Eight Things My Family Doesn’t Buy & Four Ways in Which We Spend Out

by Katy on April 7, 2015 · 38 comments

This piece is inspired by a Money Saving Mom blog post that details what seemingly normal things her family doesn’t spend money on. Her list included shaving cream, soda, paper towels, movies, dryer sheets/fabric softener, coffee filters/K-cups and cable TV.

I started to think about my family and how we spend differently from the much maligned Joneses. We are obsessively careful about daily expenditures, but we also spend a lot of money on certain wants that another family might consider scandalous.

Eight Things My Family Doesn’t Buy

  1. Disposable household products such as paper towels, paper napkins, menstrual supplies and disposable dishware. We use cloth napkins, rags and crocheted squares to minimize disposables in the kitchen. I have a $30 menstrual cup that’s been in use for over six years, and is likely to last until I hit menopause. We have enough dishes that we’ve never had to resort to paper plates or cups, even when hosting large gatherings. When my sons were little and set up lemonade stands, we still just used our kitchen mugs.
  2. Adult Gifts. I couldn’t exactly say when it happened, but my husband and I stopped exchanging birthday and holiday gifts awhile back. We’ve been together for almost 28 years, and neither of us feel the need to go through the motions and shop for gifts we can neither afford nor have much interest in. This was harder for my husband than it was for me, but I really don’t need another set of socks or a teapot. We also had conversations with our adult family members and agreed to stop exchanging Christmas gifts. We all have established households and it had become a meaningless and expensive routine that no longer felt pleasurable.
  3. Snack Food. We cook almost entirely from scratch, and we always prepare enough food to provide leftovers, which are highly prized. Even though we have two teenage boys, there’s always enough to eat. And if someone is hungry and doesn’t like what’s in the fridge, they can always grab a piece of fruit, scramble some eggs, make a grilled cheese sandwich or toast up some bread. This means no pizza rolls, crackers, chips or any other food marketed as “snack food.”
  4. Individually packaged drinks. My family almost exclusively quenches our thirst with tap water, although in the summer I’ll make sun tea that appeals to no one except me. My husband drinks coffee, which he grinds and then filters through a reusable gold filter that I bought at Goodwill, and the kids and I drink Red Rose tea. No one drinks milk unless there’s cake or brownies involved. So there’s no soda, juice boxes, adult juices or similar. My husband will occasionally buy local beer, but he’s mostly too tired from work to drink anything alcoholic.
  5. Fashion. My husband and I care 0.0% about what our clothes say about us. As long as our clothes are clean and well fitting, we’re good to go. Neither of us ever shop for clothes recreationally, and we tend to wear our clothing until it’s fit for the rag bag. Needless to say, we repair instead of replace and there’s been 0.0% negative impact on our careers or social lives.
  6. Corporate vacations. We’ve never taken our families to anything Disney or a resort. I know these types of vacations are very much entrenched in many people’s family cultures, (and I’m not judging those for whom this is important) but I have zero interest in spending thousands of dollars for a couple days of crowded amusement park. Instead we either stay at a friend’s $65 a night Oregon coast cabin or we visit my sister in New York City when we’re already on the east coast. Last year my husband and I were flown out to Washington D.C. by his employer, so we bought tickets for the kids and then took the Bolt Bus up to NYC to extend the trip. And when I was flown to NYC for The Today Show, I expanded the trip on both ends to stay with friends in NYC and New Hampshire.
  7. Paying others to do what we can do for ourselves. Although it would be amazing to pay a professional contractor to complete our household projects, it’s simply not worth the debt it would entail. My husband and I do all the work on our house, and we mow our own lawn, prepare our own taxes, bake our own cakes, clean our own house, change our own oil and maintain our own belongings. I cut my husband’s hair, and I cut the boys’ hair until middle school when they started wanting specific cuts.
  8. Eating in restaurants or getting takeout. Because we rarely splurge on restaurant food, it’s a huge treat when it happens. We used to eat out a lot before we had kids and when the kids were young. It wasn’t something to be savored and looked forward to, because it was usually a last minute decision based on zero meal planning. We were out of control. My mother and father take me out for lunch somewhat frequently, which makes me feel kind of guilty, but I know they can afford it and enjoy being able to do it for me.

