Just Say No: 61+ Useless Things You Should Never Buy

rags getting wet in a sink. a man in a tux tying his bowtie
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Just Say No

Useless purchases come in many forms. There's stuff that's used only a few times before being consigned to the basement or attic; stuff that's pricey to buy but could be rented instead; stuff that's outdated or soon to be obsolete; and stuff you just don't need to begin with. So if you're looking to save money, here are things to avoid buying now — or ever again.

Gina Martinez also contributed to this story.

Editor's note: This story was updated in June 2024

New interior in Airline
Wikimedia Commons

Travel Insurance

Your credit card may not advertise it, but many come with free trip protection so you don't have to make an additional purchase. But make sure your card offers what you want first, such as trip cancellation coverage (when you have to cancel a trip) or trip delay protection (if a flight is delated or your baggage is lost).

Closeup of an electric stainless steel sandwich grill with a sandwich inside, about to be pressed to cook it, on a countertop in a kitchen with a blurred background of a light yellow wall
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Sandwich Press

Small kitchen appliances that perform only one task are money wasters for many consumers. Designated gadgets for making quesadillas, paninis, heroes/subs, grilled cheese, and breakfast sandwiches accomplish nothing that ordinary kitchen appliances cannot. They also create annoying cleanup and take up kitchen space — that is, until they're relegated to storage or a garage sale.

Prep Scrub Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club

Body Scrubs

You can buy a fancy body scrub for $100, but you can still have the high-end experience for far less. Make a scrub for $2 or less with brown sugar, salt, and honey using one of the many recipes you can find (for free) online.

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Closeup of man's hands fixing top front of tuxedo while wearing it, maroon bow tie and white button up shirt, with a blurred grey background
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Formalwear

Dressing up can be fun, but rarely do most people find themselves in need of expensive black-tie formalwear. Renting party clothes saves money and allows for variety. Tuxedo rental has been in vogue for years; Wedding websites such as The Knot run promotions for online and local outlets. Dress renting has come onto the scene more recently. Rent the Runway loans out designer dresses, usually for about four days, for as little as 5% of the retail cost.

Related: 16 of the Most Expensive Clothing Items Ever Auctioned

Focus on blue microfiber cloth in a pile under running water in a kitchen sink, drain to the left
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Rags

While rags are inexpensive, unless you are running a commercial kitchen, there is no need to spend money on them. Instead, cut up old T-shirts, stained cloth napkins, or other textiles headed for the garbage bin to use as rags.

Related: Ways to Spring-Clean With Everyday Household Items

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JurgaR/istockphoto

Ebooks

Sure, a digital download may seem like an easy investment that won't clutter your home, but open your local library website or Libby to get free digital books. Chances are good that your local library has invested in multiple copies so you don't have to.

Closeup of fingers holding a quarter, scratching off a new lottery ticket with another scratch-off lottery ticket to the left
Icatnews/shutterstock

Lottery Tickets

Most people acknowledge that playing the lottery wastes money, but the thought of "why not me?" still lingers. The North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries reports that Americans spend more than $91 billion a year on lotto tickets. The odds of winning: A frequently cited statistic is somewhere around 1 in 175 million. Bay News in St. Petersburg, Florida, points out that people are more likely to give birth to conjoined twins, be attacked by a shark, get crushed under a vending machine, or become president than to win the lottery.

Female driver's hand touching GPS device hanging on windshield in car, dark grey dashboard, woman's arm is covered in a violet fleece, with a blurred background of a building
Pincasso/shutterstock

GPS

Except in the hands of intense wilderness buffs who roam rugged areas lacking cellphone service, a stand-alone GPS device won't get much use. Dedicated GPS navigators can cost $100 or more, whereas many people already own smartphones with GPS tracking. Apps that beef up the phone's GPS capability cost less than $10 and most new cars come with built-in GPS navigation on the dashboard.

Closeup of a pair of pink baby sneakers with light pink ribbon laces on a very light pink mohair carpet
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Baby Shoes

Face it: Babies don't need shoes. Moreover, children probably won't tolerate wearing them, so they'll be kicked off and lost. Infant booties and shoes are cute but senseless expenditures, so don't open your wallet.

