What *Don’t* You Do?

by Katy on April 23, 2013 · 62 comments

My husband and I just finished meeting with an investment planner, and in preparation, we needed to list all of our monthly expenses. To say it was an eye opener would be an understatement. I wouldn’t go so far to say that my family has undergone a lifestyle creep, but our expenses have definitely risen.

A loop of “I can’t believe how much we’re spending” started playing over and over in my head.

However, I forced myself to start thinking about the money we don’t spend, and I came up with this list.

We don’t spend money on:

  • Have to take an airplane vacations.
  • Paying others to do what we deem unpleasant or too busy to do ourselves.
  • Disposable products.
  • Childcare. (The kids would no longer need it, but we always worked opposite shifts in order to meet this goal.)
  • Drinks out with the girls/boys.
  • Expensive hobbies such as golf, fishing, scrapbooking.
  • Impulse purchases such as cute sunglasses or kicky new sandals.
  • Recreational vehicles.
  • Regular restaurant dinners.
  • Books or DVD’s.
  • Regular alcohol usage.
  • Vanity products such as designer purses or high end vehicles.

This helped to calm me down, and to remind myself that in fact, we’re doing just fine. And I could get back on track with my day of air drying the laundry, picking up on-sale butter and returning library books before they accrued a fine.

You know, my glamorous life.

So . . . What don’t you do? 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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{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica April 23, 2013 at 11:10 am

Most of my family lives out of state, so airplanes have been my main source of travel when visiting them, but since my father moved here in 2003, I’ve definitely traveled less.

I don’t spend a lot on gas since I work from home. I try to go out once or twice a week to get my errands done. We shovel our own and mow our own and do our own gardening, so during the summer we rarely buy veggies. Oh and I stay out of hair/nail places for the most part. I’d rather do my own because it’s cheaper. Even if I have my friend cut my hair 2x a year. lol


Katy April 23, 2013 at 11:13 am

I color my own hair maybe twice a year, (usually before some TV thing) and only get my hair cut about the same. It helps to not get a cut that needs frequent trims.



Jessica April 23, 2013 at 11:19 am

I just colored my hair for the first time in over a year with a box that I got for free from couponing…. like 2 years ago. Haha. Sad part is that I barely noticed a color change. Oh well.


Carla April 23, 2013 at 11:16 am

I don’t buy books.

This was a big lifestyle change. Our motto is “my favourite bookstore is the library”. It works, just gotta watch those return dates.

And, I don’t buy new clothes.

Well, rarely ever. It’s thrift store, consignment, or swap. It works! After losing a couple of sizes I revamped my whole wardrobe without going shopping to a mall. And I work at a job where I have to dress up. So this includes suit jackets, high heel shoes and jewellery. Yesterday and today I’ve worn ‘new’ shirts from a swap I had on Sunday!

And, I don’t buy new toys for my kids.

Thrift store or consignment is the way to go. And if they are dying for a toy, I’ll ask a family member looking for a gift for that kid for a birthday, christmas to get it for them – so they do get them, just not from me. 🙂


Joanna April 23, 2013 at 11:23 am

We don’t spend money on:

Electronics upgrades
Fancy vacations. Most of ours include seeing family and friends or are day trips.
Concerts (there is way too much free entertainment around)
Music (our library offers a free music download service. Libraries FTW!)
Knick knacks
Scented candles
Mani/pedis (I will only submit to this under the direct supervision of a bridezilla.)


Karen April 23, 2013 at 11:31 am

As a follow-up, “What do you spend money on?”


Teq April 23, 2013 at 11:42 am

My husband bought me a book subscription and I LOVE IT. Now I don’t feel I need to spend money as I get a few packages of books a month and I feel like they are presents from my husband. I get these so I don’t feel I’m depriving myself of something to read. I also go to a thrift store once a month and treat it like a fabric store except I spend a lot less. I look for clothes with interesting graphics and take them apart and add them to other clothes. We need to work on not eating out as much as we do on weekends.


Lindsey April 23, 2013 at 12:08 pm

What is a book subscription?


Teq April 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm

My husband bought me a series of books that come in a subscription and that is what I get every month. This saves on gas and we get free shipping and handling.


patti April 23, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I would love to know the name of your book subscription service. I was looking at this for my 91 year old Dad but the ones I found are very expensive… over $100/year. Currently he trades books at the second hand bookstore or buys them at library sales so he doesn’t spend nearly that much (or me spend that usually on his gifts).


