This post is by my awesome staff writer Jordann. Enjoy!
The title of this blog post should really be “Four things that aren’t worth the money, when you’re on a strict budget”, but that was too long.
I’ve been on a very strict budget for almost two years now. I’m trying to get out of debt, and after that, I plan on aiming for a decent level of savings. To achieve this, I need to keep a very close eye on my budget, and keep my expenses as low as possible.
In order to achieve my low expense lifestyle, my husband and I have given up a lot of things that I used to consider necessities.
Now that we’ve gone a few years without them, I’ve come to realize that these “necessities” are just wants, and weren’t really worth the cash. Here are some things that I used to pay for, that I’ve now realized weren’t giving me very good bang for my buck.
I love a clean car, and I used to love getting mine cleaned professionally. The job they did was amazing, and it wasn’t THAT expensive. Now that I’m on a strict budget, I’ve started cleaning my car myself. Sure it’s a pain, and it takes a long time, but it’s much cheaper than paying to get it done, and I have the benefit of being able to do it at my own convenience, instead of having to make an appointment.
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While I don’t cut my own hair, I have cut my husband’s hair for the last few years. Initially I was very apprehensive about doing this, after all, it’s his HAIR, what if I screwed it up? Now that I’ve done it several times, it’s no big deal, and is a great way to save a buck.
I used to pay for my massages out of pocket, and while I loved them, I realized that spending $70 bucks a month was a little outrageous. I gave them up until I got insurance through my work. Now they’re covered 100%, and I’ve gone back to getting them, but only because they are essentially free! (I would be paying for the insurance regardless of whether or not I get massages)
Store Bought Wine
I love my wine, but at $12-$15 a bottle, it can get expensive fast, and takes up a huge chunk of my monthly entertainment budget. Fortunately, my husband loves brewing home made wine.
Not only is it a great indoor hobby that doesn’t take up much space, it reduces the cost of a bottle down to about $3 a bottle. The taste isn’t that different from the cheap wine we would buy anyway, and the hardest part of the whole process is keeping it in the house once it’s ready to be drunk!
When Expenses Aren’t Worth It
Some expenses are worth it, like home and car maintenance, healthy food, and preventative health care, but others are completely unnecessary and just a part of our routines.
I credit my expense lowering spree with helping me realize just what is and isn’t worth the money. If I’d never tried to go without these things, I would never have realized that I didn’t need them in the first place!
What expenses totally aren’t worth the money to you?
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Thomas | Your Daily Finance says
Normally I would say a good detailing isn’t worth it but if you are selling your car and its in good shape a great detail might just help you get more bang for your buck. Some hair salons for women in my opinion are just way to expensive. I need to have my wifey check to see if massages are covered through her job. She really enjoys them!
We have a friend who is a hair dresser cut our hair and my father in law makes his own wine, enough for a small army so we never pay for it lol. I detail my own vehicle and massage therapy is covered under my works benefits so I take advantage of that. Some things i don’t think are worth paying for are things you can grow in your garden for cheap over the summer months, herbs and organic vegetables. Organis at the grocery store is so overpriced it’s not worth it to me but for others, maybe. I don’t pay to have someone rotate my winter tires, I do that myself as it’s dead easy to do. Gosh this list could go on and on. I think it depends on your time, your skills and what friends with benefits you have. I often say if you can trade skills you can save cash. Cheers Jordann
Simon @ Modest Money says
Well yeah, some things aren’t worth the expenses, in my case cable and anything Tv related. Cutting cable shaved a lot from my budget, I now watch less and less of tv, am even thinking even of selling it off and sticking to other forms of healthier entertainment 🙂
Dry Cleaning totally isn’t worth the expense to me. I clean my shirts on delicate to not mess up the collars, and the iron. I have coworkers who must be individually responsible to dry cleaning businesses in the area, and I am always baffled by how much they spend on this seemingly optional service.
Dry cleaning is an expense I cannot fathom spending a lot of money on: wash on delicate and iron. Cheaper and 95% as good.
DC @ Young Adult Money says
My wife has been cutting my hair the past 2-3 years and it’s been a great money saver! Especially if you get your hair cut short, it’s pretty easy for someone to learn how to cut it.
