The Art of Worth It

Like I’ve said before, I’m not particularly frugal. I have my splurges that add up to equal somewhere around $36k in spending a year. However, there are some things that are totally worth spending more on, and some that are definitely NOT worth spending on.

*this is totally my opinion. If I offend someone with my dislike for Boy Scout popcorn, I’m going to act sorry but I’m really not.

Worth It

Popcorn: Whether it’s at the movie theater or at home, no movie watching experience is complete without popcorn. I love the buttery gooeyness, the bite of the salt, and the crunch of the popcorn.

Girl Scouts are cuter anyways
Girl Scouts are cuter anyways

(not really a huge fan of picking the brown shells out of my teeth for what seems like days or the calories of said buttery goodness though)

Several years ago, I came into drill one chilly weekend to discover a case of popcorn in my locker. For a cheap bastard like me, it was like the gods descended and bequeathed me with their heavenly snack. Some very kind person had donated a pallet (or two?) of Boy Scout popcorn. It’d been too expensive in the past to buy, so I’d always crushed the dreams of the cute little boys in their sashes and said no.

But then I get a case, a whole CASE of popcorn to experience for myself. I was so happy.

Until I actually ate a bag. It doesn’t pop well (insert a joke about old maids here), there’s no salt, and no butter. I need my artificial yellow flavoring dammit!

Then I realized I had a whole case to eat and got sad. I’m pretty sure my roommate dumped part of his case on me as well, because I’m STILL EATING THE POPCORN. I finally made it to the last box in my pantry and I’m never buying anything but Butter Lovers Act II popcorn again.

In this case, spending more on the fancy brand name popcorn is totally worth it.

Feminine Items: Sorry boys, I’m going there. The differences between the cheap tampons and my Playtex Sport Tampons are night and day. It’s the difference between being somewhat comfortable going out in public while Mother Nature is here (well, as comfortable as you can be. It’s pretty uncomfortable no matter what) and potentially having a embarrassing episode in public. Or waking up in the morning to find a horror scene all over your sheets.

I would pay a lot more money than I currently do to ensure that confidence. And trust me, these are not cheap. Someday I may suck it up and investigate a Diva Cup but for now I’m content with the setup I’ve got.

Sidenote: the smart cups that connect with your phone via bluetooth are not worth it, imo. Maybe if they weren’t designed to give out in 6 months, I’d consider it, but $40 or more for maybe 6 or 7 uses is too much. And no, I’m not kidding. Check out their Kickstarter.

Every month is a battle

Quality Undergarments: Another worth it mostly aimed at the ladies.

Let me tell you, there is nothing worse than suffering through going bra shopping, getting measured, laying out loads of cash and then having your underwire stab you 2 days later. I’d much rather pay a few more dollars to buy quality underwear that will last awhile and be comfortable.

I wear a weird size, so sharing secrets with Victoria is out. Instead, I did the measurements myself from ABraThatFits and ordered them on the wonderful, amazing internet. Most of the shops online that carry my non-standard size are located in the UK so I took advantage after Brexit and bought them cheaper than normal!

That goes to show you can still get the good stuff and find a deal!

As for the lower half, quality still applies. Aint no one got time for wedgies or non-breathable fabric. For my male readers, I spent most of my trip to Ecuador listening to one of the guys sing the praises of his underwear. The Chautauqua’s are so great hahahaha.

I would also extend this to swimwear. I grew up swimming and the cheap suits would fall apart halfway through the season. Much better to buy the Speedo for a bit more than having to go back and buy another suit. I currently have a suit I bought last second at a Wal-Mart. It’s a few years old, but the elastic is shot to hell and the suit is starting to thin dangerously. Not something I want to wear tubing! This time around I will be getting a sturdier, better made suit that can handle what I’m going to throw at it. aka getting whipped off a tube at 40 mph and doing flips before I land face first in the water.

Toilet paper: Are you sensing a theme yet? I’m sensing a theme. The moment I moved into my first place I went to the store, got the thickest and softest toilet paper they had, and never looked back. I grew up poor, then went to college and joined the military. I was sick of using the one ply stuff that looked like it could pass for tissue paper. I would also like to think getting the better quality stuff means I use less of it. It’s been a whole year since I moved and I just now got out the last roll from a 24 pack I bought when I moved in.

