10 Things You Should Never Buy If You're Broke

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Bad Buys

The labor market may be tight, but nearly two-thirds of Americans are still living paycheck to paycheck, scraping together just enough money to catch up with inflation. If that’s you — and remember that most of us are struggling to some extent — then one surefire way to balance your budget is to cut spending. And we’ve got just the list for you: 10 things you should never buy if you’re struggling to make ends meet.

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Young man ordering food online with smartphone at home
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Woman using smartphone buy cryptocurrency at a coffee shop, blockchain investment, decentralize and Stock market concept.

High-Risk Investments

Look, we don’t care how convincing your blockchain-obsessed friend is. Buying an ugly NFT or a bunch of crypto is a terrible idea if you’re poor. And that goes for pretty much any high-risk investment. If you have extra cash stashed away, pay off debt, start an emergency fund, or invest in retirement instead.

Related: Things You Wanted to Know About Cryptocurrencies but Were Afraid to Ask

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Lottery Tickets

Like stocks, crypto, and other high-risk investments, gambling is a great way to lose a lot of money quickly. For instance, the odds that you’ll win the Powerball grand prize are 1 in 292.2 million. Put simply: Don’t throw away your money.

Related: Why You Should Never Play the Lottery

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Unnecessary Subscriptions

Folks on extra tight budgets should look into “churning” their subscriptions to save on their monthly bills. The idea is that you switch streaming services based on what shows you want to watch. Say, for example, you want to watch HBO’s “Succession.” First, wait until the entire season is out, then sign up for HBO. Once you’ve finished watching the series, cancel HBO and move on to another streaming service. 

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Convenience Foods

Pre-cut, pre-packaged, pre-washed, etc. — all of these convenience foods come with a premium. And if you’re pinching pennies, you’ll want to save some cash and do the prep yourself.

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Advance America consumer location. Advance America is a payday loan company III

Payday Loans

These short-term loans come with interest rates that are so astronomical — we’re talking as high as 600% — that they verge on daylight robbery. If you need money fast, try to get a personal loan or payroll advance instead. 

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Forget Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Just take a trip to your local public library, which offers free books (duh) alongside other resources, such as audio and video streaming, career services, and workshops.

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Bottled Water

Although there are a few glaring exceptions, most tap water is safe to drink in the U.S. So save money, time, and the environment by kicking your bottled water habit. And if you must buy water, don't fall for marketing scams.