I’ve heard from quite a few readers lately that impulse spending is something they struggle with and that, more often than not, these impulsive purchases derail their budgets. In mulling this over, I realized that Mr. Frugalwoods and I have instituted a few measures in our own life to curb impulse spending and so I thought I’d share them with you today. In many ways, our culture is specifically designed to encourage impulse spending. But we frugal weirdos can fight back.

Why Same Day Shipping Is Bad For Us

A winter sunset in the upper field

We live in an ultra-speedy world. Everything is convenience-oriented and super fast and immediately available. Through apps and drive-throughs, we’ve essentially eliminated the art of delayed gratification.

And this is especially pervasive where shopping is concerned. Retailers have figured out that the easier they make it for us to part with our money, the more likely we are to do it–over and over and over again.

Free shipping (ahem, Amazon Prime… ), immediate shipping (ahem, Amazon Prime again… ), and recommendations of “things you might like” inundate us and wear away at our frugal resolve. And that’s just online! In stores we confront tantalizing displays of scrumptious goodies we didn’t even know we needed–but now we NEED them. Or at least, that’s what marketers want us to believe. But I think we all have quite a bit more self-control.

The speed at which our desires can be fulfilled is unique to our modern, consumerist culture. The fact that you can order something on Amazon in the morning and have it on your doorstep that evening has shortened the cycle of desire and fulfillment, which has a pernicious underside: it causes us to want more.

My view from the couch

Sure, in the past we could go to a store or order stuff from a catalogue, but there were a few built-in delays there: one had to take the time to actually go to the store and mail-order took at least a week to arrive. During those delays, we got to anticipate our purchase and revel in the “newness factor” for far longer than same-day shipping allows.

These barriers to entry also slowed our purchasing–we’re probably less likely to drive to Target at 11pm to buy new shoes, but if we can order them in our jammies from the couch while sipping wine and watching Call The Midwife? You can guess what we’re going to do. And the faster we receive our desires, the more we want. Instant gratification ramps up our expectations and speeds us along the consumer carousel of endless want.

Here’s an illustration: if a rat in a cage learns he can press a lever and receive a treat immediately, he’s going to press that lever over and over and over again. Receiving the treat instantly gives the rat a jolt of dopamine and he likes this! But he’s now going to require ever-more treats for ever-greater dopamine hits. Conversely, if a rat presses the lever and receives a treat sometime in the next 7-10 business days, it’s unlikely he’ll become addicted to pressing the lever. Indeed we are not rats, but there’s wisdom to extract from the concept of interrupting the cycle of instant gratification.

The 72 Hour Rule

The over 9,400 folks participating in my Uber Frugal Month Challenge (which, by the way, you can sign-up to join at any time!) already know what I’m going to say here. It’s my foolproof (though not Frugal Hound-proof or Babywoods-proof… ) method for ceasing the desire to impulse shop. You do have to police yourself, but if you follow these steps, I imagine you’ll find yourself with quite a bit more money–and quite a bit less unneeded stuff–at the end of each month.

The 72 hour rule is thus: do not buy anything (except for out-and-out necessities like prescription medication) for at least 72 hours after you initially consider buying it.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:

  • Next time you feel the urge to buy something, write it down instead (or save it in your online shopping cart).
  • Allow 72 hours to elapse.
  • During this waiting period:
    • Consider whether or not you actually need the item.
    • Calculate what else you could do with that money.
    • Explore if you already own something that could suffice.
    • Ask yourself if it’s something you could find used for a much cheaper price.
  • After 72 hours, reevaluate how you feel about the item. Do you still fervently want it? Or has the desire faded?
Frugal Hound: not allowed to impulse spend

Impulse spending is the result of buying something in the heat of the moment, before we’ve had a chance to fully consider the ramifications of the purchase. By forcing yourself to wait 72 hours before making a purchase, you’re putting some space in between desire and action. Consider it a cooling off period. And if you still really want it after 72 hours, it’ll still be there for you to buy. If you do decide to buy the item in question, it’ll be with the full knowledge of the implications of your purchase.

I have an entire Google document devoted to a list of things I think I need. I jot down stuff I want and, invariably, when I look at it a few days later, I wonder, “Why on earth did I think I needed that stuff! Who wrote ‘snuggie blanket’ on here?!” Somehow, the act of writing it down removes the immediate pressure I feel to buy it NOW! Once the item is written down, I feel relieved–I can permit myself some time and space to contemplate whether or not I actually need it.

Wants vs. Needs

Yoga is a fulfillment need for me (as is hiking and this pic combines me doing both!)

Ah yes, the age old wants vs. needs calculation. We live in a culture that touts product after product as “necessities,” but what do we actually need? I consider needs in several categories, very roughly along the lines of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

First, there are food and shelter requirements. However, even at this base level, there are ways to meet our human survival needs frugally. Applying the metric of extreme frugality to every level of need is how we find our way to, not only a high savings rate, but also a simpler, more fulfilling lifestyle.

I could talk for hours about how to save money on groceries, which are a prime example of a “need” that we often migrate over to a “want” for expensive foods. Check out my food section for ideas on how to introduce frugality into your grocery shopping.

Secondly, there are fulfillment needs. This second category encompasses the things that bring us enduring enjoyment and insert meaning into our lives. These “needs” are different for everyone and you’ll have to identify what yours are.

Mine include things like: outdoor clothing and gear to enable my family to hike/snowshoe our land year-round, a yoga mat to practice yoga daily, coffee because the promise of its fragrance gets me out of bed, wine because I enjoy it, and an internet connection because it allows me to work from home, read, learn, and connect with the world.

Winter hiking with Babywoods in tow

Thirdly, there are needs that enable greater frugality. Since much of our frugality is predicated upon doing things ourselves, Mr. Frugalwoods and I have a fairly substantial retinue of tools and equipment on hand. The key with this category is to be honest with yourself about the long-term value of anything you’re considering purchasing. If you’re debating buying something that you might only use a few times, then it’s likely not going to be worth it. If, however, it’s something that’ll allow you to reap years and years of savings, you’ll probably realize its value quite quickly.

Our hair clippers are a prime example. They cost us $15 and have saved us many thousands since I use them every few weeks to buzz Mr. FW’s hair. Another excellent example is my coffee thermos, which sounds ridiculous but has saved me untold amounts of money since I now never buy coffee out–I take it in my thermos because I’m just so cool like that! There are far more expensive examples as well, such as our fuel-efficient, hybrid Prius, which saves us (and the environment) quite a bit in gas every month.

Something That’ll Suffice

Our found wood box!

I find that, quite often, during the 72 hour gap between identifying a want and making a purchase, I find something else around the house that’ll suffice. Since companies now make stuff to fill every possible need, we’ve grown accustomed to buying purpose-built items for everything. But it’s really not necessary to do that. I’d also posit that people didn’t used to buy so much because so much simply wasn’t available! Plenty of stuff you already own can be up-cycled, reused, and otherwise repurposed.

One of our most recent examples is our woodbox. We’ve needed an indoor woodbox since moving to our homestead 8 months ago, but didn’t want to buy one (or the lumber to build one). And so, we simply stored our wood on some cardboard in our living room. Not perhaps the most lovely of solutions, but totally serviceable. Then the other month, while Mr. FW was working in our barn, he uncovered an old wooden box that–guess what–now serves as our wood box! He even added wheels to it for extra wood conveyance convenience.

Embracing the cardboard solution and waiting for something better to come along is what I like to call serendipitous waiting. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve needed something (like a table or a woodbox or a chair or a coat or maternity clothes) and simply by waiting patiently, the item has come our way–usually completely free of charge. There’s grace, gratitude, and serendipity in allowing the universe to provide.

