As you can see from previous posts of my apartment, I hardly live a spartan life- in fact I think most people in my life would be shocked to find out that I consider myself frugal and am able to save over 50% of my income. For as much as I have, there are a few things that I forgo in the name of saving money, and here they are:
– I am 26 years old and I have never owned a car. I strategize where to live based on areas with great public transportation. Our goal as a couple is to never own more than one car. Back in the 1950s, most families owned only one car, now the standard has become one car per-person. Cars are one of the worst monetary investments you can make, they depreciate quickly and constantly, and gas is expensive- not to mention repairs. Even though our rent is expensive living in a city, we still come out ahead by not having a car and being able to take advantage of the above average salaries that a city can offer.
– I have never had a washer & dryer– At some point I will probably own a place with full laundry capabilities, but for now I am saving money on both the cost of appliances and utility bills by using my local laundromat.
– I do not own a microwave. While it doesn’t cost a lot to own and operate a microwave, when I found myself without one I made the decision not to buy a new one. Instead I invested in a set of Fiestaware plates which can go from oven to freezer safely- now we’ll never need a microwave! I thought adjusting would be tough, but now I can’t believe I ever owned one.
– I do not have a dishwasher. By learning to efficiently wash dishes by hand you spend less on water AND electricity!
-I line dry most/many clothes. This saves on drying costs, and it’s better for your clothes. We don’t have a yard so we just set up a clothesline in our bedroom that can be easily stored when not in use!
– I do not have cable, or a land line phone. Cable is one of those ridiculously expensive things that almost everyone pays for- between free shows on hulu (not hulu plus) and my basic Netflix subscription ($7.99/month), I have all the entertainment I could ever need.
– I do not have a smart phone. My phone was free, and because I’ve kept the same phone plan for years I still pay the starting cost (about $20 a month). Smart phones are considered “necessary”- I have no problem operating in modern society (as a 20 something nonetheless) without one.
– I do not buy pre-made foods. Microwave meals, pre-made sauces, and all those other convenience grocery items are a total ripoff. With a little bit of kitchen savvy, I have cut our grocery bill to between $100-$200 a month (and this is for two people in New York City, groceries are much more expensive here than in other places in the country).
– I do not buy disposable clothing and shoes- but I also don’t buy designer. Stores like H&M and Target seem like a great deal if you judge fashion’s value only based on a price tag. And brands like Prada and Gucci may seem like a good deal if all you value is a name. I shop based on amortized cost- or the cost per wear. For shoes, I stick to brands that are time tested: Dansko, Frye, and Carolina are some of my favorites. I own a winter coat from Columbia (which will last 10-15 years, it cost $98 on sale from Sierra Trading Post). While these items cost more up front than their discount counterparts- they last for years and years, and can easily be re-soled or repaired. Before I purchase something, I have in mind the number of years that I want the item to last.
– I keep beauty and personal care costs to a minimum. I cut my own hair and I don’t dye it, I haven’t visited a salon in years. If you’re looking to venture into becoming your own stylist I would recommend youtube for tutorials. I make many of my beauty products myself.
– I do not buy jewelry or expensive purses/shoes. Beauty magazines love to use the phrase “investment piece”, unless you’re talking about stocks, bonds, or real estate- it’s not an “investment”.
– I rarely go out to eat. Going out to eat is expensive, I reserve it for special occasions (think once or twice a month).
– I had roommates for years. Most people stop having roommates the moment they can afford it, I lived with lots and lots of roommates until this last year (when my fella and I got our own place).
I have a million other tips on how and where to save money, but these are all a great start. What are your tried and true money saving techniques?