How to Save Money » Frugal Living

10 things we don’t spend money on

Although you probably don’t want to, spending money is necessary sometimes – but you do have a choice about where your money goes.

Living a frugal lifestyle has not always come naturally to me, but after making the switch from being a spender to a saver almost 4 years ago, my life has become much less stressful.

I no longer worry about coming up with the money to pay bills, I can always buy a pair of shoes once mine are worn and need replacing and there’s always money in our emergency fund in case something bad were to happen to us, financially.

The reason that we no longer struggle with money is that refuse to spend it on things that aren’t completely necessary.

“Happiness is making the most of what you have.” Click to Tweet this!

These are 10 things we don’t spend money on:

1. Warranties: I don’t think I’ve ever actually used any warranty that I paid for, so for the past 4 years now I haven’t paid for any at all. In my opinion, they’re a waste of money for most things.

2. Books: We get most of our books from the library these days. They have so many books (and movies, music, and magazines!) available for FREE. If I find a book that I really enjoy, I will “buy” it – through Amazon. I redeem most of my Swag bucks for credit and usually spend it on books that I like – and kitchen gadgets.

3. Magazine subscriptions: Is it just me, or do most magazines just consist of ads? I haven’t read a good magazine in years (except “Real Simple” – I love that one!). My husband has a magazine subscription for The Economist, but we got that for free with some WagJag credit that I had.

4. Family outings: We take advantage of all of the free activities we can do locally, such as parks. Luckily, there are a lot of nice places around us that we regularly visit for free.

5. Water at restaurants: It’s not often that we go out to eat at restaurants, but when we do, I always order water to drink. Most restaurants make the majority of their profit from beverages because they are priced so high, so I never buy them and just stick to water.

6. Cleaning supplies: I get most of our cleaning supplies for free with coupons, so it’s very rare that I will buy them while out shopping. I have also been trying to make more of our cleaners at home, usually from vinegar and baking soda (you can clean pretty much anything with those 2 items alone).

7. Gym membership: Not only do I not have the time (or the discipline!) to go to the gym on a regular basis, I am simply not willing to pay the outrageous prices to join one. We stay active by going for long walks. I also really love my 30 Day Shred DVD for days that I am not able to get outside.

8. Car payments: We decided a few years ago that we would never take on a loan to get another car. When the time comes that our current vehicle needs replacing, we will pay cash. Since we are not saving for a car right now (and are instead saving for a home of our own), we would use our emergency fund if we needed to replace our van in a hurry (if we were in a car accident and the car was totaled, for example).

9. Fancy home decor: With a toddler in the house that wants to grab everything he sees, it’s been a while since I’ve had anything nice in the house. All of my favorite decor pieces are packed away for when the kids are older. Our couches are more than 5 years old and in dire need of replacing, but I refuse to get anything new until we move (so we can get the perfect size for our home).

Plus, it’s just not worth it to have nice things that will just get ruined by messy toddlers!

10. Store-bought baked goods: I make most of our baked goods from scratch, so I never usually buy pre-made baked goods from the store. Not only are they usually very expensive, but I personally find that baking (and cooking) usually results in much tastier food.

The list can go on and on, but those are the main things that we don’t spend our hard-earned cash on.

There are certain areas that we splurge, but for the most part, right now we are focused on saving as much of our money as possible – so we avoid the items on this list in order to do so.

I’d much rather sacrifice now to live a better life later.

What are some things that you don’t spend money on?


  1. Geneviève

    I don’t spend on air fresheners. They are bad for our health and the environment, and they are unnecessary. Why would I spend on these when good ventilation and cleaning with eco-friendly products do the job?

  2. jenn

    cell phone…haven’t had one in 2 years…there are a few times that it would have been handy but certainly not worth even the $10/month pay as you go…I can spend the $120 a year on something else

  3. Rejeanne

    We don’t pay for cable anymore,we got a boxee box plug to the internet and no need of cable anymore..

  4. Lisa

    Cable for sure. All of my favourite shows are online now. We plug the ‘puter into the TV and voila… Cable!

  5. Sandra

    We cut cable a year and half ago… Do not miss it at all… The shows we enjoy we get the DVD’s, so much nicer with out the annoying commercials.

  6. Katie

    I stopped buying DVD’s and just borrow from friends who collect them. And use my old roommates Netflix subcription.

    I get books from the library or borrow/pass along between friends.