Voila! Baby table!

Another example: the item most recently written down on my “to buy” list was a little table and chairs for Babywoods so she can sit up like a big baby and play at her own table. We’ve been mulling this over, and discussing making one ourselves, or trying to find a used set. As I was cleaning the other day, I made a stunning discovery: we have a little red end table we’re using as a decorative table in our master bedroom that’s the perfect size for a baby! And, we have a low stool that she can use as a chair. Perfect and perfectly free. Perhaps I’ll find a baby table and chairs at a yard sale that’ll work even better, but for the present, Babywoods is sitting pretty.

In both of these instances–the wood box and the baby table–the solutions we found aren’t perfect. But, they’re entirely workable and they saved us hundreds of dollars. It’s also true that there’s liberation in letting go of perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist–we’re goaded into paying hundreds of dollars in pursuit of perfect only to discover that it’s an elusive entity. Might as well go the free route and revel in the imperfection!

In doing this, we also avoided the trap of paralysis by analysis and I saved untold hours comparing the merits of different baby tables online. Furthermore, I simplified my life by removing clutter (a decorative table) and making it useful (a baby table!).

The Beauty Of Delayed Gratification

Our house on a moonlit night

I’m out to revive the lost art of delayed gratification. I feel powerful when I’m able to turn down an immediate treat–be it a cookie or a glass of wine or a baby table. I feel as though I’m in control of my own happiness and that I have an understanding of what deep and abiding fulfillment means.

Those of us who embrace extreme frugality for the long-term are experts at delayed gratification–it is the very nature of how we live.

When we strip away the pressing desire for consumption and mountains of material goods, we’re able to focus on the things that matter most to us. In the absence of over-spending and stress over how to outfit ourselves with increasingly fancy gadgets and garb, we can turn our attention to work that’s meaningful, pursuits that bring us fulfillment, and relationships that are based on genuine connection.

How do you combat impulse spending?

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  1. For big purchases I implement something pretty similar to your 72 hour rule. This typically works. For smaller purchases though – things seem to just get bought because there is a thought process that says “no big deal – its not that much money”. I think extending the discipline of the 72 hour rule to all things could be good for us.

    On a related note – I was recently contemplating buying a new laptop to replace mine that is now 6 years old and really struggling. I asked the family at thanksgiving if they had any suggestions for type/model/etc. and lo and behold – someone actually had a 2 year old laptop they weren’t using at all anymore and asked if I just wanted it. i tried to pay them, but they didn’t even want money (family). So, another lesson in there perhaps – ask others if they have slightly used things that they aren’t using that you could perhaps get more value from.

    1. Ooh! That’s something I never think to do – ask other people for help or if they have an unwanted item! I, too, have been debating the idea of buying a new laptop. I have thought of buying an open box model at one of the big stores. But I think I’ll try this first! Thanks for the tip!

      Mrs. Mad Money Monster

    2. I think putting the 72 hour rule to all online purchases is a good idea. Now, I put things in my Amazon basket and just leave them alone until they breaks the $50 free shipping barrier. This works really well for me and usually it’s much longer than 72 hours. I’ve been wanting a new laptop for 2 years now, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. It’s still working okay for the most part. Maybe next Thanksgiving… 🙂

    3. I do the 72 hour rule with big stuff and a few small things. When I’m in a store I try very hard to stick to my list of what I need. I also use the Amazon cart to keep stuff in to go back to. Also, discussing big purchases with my husband helps, so he can persuade me against or for a big purchase since he’s the practical one.

      On the computer topic: my MacBook was three years old and slow, and I replaced the hard drive with a terabyte solid state. It is super fast, and I’m hoping for 3-4 more years.

      1. This is a great tip! I’ve been wanting a new laptop for home use, but haven’t pulled the trigger. I bet we could do something like this instead with my old one, and then it will be good as new!

  2. It’s pretty crazy to think how sophisticated advertising has become on the web over the last several years. Research a product on Amazon and it will show up on adds on numerous other websites you visit, subconsciously convincing you that you need to buy it now. I like the 72 hour rule. I use something similar for big purchases as well. Whenever I’m really excited about buying something new, I generally try to hold off for at least 48 hours (the longer the better). I’m someone who gets really into things and goes all out when I do. So if I’m getting into a new activity, I try to hold off buying all the equipment I need (sometimes for much longer than a few days) to make sure I’m still passionate about it. That way I don’t end up with a bunch of stuff that I’m no longer interested in.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing!

    1. This all out purchasing for a new interest or hobby can be a real problem, we came up with …..keep 3 categories , surfing, fishing and diving as an example of lifelong interests and one new hobby ,then you have to sell off the gear for any one of these 4 to help finance the next “must try”

  3. 72 hours rule is a good way to curb impulsive purchases. Only buying necessities is another good advice. Now, we live in a world surrounded by advertisement. We need encouragement to resist temptation to buy something we do not need.

  4. YES on the 72-hour delay before purchasing.

    I actually have a list of things we need/want, ranging from the specific (“this brand of vacuum cleaner bag” or “instant pot to replace broken crock pot”) to the general (“warm shirts that unbutton enough to provide nursing access, before mid-February”), and a list of prices at which it is currentlu available. The house rule is that we ONLY purchase things on that list, and ideally only when they go more than 30% off, barring exceptions (if you really need new underwear, you need it, ok).

    That said, I’m really rural -like, 25km from the nearest store, and 60km from the nearest store that had a decent selection and reasonable prices – and Amazon Prime (for diapers alone, since Husband is NOT on board with cloth diapers), along with other websites that do free delivery, have been a godsend in avoiding impulse purchases (I’m here, I’m not driving to town for another week, might as well pick up x item…) and wear and tear on the car (no, I am NOT driving a 50km round-trip to buy a replacement bottle for the one that just shattered. It’ll be delivered tomorrow).

    It’s a balance between common sense and practicality.

    1. Yes! A few years ago I lived far enough from any shopping that is was cheaper to choose two swimsuits online and order both knowing I would ship one back …

    2. Ha! “warm shirts that unbutton enough to provide nursing access” was on my need list too! I got two flannel shirts for Christmas, and bought a third at Costco for $13.

    3. A friend of mine that lives far away from the metro area loves Amazon Pantry — for the things I purchase it doesn’t make sense, but for her, going through tons of diapers especially, it has saved a lot of money. For me I also don’t plan well enough (yet) to make it work without ending up buying extra stuff!

      I wish I could afford to buy everyone an Instant Pot. My son and I were just talking about how all he needs when he’s on his own is a frying pan and a multicooker to make every one of his favorite meals. And he has a lot of them 🙂

  5. Great tip. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of something I want or need, and then find it for free or cheap–sometimes in the trash. One example–for my daughter’s 2nd birthday I wanted to get her a little rocking chair. No way I was going to buy one new, but three weeks before her birthday I realized I’d better get on it and start checking secondhand stores. Later that day my husband pulled a toddler-size rocking chair from a trash pile in a neighbor’s tree lawn. He didn’t even know I wanted one! He refinished it and it’s perfect. This has happened enough times that I’ve learned the value of waiting to see what comes through–or decide I don’t need it or have something that’ll work.

    1. Yup, this happens ALL the time for me. I’ll admit it…I’m a regular dumpster diver. I just ask the universe for the things I’m looking for and they magically show up. It used to freak my friend out so bad, but now she does it too and I usually find it for her in some dumpster within a week 🙂 Sometimes I find something and I know it’s meant for someone so I ask my friends and family and 9 times out of 10 someone was looking for exactly that random thing. I just love it! Isn’t that the basis of “The Secret”? What you put out there will manifest?

