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45 things I spend money on

Plus 32 other things I will not pay for (or rarely ever). How does your frugality compare?

By MSN Money Partner Mar 22, 2013 2:17PM

This post comes from J. Money at Budgets are Sexy.


If you ever thought I was frugal, this will change your mind. I do like saving money where I can, but I also like saving sanity and time just as much. As evidence, I offer my list of 45 things I spend money on.


Image: Espresso machine with mug, close-up © nd61 , SuperStockThis all came about after I read two articles:

  • The first was on Blonde & Balanced, where Em wrote about 45 things she does not spend money on.
  • The second was from Julia at Bargain Babe, where she, too, listed a bunch of things she doesn't spend on -- 44 items, to be exact, which spurred Em to try and beat her.

I was pretty sure I'd agree with most of the stuff on their lists, being a money blogger and all, but it turns out they're much more budget-conscious than I. And as a result, smarter.


But you know what? I'm OK with that. I save like crazy, invest even more, and have pretty much dwindled as many of my expenses down as I'm physically comfortable with. (With the only exception being my mortgages.) So if I spend $100 or so more a month to enjoy my laziness, that's perfectly fine with me. You can always tweak your habits should your circumstances change, right? (And for those who do save a ton by doing things yourself -- keep it up! I'm just not as patient nor focused as you are.)


I copied and pasted every single item the two of them mentioned, then merged them and divided them into two lists: one that I do pay money for, and the other that I do not, so you can compare how I align with them.


Here are 45 things I do pay for from their lists of things they do not pay for:

  • Soda -- Not frequently, but I do like to have my fridge stocked just in case.
  • Magazines -- I'm an addict! Don't judge!
  • Paid apps -- If they save me time, I'm all over them.
  • Pre-chopped fruit -- For parties and what have you.
  • Veggie platters -- Same. You're always in a rush before a get-together.
  • Fruit platters -- Same. (Why are these all separated out?)
  • Frozen pizza -- Yum!
  • Baby food products  -- Yup! And an awesome byproduct are those cute little plastic containers they come in. I repurpose them for all kinds of mini storages around the house.
  • Fast food -- Perfect on road trips.
  • Single-serving cheese slices, yogurt and milk -- Sure, when I don't need a ton.
  • Single-serving smoothie drinks -- Sometimes, but very rarely.
  • Disposable napkins -- Every now and then.
  • CDs or MP3s -- Of course. ITunes is the greatest.
  • Books -- Yup. You can't have a home library without them, unless you used a public library to keep restocking and then swapping out every six weeks -- a rotational library.
  • Movie tickets -- Love movies!
  • Frozen dinners -- For when I'm left to cook for myself. Yes, I'm not going to lie. 
  • Lunch kits -- Snackables! I crave them as an adult since I was rarely allowed to have them as a kid. Too expensive, apparently.
  • Daily coffee -- I can't function without. I'll brew a pot every morning or go out and grab Starbucks if I'm on the road or at a 9-to-5 that doesn't provide. They can charge $10 and I'd still buy it.
  • Boxed rice -- How else would you get rice? Farm it?
  • Candles or any type of home scents -- I use Air Wick as the litter box is dangerously close to my office. For candles, I just wait for the wife to get them as gifts during the holidays.
  • Perfume (cologne) -- Of course. Can you even make your own?
  • Cookies -- Yum!
  • Cable TV -- Double yum. It's good to escape reality sometimes. Or every day.
  • Disposable diapers -- Expensive, yes, but it does make life easier.
  • Hair products -- My "hawk" isn't going to stand up on its own.
  • Regular haircuts -- It's also not going to cut itself.
  • Salad dressing -- Definitely  needed.
  • Car washes -- In summer we wash them ourselves, but in winter we use drive-through.
  • Lottery tickets -- Every now and then, which is a far cry from my days of buying a couple every day. Remember our $100 lottery experiment? Or our "pick my numbers for me" experiment? Those helped to get a lot of it out of my system.
  • Condoms -- (Nods head and then blushes.)
  • Candy -- Not very often, but I do grab them.
  • Bottled water -- I'm a ton better than I was two years ago, but I still use them when not drinking at home, like for walks or when out and about shopping. But at work every day I now use filtered tap water. I'm learning!
  • Oil changes -- No time to change myself, nor any desire.
  • Body wash or hand/body lotion -- Yup! Got to keep this physique clean.
  • Wrapping paper -- How else do you wrap presents? We use bags and tissue paper sometimes, but we can't do that for everything. And it's more expensive anyway. 
  • Trash bags -- How can you not?
  • Name-brand anything I can find a store brand for instead -- I'll go store brand 90% of the time, but some things like peanut butter and soda I just can't do.
  • Professional tax prep -- Yes, especially with my billion and one projects/businesses I have.
  • Gourmet ice cream -- Mmmmmm.
  • Disposable cleaning wipes -- Yes, we do have a baby.
  • Minor household repairs -- If I can't do it myself (which is 99% of the time) I will hire someone to do for me, or if it's something I can do but would take three hours. I prefer to spend that building my business, which will make much more than the one-time cost of a handyman.
  • Dry cleaning -- Only for my dress shirts and pants.
  • Prescription antibiotics -- If it  makes me feel better, yes.
  • Brown bags for lunches -- I don't, but my wife does.
  • Batteries -- Yup! And we need a lot for all the baby toys, too.

