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One thing I recommend that everyone has is a budget. If you want to save more money and reach more goals, you have to know where your money is going. And if you can’t earn more, the quickest way to save more is spend less. Here is my list of things I stopped buying to save money.
How much does perfume even cost these days? I don’t know, it’s been so long. But for those of you who do wear perfume, cologne, aftershave, scented lotion, etc, I have some things to tell you that may be hard to hear. First of all, there are a lot of people out there who don’t like how it smells. Most of the men I’ve spoken to don’t care for it at all, and lots of women too. Second, some people have terrible allergic reactions to it. I personally get congestion, sneezing, coughing and headaches from scents. I have a friend who breaks out into hives just by having to touch paperwork that was touched by someone wearing perfume. Do you really want to wear it so much that you’re willing to hurt someone to do so?
Are you willing to make a poor impression when you first meet someone because you don’t know that they don’t like perfume? At my job, we interviewed someone for a position and my coworker and I both didn’t want to hire her because she wore perfume to the interview, and my co-worker especially didn’t want to sit in an office with her all day. Guess what? She didn’t get the job.
There is also some evidence out there that inhaling fragrances can worsen lung disease. When I worked in a clinic for lung disease the doctors and nurses told the patients who came in wearing perfume or cologne that they needed to stop wearing it immediately, because they might be making their condition worse.
So I just gave you a lot of reasons why wearing perfume is not a good idea. If you don’t like any of them, just think of how much that fragrance cost and if you could use that money instead for groceries, paying off debt, or for building an emergency fund.
2. Manicures/Pedicures/Nail Polish
This is a scent thing for me, but also because I worked in patient care for so long that it wasn’t practical to wear nail polish. Also, in training we are taught that nails are a great place for germs to accumulate, so the regulations were that your nails couldn’t reach past the tips of your fingers. Even though I no longer work in patient settings I’ve stuck to that, and I rarely get sick.
I used to work with someone who was waiting for a foreclosure notice on the door of her house and talking about how stressful it was. In the next breath she was talking about her weekly nail appointment, and how she had to go back to the salon because she’d gotten her hair dyed 2 weeks ago and she hated it and wanted something different. Even if those are just small amounts, they can add up in meaningful ways.
I have been cutting my own hair for years, occasionally interspersing paid haircuts. But really, my hair doesn’t require a professional cut. It’s long, straight and does not hold an type of curl. I googled a way to create layers cutting my own hair, and it works great.
4. Dry Cleaning
Dry cleaning chemicals are bad for the environment. Even most of the eco-friendly places use organic compounds which are not environmentally friendly. Additionally, the fabrics that require dry cleaning are typically synthetics, which are often not eco-friendly either. I prefer to wear washable fabrics, especially cotton. It’s one less hassle and expense I have to deal with.
5. Car Insurance and Maintenance Costs
Being car-free means not having to pay for car insurance. Our motorhome carries a different type of insurance. When we did have a car, it was a Toyota, which meant it didn’t break down very much. However, because it was a Prius, maintenance costs were often high when they did occur. Even replacing the 12V battery is $300 because you have to buy the battery then have the on-board computer re-calibrated to the new battery. Towing a vehicle also means more wear and tear on both the motorhome and the towed vehicle, plus increased fuel costs. So we are saving a LOT of money by not having a car.
6. Cable/Satellite TV
We cut our cable cord at least 5 years ago, and have not missed it one bit. It kept getting more and more expensive every year, with less value in the programs we had access to. Also, TV in general is such a time-sucker. There are so many other things you can do that are healthier, more enriching and more productive than watching TV. I stopped watching the news regularly about 15 years ago because I found it was too stressful and not providing much useful information in return. We do still have subscriptions to Netflix and Hulu, which cost less than $20 per month. But we may do away with those sometime in the near future as well.
