I decided that I needed less. not. more.
May 15, 2010 7:23 PM   Subscribe

What have you given up that you haven't missed?

In my on-going effort to both simplify my life and trim my budget, I am looking for things to give up.

So, what do you do without that at one time you thought was a necessity? Cable? Soap? Electricity? Books? Sunlight?

Also....if you've given something up and found a more awesome/cheaper/simpler alternative I'd love to hear that too.

posted by ian1977 to Work & Money (140 answers total) 154 users marked this as a favorite
Cable. I bought a dedicated living room PC to connect to my TV (spent $300 on a refurbished Dell PC, nothing fancy) and I use that to record TV shows through a tuner card connected to an antenna, watch shows on Hulu, stream movies on Netflix, and stream sports on MLB.TV and ESPN360. I don't think I've ever wished I had cable. All in all, I pay $8.99/mo for Netflix and $100/year for MLB.TV, and the rest is over the internet connection that I would pay for either way.
posted by kjackelen05 at 7:34 PM on May 15, 2010 [6 favorites]

posted by dfriedman at 7:37 PM on May 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

Broadcast and cable television. I traded it for hulu and surfthechannel.

I didn't have internet for a few months once. I found that by the time I had the situation for it again, I was procrastinating on ordering it. I wouldn't give it up willingly, though.

I was also a vegetarian for many years, and didn't miss meat after the first couple of weeks.

I'd happily give up most of my cookware. All I need is a cast iron skillet, a spaghetti pot, a saucier (not a sauce pan), and one cheap-ass non-stick pan for seafood.
posted by Netzapper at 7:38 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Meat. Alcohol. Caffiene. Television (the physical box -- I still watch a bunch on my computer). Soda (drink water. Also this is easier after giving up caffeine.)
I also try to only buy clothes I love, not things I'm simply ok with.
Sell or give away books that you don't keep coming back to.
Caveat: I do eat meat and drink coffee now, but I have gone many months or even years at a time without consuming them.
posted by mismatched at 7:39 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by Abbril at 7:39 PM on May 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

I haven't had a fridge in months (looooong kitchen remodel and floor refinishing story). I just keep stuff in an icebox in the basement which works perfectly fine for essentials and has all but eliminated many expensive non essential things (like cheesecake and orange juice) from my diet. Since I'm eating healthier and my electrical bill now averages $11 a month I'm seriously considering not bringing it back in from the garage. I will have to live with all the "you don't have a fridge" incredulity forever then I guess.
posted by fshgrl at 7:41 PM on May 15, 2010 [16 favorites]

Soda and cable TV. Like mismatched, I still watch shows online, but I'm not paying $60+ a month to do it.
posted by kate blank at 7:42 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

1 - Added Sugar. Gave it up over a year ago and, following about two weeks of withdrawal, I don't miss it AT ALL. I've replaced it with lots of berries, apples, and other real foods.

2 - Cable/Satellite. Best decision ever.

3 - Haven't done it yet, but I'm considering ditching Facebook. I have a hunch that this would be the best thing in the world, but so far I don't have the guts to go through with it.
posted by crapples at 7:44 PM on May 15, 2010

Cable. Cigarettes.
posted by youcancallmeal at 7:45 PM on May 15, 2010

Nthing cable. For a long time, I didn't even have a TV -- but my husband likes videogames so that ultimately reappeared. Also, I gave up meat ten years ago & never once missed it. (Gave up soda six months later -- which I never drank that much anyway -- & I would still kill someone for a root beer float at times.)

Gave up a landline, also. That cut my cable/internet/phone bill from $120/mo to $25/mo. So worth it.

Gave up buying books -- love the library. (I still get books as gifts, though.)
posted by oh really at 7:47 PM on May 15, 2010

Cable TV.
Fast food.
posted by pecanpies at 7:48 PM on May 15, 2010

Television. I don't care if not having one means I'm that dude, but I have not had a TV in well over ten years and don't miss it at all.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 7:50 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


(I didn't have a car for about a decade, and didn't miss it--but I was also living in areas with good public transport. So, no pun intended, YMMV.)
posted by thomas j wise at 7:51 PM on May 15, 2010

Paper towels. We use cloths and dump them in the wash when needed.

Any beverage other than milk and water (we do occasionally get lemonade).

Store-bought snacks. Instead we'll make popcorn or toast.

Store-bought books. We use the library instead.

Any and all magazine subscriptions.

Clothes dryer (we still have one that we use occasionally) - we live in Arizona - our clothes dry faster on the line anyway.
posted by Sassyfras at 7:55 PM on May 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Books. I went through all of my boxes a while ago and got rid of almost all of them. There's a handful that have sentimental value, and some I'm slowly reading and giving away.

Although it's grown back, I buzzed my hair a bit ago. I'm female, and I was amazed at the time and money I saved. There's a lot of stuff that goes with women and how they wear their hair.

The data plan on my phone. No gps when I get lost, but I keep maps in my car.
posted by shinyshiny at 7:55 PM on May 15, 2010


My girlfriend had a much healthier diet than I did when we first met and she basically cut out sugar from my life. As an unabashed candy lover this was quite the shift for me, and it was haaaaard. But after a month or two I really didn't notice anymore. I also don't miss it.
posted by fso at 7:56 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Meat at breakfast and lunch.

Cheese in burgers and sandwiches.


Any beverage besides water, milk, coffee, or beer.





Baby carrots (real carrots are cheaper).

Cable (although now when I see a TV I'll watch anything that moves).

Meat from an animal with four legs (except once a month for BBQ in the summer).

Video stores.

Also, I darn my socks now.
posted by furtive at 7:59 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Soft drinks. I basically always get water when I eat out, and I buy fizzy mineral water for occasional use at home. Now I can't stand the thought of drinking Coke.

Hint: chilling the mineral water and drinking it over ice is mysteriously satisfying, sometimes, in a way that plain water isn't. And having some plain filtered water chilled in the refrigerator is awesome in the summer, and eliminates the main reason I was drinking soft drinks.
posted by amtho at 8:00 PM on May 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Cable TV.

I don't miss the noise, the useless channels, or the commercials at all.


I don't get tired and need it anymore.

When I could get away with it, a car.

The morning commute was so much nicer when it was a walk through the city, instead of drive.

When I could get away with it, a cell phone.

It was nice to actually be able to be alone.