Kasey @ Debt Perception says
Oooh, the money (and time) my husband wastes on games and energy drinks! 😀 I really don’t have much of a say in that one so I’ll go with haircuts. I hate paying $12+ just to get my hair trimmed. I’m a cancer survivor and have baby fine/sparse hair. My entire head has about as much hair as most people have in just their bangs. It’s a simple bob (longer in the front), if I gather my hair in the back I can do the job in 1-3 snips.
Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies says
I’m all about skipping haircuts. I’ve been going 2 years in between haircuts lately, and then donating the cut hair to charity after doing so. Feels like a win-win with low cost and doing something nice. =)
John S @ Frugal Rules says
We’re the same way with hair cutting. My wife has been cutting mine for years. She also started going to one of the local beauty schools a year or two ago and gets her hair cut for $9 as opposed to $50 – $60 and looks no different. The alcohol…that’s s a different story. 🙂
I used to get a basic mani-pedi every three weeks at a cost of about $60.00, plus tip! I did this literally for years. One day I removed my toenail polish at home as I had a bad paint job and was shocked to see the condition of my nails. They looked unhealthy with lots of white lines and superficial cracks all over them. I found out that my constant wearing of (mostly dark) nail polish had been depriving my nails of sufficient oxygen for years. I quit the mani-pedi habit cold turkey and started doing my nails myself but without the polish. I now paint my toenails only if I will be wearing a sexy sandal and I remove the polish once I get home. My nails recovered over time and look great now.
I have saved a TON of money as a side result of of stopping the nail treatments. Saving money wasn’t the intent of stopping the nail care but it has been a most welcomed benefit.
Mark Ross says
Expenses made to purchase the latest gadgets, that’s a kind of money-wasting habit I still see many people do. I think it’s not worth that amount of money for an item that will soon be like any normal device after just a few months, right? Why not use that amount of money to purchase something worth using and can help you increase your asset and not your liabilities.
Anyways, enough of that, great post!
Cleaning a car is not fun but if you don’t want to pay for it you still have to do it, especially in a place with snow where they salt the road or the corrosion will damage your car quickly. I am too lazy to trust myself with cleaning it regularly so I have it cleaned.
I kinda want to say manis/pedis, but that would make me a hypocrite since I get them often! 😉
If in debt and trying to get out while living on a strict budget, manis/pedis are definitely a waste. It comes out of my fun money so I don’t mind it so much.
Some other examples I can think of:
– exterior car washes
– paying someone to clean your house
– bank fees
– greeting cards
– soft drinks in a restaurant ($3+)
– beer at sporting events
Have a good day!
Christopher @ This that and the MBA says
That is funny you mention hair cutting, my boss came over the other day and we were talking. He still uses a flobee. Remember those, hook it up to the vacuum and cut away. HAHA
Leslie Beslie says
Expenses That Aren’t Worth the Money: Haircuts for MEN
Expenses That Are Worth the Money: Haircuts for WOMEN
Huge difference! Most guys I’ve dated always trimmed their own hair since it needs to be done so often. For myself, haircuts are an area I splurge on because I finally realized that those $20 cuts are pretty rough looking and just mean you need to get a cut more often. Spending the $80/haircut twice a year is totally worth it to me.
I agree, women’s hair should be cut by a stylist and men’s cam just be trimmed. My dad spends more than $25 to get his hair cut at a salon. But $80 for one a haircut??? You can go to a salon and get a hair cut for less than $30! I’ve seen crappy stylists in great salons and great hairstylists in cheap ones. I’ve gotten beautiful haircuts for way cheaper. I just see spending that much on a haircut, even if it’s just twice a year, too expensive.
I push my haircuts once every two months, instead of once every two weeks when I was in my late teens. I have to pay to get it done because it is complicated for a non professional, aka my wife. I would totally cut the cable like any normal PF blogger, but the Mrs. and kids won that vote.
I keep my hair pretty long so other than the occasional trim I only get a real haircut about once every two years. I want to get my car detailed but I can’t justify the expense. I clean my car about every other weekend. I like to stay on top of it so it doesn’t get too hard to handle.
