Lately, I have seen a ton of articles that focus on things you shouldn’t waste money on in your debt free journey. According to these, you should just go cold turkey on everything that is a “waste” of money. There are a ton of things that could be considered a waste of money to one person, but not another. I am all about ways that I can save money. This month, I am in the middle of my #SavvySagittariusNoSpend Challenge. When I am not spending money on anything, it makes it easier to see what I really do waste money on.
This isn’t how I am doing my debt free journey at all. There are still quite a few things that I purchase that are on most of these lists. I am always looking for ways to save money, but there are a few things that I am just not willing to stop “wasting” money on. Because I won’t give them up, I have found a few ways to save some money on these things.
Your debt free journey doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. Continue to enjoy the life you have, but do so responsibly.
Here are the 14 things that are a waste of money, but I still purchase anyway.
1) Gym Membership
Let’s just say, I would probably die without my gym membership. That might be dramatic, but I average 4-5 times a week depending on the season of the year. My gym membership keeps me sane and healthy. Check out my full list of reasons for keeping my gym membership in this blog post.
Yes, I could exercise outside, but with Nebraska weather you really just never can count on being outside at any point of the year. My seasonal allergies get pretty bad, so spring and fall when the weather is nice really doesn’t work for me to be outside either. I could also exercise in my home, but the people below me are probably pretty thankful that I don’t do jumping jacks and burpees at 5:45 in the morning. I do still use my living room floor for simple ab workouts. So lucky for my downstairs neighbors, I won’t be doing crossfit in my home any time soon. When I do own a home, this might be a different story.
Money Saving Tip: Look for cheaper gym memberships before committing to a gym. There are some in my area that are only $10-20 a month. Or wait to sign up in January when they do all of their “New Year, New Me” sales or ask if they are currently running any good sales. If you attempt to walk out to wait for a sale, there is a good chance the gym employee can still get you a discount. Be patient and don’t jump on the first gym you check out.
2) Car Washes
Lately, this is a big thing that I have seen people tell other people to stop paying for because you can do it yourself. I don’t wash my Jeep more than once a month. Like I said in the point above, I can never count on Nebraska weather to be good enough for me to do it myself. I am not overly obsessive about it being sparkling or perfectly waxed.
The $6 car wash is worth me not having to take an hour or so out of my time to wash my Jeep. I also live in an apartment building, so I don’t have access to a hose to wash it myself unless I go home to my parents (45 minutes away). Usually I get a car wash after I fill up with gas (and get the discounted car wash).
Money Saving Tip: My gas station that I use for car washes offers $1-2 off car washes when you fill up. Make it a habit of doing both at the same time OR be willing to get out and spray off your vehicle instead of going through the automatic car wash. It can often be much cheaper.
I am a waitress and I am in the military. I wear combat boots all day and then crappy nonslip black non-slip shoes all night. Three to four times a year, I go get a pedicure and I pay for it. I will sit in that fantastic massage chair and drink their bottled water while someone massages my feet. I will pay $15-25 for it.
This is usually something I reserve for special occasions or for me, after big military training events. If I go to a school or training where I am running around in my boots for a few weeks, I try to take extra care of my feet. Or, if I find myself working more hours at the restaurant and my feet are extra sore, I might go get them done. I think it is worth it to have someone else massage my feet while the rest of my body is getting a massage from the chair. Taking care of myself is something that I try to make a priority.
Money Saving Tip: See what discounts they offer. Many places have student, military, or group discounts. For group discounts, get a bunch of your girlfriends together and make a day of it for cheaper!
This is a treat for me, not a norm. But if I truly find myself in a position where I feel like I need coffee, then I get myself coffee. I don’t deprive myself of things I want, especially during 16 hour work days. A week or two ago, I found myself in another city on my way to visit my non-coffee drinking friend. They were making breakfast at their house for me, but I was in some desperate need for coffee.
I don’t deny myself fancy coffees when I want one, but I do my best to make sure that I put myself in a position where I can make my own coffee most of the time. I have a Keurig at home, which has saved me a ton of money. (Thanks Mom and Dad). I no longer make a whole pot of coffee, just to dump it down the drain. My office kitchenette also has a Keurig for the rough mornings. I try to keep a coffee cup at my desk and a little bottle of creamer in the office fridge so I am prepared. This helps so I never feel like I have to stop on my way to work.
