Use What You Have!

Jennifer Thompson
Category Advice

It may seem obvious, but here's a frugal tip that I sometimes forget: use what you have before you buy more! This goes for food, cleaning supplies, clothes, and just about any other consumable you can think of.



Challenge yourself to eat out of your pantry, refrigerator and freezer for a week, and see what you can come up with. Take a good look and see what's really lurking in your kitchen. You might be surprised at just how much food you have already. This might take some creativity, but think of it as a game. And when you avoid a trip to the market for a week, you win! If you need help thinking up ideas for the random things you find, try doing a search online. For example, right now I have lentils and tomato sauce in my pantry. Going to Google ( and searching for "lentils tomato sauce recipe" yields pages and pages of links to recipes that use lentils and tomato sauce.

Cleaning Supplies

Before you buy the latest cleaner that you see on TV or while walking down the aisles of Target, use what you have first. Most of us have plenty of cleaning products at home that we've bought thinking they're going to be the latest, greatest thing for getting our homes clean. The thing is, you have to actually use them for them to work. So don't buy more products when you still have bottles and bottles of cleaners sitting in the cupboard.



It may not seem as fun as the thrill of buying a new pair of shoes or some new jeans, but try to get the life out of what you already have in your closet and dresser before going out to buy something new. My closet isn't overflowing, so where do I struggle with this? My daughter. I am a sucker for all those cute little girl clothes and accessories. So if you're reading this and thinking, "But I love buying new clothes!" I'm right there with you. This is where I am currently challenging myself, actually. I sat and looked hard at her closet last night, and again this morning, and I tried to count how many dresses she has. I couldn't without physically moving each dress along the closet rod, she has so many. So does she need anything new? Not at all. And my task is to hold off on new purchases until there is a need.

Remember, the next time you're thinking about buying something new, ask yourself if you already have it at home. If you don't know, go look. If you do, then ask yourself why you want to buy it. If it isn't because you sincerely need it, then try to figure out the real reason for the purchase.

About The Author: Jennifer Thompson owns and manages DivaTribe (, a site that offers free journals, message boards, articles, frugal living tips, book reviews, indie shopping and more for smart, creative, courageous women.


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March 12, 20050 found this helpful

This encouraged me to go re-visit my pantry. I have 1/2 my menu this week done on that alone. What a great reminder.


Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By Jennifer Thompson (Guest Post)
March 23, 20050 found this helpful

I'm glad you found it helpful. :-)

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

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