15 Common “Necessities” That Frugal People Don’t Buy

Costs are rising, the economy is shaky, and the concept of frugal living is becoming increasing popular as a practical approach to living under your means and saving money.

At its core, frugal living is about making intentional choices to save money without sacrificing quality of life. One aspect that consistently sets frugal individuals apart from the crowd is their ability to look at what others may deem essential and then choosing to forego purchasing it.

From brand new clothing to prepared baby food, frugal people understand that certain items touted as necessities may not be something that they want or need to buy.

To join in the lively discussion about this topic, watch the video.

As individuals develop the habit of evaluating their spending habits and determining where they can best allocate their resources to achieve their financial goals, the question, “How frugal should you be?” becomes pivotal.

Although, the answer to that question differs from person to person, here are some “necessities” that frugal folks generally choose not to use or own.

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Brand New Clothing

Nothing beats the feeling of finding a designer piece of clothing at a second hand store for a fraction of the brand new price. Frugal people not only know this feeling well, they love it.

Clothing, shoes, and accessories are all overpriced, due to brand name, trends, and the excessive cost that manufacturers pay for advertising. When you buy brand new, the cost of all these factors is being passed on to you.

Frugal people know how to shop at thrift stores, clothing swaps, or online resale platforms and find the best deals on barely-used, expensive, name-brand merchandise.

Disposable Bottles of Water

Frugal individuals avoid the convenience trap inherent in single-use plastic bottles. Instead, they invest in good quality, reusable water bottles or portable filtration systems.

We love our HydroH20 flasks for when we are hiking, biking, or exercising. Not only are they insulated and designed to keep liquid either hot or cold much longer than disposable bottles, after numerous uses you will also be saving money.

Brand New Cars

Frugal individuals understand that cars depreciate rapidly in value, making brand new vehicles a poor investment.

Instead, they opt for reliable, used cars with low mileage to save on upfront costs and avoid the hefty depreciation that occurs during the first few years of ownership.

After all, there is no sense in paying thousands of dollars more, because you want a new car smell. Cars go down in value from the minute you drive them off the lot.

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Expensive Cell Phone Plans

Frugal individuals recognize that many cell phone plans come with unnecessary features that inflate costs. They opt for prepaid or budget-friendly plans that offer the essential services they need at a fraction of the price.

We have Mint Mobile, which offers premium service for a low, low price each month.

New Electronics and Phones

Frugal individuals understand that the latest gadgets often come with a hefty price tag and minimal improvements over previous models.

They wait for sales, buy refurbished or pre-owned devices, or explore budget-friendly alternatives to get the functionality they need without breaking the bank.

On-line retailers like Back Market offer gently use, refurbished phones, iPads, and computers for fantastic prices. Their customer communication is amazing and each item comes with a limited-time, but generous, warranty.

Local used electronic shops, like Mega Replay, allow you to see items in person before buying. They also sell LP records, games, Blu-Ray and DVDs.

Paid Television Streaming Services

Entertainment spending and often find that paid streaming services can quickly add up.

So, frugal people opt for free or lower-cost alternatives, such as using a Roku box and watching ad-supported platforms, borrowing from public libraries, or sharing subscriptions with friends or family members.

Paper Towels

Frugal individuals find the expense of disposable paper towels unnecessary when reusable alternatives like worn out sheets or t-shirts cut into smaller squares are more cost-effective in the long run.

These homemade rag wiping cloths will last for months. When they get dirty you throw them into the washer with your regular laundry to keep them clean and ready for the next use.

Clothes Dryer

Is a gas or electric dryer really necessary?

There are a number of ways you can cut your laundry costs in half. One of those ways is to not use a traditional dryer. Frugal individuals understand that clothes dryers consume significant energy and can contribute to utility costs.

Instead, they opt for air-drying their laundry whenever possible, either outdoors or using drying racks indoors, to save on electricity and extend the lifespan of their clothing.

Prepared Baby Food

Every parent recognizes that store-bought baby food can be costly and may contain preservatives or unnecessary additives. However, the simple alternatives are not as well-known.

Making homemade baby food using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, is neither time-consuming or difficult. Cooking common foods, thoroughly processing them to a pulp, and then freezing for later use not only saves money, but also allows you to ensure the quality and nutritional value of your child’s meals.

Disposable Diapers

The recurring cost of disposable diapers can add up quickly.

Frugal families opt for cloth diapers, which are not only more cost-effective in the long run, but also environmentally friendly and often gentler on a baby’s skin.

“Fancy” Brand New Baby Equipment

Frugal individuals resist the temptation to splurge on high-end baby gear that may only be used for a short period.

Instead, they prioritize functionality and longevity, opting for gently used or budget-friendly alternatives that meet their baby’s needs without breaking the bank.

Food at Restaurants

Dining out regularly can drain your budget quickly.

That’s why you’ll nearly always find home-cooked meals, meal planning, and batch cooking in a frugal home. It allows thrifty-minded people to save money on food expenses, while still enjoying delicious and nutritious meals.

Frozen or Prepared Entrees

Frugal individuals avoid the convenience of frozen or prepared entrees, which often come with a premium price tag compared to homemade meals. In fact, there are many grocery aisles which are best avoided, especially if your goal is to drop your grocery budget.

They prioritize cooking from scratch using affordable ingredients, which not only saves money but also allows them to control the quality and nutritional content of their meals.

