7 Things You Shouldn’t Buy When You Are Broke

Are you struggling with finances? Trying to save money for a dream vacation? Here are 7 things you shouldn’t buy when you are broke.

Financial Tips for When You are Broke

Are you struggling financially? I’ve been there!

Are you trying to save money for summer vacation? I know I am!

Saving money can be so difficult and sometimes it feels like we’ll never get ahead. When my husband and I first got married we didn’t have a lot of money. We both came into the marriage with small kids: he had a 6 year old and I had a five year old. Neither one of us had high paying jobs and we learned right away how hard it is to save money. We’ve been on a debt-free journey for a while now, trying to pay off our debts. (We’re almost there!)

When you are broke, changing your mindset is one of the most important things to do when it comes to saving money and starting a budget.

Do you really need that new pair of shoes right now?

Do you really need that new car?

No, you don’t really need those things. The shoes can wait and the car doesn’t have to be a shiny new BMW. Changing your mindset to knowing the difference between a need and a want is key to saving money. Yes, you may want these things, but you don’t really need them.

Summer is coming up soon and I’m sure you want to take a break from all the hard work you’ve been doing. Maybe you don’t know how you’re going to afford to take a vacation this year. Well, keep reading because I’m going to share with you seven things you shouldn’t buy when you are broke.

7 Things You Shouldn’t Buy When You Are Broke

7 Things You Shouldn't Buy When You Are Broke

*Post contains affiliate links. To learn more, click here.

Books and Magazines

I wrote a post all about how you can get books for free or cheap. There are so many different ways to get books nowadays, starting with your local library. They also have magazines you can check out, too.

You can also find magazines for free or cheap online. Some places that offer these magazines are Mercury Magazine, Value Mags, Best Deal Magazines, and Amazon.

Music and Movies

Movies can also be found at the library. Our library has two sections for movies – one downstairs on the adult level and one upstairs on the kid level. Red Box offers free codes when you sign up and sometimes they will randomly send codes to your inbox. Asking friends or family is another great way to score free movies. My daughter has been able to find movies on YouTube for free as well.

Music can be streamed for free online or on the radio!


While water is a definite need, it doesn’t have to be bought in bottles every week. Buy a tall water bottle that you can refill and carry with you everywhere you go. I use this one and I love it! My water stays cold all day. I have put ice in it and left it sitting out overnight and the ice was still there when I got up the next morning!! It also keeps your coffee hot for up to 12 hours.

Eating Out

My family usually only eats out once or twice a week, but I’d like to make it once or twice a month. Fast food prices have become ridiculous lately and I don’t really want to fork over a ton of money for a tiny cheeseburger and forgotten fries. (And these people expect $15 an hour??) One way to eat out for cheap is by using gift cards earned on survey sites like Swagbucks. (I actually used gift cards from this site to pay for my entire Christmas one year!)

I understand being busy and tired and not feeling like cooking every single night. One solution to this is to set aside a day that you have plenty of time and fix some freezer meals. There are tons of ideas on Pinterest for make-ahead meals. Instant Pots and Slow Cookers are also great to have for busy weeknight meals. Taking the time to prep your lunches for the week also saves a lot of time and money because you’re not tempted to go out for lunch.

Professional Hair Color

Boxed hair color is about to become your best friend. The last time I got my hair colored it was almost $100. I told myself I would never pay that price again! It’s been a while since I’ve had my hair colored, but I know that if I want to color it I have the option to do it myself in my own home. For less than $20!

New Phone

There is no shame in buying a used phone. No, you do not need to upgrade your phone every two years. Trust me, you’ll be okay not having a new iPhone every time a new one comes out. An old phone will work just as well and will do everything you need it to.

See also: Declutter and Organize Your Phone

New Car

I really wish I didn’t even have to say this, but if you are struggling financially, how are you going to afford a new car? Why put yourself through even more stress? Buying a new car when you cannot afford monthly car payments plus insurance will be a huge mistake. When you are broke, a new car is not an option!