      The best part of this is that my friend is a shopper. After a good year of this dumpster magic, she recently went to the mall and told me she just couldn’t bring herself to shop. It seemed so wasteful and unnecessary, and whatever she wanted would probably show up in a dumpster or on the curb or at a yard sale anyways 🙂

      1. I needed something dressy and wished I had a velvet skirt or something like that to wear. I decided to look at a thrift store and there it was…a beautiful, black velvet floor length skirt for $3!

  6. We too use the 72 hour approach, though sometimes we stretch it to a few weeks. The added benefit is often something goes on sale in that period. So if we do end up buying we end up with a discount. When we don’t buy your right, we often can find a great lower cost solution.

  7. Whenever I think I ” need” something I get out my checkbook and budget notebook and go over the numbers. Instant cure.

  8. After your email the other day, I started a page of “wants” in my journal. I used to put things I wanted in my Amazon “save for later” cart, where I was reminded of them each time I logged in. Now, they’re tucked away safely in a notebook and I only glance at them when I’m adding to the list. Fewer reminders that I want them help me want them even less!

    And thank you for mentioning that buying items that will help you save can be a need. I struggle with this constantly – the desire to not spend, but also knowing my purchase could save me money in the long run. I often put these purchases off longer than I should & end up spending more in the meantime!

  9. I practice the waiting method too. We had a set of wobbly stools that we used to sit at our kitchen counter for breakfast. We wanted to replace them but we decided to just wait it out in case we moved or somehow fixed the stools.

    A month or so ago we found a perfect set of stools in our apartment building’s trash room! They were perfect and free! And I know how much you guys like to celebrate a trash find!

  10. Love hearing your thoughts on delayed gratification. Waiting is huge for me. I tend to look at things online when I’m bored. Amazon is just a click and two days away (oi). Like you, after waiting for a couple of days, I will usually have forgotten about the new-thing-I-must-have. I also remind myself that I’m delaying my gratification in service of a larger goal (debt freedom) and pat myself on the back every time for some positive reinforcement. I’m going to start using your technique of writing it down. Thanks for the tip!

  11. I just signed up for Amazon Prime, mostly because I had placed a order and forgot to add a water filter for my refrigerator that is a “need” since the red light is on and the water is tasting funny. I could add more to my cart, pay for shipping, or enroll in Prime. After calculating costs/savings and talking to several people who use it I decided to go ahead. But, I made rules for myself. Unnecessary things go in the cart or wish list and wait there for at least 2 days and then I ask myself questions similar to yours. Thanks to this post, I am likely to increase the time to 72 hours.
    I often, like you, find things around the house that serve the purpose of something I thought I needed to buy. When I take the time to allow this to happen I enjoy feeling creative, proud of my resourcefulness, and grateful to save the money..
    Thanks for continuing to inspire me.

  12. I’ve been struggling with impulse spending recently. I got some cash for Christmas and went on a little spree with it. I’ve also bought a few video games that were on sale. Even though my backlog is huge. It’s just too easy to buy digital games. One technique that I use for Amazon, is to put an item on my wish list and let it sit there. I usually don’t feel the need to get the item after a cool down period. Some items are on there for months and usually get deleted.

  13. I have a running list with price points. Free is best but if I need to buy the list helps. I am trying to lower my own personal spending this month (unnecessary items)- I already failed the no spend month challenge because I spent $5 on fluff. Every day is a new day to try again- I was at the mall over the weekend to return a gift and saw the girls preferred brand of socks on sale (sock don’t survive to be secondhand and we don’t do used underwear) at my price point so I bought several pair since their socks are wearing out. They were just as happy and don’t care they were 75% off.
    Anything that can wait we try to wait and see if it can be free, secondhand or on sale. Back when the oldest was a baby, we mentioned that we wanted to get a toddler table and chairs and a few weeks later, the godparents showed up with a set their neighbors were throwing away. It was in perfect shape and eight years and two children later the table is still in their room holding the dollhouse. the chairs, alas long ago met their doom…

  14. I think you should further emphasize the role of marketing in this whole issue. Your post “The False Choices…” (link above to marketing) is good, but people should be aware that there are folks whose sole job is to figure out how to make you buy more, and buy what they are promoting. They have studied this whole issue, and have data that backs up what they do. You have to learn that they are not interested in your welfare, but in their own. Kind of like the addition of sugar to so many foods, to increase your craving level. Try leaving something in your online cart for a few days, and see if they offer you a discount. And unsubscribe from the mailing lists of even companies you have purchased from – that will get a lot of marketing junk out of your inbox.

    There is another issue here as well. The sustainability of a frugal lifestyle that includes high quality hand-me-downs, finds and garage sales, relies on others not being so smart about their purchases. It rather relies on others being less-than-frugal. While it is unlikely that you can convert an entire clan to a serious level of frugality, and certainly not an entire city or town, you have to think that if they were being really frugal, the pickings from the items they are willing and able to part with would be a lot slimmer.

    1. Well, I’m not sure I totally agree–I’ve personally given away quite a few things that I consider nice, but that we simply don’t need anymore. I’ve also received wonderful hand-me-downs from very frugal friends. I think the ethos of sharing and passing items along works for frugal folks as well as non-frugal folks. And, to your point on marketing–so very true! In addition to The False Choices That Steal Our Future, I have this one in the same vein: That One Time We Accidentally Watched Commercials (and were horrified).

      1. We give and pass on uneeded things all the time. We just passed on a ton of kid clothes, books and housewares we no longer need. Quality lasts and there will always be those who purchase too much.

      2. Us too. We’ve given away stuff that is actually of monetary value, whether to friends or to people who simply need it (obviously when we simply don’t anymore and are unlikely to ever again in the foreseeable future). My maternity clothes have been worn by a vast array of women in the greater Cape Town area, and finally I told the last recipient to just pass them on and never let me see them again! Same for our high chair, various bits from the kitchen, clothing, toys… occasionally we do sell things that have a good resale value, but generally we just pass along rather than live with clutter.

  15. there’s nothing free about Amazon prime – it’s a yearly subscription to subsidize shipping for those who think everything’s urgent or are addicted to instant gratification. You need water as your #1 priority, then shelter then food.

  16. We’re still waiting for a toddler table as well. Until we find a workable solution, he uses the coffee table. Not perfect, but it works. My very handy husband built a chair out of some wood left over from a previous project. Made to measure and it looks amazing! If you have any left over scrap plywood and some varnish, that could be a solution for you as well, since Mr. FW is so handy. It took four pieces of wood (2 side pieces, a seat, and a back). He used a circular saw, a router, and some wood glue. It took less than a day to build and varnish.

  17. I’ve found that the easiest way to avoid spending, is to just to NOT GO SHOPPING online or otherwise. If I don’t know a product exists, I can’t even imagine purchasing it!

    Shopping seems to be a form of entertainment in this modern world. If people aren’t working, eating, or watching TV, they’re going to be shopping. People actually ENJOY shopping. Strange, I know!

    If I fail to avoid shopping, then The List and the 72 hour waiting period are the next two methods I frequently use…and yes, they really do save tons of money!

    1. Yup. Out of sight, out of mind. If I don’t know it exists, I will not desire it, so I put up ad blocks online and keep commercials out of the house by not having cable.

      Removing shopping apps from my phone and taking shopping websites off my ‘favorites’ list helped me not navigate to those sites while bored. I found that to help significantly as well.