Four Ways That We Spend Out

  1. We have always said “yes” when it came to paying sports fees and miscellaneous lessons. Both kids participated in inexpensive recreational soccer from kindergarten through the end of high school. But my younger son has a passion for soccer, so we started him in club soccer in high school, which costs $1000 a year plus tournament fees and uniforms. My older son does Cross-fit which is also expensive. If either son started complaining about having to go or making excuses, we would cut this expenditure, but that has yet to happen.
  2. Private Japanese tutoring. Both of our sons were part of a Japanese immersion program that’s through our public school. However, neither my husband nor I speak more than a few words of Japanese and are completely unable to help the kids with their homework. So when they advanced to a level that was truly difficult, we didn’t bat an eye to paying for weekly private tutoring that run $20 to $25 a session. Without this supplementation to their education, I have no doubt that my sons would have fallen behind to a point where they’d have to leave the program. And when my older son graduated last year, I noticed that he was one of only two boys who didn’t have a native Japanese speaker at home.
  3. Trips to Japan. My older son has traveled to Japan for class trips in 5th, 8th and 10th grade, and my younger son went for the 8th and 10th grade trips. My husband chaperoned a 5th grade trip, while I chaperoned an 8th grade trip. None of this was cheap. But we knew the trips were coming up, so we set money aside for them. And the experiences we’ve all had by getting to know the culture and having the opportunity to stay with host families has been life changing. Worth every penny.
  4. Soccer, soccer, soccer, soccer, soccer. My husband and younger son are obsessed with soccer, whether it’s supporting The Portland Timbers or their favorite European teams. They have season tickets in the Timber’s Army general seating area, and have traveled up to Seattle to attend games. We have cable TV with a sports package simply so that my husband and son can watch international games, and my husband cycles to work and back to offset the cost. I’ve been to a couple games, but it’s just not my thing. Seriously. Hated it. Wanted the fans to stop yelling so much. So yeah, not a fan of attending games in person. 😉

Other than these categories, we really don’t loosen our purse strings that often. We have one son in college right now who lives at home and will likely move out next year. We need our money so that he can graduate without massive student loan debt, and without keeping an eye on the pennies, the dollars would have dissipated into the mist.

Do you have ways in which you’re super cheap, yet spend out for what’s important in your life? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Carla April 7, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Your essay really got me to thinking – it seems like we’re pretty careful with groceries, restaurants, clothes. I know I loosen the pursestrings when we vacation, though those vacations tend to be lowkey – no resorts or all inclusives. My husband has a guitar and cd habit which makes him so happy that I just look the other way. Frankly, I feel like we’re finally in good place where we can spend if we care to, it’s just that I’ve been like this so long, I’ve found I don’t really care to. Ah, irony. Or success.


JD April 7, 2015 at 12:46 pm

We DON’T spend on cable TV, movie subscriptions, fancy new clothes, disposable products (except for things like toilet paper), or air fresheners, candles, and plug-in scents. We have an old coffee maker, not a new-fangled K-cup or espresso machine. We don’t spend on unitaskers — bagel slicers, baggie dryers, remote control holders, etc.
We DO spend on organic, locally grown, certified naturally grown, and humanely raised foods. We buy nice gifts for our kids and grandkids, but only for holidays or birthdays, and within reason — I’m not talking four-wheelers for twelve year olds, just things like a special, high-quality toy for a grandchild or a simple stand mixer for an adult child. We do spend on our pets — we give them holistic food, and proper vet care. We installed a pet door and fenced the back yard years ago, but we have never bought pet wardrobes, nail polish, hair bows or strollers for them. We do spend on herbs and whole food supplements — we both have chronic health conditions that we control without a lot of doctors’ visits and prescriptions.
This was a fun exercise! I’m sure there’s more in the do and don’t categories, but that’s enough, I think. You can see my priorities from that list.


