15 Things You Should Never Buy When You’re Broke

Even when it feels like you have no money, you still have to spend a little bit of money.

Being broke sometimes extends for weeks, months, or years at a time. Reasonably, you can’t be expected to spend that entire time holed up in your house with the lights off eating nothing but ramen noodles and tap water. However, if you ever hope to get out of debt, there are certain things you need to give up purchasing when your bank account has insufficient funds.

The most important rule to follow? Be realistic about how much money you have. Then follow these simple rules to cut unnecessary spending stop buying the luxuries you don’t really need. The crazy thing is that you may realize you don’t miss them much anyway.

1. Starbucks

Starbucks Frappuccinos are blended drinks
Starbucks Frappuccino | dontree_m/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

This one is a cliché for a reason. And no, you’re not off the hook if you only buy “cheap” coffee to go.

Whether you hit up Starbucks for daily $5 mocha lattes or you’re only being a little indulgent by swinging through the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru every morning for your caffeine fix, the fact remains: it’s much cheaper to make coffee at home and take it with you than it is to order it every morning. If you’re broke, cutting back on this pricey habit could translate to significant savings over the course of a year.

Next: Admit it — You never use this anyway.

2. Gym memberships

Gym | Nd3000/iStock/Getty Images

You know that gym membership you signed up for, swearing you’d go at least three times per week? It’s time to stop pretending and stop paying for something you never use. Even if you do visit the gym occasionally, it’s not worth the cost if you can get a workout in for free.

Go for a walk, purchase a weight set to stash in your bedroom, and look up simple exercises to accomplish at home. Unless you’re a serious athlete training for an event, you probably don’t need professional equipment to stay in shape – especially if you’re broke.

Next: It’s time to start making this at home.

3. Mixed drinks

Cocktails | IvanZivkovic/iStock/Getty Images

You don’t have to become a teetotaler just because you’re going through a rough patch with your finances – but wasting precious funds on drinks at the bar is just silly. Unwind by staging a game night at home, purchasing your liquor on sale, and inviting everyone to bring appetizers to share. It’ll be less crowded than the bar and way less pricey, too.

Next: Go natural and save money.

4. Expensive hair appointments

Hairdresser cutting the hair of a woman
Hair cut | MilanMarkovic/iStock/Getty Images

No need to let your hair grow into an unstylish mop just because you’re broke, but spending several hundred dollars touching up your highlights is unnecessary. Stick to regular trim appointments and consider letting your hair return to its natural shade if you need to save some money. Been going to a ritzy salon? Consider finding a cheaper stylist to work magic on your strands. You can find real talent for cheap if you’re willing to ask around.

Next: Save this for special occasions.

5. Going out to eat

Friends dining together
Dining at a cafe | Rawpixel/iStock/Getty Images

Even choosing a cheaper restaurant won’t help your situation if you’re broke or in debt. Overpaying for meals plus tipping your waiter or waitress will set you back significantly – and it’s usually not even worth it. Instead, find a few quick, cheap recipes to keep in your arsenal and save restaurant meals for special occasions.

Next: You can find these for free.

6. Books

colection of books
Books | ConstantinosZ/iStock/Getty Images

The new hardcover version probably costs upwards of $20 and the paperback or Kindle version isn’t much cheaper. Plus, how often have you ever read a book more than once? Rather than spending money on books, sign up for a library card and borrow them instead. It’s free.

Next: There’s a new way to enjoy this thing.

7. Vacations

happy friends drinking jumping in pool
Vacation | DisobeyArt/Getty Images

It doesn’t matter how good of a deal you find on that discount vacation website – going on a trip is bound to cost more money than you expect. Between transportation costs, dining, lodging, and activities, the expenses add up quickly.

But just because you’re broke it doesn’t mean you have to forgo your paid vacation time at work. Consider planning a “staycation” where you stay at home and finally tackle those projects you’ve been putting off. You can also explore the cheap or free activities right in your hometown.

Next: Don’t ever pay for these.

8. Workout classes

Yoga | Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Like gym memberships, drop in workout classes only seem cheap. But when you’re paying $10 every time you indulge in yoga, those expenses start to become significant. Rather than paying to take classes, check out free community workouts or search YouTube for free online tutorials. Borrowing a workout DVD from a friend or the library is another great way to get in shape without spending a ton.

Next: People wish you’d spend less on this item.

9. Expensive gifts

wedding gift
Gift | Angel_a/iStock/Getty Images

Of course you love your friends and family, but if you’re broke, then dropping hundreds of dollars on birthday or holiday gifts isn’t wise. Instead, try making something meaningful such as a photo collage or even a homemade edible treat. The most treasured gifts come from the heart.

Next: Don’t be tricked into paying too much for this.

10. Full-priced anything

Young woman shopping for furniture in a furniture store
Shopping | ViktorCap/iStock/Getty Images

Newsflash: Just about everything goes on sale eventually. Resist the urge to purchase any items in the store that were just put out and only hunt for sale and clearance finds. Be wary, however – you shouldn’t buy something just because it’s a good bargain. Make sure you need it before you add it to your cart.

Next: Never pay too much for this necessity.

11. New clothing

clothing on rack
Clothing rack | Sigefride/iStock/Getty Images

Thrift stores aren’t what they used to be. Now upscale secondhand stores sell in-season, stylish merchandise that’s just as good as new but for a fraction of what you’d pay in regular store. Some items still have tags on them! Talk to your friends to figure out the best thrift store near you or check out online secondhand stores like thredUP.

Next: Too many people spend too much on this.

12. Gas

Empty gas tank
Gas | joeshmo/iStock/Getty Images

No matter where you live in the country, gas is expensive. Consider walking or riding your bike if you can (bonus: free exercise) when you have someplace to go. If you must drive, consolidate your errands into one trip so you’re not constantly using the car when you don’t need to.

Next: Don’t believe this common purchase is cheap – it’s not.

13. Fast food

McDonald's Reports Second Quarter Earnings and Record Sales Reflecting Revitalization Progress
Drive thru | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It may be fast and convenient, but fast food is anything but cheap. You can spend a lot less cooking at home even if you spend a little more on easy meals from the grocery store. Skip the drive-thru and cook at home – it will always save you money.

Next: You don’t need to spend money on this at all.

14. Juice

Assorted fruit juices and smoothies in retail
Juice | Breaking The Walls/ iStock/Getty Images Plus

No one needs to drink juice. Water is free (forget bottled water) and it doesn’t have any calories. Skip buying juice and soda or if you must, water it down generously to make it last longer. A bottle of concentrated flavor drops can make your water more interesting but doesn’t cost a lot.

Next: Save your money and get this for free.

15. Anything you can borrow

person using a snow blower
Snow blower | Astrid860/iStock/Getty Images

Tools, folding tables for a party, ladders, snow blowers – there’s no reason to buy something you can just as easily borrow. You might be surprised how willing friends and neighbors are to help. Make a quick Facebook post asking to borrow something and don’t be too surprised when the responses start pouring in.