Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without!

Corey —  October 7, 2009

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!
       “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!” This saying from the Great Depression shows the way to true frugality. If you want to get the most out of your money, follow the steps outlined in this little rhyme.

Use It Up

       Don’t let anything go to waste. Before you throw something out ask yourself if there’s anything else you could use it for. Many frugality tips revolve around repurposing materials for new uses. Bread bags can be cut in half to use as sandwich bags. Old towels can be cut into washcloths. With a little thought and creativity, you can reuse the things you’ve bought and save yourself from buying again.

       I’d also apply to this to food. Don’t let your leftovers go to waste. Plan your meals well so you use up leftovers before fixing another meal. Or create a new meal from your leftovers. Many leftover items can be combined to make a soup, stew, or casserole with just a few additions.

       On your next trip to the trash can, ask yourself, “What else could I do with this?”

Wear It Out

       Make sure you get the full use out of anything you have. This is a lot like the first step above, but we should also include maintenance in this category. Take good care of the things you own so you can get the full use out of it. This especially applies to appliances and automobiles. Find out how to properly take care of these items. Then make sure you do the things necessary to keep your stuff in good shape. Don’t skimp on maintenance, but try to see if you can save money by doing some things yourself.

       This also means you shouldn’t buy cheap just for the sake of getting a bargain. Quality items will last much longer making them worth the extra cost. You’ll also save time by not having to shop for a replacement as often. Getting the most value for your dollar doesn’t necessarily mean paying the lowest price.

Make It Do

       Before throwing something out, see if you can fix it. Many things that wear out or break can often be repaired for a fraction of what it costs to buy new. Do a little research or ask someone you know who is knowledgeable and find out if it can be fixed. If you can, fix it yourself. You’ll learn valuable skills and likely save money over paying someone else to do it. If not, find a trustworthy person to do the repairs for you.

       Other strategies you can use to “make it do” include buying it cheaper, making it last longer, and using less of it. Combine those three strategies to get the most savings possible. We can often use less of something and still be just as happy. Take toothpaste for example. Do you put enough on to cover all the bristles? Try using half as much. If your teeth and mouth still feel clean and refreshed, then you don’t need to use any more than that. If not, bump it up a little. Little steps like this require no extra time on your part, but they can reap you significant savings when applied over many areas of life. And that’s all with no decline in quality of life.

Do Without!

       Contentment is the key to the final aspect of this wise saying. Knowing how to separate your needs and wants gives you powerful control over your finances. Learning what is “good enough” for you will help you delay purchases and get the maximum use out of the stuff you already have. Ignoring the cultural expectations to keep up with the latest fads will save you more money than you can imagine.

       This instruction has a hidden benefit as well. When you learn contentment, you break free of materialism and consumerism. You can choose to stop serving Money and start serving God. You can increase your giving because you’ve learned to spend less on yourself. The truth is – contentment is wealth. It’s the most powerful way you can combat the blatant attempts by the media and corporations to control your mind and your wallet. Finding your satisfaction in Christ will help you value things appropriately in this life so you can make the right decisions for the next one.

How Do You Follow This Slogan?

       How do you “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” in your own life? Share your examples in the comments!



Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.

6 responses to Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without!

  1. There are so many resources in our own homes that we can use we just need to be a little more creative and resourceful. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Craig. Hope to see you around more!

  3. Thank you for your article. In these times we need to be reminded of ways to save. As modern Americans we are quite spoiled. Reinstituting the practices our grandparents survived the great depression should help us all.

  4. DonnaJeanDavis March 30, 2012 at 2:08 AM

    Great ideas! I’d like to link this blog post to one I’m doing on Frugal Friday. 

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