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6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

Do you spend money on these 6 things? You probably don't have to!


Recently, I wrote a post on 6 Things Our Family Has Chosen to Splurge On. This post was one of the most-read posts I’ve shared the past few months and many of you asked if I could do a follow-up post listing things we don’t spend money on.

So, today I present you with the flipside post — 6 things we rarely spend money on:

1. Kid’s Clothes

I’m constantly asked how we save money on kid’s clothes and, to be honest, this is an area where we keep things really simple. My kids could care less about brand names right now.

They do have their own unique styles, but they willingly wear pretty much whatever I find for them on used clothing sites or through online deals. In fact, I can’t remember them really ever complaining about not having certain kinds of clothes.

It probably helps that we homeschool (i.e. they don’t feel left out or less than that they don’t have whatever is the current “hit item” or “hot must-have” item that everyone at school is wearing/talking about). I think it also helps that Jesse and I both are really simplistic when it comes to clothes and we wear the same things over and over again. So they pretty much follow suit.

6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

{A few of Kaitlynn’s favorite pieces from our free Schoola order!}

So the truth is: in the past two years, we’ve gotten most of our kid’s clothes used from Thred Up and Schoola using credit that I’ve earned by sharing deals here.

You might be thinking that that’s not really fair since I do have a blog that a lot of people read and you don’t have a blog. Well, I bet you have some mom friends who would be excited about the current deal from Schoola where they can get $15 in FREE credit + FREE shipping just by signing up.

Sign up and share your referral link with friends and they can get free clothes shipped for free and you can get $15 in free credit for every person who signs up and orders! Score!

We also sometimes use our Amazon gift cards earned through Swagbucks to supplement kid’s clothes purchases — especially if I’m not able to find the right size, etc. on ThredUp or Schoola.

6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

2. Snack Foods

Other than tortilla chips and Greek yogurt or yogurt tubes, we buy very little other prepared snack food. Instead, we usually make our own snack foods.

Some of our favorite quick and easy snacks are cheese quesadillas, popcorn, Energy Bites, hardboiled eggs, and fruit. I also try to have at least a few snack items pre-made and frozen all the time — whether that’s muffins, Banana Bread, burritos, cookies, or Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches.

We save a lot of money by eating mostly homemade snack foods. And as a side benefit, homemade is almost always healthier, too.

6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

3. Professional Pictures

Confession time: We almost never get professional photos taken. I know, I know, that probably makes me a “bad mom” by some people’s standards, but it’s just never been a priority to us.

We do take lots of pictures and I try to document our daily lives on this blog, on Instagram, and on pictures I save on my computer. I prefer the real-life pictures that show some of the mess and chaos over staged pictures in a studio.

The few times we’ve gotten professional pictures done, it’s been so. much. work to get everyone looking presentable and smiling in pictures. The whole experience felt exhausting.

Plus, I’ve not really been too happy with the final results. So, for now, I’m just happy to mostly stick with taking pictures on my own camera and phone.

6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

4. Nice Dinners Out

We budget for eating out once a week — which is definitely a luxury but something that we really enjoy. However, it’s usually an inexpensive meal at Chili’s, Chipotle, Cracker Barrel, or Chick-fil-A.

I can’t think of a time when we’ve taken the kids to a fancy restaurant and Jesse and I usually only going to a nice restaurant maybe once or twice a year, if that.

I’d rather stretch our eating out money as far as possible, instead of spending it all on one dinner every other month. 🙂

6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

5. Movie Tickets

Going to the theater to see a movie is also a very rare occurrence in our family. I’d say we probably take the kids to 1-2 movies per year and Jesse and I probably go see one ourselves maybe once a year.

Some of the reason is that it’s expensive, some of the reason is that Jesse and I don’t get babysitters very often, and some of the reason is that we’re so picky about movies that it’s hard to find a movie we think would be worth seeing in the theaters.

Plus, while I love good movies, I usually find it more relaxing to enjoy them all snuggled up together on our L-shaped couch with blankets and popcorn. And when it cost us pretty much zero out of pocket to do so (thanks to free Redbox codes, free Amazon Prime movies, and other shows that are available free online), it just always seems like a better option than going to the theater.

6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

The last movie I saw in the theater was Unbroken and that one was definitely worth paying to see in the theater.

