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4 lifestyle choices that save money

Some of these choices may seem extreme to you, but other people are perfectly comfortable with them.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 29, 2012 4:32PM

This post comes from Miranda Marquit at partner blog Bargaineering.


Image: Dog in purse (© Corbis)Many of us don't realize that our everyday habits and pleasures cost us. Some of our lifestyle choices also end up costing us lots in the long run.


In order to save money at all costs, there are some rather extreme (at least in our society) choices you can resort to. Consider your situation and what might work best for you. And remember, there are some things that are better than having money.


1. Avoid having kids

It's a bit late for this one for me; I already have a child. The cost of having kids continues to go up. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it costs nearly $235,000 to raise a child from birth to age 18. Of course, there are plenty of people who dispute that. The USDA's calculator estimates that my son should cost me more than $26,000 a year. But I've run the numbers, and he doesn't cost me that much.


However, having a child does make a significant difference in my budget. But I love my son and enjoy him. Even though there are studies that say people are more miserable when they have kids, I'm not sure that's the case for me. I know I'm supposed to say that my son makes me happy. Sometimes he doesn't, though. Sometimes, he's a pain. But I still think he's worth the cost, especially as he gets older and more interesting. I think parenting has long-term joy factors, even if you are miserable in the short run.


That said, though, if you are really serious about saving money, and you aren't into the long-term sentimental stuff, cutting out the kids can be one way to do it. (Post continues below.)

2. Stay away from pets

I've seen how much my parents spend on their two dogs. They are medium-size dogs, but the costs of caring for them really add up. When you have a pet, it will cost you in terms of food and care, as well as medical attention.


Some pets require a little less expense than others. We have fish. These are relatively inexpensive. My husband's cousin has rats. They aren't too bad, but still cost more than the fish. And I have a cousin with horses. Now there's an expensive pet.


Even with the pet costs, though, some people really like their animals. And that's fine, as long as you don't mind spending the money on them. But be prepared to pay a lot if you kids and pets.


3. Don't go to college

One of the big debates right now is whether college is worth the cost. The cost of college continues to rise, but you might not need a degree to succeed. There are professions that just require non-college training, and you can earn a decent salary.


The cost of college includes tuition, books, fees, room and board. In fact, it costs so much that few people -- even with some scholarship money -- can afford to attend college without debt


Starting out life with crushing debt seems like a poor way to begin, even with a college degree. It makes sense to carefully consider a career path, and the possibilities, before plunging into college. Be realistic about the salary from a college degree, and whether or not it is worth the cost you'll pay.


4. Never buy a house

We often think of buying a home as one of those financial milestones that amount, basically, to a requirement. The conventional wisdom is that you should buy a home because renting is just throwing money away. But could it actually save you money to rent forever?

Housing costs go beyond just your mortgage payment and interest. You also have to consider maintenance and repair, as well as property taxes, insurance, and other costs. Once you add everything up over the course of decades, there's a real possibility that you won't even break even, despite tax deductions for interest and appreciation. This is especially true during a housing market crash. You could save money each month by renting, and then invest the difference. You might come out ahead.


What do you think? Would you try any of these extreme money-saving ideas?


More on Bargaineering and MSN Money:

Aug 29, 2012 8:27PM
I would never give up the good memories that the dogs, er, I mean the kids gave us. 
Aug 30, 2012 4:14AM

Two kids now 32 and 35, currently 5 pets (4 dogs, 1 cat), I worked my way through college (4.5 yrs) and yes we own a house..well the bank owns most of it.


The only change would be a smaller house.

Aug 30, 2012 1:02PM

Kids are expensive and exhausting, and when mine were teens I was ALL for retroactive birth control.


But, as adults, they are amongst our best friends AND the parents of our adorable grandkids who only cost us money when we want to spend it on them! 


We would be unhappy without a pet, but now as empty nesters we are fine with one single cat, instead of multiple cats and a series of dogs that seemed so important when we had kids in the house.

My wife and I were never able to have children, so that was never an issue. We did have pets, fish at one point (very expensive to keep a salt water tank going), then a Gofin's (spelling?) Cockatoo, very destructive, thus expensive; and finally, three cats over a period of 25 years...they were our children. Now they are all gone, Keiki in 1995, my wife in 2007, Scout in 2008, and Misha in 2011 (he was nearly a 23 y.o. cat). College didn't cost me much, it took ten years while I was on active duty with the Marines, but tuition assistance and the SNCO Degree Completion Program and a few small student loans took care of most of it. The Masters degree was a little more expensive (I finished it after I retired from my first career and had to take out a bit larger student loan to pay for what my VA education benefits wouldn't), but the degree's are what got me my second career, along with the experience I received after getting my B.S. through the SNCODCP..

To sum it up, I don't have kids, my pets are gone, I have two degrees, I own my own home, and I am a widower...And I am socking away nearly 20,000 a year, while still carrying a mortgage.working full-time at one job, one day a week at a part-time job, and drawing pensions from two defined benefit plans, I have health care coverage (HMO style/:(),and I'm only 58.Just wait until I put my real retirement plan Into action.

Aug 30, 2012 11:45AM
I think the problem with buying a house is people tend to buy more house than they can afford.  Then they can't figure out why they can't afford the house payment, let alone the cost of repairs.  Quit trying to keep up with the Jones', buy less house, and pay it off sooner.  Then you will actually have what they call "equity" in your home.
Aug 31, 2012 12:38PM

I find this article depressing - especially if someone implemented all of these ideas.  We all end up the same way - eventually unfortunately and this article seems to indicate that having money at the end makes up for all these sacrifices.  This article seems to suggest that saving money is more important than experiencing life with attachments.  


Purchasing a home I can afford - not a McMansion (!) is an investment in my financial future.  Having pets allows me to make the world a better place for everyone since the animals are not running wild or needing to be down unneccessarily.  Some people are extremely successful without having gone to college and university and that is great but it should not be expected than skipping college or university will automatically save you money.  There are numerous studies indicating college/university graduates earn more and are happier.   If you choose wisely in college or university your choices will allow you to earn more money over your working life.


Personally I think article is not good or practical financial advice.

Aug 30, 2012 1:30PM
Yeah, I guess just never living life in general, as opposed to say, maybe just making wise financial decisions along the way? This whole article comes off as a bit elitist to me, even with the apologetic starter paragraph.
Aug 29, 2012 6:20PM
I would definitely rent forever. A mortgage is an albatross around the neck, and it sharply reduces mobility. 
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