What Can You Live Without in Order to Increase Your Frugality?

by Miranda Marquit · 73 comments

There are probably a good deal of stuff you could live without — especially if you want to simplify your finances. Some stuff include stamps, mail and paper checks. It occurred to me that, not only could getting rid of some of these things help you simplify your finances, but getting rid of them could also save you money, contributing to a frugal lifestyle.

I began thinking about other things that I might be able to do without in order to enjoy a simpler — and more frugal — life. Here are some of the things I’m beginning to think that I could live without:

  • Television programming: I have high speed Internet. I have Netflix. This means that I have access to TV shows the day after they air, and that I have access to movies — some of them using instant play with my TV via my Web-connected PS3. So, why am I paying more than $70 a month for TV service?
  • Magazines: We are in the process of culling our magazines. Most have online versions, and there is no reason to be paying for magazine subscriptions when so much of what I read in terms of news and commentary is online anyway.
  • Paper books: I love reading and I love books. But my husband recently pointed out that electronic versions of books for readers like the Nook, Kindle and iPad are much less expensive than buying hard copies. With the amount of reading I do, it would be relatively easy to recoup the initial cost of buying an electronic reader. Plus, electronic books would reduce the clutter in our home.
  • Clutter: Speaking of clutter, we’ve got more of it than I like. I could definitely live without it. We’ve been practicing more mindful spending, so that we aren’t bringing in more clutter, but we could get rid of a lot of the stuff that we have.
  • Meat: I’m not saying I’m going vegetarian. But I have found that I don’t need so much meat. Meat is expensive, and it can affect your health if you eat too much of it. We’re looking into preparing more meatless dishes. This should lower health care costs down the road, as well as mean more money in our budget now.
  • Christmas presents: With the holidays just around the corner, many are already shopping online for the holidays. But do you really need more stuff? You can save money by purchasing fewer, more thoughtful, presents. It’s hard to resist the consumer call of Christmas, but we are trying.

In the end, it is up to you to examine your financial situation and your needs to decide what you can do without. We managed with just one car for the longest time, but in our current situation, with a rather undeveloped public transportation system in our area, just one car is not feasible for us. However, I look forward to the day when we can get rid of one of our cars, and save money on insurance and other costs again.

What do you think you could give up in the quest for frugality?

Bonus Tip:

Another way to save on your monthly Internet and TV costs is to find a current ATT U-Verse coupon code or at least a promotion to knock down your home service bill.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Marianne October 2, 2011 at 10:14 am

In answer to the question: What would anyone buy a book? Well it’s like this: Every time I call my library, they don’t have what I want. They offer to put me on the waiting list. When the book does come around to me, I’m already reading something else and I don’t want to stop what I’m doing, go to the library, get this book, remove it from circulation, have it at my home waiting for me while at the same time someone else is waiting for it.

maxie October 3, 2011 at 1:54 pm

So, Marianne, buy a Nook or Kindle as suggested. That way you’ll have the instant gratification you seem to need.

cole johnson October 21, 2011 at 9:34 am

Some of what you say is true. The meat issue? Meat costs just as much as produce. There is no savings in buying veggies over meat. Unless you grow your vegetables, You are paying just as much as meat. Unfortunately; in this economy there is no savings at a grocery store. have a great day!

LLM October 25, 2011 at 5:56 am

I am puzzled by people saying paper books are expensive and e-readers save money. I rarely pay more than 25 to 50 CENTS for paper books. I shop at Library book sales on the final half off day, shop at Goodwill by the pound stores (esp. on the half off day), charity thrift stores, and a used book store. I find really nice books too. Sometimes even valuable ones. I recently paid $3 for a set of 3 books which are worth at minimum $75. I also take books that I buy for as little as 10 cents to 25 cents each at the Goodwill by the pound store, and trade them in for store credit at the used book store. I usually get several dollars store credit for a book I paid 25 cents or less for.

LibbyH November 4, 2011 at 5:25 am

Why buy a book?

Well, I can’t lend it out if someone wants to borrow it. Some books you want to read first to decide if you it is worth the money. Sometimes you just want to share how great this book is – right then and there. I have lost copies of favorite books that way but most of the time, they come back. And some, not sorry to that they are gone on to some other library.