6. Household Furnishings

You all know how minimalistic I am at heart and how much I just plain don’t care when it comes to furniture and decor. I mean, I like clean and uncluttered and I like fresh flowers, but other than that, I care much more about functionality and practicality than I do about how nice something looks.

So over the years, we’ve spent very, very little on home furnishings. The majority of our furnishings have come from Craigslist or have been given to us.

We have kids and we live here all day, every day, so wear and tear is inevitable. Because we’ve paid very little out of pocket for most of our furnishings, I don’t have to worry about something getting ruined or stained or ripped or nicked.

6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

What about YOUR family? What are some things you rarely spend money on? I’d love to hear your list!

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97 Comments

  • There are so many good ideas in this post and the comments!! Here are mine, which overlap a lot with others:
    1. Adult clothing, shoes and accessories. My husband and I don’t buy new clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc. very often. We tend to wear the same things over and over, and I really like how that simplifies life.
    2. Paper products, including paper towels, napkins, and gift wrap. We use rags as much as possible, cloth napkins, and reuse gift bags, wrap (if not too wrinkled), and ribbon.
    3. Entertainment. We don’t have cable, and we never go to the movies. Our daughter is 5, and each of the three times we’ve taken her to see kid movies in the theater, she’s gotten scared and we’ve had to leave. I haven’t seen an adult movie in a theater since I was pregnant with her. If my husband and I get a date night out on our own, we want to talk to each other.
    4. Books. While I do buy some books for my daughter, I almost always get the books I read out of the library.
    5. Cars. We believe in driving cars until it no longer pays to fix them. We have fuel-efficient cars, and drive them for as long as possible. We drove our last Accord until is 224,000 miles on it!
    6. Outsourcing. We do our own cleaning, yard work, snow removal, and as many house repairs as possible. We do pay for oil changes and car care, though.

  • Jill says:

    This is such a great list. I am a SAHM. Most of our clothes for our boys come from garage sales or hand me downs. My husband and I have been married almost 8 years and we have NEVER been to a movie together! Crazy, I know. I don’t comment often but have always love your blog. You have been such a blessing to our family. I have been a reader since the beginning and your blog before this one!

  • Tara says:

    I love alot of the ones on your list as we have some similar ones such as movies, eating out fancy dinners, etc… we budget to eat out 1 x a week but its usually something we can spend less than $20 on as a family plus my toddler isnt so great with going out right now.
    Another thing I rarely spend money on is things like Starbucks (prefer snuggling up with a regular ole hot chocolate at home and a good book). Plus I dont drink coffee so that helps.
    We also dont go out to movies very much at all during the year for the same reason.. they just arent making great ones that are worth going to the theater for. Hunger Games was an exception and probably Mockingjay Part 1 is the last one we saw in the theater. Even then we paid matinee price 🙂 The wonderful Redbox codes you give out to us on here have given us FIVE free movies so far!! Thats pretty good since we have a computer gadget that can copy them onto our DVR and then we just send the DVD back within the 24 hours and watch the movie at our convenience.
    I rarely spend money on books either (thanks to all your free ebooks!) and magazines I can get free through Erewards surveys. I have like 3-4 magazine subscriptions that I pay ZERO for!
    We do our own yard work so we don’t pay for landscaping really.
    Oh, and I am pretty good at doing my own manicures and facials so dont go to salons much. Seriously… I probably should go more than I do to get my hair cut but I go maybe 2-3 times a year? Some of that is money, some is disposable time.
    Love your post here! Great to see that even when we CAN spend money on things, its usually stuff we dont spend on because we can either do it ourselves better or just plain dont need it! Thanks for setting a great example!

  • Natasha says:

    I am going to overlook you saying photography since I am a photographer, lol! My little family depends on people buying photo sessions:)

  • debbie says:

    (1) Magazines – I never buy them and I get 20+ subscriptions for free, many which I found here at MSM.

    (2) Mani/Pedi – I do my own with loads of free nail polish and free Revlon nail care items I’ve accumulated with coupons and deal match-ups, also found at MSM.

    (3) Coffee Shop Drinks – It’s not that I don’t get them, I don’t spend money on them. I only purchase with Starbucks and Dunkin’ gift cards (or free coupons) earned through rewards sites and apps. I learned about these also from MSM.