Money Savings Tip: Join a rewards program or use your credit card rewards to get gift cards to your favorite coffee shop.
5) My shampoo and conditioner
Time after time, I have seen people doing the “No-poo” style of washing their hair. Two of my coworkers were just talking about it the other night. I have read a little bit about it and while it does seem to make sense from the chemical side of shampoo/conditioner. There are days that I work out twice a day. My hair gets gross sometimes. I don’t have the time to think about when the last time I washed my hair was or what I need to do today.
I buy Suave Professionals which still isn’t the best brand, but I have been using the same brand for the last few years. It makes my hair feel healthy and taken care of. Instead of skipping all together, I do try to only shampoo and condition every once in a while. There is no real method to my hair washing madness, but I wash my hair almost every day because of my workouts. I am not trying to smell or have gross feeling hair.
Money Saving Tip: Check ads or the manufacturer for coupons on your favorite products and buy them a little cheaper. Sometimes buying them in bulk can also be cheaper.
6) Bar Drinks
Sorry, but I am 22 and I am not ready to totally give up on the bar scene. I don’t go out often and I am aware drinking at home is about a billion and ten times cheaper than going to the bars, but you don’t get the same fun of meeting new people, dressing up in your favorite dress and heels and walking around the historic downtown area. But I am 22 and I still enjoy these things.
I will probably grow out of this someday, but that day isn’t today or probably even tomorrow. My budget has a category for bars for friend’s birthdays and other reasons to go downtown, (Or let’s face it, I get other people to buy my drinks.) My friend and I used to take turns buying each other’s drinks. One week I would buy and the next week she would. That worked out super great and it usually came out pretty even.
Money Saving Tip: Decide how much you are going to spend and only take cash to the bars. This will prevent from starting a tab and losing track of how much is spent while you are there. After a few drinks, it is much easier to offer a round of drinks for all of your friends by “just put it on my tab.” No matter how much you spend, please make sure to tip your bartender.
I am pretty sure this is the reason that my parents won’t help me move anymore. In my room, I have a five shelf bookshelf packed to the edges with books. I love the luxury of being able to pick up any book off my shelf at any given time and be able to reread it. Even though I have books I haven’t read yet, I am still not ready to stop buying books. My Kindle Fire has probably become one of my favorite things, but I wouldn’t trade it for a hard copy book all of the time. I also have Kindle Unlimited which is super great for avid readers. It’s $9.99 a month for unlimited access to the Kindle Library. I have found so many great books in the library that I absolutely love.
Money Saving Tip: See if your library has e-books that you can electronically check out or visit once in a while to check out a few books.
8) Ziplock Baggies
I meal prep almost every single food that I eat throughout the entire week. When I buy food in bulk, I portion it out immediately. But because I refuse to purchase snack sized foods, I buy ziplock baggies. To me, it is worth it to be able to take snacks to go with ease.
Lately, I have been working a lot of 16 hour days. Because I meal prep, I already have a ton of dishes from that. Using plastic bags helps eliminate that for a few of my snacks like crackers and almonds.
Money Saving Tip: I buy my baggies at the Dollar Tree. Unless you are planning to freeze food in the bags, all bags are pretty much created equally. I do by special bags for freezing food.
9) Adventures with my family
I am 22, but I don’t have kids. For some people, it is their kids that they don’t cut money from, but for me it is my little brother. Luke is 10 years old and I try to make “date” nights as often as I can with him. One weekend this summer, we spent the entire day on Saturday playing at an indoor playground. We made food at home. Sunday, I took him to the Children’s Zoo.
There is a 12 year age gap and no other siblings between us, but I never want him to feel like I’m not his sister. We have had dinner and movie dates, a few zoo trips, and trips to the water park. I enjoy spending the time with him, so it is worth it to be able to do the fun things with him while he is still young.
