Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Crazy Ways I Save Money

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.


Raquelita said...

You see, I loathe Plato's Closet because everyone I've ever been in seems to cater to the 16-21 year crowd. Flimsy tops and really short skirts aren't really for me. Anywhoo, I save money by sharing a car with my spouse, using the same laptop I've had for 4 years (hang in there, baby!), and looking for cheaper gym alternatives like the Y or my treadmill and a set of dumbbells.

Raquelita said...

every one. Argh! Whenever I go from reading Spanish to English I lose the ability to spell and use propositions. Embarrassing.

Rosiecat said...

Hee hee! Your spelling mistake is forgiven ;-)

Your point about Plato's Closet is a fair one. This year I was on a hunt for plaid shirts to add more patterns and color to my wardrobe, and I ended up finding three of them secondhand (one thrifted, two from Plato's Closet). The great irony? All of them originally came from Forever 21, a store I dislike because I expect the clothing to be really shoddy and low-quality. But I love my shirts, they seem reasonably well-made, and each was only five dollars. So I guess I'm willing to buy Forever 21 stuff if it finds me in a secondhand shop :-)

Also, flimsy tops and short skirts aren't really for me either. I basically wear the same stuff to work and to go out, and I've been gravitating toward a more mature look--longer skirts, scarves, that sort of thing. I love my legs, but I also dig a kneelength skirt!

You always look lovely in your style posts.

Holly said...

Loved both of these!

I'm the same way with international travel. Not that I don't long to do it at some point, but it is crazy expensive and I live in a great state with a lot to see, so why not start cheap? : )

Fun to read both posts.

Rosiecat said...

Hi, Holly! I'll admit, it's a funny thing to me that I have not traveled internationally. I consider myself a reasonably adventurous person, and everyone raves about how awesome Europe is. But the truth is that I am a homebody and a family person before I'm a jet-setting international traveler, and I'm okay with that. Though I have now added Iceland to my list of places I want to visit... ;-)

And what's funny to me is that you live in a state that everyone wants to visit on their vacations! California for the win.