Heidi April 7, 2015 at 12:49 pm

We also don’t buy paper products, take big vacations or eat out much. We do entertain at home a lot though. We enjoy having other friends for dinner, hosting holiday family dinners, having the girl’s friends for sleepovers and hosting out of town friends for a weekend. In the winter we often have friends come to watch our daughter play hockey and stay for dinner. Cheap entertainment, and fun for all. And every summer we host a large party and provide dinner and breakfast the next day for our friends and family. Everyone brings a tent and pitches it somewhere around the farm or finds a spare bed or couch inside. Another fun and relatively inexpensive get-together.

We do spend money on day trips – like to the Royal Winter Fair to watch the riding, to a museum or to see a live show or concert. And we spend money on rep hockey fees and tournaments. We are fortunate to have a grandma that loves horses and pays for riding lessons and we have a family cottage that is available to us for free because my husband does some maintenance work on it.


Jill April 7, 2015 at 12:54 pm

Yes. We don’t have cable. We only have one car and we ride together or take public transit. We buy our clothes (when we shop, which is rarely) at Goodwill or Southern Thrift. We do our own yard work and home repairs, with the exception of when we had windows installed. We line-dry laundry when possible. I make my own soap. We have only one TV, and up until recently only one computer (my husband needed a laptop when he went back to school, so we bought one and are phasing out the antiquated desktop computer). We try to turn off the heat/AC and have the windows open whenever possible.

However, I do pay someone to clean my house. I work full time, and in my precious free time have 0.0% interest in cleaning my home. Our cleaners are also our pet-sitters when we go out-of-town, and are wonderful people. I own and use a dishwasher. I buy brand-spanking-new running shoes that cost $125 every few months, because I am a runner and I WILL wear them out. And just yesterday, our towel warmer died, and I purchased a new one. Because going without dry towels in the morning is NOT an option for me in muggy TN. A towel warmer is a ridiculous luxury, but, hey, I don’t have a car payment and warm, dry towels are important to me!


Megyn April 7, 2015 at 1:15 pm

-Have smart phones or tablets or gizmos
-Buy single-serving foods (like the GoGo Squeeze nonsense or string cheese)
-Go on many vacations (other than the boys going to Grandparent Camp, we might go somewhere else once a year)
-Go to salons/get massages/pay for getting hair dyed (hair modeling FTW!)
-Hire babysitters, but instead trade with other moms/friends
-Send our kids to summer camp (THE thing to do in Austin…how do people have thousands of dollars to spend on this?!)
-Have expensive recreational activities (each kid gets to pick one after their first semester in kindergarten…that shit is expensive!)

We DO:
-Spend a lot of money on foster kittens for food/litter/necessities
-Medical tests (seems like a splurge to get eight million tests done for them to have no answers)
-Air conditioning–Austin summers get warm!
-Eat out (usually fast-casual) about every other week. I hate meal planning.
-Love snacks! With the preschool crowd, it’s sort of a must, and I’m not wasting precious hours making Goldfish from scratch. Plus they don’t taste as good. We do buy them at Costco to reduce packaging, but I always want some snackies around.
-Require sweets. Thank you for THAT, hormones. My baking/chocolate run budget is fairly big.
-Buy fancy craft beer/brewing supplies. It’s my hubby’s one true love, so I give in. He deals with my frugality enough that he can have this one thing.


Randi April 8, 2015 at 8:18 am

I buy string cheese, but only with a coupon. I’ve had weight loss surgery, so its a nice pre-portioned protein option for me. : )


Jill April 7, 2015 at 1:18 pm

We don’t do paper towels or napkins, movies out, restaurants, or buy big gifts for each other – though I have started a Christmas tradition where I buy my husband things he needs for ridiculously low prices and leave the price tags on, which he loves. My kids are grown, and we are empty nesters, but when they lived at home we spent on kids sports and arts programs. We didn’t have cable tv for 18 years – my youngest’s total existence – until the youngest went off to college and my husband ordered it the next day. (The kids all loved that!) That is a splurge for my husband to watch football as he doesn’t pay to see it in person. (And on a side note, none of my 3 kids have a tv or cable in their homes currently)The biggest splurge for me is travel, travel, travel and travel. We have the luxury of points and miles accrued for my husband’s job to use and we watch our pennies even then. It is our biggest splurge but well worth it to me!