    2. Yes! The year I decided not to step foot in Target was pretty eye opening! And I don’t even buy that much “stuff” – but it made me very aware of how much I was *thinking* about stuff and doodads and pillows and plates 🙂

  18. I used to be horrible about impulse purchases. I spent $1,000 in 6 months on useless crap thanks to Amazon 2-Day Shipping. It took a lot of work and rewiring in my head, but I finally got over my huge spendyness. I had to stick to the Dave Ramsey envelope system to learn the difference between wants versus needs, and that was enough to stop most impulse buying.

    But hey, I’m human and I fall prey to impulse buys every now and then. Just a few days ago I bought a cute $5 throw pillow at WalMart that I absolutely did not need. At all. I did have buyer’s remorse afterwards, but at least the pillow is cute.

    … Right?

    Yeah, I know. I need to be better. 🙂 Thanks to your Uber Frugal Month, we’ve instituted the 72 hour rule–which would have saved me that $5 if I’d instituted it just days earlier. Urf.

  19. Day 9 + 0 spending !! Woot. Delayed gratification works so well for me. When I recognize an impulse or a marketing ploy (ususally a coupon discount) I still have to say, is the savings better than spending my actual money? That usually gets me to walk away (or click away)
    Less time I spend online shopping the better, I very rarely do it anymore.

  20. We practiced a “things we need list” for a few years. Whenever we realized we needed something, like a new can opener, we would write it down on our list. Then we would wait 2 weeks to see if we could find it free or used. If not, we would then try to find it on sale. It was such a radical shift for us from seeing things on sale and trying to figure out if we “needed” that item. Because really, if we hadn’t noticed that we needed it while at home, did we really need it?

    1. excellent idea!! I think we’re going to do that. First see how much you REALLY need whatever it is, then truly hunt for a discount option, and only IF one cannot be found and no other option will work, then buy.

  21. I totally love your wood box and little red table. The wood box is something you could actually make more of and sell as a side hustle…not that you’re looking for anymore side hustles 🙂 But it is THAT cool. We did something similar with a components stand for our TV. I simply refused to buy a new one for hundreds/thousands of dollars, so we found a tattered antique, single locker. After spray painting it, adding some caster wheels, and laying it on its side – it is the perfect one-of-a-kind component stand that also serves as a conversation starter! I often find myself wanting things but then I turn my attention to what I already have at home and find that there is usually always a free solution hiding under my nose. Great post! And beautiful pictures, as always. 🙂

  22. This is brilliant. I am guilty of abusing Amazon Prime. A few months ago, I was thinking I must have saved hundreds of dollars with their free shipping. Then I realized I had bought a whole lot of things I probably wouldn’t have bought if I HADN’T had free shipping. So was I really saving money at all? It’s something I’m definitely aware of now and will implement your 72 hour rule.

  23. Everything I need / want goes on my list.
    My thrift store shoppinging list.
    I make do with something else until I find it.
    If I don t find it ever….did I really need it?
    It is all just stuff.

  24. again, coming at this as an older individual, this addresses a pitfall i’ve fallen into again and again. when we were younger, had less, and had children at home we needed to consider, it was pretty easy to be frugal. we did have goals and things to actually save for. as i’ve gotten older, don’t have those same responsibilities, and have more money available, i’ve fallen into the (bad) habit of clicking on an amazon item i like just because i can. i can afford it. i deserve it, whatever i tell myself. i need to reign myself in and be more aware of wants vs. needs. do i want it just because i like it, can now afford it and couldn’t before? or do i need it? 72 hours will give me more time to actually think about it. i love this!

  25. I agree with Mr. Tako on not shopping. I generally do use the 72 hour rule and have a list when I am in stores but combine that with trying to avoid discovering all the exciting new things out there. Research has generally shown that you start each day with a certain amount of willpower and you use up your daily allotment as you resist things (yes, I am oversimplifying here). That is why you are more likely to succumb to that cookie in the evening than at lunchtime. If you see 20 “gotta have it” items in a day, it is much harder to use the 72 hour rule the 20th time than it is the first. While sometimes I am in stores that brim over with tempting items (hello, Costco), I try to avoid situations where I have to exercise willpower in the first place. It probably helps that we do not have a TV!

  26. As most of my big purchases are through Amazon, I implement something similar to your 72-hour rule.

    I place the item into a wishlist called “Step 1: Reconsider These” for a month. After a month passes, I think about whether or not I really want the item and if I do, what am I going to do with it. If I still want it, I put it into a second wishlist called “Step 2: Do you really want to spend?”. Usually, items don’t make it past the first round, but by chance it makes it to the second round, I would most likely not want it after another month of consideration. With this, I’ve saved about $3,000 as I was going to purchase a lot of computer parts and peripherals for gaming, but I decided to stick with what I currently have instead.

  27. I have been practicing delayed gratification more often then not. Every time I want something which is not on my replace list I ask myself how much time I want to spend working at the job I dislike to buy this thing that usually stops me from spending. I would rather buy future time of financial independence than overpriced piece of chocolate or another glass jar for my zero waste living.

  28. Ahh yes, impulse buying can be the demise to so many. My wife and I have taught ourselves to stay away from this and feel we’ve done a pretty good job. One thing that we feel helps is communication between the two of us. Similar to your 72 hour rule, when we talk though our thoughts on a purchase it forces us to not only wait a bit and mule over it a bit longer, but also gain insight from the other person. Some might think we’re odd, but we discuss even the smallest purchase prior to clicking “buy” (and yes I mean clicking because we are online shoppers… thank you Amazon Prime!)

  29. When I get the urge to shop or buy something I know I don’t need, I make my weekly library run. I love strolling the aisles of new releases, sitting in a comfy chair and reading the magazines etc…. so much nicer than the mall!

  30. I do not buy online, at all. I do not like crowds either. I hate shopping. I also do not like running into people I know when I shop…strange I know…lol. So, when I do go somewhere, like Walmart, I generally stick to my list, and get in and out. I guess being an introvert sometimes helps!

  31. My need to save money created an addiction . I tried to justify stockpiling by all the money I saved. Couponing replaced that addiction when in fact , couponing is not free and does cost money. Reading daily blogs on all the items available for savings was next. I seem to have it under control and avoid spending money. It is easy to buy something but difficult to pay off when you never had the money in the first place. I appreciate the honesty here.

  32. I was out with a friend this weekend, and she wanted to stop at a shoe store having a big sale. The saleperson chatted us up as we browsed and mentioned that he’s started doing immediate Uber delivery for online orders in our city. Innovative idea on the one hand, but also scary from the instant gratification perspective. I’m not a shopper–I’m usually accompanying friends as they look–so I’m neutral on all of this, but Uber delivery would make it incredibly easy to spend if I were so inclined.

    My problems delaying gratification are usually not money-related (chocolate/sweets!), but I do agree that it feels amazingly fulfilling to say no, I don’t actually need this. It’s something I’m trying to do more often!

  33. A great reminder about the importance of waiting a little while before making a purchase! In Australia, same day shipping isn’t really a thing. I think the quickest I have seen was a local company who did the next day- but mostly, we have to wait the requisite four days. This sometimes annoys me- proving your point that we have become so used to getting what we want now!!! It’s an important reminder to exercise patience. Incidentally, free shipping is also not really a thing here. Oh how I wish it were!!!

  34. Not being shoppers, my husband & I find this falls easily in line with how we keep a hold on our money. We’d rather wait to find the ‘perfect’ used item, rather than pay new any day.
    And ‘sales’ are so false. I have many a co worker bragging that they got a $400 pair of boots for $250, and all I can think is, “They certainly aren’t even worth that!”
    We have one big WANT, and that’s travel. The desire for anything else simply goes to the back of the list.

  35. Thrift stores (my choice for most non-food items) are hard to wait for 72 hours because supply is so limited. I try to stick only to what is on my (several week) list, but make exceptions if I go on a thrifting date with a friend!

