How “Do Not Need” Lists Can Save You A Buck

I am on a three month no-buy resolution. I figured it is a good prelude to start implementing my next resolution – de-cluttering. Where do you usually start?

I, of course, started with my favorite place which happens to be (you guessed it, right!) my closet.

After I cleaned my closet, and packed some of my clothes and shoes for donation, I felt a rush of adrenaline and energy. It felt good. I was donating some stuff that I had not worn in months. I packed away clothes that looked like the same style and same color. How many black tops does one need?

When I stood over my donation bags, I realized (again) that I do not need any more clothes or shoes. Then a question popped into my head: what about that clutter we have in our bathroom cabinets? What do we have there? I was on a de-cluttering roll!

So I moved on to our bathroom cabinets where we keep body soaps along with bathroom cleaning supplies. Imagine my surprise when I discovered three or four un-opened shower gel bottles, never used soaps, shaving gels and shampoo bottles. First, I was horrified by the idea of us becoming hoarders. Then, I was appalled by how much money we wasted on buying stuff that we thought we did not have.

That’s when I decided that instead of making lists of what we need, I will make lists of what we don’t need.

I obsessively looked through:

Our bathroom:

All the shampoos, and shower gels and soaps that I found will have to be used up BEFORE we buy anything else. I put these items on a Do Not Need list. I discovered that some cleaning supplies can do double duty, saving us time and money. I have to admit that I am high maintenance when it comes to my hair but I decided to sacrifice (I cannot believe I am saying it) and use some shampoos when I know I am not around many people. That’s what hats are for! (I love hats!)

Our pantry:

I discovered that we had two unopened honey jars, quite a few cans of black beans, more brown rice than we could possibly eat in a month, and a spare box of Wheat Thins that I was going to take to work as my snack and never did because I forgot we had it! Plenty to put on (by now my favorite) Do Not Need list.

Our freezer:

I did not find much there but I did notice that we had a good supply of coffee. We keep unopened coffee bags in the freezer (Beaker’s idea) to preserve its freshness.

This weekend we are going to do our weekly shopping, and I can tell you right now, that our shopping list is much shorter already.

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51 Responses to “How “Do Not Need” Lists Can Save You A Buck”

  1. I think it’s a great idea, just make sure you have a mechanism in place for knowing when you do need something. We buy household items at CostCo, so we don’t buy them often. And at one time, we did not have a do not need list, and bought a second thing of papertowels (16 rolls or something like that) when we didn’t need them.
    But then, months and months later, we ran out of paper towels. C and I were both positive that there had to be more somewhere in the garage/pantry/basement that we’d just misplaced, because we’d had two packages at a time. Wrong. We were without paper towels for almost a month because we were both certain we had to have more somewhere. (And this matters when you have pets. Somethings you do NOT want to clean up with a dish rag.)
    To recap- love the idea of the “Do Not Need” list, just make sure you have a way to make sure things get moved to the need list when needed.

  2. I need to make one of these for when we go grocery shopping. I don’t know how many times we’ve bought some produce only to discover that we already had some in the fridge!
    DollarDisciple recently posted..Financial Independence Update: From Then until NowMy Profile

  3. I think this is great. We are working on decluttering ourselves. We are trying to eat up what is in our cupboards as well as go through our storage room. I feel so much better when things aren’t crammed and not getting used. Why have them?!
    Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter recently posted..How to Keep Your House Clean Without Spending a Lot of GreenMy Profile

    • aloysa says:

      De-cluttering brings me a sense of accomplishment and clean air and a lot of space. If only I would be better keeping up with it!