Teq April 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm

The books me and your dad read are not the same. Just Google Book Subscriptions and a lot of links will come up.


Adrienne April 23, 2013 at 11:42 am

Would love to hear more about your meeting with the investment planner.


Trish April 23, 2013 at 11:58 am

We don’t (or rarely) spend on these:

– eating out
– movies
– housecleaning (I know a surprising number of people who pay for this)
– dry cleaning (you can wash wool if you learn to do it right)
– coffee (my husband and I have 1 americano/week at our fav. donut shop, but besides that, we brew our own at home).


Linda in Indiana April 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm

We don’t: (Having to think, because usually when you stop doing something, it is far from your mind and you don’t miss it!)

We don’t:
Go to clubs or drink
Go to concerts, large expensive venue events..ie: races, sports, etc
Have many electronics…pay-as you go phone is our cellphone
Eat out much…it is a treat when we do
Buy many clothes..try to get used first
Pay others to do our work that we can…lawn, cooking, cleaning
Don’t go for manicures/pedicures
Have a gym membership….walk and do stepping at home
Go to the movies
Don’t Feel Deprived…it is second nature to us!


Maureen April 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm

My husband and I changed our way of thinking this year. So far:
We got rid of the cable TV — over 100 channels and nothing on. We now have an antenna and hulu plus and Netflix. Monthly savings $89.62.
My company pays me to work from home so I have free internet. Monthly saving of $50.
I don’t use gas as often — I can get away with a fill up every 2-3 weeks. And there is a gas station by us that you can save 5 cents a gallon if you signed up for their program, which I did.
Got rid of the land line phone, daughter got her own cell phone plan and hubby went on his work plan. I was able to upgrade to a smart phone and still saved $40. per month.
I hang dry my laundry also. Can’t wait for a little bit warmer weather to hang it outdoors. Just not warm enough yet!
I use a re-useable metal coffee filter so I don’t buy the paper filters.
We heat the house with the woodstove, so it cuts down on the electric heat (yes, my house was built in the 70’s during the energy crisis and this was their thinking of saving energy).
I do not use the heat/drying cycle for the dishwasher because it’s so dry in the house from the woodstove that I do need the moisture.
I don’t color my hair anymore because I was ending up trying to get rid of the skunk line every 2-1/2 to 3 weeks. Now it’s just white and I actually get compliments on it. Average monthly savings $50.

Unfortunately, I do get manicures and buy scrapbooking paper (sometimes). But I no longer pay for scrapbooking weekends at resort as I have a girlfriend who enjoys it as much as I do and we get together once a month to scrapbook at each other’s house. And we share paper, supplies and equipment.


Lindsey April 23, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I like card making but I finally smartened up and started doing what you have done with scrapbooking. I have two friends who enjoy it and we share supplies. I also learned a technique for making 3 dimensional flowers and boxes, and you use such small bits of paper that I now mostly use those security patterned envelopes bills come in, or even magazine ads. My friends and I meet all day twice a year and have a potluck and card making day—saves me money and is a nice way to catch up, sitting around working and chatting.


hmbalison April 23, 2013 at 12:31 pm

What don’t I spend money on?
Gas for commuting–I work at home
Dishwasher rinsing agents, window cleaner, etc. –I make my own cleaning supplies
Music CDs or dowloading songs
Frozen dinners/appetizers/etc. –I mostly cook from scratch at home
House cleaning help
Yard work help
Dog walking/pet care
Bakery goods–I bake at home
Professional coloring at a salon–I have prematurely gray hair and dye it every 2-3 weeks with hair color I buy at drugstore for $3 a box


A. Marie April 23, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I work from home, so I get to skip all the expenses associated with commuting to an office job. (See my comment on yesterday’s post, plus comments from other work-from-homers above.) Give a hoot, telecommute! (And since DH recently retired as well, our gas expenses have dropped even further.)

No cable TV. Very little dining out. Next to no use of clothes dryer. Greatly decreased use of public utilities since installing a wood-burning insert and solar panels. (Firewood is free off local curbsides.) Extremely basic haircuts for us both (I’ve taken Katy’s advice re: a simpler hairstyle) and no hair coloring. No cosmetics. Movies out about once every 5 years. And no sense of deprivation, as others above have agreed.

