Are You Throwing Your Money Down the Drain?

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We all spend plenty on things that have no practical use or usefulness in our lives. I’ve recently wondered what small items/things people tend to buy a lot of while throwing their hard-earned money down the drain.

Photo by Chris Arthur-Collins on Unsplash

This is the list I came up with, but if you have anything to add to it, please share.

  1. Cheap, mostly plastic, Christmas ornaments. This stuff drives me crazy because it usually breaks the moment you open a box or try to hang it on the Christmas tree. If you only buy ornaments for one year, they have no sentimental value and massively add to global pollution. My parents still have wonderful, old-fashioned baubles from when I was a little child. Over the past few years though, they also got into a habit of buying cheap, mostly Chinese, ornaments, which makes the tree look a bit trashy. Not to get unnecessarily tempted, next time you shop for food before Christmas, just don’t go through the aisle with the £1 decorations. In Eastern Europe countries you can still find hand-made, one of kind, ornaments, and if you visit one of the Christmas markets, you will be able to purchase beautiful decorations that weren’t mass-produced in China.
  2. Cookbooks of every size and form. Where do I start with this one!? For some odd reason people love cookbooks but they hardly ever use them anymore. Cookbooks are pretty expensive, hard to read and if they have few pictures simply dull. I would rather spend my money on eating out, instead of buying a cookbook I’ll never use. The Internet is full of delicious and useful recipes, with how-to-make videos. However, if you prefer cooking from cookbooks, I’m sure you have one or two favourites you use all the time (we still use the one a teenage M. got for his 5th birthday). You don’t need 200, or even 20 of them. Even better, you can create your own cookbook that will have your most-beloved recipes in it.
  3. Baby toys and clothes for new-born babies. New-born babies grow out of their clothes in a flash, but it doesn’t change the fact that those tiny garments are very, very, very pricy. My suggestion is to pass on the clothes from baby to baby. They are often hardly used because the new-borns grow out of everything fast. When it comes to toys for babies — just don’t buy more than five. Babies don’t need to, well, they even shouldn’t be overwhelmed with toys. Once again, toys for babies are expensive and hardly used. And lots of them are made of plastic and are non-recyclable. If you can’t suppress the urge, buy one small set of wooden or knitted toys.
  4. Kitchen stuff that you need to google on how to use. My mum recently got a cake cutter that was supposed to slice the base for a cake quickly and efficiently. First of all, the cutter was very flimsy, secondly, in the time it took her to make it work, she would have cut the cake in half five times over. The kind of kitchen stuff that has no practical use or isn’t used at all creates clutter, gathers dust and takes the prospect of your early retirement away from you. It’s expensive, and even if you buy the “cheap” Ikea stuff it always adds up. Most people don’t end up using all the kitchenware they have anyway. How many spoons, plates etc. a person needs?
  5. Hair accessories. I know those are often cheap, but they also environmentally offensive. Having 2–3 pieces for when you go out is enough. Buying one for every time you go out is just wrong by the environment and very expensive over time.
  6. Pens, pencils, crayons, paints etc., Any art supply that isn’t used is a massive waste of money. Of course, when you have a small child having a choice and variety is a good idea but again, having too much only clatters your art box, making it difficult to make constructive use of all of them.
  7. Stuffed toys — OMG I have a huge problem with those. Apart from being expensive, they gather tons of dust and take up lots of space. People often think that parents want their kids to have stuffed toys and for that unknown reasons keep gifting stuffed toys to the little ones. Most parents I spoke to hate those and never know what to do with it. Kids usually have 2–3 favourite toys that they sleep with, and that is all they need. If you have a child in your family, check with the parents what the child needs. And for the love of God, please don’t buy huge stuffed toys, especially for people who live in small spaces.
  8. Small “decorative” items. This is mostly clatter that takes up space on our shelves and is in constant need of dusting.
  9. Anything from Ikea that you don’t need or already have enough of, including plates, glasses, and all the £1 items.
  10. Party decorations. I always recycle mine, and I think it’s silly to buy gigantic balloons just for one specific party (those are non-recyclable) or buy different paper plates or cups for each party. If you think about it, it always costs more than it really should. If you purchase plastic cups or plates, those are non-recyclable. Instead, making your party decorations is a fun way to spend time with the kids, if this is a children party or make the adult party unique by adding a personal touch to decorations (and no plastic straws, some people still use them).

All those small, individually often inexpensive items always add up. If you add £10 to your weekly shopping list, which is spent on things that have no usefulness in life. Over a year that amounts to £520 a year, over ten years to £5200.

Instead, £520 put towards investments (Index funds as recommended by jlcollins) every year over ten years with a modest 6% return would amount to £7785.

In 30 years, you would end up with £44,097, and that is only from saving £10 a week on silly stuff that has no use in your life but adds to pollution and deterioration of life quality on Earth.

What is your list of items draining your financial recourses while cluttering your living space?

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