7. Expensive Skin Care Products
Some women may go a little nuts when I say this, but I actually don’t do much for my skin. I don’t have a special cleanser. I use body wash on my face. I’ve tried several types of moisturizer, and didn’t really like any of them, so these days I don’t really have facial moisturizer or body lotion either. I have some Argan oil which I keep on hand for when we’re in dry weather to put on my hair, and I will dab a bit on my skin as well sometimes.
For body moisturizing I have some coconut oil that I don’t cook with any longer. I do have an eye cream, but I always forget to use it, so I probably won’t replace it when it’s gone. The only thing I spend money on is a good sunscreen. It has minimal ingredients so it doesn’t irritate my skin, and I use it all the time.
8. Magazines/Newspapers and Subscriptions
Even if I did have these, they probably wouldn’t hold my interest and therefore wouldn’t get read. I find most of the information in just about any type of printed publication can be found for free on the internet.
I love books and read for fun every day. I prefer to read printed copies because it’s easier on the eyes. But I don’t need to buy them to do that; I borrow them from whatever library is close to us (lots of campgrounds have libraries too). If that isn’t available, there are thousands of books for free on my Kindle app (which is also free).
10. Gym Membership
The world outside my door is my gym. There are also tons of free workout videos to be found online, and free workout apps you can download to your smart phone. We also have some free weights and a weight bench, purchased for less than the cost of one month’s gym membership back home.
11. Recurring Memberships to Receive Discounts
I think this is quite the racket. Sign up for the store discount program, and we’ll give you discounts on our products! They are just banking on you never buying enough stuff to get your money’s worth on the discount, and I think that is usually what happens. We belong to only three discount programs, and they have been worth it: Amazon Prime, REI, and Good Sam. Amazon we use constantly. REI was a one-time fee for a lifetime membership. Not only do we get discounts and special sales just for members, but we get dividends on what we purchase. Good Sam gives us discounts to Camping World products and tons of other RV-related stuff, all of which we spend money on regularly. Unfortunately, most RVs always need something.
I highly recommend that you think about the cost of any recurring membership fees you currently have, and see whether they are worth it to you. For example, do you have a Costco membership but only shop there twice per year? What about other memberships to stores that are just too far away to be convenient, or only sell items you don’t buy anymore? Take the time to cancel anything that you’re not using or is not providing you with a positive return for your money.
12. Credit Card Interest Rates
We do own a credit card. But we use it strategically. For example, the fees for my work conference were $1300. I had to pay it up front and then wait to be reimbursed at the next pay period. I didn’t want to part with that money from savings for two weeks, so I put it on the credit card and paid it immediately when the reimbursement came. We also use the card for rental car fees, because it carries insurance in case of an accident. It also has travel insurance, so if we have to put a deposit to an RV park and cancel it, we will receive coverage.
But all of these charges are for things that we have the money to pay for immediately. We don’t ever spend something we don’t have money in the bank for.
13. Knick-Knacks, Trinkets, Keepsakes, and “I Visited This Place” T-Shirts, Hats, etc.
I have never liked trinkets. Having them in an RV is really not practical, so it isn’t something I miss. As for picking up keepsakes on the road, I don’t like the idea of assigning a cost to my memories. They are priceless. This experience has been incalcuable. So I take pictures, I create film, and I write about it. I share the experience with others.
14. Items that I Might Use “Someday”
Have you ever gone to a store, seen something (maybe it’s on sale), and thought “I might need that someday?” And then you buy it. And it sits for months or years, collecting dust, being shuffled around. Maybe you don’t even try it out. And then one day, you go to use it, and it doesn’t work, or doesn’t fit, or expired before it got used.
That money was wasted. When I go shopping, I always have a list and a plan. I try to stick to that as much as possible. It saves time, reduces clutter and waste.
I have a few items that I’ve had for a decade or more, but I don’t buy anything new. I barely wear what I have–an active outdoor lifestyle isn’t conducive to jewelry. But even before that, I didn’t wear jewelry. You don’t wear anything dangly stuff like long earrings and necklaces or chunky rings when you’re in patient care. It’s a safety hazard and a place to collect germs.