Closeup of a large stack of credit cards on a lite-up black keyboard of a laptop, dark shadowing, blurred around the edges
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Identity Theft Insurance

There's no doubt that credit card fraud and identity theft represent scary, increasingly prevalent problems, but paying $100 or so a year for credit monitoring and fraud insurance doesn't necessarily provide useful protection. Most banks and credit card companies monitor and safeguard their clients — for no additional fee — by issuing alerts and account freezes when they detect suspicious activity, and they almost always waive responsibility for fraudulent charges.

Lower section of a woman holding a blue trash bag in a white kitchen, she is wearing a white shirt and jeans, facing towards camera, refrigerator to the left side and counter in the background
Wavebreakmedia/istockphoto

Scented Trash Bags

Scented trash bags can be almost double the cost of non-scented. Rather than paying extra to make trash smell good, use a smaller trash can and bags and take out the trash more often. Or put garbage that's likely to stink in small plastic shopping bags and throw them out immediately.

Related: Cleaning Products That Are a Complete Waste of Money

Side view of a senior man's face smiling while listening to a beige landline phone receiver, sitting on beige couch, with antique wood furniture against the wall and standing lamp in the background
Daisy-Daisy/istockphoto

Landline

Most cellphone plans already carve a big hole in monthly budgets, and a landline's utility is waning, especially as the original "lines" are eliminated and the phones operate the same way as mobile phones. Emergency-related concerns about cellphones (i.e., 911 dispatch might not find mobile callers) have fallen by the wayside due to Enhanced 911 on most mobile devices. Except for folks who live in places with very spotty cell service, landlines need to go.

Focus on six rows of trendy magazines including Time, National Geographic, Allure, and more
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Individual Magazines

Magazines are by registers for a reason — the covers lure impulse buyers. But think about it: As they stack up on the coffee table, the cost mounts quickly. If you read and enjoy magazines, opt for a subscription; it'll likely cost about $20 for 12 issues, rather than $4 or $5 just to page through one issue. (And libraries let you read them for free.)

Lumiere Baby Shopping Cart Cover for Baby and Toddler (Dinosaur)
Amazon

Shopping Cart Cover

Swiping a disinfecting wipe over a shopping cart child seat is as effective as plopping a baby into a fabric cover, according to Consumer Reports. Moreover, the cover itself can hold germs and is probably more difficult (and certainly more of a hassle) to disinfect than the metal cart. Many online reports by caregivers suggest that seat covers are more trouble than they're worth.

Simple chrome colored digital camera with black wristband, front facing with playful look against a white background
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Digital Camera

Anyone with a smartphone probably has no need for a digital camera. The latest smartphones have powerful cameras with plenty of megapixels, large storage capacities, and a bunch of special features for taking photos and recording video, essentially replacing point-and-shoots.

Focus on 4 vials of liquid soaps, a roll of natural towel, with a few other spa items on a counter with a sink in a bathroom with a brick wall and a mirror in the background
npstockphoto/istockphoto

Fancy Bath Products

When in need of a pick-me-up or an impersonal yet suitable gift, how's a shower gel, cream, spray, or balm with an appealing scent? Well, first of all, these items tend to accumulate at a rapid clip, soaking up shelf space, if nothing else. Some seem virtually bottomless and may be invaded by bacteria or expire long before they can be used up. The scents are often overwhelming and off-putting to all but the hardiest of noses.

Related: Things to Toss Right Now

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New Car

The value of a new car depreciates so rapidly that buyers essentially lose money immediately after a purchase no matter what. Look for used cars that have been on the market for a year or more. They're priced much lower (barring some quirks during the coronavirus pandemic and following spike in inflation), and more is known about their safety, low maintenance, and reliability.

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energyy/istockphoto

Headlight Eyelashes and Other Car Decorations

There's an entire corner of the auto accessory industry built around the realization that the front of a car looks like a face. People who never quite get beyond that realization seem to do mainly two things with that information: rewatch every movie in Pixar's "Cars" franchise and put "carlashes" on their vehicle.

Related: Car Products That Are a Complete Waste of Money

Handmade Funny Camping Kitchen Towel - I Sleep Around
Amazon

RV Towels and Similar Gear

We know. RVers love all manner of RV stuff, and RV towels are cute, they're on theme, and they're $9. So why are RV towels worthless? Well, dish towels in general don't tend to be the most absorbent, rendering them little other than décor in RVs. Microfiber towels are $17 at Walmart and may not have cute little trailers or sayings on them, but will clean a lot with little effort.

