11 Things I Refuse to Do to Save Money
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A frugal person loves to find extra ways to save money. In all honesty, we live in a great time for penny pinchers. There are a growing number of ways to save money every month – from cutting the cord to switching to low-cost service providers and much more.
There’s a lot I will do to save money. We cut our hair at home; we rarely eat out; and we gave up on contracts for services long ago. We simply don’t enjoy spending money just to spend, and it frees up money to throw at other goals like maxing out our retirement accounts and paying off our mortgage early.
However, there are many things I refuse to do to save money. It’s not because we wish to throw money out the window, but because frugal living gives you the freedom to spend money the way you see fit.
Here are 11 thrifty living tips we refuse to follow to save a few dollars.
Being Stingy with Air Conditioning
I grew up in Richmond, Virginia. If you’ve visited Richmond in the summer, you know how hot it gets. Most days are 100 degrees, or more, with humidity normally at 80 percent plus. It was absolutely miserable.
We had air conditioning, but my parents typically were sparing in using it in order to save money. Not knowing how much utilities cost as a child, I knew I would be different as an adult.
Omaha isn’t quite as bad during the summer, but it’s definitely fairly hot during the summer – so we crank up the AC in our house. Our level pay plan for the provider we use for air conditioning is $175 per month and is well worth the expense for us.
I’d rather pay the extra money not to feel miserable instead of trying to save a few extra bucks, especially since we both work from home. We’re not as liberal with heat in the winter since it’s easier to dress warm, but we definitely crank up the air conditioning in the summer.
Axing the Housekeeper
The idea of paying for a housekeeper used to make every bone in my frugal body cringe. Now, we pay $150 per month for someone to come deep clean our house. The change? I saw the value in paying for a housekeeper.
Here’s the thing. It easily takes five or six hours for my wife or I to do a deep clean of our house. That’s lost time we can’t get back that can be better used to add more clients or do work for existing clients.
In short, we make more money per hour than our housekeeper does so it makes sense to utilize that time to focus on our business, or better yet spend it with our kids. Regardless of the benefit, paying for a housekeeper is well worth the cost and not something we’re willing to give up to save money.
We do spot clean throughout the month, but thanks to the housekeeper it takes far less time.
Eat Cheap Food
Growing up in the South I had my share of access to all kinds of fried, unhealthy foods. It was that, and my hot fudge like metabolism that left me needing to lose 100 pounds several years ago as I wanted a healthier lifestyle.
With three growing kids and a business to run, it’d be easy to rely on junk food and eating out to save time. That’s something we refuse to do to save money because it will likely only cost us money in the long run, thanks to health issues.
We typically spend $150, or more, per week to bring healthy food in our house. No, it’s not cheap, but cheap food isn’t worth the cost.
Not Drinking Craft Beer
Ok, so this is definitely more of a luxury, but I refuse to save money by bringing any of the standard macro beers into our house. If it comes with “Lite,” “Light” or some other modifier to identify that it’s just yellow colored water, then it’s not entering our house.
Craft beer isn’t the cheapest, and that’s ok. We both enjoy a good craft beer a few times each week, so it’s well worth the cost to have something we enjoy on tap – not to mention it’s not filled with all sorts of chemicals that are typically found in mainstream beers.
Spending Hours to Find Coupons
Coupons are often thought of as a hallmark of frugal living. I’ll say it – I hate using coupons. Don’t get me wrong, if I see a coupon online through Ebates, or get one in the mail for something we already plan on buying, then I’m all about using the coupon.
However, I refuse to spend hours pouring through coupons to save a few measly dollars. At that point it becomes a diminishing return and, I’d argue, you’re losing money thanks to the time you are using to find those coupons.
Going back to the cheap food idea, many coupons are for junk or boxed type foods – neither of which are healthy.
Having My Kids Go Without
If you’re a parent, you know kids are expensive. As they grow older, their expenses grow in lockstep with their growing size. No, we don’t have them live in a lap of luxury, but we also refuse to have them go without to save money.
It’s all about knowing how to allocate your spending so you get the most bang for your back and they have everything they need. For example, we often save money on their clothes by buying secondhand as they may only get to wear it a short time before they’ve outgrown the item.
We also buy cheap shoes online, but you need to be careful with this to ensure you don’t sacrifice quality.
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We use the savings to apply towards other things they need to provide for a healthy upbringing. We also put away $100 per month to their respective 529 plans. It won’t pay for their entire college needs but should give them a good start, assuming they go to college.
Having My Wife Go Without
This is similar not having our kids go without something they need. I, of course, love my wife and while she is more than perfectly able to able to provide for anything she wants, it’s my job to make the things she needs or wants possible.
As with our children; that involves putting her first and spending on things that make her life easier and more enjoyable.
Giving My Family Experiences
This largely comes down to travel. There’s so much to see in this world, and we want our children to see and experience as much of it as possible so they can grow up to be well-rounded individuals that contribute to society.
I also believe seeing and experiencing other cultures helps you see we’re so young as a society and that we have much to be thankful for in our country.
Traveling with a family of five isn’t cheap. Yes, we do travel hack and use travel credit cards to fund a lot of our travel – you can see some of our favorite cards here.
However, that doesn’t nearly cover every travel related cost. It’d be great if you could travel for free but cards just make travel considerably more affordable.
We also save $500 per month to fund our travel addiction, plus throw extra money like bonuses or tax refunds at our travel fund. We live relatively frugally, so this helps us spend on important things like travel.
I Won’t Give Up on Family Traditions
This, like the travel above, is meant to help create memories for our children and have fun times together as a family. This may mean traveling to spend time with grandparents or doing special things together as a family at certain times during the year.
The main expense is season tickets to my Alma Mater’s football team. It’s a relatively close drive for us – three hours each way and is a fun tradition we have as a family.
While not cheap, we save in other areas of our life to make fun things like this a possibility for our family.
Cheaping Out on Date Nights
I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a date night to have a good time. There are many cheap date night ideas out there that can help most couples save money and still have time together.
Here’s our problem. We both work from home. We also have young kids, and it’s not uncommon for the only time I leave the house during the week to be to go to the gym. Staying home to make dinner together really isn’t all that relaxing and, quite honestly, is the last thing we want to do for a date night.
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Instead, we go out once or twice a month for date nights. We often do something pretty laid back and simple, but it costs money – not to mention the cost of a babysitter.
I refuse to give these times up just to save money as they’re important for our marriage relationship.
Before I started losing weight, I used to think a tennis shoe was a tennis shoe and that quality really didn’t matter. Boy, was I wrong. Now that I exercise on a regular basis and my wife runs quite a bit, I see that a good running shoe makes a lot of difference.
A good running shoe can run $125 and has a limited shelf life, so we buy 2 – 3 pairs throughout the year. It’s simply not worth the pain or discomfort to save a little bit of money by cutting back on good shoes.
Saving money is great. I obviously love to save money in every way that I can. I also realize that saving money isn’t always the end all, be all. Life is best lived when there’s balance, and when it comes to finances that often means you need to spend money.
It’s also important that much of this, and frugality for that matter, is relative. What’s important to me won’t be important to you – and vice versa. There’s nothing wrong at all with spending up on things you want, so long as you have money for the expense and it doesn’t cause you to go into debt.
What’s something you refuse to do to save money? What’s your biggest expense that might be viewed as a complete luxury? What areas do you cut back on to enable you to afford something you want?
John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.
Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.
Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.
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