  36. Guilty of Amazon Prime impulse buying … I also use the wish list. i’m working on it. but here’s a success story. For Christmas, I bought my husband a (backpack-able) chair for less than $30 and he bought me the (almost) identical chair from REI for $100. (identical except for the brand) We will see if they last the same.

  37. Love the 72 hour rule! I usually wait on large purchases, but I like the idea of doing this for all sized purchases and writing it all down. To reduce my own impulse buying, I recently decided to stop shopping at Target. I realized I was going in for a “necessity” like windex or garbage bags, and then leaving with something extra firmly in the “totally unnecessary” category (a candle, another couch pillow, etc.) OR I’d resist and feel a little sad that I couldn’t buy everything I wanted. I’m only 4 weeks into this experiment, and guess what? I don’t miss it AT ALL! I’ve learned not to tell other women about my Target plan though, because they look at me like a crazy person!

    1. Haha, I commented above that I didn’t shop in Target for a year and it was pretty mind-blowing. I live smack in the middle of Target central (seriously, on my bus commute to work a few years ago I counted six stores) so people definitely thought I was insane!

      I didn’t buy a lot of extra stuff, but I realized that I *wanted* to, like, all the time. It was amazing how that impulse totally went away by sticking to the grocery store and actual pharmacy. I think your plan is brilliant and you’ll be in awe six months from now 🙂

      1. Great to hear I’m not alone!! It’s sort of like keeping a bag of cookies in the house for me- either I constantly work at resisting or I indulge and then feel bad. It’s easier for me to just to keep the temptations out of reach (and it ultimately makes me happier)!

  38. I curb impulse spending by concentrating on producing or making what I need. The creative outlet takes much longer, occupies time (sew, cook, knit whatever the medium) and it keeps me out of stores.

  39. Love the 72 hr. wait. Went to a discount store last week, put several items in the cart that were “wants” then reconsidered and put every item back. Walked out of that store feeling good about my choice! Frugal month still working.

  40. The moonlight shot is just beautiful. I love it. It reminds me of when I was a youngster, living on our farm.

    I’ve been practicing the 72 hour rule. I thought at first I’d failed on day 8, when I snatched up a stock pot at a Goodwill without a second thought. Then I realized how long I’d needed that pot — my previous stock pot is a cheapo aluminum one that my husband picked up at the dollar store about 7 years ago. The bottom wasn’t flat, which is bad for my smooth-top stove, and the side was dented. I need a pot for big pot cooking, boiling peanuts and to can a few pints without the need to fill my enormous water-bath canner with about four gallons of water to process two pints. This pot from Goodwill is heavier, flat-bottomed, and dent free. My little improvised canner rack fits in it. I will definitely use it! So I now consider this a win, not a fail. The 72-hour wait, though, has kept me from some silly purchases. They sure seem like a good idea at first glance, but they seem so silly after a couple of days….

  41. I’m doing your uber frugal month challenge, and on Saturday there was something I really wanted to buy. I delayed for 72 hours as per your advice, and lo and behold, today I can’t even remember what it was I wanted in the first place 😂. Feeling good at having exercised that little used muscle called willpower. Thank you!

  42. Will it suffice – awesome question to ask. I frequently consider a problem, and possible solutions and then put it on the back burner …miraculously a few days later an elegant and available solution presents from my existing possessions. I also have an aversion to any unitask item (plastic avocado keeper I’m looking at you!) and so when acquiring items I favor those with with multiple applications.

  43. When my son was little, we talked a *lot* about how companies spend money to try to make you want things (and tell you what to wear, but that’s another topic, ha). We didn’t have a TV at the time, but it’s incredible how much marketing is directed to children from infancy on everywhere you go.

    One day, we were driving somewhere with a regular commercial radio station playing, and suddenly his little voice piped up from the carseat, “Oh MAN! That GM vehicle GOT me! I heard it on the radio, and I know they want me to buy that car, and I DO! They GOT me!”

    It’s one of my favorite memories, because 1. He got what I was saying, and 2. I totally thought his first consumer impulse would be candy or Pokemon, not a $30,000 SUV 🙂

  44. Oh how I wish I’d read this two days ago! Yesterday I bought 2 chairs and even as I was on my way to go and look at them I started to have buyers remorse!! I felt like I’d derailed my frugal month and we do have a few big bills this month. They also weren’t quite what I was after (impatience can also detail frugality). The one positive is they are second hand and I can probably sell them and get my money back or close to. So I was at least practising one aspect of frugality. In the meantime I’ll make the most of them and tell myself I’ve learnt yet another important lesson. I’ve also written out the 72 hour rule in my journal. I love all your tips and admire you for having this wisdom at such a young age.

  45. I’m not much of a shopper, and a chronic over-thinker, so I don’t fall prey to impulse spending very often. The only place I am vulnerable is food and drink…I love food and I love beverages (coffee and tea and beer, oh my!), so there have certainly been times where $40 of cheese or $80 of alcohol has ended up in my cart without me really planning it (I live in Canada, so high prices on both of those things, sadly). Planning my splurges and requesting that my spouse challenge me when I just throw things in the basket have been the most helpful strategies for me.

    But when it just comes to “stuff,” we’re pretty good. We don’t shop online unless there is something we’ve already determined we need (happens like 4 times a year, if that), and we both hate shopping in malls (crowds, lines, noise…ugh!), so the exposure to temptation is limited. I think that’s the biggest thing most people can do: don’t go into malls, unsubscribe from so-called “deal” email lists, don’t bookmark online shopping sites, don’t keep your credit card information stored in online stores, etc. Basically just unplug from the advertising/shopping machine and your wallet will thank you. 🙂

  46. I think I’m the opposite of most here. If I need (or want) something, I’ll buy it. I started Amazon or Amazon Prime in 2008. Last night I looked through all purchases throughout those years. If anything, the purchases did not come with any regret, but some of the books I could have got at my library. Sometimes though I do wish to reward the author, even if I can get the book for free.

    Also, I don’t budget, but I know I’m not wasting my dollars.

    1. I’m with you – impulse purchases aren’t really an issue for me. If anything I swing too far on the other side – “making do” for far too long on functional items.

  47. Sometimes my 72 hours happens after I’ve bought something but before I’ve used it. If I’d rather return it and have the money back, rather than keep it, back it goes. Sometimes I just don’t know how much I like something until I see it at home. Yes, there is the time/cost of making the return the enxt time I’m at the store, so I’m trying to to be careful.

  48. I really like the philosophy of using what’s around to make do, while sending out a wish message to the world (as silly as that sounds). At one point last year I found myself in need of both new walking shoes and some outdoor shoes/runner boots. I noted the lack and made do with shoes I had, intending to search in second hand stores when I had time. Within the space of one week (but some time after starting to think about searching), I found a great pair of women’s imitation Bogs rain boots in a free box on my way home, flowered and exactly my size…and then a neighbor passed on some fancy athletic shoes she had purchased and decided were uncomfortable!

  49. One way to avoid temptation is to avoid the tempters – stores & online ads.

    To avoid the online ads (& sneaky malware), use these (I use them all):
    http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm – for any OS or browser
    uBlock Origin – for most browsers
    uBlock Matrix – for most browsers, does take some management
    NoScript – for firefox, does take some management
    Disconnect – for most browsers
    Ghostery – for most browsers

  50. Great tips! I love the tip to wait 72 hours – I’ll need to start doing that. I’m not much of an impulse shopper (actually I hate to shop) but I think pausing would not only give me a chance to see if it’s something I need, but also a chance to find it for less.