Bad Kitty No Milk Tonight March 4, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Why books? I never ever ever have to plug in a book to recharge it, its always there, ready to be read, and it never strained my eyes from the lighted screen. Same for my 2 magazine subs, which do NOT have web versions BTW. Call me old fashioned by I find all this nirvana about going all electronic rather naive. Paying bills and banking electronicly is a crap shoot, how many times do we hear about accounts hacked and IDs stolen? I’m sorry but the technology just isn’t bulletproof enough for me to trust it. Go ahead but no whining if, or when, you get bite and need months or years to sort it out. As for TV, why do even need cable to begin with? I find antenna TV sufficient, if I want something specific from cable, I can always as you say netflix it, but I dont have highspeed fiberoptic service where I live, and I dont want to run unsightly coax cable in, under, or all over my house to connect my TV with the computer hookup, so I’ll enjoy the DVD, and even if I did I still wouldnt get cable, too expensive. I’m good as long as I can get PBS and hear NPR on the radio, remember those? Besides too much TV is bad for you. Read a book instead 😉

NB Maggie March 25, 2012 at 8:37 am

In trying to simplify my life I have come to realize that there is just no accounting for how large a change can be generated ONE STEP AT A TIME. It started with becoming a ” homemade ” and healthy vegan: no food from boxes, packages, or cans. I soak, season, and cook beans which have become the foundation of many wonderful recipes from cuisines I’d never tried before, but now love. I make my own soy milk (20 cents a quart) and tofu. I lost weight which finally stayed off. My osteo arthritis has improved and my medication for that condition is being slowly decreased. That led to looking at contaminants in my home and a decision to use simpler cleaners (that truly work) based mostly on baking soda, vinegar, and homemade castile soap. I love my home made shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, dish detergent, and powdered laundry detergent. I started a small vegetable garden and began composting all my veg and fruit waste. The garbage I set out curbside now is never more than 1 small bag/month, unless my kids and grandchildren come home for an extended visit. It has become a fun challenge at the start of each year to try and come up with a new way to simplify. This year I let go of paper towel (dishcloths work fine) and Kleenex (Walmart sells a dozen cotton handkerchiefs for $10 and they wash really well.). Can’t quite figure out how to replace toilet paper though I gave that one some long hard thought…heehee.

victor March 30, 2012 at 3:49 am

Don’t skip the meat. skip instead all the useless “foods”. Eat that half a pound of daily meat, and nothing else.
You’ll get all the nutrition you need from the meat, whereas with everything else you’ll have to buy a lot of expensive stuff into a varied dinner to cover the meat.

In short, meat is a money saver. Stick to minced bovine steak. Pig isn’t too clean and chicken has problems, whereas others than steak might be pink goo.

In general never ever any kind of prefabricated “foods”.

victor March 30, 2012 at 3:54 am

As for books, if you are lucky you have something as glorious as this http://ninelivesbooks.com/ nearby. Not just TONS of cheap books. (didnt know wheter to laugh or cry with 30+ cry of the wilderness at $1/pc.. cry from them still being there and no kids having hoarded them yet, and yet such wonders for so cheap which is nice).

Tula April 10, 2012 at 8:37 am

Eating meat won’t harm your health. If you want to improve your health, stop eating processed franken-food and most carbohydrates (sugars, starches, and grains). Yes meat costs more than pasta, but it fill you up so you aren’t hungry an hour later and you’ll naturally eat less. It’s the carbs that are bad for you, not the meat. Buy real food, grow your own veggies, learn to cook, and you’ll be healthier and save money.

Peter April 19, 2012 at 8:12 am

Books are clutter. I think not. I like to have books all around me. To quote – you will of course know the source: “books do furnish a room.”.

Hem May 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm

The books advice is plain wrong and misleading. Even recent releases can be bought por peanuts as used books. And ebooks never ever get a second life as a used book. So by buying ebooks you are actually a) spending more money and b) making impossible for a used book market to exist.
If I were the author I’d advise the reader to buy used books, not a expensive kindle or nook.

XAva June 6, 2012 at 10:03 am

Many electronic books are only $1-2 less than paper. To top that, you can only lend your bought for electronic version for 2 weeks to a friend, you can’t give it permanently to anyone else even though you paid for it- that is unfair. That said, I live in a foreign country so I bought a Kindle so I could borrow online from my public library at home in the U.S. However, they have nowhere near the variety of books that one can find actually IN the library, nor can I request an inter-library loan from one outside my home region. Anytime I can, I buy paperbacks by the dozen, never pay anymore than about $3/ea, usually less.

Attila June 29, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Man can we obsess over books! Most popular books are simply entertainment and there is plenty of that available for free online without having to buy an expensive reader. Also useful books like basic arithmetic, so you can avoid stupid statements like,”produce costs as much as meat” (not even close). And prepared foods are always much more expensive.
For more useful ideas on frugality, check out the Cheapskate Newsletter. Or learn to avoid credit, saving your cash until you can. Those new wheels are more about your ego than improving your transportation options.
Clothes can be a big outlay, unless you shop at Goodwill. Dont buy electronics until market saturation/clearance.

mona July 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm

One other reason I buy books is that I can re-sell them. I just sold some game of thrones books for half the price I paid new. You can’t do that with an e-reader.