Money Saving Tip: Look online for coupons or Groupon opportunities when going on kid adventures. There are usually discounted tickets out there. Packing a lunch for all day trips is also a great money saver. Food can get super expensive at the zoo.
I am a Mary Kay consultant and I LOVE my Makeup. As a waitress, I wear makeup to work every night, but I refuse to stop wearing it or buy the cheap stuff. Cheap makeup doesn’t look as good, feel as good, or stay all day and into the night. I absolutely love my Mary Kay products and this is something I would never give up.
Money Saving Tip: Buying makeup local can actually end up being cheaper. If you buy from a Mary Kay, Avon, or other small business and you always buy from the same person, they are likely to reach out to you with sales or discounts for being a regular customer. I know I do this with my regular gals!
11) Air Conditioning
This is one that people will go back and forth on. In the winter, my apartment is absolutely freezing because I can always put more clothes on. In the summer, I will pay the money to cool my apartment because I hate being hot in my own home. I do try to keep it at a reasonable temperature and I raise the temp when I leave so I’m not cooling the apartment for no one to be home.
Money Saving Tip: Sometimes adjusting your temperature just one degree can make a world of difference on the cost. Or Try opening your windows and shutting off the air when it is nice enough.
12) My iPhone
I have seen many debt free journey-ers give up their smart phones for a much cheaper plan. While my productivity might skyrocket, I don’t want to lose the connectivity that I share with my Instagram followers, my friends, and the world. I am not home very often, so having a smart phone allows me to check the weather, news, and social media without lugging around my computer. It holds all of my music, pictures, and apps.
My iPhone is $84 away from being paid off. I plan on buying a different phone with a different contract, but I will be paying for the phone outright instead of adding it to my plan. The iPhone that I have now will be sold and I will put that money towards my new phone.
Money Saving Tip:Shop around for the best service and the best price before signing up for a phone plan. Go into the store and ask what discounts that you could be eligible for when you sign up. Many companies offer “small business,” military, and student discounts.
This is not an optional thing for me anymore. Giving is never a waste of money. I am on my debt free journey so I can have the freedom that I want. In the future I also hope to give when and how much I want. I hope to sponsor a youth’s mission trip. Or give to a waitress who has been at work for 16 hours just to pay her bills. Or someone else on their debt free journey. Right now, I give to my church.
It isn’t the 10% that is suggested, but every dollar counts to me right now. If you can’t give to something while you are on your debt free journey, it is unlikely that you will give when you have the money. There will always be “something more important” to buy/invest/save that you will never want to give. Start giving while you are on your debt free journey, even if it isn’t 10%.
Money Saving Tip: Decide what organization to give to ahead of time. You don’t have to feel guilty for not giving into the “Would you like to donate an extra dollar?” campaigns if you are already donating your money to an organization that you believe in.
14) Running Shoes
I am continually trying to get better and enjoy running more. I absolutely refuse to buy cheap running shoes. I have had too many injuries, aches, and pains from running in cheap shoes. I do have a cheaper pair of shoes for lifting in the gym.
Investing in good running shoes can improve your run, your form, and ultimately your health. I usually buy one pair of shoes every year with my birthday money and try to make them last until the next birthday.
Money Saving Tip: If your town holds major races, look at shoes right before or right after the race. Ask about discounts or upcoming sales.
Personal Finance is just as it sounds. Personal.
There are a lot of opinions out there about where people should be spending money and where they shouldn’t. Ultimately, this is my list of things. I justify the money because in some way, shape, or form, they make my life a little better or easier. If you find that something is adding value to your life, then do it. When you are creating your budget, you decide what makes up your “money wasting” items that you won’t give up.
While bloggers are here to provide great advice and tell their story, your story may be 100% different than theirs. Take their advice, but don’t inconvenience, yourself to the point where you are miserable. It isn’t worth it. If it is taking your 2 hours and $20 to make homemade laundry soap, but it takes you 10 minutes and $15 to buy the laundry soap, figure out if those 2 hours are really worth $5?
You need to personally decide what is worth it to you and find out what isn’t. When you cut down spending on things that don’t matter, you find money for what does matter.
What are the things that you “waste” money on?
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