In our “Don’t Buy It” series during our no-spend month, we’ve talked about some alternatives to buying like getting things for free, borrowing what you need, or making things yourself.
There is another option which might be obvious or it might not even cross your mind. It’s a less common solution for my generation than for my grandparents’ generation. And it may really throw the rising generation for a loop. It’s not complex or complicated.
Instead of buying something, do without it!
Whether it’s because you don’t have the cash, haven’t made the item a priority in your budget, or just want to simplify, doing without something you want (or even need) can be good for you.
Here are four ways that going without can benefit you:
When you go without something, you are forced to find a way around it. Maybe you’ll use something else in a different way or completely change your routine to eliminate the need for something. After all, necessity is the mother of invention. Doing without provides an opportunity to stretch yourself to come up with a solution.
In a society of fast food and high-speed internet, we are trained to be impatient. Not many people are born patient. It’s something we need to learn. Waiting for something, rather than getting it right away, makes us appreciate and value that thing more. In fact, patience is a quality that will be valuable in all areas of our lives.
Putting off our wants and our needs can be hard. Pretty much anything that is hard to do is said to build character. We are also helping our kids to build character. Kids who learn to do without will be much better off when they leave the nest and real life hits, than the kids who never had to make sacrifices or go without. Giving our kids (or ourselves) everything they want does them a disservice.
Needing and using less stuff costs less. Plain and simple. If you can consistently live on less, then you will consistently have more to put toward debt or into savings. Not only will you save more for your future, but your future will require less because you have made a habit of living on less.
How do you “do without it”?
In a society with a “buy-it-now” and “have-it-all” mentality, it will take conscious thought and intention to do without. Putting off our wants and needs is not our first instinct. It takes some serious self-discipline.
Before you buy something, ask yourself if it’s something you could do without. I know that sounds very simplistic, but this is something that most people just don’t do. We are consumers with a capital C. If we want something, we get it. We even take on debt to get it. We can change our habits one purchase at a time.
If you are willing to try to go without that want or need, set a time limit after which you can re-evaluate your decision to go without. Having a “trial period” puts you under less pressure, so you’ll be more inclined to try to go without more things.
Delaying the purchase by putting the item you want or need on a list for a month (or longer) will help you determine how much you really want or need something. Some things you might decide to purchase later down the road, but for those you don’t you’ll save time, space, and money.
Even for the things you end up buying later, you’ll build character and creativity in the mean time. You can be more confident and intentional about the purchases you choose to make. Plus, you’ll appreciate the item much more after having gone without it.
During our current no-spend month, we’re going without a few things that have been a little inconvenient, but very do-able. Most of what we’re doing without are short term sacrifices, but they definitely make us grateful for the conveniences when we have them.
- We’ve been out of paper towels for most of the month. I try not to use paper towels much anyway, but I like them for extra messy clean ups (or when I’m feeling lazy).
- We’re also out of freezer bags. I wash them out and reuse them (except when I’m feeling lazy, then my husband washes them), but they eventually get holes and I toss them (I also toss them if they had meat in them). We are out of freezer bags now, but as soon as I make blackberry jam I will free up a dozen of them (currently loaded with berries in the freezer), so I’m using other containers or plastic wrap in the mean time.
- Like I mentioned earlier this week, we’re out of milk now, so I’m going without. The rest of the family is cool with drinking powdered milk from our food storage, but I’m not a big fan so I prefer to just wait it out.
- There have been several times when we’ve been in town and I would have normally bought a snack at the store (going to town is an all day event usually), but instead we just went without.
Even though these things are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, making a conscious decision to go without them is increasing our creativity, teaching us patience, building our character, and saving us money!
How About You?
- When have you made the conscious decision to go without something?
- What have you learned from deliberately going without something?
I’m addicted to snacks, i usually spend around 100 dollars a month JUST on my snacks for the month. I decided to settle all of my debt problems a few months ago so i started budgeting, When i sat down to organize my budget i decided the snacks were the first thing that had to go. Its been hard, but I’ve managed to keep my mind off it by thinking about being debt free.
That’s awesome Mike! From someone who love snacks (though I make most of them from scratch), I know that this is a sacrifice! Best of luck conquering your debt!
I always “do without” when it comes to decorating my house. You know those small tablescapes or bookshelf displays that you sometimes want to change? When my mom wants to change them she goes out and buys new stuff; I look around to see what I have on-hand that can be used in a different way. I can usually design a new tablescape or redecorate a bookshelf without having to spend any money at all.
I also “do without” souvenirs. We like to travel and we try to go overseas at least once a year. If I find something I particularly want I’ll get it; but generally there’s just nothing that appeals to me. It’s at the stage now where it’s like, “That’s nice, but where would I put it?” We have pictures and memories; who needs more than that? (Although I am still kicking myself for not buying the koala nativity scene from Alice Springs!)
I’m with you Becca! I like to decorate with what I already have and I never buy souvenirs either! I must say I’ve never seen a koala nativity!
Over the years I’ve gone without a lot of things by choice. The biggest one is a house. Once I found out I was pregnant with my oldest almost 16 years ago people started telling me that I would need to buy a house for us. We keep waiting though. At first it was because I couldn’t afford a house. Now it’s because we aren’t sure where we want to live long term and we’d rather not take on such a huge debt until we do.
The other one is another vehicle. When I met my husband he didn’t have a car. We shared my car the first 3 years of our relationship. Then we bought a van for me to use when we lived out in the boonies, 45 minutes to town. When our van was totaled a few weeks after we’d had it for 2 years we didn’t replace it. right away. At first it was because I was physically unable to drive. Then we realized we didn’t need it. It’s been almost 4 years now and if we change the number of vehicles we own it will be to zero.
Good for you for being patient on buying a house until you know where you want to live. That’s pretty impressive that you aren’t so dependent on having a vehicle too!