Related: RV Accessories That Are a Waste of Money

Banana Slicer
Amazon

Specialty Food-Prep Tools

Single-use kitchen devices run the gamut from "sounds helpful" to "really?" Overall, it's wise simply to skip designated garlic peelers, melon wedgers, banana slicers, asparagus peelers, peach pitters, avocado cutters, and onion dicers. Regular old knives and forks should take care of fruit and vegetable prep tasks.

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Multivitamins

Though it can feel virtuous to pop a multivitamin every morning with breakfast, study after study suggests they're a waste of money for most people. According to the National Institutes of Health, Americans spend $5.7 billion on multivitamin/mineral supplements annually and are better off getting their nutrients from food.

Male exercise clothing on four mannequins in a trendy store with clothing racks and piles of clothes on display in the background
anouchka/istockphoto

Exercise Clothing

Burnout and indifferent commitment are classic reasons why clothing designed specifically for yoga, weightlifting, and CrossFit often remains in the drawer after a short while. Or, consider that these duds may be nothing more than an overpriced fashion statement. Work out in old shirts, shorts, and pants — they'll just get sweaty, anyway.

Five plastic bottles of water, different sizes, with shadow of bottles laid on a white background
Anna Kim/istockphoto

Bottled Water

Bottled water is a multibillion-dollar industry, even as water flows right from the tap. Environmental groups assert that bottled water production wastes fossil fuels in egregious amounts and the result is no safer than tap water, which is regulated by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. A far more economical choice is filtering tap water and drinking out of a reusable bottle. Water filtration systems start at around $40.

Related: Tasty Tap Water: 14 Best US Cities for Clean Drinking Water

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AntonioGuillem/istockphoto

In-App Purchases

What's more irritating than downloading a free app only to be prompted to pay for more than basic use? Don't waste money on these in-app up-sells, which most often appear in games. Soon you'll tire of "Candy Crush Saga" or "Clash of Clans," and that lollipop hammer or pile of gems will be useless. There's no need to take developers' bait. The vast majority of apps are free, and there are similar, no-cost alternatives to those with price tags.

Munchkin Warm Glow Wipe Warmer, White
Amazon

Baby Wipe Warmer

Manufacturers love to prey on parents — particularly first-time parents — with items that may seem essential for infants but are completely unnecessary. Wipe warmers, which run $25 to $40 and do exactly what the name suggests, might be the worst offender. A She Knows parenting blogger compiled a tongue-in-cheek list of 12 reasons a baby really, really doesn't need warm wipes.

Young woman using mouse of a laptop in a row of laptops in an electronic store, two rows of laptops on a white table, with a blurred background of a wall of items for sale
Jacob Wackerhausen/istockphoto

Extended Warranties

Most of the time, extended warranties (and some other types of insurance) just aren't worth it. Manufacturer warranties required by state governments or existing insurance policies often cover damage. Products often break after the extension period and, even if not, repairs might cost less than the warranty. Consumer Reports has issued a blanket recommendation against extended warranties.

Six rows of a selection of packaged cut fruits in the refrigerated area at a grocery store, very colorful, black shelves
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Pre-Portioned Produce

Pre-cut fruits and vegetables not only waste packaging and may squander nutrients, but ShopSmart magazine found that the outrageous price markups can top 350%. So-called convenience foods such as these should be the first thing axed from budget-conscious shopping lists. Just buy produce in its natural state and wash and cut at home.

Related: 25 Easy Recipes for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Numerous stuffed animals for sale in a toy store, snakes are hanging from the ceiling and many other animals displayed in unique ways, light blue wall in the background
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Toys

Kids certainly expect toys for birthdays and around the holidays, but it rarely makes sense to buy a slew of new toys at once. The child is likely to get bored within weeks (or maybe days) and pine for the next thing. Instead, look into toy rental sites or consider arranging toy swaps with other families.

Uncanny Brands Hello Kitty Two-Slice Toaster
Amazon

Novelty Toasters

These days toasters can prepare eggs on the side, make hot dogs, and stamp bread with burnt pictures of the family pet, soccer balls, butterflies, Darth Vader, "I love you," peace signs, and so on. Novelty toasters sell for anywhere from $30 to $70, and the joke runs thin and fast, leaving buyers with unevenly crisped bread and next year's yard sale fodder.