16. Mobile Phone Upgrades When My Phone Still Works Fine
I don’t need the newest, coolest gadgets. I’m about two years behind the latest model, and it still works great. I will keep this phone until it stops working. To protect it, I invest in a sturdy case and screen protector, and pay for insurance because I’m a klutz and often drop my phone.
17. Hair Styling Products, Appliances and Accessories
I buy covered rubber bands to pull my hair up, and I have a few other clips and from way back in the day. But none of them get used. I have a blow dryer because I shower at night, and if it’s cold outside I don’t want to go to bed with wet hair. Otherwise I use a natural shampoo and conditioner that have just a few non-toxic ingredients, and that’s it.
I don’t own hairspray, mouse, styling cream, hair dye, hair repair serums, a curling iron or straightener, or anything else. I clean my hair, brush it and occasionally use the blow dryer. The times when I have gone to a salon for a haircut, I am always complimented about how healthy and strong my hair is (even if it’s been 6 months since my last haircut). I don’t get breakage or damage or split ends, because I don’t do anything to harm my hair in the first place.
There are a few grey hairs. I haven’t decided whether I’ll do anything about them, but probably not. I barely notice them, because as you may be able to tell, I don’t spend much time worrying about my appearance or looking in the mirror. I’m accepting of myself the way I am.
18. Trendy Clothes
I really don’t buy clothes at all. My first choice is a thrift store, except for swim suits and underwear. If something needs replacing, I look for eco-conscious brands. My choice is classic styles with clean lines in solid colors. I like black, grey, brown and jewel tones. Just about everything in my closet can be combined with everything else. I have what’s called a capsule wardrobe, where every piece is something I feel comfortable wearing.
19. Vitamins and Supplements
It has been proven over and over again that the best way to absorb nutrients is to consume them through food. You may notice that a lot of vitamins have 300% or even 1000% of a lot of the components–that is because your body won’t absorb all of the vitamins in the pill. I get regular check-ups and blood tests so if there is a deficiency, I will know about it. I also periodically track what I eat to check on the nutrient content of my food.
I have always been puzzled by the designer purse trend. I am even more puzzled by the purses the size of diaper bags. Doesn’t that hurt your back and neck? I know it would hurt mine! I have a tiny purse that is actually classified as a runner’s belt. It has enough room to hold my cell phone, a small wallet, keys and a small bottle of Tylenol. But most of the time, I just carry my ID and debit card in the pocket of my cell phone case.
21. Commuting Expenses
I used to pay for parking, bridge tolls, going out to lunch, and whatever else I had to pick up at a store even though I might have at home, because I wasn’t at home. It was annoying, expensive and wasteful. I spent at least 2 hours each day on the road. Now that I work remotely, I have better focus, better job satisfaction and more money. And if I need to work a little extra, I don’t mind as much because I’m not worried about all the traffic I will hit on the way home.
22. Holiday Decorations
We don’t have kids. We have pets who like to climb on things, knock them over and chew on them (OK, maybe kids do that too). Even when we owned a home we didn’t do decorations. We value every day we have, and celebrate our lives constantly. We don’t need special occasions to do so. Decorations also take up storage space, cost money, and aren’t usually built to last. I can’t imagine how well Christmas tree ornaments or a Thanksgiving cornucopia would hold up bouncing down the road for thousands of miles every year. It would just be wasteful to buy something at each holiday, use it once for a few days, then get rid of it.
I like to think of the scenery as our decorations. This month, we got to see a little snow. We reached out the door and touched it as it fell. I got to see jackrabbits when I took a walk around the lake, and chipmunks next to the river, and some mountain/desert landscape that I’d never seen before. We also can see more stars at night than I’ve seen in awhile, because there are so few electric lights and the air is so clear.
This weekend, we leave for the next place and there will be more new sights to see. I have all the decorations I need outside.
I know this was a long post, so I hope you hung in there with me until the end. Hopefully I didn’t offend anyone too badly with my opinions, but at least made you think a little bit about ways that you may be able to save money by spending less. What are your favorite techniques for spending less?