Don’t Shop! The Simple Secret to Saving Money

posted by Andrea | 01/29/2011

Updated: October 2019

the secret to saving money

Earlier this week, I shared my simple secret to getting more done, and today, I’m back with my simple secret to saving money!

Right before Thanksgiving Day, I posted a list of 10 things we don’t spend money on. It’s my most popular post to date, and I STILL get loads of questions asking how we are able to save so much money and what my “secret is”.

Want to know my simple secret to saving money?

–> Don’t Shop!

I know it’s probably not the advice you were looking for, and it’s certainly not a revolutionary idea — but it DOES work!

I think you would all agree that you’ll save more money by not shopping than by shopping…even if you do shop the sales and use coupons.

Even if you can get something free after rebate, you’re still using gas to get to the store, and you still have time invested in driving, shopping, filling out the rebate, etc. etc.

Don’t get me wrong though; I’m a HUGE fan of sales, coupons, and rebates if I actually USE the products, but I’m not going to waste my time, money, and energy just to get a free product I don’t even want or need.

How to “Not Shop”

You might be wondering how I get by without shopping — well, the truth is, I DO go shopping, just not very often.

I’ve made a list of some general categories to show you how I’ve been able to save time and money by not shopping for certain items.


I try to go grocery shopping every other week which forces me to plan a little further in advance, but it saves me a bunch of time on the off week, and it saves money on impulse purchases.

If we start to run low on milk, bread, or eggs; I usually ask Dave to stop by after school because I know he’ll get in and out as fast as possible and won’t make any other purchases!


This is one area that I have REALLY cut back on over the last couple of years. It all started in 2009 when I set a goal not to spend any money on clothing for the entire year — and I followed through on my goal!

Since then, I’ve hardly purchased any clothing, simply because I realize I don’t need that much stuff.

We live very close to a huge shopping mall, but I honestly can’t tell you the last time I’ve been inside. I save so much time and money by not shopping for clothes — you should give it a try!


Since I’m big on cleaning and organizing, it’s really easy for me to go crazy buying cleaning supplies, cute bins and baskets, and other decorative touches for our home.

However, before I even allow myself to step foot in a store, I ask a few questions first:

  • Can I make it myself? Recently, I started using vinegar in place of expensive chemical cleaners.
  • Can I use something I already have? Here are my ideas for using what you have.
  • Can I buy it used? I’m obsessed with thrift stores, garage sales, and Craigslist.
  • Do I absolutely need this? Most of the time, the answer is “NO” so I don’t purchase the item.


I don’t think we own one piece of furniture from an actual furniture store. Everything we have comes from garage sales, Craigslist, or the side of the road!

I’ve found a new hobby of fixing up furniture which has saved us a bundle. Now, when we look for something new, I don’t even consider a store…I just go right to Craigslist.

However, I set restrictions for myself with online shopping too — I only purchase items that I need AND that are really cheap. If I feel even a little bit hesitant, I don’t buy it.


I would consider fancy electronics, toys, games, jewelry, kitchen gadgets, collections, antiques, etc. to fall into this category…and I can assure you, we don’t shop for any of these items!

Refer here if you don’t believe me!

Give my Simple Secret to Saving Money a try!

I know there are situations when you really do NEED to purchase something — and that’s fine.

However, if you are seriously looking to cut back on your spending, I’d encourage you to stay away from malls, outlets stores, online stores, and even grocery stores.

If you aren’t shopping, you won’t be tempted to spend!

Will you be shopping this weekend?

the secret to saving money


Filed under: LifeFrugal Living

Leave a comment


  1. Peggy


    Hi, I like your site. I am a bit confused tho. because you say you are so busy with working at home, and the kids, but also that you get so much free with coupons and rebates. In my experience, the couponing and rebating take a ton of time! How do you find the time to do all that? I have been enjoying your site and you have inspired me. I am cleaning, purging, organizing. Thanks for all the info. Do you have any info. on your site about your couponing?


  2. Raquel


    Thank you for this! It totally makes sense…to some people anyway. No one is saving money if they’re spending it!


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  4. Suzanne


    You know, maybe you hit the nail on the head about something I just posted:
    regarding groceries. I was telling my husband just the other day, that even though we only have one other body in our household (our son), I feel like we spend so much more. I do go to the grocery store weekly, and typically Target-to save on things more expensive at the grocery. Then we hit Costco about once a month. Well, we used to do grocery every other week and Costco every other week with a random Target trip. Maybe I need to forget about the great grocery flyer I get every week and try the every other week approach, just check it out. Doesn’t hurt to try, right? Thanks for the idea!


  5. Julie


    So true, So true! This is what I also do. Besides it is crazy for me to go grocery shopping with 4 kids. I can almost never just buy what is on my list and more importantly I can’t concentrate when I need to figure out how much I have spent and what needs a coupon even if it is all written out…and I do have a very detailed list every time I go grocery shopping. I almost always go without kids after supper when my husband is home to watch the kids.
    My goal this year is to not buy any clothes. I plenty in my closet and usually only wear the same few outfits. As for shoes…I am buy a pair or two. When my gym shoes wear out, my legs and back ache, so at that time I will be getting new shoes, but not until.


    Andrea Reply:

    No new clothes for the year is an awesome goal, Julie!


  6. Rain


    That’s true Andrea, about the dehydrator, especially here, it’s humid in the mountains. I belong to this forum of homesteaders, and we had that very discussion. Some of them say that they’ve had food go moldy before it dries because there’s no fan on the machine.