  51. The 72 hour rule is very good advice, especially for online impulse spending. In stores, if unplanned items seem to fly in my cart, I know it’s time to take to ‘take a walk’. I’ll walk around in the store for a short while, and then look at my unplanned items with fresh eyes. I’ll ask myself basic questions, such as, ‘do we really need this?’, or my favorite, ‘will this truly enhance our lives?’. My little walk has saved a lot of money! Only rarely does one of those items stay in my cart.

  52. Me again! I commented a while back about the whole blog post not being able to be seen on Feedly. I have to click over if I want to read the whole thing. Is that something you guys are still working on fixing? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kayla–it is indeed on our list to fix! Unfortunately, since we’re a team of 2 (me and Mr. FW) with many other demands on our time (homestead, Babywoods, job!), it just hasn’t happened yet. But it will rise to the top of the list soon I hope. Thanks for reading 🙂

  53. The 72 hour rule is a good one! I do something similar where I keep a wishlist, and once a month I look through it and either cross something off (why did I think I needed that again?), determine when I will purchase it (based on my budget), or leave it on the list for another month to “think about it.” (90% of that last category gets crossed off my list the next month, but sometimes it turns out that it is a worthwhile purchase that maybe takes some advance saving up.)

    I stopped doing that last year, and somehow I ended up with a lot more purchases! So I am back to the wishlist this year. LOL

  54. I do this!! Well. *sometimes* I might slip up, but in general, I will have a wonderful time putting lovely things into my online shopping cart, really loading up with thousands worth of clothes and so on. Then I simply exit the site. Occasionally I may go back and look, remove things along the way, notice that some items have gone on sale… and just now and then these might correspond with something I genuinely have wanted for quite a while, such as – just for example -some new running shoes. Sure, mine are still okay-ish, but they are starting to wear out and I’ll need some new ones in the next month or two…THEN I might press ”buy now”. Not before then! And never, ever store my details UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES… it’s just a wee bit easy otherwise…

    Delayed gratification is a real art. It is something children learn at a young age, and I am genuinely quite concerned that kids now, in this instant-now world we live in, have far fewer opportunities. Of course it’s on us to teach them, but the pressures are huge. Not bowing to peer pressure and learning to save up, wait a bit, wait till your birthday, decide between two things, both of which you want but only one you can have… etc is not easy.

  55. It is hard if you have a habit of impulse spending. When I realized that most of the stuff I had bought impulsively I no longer had, I stopped. It was such a waste of money for me.

  56. I use happy emotional triggers to nip any impulse purchases. My impulse purchases are only ever done with credit and debit cards (as I budget just enough cash for weekly expenses) so I target those with some pre-emptive planning.
    I printed a small picture of the European seaside my family is from and where I’d like to buy property one day to the front of my credit card, and the back side I’ve affixed a picture of my mom, who I’d love to help retire early after a lifetime of hard work. It reminds me of my goals and that if I make that impulse purchase, I’ll be that much further away from them. My debit card has another picture of my family’s Mediterranean hometown, and the backside has a teeny calendar I printed where I put a little “X” in red pen every time I go by a day without using the card. The last thing I want to do is break the streak!

  57. “Embracing the cardboard solution and waiting for something better to come along is what I like to call serendipitous waiting. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve needed something (like a table or a woodbox or a chair or a coat or maternity clothes) and simply by waiting patiently, the item has come our way–usually completely free of charge. There’s grace, gratitude, and serendipity in allowing the universe to provide.”

    Oooff that takes some real faith!

    1. It does work…..I don’t know how. …..but if you concentrate on the item , be specific, ‘flannel shirt, dark colour, my size and good condition’, etc. usually within 2 weeks it will come your way. Have done this many times for various things.

      1. It’s not magic (although at times it feels like it might be). When you are specific about what you want in your mind, you are subconsciously always looking out for that item. Then, if it comes across your path you are more likely to spot it instead of just passing by without noticing. It’s kind of like this: You want to buy a car. If you know the specific model or color or style (or whatever) you want, all of a sudden you are seeing them everywhere. The cars were always there, you were just not focusing on those specific features. Therefore, you are more likely to notice the blue Honda sedan you want that is parked down the street with a low “For Sale” sign than if you were just looking for a car in general without specifics.

        That being said, sometimes it does seem miraculous. I was browsing for a blazer and a blouse for work, not really having my mind set on a specific one but knowing that I wanted a black blouse and a blazer in some kind of color I don’t already have. I typically wait a long time before pulling the trigger and buying something online, mostly because I try to only buy things when they go on deep discount and I wait until I have enough in my shopping cart to bypass shipping costs. When we got together with my family the other day, my sister-in-law tells me they changed the dress code at her work and she had a black blouse and a crimson blazer that she had hardly used that she would like to give me.

  58. I think it is important to allow yourself a small splurge regularly. Something that will give you enjoyment and pleasure. By all means take your time and wait before purchasing.

    1. It’s great because it’s not long to wait if you genuinely really do want or need something. So you’re not saying ”NO NEW CLOTHES FOR YOU EVER AGAIN” just… ”well, let’s think a bit and come back later”. Much less confronting and strict!

  59. I am pretty good on impulse shopping since it goes on my Amazon charge & I pay it off every month. I know budget monthly & knowing it has to be paid help me . I think Prime is worth because my whole family uses it. We listen to its free music & watch the free movies. The free ones are older ones but we like old movies so it is not a problem. I don’t use the 72 hour rule if it is something we need. Last month our vacuum broke. It had been repaired & we were not happy with how it picked up. We knew what kind we wanted & I ordered it from Amazon. Having a long haired dog & cat a vacuum is a badly needed tool. If it was just a want that would be handled differently

  60. Your post reminded me of the saying from the great depression: “use it up, make it last, make it do or do without.”

  61. The waiting game does pay off, the little red table is great, serves the purpose, saved you money and helped with simplifying and decluttering your bedroom.
    I was a Nanny for many years and the best kids table is a solid wood old table at least 48 inches by 30 inches with sturdy legs, It has to be big enough for a few kids to craft, eat with guests and we also used it as a ‘stage’.
    Carefully measure before you cut the legs down, the height will be a chair for at least a 5 year old ( they will still be using it ) plus little legs sitting on the seat and take measure from under table surround which little thighs have to sit under. As the kids get bigger you can add some height with castors , then retire it to be your coffee table. ….good luck hunting for one, shouldn’t be hard in your rural area.

  62. What kind of meals do you make for dinner. Where do you buy your meat? I am enjoying this month of FABULOUS information. Thank you. I follow you ALL the time.

  63. I totally agree about spending money on tools and equipment. I never really feel bad about spending money on tools that will save me money in the long term, or even allow me to earn money. I do, however, take great pleasure in finding quality used tools, like the table saw (still in the box) that I bought “used” for 50% off.

  64. I agree that Amazon Prime can be both good and evil! I try to wait on purchases though, and the convenience of not having to bundle up two kids to go out into a store for items is amazing. I have gotten so used to waiting on purchases that I put some reusable baby food pouches in my online cart, then waited three weeks before buying! Not regretted, as these will save us money over the disposable ones, and my kids will get a few more veggies in their diets!

  65. I wrote this on the UFM Day 3 but when I get the urge to buy takeout or coffee, I always tell myself to go home first because I know I won’t leave the house to go get takeout or coffee, knowing I have food options and coffee at home.

    1. I do that same thing. I feel disappointed at first but within 30 minutes of being home or fixing something to eat I’m over that urge to grab a coffee or I’m enjoying a more delicious and nutritious meal than I would have had with takeout.

  66. Have just started your UFM challenge. Your 72 hour rule is a superb idea which I will definately start to use. It is really encouraging to know that i’m not the only one who finds temptation hard to resist – for me, it’s wine, chocolate, and buying clothes (albeit bought second-hand in charity shops). Thanks for the tip!

