35 Things We Don’t Buy to Save Money

I’m sharing the 35 things I don’t buy any more to save money for my single income family of 6. The results are worth all the sacrifice!


Several months ago Mr. Tidbits retired from his career as an engineer to work full time on our homestead. It has been so good for our family! Bringing him home is something we’ve always dreamed about, but it has also required us to take a careful look at our finances. Today I want to share the 35 things we don’t buy any more in order to save money for our family of 6, which you can also enjoy watching on YouTube.

First things first – I’m not perfect at saving money. It’s true! And what works for me to save money changes over time. We’re all on a different financial journey. You certainly won’t be getting any shame from me if you feel the need to rely on any of these 35 things. I just want to share some of the changes we’ve made that have blessed our financial lives. So, let’s dive in!


1. Fast Food

We don’t get fast food if we can avoid it. The cost of fast food adds up quickly when you’re purchasing food for six people, and it’s generally not good for you. We’ve learned to simply skip the drive thru lanes and make our own convenience foods.

As a result, I’ve found that my kids dislike most fast food since it’s not something they’ve exposed to. I’ll take that happy side effect any day!

2. Eating Out

I used to love eating out with Mr. Tidbits at a nice sit down restaurant on a regular basis. It was our weekly date night go-to. Eating out is still something we enjoy, but it’s now a rare occurrence.

Cutting back on restaurant dining has saved us a ton of money. And honestly, we love it all the more when we do get the chance to eat out these days.

3. Packaged Breakfast Items

There was a time when I used to rely heavily on packaged breakfast items to help me through our crazy mornings. Since we’ve brought Mr. Tidbits home, I now have more help around the house and we’ve been able to cut out packaged breakfast items completely. Our breakfasts are now healthier and better tasting.

4. Store-Bought Beef

Store-bought beef is another thing we don’t buy to save money. I like to purchase high quality, organic meat for my family. That can cost a bundle! We now take advantage of our land and raise our own beef cattle. It’s a lot of work, but I love filling the freezer with delicious, grass fed beef.

5. Small Quantities of Food

I try not to buy small quantities of food whenever possible. Buying cooking ingredients in bulk from a warehouse club or online retailer is generally less expensive over time. I love Azure Standard for organic healthy foods in bulk. It can be painful to fork over the extra money for bulk items, but it can really cut your grocery expenses in the long run.

6. Convenience Foods

Convenience foods are something we don’t buy to save money. Granola bars, fruit snacks, crackers – they aren’t cheap! Our family is learning to make more of our own convenience foods.

We love making homemade granola, homemade jerky and fruit leather. It’s been much better for our health and our pocketbook!

7. Specialty Beverages

We try to avoid buying specialty beverages. Things like coffee, soda, bottled water and juice. Instead we drink water like it’s going out of style! We use a Berkey Water Filter to improve the taste of our tap water and that’s all we need.

8. Canned Products

I try to avoid canned products when I’m grocery shopping. Not because they’re bad, but because I can usually find a cheaper alternative.

Mr. Tidbits and I love to bottle our own garden produce. This saves us a lot of money. We also purchase foods like beans in dry form whenever possible.

9. Produce

We try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables over here. We’re also trying to buy less produce at the grocery store to save money. Therefore, it’s a family goal of ours to grow more of our own fruits and veggies at home. This is a work in progress, but it’s been so rewarding to have delicious food that we grew ourselves.

10. Bottled Sauces and Dressings

It’s really easy to make our own salad dressings and sauces at home. We just use whatever oil we have on hand and add our own spices. This gives us so many flavor options because it’s totally customizable. You should definitely give this one a try!

11. Store Bought Bread

This year I decided to see if I could stop buying store-bought bread and make all our bread from scratch. It was an ambitious goal, but one that I’ve really loved. Homemade bread it the best tasting (of course!) and it saves us money each week. Win-win!

12. Candy and Processed Treats

I know how easy it is to give in and impulse buy a treat from the store. Been there, done that! We all love a treat, but we’ve been working for years to cut extra sugar and processed food from our diet.

As a result, if our family wants something sweet, we have to make it ourselves. This keeps the sweet-tooth in check and means that our treats taste better because they were homemade.

13. Commercial Cleaners

The use of commercial cleaners is another thing we’ve really been able to reduce over the years.

Now, I make a lot of my own cleaners using vinegar or Force of nature (use the code “TIDBITS” for 40% off your order). We’ve had lots of success using homemade soap nut laundry detergent. Simple things like swapping out dryer sheets for wool dryer balls really do add up to significant savings over time.

14. Name Brand Clothing

Name brand clothing can be expensive! Times that cost by six family members and you’re looking at a good chunk of change! Because of this, we almost never buy name brand items. Simple and inexpensive clothing items are what you’ll find the TIDBITS crew wearing.

15. Paper Towels

It might seem like a small thing, but not buying paper towels really saves us money. Paper towels and disposable napkins are so convenient that I often used to find myself using them when I didn’t really need to. Now, I reach for cleaning rags instead and find that I don’t miss those paper towels after all.

16. Dish Rags

This one might seem strange, but I don’t buy new dish rags to save money. You see, I used to buy cheap rags that fell apart quickly after little use. Now, I buy high quality Norwex cleaning cloths that last several years.