  7. Ashli Welsh


    This is so true! It used to be that I would run errands every chance I got just to get out of the house, but I quickly learned to fill my time with other hobbies instead. Now I try to go to the grocery only once a week (can’t cut back anymore with three kids!) I always plan a shopping trip before I go and stick to the list and coupon envelope that has been preplanned.


  8. Rain


    Hi Andrea!
    That’s very logical advice that many people don’t even think about! My biggest goal for 2011 is to be more frugal and I’ve made some major changes in my spending habits for sure. I actually just found a great deodorant recipe, 1 part baking soda, 6 parts cornstarch. Shake it up and pat it on with a cotton ball. Works for me during a normal day, not during a workout day though! Little tricks save so much money! I’m going to invest in a dehydrator too, that way when I get produce and fish/chicken on sale, I can dehydrate and store what I can’t consume. I’m getting into canning too…it’s a lot of fun!
    Have a nice Sunday!


    Andrea Reply:

    Wow…homemade deodorant! That’s cool — and so simple 🙂

    Currently, I use my mother-in-law’s dehydrator, but I think it’s about time I invest in my own. I would suggest looking on Craigslist or at garage sales this spring…it seems many people buy them but don’t use them. Just make sure the one you buy has a fan…otherwise it takes 3 times as long for the food to dehydrate. {just a fyi!}


  9. Angela DiGiovanni | Living Out Loud


    Going from being pretty well off to being dirt poor after losing everything in the real estate crash, I was forced into these habits and can say that I would do things much differently if I had money again, knowing what I know now!


    Andrea Reply:

    Sorry to hear about your financial struggles…but it’s great that you have figured out how to save more and spend less. Hopefully when things pick back up, you’ll be able to put all the extra into savings. Just think how quickly it will add up!


  10. Kristia@Family Balance Sheet


    This is so true. My nemesis is Target, so I have made an effort to stay out of that store since Jan 1 and I know I have reduced my spending considerably this past month.

    I grocery shop once a week. I plan my menu around what I have on hand and what is on sale and make my grocery list accordingly. If I stick to my list I am able to stick to my grocery budget.


    Andrea Reply:

    Ah, Target is a bad store for me too! Everything is so reasonably price {and so cute}. Fortunately, since we moved, it’s not right down the street anymore!!!


  11. Karen @ Abundance on a Dime


    You are bang on with this one! The easiest way not to spend money is not to go into a store unless you absolutely have to – once you’re there, you’ll probably buy something!

    We buy most items secondhand at yard sales, thrift stores etc however I try to stay vigilant about not buying things just because they’re a great price – I think about whether I truly need it or not. For clothing, we tend to do 2 big trips a year (one in spring and one in early fall) to Value Village on their 50% off days. I take a clothing inventory before we go and will take a list of specific items that each of the four of us needs. I find we end up buying far fewer items overall this way, plus we are getting everything for 50% off so it saves us a ton! Our total spent on clothing for the four of us is about $300/yr (most of that is for my two boys and undergarments/shoes/socks for all of us). We are big “curbside shoppers” as well and have many things that were dragged home from the side of the road that have been put to good use in our home. My dh is very handy so often he’ll use the wood from something that’s beaten up/broken to build something else (we paint most of our furniture finds & rebuilds white so they all “match”).

    I make most of our cleaning supplies out of general household stuff (baking soda, vinegar, washing soda, Borax). My one “weakness” is essential oils which are a little pricey to buy but make everything smell so nice and entice me to clean more often 🙂


    Andrea Reply:

    Karen, I love that you only buy what’s on your list. I do the same thing…but I know so many people who make a list and STILL buy a bunch of extra stuff. What’s the point of a list then!

    Oh, and I’ve been experimenting with vinegar the last few weeks. It’s amazing how much this inexpensive product can clean. Do you add essential oils to vinegar to cover the smell? The smell doesn’t really bother me, but if essential oils would help, I might give them a try!


    Karen @ Abundance on a Dime Reply:

    Essential oils will help cover up vinegary smells, but that’s not my primary reason for adding them – I just love their clean, natural smell! I’ve kind of got a thing going these days where I use a specific oil for a specific room – peppermint in the bathroom, lemon in the kitchen and lavender in the bedroom. The smell is so wonderful compared to any type of commercial cleaning product.. BTW, there are some really great recipes for homemade cleaners at (click on the “household” tab to find them).


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Karen!
    I checked out and am making her window cleaning solution today!!


    Julie Reply:

    Karen, have you found that when you use essential oils in your vinegar/water cleaning solution and use it to clean mirrors that your mirrors streak? That is what was happening to me so I quit using the essential oils in the solution. I would have one spray bottle of vinegar/water per bathroom, kitchen(where ever I would use it) and then use it to clean everything. Now I just use the solution minus the essential oils, because I didn’t want to make several trips up and down stairs(we ave a split level home so we have 4 levels including the basement) just to clean mirrors.


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  13. Dorothy


    Funny, but true. You don’t spend money if you don’t go shopping!!! We’re slowly switching over to grocery shopping every other week–not easy with 3 kids, 1 of whom eat like 3 lumberjacks. I’ve also gotten over trying to get that I find on my various coupon blogs.



    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, this is more difficult when you have a big family, so maybe you’ll still have to get groceries every week…but I’m amazed at how much less we buy now that we don’t shop!