How Much Can You Do Without?


If your budget is tight, or negative, and you’re wondering how you can trim your expenses, or you’re looking for more ideas to save some money, here are some things to consider as to what you might do without.

Even if your budget is on-track, by trimming or doing without ‘this or that’ may enable you to save cash to purchase more food storage or preps, etc…


Do without the daily morning Starbucks – make your own instead.

Do without buying your lunch every day while at work – make your own instead.

Do without new clothes for awhile – wear what you have instead.

Do without the ‘takeout’ dinners or restaurants – cook your own instead.

Do without the name-brand foods at the supermarket – buy store-brand instead.

Do without buying all those processed foods – make some of it yourself from scratch.

Do without the ‘full TV cable package’ for awhile – get the basic package instead.

Do without running errands every time you need something – consolidate trips and save gas.

Do without driving yourself to work every day – bike, carpool or public transit.

Do without buying expensive gifts – be creative; buy or make thoughtful less costly gifts.

Do without the expensive monthly data plans of a smartphone – consider a ‘dumb’ phone.

Do without a phone ‘landline’ – just use your cell phone as your main number.

Do without a newer car and it’s higher payment – fix what you have, or buy an older vehicle.

Do without late fees – pay your bills on time.

Do without a high student loan – choose affordable college; Community college basic credits.

Do without bottled water – filter your own instead, or drink tap water (it’s Okay).

Do without the dry cleaners – many clothes can be washed delicately; wear something else.

Do without the new clothes – wear your old ones longer or buy used at thrift shops.

Do without an expensive apartment – look for a cheaper apartment somewhere else.

Do without expensive vacations – plan a fun camping trip or other creative fun.

Do without being around friends who like to spend money – keep temptation low.

Do without your credit card temptation – put it away and use only cash instead.

Do without buying from vending machines – eat and drink your own foods.

Do without expensive cleaners – make your own homemade cleaners for pennies.

Do without all those magazines each month – find free things to read at the library.

Do without the gym membership – exercise for free at home, or walk, jog for free.

Do without saying yes all the time – learn to say no; it may save time and money.

Do without new things – learn the word “used”.

Do without low insurance deductibles – increase them for much lower rates.

Do without going to ‘the store’ unless ‘needed’ – minimizing the temptation to buy stuff.

Add your own suggestions for what we can potentially “do without” to save money…


  1. Do without buying that expensive paint sprayer, borrow your brother’s instead. He might even come over and help with the painting, LOL

  2. I can check off about 90% of your list. I have also found garage/yard sales to be a treasure trove for needed items at the lowest price imaginable. Does require a fair amount of time and fuel though.

  3. You can also check out A site that lets you get rid of things you no longer need or use that are still in useable condition. I cleared out my basement that way. Also picked up things I could use, like a bread machine, food savor vacuum pump, and tomato cages. Started by a woman several years ago that wanted to keep good usable items out of landfills. Hundreds of chapters all over the US. The only stipulation is that you cannot sell anything. Everything has to be free.

  4. …now just wait a minute MR.
    …give up me Starbucks?…

    Thats as bad as having to give up my beers n’ hot sauce…

    …(actually though…i do spend a lot daily on coffee…
    Guess your just suggesting i buy the beans grind them at home and
    Pack my big assed stanley thermos….RIGHT)… ?

    Actually thats a great idea…and how long would Starbucks beans last
    if i use the gama lid/mylar/oxy absorber system?

    Could i store beer kits long term the same way?

    Also…how long can i store chili seeds for?…?
    (Gotta have me hot sauce n’ me salsa)…

    1. In regards to beer kits you can store LME and DME nearly indefinitely. If you go all grain you can treat the Un-milled barley like wheat or rice and seal in mylar with O2 absorbers. Yeast stores well in the deep freeze as well as hops if vacuum packed and air tight. Might be a good idea to store some sanitizers as well since wild yeast may be a concern. I keep a few hundred bottle caps since they are dirt cheap and never have any shortages of bottle lying around either.. The month after TEOTWAWKI Ill be brewing a nice pale ale.

  5. Here’s some controversial stuff.

    Buy the best quality stuff you can afford. – Save up for it.
    Quality household furniture can last a lifetime.

    Quality, classic cut clothes can last for years – with careful cleaning.

