It is my goal to both cut down on my family's consumerism as well as to spend little to no money (because we have little to no money).
I start by making a mental list of the items I am going to need. Once this list is made, I try to find ways to use things that I already have to get the job done. Could I use that basket sitting in the kid's closet to store these canning jars in? Maybe I could use that wooden crate sitting outside for the job?
No? Then I move on to trying to think of ways to make what I need. Could I use those scraps of wood and some nails to build myself a small crate? Could I (and I am stretching here, even for me) use those long plants that my mom calls "weeds" to weave myself a basket?
No? Then the next step is try try to find what I need for free. Could I maybe find a crate in a dumpster? Could I post on http://www.blogger.com/www.freecycle.org and ask for it?
I usually do the research and the choose the best item in the price range that I can afford. Often times this means compromising on a few of the "perk" features but I can usually find a good quality item that will do the job I need for it to do, even if it doesn't have all of the "bells and whistles".
It is a process and it is one that teaches patience and sometimes humility.