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.

35 thoughts on “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.

    1. True! I thought about it and I will be carefully comparing those two lists. I don’t want to overlap them.

  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!

  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?!

    1. 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!

    1. 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. 🙂

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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? 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. Good Cents Savings

    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!

  12. 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. 🙂


  13. 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!

  14. 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!

    1. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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 🙂

  17. 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.

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