    Don’t buy low quality appliances or tools.

    Don’t lend out your expensive stuff. Others assume its cheap and use it accordingly. You will cherish your expensive stuff.

    Buying fairly recent used cars can be a hazard. There are too many electronics in them. Modern electronics have a use by date. The main problem being the solder used in circuit boards. There is not enough lead in it to last. Solder previously had a 70% plus lead content – now by international agreement the lead level is around 25 – 30%.

    My father was a carpenter. I still have most of his tools. They are over 70 years old. They cost him a couple of weeks pay each when he bought them when he was an apprentice. His handsaws where a very famous brand. He had the jigs and tools to sharpen these himself. A modern day carpenter saw me with these saws and offered me big bucks for them plus the sharpening tools.

    1. Beano,

      You are right about buying quality, even though it is more expensive. When I was in high school, they invented ball point pens. They were expensive. Then they came out with Bic 25-cent pens and I bought one. It stopped working and I complained to my father. He asked, “Is that one of those quarter pens?” I answered yes. He threw it in the trash and said, “Well you got your quarter’s worth.”

      I have US-made clothes I bought 20-30 years ago and they are still good, while things I bought last year are trash. If the SHTF, and we can’t get more clothes, shoes, tools, etc., we will be lucky to have things that were made decades ago and still work.

      1. For SHTF clothes, army/navy surplus is a good place to start. I still have fatigues/bdu’s I wore over 35 years ago that I wear for yard work.
        (They do seem to be slowly shrinking though)

        1. My old clothes were shrinking too, until I went on a diet last summer and lost 20 pounds.

  6. Growing up we never had a lot. Our meals consisted of mostly what we caught fishing or hunting and BEANS BEANS and BEANS. My mom made all of our clothes except for shoes and underwear so store bought stuff was not an option. I remember my dad making his own beer and wine and my uncles made shine. Like I said we had very little compared to other families. This state we lived in was tough, going to bed hungry was something I lived with. With all the “bad” I had or didn’t have growing up I learned at a very early age the value of our dollar. This lesson I learned has taught me that to survive you don’t need a brand new truck, expensive clothes or trying to “top the guy next door”. I’m not frugal but I do tend to only want certain things in my life and at this point I have pretty much what I NEED and not WANT. That list Ken put up is incredible. I really never thought of spending my money on those things. My dad taught me to have what you need and be happy with what you worked for that it doesn’t matter what other people think of how you dress or the truck you have. I was taught lessons learned from experience and those lessons no matter how hard they were or the hardship to learn them came at a price that today has paid off in spades. I realize that people WANT and some buy knowing that they cannot afford them. I’m content in the knowledge that I grew up hard and has thus lived a hard life. Would I change anything from my past? Some things yes I regret but for the most part I truly don’t NEED those things on the list. Maybe that is the difference between a survivalist and a non. I look at things different from my upbringing than a rich man does. To live a happy life one only needs love and caring and to try each day to make others happy and give them love and encouragement. I learned a long time ago being nice cost nothing and helping just makes you feel better. Nothing in life is free? That is a lie. But like I say “it is your money, do what you want with it” but in the end of the day if your not happy with your life then make changes. Lecture over.

  7. I’m able to say that I’ve been doing everything on the list for the last year or so, and I’ve been able to save a good chunk, (but not enough). I’m on the frugal road but still have a ways to go. I do the 3 basic meals a day with few, if any snacks. But my big expense is my liter of Bourbon every 2 weeks, (only drink on weekends).

    One of the biggest money savers I’ve found though, is being single and not having a girlfriend.

    1. Try making a still. A liter of 110 proof shine cost less than $2.00 to make. A hand full of toasted oak chip added to the moonshine will smooth it out in a few weeks.

  8. I bought two packs (8-pack, I think) of new “tall” socks for winter. Just the name brand in a big box store this past fall, and every single pair of them have holes in the heels. These socks would typically last me several years, not this time. Although I shouldn’t be by this point, I am astounded at the cheap quality of clothing nowadays. You truly get what you pay for now. Nothing I’ve bought recently has lasted longer than a year. Just another example of how bad our economy is, cheaper products/quality that cost more money.

  9. You are right about the girl friend! :-) Or find one with money.

    Get rid of TV period!

