The State of Our Financial Union: Stuff We Don’t Spend Money On

I wrote this post about two months ago and then Critter happened.  But once upon a time I wrote about the things we spent money on and I think it’s only fair that we finally talk about the stuff we don’t spend money on.  This might be more interesting in the sense that it’s showing you what’s really behind the curtain.  And for those members of the group who have been hoping for more baby-free posts, voila!

We drive old cars.  Or, as Marcus would say, we don’t buy new cars.  Marcus drives a 2005 Honda Accord.  I have a 2006 Honda CRV.  Marcus has owned his car since 2005.  I have owned mine since 2009.  Honestly, the driver’s side window on the CRV does not roll up/down and the biggest car dream I have this year (or really in general) is getting that repaired so that I can enjoy the sweet freedom of fresh air in my face when I drive this summer.  It might also be nice to be able to go through a drive through without having to open my door in order to use it.  When lottery mania struck in early January with the growing Powerball jackpot, when we talked about what we we would do if we won, we both said that we would keep on driving the cars we have.  Because we like them and they work.

We drink on the cheap.  Local craft beer habit notwithstanding, we are not fancy drinkers.  If we’re running out for a case of wine to replenish our stash, it’s Two Buck Chuck.  The Vodka/Bourbon/Scotch we purchase is the Trader Joe’s house label.  Is there a difference between Two Buck Chuck and other, higher-priced bottles?  Sure, depending on what it is that you are wanting to drink.  But for ordinary consumption (AKA weeknights and most weekends), we really do not need something fancier.

I use drugstore cosmetics and toiletries.  Maybe this is because I was raised by a mother who was not makeup-obsessed.  Maybe this is because I have found a combination of products that will survive a full day of work and then a six mile run afterward.  Maybe this is because I can blowout my hair in 10 minutes after a round of Fructis shampoo and conditioner, with some Aussie mousse after towel drying.  Maybe this is because I just don’t know any better.  What I do know is that when I am spending even $10 on a tube of mascara or a new compact of pressed powder, even that feels like it is a big expenditure.  Marcus uses drugstore toiletries as well, but since he is a dude, this seems like it is somewhat less of an accomplishment.

Our clothes are not very fancy and we wear them until they fall apart.  Marcus buys most of his clothes on Black Friday.  Sometimes I get crazy and I buy things from the J.Crew Outlet.  Most of my clothes come from Target.  I know a lot of people talk about buying things with the idea of “quality” over “quantity” in mind.  And I am totally with them!  The Merona pencil skirts I have purchased for work cost $30 or less and they have lasted me at least two years with regular wearing and washing.  For those of you wondering, do they look appropriate for a business environment? the answer is Yes!  They are made of suiting material.  There have been a few times where the hem has fallen apart, but do you want to know what I have done when that has happened?  I have mended the hem.  Because God blessed me with the ability to sew for 5″ in a reasonably straight line.  I mend Marcus’ clothing when I am able to as well.  Sometimes, if things get desperate, I take things over to our favorite (and extremely cheap, cash-only) tailor, Kim Huoy Chor.  Over the past few months, there are a few cardigans and pairs of pants that we have had to throw out between the two of us simply because they were at the point that they were irreparable.  As I actually liked these cardigans, I was frustrated, but they had served me well for the last 5 years which is probably longer than I had any right to expect.  Especially considering the fact that both of them were from Target.

I will say that in 2016, my goal is to become a practiced thrift shopper as well.  With a consignment store about 1.5 miles from our house, a Goodwill opening up nearby, and another charity shop about 3 miles down the road, there is simply no excuse not to since I don’t even have to get on the freeway to get to any of these places.

We don’t have a gym membership.   This is 100% not me telling you that you need to cancel your gym membership if you love it.  People go to gyms or belong to yoga studios or whatnot for many (many!) reasons.  Your health is worth the money.  What I do know is that Marcus and I are champions of solitary fitness because that is what works for us.  We also love solitary fitness because even though there is a Lifetime Fitness less than a mile from our house, we have literally no obstacles to working out.  We don’t have to pack a bag, we don’t have to drive anywhere, we get to use our own shower, the list is endless.  We have owned two treadmills over the past five years, to the tune of $1150 in total.  Between the two of us, we use the treadmill ~8 times per week, so it is by no means an idle device.  On the days that we don’t use the treadmill, Marcus does his strength work.  I, on the other hand, invested in three yoga DVDs that cover a variety of practices so that I can enjoy that.

We buy cheap groceries.  I think it is already well documented at this point that Marcus and I are ALDI disciples.  While we still have to supplement our pantry each week with things from Trader Joe’s and Cub, paying less for the simple staples allows us to save nearly $800 a year over regular grocery store prices.  That’s a real victory for our wallets.  Fancy, the interior of ALDI is not, but the food is the same quality as other stores – I thought I remembered a spoilage issue with greek yogurt, but Marcus informed me that was a Trader Joe’s problem.  Phew.

Takeout is not an option.  There was once a time, probably four or so years ago, where we went through a big phase of going out for Indian food or ordering Indian takeout.  After doing that five times (and spending probably around $150-$200), I decided I needed to learn how to cook Indian food.  Not because we don’t enjoy going out for dinner (we do!  a lot!), but because we do enjoy cooking.  It’s something we get to do together at the end of each day.  In-line with this is my sick love of meal planning.  If you know what you’re going to make and when, it makes it a lot easier to actually make the meal than pretending you’re on an episode of Chopped each night.  The fifteen minute meals get the fifteen minute nights and the three hour long meals get the three hour nights.  Simple.

What do you work to save money on?

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7 responses to “The State of Our Financial Union: Stuff We Don’t Spend Money On

  1. Given the college debt that has descended on our mailbox, we have turned off the cable and gone to a HD antenna and Apple TV for Hulu, Netflix, PBS and Lifetime) We have not yet purchased a VCR (because that would be so 1970s), so certain CBS shows much be watched live or purchased after the fact. The savings are significant.

    • God I aspire to be you with cable. Legit the biggest obstacle is the fact that Marcus watches every show on FX and we don’t have another way to get it.

  2. We are terrible for eating out during the kids’ hockey season. I was taking a look through our spending on Mint, and I couldn’t believe our totals! Plus, we spend a ton on groceries. Even though I do meal plan, I would love to waste less food and eat out less often when we scramble for time.

  3. I agree with every item on this list! Especially with the sick love of meal planning. I love Wednesday evenings when I sit down to check store ads, menu plan and make the grocery list. Bizarre but true!

  4. Glad to know I am not the only one sporting a Target ensemble each and every day. xoxo

  5. I love this post! Great ideas.

    While I know that my husband and I spend entirely way too much money dining out. I had to learn that this is one of the things He Loves to Do and that if I want to travel as much as I like to I have to indulge that as he does my love. 🙂 (I do try to use groupons and look for deals and Happy Hours to ease that indulging, though!)

    That being said, we do have things we are frugal about to make these things work – I agree with you on clothes. As much as I’d love to have a beautiful wardrobe, I wear everything until it is no longer possible. I’ve also learned that buying something that’s a good deal doesn’t mean I’ll wear it! I’d rather spend a bit more money on something comfortable, that I love and will wear over and over and over…

    Same goes for cars. We run them to the ground. (Unless we crash them, haha.) And if we do have a loan payment, when that loan is paid off, we pretend we are still paying it… and put that money aside for repairs and/or the next down payment for a car. We don’t see it as “extra” money in our budget.

  6. Pingback: The State of Our Financial Union: Baby Makes Three | Tenaciously Yours,

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