16 things you don't need
Ads constantly promote items we can't live without. Resist!
Except that we usually can. How do you suppose people managed before greeting card companies made birthday cards "from the cat" or "from me and the dog"? Before applesauce came in tubes? Before we started thinking our blankets needed sleeves?
This list of 16 things you don't need is by no means exhaustive, but it's a start.
Disposable income = disposable items
1. Bottled water. "It's more expensive than gasoline . . . $6.40 per gallon for a liquid I can get for free at home," writes Karla Bowsher at Money Talks News. If you live where the water tastes weird (howdy, Phoenix!), get yourself a filter. Bowsher's article lists top-rated models that start at under $20.
2. Paper plates. For a picnic in the park, maybe. But why not get a set of unbreakable dishes for picnics, barbecues and visits from the grandbabies? That's certainly greener and ultimately cheaper if you shop thrift stores and yard sales.
3. Paper napkins. Notice a pattern here? Reusable beats disposable any time. I got six cloth napkins for a quarter at a rummage sale; check post-holiday clearance sales, too. Or buy a fabric remnant and sew your own.
4. Paper cups in the bathroom. If you're that concerned about germs, carry the cup to the kitchen each morning and toss it in the dishwasher. Note: Some people "cup" their palms and bring water to their mouths. Just sayin'.
5. Disposable hand towels. I couldn't believe my eyes when I first saw these advertised. Neither could Mrs. Money of the Ultimate Money Blog: "The last thing we need is another disposable product, especially one that is pretty much useless and replaces something that has worked well for so many years." What she said.
Use and toss
6. Disposable flossers. Bathrooms sure are full of, um, waste. Rolls of floss go on sale all the time. (Post continues after video.)
7. Name-brand OTC meds. Compare ingredient labels for any over-the-counter medications you need; when in doubt, talk to the pharmacist. Tip: Know what things cost since name-brand pills might be cheaper with a sale plus coupon and/or rebate.
8. Sandwich bags. No need to buy and toss, buy and toss. Put your PBJs in a reusable container.
9. Lunch bags. They're still for sale, but I don't know why. Get yourself a reusable lunchbox or lunch bag. (I found mine in the free box at a yard sale.)
10. Ringtones. Your phone came with a ringer installed. Use it.
11. Diaper Genie. A mechanized trashcan just for nappies? Throw them in the household garbage just as people did back in the dark ages.
Dogs don't celebrate Halloween
12. DVDs. Be honest: How many of your DVDs have been watched more than once? Now: Add up what you've spent on them. When your headache goes away, remember you can probably get DVDs free from the public library.
13. Books. Libraries have books, too. Unless you plan to read a title numerous times (see "DVDs," above) why are you dropping $30 per hardback? Those best-sellers show up pretty quickly in used-book shops, yard sales and thrift stores.
14. Magazine subscriptions. Are you reading the ones you have? Then why keep subscribing? Your favorites may be available for free at the library. (What swell places libraries are.)
15. Pet costumes. Do I really have to explain?
16. Snuggies. First, put your bathrobe on backward. Next, congratulate yourself on all the money you just saved.
Readers: What are your favorite unnecessary necessities?
More on MSN Money:
First off, in Donna's defense, her column (as I see it) is meant for people who wants ideas for frugality. So if that's not your cup of tea, DON'T READ IT! She is merely giving ideas.
Secondly, I had to laugh to myself at the perception that a diaper genie is considered a "necessity" now. 17 years ago, my baby wore CLOTH diapers. We couldn't afford disposable diapers, let alone a diaper genie. I recently had a Walmart associate tell me that she thought diapers should be subsidized by the government. REALLY? It's amazing what people consider as "necessities" now. Kinda sad, actually. I hope I can equip my kids with better "frugality" skills than what the general population seems to have. One never knows when times will get tough.
I also buy paper plates. Why? Because the point of using them is so that you don't have to wash the darn things, so why buy "reusable" things at a yard sale when you already have a shelf full of dishes? I live in an old house and it doesn't have a dishwasher. I do NOT want to wash dishes in the middle of summer in a house that only has window units for an a/c - none of which are in the kitchen and it would be too expensive to have an electrician run the right outlet to the back of the house- so I buy biodegradable paper plates and utensils. It's not because I'm lazy but that I don't want to die of a heat stroke in my own house.
Payday loans - Montel, shame. Stop inhaling so hard - it makes your shoulders move too much.
Reverse mortgages - Robert, you should be ashamed
Grout bully - Mark, go put your head in an oven (and no stoppin there!)
Flex-o-ladder - Harold swears it is locked now and for $199 you can swear too.
Sham wow - Vince, commit yourself already will you?
Showtime rotisserie - Mr. Popiel, don't set it, just forget it
Blue Tax (tax settlement shack) - are you Chuckie's distant relative?
Geico - that GD screaming pig assured me I don't need Geico
Space bags - Nice, now it looks like I don't have so much crap. Let's go get more, shall we?
Hawaii chair - handy for squirming at work if you are a shameful sh1tter.
Gyro bowl - good gawd, just sit at the table for once.
Head On (apply directly to the forehead) - I've got something for you to apply right here...
...ahh cripes, how do people get by in life without some of this crap?
The quesstion unnecessary necessities: Data plans on cell phones, cable/ Dish TV.
So if I am waiting anxiously for a popular book to come out, this tree-hugger expects me to wait until it can be found at a yard sale after the pages have turned yellow? Or wait until my local library gets ONE copy and I not only have to hope it's in when I get there, but also have to read it so quickly that I dont end up paying late fees? I can buy a book for my Kindle for almost nothing, and I dont have to burn 2 gallons of gas going back and forth to the library.
Yard sales...what a dope
I agree with most of these. I'm really water picky and about the only kind I like is Ice Mountain (seriously one of my cousins "tested" me with different kinds in unmarked glasses - I can taste the difference) , but I get it at Costco for $0.22 per 24oz bottle or $1.17/gallon.
And I still buy books. I love books. Certain authors I buy the day their books come out, but most books I do wait for them to be available at the library and then purchase used if I decide I want to have a copy (I reread. A lot.)
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WHAT IS FRUGAL NATION?
Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.
ABOUT DONNA FREEDMAN
Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
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VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Even those who don't like to shop are probably hitting the stores this month. Here's what to be on the lookout for and here's what to avoid.