5 Things I Got Rid Of In Exchange For A Lighter Life & Fuller Wallet

Most millennials are constantly inundated with messages about how you’re supposed to cleanse their lives of various burdens (ironically, in between messages about things they should buy). The concept is mostly positive (I’ve written on TFD before about how I’m generally pro-minimalism, with some exceptions).

The problem is that many of these guiding principles lack a lot of actionable advice. Vague statements like “don’t buy anything you don’t absolutely love or need” can be easily dismissed by someone who can justify that they love and need anything. Other bits of advice (like the idea that you should be able to live out of a suitcase) lack clear benefits for most lifestyles.

Recently, I took an inventory of things that I’ve shed from my life and thought about the positive effects — both in a financial sense, and in a broader sense. Not all of these will work for everyone, but I wanted to share what happened when I bit the bullet on some of these former staples.

1. My car

In some areas, a car might be necessary. But for years, I was convinced that my old-but-sensible car made sense for my lifestyle, too. I didn’t drive it to work (I biked and sometimes took transit), but I drove it to the suburbs to teach dance, and drove it to my parents’ place for occasional visits. Faced with a huge repair bill, I did the math and realized that between insurance and parking at my own building, my car cost me $240 per month just to exist. I realized that my side hustle of teaching wasn’t even breaking even on my car costs before gas and repairs. Going carless was scary, but after one year, my partner and I have saved thousands of dollars and haven’t once felt stuck without a car. We use short-term rental services for things like IKEA trips or taking our cat to the vet, and take commuter trains to visit family ($19 CAD for a round trip to my parents’). For the occasional “big” trip, we spring for a rental. As an even bigger plus, cycling daily has made me feel amazing, is very fun, and usually gets me to where I’m going faster than a car or transit.

2. My hair

I want to make it clear that I know that not everyone can pull off (or wants) short hair, and I’m not advocating that everyone go for a pixie to save a few bucks. But I also think that if you’re spending hundreds of dollars on products and treatment for your hair, then your hair might be longer than necessary. I came to the decision to cut my hair to an undercut (and have alternated between that and a pixie cut over the past three years) after realizing that between the dry shampoo to lift my greasy roots and treatments for my split ends, I was spending a couple hundred dollars a year just to make my hair look normal and healthy. Even taking your hair above the shoulders can reduce your need for product — I’ve even saved on day-to-day hair products like shampoo, conditioner and hairspray simply by virtue of having less hair and needing these products less often.

3. Most of my makeup

I am hereby declaring that the time has come for the capsule makeup collection to rise up and into the mainstream alongside the capsule wardrobe. While having fun and experimenting with colors should always be an option, there are some things that you just don’t need more than one of (I can assure you that only you see the subtle differences between your brow gel and a brow pencil, and that goes double for volumizing mascara versus your lengthening mascara). I’ve shifted more of my attention to eye pallets so I can get multiple looks out of one product (I like ELF’s palettes), and I save my experimental lipstick and gloss for sample-sized and mini products. Get to know your old faithfuls and stick with them — for your wallet and your sanity — and keep only a minimal collection of the little “fun” picks.

4. Netflix

This may only be good advice for people who live outside of the U.S., but nevertheless: when I had Netflix, most of the shows I binged were ones I already owned on DVD. Shows that I actually wanted access to weren’t available in Canada. The truth was, I wasn’t a big TV or movie consumer, but I was so swayed by the convenience of Netflix that I thought I needed it more than I did. Having Netflix turned me into way more of a couch potato than before — and while it was cheap, because I was also shelling out money on iTunes for some of the series that I couldn’t get, Netflix turned into my cable experience: I was paying for a lot of content that I didn’t watch. I decided to go a year without Netflix and got an antenna. Going back to the days of “appointment-style” viewing for our favorite shows has been a fun change, and the content that we truly want to watch, we will buy on a transactional basis — but for the most part, we haven’t ended up missing having shows on-demand, and instead have spent our quiet evening time reading, writing, playing games and working on projects.