That said, we do have our indulgences: Mainly, we buy books (we’re incurable bibliophiles), although we try to buy secondhand as much as possible. And we do pay for housecleaning once every 3 weeks. (DH and I agreed long ago to “job out” the chores that make both of us crazy, and housecleaning heads the list. Call it an investment in mental health.) It’s been interesting to read the previous comments and see how the indulgences vary.


carol April 24, 2013 at 8:18 am

Just an idea for another bibliophile besides the library–you might try a website such as “Goodreads.” They have give-aways. If you write a short review of the book, you are more assured of getting one of the free books. I have done this for 3 months and gotten three free books. (I could be way more involved but am picky about what I read.) They are books given out to be read and hopefully reviewed before their publishing date. Also, I don’t buy many magazines anymore. Our library has a few crates where folks can drop off “read” magazines and get others’ castoffs. I have picked up many editions of my favorite magazines that are only a week/ month old.


Susan April 23, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I think it would be easier to list what we spend our money on these days as there are many things we don’t buy.
However, I don’t spend money on:
lunches at work (I make my own for me and the boy)
transport to work and home(I walk there every day and nearly every day home as well…well, sometimes I get a lift part way home)
childcare (thankfully no more!!!)
expensive haircuts
cable tv
gardening (I work part time so we can do that stuff ourselves)
alcohol (no one really is interested in drinking in my house)
bakery goods (other half bakes a couple of times a week)

I seem to only get new clothes twice a year…(birthdays and Christmas) and I’m very selective about what I get…same with shoes
I love books but haven’t bought any in MONTHS…still getting through my own books on bookcase and a friend and I swap books.
Errr….I don’t know really what else to say.


Sadye April 23, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I don’t have a gym membership, get my hair colored anymore or get any salon service beyond haircuts and once- or twice-yearly massages! Nor do I subscribe to cable or Netflix.


Taylor-Made Ranch April 23, 2013 at 2:19 pm

We don’t buy paper towels/paper plates/plastic cutlery. We don’t change out our decorative accessories to match the latest trends in the magazines. We buy used whenever possible, including clothing and household needs. We primarily eat at home (and love it). And with the aid of a Google search we can usually fix most minor repair needs. Our passive-solar designed home eliminates the need for many lights to be on and keeps our temps comfortable with less assistance from the AC/heater. The list really does go on & on, but we love our simple, beautiful life!

~Taylor-Made Ranch~
Wolfe City, Texas


Suzanne Percy April 23, 2013 at 2:23 pm

We don’t spend money on…

Car Payments
Getting my nails done 🙁
Baby sitters (we have lots of family around)
Fancy Phones
Gym Memberships
Fast Food
House cleaning/yard work


Heidi April 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm

We don’t spend money on vacations (we go to a family cottage that we get the use of for free, we do some maintenance while we are there), books, subscriptions, knicknacks, clothes (we buy used or get hand me downs most of the time, plus only own what we actually need), new cars, cleaning products (make my own), convenience foods, eating out. What we do spend money on is housecleaning (I have MS and did it for as long as I could, plus the kids help out somewhat, but I can’t clean much and still be able to walk at the end of the day), hockey and horses (sports keeps my kids active, engaged and responsible – plus we have a farm) and good quality food.


Justine Rowden April 23, 2013 at 3:10 pm

As a writer, I find not buying books a dubious achievement. I want to have and keep some special, wonderful books as valued friends who I can count on for their wisdom, beauty and passion. (And certainly more important than a decorative vase!)

Justine Rowden


Katy April 23, 2013 at 4:17 pm

I do borrow like crazy from the library and vote yes on every library levy, which supports books purchases.



JaneUlness April 23, 2013 at 9:20 pm

I don’t spend money on
The gym
Fancy coffee at Starbucks
Car payments
Expemsive haircuts
Lunches at work
Lawn maintenance
Expensive clothes
But….myndaughterntells me that if you bring your old Clark’s shoes tomclarks,they will give you a new pair. Her friend did it.


greenstrivings April 23, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Man, it is hard to think about what you DON’T do, but here goes:

I don’t go to Starbucks/out for coffee
I don’t buy new clothes
I don’t buy paper napkins
We don’t go to the movies regularly (2x in the last 12 months)
We don’t eat out regularly (maybe … once every two months?)
I don’t get manicures, pedicures, facials, waxes or massages
I don’t buy makeup or nail polish
I have a very short commute, so not much money on gas
My kids don’t play organized sports, so no team fees. They do have other activities that cost money, though.
We don’t have a housekeeper or gardener
I don’t go to the car wash now that I don’t live in a wintry state and don’t have to get the road chemicals off the finish
I don’t buy expensive workout clothes or gear
I don’t drink alcohol (my partner drinks beer, though)
We don’t buy soda, chips, or crackers
I don’t scrapbook or have other expensive hobbies. I do pay for a gym membership and use the bejeezus out of it.

