40 Things I Don’t Buy or Own

And I still don’t have money to spare!

Photo by George Dolgikh on Pexels.com

As a self-proclaimed minimalist, I appreciate the time and money I save by not purchasing things I don’t need. My home, not to mention my life, has benefitted from a lack of “extra.” My house is not bare by any means, rather it’s quite full–of objects that I use and appreciate daily.

Some Quick Disclaimers

.1. This list is unique to me and not prescriptive.

Minimalism is a personal journey. I enjoy reading posts and watching videos about this subject for inspiration, so I thought I’d make my own list. Everyone’s list will be different. I’m not trying to preach to others about how they should shop. You do you!

.2. This post is not meant to serve as personal finance advice.

Frugality can only take you so far financially. It’s amazing how little money I have left over after cutting out (or never making) certain purchases. There are so many purchases I don’t make–many that are completely normal to the average person. I recently made a budget and was surprised by how little I could cut. I’ve whittled down my expenses to mostly necessities, with a few intentional luxuries that would not make a huge difference if I cut them.

Inflation is on the rise and wages, for most people, are not. There is only so much we can do as individuals to save money. Often, we are at the mercy of other people. We can only do our best to find a job that pays well. To find a living situation where our rent or mortgage is affordable. To have a manageable grocery bill. I am tired of hearing finance advice that places all of the responsibility of the individual (and assumes the individual is overspending). We need some major changes in our society to make life more affordable to begin with.

.3. This is not a treatise on how to live sustainably.

While I think individuals can collectively have a significant impact on the environment, and that as consumers it’s important to spend our money on sustainable products, some amount of waste is inevitable in life. I am not here to tell you that you have to do any of these things to be a sustainable citizen, but if something on this list inspires you, fantastic.

40 Things I Don’t Buy or Own

1. Disposable food storage such as tin foil, plastic wrap, and plastic snack bags.

Instead, I use silicone stretch lids or beeswax wrap over bowls, reusable snack bags, metal tins, and plastic takeout containers (trying to use these less). To line a baking sheet, I use a silicone baking mat instead of tin foil. 

2. Disposable razors.

I use a metal safety razor. Used blades can be sent back to the manufacturer for recycling. I’m happy with it, but I’m interested in switching to an epilator.  

3. Makeup.

I haven’t worn makeup since 2019. I had some issues with my eye in the summer of that year, which started by wearing expired eyeliner. I quickly realized I didn’t miss the routine. I never learned how to apply makeup well (I came of age long before online tutorials), so I’m pretty sure it never looked great on me to begin with.

4. Air freshener sprays or plug-ins. 

I don’t particularly like artificial scents.

5. Magazine subscriptions.

I read magazines through my local library’s eBook app, Libby. Any time I see a magazine article behind a pay wall, I search for the current magazine issue on the app, and can usually find it.

6. Gym membership, virtual fitness membership, exercise classes.

These can be great, but they are just not for me. I like to walk, hike, and avail myself of the wealth of free fitness videos online.

7. End tables.

I have end tables, I have just somehow avoided buying them! Each of my end tables was either found on the side of the road or given to me by a family member.

8. Chewing gum.

When I started thinking about how to reduce waste in my daily life, and paid more attention to what I threw in the trash, I realized gum is something that will only ever end up in the trash.

9. CDs & DVDs.

This is easy, given all the streaming options. If I want to watch something that isn’t on a streaming service I have, I can always borrow the DVD from the library.

10. Dish sponges. 

I use reusable Swedish dishcloths. They are machine washable (but should not be put in the dryer). I also use a scraper for pans. 

11. Subscription boxes.

Some subscription boxes seem useful, but they’re just not for me. I can’t rationalize subscribing to receive products I may not have a need for every month or may not use up before the next box comes.

12. Meal kits.

I’m all for streamlining meal prep and making life easier, but this one isn’t for me. I just can’t rationalize spending money on something that would be much cheaper if I bought the ingredients separately at the store or farmer’s market. I have the time to cook the old fashioned way and don’t need ingredients portioned out.

13. Dryer sheets, fabric softener, and laundry soap pods.

I bought four wool dryer balls and never looked back. I use regular laundry soap now but plan on switching to laundry soap strips when the soap runs out.

14. Plastic straws.

I try to avoid straws when I buy drinks out, so I definitely don’t need them at home. I have a few metal straws that I use on the go.

15. Paper napkins.

This was one of the easiest things to let go of. I have purchased enough reusable napkins over the years that I have plenty for me and any number of guests.

16. Home decor (including seasonal decor).

I don’t have much in the way of decor, except for some sentimental items, plants, and my own artwork. I have a small collection of Christmas ornaments, which were all gifts. Decor brings a lot of people joy, but I don’t need much of it. I think my small space would feel too visually cluttered if I had more decor.

17. Throw pillows.

I have a few, but don’t plan on getting more. I don’t want decorative or seasonal throw pillows, although I can appreciate seeing them in others’ homes.

18. Paid apps.

I have never paid for an app, but this could change. 

19. Coffee pods and coffee filters.

I would really like to see single-use coffee pods go out of fashion. There are reusable alternatives for all of the major pod-style coffee makers. At home I use a French press, which has its own filter.

20. Bagged tea.

I buy loose tea instead. Although sadly a lot of loose tea is packaged in plastic. I intend to buy my next batch of loose tea at the local refill shop.

21. Plastic water bottles.

I don’t think I’ve ever purchased these, except maybe on the go once or twice.

