Don’t Spend Money on Shit You Don’t Like, Fool

My darling, hyper-intelligent baby deer, I am going to share with you one of the best, most secret methods of saving money. It cuts down on wasteful spending, increases your savings, encourages you to be intentional. And it even empowers you to live your best life.

Please hold onto something and prepare yourself spiritually. Ready? Here goes:

Don’t spend money on things you don’t like.

Wait, come back! I know it sounds obvious… but I find myself breaking this personal rule all the damn time. And whenever I do, I regret it, and not just for the wasted dollars I will never ever see again. So take my hand and let’s break it down, shall we? Here’s what I’m talking about when I say “just don’t spend money on stuff you don’t like.”

You only have so much money to spend

You’re probably thinking this is a problem unique to the weak-willed and those susceptible to peer pressure. Fair! And I congratulate you on your iron will and independent nature.

So let me ask you this: when was the last time you bought something because you needed it, not because you wanted it? When was the last time you spent money because you had to? And did you bother to see if you could somehow pay less for that obligation?

You only have so much money to spend. And while some costs are unavoidable, like food and shelter, a big chunk of the money you have to spend is entirely at your discretion.

So why not maximize the amount of joy you get out of your money by minimizing the amount of money you spend on things you don’t truly love or enjoy? Don’t spend money by just… lessening the cost of necessary expenses.

For example: I don’t actually love my car’s windshield wipers, but I need them to see when it’s raining. So when they broke recently, did I buy top-of-the-line, full-price replacements from the dealership? Fuck no. I got myself a coupon to the discount auto parts warehouse. So now I can spend the money I didn’t spend on the fancy dealership windshield wipers on something I like a whole lot more.

I minimized the amount of money I spent on something I didn’t like so that I could maximize the money I had to spend on things I do like.

We’re all subject to various fixed costs in life. (Except for the Maine Hermit. That guy had it made.) I don’t technically like my insurance, or my electric company, or my dry cleaner. But I pay money to them anyway.

If you can’t avoid these expenses you don’t like, then you should at least find a way to pay less for them. Don’t spend more than you have to on things you don’t like. And if you can cut them out altogether, even better.

My struggle

I fucking hate yoga. It manages to simultaneously be both boring and stressful and frankly, I have other shit to do. Yet I am surrounded by yoga-peddling harpies (aka my dear friends) pressuring me to join them for some uncomfortable stretching while listening to maddeningly tuneless “””music“”” and trying not to think about how culturally appropriative the whole thing is.

Friends? I am embarrassed to admit that I used to cave to this peer pressure. That’s right: I yogaed.

And it was while trying to arch my back like a feral cat and contemplate how serene and #blessed I am that I realized: I just spent $10 to do something I hate.

I didn’t pay for yoga because it would make me happy. I did it because it would make the yogavangelists happy.

And I have never yogaed again. When I feel tempted to agree to an activity or purchase that I don’t actually like, I remember the spine-contorting revelation of pointlessness and misallocated resources. I remember that I squandered money that I could have spent on new hiking boots, or guitar strings, or the greatest prize of all: financial independence.

So yoga? Go chakra yourself.

Ok but how?

Shop around for cheaper insurance! Use coupons at the grocery store and Jiffy Lube! Negotiate with your cell phone carrier to lower your bill! Buy generic! You only have so much discretionary spending. Why waste it on things you don’t love or enjoy? Why watch your hard-earned dollars drain away in service to inflated service charges, fees, bills, and social obligations?

We have tons of advice on how to save money by just not spending it:

Don’t feel obligated to accept social invitations that won’t actually bring you any joy. Don’t feel compelled to buy a thing just because everyone else has it and they think it’s weird that you don’t. As the great philosophers Bill and Ted once said, “To thine own self be true.” (This quote is 1000% accurate why are you questioning me?)

Don’t spend money with the Three-Question Method

I have not yet fully mastered this method of saving. Strategically speaking, I’m like a Level Two Conjurer at this point. But I’m trying hard to level up, and I practice as often as possible.

So whenever I’m feeling lazy, spendy, or weak, I just ask myself the following three questions:

  1. Do I actually like this thing?
  2. If not, do I need this thing?
  3. If so, can I somehow pay less for the thing?

And finally, I think of all the things I’d rather spend my money on. A yoga social obligation is so much less appealing than the idea of paying off my mortgage early. And paying off my mortgage feels way better when I know I’m cutting my interest payments in half.

25 thoughts to “Don’t Spend Money on Shit You Don’t Like, Fool”

  1. Brilliant. I would add, ” RETURN SHIT!” I returned the last five books I bought, and I know returning books is a little unusual, but these were bad, bad books. Personal responsibility side note: (I realize I must stop picking books based on their tantalizing descriptions. I’m totally taken in by promises of betrayal, passion, war! . Must bring myself to select books promising slow neighborhoods in the dust bowl where the hero finds a spoon and learns a valuable lesson.)

    1. Girl I feel you. I feel so betrayed when everyone says a book is the greatest thing since sliced bread and I read it and it’s mediocre at best. BETRAYAL. But returning shit is a great lesson. All it takes is a little energy to go back to the store, and suddenly that money is back in your wallet.

    2. I am just now learning this, too. I grew up at a distance from stores, so returns weren’t really an option then (it took another long trip to do so). But now I am learning the ways of the try and return it later if it’s not for me approach. It feels liberating.

