My grandfather never bought anything, if he could help it. He would go up and down the alleys before garbage pickup, and salvage gorgeous wooden chairs, televisions, paintings, empty bins, scrap wood... whatever discarded treasure he could find. He would repurpose or restore or reuse them. If he couldn't find something he needed in the alleys, he would make it out of two by fours or fiberglass or cement. He even built a huge sailboat in his horse barn and he and my uncle sailed it down the Mississippi into Tampa Bay.
Granted, building a sailboat from scratch is not for the amateur, but the same creativity can show up on the large scale or the small.
My grandmother used to sew and crochet our dolls clothes, or create liniments and ointments that the neighbors all wanted.
My mother used to make fresh breads and pizzas and biscuits... mostly because they couldn't afford store bought, but it doesn't matter. She used her creativity to solve problems when she didn't have money to pay for things.
Friends who saw paintings in museums or magazines or books and would never be able to start collecting professional art were inspired to pick up their own paintbrushes and create their own pieces.
When someone needed a wedding cake, and couldn't afford a professional one, my friend volunteered her novice baker services and baked a delicious treat... even though she did vow never to make a wedding cake again.
It has always impressed me when people managed to create things of beauty or use out of nothing but their own two hands, some basic materials, and their ingenuity. Sometimes I think that having money can be a detriment to our creativity. If we can go out and buy new all the things we want, how much motivation would we have to sit down and figure out some way to create something meaningful out of what we have right there in our lives at our disposal.
When I was a child and we had no money at all, I wanted to read a new book but didn't have a library card. So I decided I would write my own. I started my first novel out of that, at 15, and sure, it turned out to be a lot harder than I ever imagined, but it also opened up a whole new passion for me that I am still pursuing, twenty some years later. If I'd had five dollars to go to the bookstore I wonder if I would have decided I wanted to be a novelist, and if I would have had the nerve to go for it.
Have you used your creativity to get what it was you wanted that you couldn't afford? How did it turn out?