    (4) Birthday Celebrations – With all the freebies you can get from businesses and restaurants on your special day, the only money you need is to tip for great service. Learned about them here too.

    (5) Books – If I buy a book it’s at a yard sale or thrift store. There are thousands of free Kindle books available on Amazon. I also enjoy swapping books with friends. Libraries are good resources for newly released titles. I check MSM daily for free Amazon book listings.

    (6) Bank fees and interest – I use free checking and a no fee rewards credit card that I pay off every month. I don’t have a debit card so I’ve never used an ATM. I pay for most everything with my credit card and earn gift cards for dining out (and coffee!) I know that’s something you don’t agree with, Crystal, but it works for me.

  • Stephanie Downing says:

    We rarely spend money on:
    1) Haircuts: We cut our kids’ hair. I get a cut once or twice a year for $15. My husband probably spends about $100/year on haircuts (I need to learn how to do his, but he is particular!). There is no highlighted hair or manicured nails in this house!
    2) Cell Phones: My husband and I both have a tracphone, which is $7/month for each of us and has more minutes than we need!
    3) Laundry Detergent: I make a big batch 1-2 times a year, and it feels like it only costs pennies to make.
    4) School Lunches: They are expensive! I can easily pack a lunch for half the cost.
    5) Kids Clothes and Shoes: I buy a lot of clothes at rummage sales. I especially love to find good shoes, snowpants, winter coats, fancy dresses, etc. The big ticket items is where you’ll really find your savings!
    6) Babysitting: I have never hired a babysitter. I ask friends and family to help when I need.
    7) Airfare: We usually only travel via air every other year, but we almost always are able to get free flights with credit card rewards! And we’ve never paid credit card interest 😉 This is the only thing Dave Ramsey and I disagree on 😉
    8) Christmas/Birthday Gifts: We do not buy our kids much in terms of gifts at this point. They get plenty from everyone else!
    9) I won’t repeat Crystal’s list, but I must have read her blog long enough that I also can relate to each of Crystal’s 6 items.

  • Siné says:

    My list looks very similar to yours. When it comes to photos of my children, I have been putting in the effort to really figure out my camera. My real challenge there is getting my husband to pick up the camera on occasion so there will be photos of me and my children together.

  • Tracy K in Illinois says:

    Our lists are nearly identical with the exception of eating out. This is something we rarely do. We live in a rural area and it just isn’t practical, not to mention my family would rather eat at home. I make nearly everything from scratch. We have very nice furnishings but they are all hand-me-downs. We don’t have cable, satellite or wifi. I tether from my phone for occasional internet usage at home and utilize free wifi elsewhere. We attend the movie theater once or twice a year thanks to free tickets but typically enjoy movies at home with free redbox codes. I have a teenager who is definitely concerned about his clothing and shoes. Although we preach that life isn’t about the brand you wear, we still keep him in nice clothing. My parents and sister keep him “in style” (aka SPOILED) and I supplement with free gift cards earned through apps and rewards sites (I belong to them all!!!) We also rarely buy clothing for ourselves. We are both very lucky to have professions that don’t require dress clothing…jeans and tshirts keep things simple and last a very long time. Professional pictures – you should see the prices on school picture packages these days. I purchased a high end camera several years ago and take my own pics. I would much rather have a picture of my child in nature than one with a fake “nature” background. I utilize all the photo freebies available to keep cost low.

  • We rarely spend money on:
    Dinners Out – Food made at home tastes so much better and we know how it’s been handled;0)

    Movies – We do have cable and movies come out on On Demand so quickly that it just doesn’t make sense to pay the big bucks. I’m with you and totally enjoy the comforts of home over a movie theatre any day. That being said, there’s apparently an Avengers movie coming out this weekend that the kids both want to see.

    Pictures: We were pretty faithful with pictures when the kids were younger. Then we hired one of those expensive picture takers and the pictures were so good. The problem is we don’t want to pay that price every year.

    Jewels: Yep! We aren’t fancy people. No need for jewelry and all that fancy stuff here!

    Pedicures/Manicures: I’ve had a manicure once in my life. It’s just not my thing.

