Things I Can Happily Live Without to Save BIG!

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By the author of the online course Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture


These days, I am trying to out-thrift and out-Frugalite even myself! In order to keep my budget on track, I continue to make sacrifices, both large and small. In this article, I’ll be sharing some more of those things, both big and little, that I currently choose to live without to save money overall and/or reduce my monthly spending.

In-home laundry isn’t a necessity for me.

Yes, I know this is a big one for many folks. It is just soooo convenient to be able to throw that load of laundry in whenever you want (and not have to leave the house!). When I built the eco-cabin, I had to carefully choose the capacity of my septic system, which is highly regulated in our township. As well, the cabin is small. There isn’t a lot of space for even an apartment-sized stacked washer/dryer set. When I built extra septic capacity, it was for the future. I have built a septic large enough to accommodate a small second cabin on the lot. This could be a huge help for me as I age in place: the unit could be rented to a helper or a relative in need.

So, although I have grand long-term plans for my septic system and lot, in the immediate future, I still have no washer and dryer. How do I deal with this? The first choice is simple: I just wash things less often. I am careful with my clothing. I spot-clean it. As an off-grid enthusiast, I own several clothes-washing options that require no electricity: a foot-operated washer/spinner, an old-fashioned washing tub and scrubbing board, and a large mop bucket and wringer. 

So, the clothes I do wash, I can wash at home with varying levels of effort, depending on the contraption I choose. When it comes to drying, my drying rack works great. Especially in the winter, clothing will almost dry overnight in front of my small but cozy wood stove

But what about those items that are hard to do by hand with a wringer? I have an aunt that I trade favors with. She is delighted to do a load of laundry for me once in a while. In return, I pick up groceries that she needs or drop off items for her at our local thrift shop. As well, around every three months or so, I go to a nearby town with a coin laundry run by some friends of mine. As money is tight, I only wash a load or two and then take it home to dry on my rack. By doing all of these things, I am able to meet my laundry needs without spending on a washer/dryer and without reducing the septic capacity available for my future build.

I can live without television and cable.

Everyone I know has both a television and some version of cable. In the rural area where I live, it is often satellite TV. According to my friends and family, the cost of these items has been going up in recent years, and the number of channels available has been shrinking. I have been unaffected by these increases. Why is that, you might ask?

I have never owned a television.

Nope, not even one. Not since I left home at 18. Yes, I have watched television. I have fond memories of the Saturday cartoons of my childhood. I am an avid Star Trek fan. 

When I read the flyers and see the prices for the new Smart TVs, I simply will not spend on that. It is not that I don’t enjoy a good movie. For a while, I had a Prime subscription and watched movies through that. I do watch some Netflix, which my cousin shares with me at no cost. As well, I am very much enjoying watching the Irish Gaelic television station, TG4, which has an incredible range of shows available for free. As I’m just beginning to learn my native language, I turn on the English subtitles when I watch. So, my monthly entertainment expenditure is…..yup! You guessed it!: $0. And my overall expenditure on movie/TV-specific equipment is a grand total of $0. 

A subscription to online ballet school is nice, but I don’t need it.

All this inflation recently “encouraged” me to review my monthly spending. Was there anything that wasn’t an absolute MUST? Could I cut anything? Well, the axe ended up falling on my subscription to an online ballet school. I truly enjoy doing ballet at home and even recently invested in creating a home dance studio. Why then would I cut my lessons? Well, I have to admit I hadn’t used them for several months. As I want to keep dancing, I now only use lessons that are available for free online. I’m doing fine…for free! In addition, I always take time every day to cultivate joy in other small, but significant, ways.

Smartphones. I can live without them, and so can you.

Sometimes, it truly seems like I am the only person on the planet without a smartphone. The technology is so common, and it does have its uses, so not having a smartphone can be inconvenient. When I go to a more distant city to meet friends, I need to write my directions out on a piece of paper. I haven’t been able to buy a paper map at the local gas stations. I guess they’re out of vogue. If I need to look something up when I’m not home…I’m out of luck.

Despite these inconveniences, I appreciate the savings that living with a flip phone comes with. These days, I’m saving around $45 per month compared to my old plan, which was years ago.

