There are certain things I won't give up just to save money.
Don't get me wrong. I love saving money.
In fact, my wife has made it an art form (and I'm grateful for that! )
But sometimes this search for savings around every corner can go too far.
I have at least five things I won't give up just to save money.
What about you? Do you have a list?
Do any of the things on my list match yours?
I want to hear about those in the comments.
For now, here's my list.
Music is a big part of my life. It lifts my spirits in so many ways.
If I'm in a funky mood, I'll find some music to lift me up.
If I'm in a joyful mood (which I am most days), I'll find upbeat music to enhance my joy.
I love music!
How my love for music began
In my younger days, I played guitar and harmonica, wrote songs, and for a period, performed in local joints.
For several years, I led music for a church retreat that we hosted twice a year.
In time, I couldn't put in the work to keep up my “chops.” So, my musical career is all but over.
For the record, I never made a nickel playing in any of my performances. I guess that tells you the level of my talent.
A father's influence
Initially, my love for music came from my father. He had a collection of 78 rpm records (how many of you even know what those are?) with all the great jazz artists from the fifties and sixties.
When I was in high school in the seventies, music came on 33 rpm vinyl records. Turntables played them back in two-channel excellence.
I still have much of that collection. My wife says it's over 300. I disagree. It's no more than 250!
Like many things in life, if you hold on to something long enough, it will eventually come back in style.
Vinyl records are now all the rage!
For those who've you've never seen one:
I recently bought a new turntable, got my records out of storage and am enjoying them all over again.
Afer vinyl came the CD revolution.
I bought in big-time. My collection of CDs surpasses the vinyl for sure.
And then it was on to next new thing – the MP3.
The iTunes craze
I resisted the iTunes, MP3 revolution for a while. I couldn't see it replacing CDs.
So, I was late to this party. As you might suspect, though, I made my way to iTunes.
I found myself downloading albums on iTunes for $9.99- $11.99. I'd hear something on the radio, and capture it with Soundhound.
And, of course, they made it easy to go to iTunes and buy the album.
More often than not, that's what I did.
It was SOOOO easy!
I found myself spending upwards of $30/month on iTunes. If I”m honest, I'm sure it was more than $400 a year!
I was pretty shocked when I added it all up.
And then, my niece introduced me to Spotify. I hit the jackpot!
Their tagline is “music for everybody.” And boy is that true.
I can search for just about any artist or musical genre and almost always find it – blues, jazz, classical, Christian, Latin, African, Classic Rock!
Are you kidding me? I was in heaven!
Spotify saves me money!
Spotify is a subscriptions service where I pay $9.99 a month for unlimited music.
And it indeed is unlimited music. I can download an artist's entire library to my playlist with no extra money.
I can create a music station from an artist I love. The algorithm finds music similar to that and adds it to the station.
I can hit the like button on music I hear to refine the station further.
Pandora is similar in its station feature. The difference is the ability to download albums for the price of subscriptions.
Using Spotify instead of iTunes saves me close to $300 a year!
That isn't bad!
House cleaning service
I know! I know!Many of you penny pinchers right now are thinking, Dude, you and your wife get off your butts and clean your own house. You're throwing money away.
That's a fair point. And we've thought a lot about that over the years.
Here's the thing, though.
Cathy and I work very hard every day. She's a business manager in the intelligence community managing a large budget.
I run this blog and my financial planning business.
On the weekends, we don't want to spend our time deep cleaning our house.
Quality of life
We have a crew come in twice a month to do the deep cleaning that neither of us wants to do. For us, it's a quality of life issue.
We've had the same person and her team for over ten years.
My wife is one of the pickiest people I know about our house (she doesn't argue this point).
And to be perfectly honest with you, that's another reason why I don't like cleaning the house.
It seems my standards are noticeably less than hers. In fact, several other cleaning companies we used in the past did not meet those standards.
Rosario, whom we currently use, is the only one who lives up to her standards.
She's reasonably priced (well below others we've checked) and consistently good.
It frees us from having to worry about dealing with this after a long work week.
Is this a luxury? Many penny pinchers say yes.
For us, it's money well spent that enhances our quality of life.
No changes planned here.
I've seen a lot of bloggers say gym membership is a waste of money.It's true that you can exercise without a gym membership. And many get memberships they don't use.
For Cathy and me it's a must.