Enough said.
posted by 517 at 8:01 PM on May 15, 2010

Forgot to add car (we rent once a month or so).
posted by furtive at 8:01 PM on May 15, 2010

Added sugar. Also, my ukulele acquisition syndrome has finally abated and I'm glad.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:01 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

And seconding keeping a glass bottle filled with water in the fridge.
posted by furtive at 8:02 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Liquid soap. Started using bar soap for bathroom hand washing a couple years back after someone gave me a bar soap as a gift. I liked it so much and realized it's so much cheaper (and less plastic waste as well) than liquid soap. Lots of fun varieties as well, but it's very easy to keep it simple and really cheap.
posted by wondermouse at 8:02 PM on May 15, 2010

posted by musofire at 8:02 PM on May 15, 2010 [8 favorites]

a carl; my feet, my bike, the bus and zipcar get me where I'm going cheaper than owning a car in the city.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:02 PM on May 15, 2010

agreeing with everyone who's said cable TV.

my husband would add "using a dryer to dry clothes, rather than a good ol' fashioned clothesline", but I beg to differ on that one.
posted by Lucinda at 8:03 PM on May 15, 2010

Crazy friends.
posted by bondcliff at 8:07 PM on May 15, 2010 [9 favorites]

Haven't had a microwave in years. The only time I come close to missing it is when I need to melt a small amount of butter.
posted by janell at 8:07 PM on May 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

chocolate: 20+ years ago.
posted by scruss at 8:08 PM on May 15, 2010

A toaster. Turns out if you have an oven, you don't need a toaster, too.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:16 PM on May 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

I gave up clothes that I didn't love the first time I tried them on. I wear all my clothes, and feel less wasteful.
posted by hepta at 8:18 PM on May 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Diet soda (and any sort of flavored water) - I never drank regular soda. I do buy fizzy water (very inexpensive at Trader Joe's).
Nthing cable TV, I can watch anything I want online.
I've given up a car to live in a city before, but now I'm in a different city and I have a car again. And I did miss it, sometimes, when I wanted to leave the city.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:21 PM on May 15, 2010

Meat, including fish and seafood. I haven't eaten it for about 20 years. I almost never miss it; if I try to think of what meat I would really want to eat if I weren't a vegetarian, I'm stumped.

Also cable, sports drinks, and a car.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:21 PM on May 15, 2010

nthing cable. Also proprietary operating systems.
My dorm doesn't have central air and now when I have to sleep somewhere that has it the sound is oppressive. Even living on a busy street and keeping the windows open bothers me less than the sound a central air system makes.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 8:27 PM on May 15, 2010

In the eighties I drove a car, ate red meat, and watched TV. These days I do none of these things and miss zero of them. I can't imagine I will ever get back into any of these.

As with anything I have given up, I have occasionally stuck my head back in the door to see if I really need to leave it out of my life (even if I had no craving for it). I have eaten red meat two or three times since the eighties and it was dismal each time. Cars interest me not at all. TV gets shriller and stupider every time I look at it.

However, there are a couple of things I did relent on: I was totally vegetrain for about fifteen years but after that went back to the occasional fish or poultry (not because I missed it as socially it was too tricky to avoid flesh totally). And I did give up sugar for most of a year once. It was fine at the time, but when I fell off the wagon (with a Snickers bar) it was startling. With no exaggeration, within a few minutes sounds got sharper and colours got brighter.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:36 PM on May 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

Tv ... Any tv.
posted by jayder at 8:36 PM on May 15, 2010

More specific than just 'alcohol' - because it's not like I no longer drink - what I gave up is "hanging out in bars mindlessly". Yes, I will meet friends from time to time, and go watch a ballgame occasionally, but it's always a special occasion, it's not a default. I don't do post-work happy hours - if I feel that I have to go for morale/appearances, I go and order a club soda with lime. The amount of money this saves will astound you.

I also gave up 'shopping' as an activity. If I need to buy something, I go to the store and I buy it, or purchase it somehow, but there is no 'hmm, got a couple of hours, let me go walk through the mall'. I will go to the mall to purchase something but it's a very tactical activity - I park as close as I can, walk to the store, and leave promptly. It means forcing family and friends to pick an actual activity if they want to get together, which sometimes causes hurt feelings, but I don't care.
posted by micawber at 8:40 PM on May 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

TV and fizzy drinks. I watch everything I care to watch online (without ad breaks!) and I really only liked fizzy drinks for the fizz anyway - now I drink sparkling water instead, when I can get it.

I also practically gave up sunlight for a few months but I don't recommend it. :P
posted by Xany at 8:42 PM on May 15, 2010

fast food!
i haven't had any since nov/dec of last year and even though that's not really a LONG time, I found that the fact of it keeps me from giving in to the temptation of eating anymore (i lovvvvvve french fries). It's like "NOOOO, don't break the chain!"

Also, super nthing the tv thing (the device). I used to be so annoyed when I would miss a fav show and felt a little tied down by set timings. Now I watch stuff on my computer w/c is wayyy better -- I can watch what I want, whenever I want, as many times over as I want. And I have access to shows that have already ended, stuff that does air in the US (I watch a lot of japanese/korean shows and movies)~~ Computers are better!
posted by joyeuxamelie at 8:43 PM on May 15, 2010

Meat, eggs, dairy. Netflix. Ipod. Shaving cream. Walmart.
posted by srrh at 8:47 PM on May 15, 2010

Agreeing with various folks on these items:
- I haven't had cable (or used broadcast in more than passing) since 1999. The only time I missed it was in the week after September 11, when we had to buy rabbit ears.
- I'm limiting my book purchases now for space reasons; the library is my friend.
- I have a toaster-oven but could get by without it; I haven't had a toaster proper in so long that I can't remember ever having one.
- I'm giving up buying and keeping clothes I don't love.
- Added sugar and sugary sodas. Being married to a diabetic means I don't miss it.
- I've had to give up alcohol for medical reasons on an intermittent basis. I'm drinking right now but the only time I'd miss the actual booze is karaoke.
- If we didn't live in a complex that required a landline and it weren't necessary with our DSL, we'd drop it and not look back.
- CDs. We're switching to digital.
- Most fast food. I don't miss McDonald's (after 6 months without, it was gross) and I suspect if I stopped eating at my secret weakness (Jack in the Box) for six months, I wouldn't miss it either.
- Walmart. Never used it, don't miss it.

Apart from finances, I've learned the hard lesson about walking away from (mostly internet) drama, by enforcing it if necessary, and dropping the people who bring it into my life. The peace of mind I've gotten from walking away is worth every bit of hit to my e-reputation or whatever as a coward or whatever other thing I get called when I walk.
posted by immlass at 8:51 PM on May 15, 2010

Fast food, cable TV and soda long ago. I am curious about the number of people who mentioned cable TV. Fast food was the one I missed the least... cable TV was a close second.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:54 PM on May 15, 2010

Netflix. Local library service has dramatically diversified it's collection in recent years. The system of hold can be used to roughly approximate the Netflix queue. And there's stuff you won't find in Netflix as well, like video games and these university lectures. It's a bit less reliable and I feel a bit guilty for putting my name in line for more than five books / dvds / games / manga.

Windows. For years I used to dual boot, mainly for video games. But the PC game industry has repeatedly published buggy network games that slowly succumb to cheat entropy. So I haven't paid for Windows ever in my adult life. This isn't something you can do easily -- Dell hardware is actually cheaper with Windows because they get paid to install crapware. But once you factor in the cost of removing crapware it starts to turn the tide.

Live TV. We didn't give up cable, but any more I just record things with the DVR and watch them on my schedule. Less time on commercials, less incentive to channel surf for 30 minutes between shows. Life is much simpler when you can simply put things on pause.

Bank fees. The best way to simplify your life is to have a few months of liquid savings at all times. I earn a (very) small amount of interest, and no longer have overdraft or fake overdraft fees. Of course, this means planning and complicating your life a bit, and if you don't have a money cushion already you can't go out and buy one.

