I have a lot of spending weaknesses: books, clothes, toys, eating out. It’s easy to focus on all the ways I’m shit at spending money, and forget that there are lots of ways I’m good at saving. Here are just a few of the things I DON’T have to cut back on, spending wise, because I already don’t spend money in these areas.
– Cosmetics. I don’t wear make-up, except when I go out (very rarely) so the mascara and eye-liner and blush and lip stick I own last a LONG time (like years long, I know, that’s gross). I basically don’t spend money on make-up, ever.
– Hair and skin care. I use baking soda and vinegar to wash my hair. I buy a three-pack of Oil of Olay Shea butter and a two-pack of Cetaphil from Costco one a year to wash my body and face. That’s also where I get my six-pack of Dove deodorant. I buy the same face lotions (one for day with SPF and one for night without) every time, and only when they run out. My friend cuts my hair (and my daughter’s) for free, or I get a $15 cut somewhere when she’s busy. I use the clippers on my husband and my son. My big self-care splurge is a leg wax but I only do that about once a year (usually I use a depilator). I pluck my own eyebrows and I never get manicures or pedicures.
– Jewelry. I don’t buy jewelry anymore. I used to, but it’s been a few years. I wear my wedding ring (which cost less than a grand), a necklace from Tiffany’s, and a watch every day and that is it. I never take them off. I never change them. It may be boring, but it’s cost effective.
Cloth diapers. We cloth diaper our son. I don’t actually think cloth diapers saved me much (any?) money with my first child–they are not cheap!–but already having everything I needed the second time around definitely saved me a significant amount. (Plus I’ll make a little back when I sell my stash.) We were even able to cloth diaper our son at night for 14 months, something I never managed with my daughter. Now we only buy disposable night diapers and everything else is cloth. It creates more laundry for me (and I can’t wait to be done washing diapers) but it saves us money, and it’s good for the earth! Win/win!
– House cleaning. We don’t have someone clean our house. I’d love to, but I’m worried that once I get used to a house cleaner my standards will become higher than I could meet on my own (I’m a HORRIBLE housekeeper, just dreadful).
– Music and movies. I used to spend a ton on music and movies (oh my god, why did I buy so many DVDs?!) but I don’t anymore (it’s been maybe four years since I bought a CD or DVD). I probably see 3-4 movies on the big screen a year. I used to take my daughter to pretty much every new kids’ movie that came out, but we’re realizing she can’t handle the sensory input of a big screen (and big speakers) so we’re imposing a moratorium on that as well. At home we watch what’s on Netflix or Hulu (we don’t have cable) and I find those subscriptions to be very reasonable.
– Vacations. We don’t take vacations, at least not the kind where you pay to stay. We see my extended family every year or two in St. Louis, but my parents help us pay for that airfare (because they know we can’t afford it and wouldn’t go otherwise). I took my daughter to Disneyland for two days (we drove) last year. We head to San Diego every other year (again, driving) and stay with friends for a long weekend. Sometimes (every 2-3 years?) I’ll see a friend who lives far away. That is the extent of our travel.
– One car. We only have one car. It not only saves us money on the actual car, but on the second insurance policy we don’t need, along with all the oil changes, new tires and other maintenance costs we avoid. Having one car saves us a lot of money. We hope to remain a one-car family forever. (Hence my current cargo-bike infatuation… 😉
– Public schools. We’ll be sending our kids to public schools and that is going to save us a pretty penny (that we don’t actually have to send our kids to private school, so the choice was an easy one). I can’t wait until they are both in public schools. Four (maybe three!) years and counting…
– Tenant. We have a tenant whose rent helps us pay our mortgage. We could not have afforded this house without that added income. It’s been a great way for us to afford a house in a very expensive city.
So there are some ways we excel at saving money. It’s not much, but it’s worth mentioning, especially when I’m picking apart every little mistake I make in the spending department. Sometimes it’s nice to shine a light on what we’re doing right.
What are some ways you excel at saving money?