Mr. Utopia @ Personal Finance Utopia says
Jordann, you must have some awesome insurance. I’ve never heard of massages being covered! Do you have really high premiums? I’d so be on top of that if my insurance paid for massages.
The Frugal Exerciser says
Can you elaborate on how you got your health insurance to pay for your massages. As a fitness professional, I need a message bi-monthly especially since I hurt my back.
William @ Bite the Bullet says
Do you live near a Trader Joe’s? Two buck chuck has to be cheaper than making your own wine (lots of hidden costs get buries in that one under the heading of hobby/fun!)
I was thinking the same thing! Even if you can’t get two buck chuck there are other options for inexpensive booze… Wholefoods has a $3 bottle and I have found decent wine on clearance at Kroger. Also, if anyone ever gives you a gift card you can get wine and beer at World Market when it is on sale. Just some ideas!
lyle @ the Joy of Simple says
Nice list. My ex-girlfriend has been cutting my hair now for the past year and while I do pay her for doing so, I still save more than half of what I used to pay! To be honest I was a little concerned at first, but she did a great job so I was cool with it from then on 🙂
I also don’t drink at all so no wine or alcohol expenses for me.
I also don’t own a car so no expenses there either.
As for massages…to be honest I never enjoyed them and so don’t spend money on them. Mind you, I don’t live a stressful life at all, so I’ve never felt the need to “unwind” as it were.
There must be other ways I save money and will have to investigate further! Thanks Jordann for a fun and thoughtful post.
Take care and all the best.
The Warrior says
One expense that I would say isn’t worth it is paying for paper towels.
I know. That is a minute thing to mention. However, if we had paper towels in our house, we’d fly through them. We just use rags now that don’t take up much room in the washer as they just get throw in whatever load we are running. Reusable is the key here.
Might not be a ton to save but it adds up.
I need my wine. Buying at the store is way cheaper than buying it by the glass. I buy at Trader Joe’s so comes out to $3/bottle. I also allow myself to get massages quarterly. I’m an actor/dancer so at least it’s a tax write off. Haircuts are always available for free so totally agree on that one.
Things I can’t fathom spending money on: perfume and manicures/pedicures.
I don’t buy anything that needs to be dry cleaned so that I can avoid that expense. I also hang dry most of my clothes so I can save a few bucks at the laundromat. I used to always get mani/pedis but now just do my own nails. I gave up boozing a couple times per week and now only drink rarely. Wasn’t worth the cash, calories or hangovers. I quit drinking coffee for health reasons but saving money on coffee all the time is a big bonus.
Sean @ One Smart Dollar says
I have never tried homemade wine, but I bet it’s pretty good.
Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans says
Free massages?! Wow, I wish my insurance paid for that!
Money Beagle says
I usually clean out my car, but last year I decided to get it done professionally. I used some money from a gift and combined it with a 50% off coupon for detailing at a nearby car wash. I was very happy with the results. I think this is something you can do as a splurge, and it will actually be ‘valuable’ but it will tend to lose it’s value and not be worth it if you do it all the time.
I’d say mani pedis aren’t worth it. While they are great for pampering, it’s just not worth that $40 to $50. You can easily do them at home yourself of better yet, make it a girls night and get your girlfriends to do it for you.
Always a good reminder! I cut my husband’s hair, too (he needs another one! 🙂
I have been cutting my husbands and my son’s hair forever! It does save a ton because thier hair grows so fast. Mine I can’t do that.(I’m not that talenteed) We don’t drink wine so that saves us money too. I’ll have to try and wash my car instead of paying someone else to do it. Once my son is old enough that will be his chore 🙂
Yes! I’ve been cutting my own hair for the past few years- I can’t believe how much some women pay for something I can do for free. And guess what? I get tons of compliments on my hair, which makes it even better 🙂
There is no way I’d let my wife cut my hair! No matter how strict our budget is. One thing I can easily do without is taxis. Some friends of mine use taxis religiously, even for short distances, its an incredible amount of wasted money. We prefer to walk, bike, or use public transit.
Tara @ Streets Ahead Living says
Can you recommend any good wine recipes and materials required? i’d love to get into making wine. Although at the Trader Joe’s wine store, I can get good house wine for $4-$5 a bottle so I’d more do it just for fun!