Jeana April 7, 2015 at 1:33 pm

We don’t do disposable, either. We also don’t have cable, a dishwasher, a clothes dryer, new clothes, new cars. We do spend money on solar panels, goat fencing, organic, non-GMO garden seeds, and high quality organic, soy-free feed for our farm animals.


Kim from Philadelphia April 7, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Eight things we don’t buy/do:
– bottled water/soda
– pay for lawncare/ landscape schtuff
– housekeeper
– nail salon/ hair coloring
– buy CD’s/DVD’s
– shop for recreational purposes
– sporting event tickets
– buy perfume/cologne/ expensive hair products.

4 things we happily spend money on:

– travel
– eating out about once a week.
– good quality pet and people food
– safe, reliable Hondas


Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom April 7, 2015 at 2:02 pm

We don’t pay for haircuts or cable, but we do splurge on so many things. I love reading lists like these because everyone has their own definition of “normal”.

You mentioned dryer sheets, before we gave up using our dryer we did without dryer sheets and I was shocked to find out that we didn’t need them!


meg April 7, 2015 at 4:08 pm

We don’t:
Have cable, pay for hair cuts, buy new clothing, use much prepackaged or convenience foods, eat out often and I have given up the drive thru for coffee, etc.

We do:

Keep our house at a relatively comfortable temp and humidity (still wear sweaters in winter), have gym memberships, buy good beer, chocolate and cheese.


Anne April 7, 2015 at 3:10 pm

I’m guessing I’m one of the fewer older readers here, and spouse and I are both retired. We’ve never made big salaries and were frugal all of our lives. After a year or two of retirement we poked our heads up and found out we were not only doing fine, but that in comparison to the years we raised/helped our kids, we were sitting pretty.

We travel the world like our tails are on fire with a major trip every year and a minor one or two. We have hugely extended this endeavor with the credit card points game and rarely pay for air fare, and not that often for hotels. We will, of course, run out of points at some point, but until then we’re fantastic.

But, on the other side, we live in a small retirement home in an unfashionable city. We were able to downsize from our larger home and pay cash. We drive our cars for well over a decade before upgrading, because we just don’t care about them, as long as they are safe. So no house or car payments. No napkins, no dryer use, but we eat out with friends every two weeks. Still feel guilty about this, but can easily afford it and love the socialization.

We support two charities with monthly donations and put a small amount of money into all five of my grandchildren’s college accounts every single month. We still put a small amount monthly into savings for large purchases.

Life is good.


Melissa April 7, 2015 at 8:51 pm

You should not feel guilty about your eating out for exactly the reasons you mentioned…it is a means of socialization and you can easily afford it!


JD April 8, 2015 at 10:28 am

I’m an older reader too! I’ve noticed more and more that my generation is eating out more than they used to do, at least in my circles. I’ve wondered — is it because they have more disposable income and time, with the kids gone, or is it because the head cook (usually the wife) is just tired of planning meals and shopping and cooking and cleaning up after 40 or so years of it?


Dawn April 7, 2015 at 3:18 pm

I enjoy this conversation!


Diane April 7, 2015 at 4:47 pm

I live on a very limited retirement income and am still paying down debt. However, I do splurge on where I live. I know I could live in studio apartment in another location for less rent. But, my home is my haven and when I look out onto the wildflower meadow, woods and walking trail behind my apartment I feel such joy that I am willing to forgo other things in order to live here.

It all boils down to priorities.


JD April 7, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Such a fascinating conversation. Love to read the posts. Have thought about this before and chatted w/ co-workers about it. It is all about priorities. It’s great to make choices both financially and ethically about where to spend.

Hate the idea of disposables. Looked at websites about the garbage in the ocean and most is made from cups/plates/razors. Love my cloth napkins I have bought over the years. They tell a story! I love the feel of pre-owned clothes. It’s the icing on the cake that the Earth benefits too. Plus I try to decrease my role in child labor in foreign countries. I cut my older son’s hair and it feels
so accomplished. I clean my own house and wash my dogs myself. I know I would love the feeling of coming home to those tasks being done, but I’d rather take the money and put it toward something else I can’t do. I spend freely on travel like other readers said, and accrue large bills on pet medications and supplements. But I LOVE saving the money from one category and having it for another. It’s liberating.