    I limit how often I buy new clothes, shoes are hit and miss since I have a bad foot and finding anything fancy or summery is next to impossible and I’ve made mistakes in the past, 30$ for sandals isn’t so bad until you’ve worn them for a day and are in too much pain to walk 🙁

    I’ve been getting water instead of juice/pop at restaurants for a few years now, at first it was an effort to curb sugary drinks, but it helps the wallet too 🙂

    I use public transportation, walk or bike just about everywhere. No car payments.

    When I go out to bars to socialize I don’t *always* have to get a beer. 5$ for a pint? Geees. Drinking, even one beer ruins my next day I find, so that’s another bonus.

    Eating in before going out, even when I go to friends to hang out beforehand/get ready. Much cheaper than a 15$ meal out…..

    I think that’s it. Or all I can think of.

  7. Jamie

    Personally, I really believe in the extended warranty. I used to work in a store that sold them and there were lots of people who took advantage of the extended warranty and lots of others who wished they’d spent the extra little bit of money. Most electronics will have some sort of major problem within the first 6mos of the warranty expiring and when you have the extended warranty the product is replaced with a brand new one. It does take some time, but the extra $50-$100 is usually cheaper than buying the entire unit brand new again. even knew a lady whose computer crashed in a power outage and they replaced it for her with the extended warranty.

    Other than that, most of the things you don’t spend money on are the sam things I don’t spend money on. Although, I do buy cookies when they’re on sale :o)

  8. Gail

    Cutting cable and getting rid of Rogers internet. Everything you could possibly want to watch is available online now. Rogers charges way too much for their monthly internet packages, so we saved money by switching to a smaller ISP like Acanac or TekSavvy. Better and faster bandwidth, unlimited downloads, and lower prices.
    Once both my and my DH’s cell contracts expire we are going to switch to a family plan so we can share our minutes and data plans.

  9. Karen

    I might wonder if you will give into paying money for family outings at some point …at least use a coupon. You might want to go to the zoo, museum or amusement parks at one point when the kids are young.

  10. Sabrina

    I agree with almost everything on your list. The only thing is I work in the restaurant industry so I will always purchase a beverage. I do this because it keeps the prices of other items on the menu cheaper. Restaurants do make a lot of profit on their beverages, there is no doubt about that. What a lot of people don’t realize is with the rising cost of food and labour inputs restaurants are hard pressed to make a profit, considering the normal profit margin is around 5% (compared to a grocery store that profits around 15%). If everyone stops buying pop/coffee/tea and orders water instead, restaurants will have to increase prices elsewhere so they can make a profit. I would rather pay $2 for a pop and keep my steak dinner as cheap as possible 🙂

  11. Frugal Edmonton Mama

    Magazines, eBooks, Books, DVDs (aside from Disney DVDs) as all this content is available through torrents for Ipad!

  12. Katie

    Sabrina; That’s more or less two sides of the same coin. By getting water at least I’m making a better choice for my health. Although most resturant foods aren’t the best, I stay away from them regularly and make food at home instead.

  13. Mandy

    I have to agree with Jamie on the warranties for electronics. They become obsolete quickly and when they stop working under warranty, they’re replaced with the latest model.
    Also, just a note on Sabrina’s comment, the grocery industry is also a 5% profit margin industry.

  14. Eve

    This year I again purchased a library card after many years of buying books. I can get the latest movies for free as well as downloading books to the Kobo I received for I no longer pay for books. The Kobo was the best investment. I got it because I have arthritis in my hands and wrists and books are too heavy to hold.Kobo offers free books too. I make my own household cleaning items as much as possible. I no longer buy prepackaged foods and make my own salad dressings.I do buy warranties minimum time because I have had computers go in less than a year,fridges that have given me problems etc. I like a warranty that covers the first two years.I too always have water with my meals. My husband and I split a meal if large or take 1/2 home as we just cannot eat a large meal.Also I now find that appetizers are often enough for a lunch out.We enjoy live theatre but purchase tickets on reduced price days and usually go to second string movies than pay when they are just out.

  15. Cassie Howard

    Karen: We visit those places as well, but would never pay for them. I get vouchers from WagJag/Groupon often for free (from referrals).

  16. mariposaman

    Hand held bidet instead of toilet paper. If you get your finger in there, it is cleaner than toilet paper. A package of toilet paper lasts all year now. It is cleaner, cheaper and better for the environment. I would prefer a proper bidet, but do not have the room.

