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10 Things We’re Not Buying In Our 30s

There is little else in the world of adulting more annoying than moving. Sure, paying bills, taxes, calling the utility company…but something about moving is STRESSFUL. You have to put everything you own into boxes, hopefully organize it enough that it is easy to make sense of as you unpack, pack it well enough that it doesn’t break, and then hope for space for it in your new home. 

On average, millennials aged 25-34 moved about every 20 months or so. That means, at a minimum, you’d move 5 times in 10 years.

Sure, maybe you’ll move from one apartment to another as your jobs change, but what if you’re moving BIG moves? Across state lines, across the country? A friend of mine has moved five times in the last nine years, but three times she moved across the country and back, and twice she made moves to different cities, hours away. Those are huge moves, and she made them for jobs or grad school. And each time, she’d call me wailing, “WHY DO I HAVE SO MUCH STUFF?” 

While my husband and I made one big move across the country in our early 20s, we have moved a few times since, luckily within the same building. But still, it’s a lot.

My family and I  just moved into a much-needed, bigger apartment to accommodate our growing family, but we moved DURING A PANDEMIC. I wouldn’t say it was a nightmare, but it was not fun. Tears were shed. And not just by my one-year-old son. 

A few months before the move, I began trying to sort through our apartment to make sure we only moved what we really wanted or needed. I donated what was probably hundreds of items and made >$5,000 through re-selling apps.

Through the move and sorting through everything, I came up with a list of things I will not be buying ever again in my 30s. 

10 Things I’m Not Buying in my 30s

1. Graphic Tees

I am truly a sucker for a cute graphic tee. And if it has plants on it? Consider it already purchased.

But what I realized on my last clothing declutter is that I had accumulated a ton of graphic tees but was only wearing a handful of them continuously. If I already have a selection of graphic tees that I love, why do I feel the need to constantly buy more?

That’s why, as tempting as it is, I’m going to avoid buying new graphic tees unless I know I will absolutely wear it all the time or need to replace something. And if I can’t guarantee that to myself, I’ll know it’s better to stick the neutrals so I can have more of a capsule-style wardrobe. 

2. Cheaply Made Furniture 

The great thing about inexpensive furniture is just that: you can buy it on a budget,  usually so that you can accommodate odd sized apartments and nooks and crannies.

The not-so-great thing? It’s cheap, so if you move it either won’t come apart in a way that it can be put back together, or it will get banged up mid-move and look cheaper than before and shows its composite.

Now, you can get nicely made furniture at budget places like Ikea. You can also get poorly made furniture at higher-end places. Quality and construction are everything. My husband and I bought our bedroom furniture from West Elm a few years back and yes it was pricey but it is a classic style and so well-made that we will have it for years.

Unlike other pieces that we have that were still pretty pricey — like over $500 — and have doors that don’t match up and drawers that aren’t aligned properly. Never doing that again.

3. Disposable Period Products

If you haven’t heard by now, disposable period products ARE NOT KIND to your body, the environment, or your wallet.

Studies have shown that disposable period products contain carcinogenic chemicals and toxins that can cause harm to a woman’s reproductive health and greatly impact long term health. But even if you switch to organic and chemical-free, there’s still the environmental impact, not to mention the financial impact.

Most girls start their periods around age 12, and continue to have monthly menstrual cycles until they reach their early 50s. That’s about 30+ years of periods, and if we do the math that’s 360 periods and if the average period is 5-7 days long (we’ll call it 6 for the math) that’s 2,160 days of bleeding. Most women use 2-3 pads or 2-3 tampons minimum per day, so then that’s about 6,500 minimum feminine care products to landfill in a lifetime. They don’t break down, they never return to earth. They’ll sit (until they’re incinerated to make more landfill room), releasing even more toxins into the air. did the rest of the research and math for me and reported that on average, a woman will spend at least $6,360 on feminine care products in her lifetime.

A period cup, however, will last up to 10 years with proper care, and run $20-40. I don’t know about you, but I want that money back. Another option that I personally love is Thinx period underwear. I feel good about using them for my body, the environment, and my wallet. It’s a win-win-win all around.

4. Trendy Jewelry

Do you remember statement necklaces? They were really big in to 2010s and while style is a personal reflection, I can say that I have many jewelry items that I haven’t worn in 10+ years.

As far as trends go, necklaces that were big and chunky have been forgotten in lieu of the delicate gold chains and simple, subtle pieces. Styles are changing so quickly and we’re constantly buying things to keep up with trends in favor of things that feel most authentic to our own personal style.

And if your style is trendy, that’s okay! But I’ve realized that my style is not. And personally I don’t want to keep buying things for my fantasy self that I will never, ever get my money’s worth from.

I realized I wear the same few pieces over and over again, and really don’t need to hold onto the stuff I don’t wear.

And I will stop investing in pieces that are very “now” because I want items I can wear forever, not jewelry I’ll wear a few times with a few specific outfits, get tired of, and donate or re-sell.

If you love jewelry and are excited about being able to switch up your style often, there are great subscriptions, like Rocksbox, available where you can rent pieces and return when you’re done.

5. Full-Priced Beauty Products

As a beauty-lover, I have to be careful not to accumulate too much too quickly. Between subscription boxes, Sephora and Ulta sales, and random shopping trips, I acquire a ton of makeup and skin care products. And the truth is just that I’ll never be able to use them up in my lifetime. I have one face!

So, now, I cycle things in and out pretty quickly. I give away products I won’t use to my friends or resell them on apps like Mercari rather than letting them sit on my shelf and collect dust.

Also did you know that most beauty companies and retailers run sales multiple times per year? That means you can pretty much get everything you want or need at a discount. And those sales add up! With sales ranging from 10 to 50 percent off, you’re able to save quite a bit. If you can wait to buy an item on sale, do it.