Land line. In 2010, this isn't a revelation. One guy I know keeps a landline for faxes, and some day I should research if there's a service / software to fake this with the internet. But you can't really call it a budget trimmer unless you actually spend less; most folks I know spend more on their cell plan than a landline costs. I spent about 19 dollars a month on my landline in grad school. On a bulk prepaid I'm now at roughly 8 dollars a month (and ten cents a minute). This may or may not work for you based on phone usage.
posted by pwnguin at 8:56 PM on May 15, 2010

i wish i could say 'mindless web surfing'
posted by sarahj at 8:58 PM on May 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

DVDs, toaster, microwave, shopping (it actually kind of disgusts me now to see all the excess in stores), most of my makeup, hair products and girly things like lotions and perfumes, wearing contacts, buying books (library/trading with friends/paperbackswap.com take care of most books I want, anyway), making dinner for one (have friends over! it's easier to cook for a crowd), being overanalytical and making myself crazy.

I gave up cigarettes but I miss them something fierce, and you can have my gin when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
posted by runningwithscissors at 9:04 PM on May 15, 2010

I'm really astonished at the people giving up books.

What do ya'll do when you want to reread something?
posted by Netzapper at 9:07 PM on May 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

I gave up all my magazine subscriptions. I was a magazine junkie, but I finally realized that all my magazines now have free online editions (and the few that don't, I can either live without or find the same kind of articles/information on other sites).
posted by amyms at 9:11 PM on May 15, 2010

Netzapper: "What do ya'll do when you want to reread something?"

Read something new instead? Or maybe check it out from the library or buy it back from a second hand book dealer. Frankly, the portion of my book collection that remains is more for lending to other people than re-reading.
posted by pwnguin at 9:16 PM on May 15, 2010

nthing meat. Saves money, it's healthy, and it's good for the environment / animal welfare. It's not difficult to do pretty much anywhere in the U.S. but it's something you can feel good about.
posted by ista at 9:17 PM on May 15, 2010

Cable TV. Just have antenna, Hulu occasionally/rarely, and Netflix. Now when I go to someone's house with cable, it's overwhelming having so many things on, and so many of options.

Tampons. Cup is more cost-effective, way less trash, and supposedly healthier, too.

CDs. I hate them and their plastic boxes that crack and their paper booklets that won't go back in the stupid plastic box. It's all digital for me, now. Soooo much less clutter

Print magazines, newspapers, and catalogs (to the extent I can get them to stop sending them). Internets have all I need in that department.
posted by ishotjr at 9:20 PM on May 15, 2010

Throughout my life I've given up just about everything on one occasion or other. Some things are failed experiments, some things I couldn't give up permanently, some things I've given up permanently.

I highly recommend giving up:
Food (fast for a couple days) - This is an incredible experience and really gets you knowing yourself.

TV - What a waste of time. I download some programs once in a while, but sitting and wasting time in front of the tv is something everyone could do without. Cheap/time wasting entertainment? Books. The library is free.

Internet websites using leechblock

Fighting the ways of the world - A lot of effort with little reward.

The traditional 9-5 - I'm an English teacher in Korea now working 12:30-6 each day. I also run my own online business.

Meat - Even though I didn't completely last as a vegetarian my meals are still 90% vegetarian. I'm a social meat eater at the moment. I feel healthier, the moral cause has sort of died.

Sugar - Could never completely do it, but at the moment I'm on a low sugar diet. Feel healthier and not a slave to it's addictive powers.

Alcohol - Makes me depressed and costs a lot of money if you go out and drink.

Instant Meals / Frozen Foods - Cooking yourself especially with vegetarian ingredients is often a lot cheaper.

Non-water Drinks - I drink water always now. Occasionally I'll drink a soft drink like once per month, but I can't drink more than a glass or 2.

Really though I recommend giving up ANYTHING. It's a great experiment, it's a great way to get to know yourself and your limitations and it's a great way to figure out what you can live without and what you really need.

Also you will fail. But don't convince yourself you can't do it. Some things will come easier than others, but some things after trying multiple times you will succeed at giving up.
posted by bindasj at 9:44 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Meat, dairy, pasta, white rice, white potatoes, honey, having oil, salt, white flour and sugar in the pantry, fast food, fried food, processed food, alcohol, stove, dishwasher, washer and dryer, landline, TV, air conditioning, car, credit cards, 9-to-5 employment, needing to impress people, needing to "be right" all the time.

Simpler is better.
posted by aquafortis at 9:45 PM on May 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

The Mall.

There's simply no need any more. The internet is cheaper, and you don't have to drive half-an-hour just to find out they don't have $whatever in stock in your size.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:47 PM on May 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Twice I left behind pretty much all I owned. The second time included 700 books I had hauled from place to place for years. It was amazingly liberating.
posted by path at 9:55 PM on May 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Cheap clothing. Buying a classic piece, that's beautifully made and structured, is better than buying a lot of cheap clothes that you'll wear a few times and then have to toss because it's already worn out.

Processed food. I eat whole foods practically all the time, the most processed foods I have are soy sauces and vinegars. It's been fantastic for both my health and my waistline.
posted by so much modern time at 10:16 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Department store cosmetics (including moisturizers, sunscreen, etc). Although I'd known for years that the cosmetics sold at the supermarket often have the exact same active ingredients as the prestige brands, and are produced by the same laboratories and/or parent company, I still couldn't give them up until my budget forced me to. I don't miss them at all.

Same goes for new books: there are plenty of used book that need homes.

Buying new clothes on a regular basis or buying clothes/shoes because they're on sale and I like them but don't need them. I only go shopping now if I absolutely need something (like a suit for an interview and the like). Much easier to do that if you have a closet full of clothing.
posted by Neekee at 10:19 PM on May 15, 2010

posted by pluckysparrow at 10:20 PM on May 15, 2010

Reddit, Digg, Cable
posted by Napierzaza at 10:22 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Soda, diet soda, and juice. Soda and juice are loaded with calories, and diet soda with chemicals. I don't miss any of them.
posted by lsemel at 10:30 PM on May 15, 2010

Mostly repeats, but:

-Coffee (Tea is pretty awesome though.)
-Car (Good pair of shoes and Zipcar.)
-Soda (Don't miss it at all. Makes me sick now.)
-All physical media. (CDs, DVDs, Books. Went all digital.)
-Movies in theaters. (Expensive, full of people being disruptive. At home I can eat whatever I want and only have the people I want around.)
-Prepackaged, frozen, and fast food. (So much healthier, also cuts down on the amount of crap I have to throw away.)
posted by Ookseer at 10:54 PM on May 15, 2010

White bread. Modern wheat bread is much better than those dry sandpaper slabs of wheat we used to get with our school lunches.
posted by Soliloquy at 11:10 PM on May 15, 2010

Sex, or so it would seem.
posted by iftheaccidentwill at 11:12 PM on May 15, 2010 [5 favorites]

Shampoo. Your hair will eventually adjust and stop making as much oil. Google the unfortunately-named "no-poo method" for more details.
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:15 PM on May 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Pork, beef, and daily sweet tea.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:16 PM on May 15, 2010

Seeing movies in the theater. I really don't miss paying $12 to hang out with obsessively-texting teenagers and incompetent parents who bring 2-year-olds to R rated movies with lots of gunshots.
posted by so_gracefully at 11:22 PM on May 15, 2010 [5 favorites]

More repeats, but here you go:

Magazine subscriptions, books, most physical media.

Processed foods.

Sugar of all kinds.