A new tea bag for every cuppa

This is my most recent initiative. While I grow as many medicinal herbs and flowers as possible on my homestead and wildcraft a number of others, it’s not yet enough to meet my winter tea habit. So, I buy a number of organic herbal tea blends.

As inflation hit, the prices of these kept going up, and the boxes have been getting smaller. What’s a Frugalite to do? Yep, I now make TWO cups out of every tea bag, thereby cutting the price of my tea in HALF. I did a scientific experiment where I made three cups of tea with one tea bag, and the third one just totally sucked, so two cups it is! While this may seem like a small thing, it will mean that I will not have to buy any more teas for a number of months. Then, spring will come, and I can start making fresh nettle tea again.

Yes, I can live without that to save.

We’re all different in terms of what we can and cannot live without. Could you see yourself trying to do without any of these things? Do you have an easy “sacrifice” which saves you big that you can share with us? Where do you draw your dollar sign in the sand? Please tell us in the comments below.

About Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, “Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture.” Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

Things I Can Happily Live Without to Save BIG!
Picture of Colette


Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, "Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture." Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

23 thoughts on “Things I Can Happily Live Without to Save BIG!”

  1. I love this post, Colette, and do a version of it myself.

    Travel is my jam. So, I’ve chosen to do without furniture, a vehicle, and a fixed address. This allows me to gallivant through Europe at approximately the same price it would cost me to live in a home in America with my own car.

    I know a lot of folks would find that absolutely unbearable, but for me, it provides me the ability to follow my dreams.

    And that’s what it’s all about – YOUR dreams and what YOU are willing to live without to achieve them.

    1. Hi Daisy, So exciting to hear from you while you’re now across the ocean! I found your recent “pack up and go” quite inspirational. That is simply amazing that you can travel in Europe on your regular monthly American expenses. WOW!!! Wishing you wonderful adventures in Europe, which I hope we’ll get a glimpse of from time to time!

    1. Hi Mustang, Thanks for sharing your own list. I love it! it sounds like we’re on the same page in terms of what we can live without. I have only heard rumours about what some folks pay monthly for a new pickup. Good for you! Looking at that list, I would say you’re saving a TON of cash each and every month! Wishing you a great end to winter and a wonderful spring.

  2. I also get two cups of tea from a herbal tea bag, but I also use one black tea bag to get three large mugs full. I’ve now gone, due to the price of eggs, from a two egg omelet to a single egg. I do a lot of crochet—primarily lap blankets—that I donate which is possible by using only yarn I get on sale or from thrift stores. I make a huge pot of soup from a mix that I extend with on sale cans of beans and mixed vegetables. I use cloth napkins that I wash along with towels instead of paper napkins. I also use hemmed pieces of worn out T-shirts instead of paper towels for cleaning up messes. Since I live alone, I only wash dishes once a day, saving water and dishwashing detergent.

    1. Hi Mary, I wish we could sit down together with a cup of tea (two cups herbal or three cups black) to share more tips! I can see we have a lot in common! Just today, I was at our local thrift store, helping a woman find where the yarn was located. I stretch my egg omelets by adding a bit of milk, which I find fluffs them up a bit. Just had one last night! Thanks so much for sharing all your great tips. I love that you save on paper towels like that – very thrifty of you! Wishing you a great and thrifty end of winter into spring!

  3. WRT smart phones, it is getting harder and harder to live without them. For example, if you fly you’re encouraged to use the QR code on your phone. Go to a restaurant, especially for takeout, and the menus are scanned (through a QR code) for your phone. Or you need to use a certain app.

    Mind you, you’re fine to use a flip phone if you stay home, but sadly everything is going digital. I was in an airport last month, and I got hungry. Every place I went had a little kiosk at a table, and you scanned it to order and pay for your food. I wound up waiting six hours to eat (until I got home) just so I didn’t have to put up with this foolishness. Next time I fly I’ll pack food.

    WRT laundry, you’re lucky to live in a much cooler climate. Living in Texas you need at least a washing machine.

    1. Hi Bill, You have provided a very worthwhile update on how prevalent all these smart phones are getting. To be honest, I had no idea it was that bad!!! When I have needed a QR code, I have sometimes been successful by taking a photo of them with my OLD smartphone, which is not online, and showing them the photo of the code. This has worked for some coupons and pick ups, but I don’t think would work in the scenario you are describing in the restaurants. Scary! I used to pack food to eat at the airport until it got seized several times during security checks. I guess my yoghurt and granola was quite dangerous!!! ha ha ha. Truly appreciate your chiming in about the smart phones, I got a good education through your comment. Thanks, Bill!

