Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What You Don't Buy

Today as I was driving my daughter to school, I watched a police officer pulling over a car for speeding, I assumed. It got me to thinking, the town where my daughter goes to school is a small town. It has one traffic light. It is a four lane highway with a turning lane in the middle. When the state built the road a few years ago, the city wanted the speed limit to be 30 MPH, but the state of Tennessee said no, it had to be 40 MPH. 

Well, as you can imagine, the police regularly patrol this road. Even after you leave the city limits on both sides, you have to go about one mile before the speed limit goes back to 55 MPH and many people push it and go 55 before they are legally allowed to, which is what, I assume, happened to the driver today. I try my best to stay right under 40 because I don't want a $100 speeding ticket. Sometimes I get to thinking about other things and catch myself over that speed limit, but I try to be careful and I am for the majority. 

This thought process led me to thinking about other things I don't want to spend money on, so I made a list of items I don't spend money for and they include things like...

Coffee, beer, wine, soda pop. I drink a pop once in a blue moon, although I do buy them every now and then for my daughter and I do keep Sprite on hand for sick tummies. While these drinks are good for other people, I don't drink them because I don't like them, which, lucky for me, just happens to save me money. I mostly drink water, and occasionally tea. 

I don't keep up "appearances" or keep up with the Joneses. There is no way for me, a single mother on a limited income, to keep up with some of the other people in my life. And you know what? It does not bother me. I'm happy for people who have realized the American Dream. My sister is one of them and I'm very happy for her and her family. That just wasn't in the cards for me, and I'm OK with that. I am happy on a daily basis and I love what I do for a living. Yes, sometimes life if hard, but I still find blessings everyday that I am grateful for. 

We don't take yearly vacations. One of the reasons is because I do not like traveling far from home without another adult with me, so that is more of a personal reason for not going than financial, although it does save us money. 

I don't spend money on a gym membership. We have plenty of ways to get exercise at home without spending money for a gym membership. We live on 40 acres here and we can find a lot of things to do that will help us in that area without spending any money. 

I could list other thing, but I'm curious, what are some things you don't want to spend any money for?

CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
Professor Penny Pincher 
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011 and beyond.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”
"Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle ~ It will help you save money"


  1. A great question! I don't spend money on the following:

    -paper towels
    -paper napkins
    -take out coffee (exception being the rare cup while traveling, once i have emptied my thermos)
    -liner trash bags for the waste baskets (we do buy tall kitchen bags but I will also use large plastic bags from shopping at Kohls/Sears etc)
    -book socks-I still cover books with paper grocery bags, if needed
    -dishwasher tabs (rare)-I find that the powder sold at Dollar Tree works just fine at a fraction of the price
    -drycleaning-I buy washable clothes, and handwash what is deemed "delicate"
    -individual snacks, drinks: I make as much as possible myself, including "jello cups" by pouring the liquid Jello into a small, glass Pyrex dish (kids friends thought that was neat! @@)
    -anything from a vending machine (with rare exception). I pack my own lunch for work, keep tea bags, peanut butter, crackers, granola bars in a drawer for back up
    -liquid hand soap: I buy body wash at Dollar tree, water it down and use that at the kitchen sink. All bathrooms use bar soap at the sink
    -expensive cleaning products: I have always stockpiled my cleaning supplies, bought previously at Xpect Discounts, using face value coupons if possible. I usually spent $1 +/- per bottle. Fast forward, and with divorce, my stockpile came with me. We are using it up (don't want to move it, should we be moving again come July), and I have turned to Dollar Tree alternatives. I also plan on mixing up my own formulations once that is all gone, sticking to the basics: a powdered cleaner, a glass cleaner, an orange based degreaser/all purpose cleaner/laundry spot remover, generic brillo pads, generic nylon scrubbie pads.
    - I also don't spend a lot on laundry supplies: generic bleach from the discount grocer, 50 oz detergent for under $2, liquid softener 50 oz for under $3 (moving to using up my stockpile of dryer sheets although I prefer the liquid softener for towels, then moving to trialing white vinegar), Dollar Tree LA's amazing orange cleaner for spot removal, generic hydrogen peroxide for blood stains
    -mailing/package supplies: I reuse the Kraft paper from sugar/flour as well as any sturdy paper that enters the home. I reuse received mailers as well.

    that's all I can think of at the moment!

    1. That is a great list with so many good ideas, Carol! I reuse all of my mailers too and have been know to get some out of the garbage can at work, lol.

  2. Belinda,
    here's what I think -- I think you HAVE achieved the American Dream. You have figured out how to live life on your terms, and not someone else's. And that to me, IS the American Dream.

    But I understand what you are saying. I know people who own multiple homes, buy a new car every other year, go to the grocery store and "just see what looks good", etc. Their life is simply different from ours, not better.

    As for what we don't spend money on, for our family that's going to the movies, cable TV, alcohol (I do buy vodka for making vanilla extract, however). There are a lot of things that I can't say we never buy, but it's a rare exception and not the rule, like chips, we buy those for the 4th of July and family picnics, and soda pop. I buy about 4 2-litre bottles of soda pop per year.

    It's a matter of prioritizing our spending. By not spending on some things that we've deemed unnecessary for our family, we are able to experience many other things that would otherwise be unaffordable.

    Good post, Belinda! It got me thinking about my priorities.