Great idea for a post, I feel very empowered now. 🙂


Kate April 23, 2013 at 3:50 pm

I think it would be easier to list what we actually spend our money on! When you haven’t got much, it makes not spending pretty easy.

-childcare (my husband and work so we can take turns plus have family around helps)
-dining out
-new stuff
-services (nail, hair, garden, housekeeping , etc.)

My biggest expenditure after housing is food. My food bill is out of control!



JaneUlness April 24, 2013 at 7:20 am

I write a Blog to correct that, but dare I say it is not zero waste, I haven’t figured that out yet.


Kat C April 23, 2013 at 4:13 pm

We don’t
– buy books, CDs, DVDs (but do use the library and buy digital formats)
– buy new furniture
– buy magazines or subscriptions
– have cable TV
– pay for voicemail or caller ID on our cell phones (we do still have a landline with an answering machine)
– buy many name-brand food products (we do buy no-name or make our own)


PoppyEcho April 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I don’t have a car and I mostly bike everywhere so not much public transportation expense either
I don’t pay full price for the movies, I only go to matinees or on the cheapie day.
no cable- no tv at all anymore.
no new clothes, towels, bed linens, furniture etc, not much new at all-I buy used. except shoes.
I’ve cut back on how much I eat out.
I’ve stopped buying books, even second hand. I’ve got to read all the unfinished ones first and then i’ll join the library (my old library closed).


Megg April 23, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Feminine products (I’ve been using cloth pads for almost 7 years now!)
Paper plates/napkins, plastic cutlery, etc. We have cloth napkins and flatware I bought at goodwill to take to work.
Cable, though we do have Netflix
House cleaning, gardening, lawn mowing. Basically anything like that we can do at home.
I dry on the line when it’s warm outside.

We do splurge on vacations you have to fly to get to (though this year we’re going on an Alaskan cruise because it sails out of Seattle!), a gym membership and I get my hair highlighted, but we work hard and save/budget for these things so I don’t feel guilty about it. Plus, we’re trying to enjoy ourselves before we have little kids that will put a damper on these things 🙂


Katrina April 27, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I bought a diva cup about 4 years ago ($35) and have used it ever since. GREAT investment!


Colean April 23, 2013 at 6:54 pm

In this I am probably a minority – Cell phones! I have a $20/yr internet home phone with free long distance so the hubs and I can talk to our parents.
Hair color in a salon – I do it myself from whatever dye had a coupon when I need a touch up
Eat at any fast food restaurant


marie April 23, 2013 at 8:40 pm

What I don’t do:

No cell phone bill (pay-as-you-go) Averages $10 every 3 months
No hair appointments, (let the gray take over last year) Savings 200.00 yr
Hardly ever eat out in restaurants (maybe every other month)
Never do fast food Yuck!
No gardener or housekeeper (that just makes me laugh)
Don’t shop at the mall (huge savings)
Don’t have my nails done (live on a farm haha)
We don’t eat junk food (okay maybe ice cream, if you can call it junk. I call it necessary)
No gym memberships ( we live on a farm)
No travel (other than camping and backpacking)
No fancy electronics ( daughter lent me her kindle and I still can’t fiqure it out )
No repairmen, ( hubby fixes everything, though a repairman would be faster)
We don’t do movies, entertainment is usually free type
Wow, after reading this I sound thrifty, but boring.


Katy April 23, 2013 at 8:43 pm

No, you sound awesome!



Jan April 24, 2013 at 4:00 am

We just started paying someone to do yard work, as it’s exhausting for me or my partner to do. But, I do the snow shoveling in winter.
We don’t go out to eat much, or to movies anymore. Once in a while we’ll go to a theater for a special play, musical, opera – I do feel strongly about supporting the arts, and to me the performances are so worth it.
That said, I don’t care if my hair is grey; I go to a cheapie haircut place, and I don’t do make-up or nail stuff (I actually don’t know how!)
I don’t buy clothes, books, DVDs, CDs, or much else new. I shop vicariously when I buy little birthday presents for people!