Related: How to Make Sure Your Appliances Don’t Fail When You Can’t Get Them Repaired

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Burlingham/shutterstock

Cable TV

With even Disney now in the streaming game, the time has come to cut the cord. The number of people doing so keeps growing year by year — no surprise, given that cable rates often top $100 a month, while services such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix sell unlimited plans for less than $20 a month. But be careful — if you get too many streamers, you could easily exceed the cost of cable.

Related: Which Streaming Service Gives You the Most Bang for Your Buck?

Closeup of a stack of paper plates for sale on a white shelf in a store, with two other stacks beside it, more stacks on a lower shelf
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Paper Plates and Cups

One-time-use dinnerware wastes money and is not eco-friendly. Although the cost of paper plates might seem low, it adds up over time. Dollar stores usually sell basic ceramic plates, bowls, and glasses that can be rewashed and used for years.

Pee-Pee Teepee Elephant Blue - Cello Bag
Amazon

Pee-Pee Teepee

With a name like this, how could you pass? But you should — and save $10 in the process. Another baby product that often prompts new-parent buyer's remorse, the Pee-pee Teepee purports to protect diaper changers against unwanted spray from baby boys. The online review consensus on Amazon, however, is that it doesn't stay put or help reduce accidents. That assessment is seconded by a BuzzFeed survey of more than 100,000 parents in which 87% gave a thumbs-down to the teepee.

2 rows of treadmills with one elliptical each in an empty gym, facing a wall of windows, clean wooden floors and a high ceiling
Serghei Starus/shutterstock

Gym Membership

Unused gym memberships drain the monthly budgets of an enormous portion of Americans. Data is scant, but a study by Good RX revealed that the average monthly cost of a gym membership was between $40 and $70 a month, yet two-thirds of members never show up. Could that be you? There are lots of ways to work out at home instead.

Butter Bell - The Original Butter Bell Crock by L Tremain, Fleur de Lis Collection (Cerise)
Amazon

Butter Bell

The fancy French pottery dish known as a butter bell or butter crock claims to keep butter at perfect spreading consistency without refrigeration, using a base filled with water holding an inverted cup of butter. Is it worth the money and preparation time? Probably not. These devices don't always succeed in separating the butter from the water and tend to breed mold, according to comments posted at The Kitchn. This is another unnecessary expense, albeit small, that's likely to end up in a yard sale.

Happy chocolate curly hair labradoodle lying down on the grass, looking into the camera, with a blurred background of grass and plants
EvgeniiAnd/istockphoto

Designer Pets

Want a specially bred pet with a name such as labradoodle or toyger? Be prepared to shell out thousands. The designer pet business is also fraught with controversy. Overbreeding and irresponsible breeding can lead to pets with health problems, and claims about hypoallergenic qualities may be dubious, at least as far as cats are concerned. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that shelters euthanize 920,000 dogs and cats each year. Pick up a shelter pet that's cheaper to own rather than paying good money for a pedigree.

Related: Most Expensive Pets to Own

Smiling little boy wildly playing a 4-piece drum set having fun with a white wall in the background
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Musical Instruments

Kids — and some adults — are quick to enthuse about learning to play a musical instrument and then all too quickly lose interest. The appeal of playing guitar or violin or any other costly instrument often wilts in the face of lessons and cheerless practice. Rent or rent-to-own (in case a musician does emerge) and spare your wallet.

Closeup of three bottles of orange Glacéau Vitaminwater
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Infused Water

Water "enhanced" with vitamins, minerals, flavoring, and sometimes sugar alcohols costs about $2 to $3.50 a bottle, so shun these altogether when out and about. The health claims about nutrient-enhanced water are largely unsubstantiated. The synthetic vitamins probably don't provide the same benefits as vitamins found in a healthy diet. Plus, many fancy waters contain large amounts of sugar. Fill a reusable water bottle at home and throw in some fresh fruit for pizzazz.

Selective focus of finished bread on a wooden cutting board with the bread maker pan, empty, in the background, blurred background
photographer/istockphoto

Bread Maker

Everybody loves fresh-baked bread, and an upmarket bread maker seems just the ticket. But don't be fooled: A regular oven turns out a delicious loaf of homemade bread. Many prefer to use an oven because machine-made loaves tend to be denser and more coarsely textured, not to mention oddly shaped. Try some beginner recipes from The Kitchn.

