Friday, April 18, 2008

Being Frugal by NOT Buying.

It's Frugal Friday today! Go on over to Crystal's blog to see lots of Frugal Friday ideas.

As I browse through the blogosphere looking for frugal ideas (I do this pretty regularly - there are a million and one ways to save money!) - it seems there are a lot of people who are frugal by acquiring a ton of stuff for very little money (CVS deals, etc.). While I think it's great that they are able to get so much stuff for next to nothing, I think there is another way to do it.

First of all, we don't have CVS here in Canada, and coupons aren't really that big here either. I used to clip whatever coupons I could, and spend time scouting out sales, and getting things as cheaply as possible. But something happened when I decided to pursue a sustainable lifestyle. I realized that all the coupons were for pre-packaged, processed foods - that are terrible for the environment, and for our health. When's the last time you saw a coupon for an apple? :) Also, the non-food coupons were always for big name-brand, chemically-laden, non-environmentally friendly products. I learned that it was actually much cheaper to make my own, and not buy them at all, than to buy them using a coupon.

Same goes for all those disposables. I used to try to find diapers and wipes as cheaply as possible, by combining sales with coupons and then stocking up. I found out it is shockingly cheaper to just not buy them! I used to stalk our local Please Mum and pounce when they had a great clearance on - sometimes buying a whole season's wardrobe for my kids. But when that season came, I realized they didn't actually NEED most of that stuff. They could have made do with what they had, and I could have just added in a couple of thrift store finds to fill in what they needed. There were times when they outgrew some of those "great deals" before they even wore them - and they got packed away, still with tags on. I've also since realized the environmental impact of buying things new, and try to buy second-hand whenver possible. For me, no matter how cheap something is, the environmental price is simply too high.

I encourage you to give it a try! Next time you see a "really, really great deal" on something - ask yourself, would it be cheaper to just not buy it? How can I do without this item? I promise you, your budget, and our planet will thank you. :)


  1. Although I understand your logic, I have learned how to make money through shopping. I spend about $125 a month, and stock up -- big time! Monthly, I purchase up to 100 bottles of shampoo, 200 tubes of toothpaste, 50 cans air freshener, the list goes on and on. I set up once a month and have a "yard sale" to sell it off, and make around $800 a month doing this. It sounds crazy, but I buy more, so in the end I am getting paid to shop.
    I admire your views on environmental issues, and how committed you are, though!

  2. Thanks for this post. I think a bit of both strategies pays off best for my family. For example, using coupons to buy stuff I will certainly buy anyway - like organic milk, organic canned vegetables, for just a few environmentally friendly choices - is a good choice for us. We are in the US though.

    I definitely agree that sometimes picking up the "good deal" turns out to be a bad plan. There is also the cost of holding onto all of those extra things while you are waiting for them to be useful.

    I think "On-Purpose Living" is a great blog name. That's certainly what we try to do to. :)


  3. Gina,
    I'm glad you're doing what works for you! That sounds like something I would have tried before - but now I find I get much greater joy and fulfillment out of living simply, consuming no more than what we need, and making sure that WHAT we consume has the smallest impact on the planet as possible.

    Wow, you can get coupons for organic milk?? There is really no such thing here - and I believe there is some kind of rule in place about milk pricing - all retailers have to sell it at the exact same price. The only time I've ever seen organic milk at a reduced price is the day before it is about to expire - and then I'm not quite sure what to do with it!

    Thanks so much to both of you for your comments - I will check out your blogs as well. :)


  4. I totally see where you are coming from. I think if a person uses a coupon for something they wouldn't normally purchase then that's not deal at all.

    I use coupons for toiletries, paper products, household cleaning products, medicine, shampoos, laundry detergent, fabric softener, etc. It's all stuff I would normally purchase.

    One way I like to save money is by putting off going to the grocery store and instead trying to create pantry meals. I figure everyday that I put off going to the store probably saved me at least $20.

    Gina - WOW! I wish I could do something like that.

  5. I agree with you. I've wasted more money at times trying to stock up on sales and "save." I think coupons, CVS, etc, are great, but they can end up costing more money at times, too. Sometimes I don't have the money to stock up on items; I just have to get what I need for that week!

  6. I completely agree with you. My goal is to leave a small ecological footprint on this earth. I would love to have our recycle bin outweigh our garbage can!
    We have a big family but we generate less garbage than many of our neighbors with one or two kids.
    I love the name of your blog!

  7. I just found your blog and love it. I have many similar views - in fact I have a post in the works on why I don't CVS either! Don't worry, it is not the same as yours. Keep up the good work!

  8. Hallelujah! Someone said it. I've been surfing around all kinds of blogs about being frugal and saving money and shopping smart, but they are all about buy, buy, buy. I don't need advice on how to buy more for less I need advice on how to buy less period. For me it just really isn't about getting a good deal, it's about living without a lot of those things and being happy that way. Thanks for stating it so eloquently.

  9. You said exactly what I've been thinking! I almost never get in on the CVS deals because they are things I don't need and don't want to contribute to more packaging waste in the world. I agree that it is important to really think "Do I really need this?"...Thanks for a thought provoking post.

  10. Yes, I totally agree. I tried CVS and just haven't gone back yet because everything that is on sale or "free" with the extra care bucks are things that I don't need or want. I also don't buy much convenience foods either. I prefer making them from scratch. So, coupons aren't big for me either. I also don't want to buy the newspaper just for the coupons. Any news I need I can read online and I don't need all those papers laying around.

    I really admire you for making your diapers, wipes, pads, etc. I'm the kind of person who thinks a lot about something before trying it and I've been thinking a lot about all these things you do. So, someday I'm sure I'll actually do it too.

    Thanks for the post about simply not buying. It was a great one.

  11. Hi!
    I just found your blog! I completely agree with you! I'm a fan of non-disposables...we cloth diaper, cloth napkin, eat on real plates, I clean with rags...etc... I do not coupon shop for the reasons you mentioned and I have recently started trying to make all gifts and if I (or my children) can't make them,then I purchase handmade from others :) We also try to make our own giftwrap (cloth drawstring bag) or ribbon (finger crotchet chains) from my children. I finally have enough canvas bags to hold all of my groceries! Yay!
    Look forward to your future posts :)