Saving More by Doing Without

posted by Andrea | 03/7/2013

cut up bill

Last month, I blogged about Saving More by Using Less… and there were lots more creative ways to save more by using less in the comment section.

So along those same lines, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on saving more by doing without.

This is a very simple concept — but in our fast-paced, instant-gratification society, it might not always be something we think about. After all, we certainly can’t do without the latest fashions, the most high-tech gadgets, and the best _______ (you fill in the blank!)

However, before I get started, I just want to remind you that how Dave and I choose to save and spend our money is probably quite different than how YOU choose to save and spend your money. After all, saving and spending is a very personal choice.

So while the ideas I’ve listed below might not work for your family, I hope this post gets you thinking about a few things you might be able to do without (or find creative alternatives) and save a bunch of money in the process!

Baby/Kid Stuff

I had to list this one first because it’s seriously insane how expensive some baby things can be — especially since most of the items for sale are 100% not necessary!

There are so many items people said we just HAD to have for our new baby — and over a year later, we are completely fine without any of them (read more money-saving baby tips here).

I’m not going to list off everything we don’t have or everything we did without, but I will say there were people who tried to convince us that we absolutely had to renovate another one of our bathrooms and install a bathtub before Nora was born. Yes, a bathroom renovation will probably happen in the next couple of years, but we’re doing just fine without a bath tub.

In fact, Nora loves her cheap inflatable bathtub!

Along the same lines, I think there are many things older kids (and even teenagers) can easily do without. I personally don’t have experience raising older children, but my parents used a pretty good system for us. If we were begging for something they knew we didn’t need, they would say we could have it if we paid for it.

They knew that if we weren’t willing to spend our own money to buy something, then we obviously didn’t want/need it that badly.


I should mention that I don’t like shopping for clothing, but even though I don’t like to shop, there are still plenty of times I look at my closet and think “I wish I had something new/fun/different to wear today” or “I wish I had ______ to wear”.

It would be so easy for me to zip just a few miles down the road to Target or to our massive mall and buy something new whenever I felt this way, but I honestly can’t even tell you the last time I stepped foot in a clothing store. While I’m no fashionista, I usually manage to pull a coordinating outfit together and can always find a way to make do with what I have.

About 3 years ago, I went the entire year without spending any money on clothing, and it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. Not only did I save loads of money by doing without extra clothes, I also saved a bunch of time shopping and space in my closet!

Kitchen Items

One of my weaknesses when it comes to splurging is items for our home — and more specifically, items for our kitchen. I love shopping for small appliances, cool serving platters, fun accessories, handy gadgets, etc. However, I’m fully aware that I can easily get by without most (if not all) of these items — so while I love to drool, I rarely ever make a purchase.

I also save some of these ideas for Christmas gift suggestions as kitchen/home items are also relatively easy to track down.

Expensive Utilities

Dave and I do both have iPhones which means our cell phone bill is more expensive than it used to be; however, we don’t have a land line, and we have the most basic internet/cable package offered.

Yes, Dave would love to have ESPN and I would love to have HGTV (home and garden channel)… but we can do without in order to save $50-$60 per month on a more expensive package.

We could save more by completely doing without TV, but I don’t think we’re ready to go that far just yet.

Fancy Vacations

There is a time and a place for fancy vacations… and right now is NOT our time! We went on a fun honeymoon to Mexico — it was all-inclusive and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. But since then (almost 7 years now) the only vacations we’ve been on are visiting family and friends.

I’m sure once Nora (and any future children) get older, we’ll want to splurge a little on some memorable family vacations; however, I’m fairly certain we will be able to make those memories on a budget if need be.

Brand Name Cosmetics

Dave and I could care less what brand of lotion, razors, body wash, hairspray, or deodorant we use. We actually make some of our own toiletries and use whatever cosmetics are the cheapest after sales and coupons (often, I get them completely free). We honestly notice no difference between products… except the price!

The ONE product I do splurge a little on is my most favorite Face and Eye cream (read more in this post)


No, I’m not suggesting you do without buying groceries forever — but have you ever tried skipping just one week of grocery shopping every few months? If you’re like me, you stock up on things when they are on sale and have a pantry and freezer full of extra food.

You might have to get creative with your meal planning for that week (and you might still need to buy milk, eggs, fruit, etc), but just think how much money you could save by doing without more groceries for the week and instead, eating what you already have in the pantry and freezer.

Now think of the savings if you did this 3 or 4 weeks out of the year!

So like I mentioned before, this is just a short list of things Dave and I often “do without” in an effort to save more. There are plenty of other items we could do without but choose not to. I suppose it’s just a balancing act of what’s most important to us at this point in our lives.

I’ve made my share of impulse purchases — and honestly, I’ve regretted those purchases almost every time. Now, I try to always wait 24 hours before shelling out any money… which gives me time to think about whether I REALLY need the item or if I can save the money and do without.

Even when I buy items off Craigslist, I almost always wait until the next day to go look at it so I have a chance to think first. If the people aren’t willing to hold the item for me, then I just call before I come to make sure it’s still available. If it’s already sold, then I figure it probably wasn’t meant to be.

It’s amazing how many times I think I NEED something, but by doing a little creative thinking, I realize how easy it is to do without.

What would you add to my list?

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  1. Heidi


    What we don’t buy to save money:

    - no cable, we watch hulu or basic netflix
    - we graciously accept and use hand-me-downs instead of buying new baby stuff
    - no new cars = no car payment and cheaper insurance (LOVE my used Honda CRV, paid cash)
    - no memberships to gyms; we walk the neighborhood loop around lake, weights & bike
    - no eating out unless its a planned occasion
    - as little prepackaged food as possible, healthier and MUCH cheaper
    - lucky enough to be able to breastfeed easily, no formula costs
    - used books
    - all our furniture is gifted or hand-me-downs (super lucky!)
    - I buy our groceries at discount grocery store (except meat, I wait for good sales at high-end stores)
    - I do not pat retail for ANYTHING, I wait for a sale or get different item on sale

    I don’t feel like we do without anything though :)


  2. Briana


    Family on a single income so have learnt to budget well…

    I cook large meals each evening- often split them into three sevings- one for dinner, some for lunch the next day which I add to salad and freeze a batch if leftover.

    I make bulk muslie for brekkie- oats, raisins, hmde granola, seeds etc- cheap to make and really healthy.

    Shop for 2nd hand clothes or in sales.

    Have a very economical car which really helps save on petrol. (And only have one family car too)

    I use coconut oil in place of heeeaps of beauty products like moisterizer, hand cream, pregnancy oil, baby massage, hair conditioner, sun protection. Great for cooking too!

    Home make all food from scratch- easier then you think, healthier and saves you so much.

    Give my family haircuts- saves lots.



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