair Dye – I used to get my hair professionally colored every 3 months for over $100 each time.  I’ve now gone back to my natural hair color and don’t even buy boxed dye.  I hate my natural hair color, but it’s not a priority right now.  I can dye my hair again when I’m debt-free.
  4. Haircuts – Instead of getting my hair trimmed every couple of months, I now get my hair cut once per year.
  5. Waxing – I no longer get my eyebrows waxed, and I can’t believe I used to waste so much money on this!  Tweezing is free!
  6. Tanning – Another thing I should have never wasted money on.
  7. Manicures – I never made manicures a habit (because they’re expensive), but I used to “treat” myself to them on special occasions.  I no longer get manicures at all.  Doing my nails at home is much more affordable.
  8. Primer – I used to buy a $40 primer from Sephora which is totally unnecessary.
  9. Clothes For the most part, I never buy new clothes.  I do make exceptions if there’s something that I feel is a priority (like if all of my shoes are completely falling apart, I’ll buy a new pair of shoes).
  10. Home Decor – Not needed and seems pointless right now (since the hubby and I are living with my parents).  We don’t know what our future home will look like, and I’d rather wait until we know what it looks like before we start buying decor.
  11. Dryer Sheets – I honestly don’t know why I ever spent money on this.
  12. Notebooks No need to buy new ones when the ones I have aren’t 100% filled yet.
  13. Books – Libraries are great.
  14. Magazines – I only make exceptions to my “no magazines” rule when the hubby and I go to visit his family because the drive is long and super boring. 
  15. DVDs – I have Netflix and it’s only $12/month for a huge selection of TV shows and movies. I can’t even remember the last time I watched a DVD. I plan to sell all of mine to a used bookstore.
  16. CDs – I watch YouTube music videos or listen to old CD’s in my car.
  17. Board Games – I only have a few games, but whenever we have game nights with friends, everyone brings a couple of games and that gives us plenty of options.
  18. Picture Frames – I’ll buy these when we buy a house and have a better idea of how much space we’ll have.
  19. Starbucks – On rare occasions (like my birthday), I’ll treat myself, but it’s not a regular occurrence anymore.
  20. Eating Out – See above ^
  21. Going to Movies – Movies are so expensive these days!  $12 for a ticket, $6 for popcorn, $4 for an Icee…it adds up.  I can watch a movie on Netflix at a friend’s house for free.
  22. 5k Marathons – It’s hard to justify spending $50 to go for a long walk…which I could easily do for free.  Many of these marathons are for charity, but I can support these causes (cheerfully) when I’m out of debt.
  23. Alcohol – I quit drinking a while ago, which is better for my health and my wallet.
  24. Dog Toys – Herbie already has more toys than he could possibly play with!  He only has a few favorites and ignores the rest anyway.
  25. Social Outings – It’s important to have some fun once in a while, but there are plenty of fun things to do that are free!

Have you cut any items out of your budget while you pay off debt?


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