  67. Nice article! I also have found that a waiting period (at least a few days and often more) helps. Cutting cable and other things where advertising is a constant stream also helps. Really be conscious of needs vs wants also helps.

    One other thing that I’ve found very effective for myself is that I make myself get rid of something (or even 2-3 things) for everything I add. Lots of us, especially those of us who aren’t fresh out of college, already have all we “need” when we’re honest with ourselves. Putting this requirement in place makes me think harder about whether there is enough value to me to add that item or not. It also helps keep the clutter down over time.

  68. I have a list in my to-do manager of things that I have the urge to buy. I don’t necessarily practice the 72 hour wait, but I do have that list there to look at when I do have some room in my budget. I’ve found that after I’ve put an item on the list, I tend to forget about it for the most part and when I see it again on the list, I’ll tell myself that I’ve went all this time without it and I’m fine – so I don’t really need it as much as I thought I did!

  69. At 65, I’m trying to streamline my life, which means getting rid of what is worn out (rotten landscape timbers and rusted out trellises, etc), usable but not needed with current life style, duplicates (given as gifts usually), etc. Now, before I purchase anything other than food, I reflect on how difficult it was to store, maintain, and ultimately get rid of, things. Sometimes just remembering all that is more than enough to make me pass on a new purchase.

  70. How do I curb impulse spending? I figured out a long time ago important questions I needed to ask myself before buying something.
    Will I regret not buying it?
    If I will regret it, how big of a regret?
    Do I really need/want it?
    Is it something I enjoy wanting but wouldn’t want cluttering up my home?
    Those questions have cut out a lot of my impulse spending.

  71. I have a home that I love, except that, being 100+ yrs old, it lacks in storage space. It’s well equipped (cluttered, some would say), primarily with good quality free/secondhand frugal goods. For most of my adult life, my philosophy has been to try to find some thing free first, then secondhand, then on sale, and only pay retail as an absolute last resort (something is broken and must be replaced NOW). Since I have pretty much everything I need, shopping is more and more recreational, so my driving question is: “How do I feel about the space that this will take up in my home, and is it of sufficient value to give it that privilege?” More and more, the answer to that question is “no”. It hasn’t stopped me from enjoying window shopping – I especially like going to craft fairs, and admiring all the beautiful handmade creations – but I feel less compulsion to bring something home just it appeals to me.

  72. Love reading your blog!!! We were so inspired by your clothing ban that we have started our own this year. This is a hot topic for us as we BOTH are impulsive buyers and hate saying no to each other. If my beloved husband, accidentally forgot his lunch at home, he would call me and ask me if he could purchase a road lunch (and visa versa if I was the one who forgot). How can we possibly say no to our beloved one?!?!? So we always said yes! Now, we have a 1-week policy instead of a 72hr policy for spending and we DO NOT CARRY any of our cards. This forces us to plan, prepare and anticipate. We HAVE to bring lunch because there isn’t another option. We HAVE to know how much pet food we have. We HAVE to know how much we have for shampoo/ toothpaste/ facewash/ deodorant etc. ingredients (we make our own).
    My beloved surprised me yesterday but informing me he was given a bonus day off on Sunday evening!!! Woohoo!!!! So I looked into a much needed date. We had a movie gift card left over from Christmas so I had to research how much was on the card/ how much the tickets costs to see if we could go (since we had not written down last Sunday that we were going to be spending anything this coming Sunday). The tickets were cheaper on Fandango! We will be seeing Star Wars tomorrow! Woot! Woot!!
    Another super surprising way to combat unexpected impulse buys for me anyway was to purchase cloth period pads and a reusable period cup. That means I’m never at the store late at night, purchasing pads while trying to keep hormonal cravings {chocolate and ice cream and chips and poptarts etc} at bay. Lol! The initial purchase wasn’t too expensive and has paid for itself rapidly!!!!!

  73. Day 16 UFM and I had a victory, planned and packed snacks and coffee for a long road trip. Did have to buy gas but found a toll free way to and from dropping daughter back to college. I found myself wanting to buy something out of boredom but resisted. Planning and self talk help me stay on course. I am curious to see how I will think about expenditures after this month is over.

  74. Thank you for your blog. I value it immensely. A few thoughts:

    (1) The internet itself has eliminated delayed gratification. It is dopamine. Use it at your own risk;

    (2) Coffee thermos – FTW. Duncan Donuts $1.76 x 5 x 52 = $457.60. That’s shares of your favorite fund/stock right there.

    (3) Bread Maker. I know it is the symbol of the entitled person’s claim to frugality. But this is the deal. The bread is delicious. (I bought a Jojorushi). People ask me to make bread for them now. It does save money. Where I live its $3.50 a loaf. Being that I make a loaf a day, it has paid itself off. Plus, the idea of “daily bread” keeps me grounded.

    (4) Use Bank alerts. When you are reminded that money is being spent, it bothers you more in retrospect.

    (5) Look at old bank statements and see the drips (or buckets) on spending for stuff you no longer have or wasted (for me, fast food/coffee). It makes you cry in regret;

    1. I second the bread machine! We use ours almost daily and as a bonus, it’s so easy that my kids can start a loaf if I have my hands full with something else. We buy flour at Costco so even if it feels like there’s no food in the house, we can easily whip up a loaf of bread and usually have enough odds and ends to make a pot of soup to go with.

  75. Saw this over on the UFM thread at MMM and thought it would make your day

    Heck, this is me too, and it’s still magic to ME. Last year, we thought it would take ~1.5yrs to save up our downpayment. Raises coinciding with 3 uber frugal months in a row? BOOM, 12% downpayment saved. I have all the numbers and it STILL baffles me how fast that happened.

  76. I had to smile when I started reading this article. I’d just put an “Instant Pot” in my Amazon.com cart because several people who posted comments on your new frugal eating article (featured on your home page) said they loved theirs. I’ve been feeling sort of sick in my stomach when I thought about spending $119 so had decided to mull over the purchase. After reading this article I definitely will put it off for 72 hours and see if I really need it. Thanks for the tip!

    If someone can tell me how to make tender meat in stews and soups I won’t need an Instant Pot and you’ll be saving me lots of money!

    1. I just cooked a slow roast on 275 that will be used for at least three meals including beef stew. I cooked in a skillet first with butter onion an seasonings on high heat for about 3 mins on each side. In 2 and 1/2 hours I had a tender roast. I was tempted by the Instant Pot but decided I can do without.

    2. There are a few InstaPot alternative conversations happening in the Complete Guide To Frugal, Healthy Eating comments right now :)!

  77. Just wanted to thank you for providing such thought a provoking article. I suddenly had a revelation about being frugal.

    I grew up in, what anyone on this blog would see as a idyllic frugal family, that lived in a beautiful house by the sea, even generating enough electricity to sell back to the grid. The problem was my mother’s mind set, she was a cold cruel woman, who always believed her cup was empty when everyone else had full glasses!!. She used to boast how happy and content with her lifestyle she was, whilst sneering, sniping and judging people behind their backs. I equated being frugal with cruelty and misery, which is why it has been such a struggle for me with things like impulse spending. I now see from your blog and from all the lovely people that comment on your blog, it is possible to be content and happy following a frugal lifestyle. I now see that being frugal actually can be a step towards contentment by being less influenced by our societies more more more attitude and by building financial independence for your family.

    Thank you to you and to all the people who comment.

  78. We do 30 days for ruminating and looking for alternatives before buying something. This weekend I drove four hours with three women friends–we talked about our needs and gave each other advice on where to find things (and also on how to get rid of white elephants.)