Eucalyptus Greenery Wedding Save-the-Date Cards
Amazon

Save-the-Date Cards

Sending cards notifying guests about a forthcoming wedding can cost hundreds of dollars, depending on the event size. Although some etiquette sticklers insist they're mandatory and practical, many people would disagree (as evidenced by comments posted at A Practical Wedding). If guests need to make complicated travel plans, send out an email or post the date on a (private) Facebook group page, and move on. Invitations with RSVP instructions sent out six to eight weeks before the date are sufficient.

Focus on one half of a monte cristo sandwich, with black forest ham, smoked turkey breast, cheddar, and swiss cheese on a wooden cutting board, surrounded by ingredients
LauriPatterson/istockphoto

Deli Meats

Deli meats sell at a premium because of their processing. They also include a lot of sodium and other stabilizers. Buying larger cuts of fresh meat and roasting and slicing them yourself will result in a lower cost for each portion and a healthier, cleaner, and tastier end product.

Hand holding cap pouring liquid softener into the detergent pan of a washing machine, light blue color, chrome washing basket in the background
ahirao_photo/istockphoto

Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets

Strip out fabric softener and dryer sheets from the laundry routine as a way to cut the cost of this household chore. Adding baking soda to the washer before starting the cycle keeps clothes soft, and drying on low heat prevents static cling.

Closeup of three yellow buttons for gas options '87', '89', and '92' at a gas pump with rest of surrounding gas pump area blurred
Joshua Rainey Photography/shutterstock

Premium Gas

Few cars — one in 10 by some estimates — require premium, high-octane gasoline. And there's little benefit in terms of miles per dollar to using a higher quality gas than the car's manufacturer recommends, according to Cars.com. So check the manual and stick to the lowest recommended octane level.

Related: How to Fill Up for Less at the Gas Station

Nostalgia Vintage Table-Top Popcorn Maker, Red
Amazon

Popcorn Popper

Health watchdogs have sounded alarms about the dangers of store-bought microwave popcorn due to the toxins lining the bag and the chemical additives. But that doesn't mean you need an air popper to prepare a movie-night treat, especially when these little appliances cost $20 to $30 and sometimes leave a trail of stray popped kernels all over the kitchen. Make your own on the stovetop with plain kernels and oil or place kernels in a brown paper lunch bag, roll the top shut, and microwave for simple and healthful popped corn.

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Closeup of several of vintage knick-knacks dusty old shelf, light coming through window onto the items, window and darken wall in the background
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Knickknacks

Bric-a-brac, bauble, trinket, thingamabob — whatever you call it, it's a dust collector and, more than likely, a completely unnecessary purchase. Decluttering and minimalist-living enthusiasts often insist that nonfunctional knickknacks — even sentimental ones — should be the first things to go. So stop buying them.

Hand putting used diaper into a white diaper pail with a blue top, at an angle, against a white background
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Diaper Pail

Many parents list special diaper disposal devices among the top most useless baby products. They're not super cheap to start with, often costing upward of $100, and the need to keep buying refill bags adds expense and hassle. Don't bother with this unnecessary contraption. Instead place used diapers in grocery-store plastic bags and throw them in a regular trash can with a lid.

Focus on 3 rows of CDs, top of the CDs, all different kinds
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DVDs and CDs

In this age of streaming and downloading, many people have already given up buying DVDs and CDs. For those who haven't: Consider that a single purchase costs almost as much as, or more than, an unlimited-access subscription to Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu for movies and TV and to Spotify, Napster (yep, its back), or Google Play for music, often $10 a month.

Closeup of a delicate purple wedding gift bag, see-through with a piece of chocolate and a tiny champagne glass trinket, next to one lavender colored rose petal on a light blue background
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Party Favors

Sending guests home from weddings, graduation celebrations, bar and bat mitzvahs, bridal showers, baby showers, etc., with a gift has become the norm, but it's a huge money suck for — let's face it — impractical junk. Many parents long for an end to the enduring goody-bag trend for kids' birthday parties. Unless the favors are edible and the occasion extravagant, skip the cheesy handouts altogether.