    Oh I could go on and on but I’ll spare you;0)

  • Jessica says:

    I totally agree with what you said about going to see movies in the theater. Another reason I’d rather watch a movie at home is because I know the people around me (my husband) will be courteous and quiet!!! It really stinks when you’re revved up to see a good movie and you’re sitting next to people who talk through the whole thing (you’re watching a movie, why are you talking?!) or are on their very distracting, glowing phone (you’re watching a movie, why are you staring at your phone?!).

    I make exceptions for certain movies that I just have to see in the theater and experience with other people, like the new Star Wars movie. There’s just something about being in a theater packed full of people all pumped up to see a movie. It’s a really cool atmosphere.

    • Becky says:

      Agreed! My husband and I both enjoy movies quite a bit, but we usually only have a couple of must-see-in-theaters movies per year. Which are usually the big geeky movies with special effects we’d want to see in all their big screen glory. The last time we went was back in December for the last Hobbit movie, and we’re treating ourselves to one last pre-kid movie theater date for The Avengers tonight. But it’s definitely going to be tougher after this. We are hoping to get out for Star Wars, though!

  • I’m a single and unmarried – so there are a LOT of things I don’t buy! But some things offhand…

    1. Books + CDs. I can’t tell you the last time I purchased a book (I know that might make you cringe as an author, but it’s true!) Books are so expensive these days, and for something I might read once, it’s just not worth it to me. Instead, I use the library. Same with CDs.

    2. Cleaning Supplies and Laundry Detergent. I make my own detergent and use old t-shirts, etc. for cleaning rags. I make all of my cleaners because I can’t stand the smell of strong cleaner.

    3. Beauty Care. I do my own nails, dye my own hair, etc. I get my hair cut once a year (if I remember!) and don’t go with fancy hairstyles. It ends up in a bun most days anyway! I do buy nice sunscreen and a few other skincare products just because I have sensitive skin and it makes a huge difference, but other than that, I don’t really buy makeup or buy in to the latest cosmetics craze.

  • Joanna Howe says:

    I rarely buy books. We utilize our local library a lot. Less clutter.

  • Theresa L says:

    One thing I rarely spend money on: coffee out. I LOVE coffee, but I’m just not that picky about it. I have Keurig machine that makes good coffee, IMO. I make mine at home and only get a coffee out on rare occasions as a treat.

    I also rarely spend money on clothes for myself. I shop thrift stores and clearance to find some awesome things for next to nothing. I usually ask for things or gift cards for my birthday and Christmas, too, so I can get nicer new things without spending money.

  • Beth says:

    We don’t pay for lawn service or any kind of maintenance on our home (except HVAC). We do most everything ourselves including renovations. While I pay to get my hair cut, I color it myself. We buy very few adult clothes and get all of our son’s clothes second-hand from a friend that we purchase for very little. We both work outside the home, so we pay for childcare during the week, but we’ve never paid for a baby-sitter on the weekends or evenings because we have great in-laws. We do splurge on a cleaning lady twice a month, but that allows us to keep our sanity and not spend our entire weekends cleaning. We have enough to do with laundry, dishes, etc.

  • Vienna says:

    You can actually go to most of the hottest new movies in theatres for free (and often before it actually comes out in theatres) if you sign up for gofobo.com and wbtickets.com. My husband and I are going on a date night next week for the new Reese Witherspoon movie Hot Pursuit with the free tickets we just got. I’m just starting my own money saving blog as well if you’re interested https://fynaly.wordpress.com/

  • Randi says:

    Great post Crystal! Like many other readers my husband and I are fortunate in many ways and don’t have to spend much money on the following:

    1. Clothes from my son come from my nephew. Usually its a HUGE box with clothes spanning sizes like 2T-5T and I was paying my sister shipping since she lived in Alaska. I get about 2 boxes/yr which is on average ~$100 for 4+ years worth of clothes!

    2. Toys for my son. I have learned now that grandparents aunts, and uncles spoil my boy, so if I want to get him something its a bargain, a hand me down, or a sale item.

    3. No cable – we use free redbox rentals and we don’t go to the theater on the account of me being half deaf and relying on captions.

    4. I am an avid runner – so no gym memberships I prefer running outdoors anyways!

    5. My husband changes the oil in our cars, and the air filters, and other stuff. Both of our vehicles are paid off as well and we intend to drive them till they die.

    6. Haircuts – my husband clips his own hair and I am lucky if I make the time to get mine cut once a year – its all I really need and want.