22. Cable TV subscription.

Admittedly, I cheat when it comes to cable and used my parents’ login every now and then! But I also borrow library DVDs when I remember to plan ahead.

23. Television and associated accessories.

I love not having a TV. I like not having a screen be the center of a room. In the winter, when I’m feeling sluggish, I watch enough shows, movies, and videos on my laptop as it is. Having a nice big screen would mean I’d definitely watch even more.

When I have guests over, not having a TV makes it easy for conversation or spending time outside to be the main activity, which I really enjoy. Not having a TV also means I don’t have any of the associated accessories: media players, a TV stand/console, HDMI cable, remote, etc.

I recently splurged and bought a projector and screen for occasional movie nights with friends. For me, the key is to be able to put them away after, so the experience is intentional and special.

24. Manicures/pedicures.

I totally understand the appeal, but as a person on a budget—who also can’t keep nail polish intact for very long—it’s not for me.

25 Tech gadgets that I don’t need.

I have a laptop and a smartphone. I don’t have any interest in smart home devices and systems, voice assistants, tablets, or smart watches. I spend enough time on a computer for work and I enjoy unplugging at home. I also don’t think additional technology would add to my life. So many people buy technology just because it’s new and it truly confuses me. It’s an investment of money and time that I don’t want to make. I also don’t need new versions of tech items that still work.

26. Wrapping paper, gift bags, and accoutrements.

I have enough gift bags from gifts I’ve received that I’m not sure when, if ever, I’ll have to buy more! The same bags tend to circulate through my family between Christmases and birthdays. I avoid ribbons, bows, and “to/from” stickers too.

27. Microwave.

I heat my food up in the oven, toaster oven, or stovetop. I don’t miss having a microwave at all. I never liked the taste or consistency of microwaved food. I have a very small kitchen with precious counter space and there is no way I can justify taking up a whole counter with a microwave.

28. Most single use appliances.

I have a slow cooker, toaster oven, small food processor, seltzer maker, and blender. These serve me well. I’m short on cabinets and counters and need all the free space I can get. I’ve had single purpose appliances and kitchen tools in the past (hello, avocado slicer) and they just aren’t worth the space they take up.

29. Games. 

At the moment, I don’t buy video games or board games (are they called tabletop games now?). I have Scrabble, Catchphrase, Mad Libs, and cards, and that leaves plenty of options for when I have guests over. I don’t dislike video games; they are just not something I want to invest in. I wish games in general were less expensive but I know there is a lot of work that goes into making them.

30. Workout equipment.

Unless a yoga mat counts. I also have resistance bands.

31. Snowblower or leaf blower.

I have a gravel driveway, so I would need to have a very specific kind of snowblower, which also happens to be the most expensive. I have a plow service, which is worth every penny. I salt the driveway and shovel/salt the walkway myself, and I have an icebreaker for when I really need it. I don’t have a leaf blower because as much as that would help my overwhelming leaf cleanups, they are loud and, as usual, I don’t want to spend the money. Right now, I’d rather do a little extra manual labor instead.

32. Unnecessary home improvements.

This is highly subjective, but I deem a lot of home improvement projects to be unnecessary. Do I like my countertops? Not really. Am I going to create waste and spend money to replace perfectly functional countertops? No. I am typically interested in making improvements related to functionality and safety. 

I am going to repaint my living room and kitchen, which is a purely cosmetic choice, but it’s something I’ve thought long and hard about and I know I will really enjoy the final product. The current colors are too dark for the spaces and clash with each other. The house is small and I look forward to making these rooms, especially the living room with its high ceilings, feel larger with lighter colors.

33. Pre-portioned snacks.

I don’t want to pay extra for portioning or consume extra packaging.

34. Single-purpose/specialized cleaners. 

I use Barkeeper’s Friend for my sinks, and soap and water for counter and table tops. I also keep vinegar and Simple Green on hand. I have name brand window cleaner, but once that’s used up I hope to find a multipurpose alternative. Another exception is Benefect, a natural mildew remover.

35. Anything from Amazon. 

I did receive gift cards in 2021 and used them to buy COVID tests. Aside from that, I haven’t purchased anything from Amazon in years and I don’t miss it. I order directly from companies when I can, and for household purchases, my local refill store and Target suffice. I prefer to shop in person.

36. A printer or scanner.

I rarely need to print, but when I do, I go to the library. It costs ten cents per page. I scan at the library or use my phone as a scanner.

37. Unnecessary storage solutions.

I think my days of buying dedicated bins are over. I try to utilize built in storage as much as possible—drawers, closets, and cabinets. I have a table and an ottoman that have storage. My goal is to have so few items that I don’t need many storage solutions. I try to repurpose items to use as storage or corrals—bowls, plates, baskets, tote bags (folded into a basket shape), and shoeboxes.

38. Perfume or body spray.

The bar was set too high in the early 2000s with the glitter body spray I used in middle school.

39. Hair tools.

Straightening my hair is pointless (my hair is very curly), as is using a curling iron (my hair is very curly). I also don’t have a hair dryer.

40. Disposable cutlery and paper plates/bowls/cups.

Wasteful in more ways than one.

There you have it–40 things I don’t buy or own! I actually had 44 items on this list but I thought 40 was a nice round number. Maybe I’ll make a part two someday.

What types of items do you avoid buying? How do people react? Do you feel like you’ve cracked a code of some type, knowing that you don’t need something others have deemed essential? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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