Want to Save Money? Work with What You Have

???????????????????I was born with mildly curly hair.  In the summer months, this manifested into a mop of fuzz.

For years I hated my hair and did anything I could to straighten it.  I bought hot curlers (they curled the ends but pulled out the fuzz), a straightening iron, and even a scary spinning contraption that was supposed to dry my hair while straightening it at the same time (but all it did was tangle and get stuck in my hair).  I paid a lot over the years to have hair dressers straighten my hair.

To my annoyance, with each pregnancy, my hair just got curlier.  After the third pregnancy, I gave up in defeat and decided to embrace the curls.  Now, I simply wash my hair and put some gel in it to keep the fuzz away and the curls looking nicer.  The gel cost less than $5, and in a year, I’ve only used 1/3 of the bottle.  If I’d just embraced my curls earlier, I could have saved myself hundreds of dollars and endless hours of time.

If you want to save money, in almost any area of life, it makes sense to work with what you have rather than trying to change what you already have.

Of course, this applies to personal care and beauty, but it also applies to other aspects of most people’s lives.

Work with What You Have in Your Home

Consider your house.  There’s plenty you can do to improve your home working with what you have.

We just bought a new home, and the kitchen cabinets are painted an ugly pinkish color.  Rather than putting in new cabinetry, which would be expensive and decidedly not eco-friendly, we’re instead going to invest some elbow grease into working with what we have and simply stripping the cabinets and then repainting them white.

Likewise, many rooms can be freshened up with a simple coat of paint or new accent accessories.  If you have a couch that is still in serviceable condition but is no longer stylish, consider getting it reupholstered or even using a well fitting cover.


Many of us have it drilled into our minds that after 100,000 miles, a car becomes a money pit that is best sold so you can buy a new car.  However, depending on the brand and make of your car as well as how well you maintained it, your car can last much longer than 100,000 miles.

My husband and I have a 10 year old Toyota Sienna with 136,000 miles on it.  I mentioned to the mechanic at our repair shop that it was time to think about getting a new car.  He assured me as long as we continued to faithfully maintain the car as we have been, we could easily keep the car until it hit 200,000 miles or even more.

Almost always, working with the vehicle you have rather than buying a brand new one makes more economical sense and is better for the environment.  Kiplinger’s argues, “In the absence of a gigantic repair bill–you need a new engine, for example–an old car is almost always cheaper to own than a new one.”

Learn to Be Content with What You Have

Would I prefer to have straight hair?  Absolutely.  But it wasn’t what I was born with, so I’m learning to embrace what I do have.

Many of us want a home that looks like it came from a magazine or a brand new shiny car.  Wanting those things is okay.  But know that if you want to get ahead financially and be good to the environment, working with what you have makes the most sense.  It’s the way people used to live, and many of them were more financially stable than Americans today.

“Our grandparents and great-grandparents were probably quite adept at fixing things up, since stores and funds were often limited.  But in America today an abundance of cheap manufactured goods, a consumer culture and relatively high labor costs have conspired to turn us into a bunch of wasters” (Good Housekeeping).

 Do you work with what you have, or do you have to curb the tendency to want to buy new?


Want to Save Money? Work with What You Have — 8 Comments

  1. Love it! Not spending money is one of the best ways to have more money. Often people focus on earning more, but doing things like this and working with what you have will keep more money in your pocket. This is very true for cars, like you said. The repairs on cars are usually much cheaper than buying a new car. Even if you add them all up.

  2. I do that a lot with food. Not only using what is already in the fridge to invent a recipe, but using what is available at the supermarket, because of the season or the place I live. Some imported products are really expensive while fresh local ones are a steal.

  3. I am learning to be content with what I have. It could always be worse, and I’m not willing to give up financial freedom to have more or better stuff. Our kitchen is a classic example. The house is 24 years old and we’ve never done a remodel. I would love to get new counter tops and cupboards, but it’s just not in the budget right now, but it will be in 4 years time. Therefore I wait and clean my kitchen patiently knowing that it’s not if, but when.

  4. I’ve learned in the last couple of years to be happy with what I have but I am still a work in progress. It’s that battle between what makes us happy and what marketing is used to fill our minds. I haven’t owned a car since December 2011 and have not missed it.

  5. I agree! Living within your means is so important. How are you ever expected to save if you are constantly in debt? And that debt will only increase over time.

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