  4. No cable, but I do have Prime.
    No smartphone. I have an older android and my plan cost 44 a month. I can wait till I get home to google something, and I have a paper map of my city.
    No new car. I have an Explorer that’s turning 25 this year. Just over 200K km and my heavy duty mechanic husband keeps it in prime condition.
    No new furniture. Other than my Kitchen aid and some attachments everything else in the house has been purchased at a thrift store or the Re-store.

    1. Hi Kate, LOVE you list! While I had to retire my Sentra, who would have been 23 this year, I have an 11 year old Toyota that I love that is quickly closing on 200K. Your mechanic husband is quite an asset for a Frugalite to have! Your smartphone plan sounds pretty reasonable to me. I will keep looking for a paper map of that city: you have inspired me. Much appreciated!

  5. Wants versus needs. Unfortunately distinguishing between the two was not taught to some by their parents. And if it was, some viewed it as being deprived and sadly end up paying the price (literally and figuratively).
    I do have a smart phone, paid cash for it. I’d still have the old smart phone if I hadn’t ran out of storage – as in not enough storage for updates (read: security). So the new one has more than ample storage to last a number of years. I do *not* want to be beholden to a contract just to have the latest and greatest smart phone. I do need one for work and am reimbursed 1/2 my monthly cell bill (law in my state). GPS is handy when traveling – construction and accidents are the main concern plus up to date weather.
    I can live without having the latest fashion in clothes/shoes as well as manicures and pedicures. My vehicle is coming up on 4 years old, again a cash purchase. Prior to that, I drove my vehicle for 15 years. It would still be on the road had the buyer not been hit by another driver. I’ll likely drive this one at least that long. Sad to say it has numerous features I’ll never use but I do like the safety features.
    I often read articles how people who make what I make (not all living in the same cost of living area mind you) live paycheck to paycheck. IMHO, they should not be. Most – some may have medical expenses – just can’t break the gotta-have-it mindset. Far better to be the millionaire next door than one paycheck from being on the street. My folks never made big bucks but lived within their means. They don’t have a boatload of discretionary dollars in their retirement but they have a (paid for) roof over their heads, a reliable vehicle, food on the table, and money for meds/insurance.

    1. Hi Selena, Wow! There is a wealth of insight and information in your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share these thoughts with the Frugalite community. I agree that the “gotta have it” mindset can really harm folks. I sometimes wonder what has happened to the values of our society that people are so swayed by superficial “wants” and worrying about what others will think. I find your story about your parents quite inspiring as to what can be achieved by simply living within one’s means. Good for them and good for you! Wishing you a great end of winter, coming into spring season!

      1. Thank you – my folks as well as my better half’s folks (who were “first gen” depression era, mine were “second gen”) taught us well. We passed this along to our children. Lord knows no one will “die” if s/he can’t go on vacation or have the latest “in” item.

        1. Hi Selena, Yes, I couldn’t agree more! I hope that these articles and comments from Frugalites like you will help spread the word!

  6. I can live without a new car (I drive a 2015 Kia) and keep it in pristine order.
    I can live without dining out, but I often have friends in for a simple dessert and coffee. I really dislike cooking and cleaning up after dinner parties, so I don’t do it any more. I have no dishwasher gasp, so I do dishes once a day. My card group brings our lunches to the hostess’s home and relieves her of having to cook.
    My soft water unit went out, and I have not replaced it. Admittedly that’s a tough one.
    I do have a washer/dryer but use them sparingly. Like you, I spot clean and wear things over before they go in the wash, I use a drying rack.
    I can do without the latest cooking gadgets like air fryers and instapots, but I do have a crockpot. Wow. Am I modern or what! I eat simply with things like fresh veggies, fruit, simply cooked meat, and maybe a starch. Oatmeal works for breakfast, I make my own bread, and lunch is a sandwich with leftover meat.
    I can do without what many people consider needs, but let’s be honest. We need food, water, shelter, and clothing. A want is carefully scrutinized before buying.
    I love the way you live.