  2. Ah, this post is great! Sooo true and gave me a good laugh ( how many times have I bought a stupid clothing item because it was “in style” and made me look like a shapeless tent? Seriously, WTF.) I’d like to think I’ve gotten a bit wiser since those days 😉

  3. That was very entertaining and practical. My spouse is a genius at not spending extra on things where there seems to be no real difference. We consume a lot of store brand grocery items but only on the ones where there is no discernible quality difference. We generally do the same on used vehicles. Your yoga story did make me consider why do I run 18 miles a week when I’ve hated running for almost thirty years ? But then I remembered, it is so I can eat pizza and drink beer. You had me scared that I’d have to stop but I’m OK now.

  4. Yup, so true! The number I’ve times I’ve bought something because it was ‘such a great deal’ and then just felt guilty looking at it sitting in my closet with the tags on is embarrassing. Not buying something is always cheaper than buying something…common sense but not always so easy.
    This can also relate to time, don’t waste time on things you hate. For me that’s running. It’s one of the cheapest forms of exercise out there but I despise it so much. In this case I’d rather spend a bit more to not make myself crazy.

    1. Girl. How do I break myself from feeling like someone has stolen from me if I walk away from a deep discount?! It’s like psychological warfare, but logical obviousness to the point I feel dumb writing it…

      1. I have been planning an article on FOMO for a long time. Basically, our biology compels us to feel it. And marketers work really freaking hard to tap into it!

        The strategy that works really well for me is saying “I love this, I want to buy it, I will wait a month.” (Or a week, or a year, whatever arbitrary amount of time.) If I still remember it, I get it. But 9 times out of 10, I completely forget about it because I never needed it anyway. After a while, you can retrain yourself to feel smug and superior for walking away. But it takes hella repetition!

  5. The struggle is real. Sales kill me. I buy shit because damn it is on so much sale I must have it so no one else can have it and look at me I am great at shopping…..

    All of those damn coffee cups, t-shirts, and picture frames end up on a garage sale and sell for fifty cents….

    Oh and while I enjoy yoga, the dumbest thing in the world is this ‘hot yoga’. “Hey, let’s all do this 2 hour yoga session but turn the heat up to 95 degrees! It will clear our toxins!!” No. F’in. Way. I like my toxins and my sanity too much….

    Great post as always!

    1. THANK YOU! I challenge all hot yogis to explain exactly what a fucking toxin is. Still waiting.

      Sales are dangerous. I’ve gotten good at waiting for a sale when I know I actually need something. Like, I needed some new clothes so I waited for Memorial Day because I knew I could get stuff 50-60% off. But other than that I’d best avoid the store…

  6. YAAAS!
    I save money on rando weird things I don’t care about. I hoard the wee soaps from hotels like a dirty crack addict because I don’t care to purchase my own hand soap. Do you know how long those little soaps last?! I used to buy the uber-fancy-foamy-lemongrass-sandalwood soaps, but no longer. I just need clean hands is all.
    I also stopped using my apartment complex’s dryers because half the time they just return warm steamy clothes. I got tired of feeding quarters to the clothes warmer, so I bought a folding clothes rack that even I can fit in my wee apartment, and now I dry my clothes myself. I save about $25 a month by not paying for the dryer to slightly heat my wet clothes.

    1. Um, are we the same person?! I travel for work a lot, and I am constantly hoarding hotel soaps and shampoos and such. Can’t remember the last time I actually paid money for soap. And I made a laundry line by stringing an old climbing rope between two fence posts in my yard. BOOM. Hardly use that dryer. You’ve got this skill dialed in.

  7. I’m too impatient for yoga, but I used to do it a couple times as way to hang out with my friends. Not anymore!

    Once, my friend tried to get me to spend $50 to go to a concert to see a musician I didn’t like that much. I declined, saying it was “too expensive”, and she replied with, “I just saw you drop $50 on Sephora like it was no big thang.” And I was like, “Girl, that’s because the Sephora stuff is making me happy right now, and I will die inside if I spend $50 on a musician I think is mediocre”. Priorities, people.

    1. I fucking hate people who question your financial priorities. When I say something is “too expensive,” what I mean is “my financial priorities lie elsewhere.” What business is it of hers?

      And thank you for joining me in solidarity against yoga. We must bring down the Down Dog Tower.

  8. Oh good, another sane person who hates yoga! That bikram stuff is effing gross.

    I don’t like a lot of things – the only boner I have is for food and food isn’t that expensive and my belly is limited. I use to have a thing for Sephora too but even that’s washed out. I have 12 shades of red…slightly different from the other shades of red and my husband thinks it’s pointless (which now..yes, yes it is.)


    I bought a pair of those hideous LuLaRoe pants because my friend was a ugly-pant-evangelist.

    I hate MLMs and I hate printed leggings.

    Luckily you can flip those suckers on Ebay and I ended up making $$ on them.

    1. GAWD I can’t wait to write about MLM and watch all the MLM cult members come out of the woodwork to comment…
      I’m so fucking proud of you for turning ugly pants into beautiful cash. $$$

  10. One of the advantages of being a single mother of 4 is that when you say no to buying/doing something, people automatically think it’s because you can’t afford it. So I never got hassled.
    Sometimes, especially in the early days, not being able to afford it was true.
    But usually? I just didn’t want to waste money on something I didn’t value.
    That’s why I really like this post. You’re spot on!

    1. Hahahahaha this is so true! I would never fight someone with four kids!! I should remind people that I have six mouthes to feed… And conveniently leave off the part about them being chicken mouths…

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