I bought everything. All the t-shirts. The high end coats. The Keen shoes and Sanuk sandals. The nice shorts and button-up North Face long sleeved shirts. Everything. It was easily $700-$800 worth of clothing, all for less than forty dollars.
It was at the garage sale of a guy who founded an outdoor clothing company. (who just so happened to share my clothing size) I found it by searching for “Nice mens clothing” in my local Craigslist > Garage Sale section. It took care of my clothing needs for a few years.
For all the effort I’ve put into making money in my life, I don’t have as much as I should to show for it. Up until a few years ago, I blew every penny I’d ever earned or had been given. My problem wasn’t that I needed to make more money to support my habits. I really needed to stop wasting money.
The list below is not meant to apply to everyone. Each person is different, and what’s waste to me, might not be to another. My point is to encourage you to count the real cost of your spending habits. How much of your time is required to finance your purchases? How much of your life is required to pay for these things?
18. I purchased my own cable modem. I got it at a garage sale for $5. Comcast rents them for $7/month. I’ve saved almost $250 over the past 3 years.
17. We buy used appliances. I was doing this before I started buying and selling appliances on Craigslist for a living. When they break, I repair them myself.
16. We buy used cars, with cash. We have no car payments and thus no full coverage insurance. We tend to buy Toyota or Honda made cars because they are very reliable and because we like them.
15. We stopped eating out as much. When we do eat out, we usually go to Chipotle where our entire family eats for just over twenty dollars, and the food is incredible. We usually drink water, which saves a lot of money and is good for us.
14. We don’t buy our kids lots of toys. Most children’s toys are complete garbage. In fact, it’s only a matter of time before manufacturers are going to be required to make the toys recyclable. They all end up in the dump after a few months of lonely neglect. All the boys need is a few legos, a chess set, a couple balls and a few sticks and they’re good to go. Our daughter just needs a baby doll and a stroller and she couldn’t be happier. Kids really don’t need much to be happy. They want to be loved and to spend time with their parents.
13. We only have one car. We save a lot of money on insurance and maintenance this way. If you can get away with it, get rid of a car or two.
12. I dumped my Portland Trailblazer season tickets. I loved going to the games, but that was a huge waste of money. Not only was it expensive for the tickets each game, but it was $8 for a pint of beer, which would be considered theft in some countries. I might to go one game a year now.
11. We use our local library to to check out most of the books we read. We read a lot of books, especially to our kids. We regularly check out 20 books a week or so. It’s a great hobby, and if you read a lot, using your library can save a lot of money.
10. I stopped buying Starbucks everyday. For a stretch of almost three years, I would buy a venti white mocha at least once a day. I was spending over $1,500 a year just on this one vice. When I stopped cold turkey a year and a half ago, I lost ten pounds almost immediately. I now drink locally roasted, french pressed coffee almost exclusively. (I still get a mocha at a coffee shop occasionally) I was working for at least two weeks a year just to pay for my coffee each day. If I would have kept up this habit over 20 years, it would add up to over $30,000. $30,000 will buy you land, and pay for the materials for you to build your own little home on that land out on the Big Island of Hawaii. (More on that another day.) (**Update from reader Aaron** Instead of spending $125 a month on coffee, pretend you took that $125 and invested it in a stock index fund earning an average return of 7% a year. After 20 years, you would have accumulated $65,496, a far cry from the $30,000 you claimed to have saved. Just some food for thought for you and your readers.) Ouch. It’s good to see what investing that money could produce. Thanks Aaron.
9. We buy a lot of clothing used. This is especially helpful for us having children. Why spend $16 on a t-shirt that you can get at a garage sale for 50 cents? Multiply that by our entire family and we save a giant pile of money each year buying from garage sales and Goodwill. One tip is to buy things at Goodwill out of season. I often find name brand board shorts like O’Neill or Quicksilver, for $5 at Goodwill in the winter. Sames goes with shorts and t-shirts. Then buy pants, sweatshirts, hoodies and coats during the summer. When we do buy new, especially with socks and underwear, we buy them on sale or online. Dealnews.com is an incredible source for clothing deals, as well as every other kind of deal.
8. I found some inexpensive hobbies. In Hawaii, I bought a nice body board fins and rash guard and I was set. I would spend at least 8-10 hours in the ocean each week, all for the cost of gas to get there. Now I run, go for walks with the family and play basketball on our street with the boys.
7. We dropped out of college. My wife stays at home with our children and I had no interest or need of a college degree.
6. I only pay with cash. I stopped using our credit cards a few years ago. This really puts more weight on each purchase, and I feel helps me make a more wise purchasing decision.
5. I’ve become very patient when making a purchase. I rarely ever need anything immediately. So, I wait until I can either find the item in great condition used, or it goes on sale in the store. Most of the time we buy items used on CL. I cannot fathom how much money is wasted each year because of impatience. We are told that we need everything, and we need it now. It’s not true. Even if you force yourself to think a purchase over for a few days, often times you will talk yourself out of buying it. That is a victory.
4. I decided I was going to get out of debt and was going to build a house in Hawaii. Having big goals like this really helps when making short term sacrifices, for long term benefits.
3. I drastically cut out the number of advertisements I am exposed to. I stopped window shopping. I stopped reading ads in the newspapers. I don’t watch commercials on television. I needed to stop the incessant advertisements. If I think about something that I want long enough, eventually I will buy it, if at all possible.
2. I’ve been learning more and more over the years that material possessions don’t make me happy. Relationships do. That will really change how you spend your money.
1.The support of my frugal wife. She helped me make the previous seventeen ways possible.
Making money can help someone reach a goal, but a little thrift can make the process much quicker.
What are some ways that you’ve attacked your spending habits? Or things that you’ve cut out all together?