Most cosmetics, save for special-occasion lipstick.

Getting my hair colored. I've come to love my greys.
posted by chez shoes at 11:26 PM on May 15, 2010

Caring about other people's opinions of me.

My acquisition habit.
posted by Solomon at 11:59 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

cable tv
posted by fifilaru at 12:02 AM on May 16, 2010

-- Drinking.
-- Drugging, any illicit and/or un-prescribed drugs.
-- Smoking; tobacco of any sort -- Cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, skoal.
-- Casual sex.
-- Relationships I'm ambivalent about.
-- TV; aside from internet connection I've not had TV most of my adult life. It's braindead.
-- Whole Foods. I've not spent one dime in there since their CEO came out against health care, I never will spent another dime there. I don't miss it.
-- New books; either buy used @ Amazon or lilbrary
-- Shampoo / conditioner -- wash my hair WAY less, use same bar soap, done.
-- MS Office products; OpenOffice and Google Docs does it for me.
-- Land line.
-- Fast food.
-- As others above, books I do not want are gone from my shelf.

I've canceled the two magazines I'd subscrbed to but I miss them and may bend. And I'm having real trouble letting go of profanity; blue-collar all my life, want to leave that piece behind -- it's been difficult thus far. Trouble letting go of meat, and sugar, of the 'luxury' (dubious at best) of a greazy, unhealthy (but tasty) meal. I'm having real trouble letting go of wanting others approval and/or admiration -- I wasn't in with the in-crowd in high school and I'm not now, either; I don't fit in well with the other boys and girls. I miss my next door neighbor since she up and met her a guy and they had that child -- I leaned on her friendship, didn't even know how much until she was going going gone.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:03 AM on May 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Alcohol - just kind of drifted away. We have tonnes of the stuff in the house now, but cause we never really drink it just keeps piling up when people bring it over.

Shampoo. Had a bad reaction to some medication several years ago that resulted in a skin meltdown. I had heard your body gets used to life without shampoo, and what do you know, it totally does.

Cutting my fingernails. I have been biting them off, neatly, since I was eleven. I prefer the feeling.

Store-bought bread. I got into bread making, and I literally can't remember the last time I paid for a loaf. My sourdough is better, cheaper, and on-demand.
posted by smoke at 12:09 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

A bed. I sleep on two layered comforters on the floor, and roll them up in the morning. Feels great, and I haven't had back pain since. YMMV, but I love it. Now I see bedframes and mattresses as excessively expensive and bulky.
posted by Xere at 12:09 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yep, no shampoo for me anymore, either. I mostly just use conditioner, with the occasional apple cider vinegar rinse. My hair's much more manageable.

Almost never drink soda of any kind anymore (exception: ginger ale when I feel sick). It's bloaty sugar water and a total waste. I don't miss it a bit.
posted by scody at 12:15 AM on May 16, 2010

Televsion - forgot to buy a converter box for my non-digital set and I refuse to pay for cable.

Wheat. It's really worked for me - I think that's why gluten-free has become so trendy.

I'm canceling my internet for the summer. Most of my friends think that won't last more than a week, but who knows?
posted by betweenthebars at 1:37 AM on May 16, 2010

nthing TV.

Keeping DVDs and CDs with "backup of documents and apps I'll have use for one day" and physical audio CDs (copied to drives).

Similarly, a crashed drive lost me 500 GB of movies, some of which I'd been putting off watching for two years. It's all good.

Went vegan ten years ago, and don't miss the foods, although I do miss the ubiquitous availability of omni-food, so might not conform to your question. Candy went out the window at the same time, and I really don't miss that though.

Quit smoking a while ago. Don't miss it but still sometimes enjoy the smell of others smoking, does that count?

Biting my fingernails: Using clippers or nail file makes me feel more adult, which is an odd metric for it, but there you go.
posted by monocultured at 2:31 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Soda. Extra sugar. Extra salt. Pork products.

(Actually, I just had a Coke, but that's a once-a-month thing these days.) I drink tea, unsweetened, without milk every day. There's a wonderful variety of (true and false) teas, with a fascinating range of flavors. Much better than soda.

I don't add sugar to anything, I figure I get more than enough in processed foods. Same with salt, add now I really notice when foods have had salt added. And the pig is an unclean animal.
posted by orthogonality at 3:03 AM on May 16, 2010

I gave up buying food and drink at the cinema (I wouldn't give up the cinema though, it's a favourite pastime of mine). Now I take my own popcorn and a drink - that way I don't end up eating more than I meant to, it's cheaper and I can drink a cream soda or ginger ale if I want to.
posted by teraspawn at 3:26 AM on May 16, 2010

gave up tissues for handkerchiefs, and they are so much gentler on the nose.
posted by mirileh at 4:40 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Makeup. I always resented those articles that said makeup is a part of good grooming for women, but not for men. Haven't worn any for 20 years at least, and I look perfectly beautiful.
posted by JanetLand at 4:58 AM on May 16, 2010 [17 favorites]

Like many here, gave up TV, both broadcast and cable (but still occasionally watch a DVD or Hulu) and soda. But let me concentrate on things not customarily marked as virtuous.

Getting the newspaper. I believe in newspapers and paying for content, but the time cost of having the New York Times on the table every morning got too great, so I became part of the problem. Magazines are gone, too. I read books with the time I used to spend on the New Yorker.

Linux. Spent years using a Linux laptop, wrestling with updates and not having any software and generally pretending I knew what I was doing. Switched to a MacBook Pro three years ago and am proud to be using the computer for people who don't know how to use computers.
posted by escabeche at 5:40 AM on May 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

Anything involving a monitor that isn't productive. Video games, television, and most parts of the internet that aren't making me think or keeping me closer to faraway friends.
posted by talldean at 6:17 AM on May 16, 2010

Paper towels. Bought a couple packs of microfiber cloths (in the auto care section at walmart, super cheap) and they do nearly everything. I'm getting to the point where I'm ready to give up kleenex too, I just need to make/find hankies to use as replacements. An afternoon with my rag bag should do it.

I'm impressed by everyone who gave up soda, but that's not me. I use my sodastream and drink a lot of sweet tea now, though, and I've had the same 2 liter bottle of regular soda sitting on the shelf for a month.

Regular milk. I use dry milk for almost everything now and since we drink it plain very little, it's hardly noticeable. Even when the price isn't that much less, the convenience of having it on hand all the time makes it worth it.
posted by lemniskate at 6:24 AM on May 16, 2010

TV. I use a Roku box + internet for netflix/amazon movies.
Buying books. I get them from the library now.
posted by Ratio at 6:37 AM on May 16, 2010

A second car.
Black hole people who suck you dry.
posted by Elsie at 6:42 AM on May 16, 2010

Starbucks (and other overly priced, low quality coffee and lattes)
posted by Neekee at 6:54 AM on May 16, 2010

Buying new clothes. I mend old ones.
posted by paduasoy at 7:02 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't believe all of you people. You may have given all these things up, but do you really not miss them? There's a big difference. I, for example, gave up smoking five years ago, haven't had a cigarette since, but damn, I still miss it. I'll still see someone in a movie smoking or in an outside cafe and wish I could have one with a drink. I'm not worried about picking it up again, and in fact my desire reminds me that I shouldn't. But I do miss it.