Diane April 24, 2013 at 4:48 am

I don’t do a lot since I live on a very limited budget. Mainly, I don’t do events that most people my age seem to take part in…those that cost money! Instead, I seek out what is free and fun and have just as good a time.

Life is what you make it!


Pamela April 24, 2013 at 4:57 am

Right now, I don’t spend a cent on cable. It’s saved me a LOT of money.


Joyce April 24, 2013 at 5:28 am

I line dry clothes, reusable coffee filter, no paper products (except TP), no plastic baggies (my friend saves her bread/newspaper bags for our use and for dog waste pickup), we cook all foods from scratch, i make my own yogurt and kombucha, no gardner (how could I let someone take care of my gardens?), no house cleaner (but…if I win the lottery……. lol), barely any new clothes, no junk food, no coffee shop buys, i bring my lunch to work EVERY day. I am sure there’s more. I think it’s good to pat yourself on the back once in a while. The things we don’t have/buy are worth more to us that what others DO have/buy. Nice post.


kris April 24, 2013 at 5:57 am

I so want to buy the antenna & do the Hulu and Netflix but I am a rabid college football fan and I need my cable for that. So I am really trying to decide how to handle that. :/

I don’t do…
*Car Payments (NEVER, EVER, EVER again will I have a car payment)
*Before/After School Child Care – I changed my hours at work so I can take my son to school in the morning and my teenage daughter picks him up and watches him until we get home. I do pay her a little bit for doing that b/c it is teaching her responsiblity and now she has some ‘mad money’ for herself that she would have bugged me for anyway, lol.
*Lunches – I bring leftovers or make a salad or sandwich
*Buy any clothing/shoes items unless on sale
*Buy laundry detergent – I’ve made my own for years.
*Pay for hair colorings – I do my own.


Amanda April 24, 2013 at 6:01 am

Cable tv
Hotels when we travel (we home exchange)
Entertainment (I listen to music on slacker and tv on PBS.org)
Gym memberships
Interest on debt (other than our mortgage)
Expensive clothes (we both can work in jeans and thrift most clothes)
Formula and disposable diapers for our kids
Child care (I stay home)
Processed foods
Taxes (we run a small business and pay a lot for our own health care)


Amanda April 24, 2013 at 7:02 am

I thought of a few more–this is so much fun!

Landline phone
Hair color/manicure/nail polish/makeup
Gaming systems
Big tvs (we watch on our laptops)
Curtains/pillows (I sew everything myself)
House cleaning


Trisha April 24, 2013 at 6:07 am

Katy, I am right there with you! My husband and I had a “come to Jesus” moment about a year ago. Because of this difficult and uncomfortable discussion, we are on our way to be debt free in two years and have been able to save for a down payment to purchase a home! Here are some things that we cut out to begin saving.

-No Cable! (we have a roku device and stream Hulu Plus and Netflix)
-We cut out most processed food (no more chips, fruit snacks, packaged desserts)
-I take my lunch to work and my son takes a lunch to school everyday
-We purchased an espresso machine and french press and make our own coffee drinks
-I coupon (although I’m hardly a finatic) and I use Ibotta and Endorse apps on my smartphone to get cash back on groceries I purchase
-We do not have a landline
-My work pays for my cell phone plan, but my husband joined my parents family plan and we now only pay them $50 instead of $90 for our own plan
-We only drive into town when we have to. It may sound ridiculous, but being in communication with each other and simply asking if anything is needed when you’re already out in about has saved us time and gas.
-I have 3 boys and have recycled all the clothes from my 1st child and rarely have to buy anything!
-I do my own manicure and pedicure
-I wax my own upperlip and tweez and shape my own eyebrows (It’s saves me tons of money and time)
-We use the library to get books and DVD’s
-We eat less meat

It really is frightening how much small items can really put a dent into your budget!


Rachel C April 24, 2013 at 6:42 am

We don’t spend money on:
Cable TV
Hair coloring
Car payments
Mortgage payments
Expensive vacations

But we do spend money for:
College tuition – the second of three kids is about to graduate debt-free. (We look good on the last one as well.)


cathy April 24, 2013 at 8:11 am

We don’t spend money on:

new cars/car payments
cable (we do have Netflix)
school lunches
gardener (much more fun to take care of my own yard!)
cosmetics/hair coloring
gym membership
shop at the mall
interest on credit cards
CDs (we use radio/internet radio, free downloads from library; we DO support our local npr affiliate)
worry about being trendy or keeping up with those proverbial Joneses!