  • Deborah Fisher says:

    We hardly ever spend money eating out. I cook meals every night and i dont mind, even though i work full time. My organizational skills could be better in this department but i manage. We proberbly eat out 3 or 4 times a year, birthdays etc. A group of us at work swap books and magazines.

  • Amber says:

    Great post!

    A couple things we don’t purchase often are:

    1. Beverages – Other than a cup of coffee with my breakfast or an occassional glass of milk with the kids dinner, everyone in our family drinks water. No juices, sodas, tea etc.

    2. Fabric softener – I do purchase laundry detergent (although I would love to make my own) but because my daughter has exzema, I stopped using fabric softener and really don’t miss it.

    3. Internet and a phone line (sort of) –
    This one probably is not realistic for everyone. We, however only have smart phones with the tether option (ie for $10 a month we get Internet through our phones). No land lin

  • Marta says:

    Great article! Our family pretty much does the same thing! However, since my husband and I do photography as a fun, side job, professional photos don’t always have to be crazy expensive! Phone photos are good for every day, but once in awhile it’s nice to get some photos done that are taken with a professional camera to put on the wall in your home. And if you looked around locally, you might even be able to find a photographer who will take photos of your family for an affordable price! Sorry, that was a long ran about pictures! Haha

  • Julie says:

    1) Professional photography (our last session was 4 years ago)

    2)Purses- I buy purses for around $2 or less at yard sales. Every few years I’ll get a nice one for my b-day (around $30). I use the same purse for 6 months-1 year and then it’s usually worn out by then.

    3) Kid’s clothes here as well– yard sales and hand me downs. My kids get dirty everyday from playing outside. I like knowing I don’t have to stress about stains!

    4) Mani/Pedi- another 1x a year treat, if that!

    5) Massages/Facials- I still have a gift card for one from 2 Christmases ago….oops!

    6) New electronics– our flat screen TV was a hand-me-down from family…our TV before that was one I bought for my husband 14 years ago. I will say we buy computers (not high end) for our home-based business and homeschool but we don’t go out and get the latest and greatest as soon as it hits the stores! I finally upgraded to a smart phone earlier this year (from a flip phone) and it’s been great to have for my business…but it will need to last a while.

  • April Jones says:

    We don’t eat dessert on a regular basis.
    I usually get my clothes at a local thrift store, frequently with tags still on them.
    I clean with vinegar and bleach that are much cheaper than expensive products.

  • Kelli says:

    We are with you on the not eating out. We usually receive a few gift cards to nice restaurants at Christmas time. Those are a treat, and we use them, but we rarely go to a nice restaurant and spend our own money.

    We have also chosen to limit ‘screen subscriptions.’ (I’m not sure what else to call them.) We choose not to pay for cable, Netflix, Amazon prime, Sling, etc. We pay for internet and our cell phones, and that is plenty for us. 🙂

    Great article. Lots to think about!

  • Korie says:

    We have also rarely spent $ on clothing for our kids, I am super cheap and when they are growing what is the point? Now that my girls are older they have learned and adapted to buying clothing cheap and getting deals with coupons and scouring thrift and second hand shops, they will sell clothing to get a credit when they want something new and have been buying their own clothes ever since they started high school…they learned to work for what they wanted and get the latest styles cheap!
    Great list!

  • Maureen McCann says:

    I agree with so many of your ideas. My husband and I are almost empty nesters. My youngest is finishing up college. We never had cable. I would have liked it but the bill wasn’t worth it. Now we have Netflix or I rent from Redbox.
    I work from home so I wear comfortable clothes. My husband is semi retired.He doesn’t need dress clothes either. We drive our cars until it costs more to repair then the vehicle is worth. We don’t go to the movies much either. The last one we went to was a gift from the kids. We eat at home much of the time. If we do go out is it our favorite diner that great food with a reasonable cost. I do splurge on an expensive haircut. I cut the times down from every 6 weeks to 10 weeks since we mainly live on one income now. The haircut makes me feel good. We do travel our oldest lives out of the area. We look for a cheap place to stay or a place that we can get points for a free stay.

  • Tara says:

    This is a great post! Now that your kids are in school, are you finding it difficult not to buy some prepackaged food for lunches? I try to make healthy lunches, but there always seems to be something prepackaged. Our grocery bill keeps going up. I would love a post on what you pack for lunch.

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