Selective focus of a blue disposable razor on ledge of a white sink in bathroom, near to faucet, with a seafoam colored wall in the background
Kristen Prahl/istockphoto

Disposable Razors

A reliance on disposable razors costs way more than necessary every month. Several companies, Dollar Shave Club being perhaps the most prominent, provide a free razor and deliver replacement blades for men and women every month or two for prices that can fall below $5 per cartridge.

Closeup of basket with sticks of potatoes frying in oil to make french fries in a fryer, at a diagonal
ahirao_photo/istockphoto

Deep Fryer

Tempting and trendy, deep fryers are a cleanup hassle, unleash nasty odors, and aren't worth the money or counter space they eat up. Canola or another mild oil in a cast iron skillet should take care of all at-home frying needs.

Smiling woman reading newspaper while also holding a coffee cup in her kitchen, very modern design with items on the counter
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Newspaper

Newspaper subscriptions can cost several hundred dollars a year for daily delivery. Once the norm and now quaint, this service has been rendered obsolete in the digital age. Newspaper websites post content that is free or might be read before hitting a paywall, while TV news outlets' sites are generally all free. Web subscriptions and ereader versions for full access cost significantly less than home delivery. The New York Times, for example, charges $4 a week for Web and phone access (for a while) versus $10 and up for home delivery.

NutriBullet NBY-50100 Baby Complete Food-Making System, 32-Oz Blue
Amazon

Baby Food Maker

Companies such as Béaba, Baby Brezza, and Cuisinart charge more than $100 for devices designed to prepare baby food. Puréeing doesn't require a pricey machine; a food processor, blender, potato masher, and even a fork can mash up solid food into a baby-friendly meal.

Closeup of activated charcoal capsules in a pile, against white, with a blurred background
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Detoxes and Cleanses

Bodies detox on their own, using organs such as the kidneys, liver, and lungs. When health food stores advertise expensive juice cleanses, herbal whole-body detox kits, colon cleansers, and so on, they're trying to sell customers things they really don't need. Detoxification as a concept (outside of substance abuse treatment) is a marketing ploy, and not rooted in medical fact.

Related: The Best Vitamin Subscription Boxes to Power Up Your Wellness Journey

Selective focus of an air freshener plugged into a chrome socket in a kitchen, granite kitchen and beige tile wall in the background
Smikey26/istockphoto

Air Fresheners

The air-freshener industry continues to rake in the cash, and it's no wonder: Scented-oil refills for an outlet freshener can cost $2.50 a pop, and you'll often find them running low after just a couple of weeks. Even worse, nearly 20% of people say air fresheners can trigger headaches, breathing issues or other health issues. Instead, just open a window, or neutralize odors naturally with baking soda and a few drops of essential oils.

Top view of seven books scattered, pages looking like fans, against a white background
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Books

Books so often end up in thrift stores, donation piles, and attics because people eventually realize they'll never reread them and don't want to dust them. Better to borrow books from the library and decide if they're worth a coveted spot in a personal collection. For students, consider textbook rentals. Who wants a 6-pound statistics textbook as a keepsake?

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Cookbooks

Aside from one or two comprehensive volumes that serve as quick references, cookbooks are so last century. Instead, turn to the millions of recipes posted online. They're often accompanied by pictures, ratings, and tips from people who have already tried them. Rely on free websites such as Epicurious or Allrecipes or simply browse the web.

Bride in a luxurious and fancy white wedding dress, standing on a balcony overlooking the ocean on a sunny summer day
Elena Batkova/istockphoto

Exorbitant Wedding Dress

This suggestion might stir up controversy, but spending a fortune on a wedding dress (the ultimate single-use item — even people who wed more than once generally don't recycle the outfit) seems impractical at best. Alterations, undergarments, extra details, and cleaning jack up the price exponentially. To fit everything into a tight budget, check out trunk shows and sample sales, consider buying an inexpensive wedding dress from a mass retailer, and look into secondhand dresses.

Focus on the tip of a cocktail shaker pouring negroni into a whiskey glass over ice with a slice of orange, on a copper table, with a blurred background of dark grey
Mpak ART studio | Ilarion Ananiev/istockphoto

Artisanal Liquor

Here's a dirty little secret: So-called "craft" or "small-batch" distilled whiskeys, bourbons, vodkas, and gins may hail from a giant factory far from the spirits' purported base, according to The Daily Beast. Some small companies buy mass-produced liquor and bottle it, claiming to have distilled it on their own. Be suspicious if the product claims to have been distilled longer than the life of the artisanal company. Forget the fancy booze; there are plenty of high-quality options, including whiskeys for less than $50 a bottle.