Thinking about this, I realized that there are far more categories where it’s not all or nothing. We are huge fans of our excellent local library, but occasionally buy a new book (usually something we’ve already read that we love). We cook from scratch every day, but occasionally have a restaurant meal (no fast food, though). We buy the majority of our clothes secondhand, but there is the occasional new purchase. We go to malls so infrequently, that when my son’s iPod (purchased used) needed a repair at the apple store, the whole family went–just to take a look at the new mall. Parents and kids agreed the architecture was much more interesting than the stores!


Kailey April 24, 2013 at 8:35 am

We don’t spend money on…
Expensive cosmetics and aging creams (like my friends and we’re all under 30!)
the daily coffee (I’m a tea drinker and I buy that in bulk)
Vanity purchases like purses, wallets, sunglasses (although I did lose my sunglasses over easter while I was visiting Portland, if you find a 4 year old pair of Roots aviators with a loose left lens their mine!)
interest on consumer debt, we pay off our cc’d every month
Work lunches
Expensive hair cuts/salon visits
Prepackaged foods – most things are from scratch
Feminin products – menstrual cup all the way
Trendy clothes shopping

This one was hard!


K D April 24, 2013 at 8:39 am

Take-out food
Restaurant meals (with occasional exceptions)
Most full priced groceries
Lawn Care
Sporting Events
Expensive Hobbies
Coffee Drinks/stops at 7-11
Cleaning Help
Debt Interest Payments (no mortgage, car payments, etc.)
Most Books


Annie April 24, 2013 at 8:59 am

1. An extra cable box for the bedroom. Didn’t really need it, got rid of it. (Still negotiating with husband to ditch the one we have left…hopefully that will be gone soon too.)
2. A fancy cell phone, all we need is one that makes calls. We avoid texting as much as possible.
3. I no longer color my hair. I’m growing it out and going fabulously gray! The mess, expense, time, and stains on my pillowcases are not worth it. Since my hair is only 5% gray now there won’t be really obvious roots. The grays that are coming in are my “platinum highlights.”
4. I don’t spend money on mani/pedis. I learned to do my own years ago and have become good enough that most people think I get them done at a salon.
5. Expensive makeup/skin care. The drugstore brands work just as well.
6. Bottled water, (only if the local water is questionable.)
7. Travel to places that don’t have public transportation or aren’t walkable.


Monica April 24, 2013 at 10:52 am

Katy, I have a suggestion for a post to follow up this one: In these frugal times, what will you still insist on paying for or ‘treating’ yourself to? And can you still do it frugally? I am curious to hear what other people do. My examples:
1) Basic Pedicures in the Summer. I work in an office and wear dressy sandals in the summer, so my feet have to look nice. I do a terrible job on my own toes because my boobs get in the way and I can’t reach my feet! But I only get an $20 pedicure 3 times over the summer, at a place I know is licensed and clean. $20 is very cheap for a pedicure here in Fairfield County, CT. I save my pennies to pay for these.
2) A good haircut every two months. I work in a professional enviroment and have to appear that way. But I have a friend cut it for only $40 in her home and she is brilliantly talented (and a former licensed stylist). Times may be tough — but I am NOT going to look that way! Luckily, I don’t have to color my hair yet.
3) New shoes. I refuse to buy used shoes. Yuck. I only buy one pair a year–and only what is on sale or deep discount. I prolong the nice appearance of my work shoes by wearing sneakers into the office and then change into my good work shoes at my desk. Thus, the work shoes don’t pound the pavement or rub on my car mats on the drive to work.
4) A simple meal out with friends or family every two months or so. Always with a coupon or for lunch, which is cheaper than dinner. I need to dress up and get out of the house and not do the cooking every once in awhile!
5) Chinese take out once a week. My husband and I love it. And we only buy an entree. We make frozen appetizers from Costco at home. One entree is dinner and lunch the next day for us.
So, these little indulgences make me feel and look good, and I feel challenged in these frugal times, but never deprived.


