Here are my top five.
I pretty much drink two things: tap water and tea made with fresh, chopped ginger steeped in boiling water. That’s it. Because I don’t value drinks, I don’t buy them at the grocery store or when I go out to eat. Now, I do buy a drink when I meet a friend at a cafe and I have no problem with that. I am happy to pay for it because I think of it as paying my tax for sitting and enjoying my time in the cafe.
2. Insurance Premiums
No offense to the people out there reading this who might be insurance agents but I think of insurance as basically an institutionalized and legitimized form of gambling.
You are paying a recurring fee to protect yourself and your assets in case something bad happens. If nothing bad happens, you lose money through the premiums you’re paid, but that’s it. However, it something bad happens, then all that money you spent month after month, and year after year, finally kicks in and hopefully you get enough money from the insurance company to cover your costs. It’s the only kind of bet you hope you lose.
So, even though I don’t like paying for it, I do pay for health insurance, car insurance, and home insurance. Because one bad accident or one major surgery without insurance can mean going from a relatively good life to a toboggan ride to bankruptcy hell.
3. New clothes
After my self-imposed year of “No New Clothes,” I’m now a secondhand, thrift store, and consignment store convert! When you pay only $1.29 for a like-new pair of jeans, it’s painful to walk into The Gap and pay $70 or more for a new pair.
4. New house stuff
After shopping at the Goodwill and Value Village for the past year, I realized that I could buy all kinds of good stuff there for my house (especially the kitchen) for a fraction of the price of buying it new. Whether it be my $7 cast iron grill ($20-$50 new), my $2 spice/coffee grinder ($15-$30 new), or my $7 blender with glass pitcher ($35-$75 new), I can find great buys on used stuff if I’m willing to take the time to look…and look again.
5. New books
Don’t get me wrong. I love books. And I love bookstores. But ever since I stopped buying new books as my first resort for reading something new, I have saved a lot of money. Now if there’s something I want to read, I first borrow it from the library. If I really, really love it and need it for my home library, I will look for a copy at a used bookstore. If I call around and none of my usual used bookstores has it, then, and only then, will I buy it new.
There are more things I don’t like spending money on but these are my top five.
Please know that I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with spending. That’s not the point of this post. We need to spend money (or trade or barter) to get the things we need to live our lives. My point in writing this post, and the last post, is that knowing what you like spending money on, and what you don’t like spending money on, will help you to prioritize your spending.
When you prioritize, you are more conscious. When you are more conscious, you will save money.
Saving money means having more resources to do the things you want to do whether it be traveling to a place you’ve been dreaming about, taking a class, spending more time with the people you love, quitting a job you can’t stand, or retiring without worries.
So, why not try it? Write down your spending likes and dislikes.
You might be surprised or pleased or frustrated or sad about what you write down. That’s okay. No matter what feelings it brings up, it’s all good to know.
Articulating your spending likes and dislikes is a great step towards more conscious spending and eventually, a more conscious and fulfilling life.
Smoothies photo by Vera Kratochvil.