Man holding a cordless drill and measuring cabinets on the floor to install, in the kitchen with a small brown dog, light coming into through the window
Kerkez/istockphoto

Power and Specialty Tools

It's useful to have a basic tool set around the house, but power tools called into service only occasionally can be expensive and hog limited storage space. Sometimes it makes more sense to forgo a purchase and borrow or rent the tool when you need it. Many large cities boast tool lending libraries where members can borrow hand and power tools for basic yard or housework at no cost. Big-box stores such as Home Depot and Lowe's rent tools at some locations, and some independent operators may as well. While you're at it, look for free workshops and how-to DVDs and books available at the library.

Betty Crocker Countertop Pizza Maker BC-2958CR
Amazon

Pizza Gadgets

The Web abounds with retailers hawking pizza makers, pizza toaster ovens, pizza peels (for transporting the pie from the oven to the counter), pizza kettle grill attachments, pizza cutting shears, forks with mini pizza slicers, etc. Really, pizza making requires only ingredients, an oven, and regular utensils. Maybe pick up a round pizza slicer at the dollar store, but that's about the only worthwhile pizza-related gadget.

Related: 25 Surprising Facts About Pizza, America's Favorite Comfort Food

Closeup of a small dog hanging head out of a pet stroller, being pushed in the black stroller with a blurred background of person pushing stroller, road, and outside
David Evison/shutterstock

Superfluous Pet Products

Americans spent more than $95 billion on pets last year, the American Pet Products Association estimates. Gimmicky clothes, luxury beds, feeding stations, and strollers may be fun indulgences, but paying for vet care and other necessary expenses adds enough to the household budget. Instead of expensive paraphernalia, spoil your pet with DIY toys.

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog happily being groomed by a female professional groomer, dog is standing on a table with the groomer combing dog's fur, with a blurred background of grey
chee gin tan/istockphoto

Professional Groomer

Professional grooming is a luxury — for pets and owners. Instead, check out the many YouTube videos that provide instruction on everything from proper bathing to trimming nails. For breeds with constant hair growth, such as poodles and bichons, learning to do touch-ups on the face or paws between professional grooming sessions can save big bucks.

Related: Things You Never Need to Buy Your Pet

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wundervisuals/istockphoto

Fancy Underwear

It's important to feel comfortable and confident in your clothes, undergarments included, but spending lavishly for a pair of underwear is unnecessary. Invest instead in health and exercise to feel good in anything, such as cute, basic cotton underwear options for men and women.

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martin-dm/istockphoto

Holiday Decorations

Instead of buying new holiday decorations annually, use what's around the house to make your own. DIY decorations can be a fun family activity and help declutter the house by repurposing materials.

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Juanmonino/istockphoto

Carbonated Beverages

Buying carbonated beverages from soda to seltzer is expensive and encourages companies to keep making plastic bottles, which are unhealthy for the environment. A SodaStream machine makes customized carbonated water without the overhead of a new bottle every time, which saves in the long run.

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Audrius Merfeldas/shutterstock

Wine Gadgets

While aerators and decanters look cool and may be needed by a oenophile, they are unnecessary. Aerate wine by swirling the glass or pouring wine between two glasses a few times. A mason jar works just as well as a decanter and has a modern edge.

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Flower Vases

Fresh (or fake) flowers, not the vase they go in, should be the star of the show. Repurpose an old large jar or wine bottle to display their beauty and create a rustic, chic look for free.

koji Ice Popsicle Molds
Target

Popsicles

Making popsicles is healthier and way more fun than buying at the store, and saves money. A low-cost popsicle mold set ($13 from Target) allows for limitless customized creations.

Related: Cheap Healthy Homemade Snacks

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Olesia Shadrina/istockphoto

Organic Avocados

Some foods are more important to buy organic than others. The Environmental Working Group maintains a "Dirty Dozen" list of foods with the highest concentration of pesticide residue. Avocados are often among the "Clean Fifteen" — low-priority for those concerned with chemicals, unless they plan to cook with the rind.