alexandra April 24, 2013 at 11:10 am

This is a great post!
We had gotten rid of cable ages ago and switched to Netflix. Just cut off netflix. We are too sedentary having it around….
No gym membership
We share One car, and bike a lot to work (husband every day)
Don’t buy coffee/iced tea out. make at home
cook all meals at home
take our lunches to work (my work gives me lunch for free)
no more hair coloring
no more expensive face creams. a good diet and exercize work on that!
Buy most clothes at thrift store
No paper towels or napkins or kleenex. Fabric all the way.
We do library for magazines and books. Occasionally buy books if they are excellent references to be used again and again.
We do pay for pandora as the ads were driving us crazy. No our home is completely “ad” free!
no lawn care, no housekeeper, no babysitter
we are trying to NEVER waste food
no debt at all (talk about savings!)
About to buy a house for MUCH MUCH less than bank said we were approved for (mortgage w/insurance & taxes will be same as rent)
House needs updating but will do so from salvaged items, slowly but surely, hopefully for free or very little.
Next on the list:
diva cup!
thanks for all the ideas.


Jennifer @ Little Blog in the Big Woods April 24, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Everything on your list and the following;

Hair cuts for the guys in the family (I do them).
Gym membership, bought an awesome Precor Eliptical at a garage sale!
Home – my husband’s work provides housing (and it’s great!)
Utilities – my husband’s work also pays utilities- minus cell and internet bills
Mowing – Use mower and gas from my hubbies work.
Most household upgrades like paint, faucets, light fixtures are provided by work.


AnnW April 24, 2013 at 3:53 pm

We spend money on things we can’t or don’t want to do ourselves. Like electricians, and plumbers. Tree cutting. Tree spraying. Yard work, because my husband says he is allergic to grass. He still does the “George Bush” version of brush cutting and dump runs. Housepainting, cleaning, and dry-cleaning and shirt laundering., tax preparation. Things we don’t spend money on: lunches out, facials, manicures, (I get two pedicures or so a year. I can’t reach my toes either.), huge tv’s, huge family get togethers (no huge family), sporting events, movies in a theatre, CD’s, music downloads, alcohol and beer, fast food, magazines (we use the internet now,) new furniture besides mattresses and bedding, (I can count on one hand the number of brand new furniture items we have bought in thirty years,) fancy cars and car payments, RV’s, boats, candles, (what a waste of money), knick knacks from TJ Maxx, Home Goods, etc, wrapping paper, greeting cards, sympathy cards, and all organizational things that people get sucked into in WalMart and Target.
If you are thoughtful, you can eliminate a lot in life without feeling bereft. When I was growing up, we saved wrapping paper and reused it! As I packed up my parents house for them moving to assisted living, and then the final packing up, I saw a lifetime of gifts that were still in the boxes. Opened, acknowledged, but never used. What a waste for everyone involved. Let’s take care of our possessions as if we only have two pair of shoes, two outfits, or two chairs. Ann


Erica @Cult of Kale April 25, 2013 at 1:46 am

I don’t go out. I’m 26 years old and I’ve never been to a club and only visited a bar a handful of times. We drink socially with friends at our own house, or theirs, cost is very minimal. We usually play a card game and laugh and joke all night with a beer or two a person.

I don’t have an overflowing closet. I like to look nice, and I especially like shoes. I have several pairs I care for, most purchased new. Most of my clothing is purchased used and is also cared for so it will last longer.

I don’t have cable television. I don’t even have Netflix or Hulu, or anything similar. We have a tv, but we watch broadcast. Most of our favorite shows are available that way and it’s all HD.

I do buy books, but I don’t spend money on them. I trade magazines I collect through freecycle or free subscriptions I get. I use them to buy mostly reference or cooking books. The internet is abundant and overflowing with information, but books are still a great source of in-depth and specific info.

I don’t go to the salon. I do all my beauty stuff myself, although it’s all pretty basic. I even cut my own hair. I’ve had it my whole life, I’ve learned how to treat it.

I don’t buy beauty care items, I have learned to make most of them myself. Shampoo, soaps, moisturizers, etc, homemade has really been the best for me and my sensitive skin.


Linda in Mass April 25, 2013 at 5:44 am

After reading the posts, I am not really that thrifty!
I do go out to eat.
I buy paper towels only occasionally (one roll usually lasts several months). Sometime we use them for cat yack.
I have a cell phone for business.
I do drive my car for errands.
Just got back from vacation and will go again in June. I love to travel. I did get this past vacation to Mexico for FREE from work. The next one is for a soccer tournament.