Marilyn April 7, 2015 at 6:18 pm

I do not buy:
1. Gym membership. I get my exercise with a morning walk with a group of neighbors.
2. Soda or wine or alcoholic beverages.
3. Snack food items. This is partly about money and partly about my lack of will power.
4. Paper plates or napkins or plastic spoons.
5. The latest of anything. This includes electronics, cars, clothes and even our house.
I do tend to buy food that I like even when it is not a bargain. Living in Washington state, I love things like fresh fruits and berries (in season) , salmon, the fancy Tillamook Greek yogurts. I also have hired someone to mow and edge our lawn in the summer. And I never hesitate to travel when one of my far-flung friends or relatives invites me to visit.


Michele April 7, 2015 at 6:51 pm

First, I love how you worded ‘we care 0.0%’ on the clothing issue. US TOO! We’re clean, neat, and if I lose 20 lbs, well fit. 😉 We are very frugal in everyday life, but our convictions on food lead us to buy local, in season, grass fed/free range, etc. This gets pricey sometimes. I am about to make a ‘chicken run’ for whole chickens from a farmer friend. We will lay down $3/lb for whole chicken (heritage breed/free range) because we believe it is much healthier than “industrially raised” (genetically modified/raised-in-overcrowded-building/abused) chickens….even though those chickens are cheaper. We also enjoy high quality cheese, etc. So…we’re as frugal as can be for many run-of-the-mill groceries…..but more spendy for higher quality foods in some areas. We help balance it out by not buying individually packaged snacks and processed foods. Also, I stopped ‘dieting’ old school which, for me, was buying specialty foods full of garbage. The second place we spend is during our 1 vacation each year. We stay at a thrifty, clean, no frills motel for $110/night and enjoy some entertainment (museums, exhibits, markets, music) and awesome local ‘hole-in-the-wall’ food. Every time I do laundry with a mobile washer and hang it on the line….each time I grate bars of Fels with a veggie peeler over a 5 gallon bucket…whenever I ninja bid on eBay for our clothes….I think how good that vacay will feel! 😉


Megg April 7, 2015 at 7:46 pm

We don’t buy disposable products except toilet paper and paper towels, (which are only supposed to be used for cat barf/nasty messes, but I’m still training my husband on that!) I use cloth wipes most of the time and cloth pads myself.
We also don’t have cable (just Netflix) and DIY most household projects (like replacing our floors, but we will hire someone to replace the roof this year) and landscaping. We spend a little money on clothes but more just for practicality, replacing jeans that can’t be repaired, stuff like that. It helps that I have an optional uniform at work and I do wear it, so I have tons of tshirts that I wear 5 days a week instead of wearing out my own clothes.

We spend money on baseball games and have a share of season tickets. I love baseball and we love going to games. We also spend a bit more on vacations. We have been on cruises and to Disneyland, but our excuse there is that we want to do these things before we have kids and take cheaper family vacations. We also, unfortunately, spend money to travel at Christmas most years. I hate it, but it’s a fact of not living near family.


Megg April 7, 2015 at 7:47 pm

Oh and no gym membership anymore, since we both get that for free at work.


Karen April 7, 2015 at 7:48 pm

Don’t buy or use
Books (use library), CDs , perfume, candles, any nick knacks, cosmetics, dry cleaners, painters (just painted the whole upstairs–walls, doors, trim and closets–it will be years before I pick up a paint brush again–but looks nice and fresh), yard people (I LOVE yard work, my therapy), gyms

Do buy
More organic/fresh foods (husband and I are getting older–this is important–wish I had done this years ago), when 13 year old van needed a lot of work bought a Pruis (children are gone–no hauling around things), good running shoes (feet hurt–think of this as medicine), travel whenever we can


kathleen April 7, 2015 at 7:56 pm

Hubs does all home, yard, and vehicle maintenance (these talents alone have made me stick around through the tough times.) He happily eats whatever I set in front of him, says thank you, and then eats the leftovers tomorrow. He doesn’t care a bit about fashion except for insisting his shirts have a pocket on the front. He cuts his own hair (not a big job, if you get my drift). He never wants gifts.

