How to Save Money » Frugal Living

How To Not Spend Money

Instead of telling you ways to save money or spend wisely, today I’m going to talk about just how easy it is to NOT spend money. That is, after all, the best way to save!

It’s amazing how many little things we do each day that can be costly. Whether it’s buying coffee on your way to work, leaving the water running while you brush you teeth, being disorganized and missing a bill (resulting in a late fee) – there’s almost always something that you’re doing (or not doing), that is eating away at your finances.

Following is a list of ways to not spend money.

Stay Home

This one is pretty obvious, but some people really just don’t understand how crucial staying home is when it comes to preventing yourself from spending money.

Staying home doesn’t have to be boring, either. You can catch up on your favourite TV shows, play board games, or organize something (I can’t be the only person who finds organizing fun, right?).

We actually have an “I’m Bored” sheet in our home management binder, so if we ever feel like there’s nothing to do, we take a look at that list.

Bring Your Own Coffee

If you work outside of your home and find yourself buying coffee every day, or even a few times per week, consider bringing your own coffee with you. Stop paying over-priced coffee house prices and save some money by making your own coffee and bringing it along with you.

A good quality thermos can be found for $15 or less and coffee is pretty inexpensive if you buy it on sale. Even if you can’t find your favourite brand on sale, I’m sure that even full price would be much cheaper than buying a coffee from your local cafe every day.

While you’re at it, bring your own lunch, too!

Don’t Drive

If at all possible, take public transportation and avoid owning a vehicle. By doing this, you will be saving a bundle of money. No more insurance, car payments, gas bills or repairs and maintenance to pay for.

Not only that, but by using public transportation (walking or biking is even better), you are helping the environment by not polluting the air with the fumes from a vehicle.

Use Coupons

Spend next to nothing (or nothing at all, if you’re lucky!) on your grocery bill by taking a bit of time once per week to order and clip some coupons.

You don’t need to be an extreme couponer. Just using a few coupons per week can lead to great savings if you are purchasing items you would normally buy.

If you are just getting started with coupons and would like more information on how to get items for free or very cheap, check out my how to use coupons in Canada article.

Visit Your Local Library

Stop paying for books, movies and music when you can get it all from your local library. You can borrow many great items (including new releases) from the library for FREE – it’d be silly to not take advantage of this great community offering.

Just be sure to return the items you borrow on time to avoid paying late fees.

Don’t Sign a Phone or Cable Contract

Instead of signing on for a 2-3 year phone contract, get a pay as you go phone. You should never feel like you are forced to sign a long term contract. With just a bit of research, you will find that there are many other options out there.

As for cable TV, watch your favourite TV shows online for free instead of paying a company to show them to you.

Learn to Say No

Don’t feel obligated to go to every party, wedding or dinner out. Be selective with the events you attend and only spend money when the event is a very special one. Say no to everything else and don’t feel guilty about it.

If your friends and/or family ask why you don’t want to attend, simply let them know that you are trying to save money.

If you look around your home, I’m sure you can see areas that you can stop spending in. Maybe your closet is bursting at the seams – so you probably don’t need to shop for more clothing, even if your favourite store is having a 50% off sale.

Do you trip over your children’s toys on a regular basis? Maybe it’s time to stop buying new ones.

Whatever it may be, if there’s a way that you can save money, do it! The more you are able to save now, the more you will be able to enjoy your future later.

How do you NOT spend money? Please share in the comments.


  1. Pat

    Great article! I do most of these except the don’t drive one. We live in the country but we do limit our trips into the city. I would love to see more articles like this with some money management tips.

  2. Wendi

    Pay your utilites (if not on automatic withdrawal), insurance, and usual bills with PC Financial Master Card. Then pay the mastercard right away. (some people suggest waiting the grace period out but I’m not one of them). You have to pay your bills why not collect the points. Then head over to NoFrills (or wherever you can redeem the points) and redeem the points when you go grocery shopping. 20 000 = $20. Don’t forget the coupons for an even further reduction.

    I’ve been researching some of the points cards. There is either cashback or points and for me I rather get the points instead of a cheque in the mail. Plus some of the cards have a cap on how much you can charge to get the cash. I haven’t found a limit on the points.

  3. Betty

    Amen to the above. Since I retired a year ago & have been losing weight lately, I decided to clean out my closet. Got a couple of garbage bags for Goodwill & got rid of a lot of clothes that are too big on me now, got rid of all my old work clothes, etc. So now I just have a few of everything I need summer or winter as well as some good dressy outfits for when we go out or go to church or wherever sweats are not advisable. My side of the closet is small now compared to what it used to be (even smaller than my husband’s side; he has more clothes than I do.)

  4. Carrie

    Hobbies are an area that can be costly – I personly have not been able to get to my hobbies for over a few years but in the begining i still went shopping for stuff(i think the hobby became shopping). So last year i told my self (“self you can not buy until you run out”) and that has saved me hundreds and hundreds of dollars. I still have not got back into it yet but i want too.

  5. Niamh

    I have been following your site/mails for a while now.
    I have to say, and I am not trying to be mean at all, but this (list) sounds like absolutely no fun.

    I am a Type A Control Freak who loves organizing so I understand alot of your points. But I just couldn’t follow this list. It’s like taking all the pleasures out of life and it makes me wonder what the point of saving all this money is if you just sit at home.

    I would love it if you could give some background on your motivations or what you are actually saving for, afterall you can’t take it with you. I just can’t imagine saying no to all my social joys and interactions, giving up my car and staying home all the time.

