Tip #21 - Use What You Have. There are many times that we are tempted to buy something new because it looks better, works better, or simply because we want it. But if you are trying to save money, you should avoid any unnecessary purchases. Look around your house and use what you have on hand. The floor needs to be cleaned but you don't have a mop? Use a rag and get down on all fours. You have a party to go to and want new shoes? Wear old ones. You would like a four-course dinner at a restaurant? Look in your fridge and freezer and make a fancy dinner yourself! Most of us have so much stuff lying around that we are sick of looking at, bored of using, and ready to change at any given time. But don't! This stuff was new to us once and we paid for it or were given it, so we might as well use it. And it doesn't cost a dime! If you can get away with using something you have, then you won't be laying out money. And that is money that can go into savings.
In Real Life (IRL) - We have a lot of stuff in our house. Some of it we use and some is sitting there collecting dust. But I find if I have a need for something, I try to figure out if there is something we own that can do the job or fit the bill. I'll give some examples.
Halloween was last night. I really did not feel like purchasing costumes for three children. At about $20 per costume in most stores, that's $60 I didn't want to spend. And I really didn't have to. I just looked around our house. Someone had given me a pumpkin costume a few months ago in a size 2T for my son who is 15 months old. I thought it might be a bit big, but you know what? I rolled up the pant legs and the sleeves and it looked just fine for the few minutes he went trick-or-treating. My middle child loves princesses and since we have lots of dress-up clothes in the playroom, I told her she could be a princess for Halloween. She was happy about that. I thought I'd have a harder time with my oldest child. Then I remembered a pair of American Girl pajamas I found at a consignment sale last year. I asked her if she would like to dress like her American Girl doll (found at a thrift store) for Halloween. She loved the idea. I braided her hair and we had a pair of Dollar Store glasses and voila - instant costume that was cute and original. All costumes were put together from items we had at home and we didn't spend a dime extra.
My other example isn't as much fun. I backed out of my driveway the other day and put a dent in my rear bumper - oops! My husband said it wasn't a big deal because the bumper was hollow in that spot. He said he'd take it to a place near work and have them bang it out. Umm, now much will that cost? I asked. The answer was $100. Eek. Then he said, well I can try to bang it out. He first used compound that we had lying around in the garage to wipe off the scrapes. Then he used a hair dryer I've owned since college to soften the bumper, and he banged out the dent. It's not perfect but it's 90% better. And frankly, we have 115,000 miles on this car and we hope to keep it another 2-3 years. I'm sure when we sell it, people will expect a few bumps and scrapes.
Anyway, those are just two examples of how we used what we have. You can do it too and cut back on your buying.