I wrote earlier about six things I splurge on with my limited PGY2 60k annual income. Today I’ll share six things I skimp on, which gives me the money to splurge on what I care about without stopping me from accomplishing my financial goals, including paying off my student loans, maxing out 23.5k of Roth space (18k in Roth 403b and 5.5k in Roth IRA), and this year maxing out 14k in Mini Wise Money’s 529 college savings plan.
- Clothes I bought my entire professional wardrobe with $300 in Jacksonville when I was living on a boat docked at a marina. I was auditioning at Mayo Clinic-Jacksonville August of my 4th year. To save on expenses, I found myself room and board on a boat for $100 and cooking for the captain. It was a really fun experience, having the sea-man’s rock while sitting in the reading room, sailing out to sea, finding giant clams, and then making the freshest clam chowder for dinner. There was a Good Will close to the Marina, where I bought silk Ann Taylor pants in nearly new condition for $4. With a mere $300 bucks, I bought an entire wardrobe to last me decades (as long I don’t get bigger.) I’ve had the good luck of fitting perfectly into a dress I bought at the age of 18 for our residency graduation dinner 14 years later. I wear scrubs for as many days of the year as possible. They are comfortable and multi-purpose. I wear them to work, as pajamas, cleaning, working out…I have innumerable pairs of scrubs, which I wash and change between purposes.
- Haircuts My wonderful now 8-year-old daughter Mini Wise Money started cutting my hair after she secretively cut her own (to our dismay) at 2.5 years old. I figure since she has the interest, I might as well encourage her. The first time she cut my hair, my hair turned out 2 inches shorter on the left than the right. She was so happy to play with mommy’s hair that I didn’t really care much about the length discrepancies between sides. After more than 20 some haircuts, Mini now is a pro and I have life time free haircuts from her.
This was my attempt cutting Mini's hair...not as talented as MWM is with hair cutting. So we agreed that I can't cut her hair but she will cut my hair for free for the rest my life!
- Car This is nothing but a tool in my opinion. I need it to get from point A to B. In 2007, I walked into Honda dealership wanting to purchase a Honda Fit for the most economic price and gas mileage to transport Mini and me safely. I walked out that very same day with a Honda Pilot. That goes to tell you: 1. The salesman was good. 2. I really don’t care what box with wheels my means of transportation was. I now have a Toyota Prius, which is a hand-me-down from Mini’s dad. I love its gas millage and am determined to drive it until the wheels fall off.
- Shoes I don’t skimp on the quality of the shoes, but I do skimp on the quantity of my shoes. Mini says, “Mommy, let me buy a new pair of shoes, your shoes have holes right now…I can see your socks which also have holes…through the holes of your shoes.” My response is, “Honey, I don’t need to replace these shoes yet, look where the holes are. They are on the sides and they are small and don’t impact the functionality of these great shoes at all…just cosmetics.” I don’t care about how things look, just how they work.
- Fancy meals One of our favorite treats is a local authentic, mom and pop Mexican food shop that cooks everything from scratch. No cans in their kitchen. Going there is like eating at home, without the dishes, with excellent service and attention. We sometimes also use the $10 off $30 above coupon, which is incredible. We spend about $25, tips included for our family of 3 and have plenty of left overs for the next day. What’s best is that $25 at McDonalds (most of our society believe the cheapest food is fast food) will only get you Empty calories, nasty food-like petroleum products, horrible health consequences, and no left overs.
- Spend less and live more This is more of a principle than an item that I skimp on. Notice how I ramble on more with this article on skimping rather than the piece on splurging? It’s because not spending requires more creativity than spending. Anyone can make the dollar bill rain, without thought, consideration, or resourcefulness. No wonder Americans keep consuming, keep feeling more bored and need more stimuli, which they keep seeking in more consumption. This is madness. Let’s break the cycle and stop splurging. Or at least think about what splurging brings to the sum happiness and meaning of your life. Challenge yourself to consume/purchase nothing other than food/gasoline/electricity and other necessities to survive for a week. See how you feel. You might just end up loving the detoxifying effects of not consuming endless materials you have no need for. Go for a night walk, make a yummy organic seasonal vegetable medley tonight, stargaze, write a letter to your kid, read a book, or turn on YouTube and do yoga! I find these things immensely more enjoyable than going shopping… after all, what do I need that I don’t already have?
What do you skimp on? Flip side, what do you splurge on? Are you happy with your skimp/splurge balance?
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All articles by DWM are for informational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a professional accountant, financial adviser, or lawyer, before making financial decisions.