    1. You are so sweet, Lili, thank you. :) You're right, their lives are simply different from ours.

  3. We need to be sitting in a circle sharing this information. :) Here are a few of what we do not do, but I am hardly scratching the service.

    *Using dollar stores that prevent overspending in many ways, and that's not what you asked.
    *DH's hair cuts at barber's. I give better cuts. lol.
    *Store prepared foods, as much as possible.
    *Overheated home.
    *Water heater set too high. 125 degrees safe.
    *Travel vacations.
    *Local attractions when there are free times weekly for zoo, science/history museum, earthquake center, botanic gardens, Egyptian museum, art museum, art galleries, civil rights museum, public parks, and more.
    *Concerts when churches, universities, colleges, lower schools offer free.
    *Drama when churches offer free.
    *Restaurants when we prefer home cooking.
    *Spousal special occasion gifts. We chose U-Verse services, , Amazon Prime, and warehouse memberships as gifts for each other.
    *Gym memberships. Walk inside nearby Sam's.
    *Christmas cards except for fewer than ten. Emailed about 200 greetings in 2014. Also phone greetings.
    *Soap pumps: Use hotel shampoo and water in pumps from DH's business travel.
    *Pest control: Do it ourselves.
    *No drycleaning except DH's suits and wool sweaters. Spot clean and press using cloth over clothing as much as possible.
    *No coffee, tea, or alcohol. Very, very few carbonated drinks.
    *No brand medications or products when generic are acceptable.

    1. Such a great list!! I would LOVE to be able to cut our own hair, but don't know if we could. That would save us money for sure. We also do not overheat our home, in fact we have come so accustomed to it, that other places are too hot for us in the winter. We also do our own pest control here too. We purchase big bottles of bug killer from Home depot or Lowe's and go from there. I also purchased a large bottle of de icer for my car and decant it into a smaller pump bottle for my windshield in the winter, which is much cheaper than buying it in the small bottle.

    2. I spent years observing and asking questions of the stylist who cut both DH's and my hair. I can trim my hair somewhat, but I can not style overall to my satisfaction. Cutting DH's hair saves $312 annually with a hair cut every 3 weeks.

      We use Orange Glo Furniture Polish and Cleaner as insect/spider deterrent. Nothing toxic of which I am aware. I have been told that
      citrus spray cleaner, no matter how cheap, will work; however, Orange Glo definitely rids us of insects and spiders, and I am unwilling for now to change. Doing it ourselves saves at least $740 yearly.

      As you purchase large bottles of de-icer to transfer to a smaller pump bottle, we do the same with hand sanitizer. A compromised auto-immune system causes us to be more aware of "ickkies" that could further harm. Soap and water is not available everywhere.


  4. I'll never be a diamonds and furs person, but I do like make up and nice clothes...so my compromise on those things is to use coupons and shop sales. To look for more timeless pieces, etc.

    I am not a caviar person and would never buy gourmet food per say; however, due to diet restrictions and preferences our grocery budget is a little more liberal. I do shop sales, yellow stickers and buy store brands on things though.

    We are careful with our driving as you mention, careful with insurances, chose to live more modestly, etc. I think life is all about mindful choices. We have some items that we pay for that may not be considered frugal by others, but that we have made a choice to buy. By making it a choice and understanding the difference between needs and wants, I feel like we have hit upon a happy medium that works for us. I agree with Lili that true happiness is about living life on your terms.

    1. I agree, Shara. True happiness is about living life on your terms. I like that. :)

    2. Shara, your listing being careful about insurance is one we are studying. Friend changed to a company that we are considering and costs less with good coverage. Why pay more? Now, if only we could haggle with our property taxes.

      I would say that I am learning what is frivolous to me may be a necessity for someone else. It was difficult for me to understand, and I still argue with myself over some matters.

  5. Forgot that another no-buy is newspaper. We save $120 year for 2 ISP's on 2 computers. We do not subscribe to digital local paper but read free digital USA Today and available sections of Washington Times.

    With medically restricted diets, newspaper food coupons are not usable.

  6. Does the American dream even really exist anymore?? Seems more people are struggling just to get by. You seem to be a good steward of your resources. I am inspired each time I read your blog.

    There are many things I do not buy, and many more things I should not buy :).

    1. Thank you so much, Theresa. That was very sweet of you to say. :)

      That is a great question and I agree, so many people struggle to get by. Times are definitely tough.

  7. The American Dream exists for me. IMO, it's how one defines American Dream, and we do not define it the same.

    For some it's owning a big house. For others, it's having means to rent without upkeep. A particular car fulfills dreams. To others, public transportation is their choice. Many want acres of land with a home. Others want a small condo with access to cultural events. Farming draws some while containers on a patio delight others.

    I define my own American Dream, not allowing others to choose for me, nor do I care if I do not meet their American Dream.

    At age 29, an MD chose Memphis as his home because it was the poorest city in the USA. At age 54, G. Scott Morris, MD serves the community with a magnificent health program for the poor. His service is his American Dream.

    My PCP gives much to The Church Health Center and promotes it. In all its years, only one MD declined to help The Center. The American Dream.

    Thanks to Belinda and the likes of Amy D., many manage. Life is love and caring and laughing for me. By the way, blogs aid me every day. WooHoo for cyberspace!

    1. I love cyberspace too!! Such a great way to fellowship with those of kindred spirits. A lovely post, thank you. :)


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