Skip to main content

Things I Don’t Spend Money On

Many people know they should be saving for a rainy day or retirement, but can’t because they have no money left over at the end of the month.  If they only earned a few hundred dollars more each month, they would be able to put some aside.  The sad truth is, most people’s lifestyle is almost exactly equal to (or greater than) their income.  Living below one’s means seems too hard or old fashioned. 
 
Our family went down to one income years ago when we had our first child.  Since that time, we have made budgeting and stewardship a priority.  Even with a household income well below the median income in the United States, we are able to give, save, and enjoy plenty of great memories together as a family.  One element to this equation is what we don’t spend money on.  Here are a few examples of items that cost us $0 each month.
 
Cable or Satellite TV.  Living without television may sound strange, but it certainly has some benefits.  For most of human history, families figured out how to get by without one!  We own some popular children’s shows and may periodically rent a movie.  However, not having television gives us more time for reading, games, walks, and engaging in conversation.  It is also easier to be content without the newest products when you don’t see hours of advertising each week.
 
Car Payments.  The average new car payment in the United States just surpassed $500 a month.  This is an incredible amount of money that many people are spending on a depreciating asset. Some car owners made this payment for months on end, only to find that they still owe more on their loan than their car is worth!  My current car is a 1999 Camry with well over 200,000 miles.  Our Honda Odyssey that we purchased on Craigslist is somewhat newer, but neither car has ever had a loan.
 
Cigarettes and Alcohol.  Drinking, smoking and gambling are expensive vices.  They not only cost a good deal of money, but generally decrease your quality of life.  I am thankful I have never had to “kick a habit” in these areas, but most people need to choose between achieving financial independence and continuing to indulge these expenses.
 
Convenience Food.  Almost all of the food we eat is homemade.  I am blessed that my wife is an incredible cook and can create amazing meals from basic ingredients.  While we do occasionally buy a pizza or go out to eat, we do these things about once a month and never simply because we are hungry and need a quick meal. This allows our splurges to be special occasions and saves a significant amount of money.

Interest.  The only interest we ever pay is on our home mortgage.  We have no college debt, car payments, credit card balances, or loans of any kind. Interest is a powerful force that pushes you away from zero.  Debt compounds and creates huge financial headwinds, while savings and investments compound and push your net worth higher. It is always better to earn interest than to pay interest.

Internet.  Both the cost and the speed of broadband internet continues to increase. We need some internet connection, but refuse to pay the large amount demanded by our local providers.  To get around this, we rely on my wife’s prepaid cell phone plan which includes unlimited internet and hotspot. For a very reasonable amount, we get 8 gigs of 4G LTE data, which is plenty fast enough to watch videos and more than we typically use in a month. My prepaid plan gives me unlimited talk and text, but no data. That was a tradeoff I was willing to make to pay only $10 a month for a smartphone plan.
 
Lawncare. While I mention lawncare, there are many things people spend money on that can be done quicker and for less money.  Mowing the lawn, changing the oil in your cars, haircuts (especially for the boys), and washing the car are a few examples.  The result of doing these reoccurring tasks yourself is that you’ll have more time and money at the end of the month.
 
PMI. Buying a home in a depressed market was one of the best financial decisions that we have made.  One of the reasons we could buy our home at such an affordable price is we simply refused to buy more house than we could afford.  We were perfectly content to rent for a very long time, which gave us the patience to keep out of the market when it was high.  By the time we could actually afford a house, we were able to pay a full down payment and avoid the additional cost of Principle Mortgage Insurance.
 
Soda.  This is another item that stands for a whole category of purchases.  While we may not be as disciplined as we should be about our diet, there are some common foods that we simply avoid.  For many people, drinking large amounts of soda adds to their waistline and detracts from their bank account every month. Soda is almost always a bad buy, whether at a restaurant or grocery store.
 
Starbucks. This was a little harder for me.  As a kid, drinking coffee and driving a car were two privileges that I looked forward to doing when I became an adult.  Now, I enjoy both activities immensely! However, my coffee house visits have become very rare.  The financial impact of buying a daily coffee or specialty drink is hard to overstate. It is easy to spend well over a hundred dollars a month on this habit.  My secret was learning how to prepare amazing coffee at home. It is important to buy quality, whole bean coffee.  I get most of mine from Costco.  Once ground, I may choose to use a French press, Bialetti, or simple drip brew.  The end result costs me less time and money than a visit to Starbucks, and tastes even better.
 