Travel: I can’t think of a single trip I regret. Every single penny I’ve spent on travel in the past has be worth it. I love getting to explore the world, meeting new people, and expanding my thinking. It’s possible to do that at home, but it’s so much easier to do when you’ve been thrust into a whole new world!

I can't see these at home
I can’t see these at home

Not Worth It:

Music: With the number of free options out there on the market, I don’t see the need to pay for Pandora, Spotify, or satellite radio. I can suffer through a few ads to save any number of dollars a month.

Cable: I talked about the benefits of going cable free earlier, so I’m not going to beat a dead horse. Just know I’ve saved $300 since I wrote that article, which brings my savings over $1k already! Ok, fine, if I’m honest….. I probably spent that extra $300 on burritos instead of saving it but! At least it went to my bottom (line) instead of Comcast’s!

Eating out: Now that I just finished tell you that I spent all that extra money on food, I’m going to turn around and tell you eating out isn’t worth it. Real talk: It isn’t. But sometimes it’s way easier to just drop by Jimmy John’s than it is to actually make your own food. It’s irritating, but it’s a real struggle for me. I know it’s bad for my health and wealth, but some days I’m not so strong. Maybe one day I’ll do a month where I don’t eat out at all. That’d be really hard! (and would save me a ton of money).

New Car: Some people I know love the everloving crap out of their cars. I don’t get it. To me, spending more money than absolutely necessary is not worth it. I have a lovely car (2005 Pontiac Vibe) and it runs great. Why would I sign up for a new car and the debt that comes with it? I’d rather put $450 towards my Roth IRA than a depreciating ‘asset’ like a new car. I do have aftermarket rims on the car, but it took me a solid two years to figure that out as the previous owner had put them on. Now, one small thing that was worth it was upgrading the radio unit in the car. The one I replaced had a CD and tape slot, but no AUX input. I upgraded very modestly and have used it every time I drive the car. I can’t really think of anything else I’d replace though. It just wouldn’t be worth it.

Breakfast at work: Somewhat related to eating out, but a category all of its own. I’m extremely lucky that my office has a full service cafeteria right in the building. It’s as easy as going downstairs and swiping your card. I usually get loaded hashbrowns for breakfast and they. are. delicious.

I’m probably the fattest skinny person you know….. I love to eat.

Anyways, depending on the register’s feelings and the cashier of the day, loaded hashbrowns cost anywhere from $2-$3. It’s extremely reasonable until you remember you can buy a box of instant oatmeal for $2.50 (less on sale) and have breakfast for a week. I also have regular oatmeal at home that costs about $.12/serving if I wanted to be particularly frugal. But that’s not worth it to me considering I’m the most awake zombie ever in the morning. I’m happy compromising with $2.50/week for breakfast instead of $2.50/breakfast.

One day when I’m FI, I could probably cut my spending down by doing all the frugal things I “should” be doing like the cheap oatmeal. After all, I still have a ways to go before reaching my expected spending level in early retirement. But right now, I’m content with the line I’ve drawn in the figurative frugal sand.

What do you consider worth it? Agree or disagree?

12 thoughts on “The Art of Worth It

  1. Eating out is something that I always tell myself should not be worth it, but something that I seem to do all the time. I’d say the highest it’s ever been is like $600/mo, but that’s rare and I try to stick to $15/day which still seems high.

    I also tend to spend a lot on music as I nerd out over movie scores and a lot of it is released via limited edition compact disc. If not for that oddball hobby, I’d just listen to free internet radio.

    TP is a no-brainer not to cheap out on.

    Travel, too.

    I think I may have mentioned before on this blog – a good mattress is absolutely worth it every time. I think this is my biggest concern about traveling via airbnb…what if they have crap mattresses?

    Re: the post-Brexit cheap undergarment imports. That is Hilarious.

    • I LOVE movie scores. The score from The Holiday is one of my favorites. It’s so relaxing. Hans Zimmer (or his studio underlings working under his name) is my favorite composer by far.