10 things I'm not buying in my 30s title image

6. Souvenirs

My husband and I love to travel, and we look forward to sharing this passion with our son. We’ve already taken him to Hawaii and to the East coast to see his grandparents, and he did great!

One thing I’ve realized, however, is that the important part of traveling is making the memory, not buying something to help remember it.

Instead of trinket souvenirs, t-shirts, or even postcards, I prefer to take photos and I make curated photo albums of all our trips with Shutterfly.

Now that my son is getting older and more interested in books, he loves flipping through the pages and marvels at photos of me and my husband on vacation or the photos of the three of us. These are the memories I want, not random pieces of travel memorabilia cluttering up my house.

custom travel photo books from Shutterfly

7. Notebooks

As a writer and a list-maker, I really love notebooks. But, it’s easy to over-accumulate them, and I got tired of having half-filled books of paper that I had dedicated to one project and then started a new notebook once I began a new project.

Instead, I’ve moved to digital and try my best to keep things organized with my Google Drive files and just use my paper planner (old habits die hard, and it helps me remember!) and post-its.

As much as I love beautiful notebooks for every occasion, I just can’t justify the money I spend on them to sit empty on my shelf!

8. Storage Bins

I like for everything in my home to have a place to live, and storage bins are a really helpful way to keep things organized. BUT, I refuse to buy any type of storage bin before I go through the things I want to store.

It’s so easy to use a bin as a storage solution and just throw things in it to move them out of the way, but that makes it harder to get rid of things we don’t need.

Instead of looking at a messy closet and thinking to myself, “I just need bins,” I take everything out of the closet, assess if I need to keep it, how often I’ll use it, or if it can be given a new home somewhere else, and only then will I buy storage solutions if I still need them.

Storage bins are not a solution to my problems, and probably not to yours either.

9. Niche Kitchen Appliances

It is really easy to accumulate gadgets for the kitchen because there are so many of them out there!

There are some kitchen appliance that I use on a regular basis. My waffle maker, panini maker, and crockpot see weekly, daily, and monthly use, respectively. They might seem odd to others but in our home they are essential.

Avocado keepers and cutters, garlic choppers, whoopie pie pans, donut pans, cake pans, a spiralizer, are not though. And really, how much do we even use them? I prefer all-in-one kitchen accessories that can be used and reused for many different types of recipes, rather than one specific tool for a recipe I’ll make once and then never think about again.

As much as I love lemon water, I really don’t need a special lemon squeezer to get the juice out but avoid the seeds. I just hold the lemon open-side-up in my palm, squeeze, and let the seeds come out in my hand. With apartment living, you only get so much kitchen storage, and I want every inch to count.

10. Ingredients For That One Recipe

I like to cook but rarely want to dedicate the time to it. I work at home and take care of my son at home and it’s just not something I want to prioiritize on a daily basis.

We do enjoy good, health food, though, and prefer to use meal delivery kits that give us the specific amount of an ingredient rather than buying too much of something and having it sit and go to waste.

Between produce, spices, and cereal, it’s easy for things to go stale, or to be forgotten. When I do want to cook or bake and don’t have a meal-kit-solution, I try to find a substitution for an ingredient, or recipes for the ingredients I do have, before I go out and buy that one item.

I hate wasting food and would rather have exactly what I need then let things sit and clutter up my cabinets only to spoil.

These are just a few of the items that people are decluttering from their houses after Marie Kondo entered our lives a few years ago.

Seriously though, as I’ve gone through my twenties and now entered my thirties, my perspective has shifted. I want a home that is ME and that reflects my personality, my family, and is a peaceful place to be.

I work from home, and now my husband works from home, so we are both at home all the time! How else could we function and stay sane other than have our home and our lives reflect our intentions, and I’m doing my future self a favor for the next move by refusing to buy these things.

Not to mention, my budget is breathing better and I can focus on bigger financial goals, like saving for a house, saving for my baby’s future, and saving for our retirement. 

If you’re feeling inspired or still overwhelmed, here’s a few more questions to help you figure out what not to buy:

  • Do I already have something that would fill this item’s purpose? 
  • Would I want to move this more than once?
  • Is this a filler item that might count as “stuff” when I’m packing in the future? 
  • Is this a duplicate of anything I own?

Asking yourself these questions can help you gain clarity on what truly matters to you. And what matters to you is what you should invest your time, money, and space in.

Did I miss anything? Do you have the same guidelines for yourself when you shop? Let me know how your shopping habits have changed in the comments down below!

About the Author

Nicole Booz is the founder of GenTwenty and GenThirty. She is an entrepreneur, author of The Kidult Handbook, and most importantly, Mama to two beautiful little boys. She loves reading, organizing her home, and living a simple, less toxic lifestyle. You've seen her in The New York Times, TIME, Insider, Inside Edition, New York Post, NextAdvisor, Forbes, Yahoo, HuffPost, and U.S. News & World Report.



Wednesday 17th of June 2020

Maybe be the time my husband turns 30 he'll agree with us on #10! Ha! I've been substituting for years. I appreciate that you recognize these aren't all one size fits all and point out how to adapt to your individual lifestyle. I am a statement earring kind of girl because I keep my wardrobe very basic and most clothing items I've owned for years. Earrings are the one trendy item I allow myself to buy seasonally. I have started investing in more "real" gold and diamond pieces that are classic styles.

Nicole Booz

Monday 29th of June 2020

Haha! We moved a few months back and I was shocked at how many ingredients had gone to waste - it's such a shame. And exactly! All of our lifestyles are so different and what we value also differs - I just hope I can inspire us all t look deeper int our spending habits and values.