Things That I Refuse to Spend Money On
I recently saw a tweet about how people associate with a middle-class lifestyle spend their money. I also saw a tweet about how the “ten ways to save money” posts that circulate the internet are unhelpful. Some of those lists are the obvious, brew-your-own-coffee type advice; others are a bit more helpful.
I admit that the thought of buying a little thing that you want when you want it is appealing. But the other day, I was talking to someone who has a good income and a nice cushion of savings. This person is an upper-middle-class person (making over $100k for a family of three). As we were walking into Home Depot because he had a home improvement project, he turned to me and said: “You know, the thing about money is that the more you have of it, the less you want to part with it.”
He is not an economist. Nor am I, but I also remember thinking this same thing to myself in the past. For example, if I had a lot of credit card debt, I felt defeated and trapped. It was my fate to be a slave to debt. I would tell myself, “it will work itself out later when…” The American way. In times when I have been debt-free or had little debt, I thought more about my purchases and focused more on creating more savings or wealth. As I have gotten older, I also value my health and time more than I did when I was younger. It turns out, they are related – money, health, and time.
If you find yourself spending money on these things, you might want to consider cutting them from your budget (or cutting back). If you have other ideas, leave a comment. If you already do all of this, you are my soulmate. Anyway, here is my list of
things that I refuse to spend money on:
Smoking, alcoholic beverages, recreational drugs, coffee*, soda*, candy* – By and large, you don’t need these. They are bad for you and can lead to long-term health and social problems. In most cases, they are probably masking an underlying issue that you are self-medicating. For example, if you are drinking coffee to stay awake, you probably need to have a hard conversation with yourself about the amount of sleep you are getting and consider cutting back or, better yet, eliminating it. I have been guilty of this, and it took me a while to admit that even the smaller vices can create problems. Not enough sleep and too much coffee make for less-than-optimal work performance. If you want to save money, don’t just brew coffee at home, eliminate it from your diet.
This can be such a huge expense and time sink. I have found that dying my hair at home is about a tenth of the price of a professional job, and I can get better coverage. I also cut my hair (thanks to YouTube). I have gotten pretty good at this and can trim and dye my hair in a matter of minutes rather than spending hours at the salon making awkward conversation and leaving with gray temples. Sure, it took some experimentation to find the right brand and shade, but in the end, it looks just as good.
OK. I do buy bottled water. From Costco. And I reuse the bottles over and over and over. My public water is safe (in some areas you cannot do this). The reason I buy bottled water is that my son and I have a habit of losing water bottles. Rather than replace fancier bottles, I buy a pack of bottled water from Costco once every six months or so, and we reuse the bottles until they disappear. When I am out, I will not buy bottled water. For example, at the airport, I will go to a fast food restaurant and ask for a cup of ice water. They might charge a small amount for the cup (usually it is free), but either way it is cheaper than bottled water. Only on rare occasions do I ask for something other than water at a sit-down restaurant.
I use the library. A lot. I love books, but I rarely set foot in a bookstore. As an academic, I have acquired a lot of professional books over the years, but these purchases have stopped over the last few years. I never buy recreational books. It saves money and space. Using the library exclusively allows me to read many more books than I could if I were buying them.
A Cellular Phone Contract.
I have no desire to have the latest iPhone or Galaxy. I have an older, used phone that someone gave me when they upgraded their phone that is on an expensive contract. I have had it for about two years, and it is still going strong. I have a $40.00 month-to-month plan that has unlimited text and data from TMobile.
As long as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are a thing, I will NEVER waste my money on cable again. I don’t miss it a bit. If you don’t have Amazon Prime and want to learn more about how it works or try it, here is a link**: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
Name Brand Over-the-Counter Drugs.
I don’t think that this needs much explanation. I’ve never really noticed much of a difference between name brand and generic in this category.
I haven’t had one in about 20 years. I don’t miss it. I almost didn’t include it because I forgot it was even a thing. Kind of like cable. Is that still around?
*For transparency’s sake, I buy these items occasionally – but usually no more than once or twice a month (if that).
**For more transparency’s sake, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.