No Way I’m Buying That – I Avoid Spending on This Senseless Stuff

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Financial Independence And

Financial Independence And Sensible Spending – The Stuff I Avoid Buying

When I first wrote about reaching financial independence, I laid out the three guiding principles I followed to accomplish my goal: sensible spending, active saving, and sound investing.  In my view, sensible spending was the foundation for how I achieved financial independence.  After all, the smarter I was about spending, the more I could save and invest.  My spending habits were defined just as much about what I didn’t buy as what I did.  But even after reaching financial independence and quitting my job a few years ago, I still sensibly spend and avoid certain purchases.  Such items may be worth the price for others, but they’re senseless in my situation.  Here’s some of the stuff I don’t buy.

#1.  Bottled Water

I can’t remember exactly when I first came across bottled water, but I was well out of childhood.  I don’t feel deprived for not having it while growing up.  In the years since, bottled water has become increasingly commonplace, to the point where many primarily or solely drink it.  Of course, in certain areas of our country and world, bottled water is a must, based on local resources (or lack thereof).  But I live in an area with acceptable water, use filters, and enjoy not paying inflated markup for bottled water.  I’m all set with a a free bottle in a hotel now and then.

Do you pay for bottled water?  Why?

Financial Independence And
I enjoy simpler ice cream options that tend to be cheaper, anyway.

#2.  Ice Cream “Creations”

Okay, I’m going full “get off my lawn” here, but when did going out for ice cream get so expensive?  I blame all these shops who came up with “creations” involving ice cream, increasingly ridiculous toppings, and performance.  You know, mixing all of the stuff together on a piece of marble or whatever.  This all somehow add up to $20-30 for a family of four to get ice cream.  Sure, maybe the portion sizes are bigger, but prices, and maybe some waistlines, are way worse.  No, thanks.  Even the cheap places aren’t really a deal anymore.  I ended up paying almost $6 for two McDonald’s sundaes the other day.  It’s just another reminder I should stick to Turkey Hill, or maybe a kid size DQ sundae (quite a reasonable portion).

What’s the acceptable limit you’ll pay for an ice cream out?

#3.  Sporting Event Tickets

I grew up attending major league baseball and basketball games, one or two NFL matchups, and plenty of college football contests.  I enjoyed attending many of these events with my father and the related bonding time.  In my early adulthood, I went to games less frequently, but I enjoyed the social aspect without spending too much.  In the last ten years or so, my interest in attending live sports has plummeted, and it’s been nonexistent since the beginning of the pandemic.  I don’t expect it to come back.  A few reasons:

  • Outlandish prices on everything
  • For years, going hasn’t been as fun
  • The television viewing experience has greatly improved

It probably helps that I live in an area without any major league sports teams, so my decision against attending is easy.  I may end up at some minor league ballgames eventually, but no time in the forseeable future.

Do you attend sporting events?  Is the experience worth what you pay?

Financial Independence And
I usually obtain my favorite electronics via card benefits, such as the Dell credit from Amex. Source: Dell.

#4.  Extended Warranties

In my early adulthood, I bought a few extended warranties on consumer goods, primarily electronics.  I never had to use any of them, as far as I recall.  I don’t regret these decisions, as I valued the peace of mind they gave me at that time.  But now?  No way.  Why?  I hardly buy anything anymore that needs a supplemental, extended warranty.  And when I do, I usually obtained the item for free (or close to it) thanks to a credit card benefit or award redemption.  Amex’s benefits are my favorite, but many more are out there.  If the item goes bad, oh well – I didn’t pay for it, anyway.  Again, perhaps I’m rationalizing a bit here, but I infrequently buy such items, and they’re not beyond my means, anyway.

Do you buy extended warranties?  How have you benefited from them?

#5.  Unnecessary Recreational Items

I’m casting a wide net here.  RV’s, golf carts, boats, pools, jacuzzis, jet skis, four-wheelers, etc – I avoid them all.  Not only do such items cost a lot of money, they are a huge time suck – which I think is my most valuable asset.  And I’m not talking about the “fun” time with the item.  Maintenance on such items takes a bunch of time that no one can get back.  I’m just not fascinated enough with any of the related hobbies where any of these items would be a pleasure to maintain.  It would just be a waste of money for me and definitely turn into a bunch of unnecessary work I don’t enjoy.

What high-priced recreational items are worth your money and time?

Conclusion

I’ll stop here for now, because I think you get the gist.  I think it’s worth questioning what we spend money on.  I still question myself, but I do splurge from time to time.  Bigger picture, I encourage myself and others to challenge social norms related to spending.  We all have relationships with our stuff, but some are more self-aware than others.  What stuff do you consciously avoid buying?  Have you always avoided these items?  How has your spending behavior changed over time?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA expense-free (or close to it). He enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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18 COMMENTS

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Disney Admission Tickets a waste? Our circa 1990s tickets with many days remaining were purchased at about $20/day full admission, now valued at about $150/day. In a world where a basic chain restaurant meal out easily totals out at $30/person, it’s striking that an all day theme park experience for $150/person is considered wasteful. On a per-hour basis, strikes me that Disney / theme park admissions carry far more time-based value. Of course, one has to be mindful of in-park food and drink costs, etc., but that simply involves being sensible.