I can't think of a time in the thirty-five years we've been together that we haven't worked out at least three times a week at the gym.
Back in the day, I was a runner. I supplemented that with weight training.
When we met, she was a bodybuilder. Her boyfriend at the time (yes, I stole her, thank God!) was a competitive bodybuilder.
We've morphed over the years as we've aged into different kinds of workouts.
Both of us have joint issues that made us change how we workout.
A few years ago, we discovered Yoga. Specifically, Bikram yoga.
If you're not familiar with it, Bikram is a 90-minute yoga class done in a room that's heated to 105 degrees and 60% humidity.
Yes, that's crazy!
For us, though, it helped with our joint issues.
What made us consider something different was the cost.
It was expensive!
We learned that Yoga is a high-end activity. In our area, you can spend upwards of $2,000 a year per person on yoga membership.
Also, the time it took for this type of yoga got to be too much.
So we quit that and joined a Gold's gym. That saved us at least $1,200 a year.
Our niece enters the picture once again.
Cathy got her into Bikram yoga when we started years ago. She loved it and went on to become an instructor. Not in Bikram, but in another type of vinyasa (active flow) yoga.
She moved back into the area a couple of years ago and got us back into it.
Vinyasa is a faster-paced type of yoga. It involves strength, stretching, and gets your heart rate pumping.
It covers all the bases.
But again it's expensive. For us to join one of the studios would be $375 a month! That's nuts!
Looking for alternatives, we found a local gym that our neighbors use that had a separate yoga studio.
We checked it out and joined.
They have choices of multiple kinds of yoga practices as part of the membership.
Membership also includes a full gym with all kinds of aerobic machines, free weights, multiple types of equipment for weight training.
Membership also includes a variety of other exercise classes.
We get all of this for half the cost of yoga.
The way we look at it we're saving $2.300 a year over the cost of just yoga in other places.
And our mental and physical health are as good as ever.
We're at the gym working out or doing yoga four to five times a week.
Some would call this extravagant.
A couple of little things
Now we've come to the part where many might say I've lost my mind.
And once again, they may have a point.
Sometimes the little things, though they cost a bit more, are worth it.
Wait, can we talk about toilet paper on a personal finance blog?
I may be violating protocol, but it's my blog, and it's a pet peeve of mine, so here we go.
Frugality is a theme for many personal finance blogs.
And I'm a big fan of watching and cutting expenses where you can.
For me, toilet paper isn't one of them.
Be honest about it. Do you like using the public bathroom toilet paper? I didn't think so.
The TP is in those large plastic covered containers. The rolls are narrow and the paper so thin it often breaks even when you try to pull it out.
You know I'm right!
And you have to use so much of it that it seems quite a waste to me.
I'm sorry, but I don't want that in my home!
And I'm willing to pay a little more to get it.
I've tried it the other way. It was miserable!
Cathy has tried, unsuccessfully, over the years to change my mind.
She's now on board after trying several alternatives.
I'm not endorsing any particular brand.
But let's be honest here. You know you have your favorites!
Come on! You know you do!
This one is kind of in the same category as toilet paper.
Perhaps it's a little less sensitive (pun intended).
Once again, I've tried brands that sell for less. I've even tried the recycled brands to support the environment.
Sorry. They. Just. Don't. Work!
I'm sticking with the brands that don't make my nose bleed when I use them.
When you have a cold and have to blow your nose every 5 minutes, do you want something that turns your nose even redder than it already is?
I may have just spoken blasphemy to some in the personal finance community.
Hey, I'm sorry.
For us, these make sense.
In fact, financially, I can make a valid case for how much we're saving from the first three things.
I'm guessing that some of you reading this will chalk it up as some very creative rationalization.
And there may be some truth in that!
However, I'll make my argument that we're saving a boatload of money over what we previously spent.
Below is a chart with the savings from my list.
Oh, and by the way. My vinyl records, most of which I paid between $5 and 10$ to buy, now sell for up to $35 in some places!
Even if I sold them (which I will likely never do), and got half that much, I've more than doubled my money!
|Product/Activity||Previous Cost||Current Cost||Savings|
I'm just sayin'…
Now it's your turn. What's on your list? What things are you not willing to give up just to save money? Do you think this is just an exercise in rationalizing these expenses?
Let me know in the comments below.