I have soda once or twice a year, I think, so I can't say I gave it up or that I don't miss it. I really like the Mexican Jarritos grapefruit soda once in a while.

I'm not sure I can say TV, since I have a projection screen and watch all kinds of random stuff on it, but I don't have cable or even network TV now. I don't miss spacing out surfing TV, let's say, my TV and film watching is very deliberate now.

It's funny but when I read escabeche's comment about Linux, that reminded me that I used to do the exact same thing of wrestling with install packages and figuring out the model numbers of device drivers and tweaking the text configs endlessly and etc. I will be bold and say that I did know what I was doing. But all the same, while I enjoyed it at the time, I do (also) love my MacBook Pro and I don't ever think about Linux any more, for the most part, except when managing web sites. And I truly don't miss it.

My hair...that I miss, sometimes...

So, basically, there's very little I've given up that I don't miss that I can think of, just Linux I guess. Which perhaps means I'm destined to be eternally wistful, if not bitter!
posted by dubitable at 7:06 AM on May 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

- sugar
- soda
- liquid soap
- smoking
- "social" drinking (as in, having a drink just because everyone else is doing so)
- fast food

Not only do I miss none of these things, I am fucking delighted to be rid of them.
posted by elizardbits at 7:18 AM on May 16, 2010

Fabric softener
Christmas shopping at physical stores
Commercial radio (internet radio from now on)
Microwave popcorn
Perfume/body spray
Antibacterial hand soap
Horoscopes (hey, I was 17).
posted by castlebravo at 7:21 AM on May 16, 2010

Dating guys I don't like.

TV except on my computer.

Red meat (probably about 7 years now, except for a year abroad so as to not cause my host families added stress)

Linux, like escabeche. As far as my friends (in a highly ranked computer science department) I've seen tons of people give up Linux for Mac OSX over the years.

Using a wallet. (I'm a girl, my pocket space is usually very limited). I have little cloth card holder that I put my ID, credit card, student ID card, some cash, my punchcard for my favorite cafe, and business cards in. Much more manageable for tiny pockets.

Don't miss any of these things.
posted by mokudekiru at 7:33 AM on May 16, 2010

Yeah, I don't believe a lot of you either. I've given up:

Smoking (miss it).
Refined carbs (would probably kill without guilt for a bagel).
Book buying (library is great, but I miss underlining and making notes and dog earring pages and going back to read passages I love over and over again.)
Magazines (my soaking in the bathtub with candles and a glass of wine has never been the same).

The only thing I have given up and that I truly do not miss: those people in my life who took everything and gave nothing back in return. Good riddance.
posted by meerkatty at 8:15 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

1. Television and movies, though I may watch something on Hulu once every couple of months.
2. Grain products. My diet = fruit, vegetables, meat/fish, and dairy.
3. Diet soda. I switched to seltzer or iced tea.
4. A large chunk of my wardrobe. When I was younger, I went for quantity over quality. Now that's reversed.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 8:16 AM on May 16, 2010

Also: Movies that aren't chick flicks. Don't like 'em. I have noticed guys seem to get away with saying they won't watch a movie because it's a chick flick, so I do the same thing in reverse. It eliminates movies that people are trying to drag you to, and their whines of "you might like it!" Nope. Just "I don't watch dude movies." for 90% of them, and maybe "I don't watch serious movies" for the other 10%.

Being really picky about movies frees up a lot of two-hour chunks of your life.
posted by mokudekiru at 8:17 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

The way you stop missing things is by doing/having other things that give you equal satisfaction as substitutes.

You stop missing certain kinds of food for the most part when your diet adjusts. I sometimes miss the idea of really sugary foods, but when I eat them, they're gross. Ditto most fast foods, and I've heard the same from many vegetarians about meat. I don't miss buying books because I won't read most of them again, I don't have room for many more books, and I've hauled a lot of them across the country twice. Plus the idea of writing in a book horrifies me to the core. I don't miss my newspaper because I now have my RSS feeds. Etc.

Some things can't be satisfactorily substituted for. I don't think I'll ever have a satisfactory substitute for caffeine, so I'd miss it if I quit. But the idea that people don't miss stuff? Probably their priorities and habits have changed over time and on balance they really don't miss the stuff they say they don't.
posted by immlass at 8:36 AM on May 16, 2010

I gave up a lot of things mentioned over and over again above without setting out to give them up or really noticing that it was happening. So I don't think these actually count, but:

Cable (Hulu is great for the three shows I watch)
Red meat and pork (unless I'm a guest, then I'll eat whatever is put in front of me)
Soda (sometimes I'll buy a coke from a vending machine at school, but like I said I haven't "given it up," I just don't buy it as part of my groceries or want it or think about it)
Processed, boxed "just add liquids" foods (rice and pasta dishes, cakes, cookies, muffins, etc. I make things from scratch now; it's fun and I've learned a lot about cooking).

Like I said, these are just things I don't use; they're not an indication of an act of willpower or anything. I just stopped using them and didn't really notice. I've never really drank, never smoked, never used drugs recreationally, never enjoyed coffee.
posted by audacity at 9:36 AM on May 16, 2010

+1 on Paper Towels. I have a stack of cloth napkins that I use instead.
posted by 2oh1 at 10:05 AM on May 16, 2010


I used to be one of those dummies who moves into bigger and bigger spaces because, as an American, I thought that's what a successful adult is supposed to do. At one point, I was a single man living in a 2 bedroom, 2 bath with over 1100 square feet.

W! T! F!

These days, I live in a 585 sq/ft open loft, and the change has been remarkable. Less space means owning less stuff, which is awesome because... you know what? As it turns out, I don't really need that much stuff. Since I own less stuff, the stuff I do own is nicer. And since I lave less space to work with, decorating it is easier. My huge space used to be a generic suburbs place. Now, my smaller space is hip and stylish in a way that actually looks like me.

Less space in the heart of the city instead of more space in the suburbs.
posted by 2oh1 at 10:16 AM on May 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

When I lived in Chicago, I lived in a 500ft. apartment with no phone, no internet, no TV, and no curtains. You don't really need an $80/month phone plan, nor do most people I think really *need* the internet 24/7. For TV I'd subscribe to Netflix or something and rent TV episodes.
And you really only need about five different food items; variety is overrated (I had cereal, ramen, broccoli, fish, and bread).

Oh, and meat. I will never miss meat.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 10:29 AM on May 16, 2010

Reading the free newspapers given out on public transport - just full of things I did not need to know written by annoying people. I never bought women's magazines often but I find them quite horrifying when I see them now.

I have never owned a car, a dishwasher, or use a tumble dryer. I don;t need ot do all those things, even if I were allowed to drive! I also make my lunches instead of buying sandwiches and have started to try very hard not to waste any food and use everything up I have.
posted by mippy at 10:43 AM on May 16, 2010

Oh, and I gave up pop/soda at 14, after years of being given it because it was what children drank but not really liking it. I realised it was a drink that made me more thirsty, not less, and i couldn't work out what Coke was meant to taste of, so I stopped that day. I might try orange Fanta or ginger beer once a year but that's about it.
posted by mippy at 10:44 AM on May 16, 2010

Answering the phone. And carrying my cell with me all the time. I just answer the phone and/or carry my cell when it benefits me. This frustrates others sometimes but for me it's nice and liberating.