  2. Bottled Water is important because NYC has water mains that can be 100 years old. That’s not even the main problem. The taps running from the water main and pipes in the building or house may be very old as well. Some buildings have galvanized steel pipes. Even copper pipes can leach into the water due to the joints being welded with less than ideal materials. Electrolysis can occur in pipes too. Buildings over 7 stories have a water tank (often wood) on the roof for cold water. Every year they are cleaned and brown sediment flows out of the faucet sporadically for an hour. Once every few days I see the same brown color for 2-3 seconds from the faucet. This is a good quality doorman building. Imagine a poor one. This material clogs up the aerator to the point I took an internal membrane out. NYc also fluoridates the water which is not good for the brain or body. Fuji has natural fluorine.

    I like Evian and Fiji. I drink the same water from an ultra high quality source. I drink it no matter what country I’m in. There’s consistency there.

    Filters may themselves leach filtrate material into the water depending on the type. The water might taste good but eventually the filter will degrade and be full of sediment. You my not change it before you have this less than ideal water from your refrigerator or filter. Sometimes a filter will take out too much and you’ll lose the taste and good minerals.

  3. Do you attend sporting events? Is the experience worth what you pay?

    Absolutely. Likely you’ve never had the opportunity to enjoy a MLB game at the Baltimore Orioles, Camden Yards. Reasonable ticket prices can go as low as $15 all with enjoyable views; family friendly low cost to free childrens’ pricing; family and community recognition and emphasis; concession prices within reach; and outside of Covid, bring your own drinks and food into the park. Last season a premium 16 oz beer was $8, and as season ticket holders (group) we get 20% off, now 30%. Also splurge on Washington Capitals – eat low cost outside, every seat a joy to watch the fastest game on ice, also family friendly. Yes, TV viewing is great, but being there now and then would hate to live without that in our lives. We have financial independence WITH this enjoyment.

  4. I agree with Bob. I grew up going to theme parks. It’s what you did before iPhones, big screen televisions, and endless ways to connect to the internet existed.

    These days, you wouldn’t catch me spending the ridiculous amount of much these places cost. I not there’s a lot of love for Disney amongst some fo the MtM crew but I just don’t see the value in it.

    But we all have the things that makes us smile…some just got a lot more than others. For me, I waste a ridiculous amount of money on cars. The number of new cars I’ve had exceeds the number of years I’ve been alive and I’m almost 40 years old.

    So to the Disney lovers and water bottle drinkers, carry on as there are much more expensive things to waste money on and I’m one of the people who does it on a regular basis.

  5. Bottled water means I grab a water and go about my business. Think of it as paying 20 cents for an invisible servant for the 1 minute it takes to wash the straw of your reusable thermos, filling/chilling the faucet water in the fridge or washing the glass you would otherwise use to drink water from the tap. 20 cents for 1 minute of time is $12 an hour. If you value your time more than that, then it makes sense.

    • Rob,
      I see what you’re getting at, but you failed to include the time it took to acquire a bottle of water into your equation.

      • Yes! good point. I was just afraid I might make your head explode if I confessed to actually paying much more than 20 cents a bottle when you count the shipt delivery and 15% tip I pay to have my cases of poland spring delivered. 🙂

  6. I agree with all of the points, with the exception of enjoying a “fancy ice cream” perhaps once every couple of months. As a FIREd couple who have been happily retired for 2 1/2 years (husband) and 10 years (myself) it’s amazing how freeing simplicity is.

  7. Plastic bottled water issue is more than the cost and convenience. It’s environmentally damaging and also unhealthy for you. Chemical from the plastic can leach into the water. You have no idea how long that water has been in that plastic bottle and what temperature they were subjected while getting transported.
    I used to nuke my lunch in Styrofoam container years and years ago. Once I learned how bad plastics are, I try to avoid as much as possible.

  8. Absolutely no plastic bottled water. It should be banned outright. I don’t get while people buy ton of these at Costco and walmart in my town where water is top rated. you can install a 6 stage water filtrations system under the sink for couple of hundred bucks your self and use metal bottle. I welcome when a hotel we stay (domestically and internationally) provides filter water in reusable glass bottle in the room and/or filtered water station throughout the property. And never ever on the extended warranty or maintenance or protection plan of anything. They always sounds all scam to me.

    As for recreational items… I have first hand experience owning an RV from 2011 through 2016, long before the current RV craze. Back then, RV was dirt cheap. actually every thing was dirt cheap coming out of the “greatest recession”… I bought a new 3/4 ton HD truck with $15k OFF MSRP and a massively long 36′ travel trailer with 50% off MSRP… Dealers were happy to get rid of it back then. but even at the price, I was struggling to do enough trips a year to justify the cost. We did enjoy it and made lots of memories.. for about 3 years and then it stayed in the storage most of time. So don’t jump on this latest RV craze. They are ridiculously overpriced now and you think you will enjoy it forever but 3 year max. My neighbor who bought a $150k super class C last summer is already regretting and looking to get out of it. I bet in 2-3 years the market will be flooded with used RVs.

  9. I rather like this “Old Man Shakes Fist At Cloud” rant, particularly since I’m fully on board with a couple of these.

  10. I buy bottled water from Costco its 15 cents a bottle. Yes i know filling up my own is cheaper but i like the convenience and its its worth 15 cents. Im not someone who only drinks bottled but i like taking one with me in the car for my day, that’s about $4 a month so considering the expense of everything else on the list and everything else people spend money on $4 a month is nothing. So you arent really saving money by not buying something that is so cheap and if you buy one bottled drink outside your home its probably $3 anyways. The only downside is the waters are heavy and takes up a bunch of space in your fridge.

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