Doing Without–And Not

In December, Mr. FP realized that we might be as little as six months away from complete freedom from debt if we made some smart changes. We slashed our cell phone bills, sold our fancier car, and stopped all but the most essential shopping. We had already dropped cable TV in favor of a variety of ad hoc entertainment options. I’ve avoided using disposable diapers, baby wipes, tissues, and paper towels whenever humanly possible. Instead of running the dishwasher every night, I wait until it’s packed solid, and I’ve developed much stricter standards for what is dirty enough to go in the hamper.

With the finish line so near, we’ve put off things that we might have once considered essential. Here’s a selective list of things that we’re going without, at least until we’re debt-free:

  1. This year’s dental cleaning. I have pretty good teeth; I think they’ll hold another nine months or so.
  2. New glasses for Mr. FP. His prescription hasn’t changed, but the frames are pretty worn out. He’s making do.
  3. Yoga pants. Mine wore out and I have been getting by just fine wearing regular pants to and from the gym, then working out in shorts.
  4. A new coat. My newest coat is circa 2005 and the oldest is circa 1995. I want a new, stylish one–but all the old ones still keep out varying degrees of cold and wet. So not this year. Come to think of it, six coats(!) seems excessive for one person’s use, no matter how frumpy they may be.
  5. Professional haircuts for the kids. Mr. FP is getting pretty good with the clippers.
  6. Babysitting. We went out at Thanksgiving, when we visited my parents, and again a couple of weeks ago, when they came to visit us. In between, we’ve been hanging out at home.
HP Pavilion TouchSmart laptop

My new computer. It’s so fast and shiny.

Unfortunately, there have been a couple of things we haven’t been able to do without. Mr. FP and I are still leery of cutting each others’ hair, so we’re getting our hair professionally cut. And I got a new HP Pavilion laptop, because my computer is my livelihood and my 2008 Macbook broke down for good.

What about you, readers? What are you doing without, temporarily or permanently? And what have you NOT been able to do without?


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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

6 responses to “Doing Without–And Not”

  1. Matthew says :

    Living Without:
    * New gloves. Since I’ve started biking to work unless it’s raining or snowing, some warm, windproof gloves would be nice. I make do by layering up old gloves and then putting bread bags over top. I can still grip the handlebars, and they block the wind, which is critical below 20 degrees.
    * Professional haircut. I’m still experimenting with this one. It works ok, but you can probably tell it’s not professional if you pay enough attention.

    Can’t let go:
    * Luxury items at the grocery store. I like parmesan cheese, chocolate, roasted red peppers, etc.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Innovative gloves! I always think it’s a good idea to hold off on buying stuff for new habits until you’re sure they’re established. Maybe one year at the end of the season you can pick up some nice ones half price!

      Mmmm, chocolate. Have you tried using a price book or price book app for those luxury items? We haven’t tried one–doesn’t seem worthwhile with a move coming up–but the idea is that you keep track not only of which stores have the best prices on things, but also of the sale cycle as supposedly items go on sale at fairly predictable intervals.

      • Matthew says :

        So I had a few minutes to research price books. For anyone else not familiar with the term, it’s a notebook, spreadsheet, or app that allows you to track the price of items at various stores over time to identify the best deals so you can stock up when things are cheap. I started doing this in January without realizing it had a name. It has helped already this year. As one example, I recently stocked up on oatmeal at one of the expensive grocery stores in town when they had a sale of $2 per canister. The best regular price around is $2.59. Previously, I never even bothered to shop at the first store because of the high regular prices.

  2. Rachael says :

    Hello! We live in Australia (food prices are somewhat higher here than in the States) and we are aiming to eat all meals and snacks within a $2 a day budget. At first, I didn’t even believe that it could be done, but it can, and you can eat well on that too. I grow about 50-75% of our veggies, which of course helps, so we can eat something like basil pesto pasta with parmesan and bacon for about 50c to 75c per person. Oatmeal or homemade granola for breakfast, homemade saltines with tomato and cheese for lunch, in-season fruit for snacks. What we go without are things like steak, imported foods and processed foods. We don’t miss them. I also don’t buy new clothes anymore (save for undergarments, t-shirts and shoes) and I don’t wear much makeup. We also had an expensive restaurant habit which we have drastically cut. To nothing. Major achievement. By doing these things, we are able to do what we really wanted to do – change career (husband) and study a post-graduate degree (me). This is so much more satisfying than our previous life!

    • frugalparagon says :

      Wow, that’s impressive! I’d love to try growing some of our food in the future when we are more settled. Especially herbs–they are so pricey at the grocery store.

      My boys LOVE homemade granola. I have to make it in double batches and it still goes so fast. “More lololo,” they keep saying!

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