  79. Great tip! That’s what I do too. Sometimes I’ll even wait a week and usually by then I don’t have the desire to buy it anymore. I totally agree with you on the same day shopping. “Same Day Shipping” is geared towards those impulse buyers, which is sad because they are just throwing their money away! Thank you for sharing this awesome method!

  80. I just discovered your blog by Googling best personal finance blogs and ended up at Rock Star Finance, where you were listed. Great find for me, and most especially this article. I needed this sage advice and so will my readers.

  81. You are a delightful writer! Conveyance convenience, paralysis by analysis! I stumbled on your blog this week and have been enjoying it so very much. Taking the uber frugal month challenge this month. Already saved myself some money yesterday at the goodwill when I saw a yogurt maker for $7 and almost bought it. Then I remembered how successfully I made yogurt in canning jars in my cooler a few weeks ago, and realized that I could not only save myself the $7, I could save myself having to find a place to store and keep that little yogurt maker. Thank you for the inspiration!

  82. I think the most important thing is to have financial goals. If you have no goals then it won’t seem like a problem to spend money on new clothes instead of the same old clothes until they wear out. When I set my most recent goals 1) save up an emergency fund to replace my exhausted emergency fund over two years ago, it gave me focus. When I discovered that I had a relatively more stable income (although very low compared to US standards) it helped me formalize my goal of saving for raw land for my own much smaller homestead (before I found your blog) Although the deal to buy land has recently fallen through (they refused to let me see the original deed as a copy until the day I would go pay and sign the new deed), I know that I can keep looking and I’ll be even more ready when I come across another property I think would work. Having goals makes it easy to pass on many potential purchases with or without waiting 72 hours. It also makes it easier to go into work. 🙂

  83. I love the 72-hour rule – it makes so much sense. My Kindle is my worst temptation – love to read and its sooo easy to see that book and click that button. But I’ve rediscovered our wonderful county library and have built a weekly visit into my schedule so I can have plenty of books on hand. Also love the rediscover and repurpose ideas – so much fun to discover things in my own cabinets that can be used instead of having to go out and buy something new. And this blog has inspired me to make an inventory of what I do have and check there before going out to buy anything. You wouldn’t believe the duplicates I have of things that were just not visible on my crowded shelves.

  84. Adore your blog. The frugal ideas are realistic and educational. We had a house fire and lost almost everything this Fall. I find, being a frugal single mom, I have allowed my self to say No to many offered items and considered purchases. identifying my feelings and gently base decisions in reality, not when I shop. The fire was sad and a huge loss, finding a new freedom carefully choosing what purchases I accept. Holding onto my nest egg, keeping my life uncluttered, spending time with son, surrounded by people people and memories I love, not stuff!

  85. It’s funny about your found wood box. I have a similar story. My partner and I are trying to move off-grid (slowly, as ironically it is VERY expensive!) The very easiest way we could do this was to move to heating with wood. The house we live in is inherited, and my parents had a regular fireplace. One of the first purchases I made after I got the house was to replace that with a wood stove insert. Like you, we needed a semi-attractive and practical way to store wood inside next to the hearth. I kept the grate from the old fireplace, and we stack our wood on that! Sure, there are crumbs on the floor, but since our floors are wood, all we have to do is sweep up the mess every few days! It’s been a great solution!

    I love your blog!

  86. I was saying to someone the other day how I’d get extremely anxious if I saw something I wanted and didn’t buy it there and then. It was like it was going to disappear unless I bought it straight away! I’m getting better and holding back and I think this 72 hour rule will really help me 😊

  87. Actually sometimes having too many choices of what to buy has worked in my favor… sometimes I just can’t be bothered to make another decision… and so i buy nothing… recent examples… phone (7 years old, buttons won out…yes i said buttons), ipad cover since last one broke, sheets….

  88. I’ve been wanting to buy an outdoor portable gas grill because I plan to take my family for picnics instead of going to paid indoor play areas. I’ve been thinking about since June 25 and up until now, I still don’t have the courage to buy even if everything is on sale this July 4th. During my waiting period, I check Craigslist every other day to see if they have the specific item that I like. AmaZon sells it for $150 and Today I just found a new unopened grill for $100 in Craigslist. I still have to think about it for the Nth time till Sunday.

  89. Haha! I laughed at “Who wrote ‘snuggie blanket’ on here?” The best way I find to avoid impulse buying is to leave my wallet at home. There is something very relaxing and gratifying about “window shopping” or browsing with no money. I find I feel much more released to think about my purchases and prioritize, instead of feeling the non-existant literal pressure, but very real cultural pressure, to spend thae money “burning” through my pocket that needs to be spent right then and there. When i have my wallet with me, sometimes I buy something instantly. When I DON’T have my wallet, that same thing I would have bought I often end up thinking this about it, “Glad I didn’t buy that piece of garbage.”

  90. I like the 72 or more hour rule and try to use it ..I needed a chair and little table for our grandson when it comes to visit..but the playskool-little tykes are outrageous… I found a cute fold up chair at a thrift shop for $1.00 and days later as i was walking in my neighborhood i saw a designer label kids table on the curb with a FREE sign on it!! I grabbed it and gt it home,cleaned it up and now he has a seat and table…. FOR $1,00

  91. This was right on time.
    I have also had a few moments that I had items on a list to purchase and ended up finding things right at home or free items from someone else that met the need. Amen!

  92. Biggest saver for me is meal planning, and visiting Aldi at 6 week intervals, topping up fresh food as required at farmers market. No weekly supermarket visit reduces occasions of temptation! When I open the fridge each morning I check to see what should be used now, as opposed to “What do I fancy?” Result is virtually no food waste. I don’t go into a shop unless I have a specific need, as window shopping, for me, makes me break out in a rash of wants! I only carry a small amount of cash, my debit card is for real emergencies only. As a pensioner I work my money hard, have all that I need, and enough 9fvwhat I want to be happy!

  93. Your 3 categories of needs is a gem. Category #2, Fulfillment Needs – as long as it’s not abused – is the pressure valve that helps keep the process sane and doable.

    For instance, EVERY money blog out there condemns cable TV. It’s something they say frugal people never indulge in. Well, everyone has his/her own reasons for what they do. As you said, everyone has to figure out those personal lines in their own sand. My situation is such that cable is a major benefit. I had already determined I probably wasn’t going to cut the cable. Now I feel much more comfortable with my choice.

  94. I am a college who recently entered the workforce, and working in an office directly on top of a luxury shopping has proven to be very fatal to my finances especially as I am trying to learn how to manage my money. The only thing that helps me curb my spending impulses to make a Eisenhower matrix every day to rationalize my purchases. Most of the time, most of the things fall into the lowest matrix, thus I would be able to hold off my desire to purchase at least one more day.

  95. I know this is an old post, but I remebered it today as I was contemplating buying a sink-caddy because I need somewhere to put the dishbrush, vegetable brush etc. And then I thought: Why not just put it in annold mason jar on the counter? My next thought was: This is just like the story of Mrs Frugalwoods’ woodbox! So that’s now my new «gold standard»: Finding something that’ll suffice. Thanks for giving me such a good benchmark!

  96. what a great article- I’m very frugal- and as a Chilean native, I’m very resourceful, always making something work instead of buying something new right away- thanks to this frugality, we are in our third rental property, we bought cash, all repairs made in cash. We treat ourselves to trips paid in cash- I don’t care about new “things” but I love a good adventure, especially going to different countries, in the cheapest way possible, this is my WHY- I LOVE to travel. Being frugal and resourceful has allowed me opportunities and freedom. I’ll keep sharing this message with fried and clients. thanks for your writing Liz.

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