Here are the 32 items from their lists that I, too, do not pay for: 

  • Valet parking -- I don't mind parking far away and walking.
  • Personal trainers -- I don't go to the gym, so not applicable.
  • Seasonal fashion items (like brightly colored skinny jeans that are in vogue) -- I just buy what I like whether it's in fashion or not, including skinny jeans if I'm feeling all rock star-ish.
  • ATM fees -- Never. Which I owe to USAA.
  • Clothes at retail prices -- Never. It's on sale or it's no sale.
  • DVDs -- I don't usually prefer watching movies a second time.
  • Fancy toilet paper -- If it does the job, it's A-OK for me.
  • New cars -- Used all the way, even if just by one month (major savings).
  • Candy at the movies -- Just like Julia, we sneak it all in, also cheeseburgers.
  • Gardeners -- I've got my mom for that.
  • Premixed marinades -- I don't even know what that means.
  • Hair treatments -- Not since I stopped coloring my hair blue, green, and all other colors of the rainbow. Just need the spray to keep up the "hawk."
  • Manicures -- I'm not that metro.
  • Pedicures -- Same.
  • Eyebrow waxing/threading -- Can you a tell a girl wrote these?
  • Gym membership -- Don't go to a gym, but do need to try the 100-a-day push-up challenge again.
  • Cigarettes -- Girls say it turns them off.
  • Powdered drinks -- Remember Tang? That stuff was awesome! Otherwise, no.
  • Car payments -- No. But in the future, maybe?
  • TiVo, Roku, Apple TV -- Nope. What is that? And nope.
  • Any makeup beyond foundation and a little mascara -- Only during Halloween.
  • Crack cocaine -- Someone once told me crack is whack.
  • Disposable dishes, cups, silverware -- Rarely.
  • Checking and savings account fees -- Never. Again, thanks to USAA.
  • Credit card annual fees -- Never, unless it gave me a free worldwide ticket and/or meant I was using the Black Card because I was a millionaire.
  • Dog grooming -- Don't have a dog, but wouldn't even so, nor grooming for our cat.
  • Extended warranties -- They almost always aren't worth it.
  • Tanning -- I'm not a "Jersey Shore" cast member, though I'd love to be.
  • Photo printing -- I just use our trusty old computer printer.
  • Return address labels -- Does anyone pay for this? I use those lame free labels the charities send to woo us into donating more money. We have more than 500 sets. No joke. 
  • The local newspaper -- I read everything online unless a paper is sitting at a friend's house or something. I do enjoy (and miss) reading newspapers though.
  • Grocery bags -- I'm finally used to bringing our own to the grocery stores. Those 5-cent bag fees finally got us to change our habits.

So, I've listed more expenditures than not. However, this is only from two lists, to which I've contributed absolutely nothing. I'm sure if I thought long and hard I'd be able to make the no-spend column a lot longer than the stuff I do spend on.


Anyone want to compare their own habits with mine? Remember that it's not so much what you spend your money on in life, as how you spend your money. It's all about prioritizing and consciously choosing where your money's best used. As long as you're doing that, the haters can hate all day long and it'll be our little secret that we're killin' it.


Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to grab my single-sized yogurt and a napkin while I watch some cable TV, and some candy along the way too, just in case.


More on Budgets are Sexy and MSN Money:


Mar 22, 2013 8:55PM
I can't believe I was outdone by Blonde and Balanced! The bargain babe in me HAS to go back to the drawing board to brainstorm more things I REFUSE to pay for so that my list may be longer than hers. :)

J. Money, you may pay for single serving yogurts and napkins, but I have a hunch there are ways that you are saving money that I am not. Care to venture a list and I'll compare with my spending habits?

Mar 25, 2013 6:52AM

A happy wife is a wife maxing out the cards but not necessarily sane !

Mar 25, 2013 4:54AM
I disagree with printing photos at home. If you want them to look like trash then go ahead. Otherwise, use a reputable photo printing service. Mpix is great quality. Just order a bunch at one time.
Mar 24, 2013 4:30PM
  Why aren't cell phones on any of the 3 lists?!?  A land line is FAR cheaper than any cell phone plan. 
Mar 22, 2013 6:37PM
you really should give roku a chance....lose the cable and no monthly fees...more channels than you could ever need....
Mar 22, 2013 5:48PM
roku lets you see hulu and netflix on your TV, I save money by not having cable yet pay $8/mo on netflix and hulu and all my show viewing needs are satisfied
Mar 22, 2013 4:05PM

Good list! I do pay for Photos, batteries, dog grooming ( we have a Maltese) and Gym ( $10/Month) Everything else I don't pay either.  I can add the following I don't pay for:  tire rotation, flat tires, plumbing leaks, installation or assembly, electrical repairs, carpet cleaning, dry wall repairs, window washing and credit card interest or fees.  I also have credit card rewards as follows: 5% gas, 3% grocery and 2% everything else with no limits on anything.  All good  every day of the year.

Mar 22, 2013 11:44PM
The tagline of his article on Nothing But Crap news was 'Spending can save your sanity'. Apparently, it hasn't worked for the incompetent POS Pretender-in-Chief and his irresponsible ad-MINI-stration...all American taxpayers' money into that bast*rd's pockets and NOTHING to show for it, but almost 17 TRILLION dollars in debt, HIGHER taxes, SKYHIGH unemployment, OUTRAGEOUS medical bills thanks to BlowbamaCare, and EXTRAVAGANTLY LAVISH vacations by the Liar and his tranny wife, Mooooochelle. They are BOTH certifiably INSANE. 
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