Sometimes an investment in a quality product up front can save you money down the road.

17. Makeup and Cosmetics

Cosmetics are just not something I want to spend my hard earned money on. I like to keep it really simple with just a little mascara, foundation and lip balm. My girls do the same and this has been a great way for us to save money.

18. Hair Dye Treatments

I used to regularly visit the salon to have my hair cut and dyed. It was something I enjoyed doing, but I found that it was eating into our budget too much. I decided that I could skip they hair dye and only get simple haircuts when needed to save us some extra money.

19. Started Plants

Growing our own garden, and especially growing our garden plants from seed, saves us a ton of grocery money! We grow dozens of plants each year and buying plant starts can add up. It’s much less expensive to buy seeds and start those babies ourselves.

True, it’s more work to start our own plants, but I love reaping the rewards of a large garden that cost me very little.

20. Vacations

Oh man, this one is tough! We’ve temporarily suspended family vacations while we work on establishing our homestead. We love doing things as a family and it’s still a priority for us, but right now we’re finding free ways to spend time together.

It’s hard to change spending habits that you enjoy, but we’re hoping that our kids will learn to work hard and sacrifice for their dreams.

21. Education

Mr. Tidbits and I homeschool our four kids together. We absolutely love homeschooling and it saves us money!

This might seem counterintuitive, but we no longer pay for daily school lunches or expensive school fees. We’re able to receive reimbursement for many of our homeschool expenses through our online charter school enrollment.

22. Tutoring

When we first started homeschooling our kids, and Mr. Tidbits was still working full time, I really needed the help of tutors. Bringing in extra help worked well for us at the time, but since Mr. Tidbits has retired we’ve been able to do all of the homeschooling ourselves. This has saved us lots of money.

23. Outdoor Activities and Memberships

Ski passes, theme parks and gym memberships are examples of other things we don’t buy to save money. These activities are great, but their costs can add up quickly.

If we need to be active we just head outside for some exercise. You never have to pay to workout when you live on a homestead!

24. Contractors

We almost never hire out a job around our homestead. Living the DIY lifestyle saves us so much money! It requires more work and more patience on our part, but it’s very rewarding to learn new skills and see the fruits of our labor.

25. Toys

Toys are not making it into this mama’s shopping cart! That goes for kid toys and adult toys alike. We simply don’t need them or their costs. Instead, we find other ways to have fun with our family and friends.

26. Gifts

This past holiday season we tried a handmade-only Christmas that worked out so well! It was great to see my family working to create meaningful gifts for each other.

When friends and family have birthdays or special occasions, I try to keep it simple. Flowers from my garden, fresh bread or a simple card are always much appreciated and make beautiful gifts.

27. Extra Curricular Activities

I used to sign my kids up for all the things. I felt like they needed to be busy and engaged all the time. It got to be too much.

We cut out most of these activities when my husband retired. And, honestly? We don’t miss them. If my kids are interested in learning a new skill they can jump online and watch a YouTube tutorial or something similar. They are flourishing without having activities booked all day long.

28. Gas

We don’t spend much buying gas for our cars these days and that saves us a lot of money. Mr. Tidbits is no longer commuting to work, which is a significant savings. We also aren’t driving the kids around to nearly so many activities and that helps too.

29. Big Home Projects

If you follow me here, you may have noticed that I haven’t been doing as many big home projects lately. It’s something I’ve had to scale back on in order to meet our family’s financial goals. I do love a good room makeover or home update, but those things aren’t always realistic when you’re on a budget.

30. Cleaning Services

I used to hire monthly house cleaning help when I was growing my business and homeschooling four kids. But, fortunately/unfortunately we’ve been able to cancel cleaning services since my husband retired.

I miss having the help and a completely clean house, but we are saving money without hiring those services.

31. Kids Activities

Yep, kids are expensive. There are a lot of things they want to have or do with their friends.

We have our kids earn the money for their own activities. My older teenagers have jobs and all the kids raise goats to auction at the fair. It’s good for them to learn to budget and plan for their own needs.

32. Car Payments

It’s been a goal for myself and my husband to never have a car payment. Another monthly bill and interest fees? No thanks!

We save up and buy our cars with cash. Our cars are used and they’re nothing fancy, but they get us where we need to go.

33. Credit Cards

We don’t carry credit card debt. Credit card interest fees and bank fees are way too high. I don’t want them eating into my monthly budget so we make sure that we pay off our credit cards and don’t carry a balance on them.

34. Streaming Services

Another thing we don’t buy to save money are subscription streaming services. We don’t have cable tv, Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus or anything like that. Even small monthly amounts are a waste when they don’t get used. We find other forms of entertainment and skip the regular streaming services.

35. Healthcare Costs

Because my husband and I are both self employed, we purchase our own health insurance. This also means that we are really mindful about our health. We choose to eat healthy and take care of our bodies to avoid health problems. In some ways it’s an investment, but we truly do feel that having a healthy lifestyle is a great way to save money.

More Ways to Save Money

That sums it up! Those are the 35 things I don’t buy any more to save money. Eliminating these things from our budget has been a big financial help. We’re now able to work together as a family on this beautiful homestead that we love.

I’m always looking for more money saving solutions. I would love to hear your favorite budget hacks! Comment below to share your thoughts. Talk to you soon!

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