Having a large fridge in the kitchen. Similar to the answer above where she got rid of her fridge I like having a much smaller apartment size fridge in my house's kitchen. Saves energy, takes up less space and we waste food less.
posted by dog food sugar at 11:01 AM on May 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Great decision! I've given up a number of things I don't miss: cigarettes, marijuana, hard drugs, soda-pop, alcohol, high fructose corn syrup, meat, cream in my coffee, and cable TV.

I've swapped other things: anti-depressants for St. John's Wort and L-theanine; buying new for buying used; Fresh & Easy grocery store for Trader Joe's, Sunflower, Wild Oats and Whole Foods; the library and interlibrary loan for the bookstore; used books on amazon for the bookstore if I can't get them at the library; NPR and Alternet news for TV news; home-dyeing instead of the salon for my hair; prevention for cure (example: I am a sunblock Nazi. I will spend less on anti-aging products and skin cancer treatments down the line); and if I could, I'd swap my car for public transportation. I just don't live in a place where that is practical.

Good luck, your life is about to get better!
posted by xenophile at 11:04 AM on May 16, 2010

Any personal contact with abusive people.

Any contact with people who will not get out or work on getting out of their enmeshment with an abusive person in spite of their bitter complaining about it.
posted by nickyskye at 11:07 AM on May 16, 2010 [4 favorites]

things I've given up and don't miss (some are girl-centric):

* internet explorer
* most microsoft products (but my budget requires that I stick with MS OS. Thunderbird for mail, and I rotate every six months or so between firefox, opera, and chrome, depending on which isnewest or fastest at any given time given my tendency to have lots of tabs open (128 currently, in 6 chrome windows, plus one opera window so I can be logged in to multiple accounts at one site)
* music CDs
* clothing in american sizes of two digits or followed by an X
* hair (I'm a 47-year-old woman and just started shaving my head again--ah the liberty!)
* casual sex
* thong underwear
* regular periods (was on depo-provera for several years and had no periods at all, now I'm perimenopausal and have only occasional periods)
* watching the local news (and I only watch national news during major events)
* reading physical newspapers (no more smudged fingers or the creepy feeling that came with them)
* bras with three or more hooks
* incandescent light bulbs (OK sometimes I miss these, but only because some of my CFLs are a bad color or take a long time to turn on, and I won't replace them with better ones)
* bottled water (with an occasional exception, if I've forgotten my refillable)
posted by QuakerMel at 11:16 AM on May 16, 2010

These are the things I've eliminated from my life and don't miss:

Television - Another vote for the TV. I still watch lots of TV shows, though, via my computer. But it's so much cheaper and I get to choose what I watch and when.

Car - Being able to live car-free is one of the reasons I moved to Montreal 10 years ago. Now I walk, bike, or take public transportation. Sometimes it's aggravating if the weather is crap or it's taking me too long to get somewhere, but the good outweighs the bad. So overall, no, I don't miss the car.

Physical media - Books, CDs, DVDs. I download or get things from the library now. What I can't download/borrow, I will try to buy second-hand. When I'm done with it, I re-sell it or give it away. Books and discs are so heavy and take up so much space. Everytime I move, I'm thrilled not to have to deal with them.

Land line - Since getting a cell phone this has been totally unnecessary. I don't understand why some people have both landlines and cell phones.

Cell phone contract - Switching to prepaid has saved me heaps of money.

Of course, there are things I've given up and do miss. I miss cigarettes when I'm drinking or socialising, or trying to do creative work on the computer. I miss processed foods for their convenience. But that's not what your question was... :)
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 11:34 AM on May 16, 2010

Shaving my legs. Anyone who has a problem with it is welcome to drop me a line here in the 21st century.
posted by KathrynT at 11:47 AM on May 16, 2010 [6 favorites]

I'll pile on the no shampoo thing. It's been about a year now since I even washed with conditioner. There was a grease hump to get over that the conditioner washing helps with, but my hair is incredibly heathy now.

I also gave up deodorant several years ago. I stink less. Rarely at all now, actually. Only when I've been eating badly.

I'll go one up on that, though, and tell you that it's been six or eight months since I washed anything but my hands with soap. I still shower every day, but I basically scrub as if i were using soap, though a little longer. Not greasy, not dirty, not smelly (I've taken polls both when i gave up on deodorant and soap), and my skin is also much healthier.

In the same vein, all hair products except for some paraben and siliconoid-free leave-in conditioner that gives just a little hold, which only comes out if there's a tie involved.
posted by cmoj at 11:57 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

A backup for most physical things. Time, accumulation of common sense and downsizing because of moving finally drove it home: I didn't have to have most things in the house replaced the same day when they break.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 12:17 PM on May 16, 2010

- Driving. If you live in a city with good public transport, give it up completely. If you don't, give up driving to the store or to a friend's house. Not buying gas will save you infinitely more money than something like giving up soda. Plus, gas is only going to get exponentially more expensive and scarce, so might as well get used to it now.

- Eating out. Waste of time and money. Plus, if you cook at home you'll feel cool, learn something and share some really pleasant time with the significant other or the cat or whatever.

- Children. Just don't have them. They're insanely expensive, take immense time and energy, and are only contributing to the incredible overpopulation problem. You're doing your self, your bank account and the world a favor by not having them.

- Long hot showers. If you can't do the military shower thing, then just get yourself clean and be done with it. In that same vein, fancy body care products in general. I'm amazed at the people who spend $20+ on shampoo or lotion.

- Haircuts. Generally easier for men (actually, for dudes there's almost no excuse to get a haircut. Get a friend and a buzzer).

- Clothes. If you don't need that neat shirt, then it's just a stupid luxury, and not a great one.

- Any food without significant nutritional value.

- Vegetables. Grow a garden instead.

- Depending on where you live, the A/C. Open the windows, get some fans, enjoy the warmth.

- Paying for services you can easily do yourself if you weren't so damn lazy. Lawn care, the car wash, house cleaning, knife sharpening.

- Booze. If you don't want to give it up completely (understandable), don't do the aimless bar thing (as mentioned above). Don't buy premium liquor if you do go out. Don't buy expensive wine. The rich wine snobs will tell you it's worth it, but that's usually just to justify to themselves spending $50 on a bottle of wine. A $7 bottle will be just as good (as has been shown in countless studies).

- Stuff. Don't buy knick-knacks or useless tools. Like really do you need a $40 wine opening kit? You can do that with a two dollar cork screw. Don't buy stupid decorative items made in china. Don't buy more dishes and utensils than you need.

- Bottled water. I am honestly BAFFLED by people who buy bottled water. It is the most absurd thing I can think of.

- Premium anything when the basic will do.

- Garbage bags. It's the one item in our consumer culture that is purchased for the explicit purpose of being immediately thrown away. Re-use grocery bags, get a compost bin, whatever (not possible, I realize, in all communities given the garbage protocol).

- Things that are individually wrapped. Get some containers and buy staples in bulk (flour, sugar, whatever). If you consume a lot of something and want/need to continue doing so, try to get it wholesale somewhere.

- Unnecessary insurance and medical tests/procedures. Your time and money can not force guarantees on a life which is and will always be inherently unpredictable (this does not mean give up *all* insurance and medical tests, by any means).