  2. Thank you, thank you for plugging AbraThatFits! As a woman who has never fit into the narrow size range at Victoria’s Secret, this subreddit was a godsend. I wish more women would realize that they’re probably wearing the wrong size. I have heard some crazy stories, like the woman who’s mother bought her daughter the same size bras as her just because she figured they were probably the same size. ABTF also helped me discover those same overseas brands that cover the outlier sizes at reasonable prices and has made this less of a splurge area for me. Anyway, enough about bras – I also agree on every other point, except I’d replace popcorn with chocolate chip cookies.

    • It is a godsend! It’s amazing what VS will do to lower stock and push more product. I’ve been so happy since I found ABTF!

      Also, totes agree on chocolate chip cookies. Storebrand chips are no match for Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips.

    • I’ve eaten a lot of meh food in my life. I haven’t traveled much yet though, so each experience has been special. Maybe that will change when I ramp up to more trips!

  3. I think i read something that hinted you might be close to phoenix (stalker alert!). If you are, there is an A-M-A-Zin’ popcorn place at thunderbird and scottsdale road. It’s certainly a treat and a regular visit isn’t going to get you closer to FI, but i just discovered it so i have to tell the world. It’s called Popcorn Kitchen (they let you mix flavors and everything!). My current favorite is the caramel cashew mixed with chocolate.

    • Unless there’s another Phoenix in the Midwest that I don’t know about, I’m not close at all 🙁 that popcorn sounds delicious!! I’ll have to visit Arizona sometime.

  4. Okay, young lady. I’ll cut you slack on the hygiene products, but the toilet paper is where I draw the line. A real man will wipe with a poison ivy leaf out in the woods and be happy for it. You ladies need to man up.

    Seriously, I don’t think you are all that spendy. Personally, I spend a bit more than I should on alcohol because I work up a powerful thirst. Going out to eat is not always a waste of money, especially when enjoyed with family and/or friends. Where spending is a problem is when you go ape-shit crazy all day long. And you are saving a significant amount. Don’t beat yourself up too much. Keep yourself honest, just don’t draw blood. You tucked away a serious amount of money at 25. Hell, I have clients who are in their sixties with less than you have (most).

    There is nothing wrong with enjoying popcorn at a movie. It is too easy to get caught up in the “I spend too much compared to _______” syndrome. You are 25 and having the time of your life and spending responsibly. Don’t try to be like Pete, or Brandon or even Keith; be Gwen.

    I must say I draw the line at the bra thing too. Dammit, do you know how hard it is to find a good pair of drawers when you run a lot? Someday I’ll explain runner’s chafe. Besides, I think I speak for all guys when I say bras are optional. (Did I say that? Dangit! Banned from another site.)

    • Keith…. You forget I was in the military. I know allll about runner’s chafe. I saw guys with bloody nipples and heard complaints of chafing in other, more delicate areas.

      Thanks for the pep talk! It’s not that I’m comparing my spending to other people’s spending. I’m comparing it to where I want to be so I can be on track for my goal. Although if I subtract my housing costs, my spending goes down to a much “better” rate. Let’s hope when I move I can find a duplex to buy!

  5. OMG, bras! I discovered ABTF last year. Life changing. I also can’t stand cheap TP anymore.

    I do pay $13 a month for Spotify to make commuting/running more fun (mobile data is expensive here and I like the control to queue up songs).

  6. Popcorn, feminine hygiene and bras that fit? WIN. I completely agree. Now I make my own amazing kettle popped popcorn slathered in butter (because isn’t popcorn just a vessel for butter) this saves money, lots of money and is oh so tasty.

    I’m honestly a huge fan of the divacup, I haven’t calculated how much money it has saved me but supposedly it’d cost me around $60/year in disposables. Spending $35 for a cup that has lasted me 4 years and counting (up to 10?) feels good both for my wallet and the planet. I highly recommend at least getting one to supplement!

    I discovered my true bra size 6 years ago and I think I’ve ended up spending less money on bras. Yes they cost more, but after buying them on sale and having them last way longer and still look and feel great not only is cheaper in the long run but has saved me the time I used to spend hunting bras. Also check out if you want well priced second hand and often new bras! (For other stuff I use Pact Apparel, ethical and amazingly comfy underwear)

    I’ve just found your blog and I’m so excited to follow someone my age with a lot of similarities. I just want to say thank you for being out there!

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