Don't Need It

by Marybeth Henry

It is so easy to get into buying habits that we do not examine. But when my daughter was born, and we went from two incomes to one, I had to take a close look at my shopping habits and see what could change. Here are some examples of commonly purchased items that you might be able to take off your shopping list.

Muffin Cups. I used to always bake my muffins in paper or foil muffin cups. It saved on clean-up time and generally made my life easier. But it was one more expense we didn't need. Bake the muffins directly in the muffin pans and throw the pans in the dishwasher.

Lunch Bags. Growing up, my mom had always used brown paper lunch bags, and I naturally fell into the habit of doing the same. But with all the plastic shopping bags piling up in the recycling pile, it didn't take long to figure out I had a free alternative.

Baby Wipes. Don't get me wrong -- these are a necessity for traveling. But when we're home, a simple warm wash cloth does the trick and saves us money.

Paper Towels. We don't use them. We have a hand towel by the sink to dry our hands. We have HandiWipes to clean the counter and pick up spills. And I use newspaper to clean the windows and mirrors (no lint!)

Shoe Polish. I used to keep white shoe polish on hand to clean up my white dress shoes. Quick and easy alternative? Petroleum jelly! Not only cleans the shoes, it also shines them, which polish didn't do (use cheap nail polish remover to get rid of the scuff marks). (Petroleum jelly also is a nice alternative to expensive lip balms)

Take a long look at your grocery list this week. What are you buying that you can live without (or can find a cheap alternative to)?

Marybeth Henry is the author of Magazine's Frugal Mom Weekly. This newsletter offers frugal ideas, tips, and advice each week to help you in your daily life. To subscribe, send any email message to or visit

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