Make it Do or Do Without.

The final test in frugality for many is the ability to make it do, or do without.  When first beginning a frugal lifestyle, people tend to look at how much they save as their benchmark of success.  As time goes on the reality hits that even at 90% off, if it isn’t something you truly need, you’ve still wasted that 10 %.

home canned green beans

Black belt frugality is in part the ability to be content with what you have, the creativity to make do with what you have, and a willingness to manage consumerism.

Easier said than done sometimes, eh?  I find that it is hard to be trendy and frugal.  Because of that I’ve had to develop my own sense of style, often relying on a simple coat of paint to make something old new again.  Gone are my days of visiting the home show home houses and coming home with visions of the expensive decorating upgrades.

A backyard garden.

That’s not to say that I don’t daydream about being able to walk into one of my favorite stores and pick out exactly what my heart desires.  It simply means that when I look at that brand new something and then think of the debt we need to get out of (Brave Heroes are expensive ) or the smaller, easier to transport oxygen concentrator I need to get for Parker, I remember (most of the time) how important it is to make the right choice.

I have two main areas in which I struggle:  Items to use to home school Parker, and books….for both me and Parker.    I’ve taught myself how to do so many things by reading a book, and I tend to feel a wee bit sad when I see something I know would help Parker progress educationally and realize I simply can’t afford it.

dehydrated tomatoes

Then I snap out of it  and remember how blessed I really am and that instead of thinking about what I don’t have, I need to focus on our long term goals of getting out of debt and becoming more self sufficient.  Let’s face it, for most of us, being content is a decision.

I noticed the other day that when I pray and give thanks to my Father in Heaven that most of what I am thankful for doesn’t fall under the category of stuff.   And if it does, it falls under the category of stuff that keeps Parker alive.  This has really made me do some thinking in the terms of wants and needs.

I’ve got a bunch of ‘deal’ websites that I am unsubscribing from.  The temptation to make a want a need is just too much.


Strawberries growing in a backyard.

I’m working on ways to make homeschooling lessons from what I have on hand.  I don’t purchase curriculum for Parker, but I do download a lot of free printable lessons, and the cost of printer ink is starting to add up. Where Parker being able to go out into the world is hard, bringing the world to him in a way that matches his hands on learning style can be rough on a modest budget if I’m not very careful.

I’ll plan out Parker’s curriculum for the next year with hopes of being able to find inexpensive ways to make it come to life for this kid of mine.   Having several months to look for these manipulatives  will hopefully  help keep things within the budget.

I’m starting to find free books to download, and this summer I plan on hitting the yard sales in hopes of a year’s supply of reading material.  I’ve been  stunned to see how much people are asking for books at yard sales these days.  What used to go for .25 is now up to a buck.

growing raspberries in your backyard to save money.


While I will always strive to buy in bulk for the lowest price possible (hello, zip lock freezer bags for .29 cents a box), I no longer need to grab every deal out there.  Just because something might be free, doesn’t mean it is worth my time or fuel costs.

The media is excellent at conditioning us to believe we need the next best thing to be happy.  We need to condition ourselves that we don’t.

How do you mange your personal consumerism?  How do you make it do or do without?


About Tammy and Parker

Special Needs Blogger, and homeschooling Mom, heavily involved in advocacy for all kids with special needs in Utah.


  1. Maria Cordner says:

    Love this post! Expresses a condition of “being in the world” that I feel comes from a place of real and truth! Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. I struggle with it too. For us it is really a space issue. We live in a small house and don’t have the room for a lot of stuff that we don’t use and love. I have gotten so sick of our cluttered house that I have been on a de cluttering spree.

  3. What great advice! We recently downsized and it has been liberating realizing what we don’t need to fill space. We focus more on if we really need it, because we don’t have the room to store what we don’t. We realized we had been caught up for years in what media made us feel we needed to be happy. Funny thing, we are more happy doing without it. :)

  4. I unsubscribed from a bunch of deal sites recently for the same reason. Money is tight and I don’t need to be looking at a bunch of items that aren’t needs on a daily basis. Do you all have kid swaps groups on Facebook out there? Here in VT we have really active groups that you can post your kids old stuff in to swap or sell. We’ve been able to keep our costs way down with that.

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