What is the one thing you could cut back on to save money? What would you add to my list of things you shouldn’t buy when you are broke?

pin it for later
7 Things You Shouldn't Buy When You Are Broke

Thank you for sharing!
  • 5

55 thoughts on “7 Things You Shouldn’t Buy When You Are Broke”

  1. Very good post Michelle! It seems most everyone gets caught in that trap of buying more than we can afford. I know I spent a lot just on eating out. I’m not a cook so I used to eat out 5 times a week which is terribly expensive, actually sometimes it would be every night! Cutting that out was a huge savings. And I always bought used cars so I could pay cash and not have that debt to worry about. But I did a lot of stupid spending that got me in deep debt. The main thing we need to realize sometimes is just what you said, do I need that? Of course we have to be honest with ourselves about what is needful and what is a want. But I finally got rid of the debt and I’m going on my dream vacation this year and still be debt free. Determination and hard work does it. Really like your tips Michelle, keep it up! Have a great day!?

    1. Thank you so much, Steve! I’m so glad you are able to take your dream vacation this year!! That’s wonderful that you are debt-free! Thank you for sharing! Have a wonderful weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. These are all great suggestions! I love visiting my local library, I can save so much money on books! YouTube is a fab idea for films, I’ll make sure I search there first. Thanks for sharing Michelle! <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    1. Thank you! I love the library, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ With all the book I read I would definitely be broke!

  3. Michele, those are great tips to think before we spend. I also take a big beverage carry-cup every time I go out (Starbucks adds up!) & use frequent merchant apps to save $. (Last nite had free meal using credits earned @ Zoรซs, a fav place w/ yummy eats. Plus I get free movie tickets & treats using Regal card & extended discounts @ Rite Aid etc. Iโ€™m also a big groupie of our library & recently learned how to access digital editions of magazines (like The Economist – an expensive subscription-) using my library card & an app downloaded on my iPad. Budget blessings!? ??????

    1. Those are all great ideas! Thank you for sharing those with me. I never knew about the Regal card. I’ll have to check into that, too. Taking your own cup when you go out really helps, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Another (v. important) budget strategy: never go grocery shopping when you havenโ€™t had lunch! (Something I forgot yesterday @ Trader Joeโ€™s after church – somehow lots of extra treats found their way into cart!) ???

        1. Excellent tip!! I’ve done the exact same thing and just can’t figure out why I’m spending so much more at check out! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. I have not been to the salon in 3 months so I could save the money and spend it on my grands here in Germany, and today they successfully spent 1 months salon visit

  5. The Eclectic Contrarian

    My wife gets (I think) a bit embarrassed of how I can make meals from very little. Cheap, yes.. but it eats just the same and I didnโ€™t have to pay any more for it!

    1. There’s nothing wrong with cheap meals and it’s great that you are able to do that! I like to make a meal and use the leftovers for another meal. When I fix chili I’ll save the leftovers and fix baked potatoes with chili and cheese the next night. I usually still have some left so I’ll have it for lunch as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. The Eclectic Contrarian

        I think my frugalness goes back to having to eat MREโ€™s in the army. You have to get creative to make them edible. I apply this to a lot of stuff.

  6. Youโ€™re so right about the car! I wish I had thought about it before purchasing one. I did stop eating out for lunch everyday though and that has saved me lots of money.

    1. Sometimes we don’t think about things until afterwards. I know that happens to me a lot! That’s great that you’re saving money by not eating out every day. Fast food can get really expensive. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing!

  7. You are so right on it. We avoided all these things to get us out of my husband’s made mess and debt. Thanks to God, we are at much better place now. I hear you on this one. Great post as usual.

    1. Right?! I swear I could live in the bookstore! But I’ll just settle for the library until I win the lottery. ?

  8. Excellent post Michelle! A first priority with personal finance should be to get yourself out of debt (especially credit card balances). As you work through a disciplined budget process of aligning income with spending, remember to begin “paying yourself first” as you set money aside in savings. Savings should be as much a part of a budget as any other expenditure.