Paying Full Price

“Never pay full price” is the often-repeated frugal mantra. Finding discounts, sales, and coupons to avoid paying full price whenever possible is a well-played game for frugals.

They shop strategically, wait for seasonal clearances, and leverage loyalty programs to maximize their savings on everything from groceries to household essentials.

When shopping, use a browser extension. I use (and love) Rakuten, which automatically finds coupons for you at the checkout and also give you cash back on your purchase. It’s like a “double win”.


Frugal individuals understand the financial burden of debt and strive to avoid it whenever possible.

They prioritize saving and budgeting to afford purchases outright, avoiding loans and credit card debt to maintain financial independence and stability. When necessary, they explore alternative financing options, such as interest-free payment plans or peer-to-peer lending, to avoid accruing interest and fees.

Ultimately, the journey towards frugality is a highly personal one, guided by individual values, goals, and circumstances. However, the essence of frugal living remains the same: making intentional choices that align with what you value most.

Your Turn!

What does most of of society define as a necessity that you choose to do without? Tell me in the comments.

14 thoughts on “15 Common “Necessities” That Frugal People Don’t Buy”

  1. Hi Hope and Larry,
    We find that we can do without the newest and latest gadgets and clothing trends. True friends like you for your trustworthy character and not what you have.
    Keeping you guys in my prayers. I noticed you two are moving much more easily so you must be doing your exercises. 🙂

  2. I agree with all of the above. I do take exception on a couple though. Firstly cloth diapers…I used cloth diapers with my eldest without any problems, however when #2 came along she did not tolerate cloth at all. To top it off it took a while to find a disposable brand she could tolerate. I tried everything with the cloth to no avail. She just had (and still does) VERY sensitive skin. And eating out or buying convenience…I need a break every now and then, being the chief cook and bottle washer. I just plain get tired of 3 squares 7 days a week. I agree the quality is not there and it is very expensive, but occasionally a girl (or guy) needs a break, lol. I belong to a “tightwad” group and one of the founders of this group colored her hair, which I find frivolous. I have been gray since my 30’s and am now in my 60’s…she is in her 70’s BUT it makes her feel good and she is very frugal in every other aspect of her life. It just proves frugality is individual, as it should be.

    • You are so right! Frugality is definitely individualized. I totally understand about the cloth diapers. Seems to me that one of my boys had sensitive skin. Not as sensitive as your daughter. But, I had to be really careful to keep him ultra-dry and change him really often.

  3. I have been buying paper towels, but I am going to cut up old t-shirts to make rags to use instead of paper towels so thank you for that tip. I will, however, continue to use paper towels to put fried food on to absorb excess oil.

    I think it is ok to buy new clothes but so look in other places first. Better to buy a few good quality items than lots of cheap ones.

    Thanks Hope and Larry. Your videos make my day.

    • You’re absolutely right. Interestingly, if you catch a really great clearance sale, you can sometimes get brand new clothing for less than Goodwill prices.

  4. All most all things in my house are second hand. Like furniture, lamps etc. Except my bed. And I do all the things you talk about. This week I found myself 4 leather dining table chairs! And I brought back the ones I had back to the same driftstore. The man off the driftstore even recognise them!! How funny 🤣 This saved me lots off money which I spend to let paint my house. It all looks beautiful now!!

    • We used to call our decorating theme “early mixed”, because it may not match, but it was functional. We slowly traded up to items that looked more cohesive.

  5. Where I live, a landline phone is $12/month bundled with regular internet; hence, no cell phone for me. One of my TV sets dates back to the 1990s; it still works, so it stays. Indoor antenna is free so no cable, streaming or satellite.

    • I agree. We have a landline and it costs about that much bundled with our internet. We always said we would get a cell phone when we saw the necessity for having one. We didn’t have a cell phone until Larry went into the hospital six years ago with severe heart failure. I saw the necessity of keeping in touch with all our kids and got a cell phone for the first time.

  6. Retired here and on very limited income. 1. Rent an apt. I am fortunate to have a fantastic landlord who actually fixes things I don’t have to worry about. 2. Garden. I became disabled prior to retiring, and a ‘real’ garden isn’t possible; however, I have a small porch. Old totes are one of my best friends, and I’m able to hang plants for all sorts of things. Eat seasonly and ferret out farmstands. Learn to can and cook from scratch. Pasta and bread are easy once learned and taste better than store bought. Go thru old cookbooks to see about Depression era recipes. Limit meat and use other proteins instead; beans and eggs are good. Make a ‘basics’ list and shop off that only. 3. Transportation. My car is 17 years old and bought 2nd hand. Insurance is a lot cheaper than a newer car. Gas is expensive, so outings are only 1-2x weekly and local. 4. make your own laundry detergent and use a clothesline if possible. 5. Thrift store clothing and other household items. Shoes should be bought new if possible. 6. Know your neighbors so you can barter. 7. Don’t need cable TV if you have internet. 8. I refuse a kindle for reading and wait for the local library sale when a bag of books is 5.00 or less, plus browsing thru shelves is fun. Follow bookclubs online to see what is new. 9. Haircuts. Go to a beauty school or find a friend. 10. Making own basic medicines is easy. 11. Shop at dollar store. 12. Never go out to eat. Have the neighbors over for pot luck or make your own pizzas. 13. Don’t have more animals than you can afford to feed.


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