Subscription Services.  It is very easy to accumulate monthly payments for multiple memberships and services.  While we are members of Costco, we don’t give money every month to other common memberships like Netflix, Amazon Prime, or the local gym. (Running, biking, and owning some simple exercise equipment works better for us). Many people also pay too much for extra insurance.  Everyone should have home, car, health, and term life insurance.  There is no need to insure your refrigerator, cell phone, or child’s bicycle.
 
Don’t get me wrong.  We have many nice things and enjoy plenty of luxuries that we could do without. However, being careful about what we spend allows us to give and save each month. How about you?  Feel free to share some insights below on how you spend intentionally and save regularly.

Comments

  1. You set a great example for us in this area! It's so easy to get caught up in the lifestyle we want only to be left wanting for the things we need. Thanks for posting!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?

Christians are often surprised to learn that December 25th was associated with sun worship, the Mithras cult, and the emperor cults of the Roman Empire long before it was ever thought of as Jesus’ birthday. Christmas day comes from ancient pagan religions, and would have known to the early Christians as Sol Invictus (Latin for the Invincible Sun).
Even before Roman times, the Greeks honored Helios (the Greek sun god) on December 25th.The Coin of Rhodes bears this gods image, and several Seleucid and Ptolemaic rulers associated themselves with this god.In Rome, emperor cults became the chief religion of the land.Some emperors were not content to wait until the senate deified them after death, and associated themselves with gods while they were still alive.Nero, Constantine, and Julian the Apostate all chose the sun god and continued to give priority to the pagan feast held on the day we now call Christmas.

The Philocalian Calendar shows that some time before A.D. 336 Christians began t…

A More Sure Word

As a young follower of Christ I struggled to understand the relation between reason and faith.  One particularly troublesome passage was the first chapter of 2 Peter.  In this passage, Peter writes about his experience with James and John where they witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus.   Then in verse 19, he writes, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy…”
This passage seemed to teach that a Christian should trust the Bible even more than physical evidence. According to that view, Peter was essentially saying that on the one hand you have empirical proof, and on the other hand you have the Bible.  And of course, the Bible is “more sure” than even his eyewitness experience. That would mean Peter was supporting a fideistic type of faith.  However, that would violate both reason and other scriptural passages.
Recently I realized that I had completely misunderstood what Peter is saying. He is not saying that the word of prophecy was more sure than his eyewitness encounter.  He is a…

The Best Books I've Read

I love getting a good book recommendation, and am often asked for reading suggestions.  After looking over my reading log from the past few years, I picked a few of my favorite titles to share with you. 

Feel free to comment and pass this list along.  I would love to know what books you have enjoyed or are hoping to read.
Apologetics Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. While Lewis was certainly more sacramental than I am, this book is an essential read because it forms the foundation for so many contemporary works. The New Testament Documents by F. F. Bruce.Although somewhat short and outdated, this easy book provides evidence for the basic reliability of the biblical texts. From God to Us Revised and Expandedby Geisler and Nix.My favorite overview of texts, translations, and manuscript reliability. On Guardby Craig. A great thinker presents the powerful “kalam argument” for God’s existence.  Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Qureshi.A moving autobiographical account of conversation.  Tactic…

My Million Dollar Smartphone

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007, I knew the world had changed.  This product was immediately one of the most capable smartphones in the world and a status symbol that everybody wanted.  I had some savings in the bank, and decided to put it to good use.  But I didn’t buy an iPhone.  Instead, I bought a small amount of stock in the company.
To this day I have never owned an iPhone.  While many of my friends do, I have never been able to justify the expense. Earlier today I went to the Verizon webpage to see what it would cost me to buy one.  I selected the cheapest current iPhone and clicked “express checkout.”  Without any insurance plan or additional services, the monthly bill came to $92.08 a month.
For over a year now I have been with a company called Republic Wireless.  (No, they are not paying me to write this!)  I paid less than a hundred dollars for a Moto E smartphone, and am on their $10 a month plan with unlimited talk and text.  On two occasions have I paid a few…

Historical Evidence of Jesus

Is it possible that the most famous man in history never actually existed? That is precisely the claim made by some academics today, including Richard Carrier, Robert Price, and Raphael Lataster. There is a lot at stake in this debate.If Jesus never actually existed, then the main claims of Christianity cannot be true.These authors build their case by dismissing the historical accuracy of the Gospels and minimizing the significance of collaborating evidence.

However, many people who reject Christianity remain convinced that Jesus did exist.In fact, some former atheists like Dr. Michael Bird cite the evidence for the historical Jesus as a key reason for their conversion to Christianity. Here are three solid historical arguments for the existence of Jesus.
First, the Christian community viewed the literal life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as central to their belief from a very early date.For example, Paul seems to quote an early Christian creed in 1 Corinthians 15.This passage…