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VladimirFLoyd/istockphoto

Body Lotion

Paying for body lotion with added chemicals and scents is unnecessary when natural oils such as almond, olive, and coconut work just as well, if not better. Sites such as Wellness Mama have recipes for homemade lotion.

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Tatiana Popova/shutterstock

Plastic Food-Storage Containers

It makes no sense to spend money on containers designed to be thrown away, especially for people sensitive to health fears about chemicals in plastic. Invest in a high-quality set of oven-, dishwasher-, and microwave-safe glass containers with plastic lids from Pyrex ($76 at Macy's).

Related: The Best Food Storage Containers You Can Buy, According to Amazon Reviews

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MagMos/istockphoto

Suede Shoes

Yes, suede shoes can be gorgeous and fun, but they're so impractical. Because delicate suede will get ruined if exposed to the elements, suede shoes either end up in the garbage quickly or sit in a closet, too precious to be worn.

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PRACHOT YUENYONG/istockphoto

Fine Art

The cost of art can be astronomical, and an art collection tends to be a sign of wealth more than taste. For paintings or frames, check out local thrift shops — or frame and display something made by a loved one, which comes with priceless sentimental value.

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Breadmaker/shutterstock

A Big Home

We are told that bigger is better. In reality, it could just be more expensive. On top of the initial purchase price, living in a bigger home means higher costs to keep it temperature controlled and more effort, time, and money to keep it clean and functioning. Stick to space that's actually needed.

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Placebo365/istockphoto

Disposable Straws

Sure, they're cheap, but if an entire family is using and replacing disposable straws  constantly, the expense and environmental impact add up. Nonprofit recycler Eco-Cycle estimates that Americans use and trash 500 million plastic straws every day. The movement against plastic straws in coffee shops and eateries surged in 2018, with many businesses moving to paper versions. But reusable straws, a one-time purchase that lasts, cost about $1 to $2 each.

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Hispanolistic/istockphoto

New Furniture

Most low-priced new furniture is also very low quality, which means it will soon have to be replaced, costing more money. It's best to buy high-quality furniture from thrift stores, which sell sturdy pieces for low prices.

Related: Furniture Brands That Are Made in America

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LeoPatrizi/istockphoto

Takeout and Prepared Food

Convenience is a big plus, but relying on takeout or prepackaged foods is still an avoidable expense. There are so many options for easy and quick homemade meals. Spend one day cooking larger portions so the family has food ready to go for a few days at a time.

Smiling woman walking along the Great Wall in Badaling north of Beijing, she is shown along the bottom of image, with the great expanse of the wall and mountains
Maridav/shutterstock

Foreign Vacations

International travel is inherently expensive due to the cost of plane tickets. There are many beautiful, interesting, and delicious destinations in the United States to explore without going overboard on a vacation you can't afford.

Related: 1 in 4 Avid Cruise Goers: 'I'll Never Go on a Cruise Again'

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andersphoto/shutterstock

Designer Brands

Eschew high-fashion clothing labels that are gratuitously expensive and shop bargain brands for similar looks and styles.

Related: Bargain Knockoffs for Tory Burch Sandals

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Sergei Gnatiuk/istockphoto

Full-Price Groceries

There is an art to grocery shopping and meal planning. Use sales to dictate shopping lists and weekly meal plans, rather than paying full price for food. Consumers who learn the sale cycles of local stores can adapt menus for maximum savings.

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Halfpoint/istockphoto

Expensive Wine

Good wine doesn't have to cost a lot. Build a relationship with a local wine shop, where the staff can learn your likes and dislikes and recommend bottles to suit your taste for $20 or less.

Closeup of woman's left hand getting a manicure, nails being painted a mauve pink, female nail technician's both hands, surrounded by shading
miljko/istockphoto

Manicures and Pedicures

Spa treatments can be justified as an indulgence for a special occasion, but mani-pedis are by no means a necessity. Buy a nail kit and make it a habit to do nails at home, or organize a fun home spa day with friends.

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Brand-Name Prescription Drugs

According to a 2019 study, generic drugs have saved Americans more than $1 trillion dollars in the past decade. And since generics are identical to their brand-name counterparts, you really ought to pick off-brand pills when they're available.

Related: How to Pay Less for Prescription Drugs

This article was originally published on Cheapism

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