    Find a product you can sell at trade shows, you won’t believe how much you can make on a weekend! (cleared over $3000.00 this weekend)

    God bless and protect our people!

  10. of all on list, I violate only magazine and smartphone.

    no excuses. just a couple luxuries to enjoy, but could live without when it came down to it.

    when I dropped out of the rat race in 2001, I would tell folks I am practicing being poor.

    i still use a 1970, avocado-green stove every day. it does it’s job.

    i like the trade show idea. ty.

  11. Buying quality is good, but you also have to take care of what you have. My husband and I have fishing rods and reels that are over 20 years old, cause guess what? We didn’t leave them in the barn or outside! All our tools are put up (in the garage or shed) when we’re finished with them and kept in good working order. This includes the lawn mower and wheel barrow.

  12. Do not buy anything you can rent
    Do not rent anything you can borrow

    Buy what you really need, not want you want
    Pay cash for every purchase.
    If you save to pay cash, by the time you have saved enough, you will probably realize you didn’t really need it anyway.

  13. Starbucks? nope
    Lunch usually left over from dinner night before.
    New clothes?? ha–flea market or yard sale and nice at that
    Dine out–once or twice a month
    Everything bought here is generic; usually made by brand name companies!!!
    No cable/tv since 2008
    Make errand lists for every two weeks..check
    No gifts at all
    No smart phone–cell only –frugal plan
    Must have landline or no internet
    SUV–10 years old; Ranger, 16 years old
    Pay bills on time?? PUH–Leeze!
    No loans
    Berkey instead of bottled water (no, tap here sucks–really does)
    Dry cleaners?? I’m still laughing
    New clothes again?? repeat??
    What is a vacation?? Explain. LOL
    No friends..problem solved
    Cash only even for bills except mortgage
    Stopped magazines years ago—libraries have old magazines if needed
    However, I find books for 50ยข–great books at flea markets
    What’s exercise again?? LOL
    Deductibles are at the highest on homeowners AND auto ..check

    So, I get a good grade? Hope all here do the same.

    When food is scarce, will you tell your children how important all those ‘blings’ and things were??

  14. My disconnect from tv in 2008 has saved me $4500 and I only paid $70 a month–do the math for our neighbor’s $90 and some pay $120!!!
    Ouch–and it wasn’t spent frivolously–it was used on preps.

  15. Do without letting the government pick your pocket and leave you the lint!

  16. The young people don’t know how to do without. They will ride the horse until he dies, then holler someone please help me. The government does the same thing. This country has already went to hell in a hand basket. God help us all.

    1. Young people are a real worry.

      I see a real disconnect with them when they cant see the correlation between the beef in a plastic wrapper in the supermarket and the stock animal walking around in a farm paddock.

      The latest “technological generation” are addicted to their electronic products and Gizmo’s not to mention the social media. There are now medical and psychiatric terms for the withdrawal of these addictions from even very young children.

      Another report today mentions that 1 in 13 children are on some sort of AHDT medication.

      If and when the S.H.T.F. I see the older people being able to cope while the younger generations will be stuck in a world where basic living is an unknown phenomenon.

  17. We often shop after holidays, to pick up cheap paper products, or “special” holiday foods. Like after Easter is a good time to stock up on Hams or chocolate candy. (freeze both)

    When we do have a drink of liquor, it is plain whisky over ice, nothing fancy needing expensive mixers/fruit ect.

    Up until 2 years ago I drove a 14 year old Rav4 while my DW drove an 8 year old sedan.

    We’ve been living like this for 30+ years and have a net worth well over $1 million. I tell you this no to brag, but to prove that this does work!

  18. We are working towards our more frugal lifestyle. The only thing, cable. The hubby will not do without it. He wants his sports. He says he works and he should at least get to enjoy something, haha.

    I am learning to can and garden. Working on learning to sew. He is also gardening. Buying less expensive everything. Budgeting. Still gotta work on some things. We are getting there.

    We drive older vehicles. Just trying our best.

  19. I haven’t had a tv for……..hmm, must be at least 20 years now. Married my hubby 10 years ago, he bought a tv, I put it in the shed. Finally gave it away. Anything I REALLY want to see can be seen on Netflix or youtube or DVD.
    Internet is expensive, but it combines a lot of other expenses, like newspapers and magazines, tv and movies, classes, books, games, gas for shopping, etc.

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