This post is Part II of a pair of posts about startling expenses and the flipside of startling expenses. Today I’ll share with you a few of the crazy ways I save money. Now, I should say upfront that financial priorities are very personal and idiosyncratic—what works for you may not work for me, and vice versa. I urge you not to see my list as judging people who choose not to save money as I do. The best thing about your budget is that it should reflect your values and priorities, not mine. Consider this post food for thought.
(You can find Part I: My Startling Expenses right here. Happy reading!)
My Crazy Ways to Save Money:
* Don’t have a car. There is a history and set of reasons behind this decision that I won’t detail right now, but suffice to say, not having a car saves me a ton of money. And right now, without any job stability, I’m happy to squirrel away as much money as possible.
* Ignore the fancy electronics. I come by this habit naturally. I’ve never been big into fancy gadgets or technology, so I don’t have an i-Anything, a fancy cell phone, or a DSLR camera. The technology thing is a bit ironic since I work in a technical field, but I’m a story-driven scientist. I’m not into technology for the sake of technology, but I do appreciate it when technology makes it possible for me to meet my science goals.
* Make your coffee at home. Stay away from Starbucks. I actually buy my coffee beans from Starbucks frequently, but I rarely buy a cup of coffee from them. I tend to reserve coffee for the occasions when I’m out with friends. It’s a social thing for me, just like eating out is mostly reserved for spending time with friends.
* Be a drinking lightweight. I also come by this habit naturally. While I love wine and a good mixed drink (mojitos are my current favorite), I have a low tolerance for alcohol. I am happiest when I stop after one drink.
* Don’t indulge in exotic travel, even though everyone says you must and you should. This idea will almost certainly strike some readers as insane. And it’s not entirely true for me, either: I dream of visiting Italy some day, or the south of France, or even the Pacific Northwest of my own country. I do want to travel. But right now, it’s not a priority for me because I prefer to spend my vacation time with my family. I have a young niece and nephew, and it’s really important to me to build relationships with them now. Kids grow up so fast! The kids are a higher priority for me than Italy, so my vacations are far less expensive than they could be because I’m not jetting off to Europe.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every sweet has its sour; every evil its good.” We make choices about how to spend our days, and I know that I’ll never regret the days I spent with the youngest members of my family.
* Two words: Plato’s Closet. Shirts for $5? A never-worn sundress for $6? Yes, please! I’m a firm believer in the idea that you should get your money’s worth out of your closet. I like beautiful clothes, but I also love a great deal. Plato’s Closet offers both. Earlier this year, I found two plaid shirts and a sundress for a grand total of less than $20, and all three pieces have injected some much-needed color and interest into my wardrobe. I’m actually not opposed to paying full price for an expensive piece of clothing, but that’s a very rare splurge for me. I tend to gravitate toward used clothing stores, thrift stores, or the Target/Kohl’s end of the spectrum. But you better believe that I try to eke every last penny out of my closet!
What are your crazy (or not-so-crazy) ways to save money? Do you tend to be an over-spender or an under-spender? I tend to be a bit of an over-spender on food (groceries and eating out), but I’m not much of an impulse buyer in other areas, so that makes my wallet happy.