Vazir Mukhtar July 24, 2012 at 9:04 am

Magazines: (1) Not all magazines make the full content of their printed edition available to those reading for free on-line. You have to subscribe. (2) When I find an article of particular interest, I can underline, make notes easier with a pen (and I can use different colors of ink for different kinds of notes), and use different colors of Post-It flags than I can with an iPad.

Paperback books: Even if you don’t want to keep the book after you’ve read it, it’s usually cheaper to check Deal.oz, where you can price books at many booksellers. Usually you can find a cheaper copy with postage than is available as an E-book.

OK, an E-book takes up less space, but I can’t give it to my public library or one of the thrift stores.

I subscribe to only a handful of magazines — and give them to a retirement community, the high school library, or other similar institutions.

The books I buy are usually ones I intend to keep. If I’m interested in current fiction, I can get it at the public library. Maybe I’ll have to wait my turn, but I haven’t spent money on an E-book. Now, I’ve given up only being among the first to read the title, but I’ve spent nothing and that’s truly frugal.

femmefan1946 July 30, 2012 at 7:38 am

I agree on books. The resale value is one reason, and the other is availability. Most of my reading is genre – science fiction and fantasy- and many of those books never appear in ebook form, especially the paranormal romances that are a relatively new thing from Harlequin.
And I both buy and sell used books. They give me a nice little income on eBay and Bonanza.com. Books that won’t sell there I donate to my Friends of the Library, which is also an excellent source for vintage literature.

femmefan1946 July 30, 2012 at 7:46 am

Are you sure growing your own produce is a good use of your money?
Our coddled tomato plant has produced three tomatoes so far this year- and the plant cost us $12 at the Farmer’s Market. Tomatoes cost about 75 cents each here in Canada, less in season. Same with carrots, beans, peaas. By the time the garden produce ripens, the price for local produce has dropped below the home gardeners cost. And that includes local organic produce.
Grow your own for the exercise and the pleasure of a tomato eaten right off the vine. But not for savings.
A 200 gram tomato costs 75 cents. 200 grams of boneless chicken thigh is 90 cents ($4.59 a kilo). They are equally delicious but the chicken has more nutrition than the tomato. (Less Vitamin C, but more protein and trace minerals).

Jen October 7, 2012 at 6:39 pm

It’s not exactly being frugal reading ebooks. Every time you use your laptop or iPad to read a book, electricity is being consumed and depending on the source of the electricity that you’re using, you could be adding carbon-based emissions to the atmosphere.

It would be more sensible to say that instead of buying paper-based books, we should be borrowing them from the local library. This supports library jobs and ensures that libraries remain open for others to use for research, local community work or family history studies.

Priswell October 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I’m a geek so it goes without saying that I have not trouble reading text off of a screen. There are boatloads of interesting articles, blogs, and yes, even books that can be had online. My kobo/kindle readers are kept busy, too. But like Captain Kirk, I ‘love a book I can hold in my hands’ and I can be even more specific, one with real pages. There’s nothing more peaceful than holding a book, sitting on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee or tea and reading pages and pages.

If you’re trying to up your frugal quotient, books can be had inexpensively both electronically and in dead tree format. I will often let book availability determine which format I read in, but I do prefer a “real” book.

Nicolas October 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm

“Meat is expensive, and it can affect your health if you eat too much of it.”

Sigh, another person who bought into the bad research that claims meat is bad for you.

Patrick November 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm

• Television programming: Why bother? Sorry but I am “old school” in this regard and remember too well when TV was free- paid for by the myriad commercials we (STILL!) have to watch. Go to a basic cable package and get a library card. I bet almost all of your Netflix movies are at the library. And if this is not cost effective, sorry but you are probably watching too much TV anyway.
• Magazines: Who buys magazines? Holy smokes, just reading that made me laugh. Go to the library or at very least share one or two subscriptions with a friend. Magazines??!!
• Paper books: Completely wrong. First stop library. I have read about 20 full novels in the last 8 weeks; ie I read a lot. I did not pay for any of them. I live in an apartment where books are shared in the laundry rooms but the same effect can be achieved through book sales (cheaper than ebooks) or traded among friends. I have 4 or 5 friends who read as much as I do and we trade. PS it is untrue that all e-readers provide cheaper versions of hardcovers depending on where you live. Factor in the cost of the device, time spent updating the thing and internet costs, you are not any farther ahead.
• Clutter: Absolutely correct on this one. Less clutter results in a clearer mind (better decisions), more space for you (less cost), and more time since you don’t have to store/clean/manage/update all your stuff.
• Meat: Where I live meat is relatively inexpensive if bought on sale and frozen.
• Christmas presents: Shop all year round for “generic” and appropriate presents. If there are specific things that need to be bought, let someone else buy them.

Patrick Lee November 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm

You can save about $5,000 a year by not having a car. I gave up driving in 1991 and saved enough to buy a house downtown. And ride a bike, you get health benefits at next to no cost.

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