5 Things That Actually Saved Me Money That I Stopped Doing — & Why
Sometimes the “cost” of saving, comes at the risk of losing something far more important…
1. Keeping alcohol in the house
It is obviously much cheaper to buy a six-pack of beer or a bottle of wine at the liquor store than it is to grab a drink at a restaurant or bar where you’ll be paying the same price for one glass that you’d be paying for like, at least five servings of the drink if you bought it in a store. Drew and I have always kept beer on-hand because we like to drink it often, and it is nice to be able to crack open a cold one whenever we please without having to spend $7 on it at a bar. However, this has led to a pretty bad habit: drinking it all the freaking time. It isn’t nearing a dangerous level — we don’t come home thinking “Omg I need a beer!” but it is definitely easier to think “Hey, a beer would go nice with this *insert meal/snack here*” when it is on-hand, and treating alcohol like water just because you’ve obtained it in an affordable way isn’t cool or fun.
I would rather keep it out of my house for the most part (minus maybe a six-pack stored in the cabinet to toss in the fridge when company is coming, or a few bottles of wine on the bar cart that remain sealed until I really want some and not just cracked open on a random Monday to go with dinner every night that week). Alcohol is something that, personally, I’d rather pay to enjoy the experience of rather than making it a part of my daily routine, even if it is affordable.
2. Keeping my heat/air conditioning very low, or turning it off completely
I briefly mentioned this in a recent article, but I’ve been guilty in the past of making myself sweat it out during 100-degree summer days and freeze my ass off in layers of clothing on 0-degree days because I don’t want to pay the utility bill that comes along with using my heat or a/c. But I’ve been blessed with a building that has central air, and I also happen to live in cold-af New England, so allowing myself to pay the price it takes to keep my apartment at a comfortable temperature is something I’ve recently decided is totally worth it. I will no longer nickel-and-dime my comfort in my home, even if it costs me a little extra money.
3. Clipping grocery coupons
Getting the most “bang for my buck” at the grocery store for me tends to lead to a ton of waste. I make it my mission to buy only what I know will genuinely be consumed, even if I can get 3x as much for less money. It is a better practice for me to stop feeling like I need to hoard groceries like I’m about to go into some weird hibernation and just become comfortable with the fact that I should only be buying the amount of food I need when I need it, and not trying to keep 10 lbs. of broccoli in my apartment in anticipation of some sort of grocery doomsday where I wouldn’t be able to hop out to the store and get some. I live in a two-person household where neither of us eats too much, so I feel like I can leave the extreme couponing to the families of seven who truly need to save a ton on groceries. Buying two boxes of Frosted Flakes just because they’re on sale isn’t a good way to save on food if you’re straight-up never going to eat Frosted Flakes.
4. Borrowing books from the library exclusively
This is a really good money-saving practice I’ve used for a long time, because I (like many others) have had a tendency in the past to justify book purchases because “books are good!” that I shouldn’t be making because a) books are often expensive, and b) I have very many already that I haven’t read, and they take up a lot of space. However, going to the library (for me) often means just taking an extra two trips per week: one to pick up a book, and one to return it by its due date after inevitably still not reading it (because yes, I’m one of those people who always finds something to do besides read — not deeply proud of that, but I’m trying to be honest here).
What has worked better for me recently is shelling out the cash for some audiobooks so I can listen to them on my Kindle (which I received as an awesome Christmas gift from my awesome brother). It gives me no excuse to not listen to the books, because I can keep them on as background noise while doing pretty much anything else. The amount of use I actually get out of the audiobooks makes the price paid for them feel totally worth it.
5. Bullying my boyfriend into cooking and packing every single meal
Because of the hours and nature of my job, cooking most of my food and packing all of my daily lunches is easy and sustainable. But my boyfriend has a much harder time than me because of the circumstances of his job, and there’s only so much I can personally do to cook/prep/pack meals for him, since I work full-time as well and we are on different schedules. I get home earlier than him and try to cook dinner and pack leftovers into containers for him to bring, but I’ve needed to let go of the dream that he will be able to prepare breakfast at home every morning for himself and pack a lunch to eat during the day every day. His hours are too difficult and unpredictable, and budgeting for the fact that it just makes more sense for him to buy breakfast and lunch at work a lot of the time has been a mental game-changer. I’ve needed, above most other things, to acknowledge that exchanging money for a few extra minutes in the day is really important for someone with a job that offers very little work/life balance.
(This post originally published January 2018)
Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at email@example.com
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