    1. Thank you for sharing that! It’s very helpful and I agree. We include savings as part of our budget, too. Credit cards can really get people in a lot of trouble if they don’t discipline themselves.

  9. Eating meals at home saves so much money! Iโ€™m trying to get out of the habit of buying my lunch most days as opposed to making it at home. The problem with me is Iโ€™ve hated packed lunches for as long as I can remember! Even as a kid! Donโ€™t know whatโ€™s wrong with me ?

    1. I hated packing lunches, too, until I realized how much was being spent on lunch! Now I force myself to pack any lunches the night before so I don’t have to worry about it the next day. It does save a lot of money, but it can be a pain at times. ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. I am totally with you on those, especially with the magazines and books! It is so easy to go down to the library and with the interlibrary loan and e-book loaning systems many libraries have, there is enough stuff to keep any reader busy for the next decade.

    1. I agree! I rarely ever buy books unless it’s a Bible study. I have asked for books for Christmas, but only if it’s something I know I’m going to keep. I don’t like spending a lot of money on something that will more than likely just collect dust. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I agree. The one thing that helped me save money was eating out less. Even though we also only eat out about twice a week, that can add up to $100 (for 3-4 people) per weekend. That’s a lot of money.

    1. Yes it is! It really helps save money when you can eat at home. Especially since restaurant food prices seem to be increasing. Thank you for sharing! ?

  12. Some fab tips here Michelle. I refuse to pay to have my hair coloured by a stylist. It costs me ยฃ10 to colour my hair at home yet around ยฃ80 at the salon – it’s a huge saving xxx

    1. That’s a great idea! I cannot believe how much they charge for something that doesn’t last that long. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you!

  13. I think other great ways to cut back and save some money are
    team up with a friend and do some bulk shopping
    Stop with the coffee, lattes and such
    Do home ladies pamper night with your girlfriends
    Remember, On Sale, doesnโ€™t mean you must buy

    1. These are all great ideas to add to my list. Thank you! I agree that you don’t have to buy something just because it’s on sale. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Although my favorite barista is totally gifted when it comes to latte art, I have to add getting daily coffee drinks is probably something that can be cut down on or eliminated when trying to save too.

  15. Pingback: 20 Unique Ways to Save Money - Saving Money - Blessings by Me

  16. Pingback: Meal Planning on a Budget - Saving Money - House and Home

  17. Pingback: Save Money with These Vinegar Hacks - Blessings by Me

  18. Pingback: Best Things to Buy in August to Save Money - Blessings by Me

  19. Pingback: 20 Ways to Spend a Money-Free Weekend - Blessings by Me

  20. Pingback: Mill Mountain Zoo and Star - Roanoke, Virginia - Blessings by Me Family Life

  21. Pingback: Get Paid to Shop with Cash Back Apps - Blessings by Me Saving Money

  22. Not sure how I missed this post! I could not agree more with you on every single one of these, Michelle!

    Financial stress is a HUGE burden to carry. When debt is an ever-present thought, it’s terribly upsetting. Relationships suffer, mental health suffers, almost everything suffers. Yet it can teach us to understand need vs want very easily! We really only have to pay attention.

    I actually have a family member who tallied it up and had spent over $10,000 on **eating out** while doing a home renovation. Wow. These were not fancy restaurants either. That expense alone adds up more than we could ever imagine. Plus, we don’t know what’s in the food. Having healthy, easy meals, prepared ahead of time is definitely the way to go!

    As always, you shared genuinely helpful tips that will help everyone who reads. Thank you, my friend! โ™ฅ

    1. Wow! That’s a huge expense for eating out, but I can see how quickly it can add up. We’ve been eating out a lot more lately since we are starting work on the kitchen. My stove is in the dining room and I have no kitchen sink. haha! Eating out is so much more convenient. Keeping freezer meals stocked up is such a great idea if you have extra freezer space. It saves so much money!

      I agree about the burden of financial stress. It can really cause a lot of problems for everyone. And you’re right – all we have to do is pay attention.

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing and for your kind words!! ๐Ÿ™‚

I love to hear from you!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: