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.
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.
(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.
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!
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?