Dear Debt says
I don’t think haircuts, cable, fancy coffee drinks, manicures or pedicures are worth it. Would i enjoy them? Hell yeah, but I don’t need them.
I don’t drink, so when I see what people pay for beer, wine etc I’m shocked. Cable is the same way for me mostly since I can get a free app or netflix to watch what few shows I do like (haven’t had it for over 5 years and never once have missed it!). Car washes and car vacuuming-I have my own supplies and it only costs me resource wise.
Kostas @ Finance Blog Zone says
Car detailing would definitely be a big no-no for me if I would want to save as much as possible. The idea with wine could be pushing it a little bit though, no guarantees about its success either.
Hey thta’s a double standard…why can you have your hair cut and it’s worth it but your husband’s hair cut is not! =)
And I didn’t know insurance covers massages?
KK @ Student Debt Survivor says
I’d love to be able to cut bf’s hair but he’s super particular. I’d never thought about making our own wine.
Miss Entrepreneurette says
Funny enough, I did cut my own hair for YEARS. It always looked fine, but lately I just got too lazy to keep doing it on my own so I get it cut 2-3x a year or so. I do cut my husbands hair with one of those electric razors. Super easy even though I hate doing it, heh! Luckily my husband is really into cars so he details my car. Well, now that I think about it, he USED to wash and detail my car at least once a month, but hasn’t touched it in months. It’s getting pretty bad in there. I do run it through the $5 car wash at the gas station once a month, thoug. Worth it to me to have it be dust-free.
I also haven’t gotten a mani/pedi in YEARS. I need a pedicure, that’s for sure, but not until our debt is gone or I get a gift card.
The Norwegian Girl says
I´ve been cutting my BF´s hair for over a year now, and we´ve saved so much money, considering a haircut costs over 100$!!
Alicia / Jaybird: Home in Motion says
Brewing wine at home sounds like an especially delicious way to save some money! I’ve recently decided to stop drinking on weekdays and save that money (or put it towards getting something nicer than usual for a weekend dinner). I would love to try making my own wine at some point though!
Karla Twomey says
Love these tips! You are lucky your hubby makes wine! mmmmm I agree with an above poster about mani/pedis. What a treat but I am capable of doing it myself in the same amount of time.
My friend’s dad makes his own wine and it tastes horrible and we all don’t have vineyards in our backyards. I think buying wine from the liquor store is a WHOLE lot cheaper than buying a glass of wine with dinner in a restaurant. One bottle of wine costs what one glass of wine costs and the bottle has 4 glasses.
Not everyone’s insurance covers massage and I have good insurance that covers acupuncture and chiropractic.
I, too, have cut out a lot of “little ” things. Like a regular mani/pedi. I have all the stuff (and polish ) at home, so why not do it myself. I buy a lot of my clothes at a thrift store. Just not underwear or socks – I buy those new!! I’m fortunate enough to be able have military privileges, so I use the commissary and the base exchange for my groceries and clothing, etc. I save a TON of money on my groceries at the commissary, plus they take coupons!!! One shopping trip, I had $30 in coupons!!! My total was under $100 and that was with 4 adults and an infant in the house! !!
Fancy organization supplies. First, I learned you don’t have to organize what you don’t own, so I did a major declutter. Then, I realized I usually have extra boxes or containers lying around so I slap a label on them and store in the closet. No…Pampers boxes aren’t as fancy as clear plastic totes, but I’m frugal and resourceful.
You can stream some channels through the wifi connection without paying a cent. CBS for instance will allow you to watch your favorite episodes the next day after it is aired for free. I gave up my dish and have high speed internet and phone /fax line for about 80$ less per month. Just a thought.
Manicures and pedicures are something that I see people do a lot, even when they complain about money!
Biggest money saver for me was to eliminate meat and poultry from my diet; lots of inexpensive protein sources and tons of good meatless recipes online. Start slowly maybe 2 nights a week go meatless and gradually increase the meals you have sans meat. You’ll be surprised how much you do not miss it and it’s OK to occasionally have a burger or something you crave. But I found that the longer I went without meat the less I craved it and now have no appetite for it at all.