He splurges on: occasional professional baseball game tickets, sports package on satellite, Girl Scout Thin Mints, and Mt. Dew. He also participates in a hunting lease with his brothers, though he doesn’t hunt, it gives him time with his brothers and keeps him out of my hair.

After years of penny pinching and investing in our home/property, when we sold it and moved, we paid cash for our current home, so no longer have a house payment. I have taught myself to do almost anything I set my mind to: wallpaper removal, decorative painting, jewelry making, sewing, simple plumbing, photography, furniture assembly. I don’t travel much (except to see friends and family), though I treated my sister to a trip to Ireland once when I won it in a box of chocolate (true story).

I splurge on craft supplies and fabric…my children and grandchildren will have quilts to remember me by. I like to have one soft drink per day, and iced tea. We just had our kitchen professionally remodeled (the big stuff…we are finishing up the small things ourselves). I spend money on postage to mail real cards and letters…I wish I could send a card to whoever thought up the 52 letters in 52 weeks challenge, because it changed my life in a good way. 😉


Barbara April 7, 2015 at 8:02 pm

One 10 year old car (we cycle a lot).
No fancy appliances (and certainly
no cable TV).
Cook everything from scratch and grow
as much food as we can in our very
small yard.
Wear our clothes until they wear out.

What we DO spend money on:
Travel (usually one overseas trip and one
shorter Australian trip a year). My husband
and I met travelling – it’s always been a big
part of our lives and we’ve gone without a
lot of things to keep doing it.
As good quality food as we can afford and
good wine.
Quality food and vet care for our two cats.
That’s about it!
It’s interesting to what other people’s
priorities are.


PoppyEcho April 7, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Great post and comments.


Mand01 April 8, 2015 at 2:33 am

We don’t spend money on:
– alcohol or smoking
– eating out or getting takeaway (often)
– new clothes (I buy most things secondhand)
– a house cleaner
– cookies, cakes or most sweet treats (I bake from scratch)
– junk food (much)
– juice boxes
– hair dye or nails, pedicures etc
– cable tv
– buying books (we go to the library every week)

We do spend money on:
– tutoring for the kids
– singing lessons and activities for the kids
– gadgets and gizmos (we love the tech)
– high speed interwebs
– Netflix
– University education
– private school for my daughter who has special needs
– after school care
– insurance
– good haircuts
– good shoes (that last a long time)
– entertaining at home
– an espresso machine


kath April 8, 2015 at 3:24 am

so many things that the majority of people class as essentials and the rest of us think of as unneccesary.
I think its a cunning plan set up by the multinationals
They take all our money in exchange for stuff they tell us we need and leave mayhem in their wake lol


Vickey n WNY April 16, 2015 at 6:10 am

Kath, I agree!


Elise April 8, 2015 at 6:03 am

I love seeing how you save and how you spend. So often we focus on what we can save money on and don’t focus on spending. When something is important to us I actually enjoy spending money and its nice to see others do the same!


Gina April 19, 2015 at 3:48 am

I agree 100%! It’s refreshing to read and talk about what people DO spend money on instead of always talkig about scrimping, saving and doing without- that poverty mentality gets depressing. I don’t have debt except 9 years left on a mortgage which will be paid off long before retirement. I’m single with no kids and I refuse to feel guilty for getting a pedicure, a latte or a new outfit when I want one! It makes me feel good and I’m tired of not taking care of myself in the name of frugality! This site seems a bit extreme at times.


isabelle April 8, 2015 at 6:46 am

We spend on :
– Food (natural/organic meats, eggs from the farm, organic dirty dozen, lots of fruits and veggies…)
– Date nights (one or twice a month, usually movie and dinner… with a Groupon most of the time)
– Will spend on sports/hobbies for the kids once they are grown-up
– H0lidays. We usually stay around/in the country, but it still adds-up with hotels (no camping for me), food, activities. We would like to do a Disney trip one day
– Heating and cooling (home)
– Netflix (instead of rentals and cable)
– Gas for the car
– Some sort of gym membership, be it a yoga pass, a zumba pass, etc. I did ditch the 1000$ a year gym membership, tho. My husband bikes 1h30 hour/day to go to work, so this is his gym.