- Never buy new when Goodwill or Craigslist or a liquidators will do. Really. Save the earth an save your money.

- Be careful about charity. I really believe in giving a little of your money away - it will make you feel good about yourself, help others, and you'll be less inclined to go to the bar and wallow in your drunken sorrows if you do something good for society (I speak from experience here). But do your research. Don't give your money to something like united way where most of it will be eaten up in admin costs.

- Very often spending more up front will save you *lots* in the long run. The efficient bulb is more expensive than the regular one - but the efficient one will last through many regular bulbs and will be cheaper in the end. Same thing with quantities. Use a lot of olive oil? The huge olive oil thing is more expensive up front but cheaper per ounce. This doesn't work with things like cookies, where if you buy the bulk cookies up front you'll just eat more cookies. But for many things, it's worth it. Same goes for paying for quality if you know it will outlast the cheap shit.

It's really about giving up small things. You'll regret giving up that trip to Eastern Europe in favor of drinking Grey Goose at home and keeping the cleaning lady around.

In the end, it's all about priorities. I really like owning books, so that's not something I'm willing to give up. But owning books brings me joy, so I can offset that with biking to work, or whatever. The point is: give up the useless things that really aren't making you happy. Don't give something up that you love just because you can - because you'll then probably end up wasting your time and money on something you like less (alcohol and drugs are probably exceptions to this rule). Materialism is the worst thing that's ever happened to our society. It exploits people, destroys the planet, corrupts, makes greedy and doesn't make anybody one stitch happier.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:18 PM on May 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

-Shaving my legs. I cannot emphasize how much I do not miss shaving my legs.
-I don't use any make up, or any hair products beyond shampoo and conditioner. People frequently ask me how I get my hair to look so healthy. When I started getting serious about painting with watercolors and needed a hair dryer to reduce drying time, I had to go out and buy one.
-Store-bought fresh tomatoes in winter. They are like red balls of styrofoam. Canned ones are cheaper and surprisingly more flavorful.
posted by Adridne at 12:44 PM on May 16, 2010

- Bottled water. Waste of money and plastic.
- Purchased books and the SPACE they require. If I could get Mr. 26.2 to give up his 10,000 comic books we'd reclaim a good part of a room.
- Costco. We still have a Costco card for gas purchases, but I don't buy food there. We can't eat is fast enough and it's big space hog.
posted by 26.2 at 1:06 PM on May 16, 2010

Fast Food: It's not so much that I hate the taste. I think fast food done well can be quite good. But I've tried to eat healthy while including fast food and it's simply not worth the effort. Add to that I'm very concerned about the cleanliness of my food (and I don't trust the pimply 16 year old is washing his hands, nothing against pimply 16 year olds... I once was one) and this isn't a difficult choice.

Land Line: Sometimes I forget these exist.

When I lived in Chicago, I lived in a 500ft. apartment with no phone, no internet, no TV, and no curtains. You don't really need an $80/month phone plan, nor do most people I think really *need* the internet 24/7. For TV I'd subscribe to Netflix or something and rent TV episodes.
And you really only need about five different food items; variety is overrated (I had cereal, ramen, broccoli, fish, and bread).
posted by lhude sing cuccu

I get why people don't 'miss' these things. Except for strong habits that are always there, you tend to forget why you, for example, ate fast food in the first place. But, no offense, this is the attitude (cuccu's) I don't get.

This really has nothing to do with what people need, but what people want enough to keep it, what makes them sacrifice money, space, time to include X in their lives. Need? If I had what I only needed I'd live in a box and own one pair of clothes.

It's an easy and silly game to play. Netflix? You don't need netflix. 5 different food items? You don't need 5. One seems plenty. I survived a whole semester on Chef Boyardee from a can. But I'm not going to tell you that's all you need.

We each make these decisions, some make more drastic decisions than others, but putting your choices out there as a gauge of what others need seems to lack an amazing amount of self-awareness.
posted by gtr at 1:44 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

- Bottled water. I am honestly BAFFLED by people who buy bottled water. It is the most absurd thing I can think of.

I don't drink soda, and sometimes I'm out longer than I imagined and don't have a bottle already with me, so I buy bottled water. What I find weird are people who buy it at work when most places have a water-cooler or filtered tap.
posted by mippy at 1:48 PM on May 16, 2010

We each make these decisions, some make more drastic decisions than others, but putting your choices out there as a gauge of what others need seems to lack an amazing amount of self-awareness.

I agree with this. I mean, pets and children classed in the same category as a replacement screwdriver? Sure, both are expensive, but for those who choose them, the benefits outweight the cost.

Sadly, if I didn't have a landline my mother would never phone me - she still thinks mobile calls cost £3 per minute and doesn't want to spend that money.
posted by mippy at 1:50 PM on May 16, 2010

4chan and its variants.
posted by aesacus at 2:00 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Accumulating books. Yes I love books. I would rather be reading than about 90% of all other leaisuretime activities out there. But most books get bought, read once, and shelved...for alllll tiiiime. Instead, I arrange to read at the book store. It's a nice break from my daily routine when I can swing it, and it costs me nothing. In the meantime, I've whittled my book collection down to only 4 floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Which I bitch about every time I move.
posted by Ys at 2:18 PM on May 16, 2010

You may have given all these things up, but do you really not miss them?

When I became a vegetarian I didn't miss beef, chicken, seafood or pork except bacon. Had cravings for that and, turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce on Boxing Day, the rest of the year the idea of a turkey sandwich never crossed my mind. Meat has always tended to gross me out long before I ever became a vegetarian.

The way you stop missing things is by doing/having other things that give you equal satisfaction as substitutes.

Pretty much my take on it too. I don't listen to music on my stereo, but do on my computer. I don't miss using my film cameras or working in the darkroom making prints, but I do still make images in a darkroom. I don't miss chewing gum because I suck on mints now. &c.
posted by squeak at 2:56 PM on May 16, 2010

Paper. If you have a tripod and a digital camera, you can digitize any piece of paper you own. (Backed up) computer space is now cheap and far more reliable than saving a paper copy. Any piece of paper that you'd be sorry to lose in a fire should go in a fire-proof safe or box. Anything that can't fit once the box is full: digitize it, throw it out or take something out of the box.

Alternatives to keeping books: Web-services like LibraryThing or GoodReads, combined with book trading websites like PaperBackSwap. Again, in a fire, you will lose all your books. Online or offline databases will keep a log of everything you read, when you read it and any notes or quotes you want to keep. Backup often.

If you're not ready to give up soda, give up buying canned / bottled soda, as I'm trying to do. Replace it with a SodaStream, which will let you make mineral water and a bunch of different flavored sodas without hauling stuff back from the store, at a (slightly) cheaper rate.

gtr gets at an important point: Minimalism only makes sense if you're using it as a means to better enjoy the things you have, both material or immaterial. There's nothing viscous about enjoying a soda or a hunk of meat even every day, but think about ways you can replace quantity with quality. Focus on reducing the amount of time you spend maintaining possessions like books and DVDs and increasing the time you spend enjoying art in all its forms, whether borrowed, visited or free on the Internet.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 3:04 PM on May 16, 2010

My hometown and most of my family of origin.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:28 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

In the US, the major cell phone networks.
No more $90 bills for a $39 monthly plan.