5. Data for my social media apps

When I found myself unable to keep myself under my monthly data cap, I made a drastic solution: I turned off cellular data for my social media apps. I keep it on for any messaging apps and things that I might need in an emergency, like maps, but I will no longer use social media unless I’m on wifi. This isn’t normally a problem, since most public places have wifi, but I still cut myself off from using social media when I’m on transit, out at friend’s places and taking walks. I still love social media, but even the most millennial of millennials has to admit that aimless scrolling through feeds can feel a little bleak at a certain point. I definitely have found myself more present in the moment and loosening my dependence on these apps, so even aside from saving myself a few bucks on data, this has been a very positive decision.

Bree Rody-Mantha is a business journalist and dance teacher living in Toronto. In her spare time she enjoys sport climbing, lifting and running the vegan food blog, Urban Garlic. Follow her on Twitter here.

Image via Unsplash

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  • crazygemini12

    I will say that cutting your hair may not be an option but wearing your hair in a way that goes with what your hair type is will definitely save you money, since you aren’t constantly spending money on products trying to make your hair do something it wouldn’t normally do on its own. I have curly hair and my life improved on every level when I stopped trying to wear it straight. The car thing is easy for me-I live in Chicago-but I think biking is great not just to save money and the environment but your health, which also saves you money in the long run (being sick is expensive). Netflix has so much original programming it’s better than TV to me, though I cut cable years ago and don’t miss it. I will DEF be cutting back on my data plan, though. You’re so right-that will save so much money in the long run.

    • ScriboErgoSum

      Yes, you’re absolutely right about hair — I have thin and flimsy hair, so I can only speak from that perspective. I know that short hair is probably not an option if you have hair that’s hard to manage because it’s super-thick or curly. But leaning into your hair style instead of trying to rely on products and tools to get it to a look you’re comfortable with is so tiresome after awhile (I also just noticed that my avatar is ancient and me with unflattering long hair, yeesh).

  • Susieq

    Amen to the short hair suggestion. I cut a foot off my hair over a year ago and have not regretted that decision. I’ve also saved a lot of time by not having to remove the knots that come with long hair. Nor do I have to wash my hair every day. On days that I don’t wash my hair, I just spray rose water to freshen up my hair.

    • Wolf

      Same here. I had loooong hair, the longest it got was thigh-length, and I enjoyed that for a while.
      Here are some things that annoyed me: getting it stuck under backpack and handbag straps, scheduling my workouts according to when I had time to wash and dry my hair, hair getting caught when I hug someone, worrying if the material of my shirts and jackets would damage my hair.

      Currently, I have a 3 inch buzzcut. (Yeah, you might say I sometimes try extreme things.) It probably won’t stay that short forever, but let’s see what I want to try next.

      • Wolf

        Sorry, unit calculation error! It’s 2.5cm, so about 1 inch!

  • Summer

    A+ to not having a car. When I moved to Germany at the end of 2015, I sold my car and although I really miss the act of driving itself, I don’t miss the added costs and liability that comes with having a car. Would it occasionally be nice to be able to hop in a car and go somewhere outside of walking distance without having to figure out the most efficient route to get there by public transit? Sure. But I am fortunate to live in a mid-sized city with a very efficient (and CLEAN) system of trains, subway, trams, and buses, which is not something I had the privilege of when I lived in South Carolina. I know that in the US, cars are equated to a sense of freedom and independence, but I’ve found it equally liberating to not have to rely on a car to get around.

    • lateshift

      well…not ALL of the US.

      The citizens of New York, Boston, DC, Philly, etc (iow: at least 1 in 6 Americans)

  • bextannya

    Really enjoy the data suggestion! I keep finding myself adding more and more onto my plan, while trying to keep my bill as low as possible….
    I recognize that I use my data for music more than anything. I am guilty of aimlessly “browsing” and scrolling through my FB feed…will definitely experiment with cutting off those apps on my next billing cycle and see how much the music data amounts to!

  • Vianna

    The social media app data suggestion is so good! Not having wifi in my office means I end up with a data overage charge almost every month (I know, yikes), but it never happens when I do this consistently. I need to stop giving up and turning it back on during bouts of procrastination because $15-$30 per month for extra data adds up quickly and is totally unnecessary. Plus, my productivity is way better when mindlessly scrolling Facebook isn’t an option!