We don’t spend on:
– Prepackaged/snacks food. Pretty much snack on fruits and cheese.
– Drinks. No juice, no bottled water, no sports drinks, wine, coffee, etc. We drink tap water, milk and tea.
– A second car. Or a fancy one (we have a 2004 Echo. The second “car” is a bicycle that my husband uses to go to work everyday, year round)
– Hair cuts (I cut my husband hair. No haircuts for myself or the kids, long hairs)
– Makeup (for myself) and creams/beauty stuff (we don’t use any, except deodorant, soap and basic shampoo)
– cell phones (we have a very basic one, with a prepaid 100$ per year card, used only for emergencies. No texting, no internet, etc).
– A big fancy house (small town house for now)
– Decoration for the house
– Expensive clothes/shoes for us or the kids
– Jewelry
– Impressing others with our possessions
– Private schools (because we can’t afford it. If I could, I would. This one is a big regret…)
– No crazy amounts for gifts (we do give adults gifts + kids)
– Toys for kids (they receive some at birthdays and Christmas, that’s about it)
– We don’t smoke, rarely drink (I never do. Husband likes a quality beer here and there), don’t do drugs, don’t gamble, don’t buy lottery. Lots of savings right there

Have a great frugal day!


Maggie April 8, 2015 at 6:50 am

We don’t spend money on:
-Diapers (I should preface this with the fact that we did buy our cloth diapers, but most were purchased secondhand or from work at home moms, and they’ve been used on two kids. When my kids are done, if there’s any life left in them, they’ll get sold to someone else).
– Menstrual products (I use cloth pads)
– Disposable napkins, plates, paper towels, utensils, cups, etc
– Furniture (all of ours came to us for free from one source or another. None of it matches and it’s super comfy and fantastic)
– The latest and greatest in phones/cars/computers/etc. We only buy new electronics when our old ones crap out and are beyond repair.
Things we do spend money on:
-Our car. We were living in Southern California when our old car bit the dust (it was my first car and had almost 400k miles on it!). We did the math and it was cheaper for us to buy a brand new cheap car with a new car loan than to buy a car with 40k miles on it and a used car loan.
– Tide. Homemade laundry soap has no detergent in it at all and can cause buildup issues on clothes and diapers. Since we use our diapers so often and I use cloth pads, I splurge on good laundry detergent.
– Video Games. My husband’s brother is on embassy duty overseas and the only time they have to hang out together is over the internet, playing games. We splurge on new games that the two of them will like playing together.
-Flying. I’m a private pilot and I hope to make it a career some day, but boy is it expensive!


Charli April 8, 2015 at 1:19 pm

This has been fun to think about. We don’t spend money on fancy new clothes. We make our cars and electrical gadgets last. No gym membership as we exercise by walking and running near our home. No babysitting as we rarely go out without kids. I cut my families hair. I really don’t enjoy shopping so i just don’t buy stuff. I have never bought lunch or coffee at work despite a cafe being 5 metres from my ward. I figure if I give in once I might be tempted to make it a habit like everyone else I work with. Our holidays are camping with our dog(so she doesn’t go in a kennel) and not units. We even went skiing twice and camped (in the snow). Skiing accommodation in australia is so expensive. We have a half ok health system so haven’t got health insurance either. That’s a gamble we are prepared to pay. Things we do spend money on are good education for our kids. Music lessons for kids. Sport fees for kids. Reasonably generous gifts for close family and weddings etc(nothing over the top and useless). Hospitality. Pool upkeep. The summers here are hot so on the late 30 early 40 days the aircon goes on. No more grinning and bearing it. That will do. Interesting to see my own priorities.