  4. eemusings says:

    Ha, this is awesome! Good luck with the smaller shopping list.
    eemusings recently posted..Dreaming of cheaper creditMy Profile

  5. Good list. I think I need something similar for my wardrobe (do not need a fifth black sheath. At least not for a while).
    Well Heeled Blog recently posted..10 Ways to Deal with Your Wanderlust When You’re Short on Time and/or MoneyMy Profile

    • aloysa says:

      It is funny how good I am by keeping the Do Not Need List for my clothes in my head. I am not that good with groceries and other supplies. :)

  6. What a terrific way to put things in perspective! I can’t tell you how many times I bought things at the store only to get home and find I had two or three of them already. What a waste! Thanks for sharing your story.
    MyMoneyDesign recently posted..Which Is Better – Paying Down Your Auto Loan or Mortgage?My Profile

  7. Jackie says:

    I love this idea, and it’s awesome that you went into such a flurry of decluttering too. It IS a good feeling to get rid of stuff.
    Jackie recently posted..Cut Through Your ExcusesMy Profile

  8. Niki says:

    Such a simple idea. I love it.
    I hate buying things I already have, it drives me nuts. I don’t know how many packets of index cards we have in this house, because I can never find them when I need them so we buy more. Then I’ll find them the next day. Erghh. I am trying to be more organized with office supplies.
    Niki recently posted..Chocolate Covered RaspberriesMy Profile

    • aloysa says:

      Or even better… stand in the middle of the store and debate for a long time we have it at home or not. Then buy it and discover that we already own three pieces! Really? :)

  9. 101 Centavos says:

    Taking inventory is a great way to reduce redundancies. On toiletries though we have enough storage space that we don’t worry much about having spares. It saves on grocery trips when the weather is too nasty to venture outside, such as when we’re snowed or iced in.
    101 Centavos recently posted..Kiss Real Estate Goodbye – A Real Estate Appraiser’s ViewpointMy Profile

  10. I’ve never thought of a “do not need” list. Great idea. I need to de-clutter a bit too.
    20′s Finances recently posted..Weekend Wrap up – GIVEAWAY EditionMy Profile

  11. I like the idea of a do not list, especially for groceries and other nonperishables.

    Sometimes I’ll be grocery shopping and I forget what I have in my pantry and end up buying more stuff.

    Thanks for the tip!
    youngandthrifty recently posted..Weekend Ramblings and PF Blog Love: Traffic Jam EditionMy Profile

  12. CultOfMoney says:

    Me and the Mrs. have this problem from time to time, but it is usually because we both stop at the grocery on the way home from work to pick up something for dinner or the next day. I can’t tell you how often we have both brought home hot meals. :) Now we make an effort to coordinate a bit better, which is basically a couple’s do not need list.
    CultOfMoney recently posted..Sunday devotional links from the CultMy Profile

  13. MoneyCone says:

    Excellent idea Aloysa! A to-do list from a do-not-need list – very clever! I keep a simple rule when it comes to clothes. If I haven’t worn in it in 6 months, it goes to charity. Keeps the closet manageable!
    MoneyCone recently posted..Blog RoundupMy Profile

  14. Good Cents Savings says:

    Great idea – it’s so frustrating to come home from the store and not have room for the new food because of all the stuff already in the pantry!
    Good Cents Savings recently posted..The Coffee BudgetMy Profile

  15. Nice stuff.

    Love the decluttering exercise.

    I find the older I get, the less stuff we need. I like that feeling. Material things are just that.

    Less stuff = good. Hoarding = bad, bad. :)

    Cheers,
    Mark
    My Own Advisor recently posted..Get your financial house in order or keep dreaming?My Profile

  16. I like the idea of a “do not buy” list, especially since I am the queen of making shopping lists. My husband told me a few weeks ago if I bought another jar of spaghetti sauce he’d start launching the jars at my car. Apparently, that would be the first item to go on my “do not buy” list!
    Elizabeth @ Simple Finance recently posted..How to Plan Your Retirement Before It’s Too LateMy Profile

  17. I try to declutter every few months…you know in case I hear about an imminent federal raid and I need to pack my house and go :). But seriously, we all have too much junk. I’m on a Do Not Need list with my perfume. I used to buy a new bottle every few months. I have to finish everything I have (even the Bath and Body works stuff) before I can go buy a new bottle. You’ll be able to smell me from a mile away!
    American Debt Project recently posted..Spend Your Blogging Time Efficiently: Learning from the ProsMy Profile

    • aloysa says:

      I am very monogamous when it comes to perfume. I get one and stick to it for a very long time! The scent is my staple.

