Shortening the Shopping List

I used up my last bottle of moisturizing, mineral-based, paraben-free facial sunscreen. And I had a liberating realization: I do not need to buy more. (I can just use the kids’ general purpose, paraben-free mineral sunscreen. And if I need more moisturizer, there’s always coconut oil, which makes your face smell like a Samoa Girl Scout cookie.) One more item crossed off my shopping list.

Left: Babyganics sunscreen. Right: Jar of coconut oil.

All my face actually needs. Ignore small, fancy bottle of coconut oil–I usually buy in bulk.

Limiting the number of consumable items that you buy regularly has a lot of advantages. It generally saves money. It saves time. Maybe most importantly, it saves worry. If I don’t buy moisturizing facial sunscreen, then I don’t have to worry about whether I will run out. I don’t have to make a special trip to the store because I forgot to buy it and now I’m out. I don’t have to hunt for the best price or consider switching brands. It’s out of my brain for good.

I’m fortunate in having decent skin and low-maintenance hair, so those are the things that get cut. Here is a semi-random selection of items I’ve managed to pare from my shopping list, with the already-lying-around items I’ve replaced them with:

  1. Shave gel: Bar soap

    Left: Bottle of Avalon Organics brand facial lotion. Right: Wrapped bar of Kirks Original Coco Castille soap.

    Left: An expensive unitasker (boo). Right: A cheap multitasker (yay!). This is also the soap I use for laundry detergent.

  2. Face soap (first Noxema, then Dr. Bronner’s): Bar soap
  3. Facial toner/astringent: Nothing. My skin cleared up on it own.
  4. Shampoo and conditioner: Baking soda and vinegar
  5. Facial tissues: Toilet paper in a pinch, or my wonderful stack of flannel cloths made by Grandma FP
  6. Rinse aid for dishwasher: Nothing. Results of dishwashing slightly spottier, but acceptable.
  7. Greek yogurt: I now make this by straining homemade yogurt.
  8. Almond milk: Nothing (for the kids, who were already eating plenty of cheese and yogurt) and regular milk (for me).
  9. Ovaltine: Nothing. The kids weren’t finishing their cups half the time anyway.

Then there are less-consumable items that I have found I don’t need to replace. These are things I don’t have to research, try on, comparison shop for, remove from the packaging, put away, pack up when we next move, wash, or put away:

  1. My stainless-steel water bottle. I loved this, and I managed to lose it. Instead of buying a new one, which I will probably also lose (bad for the planet–all that manufacturing and raw materials–and for my wallet), I’m just going to use repurposed glass jars and call it hipster-ish.
  2. Black socks. I just have to wear my less-favored socks now.
  3. Yoga pants. First I wore my leggings until they wore out. Now I am just wearing shorts under jeans or sweatpants, which I take off when I get to the gym.
  4. The blue plastic bowls that the kids lost in the yard. (OK, I forgot they had them out there.) We have plenty of others.
  5. The toddler spoons I accidentally fed to the garbage disposal. Turns out the boys can manage regular spoons now.
  6. The third cutting board, which I accidentally melted. Been getting by just fine with two.
  7. The backup glass measuring cup, whose writing wore off. This is not totally useless, actually (great for beating eggs in!), and for actual measuring when the good Pyrex cup is dirty, I often use an old glass baby bottle.

Making the list, I was embarrassed and rather appalled to realize how many items I’ve managed to lose or accidentally destroy, which is another reason to buy less: Every item I don’t buy is one less target for my blundering! More importantly, every time I remove an unnecessary item from my life, I feel a little zing of satisfaction, and then I feel a little lighter. One less thing to worry about. One more dollar working for me as a “little green employee,” as Mr. Money Mustache puts it. And one less tiny environmental footprint.

What have you trimmed from your shopping list? How does it make you feel?


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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.

4 responses to “Shortening the Shopping List”

  1. seattlegirluw says :

    I’m jealous that your face clears up on its own. My skin is a mess, so I have products, but I stick with drugstore brands so as not to go broke.

    I’m also spoiled with good shampoo which helps tame my hair, so I won’t give that up. But I shampoo every other day to help stretch it. My husband barely uses shampoo, especially in the spring/summer when he keeps his head shaved.

    He also just uses water to clean himself because of a skin condition. So that means our shower gel lasts far, far longer.

    I also stopped buying my own deodorant. My husband uses one that works perfectly fine for both sexes. It’s invisible so it there’s no reason for me to have a second one.

    We also save on toothpaste. He has dentures and uses tabs that we bought ages ago (hooray for bulk buying!). That means toothpaste lasts twice as long.

    We don’t use tissues unless my husband has a bad cold. His nose gets really, really chapped, so I cave and get Puffs Plus. Otherwise, he uses leftover napkins from fast food or toilet paper. We also don’t use paper towels, just a rag. I can’t imagine how much that saves.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Hey, ya do what ya gotta do. And when you do benefit from a particular product, good ones can sometimes be more cost-effective because you can use less. You might find that you can go one more day between hair washings if you put your mind to it. I used to think that every other day was pushing it, but these days I go four days. I often use a little cornstarch baby powder as dry shampoo.

      And I don’t begrudge your husband his Puffs Plus, but here’s a sore-nose tip from Grandma FP: A little petroleum jelly will protect the skin and keep it from getting as bad.

      I do use paper towels for anything involving grease, but I hear you can use cut-up flour bags, so I plan to try it. I already cut up cereal bags to use as wax paper!

  2. Katy says :

    This post is something I constantly think about. Even a year ago, when I thought I had pared down to a bare minimum, there was still so much potential! I have stopped buying facial soap and just use water, stopped buying cotton squares and use my washcloth to remove eye makeup with coconut oil, and stopped buying deodorant, stopped using Q-tips and Kleenex at home. Every time I declutter I try not to replace things to truly experience the benefit of less possessions. I’m excited to go even further and the reason I enjoy blogs like yours so much with all the ideas and inspiration.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Thank you for the kind words! You comment highlights some things that I haven’t eliminated yet! I have to admit, we actually have two different kinds of Q-tips! (Adult and special safety ones for the boys.) I would have to pry the Q-tips out of Mr. FP’s cold, dead hands, but I can probably shift along without baby Q-tips! I also use deodorant, but I’m thinking about trying the lasts-forever rock crystal kind when it runs out.

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