  7. LOVE THIS! I also enjoy my flip phone instead of a “smart” phone. I also do my movie watching on a computer and haven’t owned a TV in quite some time. Since my spouse does digital art we can use her nice big monitor to watch stuff and I don’t miss a TV.

    Little tea bag tip for you: I just found out that many tea bags are actually a tube of material that forms a flat loop, glued on both sides, so if you want to you can carefully separate the two halves and make two independent tea bags. This would work well for those teas which are fairly bold in flavor so you don’t end up with two bags of dish water.

    1. Hi Redbranch, AH, I should have known that YOU were the OTHER flip phone user in North America! Now, as I happily save money, I can smile from time to time and remember that you are, too! I have not yet invested in a large monitor to watch my movies, it is on my list. I would truly love that. I will check out my tea bags and see what kind they are. This season, I plan to grow many more of the herbs in my teas and store enough for the winter myself. As luck would have it, I have a cousin who owns a lavendar farm. Yippee! Thanks so much for your comment. Wishing you a great winter-into-spring!

  8. I loved this article and the responses! Everyone is on the ball and ready for the tough times that are upon us. This would not work for everyone, but I bought washable and reusable cloth toilet pads and feminine napkins. When the supply chain collapses at least I would have prepared for necessary items. A foldable clothes drying rack is vital when it’s raining or cold outside. Thanks everyone for sharing their ideas. We’re all in this together.

    1. Hi Kathleen, So very glad that you enjoyed the article! I agree with you that I am often both impressed and inspired by the comments from our fellow Frugalites on each and every article. I used reusable feminine napkins for years and years. All I did was buy a good amount of flannel (darker colour/pattern was best) and cut long pieces of the cloth. This was low tech, but worked great and saved me money and the environment a TON of bleached plasticky garbage. Thanks so much for contributing your ideas to the rich exchange here! Wishing you the best!

  9. I love frugal and creative tips!

    A winter tip for drying clothes in tiny houses: Go vertical. I hang string/twine/whatever vertically. Then use clothes pins for light things like undies, sox, bandanas, to dry in our “only room for a shower” sized bathroom. It’s the smallest/warmest room. It’s ok for them to overlap, hanging downward unless you need something dried quickly. You might need to make knots so clothespins don’t slide down.

    I also use the verticle hanging to store mittens, gloves, hats, scarves of winter wear. Handy next to the door but they too might be wet when we come back inside.

    I use over-the-door type of racks and hanging devices… for drying in bathroom or storage for coats going in/out that door.

    Also adds to the humidity that the fireplace takes away.

    1. Hi OldMtWoman, Thank you so much for your kind words. I love your “vertical drying” tips. I am definitely going to take you up on this. With a vaulted ceiling over the main room in my small eco-cabin, I literally have nowhere to go but up. I am going to make some kind of system to use the space above for drying. Thanks for this super creative idea. I do find the air so dry in the winter. Anything that helps with humidity is more welcome. Thanks so much for sharing! Wishing you a wonderful end of winter and into springtime!

  10. I love all the tips here!! I use a small Percolater for my 2 cups of morning coffee. I use 2 1/2 small scoops of ground coffee for day 1. On day two, I add an extra scoop to the previous day’s grounds and my coffee tastes as good as on day one. I had to experiment on the amount of coffee I use on day 2 to get the coffee to the strength that I prefer, but I don’t have to buy as much coffee now.

    I try to use my dryer as little as possible. After I wash my work clothes, I tumble them in the dryer for a minute (to get the tight wrinkles out). I hang them on plastic hangers and let them dry on the rod in my utility room that my husband put up. If I run out of space there, I hang them on the door jams to the bedrooms. It saves the life of the clothes if they hang dry as well.

    1. Hi Darlene, Thanks so much for your kind feedback. I hope the tips are helpful to you. Thank you for sharing your two very strategic tips. How to extend your ground coffee is a great one, given how expensive it is getting. Saving on coffee would be very helpful to everyone. Your tip about using a quick tumble in the dryer to get out wrinkles is fantastic, as I find that this is often an issue I have with drying things I wash myself or in my foot operated washer. Much appreciated! Wishing you a very thrifty end of winter and into spring!

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