    Just the giving up the car is absolutely foreign to me, especially if you live the in ‘burbs of the Fraser Valley. There is just no way I would be going anywhere lugging a 1 and 3 year with me if I had to take the bus or skytrain on a regular basis.

    Again, I don’t want to sound mean here but I am just having trouble comprehending this lifestyle.


  6. Wymom

    What about getting free tv with an antenna (over-the-air signal)? Anyone try this?

  7. Cassie Howard

    Niamh: I am not at all suggesting that you should sit at home all the time. I believe everyone should have a line item intheir budget for entertainment and to spend that amount monthly doing things you love. Otherwise, all of the saving will just become annoying to you and you will start spending recklessly.

    Personally, I plan on saving my money to buy a home and then after that, we will be saving for retirement. Once we hit retirement, we plan on travelling the World and that’s not cheap – so we need to save! I’m willing to sacrifice a few little pleasures now, in order to have a happy retirment where I never have to worry about money.

    This list does not apply to everyone, nor do I think any one person should do every single thing on this list. Just do what works for you. 🙂

  8. LA

    I just wanted to add something to your tip about bringing your own coffee. I love iced coffee and flavoured lattes but refuse to spend $4 per drink on one. I have found tons of recipes online to make your own flavourings to make lattes at home. I have been wanting to try a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks so I just found a recipe for pumpkin spice concentrate and for less than the price of one latte at Starbucks, I made the concentrate at home and will have enough for at least 5 drinks.

  9. Theresa

    Wymom….since the switch from analog to digital, you can’t get any channels free anymore. I know this because my parents and my sister both had “rabbit ears” and the day it switched, their whole 3 free channels disappeared.

  10. LA

    My parents still watch TV using an antenna and haven’t had to pay anything for it.

  11. Nathalie

    One thing ppl forget to mention to save money is…cut up your credit cards. Credit card companies make millions of dollars from interest. Retail outlet card especially like Sears, Zellers, Canadian Tire …etc…just to mention a few. These cards have high interest rates. My tip: only buy something if you can afford it. Don’t put it on credit if you cannot pay it within that month! If you absolutely require a credit card then get a “loadable” one. You put the money on it that you want to spend.

  12. Lea

    I agree with Wendy about the PC Mastercard. I’ve had mine for a year and a half and love it! Over that period of time, I’ve gotten over $500 in free groceries. I usually redeem $20 or $30 at a time and don’t wait until I have a ton of points (my mom waits until she has $150 or so before redeeming then gets all of her groceries free that week).

    The key is to pay it off in its entirety each month. If you pay interest at 29.9% then there is no advantage of the points. I’ve never paid any interest in the time I’ve had mine. I’ve never heard of a points cap either on this card. I’m still debating on whether or not to switch my regular banking to their $0 chequing account. Saving bank fees would be great, its just all the automatic withdrawals to switch that is the hassle…

  13. Christina

    Find a local moms group/play group where people take turns hosting or meet at a local park. Find free things to do in the city like fireworks displays or spray parks. One of my favourite things to do is have girls nights- we take turns hosting it and being some snacks then play board games or just hang out. The library is a great resources especially if you look at the city wide system and order things in- many more options. Cut corners where ever you can- like learn how to can fruit as it’s much cheaper than buying tinned ones. Use cloth diapers, grow a garden and barter with people for services

    As for the credit card we use a cash back one and run all of our utilities through it (still paying it off immediately). We usually get enough back to pay for at least 1/2 of our Christmas costs.

  14. Di

    Hi all…
    A few holiday saving trips, we have just returned from a 4000+ Km trip cross country with the need for overnight accomodations along the way. First way to save money, stay with friends or family. It is a great way to reconnect as well as FREE, usually includes free snacks when you arrive and free breakfast in the morning. If that will not work, KOA campgrounds offer cabins they are simple, very clean, and KOA bathrooms are always clean. You will have to provide your own bedding, but they are much easier than setting up a tent each night and at almost 1/2 price compaired to a motel/hotel. One tip bring a fan they have no a/c and can get warm in summer, in winter they are heated. Another tip, make your photographs your souveneers – they will envoke memories for years to come, where the T-shirt will get too small and be gone. Happy travels.

  15. Heather

    Regarding free tv and the switch from analog to digital. You can still get free TV but you need to buy a digital converter box; cost about $70 at Future Shop.

  16. Ruth

    Birthday cards and gifts – in 30 years of marriage we have only given birthday gifts to each other maybe 5 times — cards are not a necessity either. If you make your own that’s great, or go to the dollar store, but never spend your money in a traditional card store! Instead of birthday gifts we will go out for a meal together as a treat or combine our birthday money and buy something small we need for the house — I know some of you will not find that very exciting, but I think our society has created this huge emphasis on birthdays and holiday celebrations, and I for one refuse to let them suck me in! Each of my girls had 2 birthday parties where they invited in their friends between age 2 and 18 — they got to choose which age they had it at. It’s not that we’re sociable – it’s just that those occasions are so HIGHLY OVER RATED!

  17. Penny

    I totally agree with the staying at home part. Kids need to learn how to entertain themselves aswell. If you are constantly planning exciting trips and non stop activities they will grow up thinking this is normal. Casssie, I really enjoy your site and I think you are amazing for finding the time to keep it so current. Did you guys buy the house in the end?

  18. Karen

    Thanks for all your hard work you do for all of us. Do you happen to know of a easy spread sheet for tracking saving with coupons ,price matching and sales. Any idea

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