  18. [...] presents How ‘Do Not Need’ Lists Can Save You A Buck posted at My Broken Coin , saying, “I am on a three month no-buy resolution. I figured it is [...]

  19. Melissa says:

    This is a great idea and I’m totally going to do this for my own place. I have a terrible habit of stocking up on bathroom stuff. I really had to stop, because it got to the point where I had a couple years worth of shampoo and it was just taking up space!

    Oh, and it’s actually a myth that freezing coffee keeps it fresher. It does the opposite! The moisture dries it out. Much better to just keep it sealed in a cupboard.

  20. Mackenzie says:

    I found your site through a link from Andrea @ So Over Debt :)

    This is an awesome idea! I too stock up on spaghetti sauce and pasta like Elizabeth mentioned above. If I had one of these lists, this would help me just say no to that aisle of the store :)
    Mackenzie recently posted..Taking the TimeMy Profile

  21. [...] Broken Coin : How “Do Not Need” Lists Can Save You A Buck – I am on a three month no-buy resolution. I figured it is a good prelude to start [...]

  22. Entrepreneurship Advice » Blog Archive » Yakezie Carnival – The Superbowl Clones Game | Steadfast Finances says:

    [...] Broken Coin : How “Do Not Need” Lists Can Save You A Buck – I am on a three month no-buy resolution. I figured it is a good prelude to start implementing [...]

  23. Sunny says:

    I too am a product junkie. It’s hard to remember that you have unopened bottles at home when a new product is spotted.
    Sunny recently posted..Low (No) Spending & Decluttering Challenge, wk 1My Profile

  24. Totally Money Carnival – Super Bowl Edition - 20's Finances | 20's Finances says:

    [...] presents How ‘Do Not Need’ Lists Can Save You A Buck posted at My Broken Coin. I am on a three month no-buy resolution. I figured it is a good prelude [...]

  25. Good idea to make in advance a list of what you do not need. In that way you avoid impulsive buying decisions. And it is opposite-thinking. Not a “to do” list, but a “not-to-do” list. Creative. I like that.
    Van Beek @ Stock Trend Investing recently posted..How to Act as a Real Entrepreneur with Your Personal FinancesMy Profile

  26. [...] presents How ‘Do Not Need’ Lists Can Save You A Buck posted at My Broken Coin. I am on a three month no-buy resolution. I figured it is a good prelude [...]

  27. [...] all week over many dishes while creating less waste or “leftover ingredients”.From My Broken Coin — Make a “Do Not Need List”. I discovered that we had two unopened honey jars, [...]

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    [...] came across the following article on mybrokencoin.com.  It advocates the use of a list of things that you do not need to buy because [...]

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  31. Sparrow says:

    I keep inventory lists — taped/magnetted on my freezer door, refrigerator door, pantry door, etc. Also taped next to each list is string with a pencil at the end.

    I can “see” what’s in my freezer without opening it (saves electricity!) and when I take something out, I cross it off the inventory list. Makes it easier to make grocery lists when I can see what we like (lots of crossed off entries on the inventory list) and what we’re out of or almost out of at a glance.

  32. [...] sounded like my post How Do Not Need List Can Save You a Buck I wrote way back in January. What the hell, I thought, re-reading Lifehacker’s tweet for the [...]

  33. [...] in check by making a list before your trip and sticking to it. Also, you may want to try out a Do Not Need List as an alternate [...]

  34. Listas, listas e mais listas. » Dia de Folga says:

    [...] passada, li uma proposta interessante: listar as coisas que eu não preciso comprar. Às vezes, quando gostamos muito de algum item específico, compramos mais do que damos conta de [...]

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  37. [...] How “Do Not Need” Lists Can Save You A Buck [...]

  38. [...] My Broken Coin has the coolest idea ever – instead of making lists of things you need, make lists of things you DON’T need. I actually did this and learned that I have enough canned vegetables to survive a zombie [...]

  39. [...] How “Do Not Need” Lists Can Save You A Buck [...]

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