Betsey April 8, 2015 at 1:28 pm

I agree with this post and it is fun to read!
I stopped all but basic cable and internet, turn down the thermostat and use sweaters, watch my water usage, and do most of the things previously mentioned including cooking at home and not drinking wine/beer any more.
But I have to say that when it comes to clothing, I have to pay more because I am 5’11” and need clothing that fits. However, I do watch sales and buy good quality pieces which will last if I take care of them. I do not seem to sweat, so I can get by with wearing a top 3 days, my jeans for 1 week, etc. Rest assured I do change underwear daily!
Hand washing for a lot of my things keeps them looking great, but then I have the time to do it. When I was a young mother, if it didn’t go into the washer and dryer and needed to be ironed, I did not buy it.
Right now I am wearing a pair of men’s lounge pajamas and a men’s long sleeved tee shirt. I bought both at clearance sales and I think I look presentable. Only $15 and will last for years.
Shoes cost so much! I only have a few pair, but they are well cared for and again last for years.


Molly April 8, 2015 at 3:19 pm

This is fascinating.
We don’t buy:
– cable
– a 2nd car
– a bike to replace the nice one that was stolen – my husband fixed up the lesser bike instead
– fancy pet things – my dog is perfectly happy with a rope and a tennis ball, so why spend more? the cats just want to look out the window, so why buy them toys?
– fancy clothes

We do buy:
– good coffee
– tissues – my husband won’t use hankies, so whatever
– molly fun stuff – haircuts, mani/pedis, makeup


Another Trish :) April 8, 2015 at 9:04 pm

Don’t buy: disposables other than TP and Q-Tips (I know), packaged/ processed foods, garbage service (easy without the aforementioned) cable, Netflix, movies out, movie rentals, magazines, books, most cleaning products ( just dish soap laundry soap, baking soda and vinegar), no salon services for the boys and biannual haircuts for myself, no new cars, only new clothes and accessories to replace items that are worn out, no new decorative stuff/crafty stuff . I make-do with a used basic phone, my husband gets electronics through his job. We borrow and buy used baby stuff.

We splurge on trips, healthy food, a canoe and rack for the car, we bought a really nice couch, we are getting new flooring, and we might purchase lake property or a camper in the near(ish) future. We also plan on splurging on sports, camp, and other character building experiences for our kid(s)


Heather April 9, 2015 at 4:58 pm

I’m reading all of this and reflecting for sure.

We are definitely much more consumer then I realize/recognize in everyday life…

We don’t:
-use many disposables (cloth napkins, rags, etc)
-buy knick knacks and toys except the occasional thrifted Barbie item or puzzle
– buy many new clothes. We also try to not overbuy used clothes that will simply go unworn.
-waste electricity
-redecorate often. I find moving items around to be just as satisfying
-buy food to satisfy cravings. We focus on in season, loss leaders, and staples
-buy books. Love the library
-cave to our daughters’ every desire

We do:
-have a rather extensive collection of original artwork from our favorite artist including a 10 ft x 8 ft commissioned piece that represents family.
– buy local and organic as much as possible
– have more “fancy” cars than I can ever admit here
-alternate between vacations in our cute retro camper and resorts
– travel often and well
– have fancy cable so DH can watch basketball
-eat out relatively often

Of the everyday things I would most like to work on changing the eating out habit.
I should mention we are completely debt free so while this amounts to a fair amount of consumption we are living below our means.


Krystal April 9, 2015 at 7:31 pm

Our lists are very, very similar, except we don’t have kids.

We save by not buying disposables, cooking our own dinner and bringing in lunches to work. We buy used clothing, and don’t keep up with new trends, just our personal style. We don’t spend money on gifts for one another either.

And we spend out on soccer and travel. We didn’t have the airfare saved for World Cup this year, and vow to remain debt free, so we ended up selling our match tickets, but have prepped and budgeted (and are using those miles I accumulated for work travel) for Euro ’16. My husband has season tickets to the Sounders (I know, I know), but I don’t like the MLS match experience, so I don’t attend. European soccer is my #1 passion, and I have met many, many soccer friends on social media across the US, and out of that made some lasting friendships. One of my friends and I created additional profiles for Netflix and Xfinity to swap, so we are able to watch matches at home without cable (love that additional profile feature!) What we save on cable we spend at the pub on a pint or two to watch a match on replay, because waking up at 5:45am on a weekend is just asking too much, and a good pint is worth it.


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