    When I go out I either pack a coffee in a thermos, or cans of iced tea in a cooler.

    I cut my land line down to a basic service. For long distance I use a phone card or use Skype, or free through gMail. Facebook also has free video calling now.

    I always check out the expired vegetable tray at the grocery store when I go out. I have found a couple of stores that their expired veggies are still good if you are discriminating what you pick. You have to use cook or freeze them right away usually, but I rarely pay full price for veggies any more.

    On my to do list is to cut cable and rely on an over the air antenna for local stations, and get a better internet package so I can watch TV on cable.

  17. Jacquie

    Maybe I’m biased, but a magazine takes dozens of people to research, write, design, illustrate, photograph etc. We are so spoiled that advertising pays for so much of that awesome content. I don’t think $5 is so much to pay for all that work… That said, if you’re not going to pay for news, you deffinitely shouldn’t pay for greeting cards. They cost the same or often more than a magazine that has thousands of words and images. Some cards are nice, but most have a silly rhyme and a stock photo. It’s not that memorable or thoughtful.

    Get some postcards from local places (you can get them at lots of shops and restaurants for free and it makes for a funny conversation piece), or make your own out of paper. It will cost next to nothing.

  18. Jenny

    I don’t spend my money on parking fees. If there is no free parking, I take the bus.

    My other priority is electricity. My father tells me that it makes no difference, but I unplug every un-useful appliances. Example, if I don’t watch the TV, I unplug it, because TVs use electricity even if they are turned off. I do the same for toaster, boiler, dryer machine (summer only) and other things.

  19. Nasly

    We don’t have cable, and I spent very little on cleaning products since most of my cleaning gets done with vinegar. I beware of sales as often times we just buy something because is cheap not because we need it. I cloth-diaper, and spend very little on children’s clothing.

  20. Betty

    Warranties in our experience have helped us out big time as far as finances go (or maybe we just had bad luck) for big ticket items only. We bought a new lawn tractor from Sears & decided to buy the extended warranty (it was over $2500. new). One month before the extended warranty was to expire (tractor was 3 yrs. old then), the engine blew. Sears had & still has great service. They came out put a new motor, powertrain, etc. on it & 18 yrs. later it is still working great!! Another incident was when we purchased a 5 yr. old vehicle & decide to spend the extra $500. on extended warranty. Best $500. spent as the first week we had to replace the rear axle (that was $1000.) & 3 weeks after that the transmission blew ($4500. for a reconditioned transmission!!!). So those 2 warranties alone were well worth the money for us; they actually saved us money in the long run. But everybody has different opinions & it depends also on what your budget can handle.

  21. Jennie

    I love buying books…I try and wait until there is a promotion at Chapters but not always. They are my biggest vise (I figure its healthier than many other addictions) Our library is only open a few hours a week, and not at any time I can actually get there, plus they keep fining me for books I returned well before their due date. Then again, I’m an author…I know exactly how much hard work goes into writing a book and how little return you get for that effort.

    I don’t usually buy extended warrantees or plans but I did get the protection plan for my iPhone 4. I’ve never had a problem with any apple product, but I know the iphone4 did have some issues. If mine goes wonky, even if the battery charge isn’t working properly, I can get a replacement right away and if the 4 isn’t available I get upgraded. For the price of an iPhone, and the amount of jostling around a cell phone often gets, I figured it would be worth the cost.

  22. Jennifer

    Quoting Jenny, “My other priority is electricity. My father tells me that it makes no difference, but I unplug every un-useful appliances.”
    We do that too. Saw it on Ophrah – LOL.
    We have the ‘stupid’ Smart Meter and it sure DOES make a difference in our electricity bill!

  23. Kevin Murphy

    I personally do go to a gym, A city of Toronto run gym. And because I”m on 2 Gov’t disability pension, So I qualify for the city of Toronto Welcome Policy which I use for the gym membershiip. Now others can also do the same or they can use it for other programs for themselves or their children.

  24. Rachel

    I subscribe to Canadian Living and Chatelaine. These magazines are already inexpensive (less than $15 a YEAR usually) and most issues have coupon inserts and clipable coupons in the pages that more than pay for the magazines themselves. The content is good, there are great recipes every issue. The last Canadian Living (oct 2012) had about $20 worth of coupons included in it.

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