I have not had cable tv for about 23 years.
We cook, do housework and yard work
I don’t use my dryer 10 months of the year
I don’t buy a lot of clothes or shoes
I use the library a lot. I do buy books at the library book sale
I don’t go to the movies that much…maybe once a year or every other
That’s all I can think of but I know there are more things we don’t do.


Alexis April 25, 2013 at 1:32 pm

What don’t I pay for?

Child care expenses (no kids!)
Beauty products
Fast food
Big box shopping
Dollar store trinkets
Lawn care (apartment)
Home decor (it’s thrifted or curbside finds, so cheap if anything)
Mani/pedi (still haven’t had one in 27 years of life)
Designer anything


Laura April 28, 2013 at 5:02 am

I don’t
buy meat, I raise all of our meat
buy disposables, except for t.p.
buy new clothes for everyday or dress up
pay for t.v.
pay for a cell phone, my off farm job provides it
pay for housekeeping, but I’d like to!
pay for yardwork
pay for a checking acct.
truck payments or full coverage insurance
knick knacks, trying to declutter
gifts, I try to make them or make deposits in my niece and nephew’s college fund. Mom is getting a lemon pie for Mothers’ Day.
buy jams, jellies, or spaghetti sauce. i put up my own.
gym membership. I farm so I’m pretty active, but once a week, a friend and I go to the local college to use their equipment.
books for recreational reading, I use bookmooch.com
most of the time we potluck with friends, but we go out on occassion as well

I will spend more for:

High quality food! I won’t give up my local milk share and when the farmers’ market starts most of what I can’t grow myself will come from there. (If you want local farmers, you have to support them.)
-trade newspapers and journals for the farm
-insulated boots, rain boots, and work boots for the farm nobody wants to work outside if you’re misreable and you can’t find them second hand.
-insulated cover-alls, wool socks, and a sun hat
-nothing like a cold beer with friends sitting in the yard and cutting up.
Mostly, I enjoy my work and have good friends and a large family so I don’t need a lot of things.


Kim from Philadelphia April 28, 2013 at 4:39 pm

We don’t feel the need to ” Keep up with the Joneses”
We spend money on thing that matter to us. Experiences, travel, friends, family, creating a comfortable home, good food, saving for retirement and our son’s college as well as donating time and money to organizations we believe in. Just about anything else doesn’t really tempt us.


Carrie April 30, 2013 at 3:08 pm


I love your blog! You are funny and inspirational in a non-preachy, relatable way. Reading the comments about what readers don’t spend money on made me feel I was among kindred spirits. My family seems extremely thrifty amongst our neighbors, but slightly extravagent compared to some of the commenters.

What we don’t spend money on:
new clothes for me (we buy a few things for my husband & about 1/2 of the things for my kids are new)
movies out
gym membership
interest on anything except our mortgage

We spend very little on hair compared to most people I know. Most of the 35-45 yr old ladies I know spend in the neighborhood of $120-140 every 4-8 weeks to get their hair cut, colored, highlighted. I tried one of my friend’s stylists for $120 before my high school reunion a few years back. My hair looked very processed, not bad, but I didn’t feel like me. I now dye my own hair (b/c of grays) and get it cut about 4 times a year either at Fantastic Sams or a fancier place with a Groupon. I cut my husband’s hair (with questionable results, but I’m improving), and my daughters get theirs cut at Fantastic Sams about 2x a year.


Katy April 30, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Thank you for your lovely words. My family too spends as little as possible on our hair.



The Prudent Homemaker May 6, 2013 at 10:49 pm

I don’t spend money on :

Vacations. We don’t take them. (We would like to, and maybe one day we will, but 75% income cuts for many years don’t make that possible).

Haircuts. We cut everyone’s hair at home. My husband cuts mine.

Cell phone. I have a landline with not long distance, no caller id, and no call waiting. It’s $17.90 a month with taxes.

A second car. We are a one-car family.

Driving kids to school, school lunches, backpacks, school fundraisers: I homeschool my children.

Eating out: I cook at home, from scratch, all the time. If I don’t want to cook I make enough for leftovers for another day. I’m also teaching my chidren to cook 🙂

I don’t paint my nails, wear perfume, drink coffee, tea, or alcohol.

Cable tv: We got rid of cable in July 2007.

I make most of our family’s gifts.

There are tons of foods I don’t buy; I posted a list here: http://theprudenthomemakerblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/doing-without-what-i-dont-buy.html


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