I use Trac Fone (which is on the T-Mobile network) in the US and I use SIM cards with an unlocked phone when I'm in Europe.

There is absolutely nothing a smart phone can bring to me that merits any constant monitoring and attention.
posted by L'OM at 3:33 PM on May 16, 2010


Trimester/quarterly conventions for an organization I'm in.
posted by SisterHavana at 3:39 PM on May 16, 2010

Nth cable -- everything I really want to watch I can either get for free on Hulu or am happy to pay $2/episode for on iTunes or Amazon. So I'm getting all the shows I want for a lot less money per money, plus I eliminated my old habit of wasting hours on unsatisfying mindless channel surfing.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:28 PM on May 16, 2010

Thong underwear -- never found them comfortable and they were always more for the looker's benefit than my own anyway

Shaving cream -- soap does the trick

Shopping at the mall -- had a 2-year period in my life when I was just too busy/tired/stressed to shop, and after that period ended I realized I didn't really miss it despite that it used to be one of my go-to recreational activities. Online shopping has turned out to be a fine substitute; reading people's reviews and comments on sizing helps a lot in choosing sizes. When I need something at the mall now, I just pop in and out, browsing around just gives me a headache now.

Dryer sheets -- was conditioned to use them growing up; I don't notice much difference now without them, static cling is not that bad, could it be that those fancy front-loading dryers somehow keep the static level down?

Meat -- slowly went from pescatarian to vegetarian, now heading in the direction of veganism. Being vegetarian is OK, but I do admit that veganism is hard. The social aspect is the hardest.
posted by choochoo at 5:34 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lawn chemicals (pesticides, weedkillers, fertilizer). Our lawn is no longer a homogeneous carpet of grasses; do not miss it. It has been replaced by a crazy mix of whatever green stuff wants to grow, including plenty of clover which the honeybees love.

Watering the lawn. It goes brown and dormant when it's dry, and comes back when it rains. At least in our part of the country it does.

the Weed Eater. Replaced with a nice pair of trimming shears. Takes longer, but it's more peaceful. Do not miss it.

Air conditioning in the house. Miss it a little, during the one hottest week of the summer, when we compensate by spending time in the basement instead.

Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper, Suddenly Salad, Ramen Noodles, instant cocoa mix. Replace by older-fashioned ingredients. Next up: StoveTop Stuffing and Jello Pudding.

Working in an office. Replaced by working for myself, from home. Will never ever go back.

High heels.

Facebook. Ok, I miss it a little. But I think in a few weeks it will be like I feel about ...

... TV. Gave it up YEARS ago; have never had cable. Watched a couple hours last time I was in a hotel and can not believe what I am not missing. (We do watch a lot of movies via streaming netflix and library DVDs.)
posted by evilmomlady at 8:39 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

- toaster (stupid things never last long anyway)
- high heels (life is too short to tolerate aching feet)
- shaving my legs (no more dried out skin and scrapes/cuts)
- colouring my hair (expensive even at home and a hassle to keep up)
posted by deborah at 10:18 PM on May 16, 2010

Swapping the lift for the stairs. My pins are much the better for it.
posted by freya_lamb at 3:13 AM on May 17, 2010

I gave up many of the commonly mentioned above. The two that I haven't seen mentioned as yet, however, that made the biggest difference for me were:

1) Living in the US / first world

2) The idea that I need a significant other to have a complete life
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:02 AM on May 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Working a second job. Turns out having a life is sometimes more important than money.

Staying out late. I go to bed when my son goes to bed (around 830 pm) and I feel so much better.
posted by anastasiav at 9:01 AM on May 17, 2010

I am apparently the only person in the history of metafilter to give up cable and really miss it.

I now have cable and still really miss having tivo.

I largely gave up getting starbucks in the morning and now make it at home. I rarely miss it and only have it when I'm feeling lazy or have run out of milk at home.
posted by whoaali at 10:13 AM on May 17, 2010

A gym membership.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 10:31 AM on May 17, 2010

I wanted to jump on the cable band wagon (over 6 years w/o now) but there has been one downside. Sporting events, used to be not too big a problem as I could always go to a bar or friends place but moving out to the 'burbs and having kids has limited those options.
Oh, also never regretted giving up the land line.
posted by evilelf at 11:31 AM on May 17, 2010


Gave it up when I developed back problems. Never resumed when I recovered from them. Don't miss it and I played at least once a month for 25+ years. Feels like the girlfriend who dumped you years ago. At the time, it hurt to the core. Now, I shudder at the thought of her being in my life again.
posted by teg4rvn at 1:02 PM on May 17, 2010

Oh god periods! Boy do I ever not miss periods. The progesterone-only pill has made my skin and hair a bit oilier and I think I've gone down a whole cup size but it. is. worth. it. No more money spent on tampons, no more crazy-ass mood swings, no more cramps, sex without having to put a towel down first... I could go on.

I gave up on shaving pretty much every body part and except maybe my armpits in the summer I don't miss it one bit. That said, I associate with the kind of ne'er-do-wells that find that kind of thing appealing so YMMV.
posted by teraspawn at 2:52 PM on May 17, 2010

Video games. I used to play video games a lot when I was younger, but somewhere in high school I just stopped. They take up an enormous amount of time, money, and energy (if you're the type that plays a lot) for something that really just doesn't matter. Nothing against video games in moderation, but once I stopped I was amazed to see other people invest all their time living in a virtual world, and I just kind of came to see it as wasted time. Instead of going on imaginary quests in a virtual world, why not go on real-life quests to improve your own life?

This isn't to say that I never play any video games, ever. I'll occasionally pick up a controller if I'm over at a friend's house and we don't have much else to do. But I'll probably never buy or own another video game system of my own.
posted by LegateSaxon at 6:42 PM on May 17, 2010

I think, after this: reading this sort of thread.
posted by MadamM at 7:25 PM on May 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Wearing a wrist watch every day: When I did, I checked the time frequently. But for years now, it's one less thing I need when I go out the door, and what with phones and clocks already everywhere, even printed on receipts, it's easy to find out what the time is if you need to.
posted by Seboshin at 1:09 PM on May 18, 2010

"Only the rich can afford to buy cheap shoes." Calculating my "cost-per-use" of clothes has made me a much, much pickier shopper: no more 'this will do,' or 'it was only $5!' Because that all adds up to clutter and crap.

-Eating out. It's nice for special occasions, but I can't justify the cost.
posted by blazingunicorn at 4:23 PM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Serious gaming.

Gave it up three years ago and have never looked back. Videogames are a time-sink, they provide a false sense of accomplishment and are really nothing more than a shiny, intermittent variable reward provider. And you're the pigeon, clicking on the little button, pellets dispensed at completely random intervals.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:12 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

- Online fanboy forums
- Starbucks
posted by jabberjaw at 2:12 PM on May 20, 2010

80 pounds of fat.

Less money spent on restaurant food.
Less money spent on clothing and tailoring (it's criminal how much they overcharge heavier people for nice clothing).
Less money spent on medical issues such a knee and foot problems and endocrine issues. Less anxiety about my weight and appearance.

For me, that dropping that 80 pounds was the best drop ever.
posted by 26.2 at 8:27 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by fluxion at 12:23 AM on May 23, 2010 [5 favorites]

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