Even the most frugal people have issues on avoiding spending too much of their hard earned money. That is the idea of a free market. Like it or not, there are many things to buy and sell in this world, which means somewhere along the way, you will be caught in some marketing trap and feel stupid for spending too much on it.
In this post I will bring up what I realized people need to avoid spending too much on. Some of these I have fallen for and realized that I have wasted money on. Many of these items are items you can find less expensive and more fulfilling alternatives. For some of these items, even a penny spent will be too much.
1) Special Dinner And Food Wares
One of the many things millennials like myself are “killing” is fine china. For those who do not know, fine china is fancy dinner ware that is usually decorated. So how are they better than dinner ware? Well, next to no fine china is dishwasher safe, you have to wash by hand. It is very rarely used, some even report pulling it out twice in their lives.
Do not get me wrong, fine china is good to have, but the price of fine china has decreased significantly due to the smaller demand. You should avoid spending too much on it, in fact if you pay more than $70 on a recent fine china set, you have spent too much on it.
However, there are other wares to consider including glasses. These can include wine glasses and shot glasses. I have both, and they frequently collect dust. Even when entertaining we almost never pull these out and find little wrong with the normal glasses we have. They are still very nice to have, but I worry that they will break next time I move. Once again, you should avoid spending too much for a fancy set, you can get a set that are less than a dollar each glass.
2) Physical Fitness
My generation is apparently spending more on physical fitness than education. No, literally. In an entire lifetime a millennial can spend on average over $100,000 for their physical fitness, $13,000 more than the average 4-year student loan. This includes gym memberships, health supplements, etc.
I always advocate for going to a gym and being fit, but at the very least you do not need a premium membership that drains your bank. There are many ways to minimize the cost of going to the gym. You can shop around and find good prices. One of my colleagues at grad school told me that he got a $10/month membership at some gym. Now why he would do that when we have a gym at school free of charge is beyond me.
Also there are free ways to get fit, ask anyone in the US Marines. Play your cards right, and you will get paid to be physically fit. However, there are also ways to workout at home using equipment in which can help you focus on those muscles you otherwise miss.
And nutrient supplements? One of my colleagues from high school was putting on mass, and he said he never used any protein. He said you will get all the protein you need from lean chicken. You’re paying for terrible tasting nutrients, you should avoid spending anything on nutrient supplements.
How many people in their twenties are wearing expensive jewelry aside from engagement and wedding rings? Take your time. You will not see many wearing expensive jewelry, even on special occasions. Even wedding jewelry took a hit. This is only the case with exquisite jewelry, not all jewelry.
I promise you if anyone gives you a compliment on a necklace they will say “I love how it looks” not “I love how that cost over grand.” Jewelry is more casual than ever, and usually reflect a bit of their owner’s personality. Instead of getting expensive jewelry as a status symbol, you should instead get jewelry you like. These can be inexpensive and may even cost less than $100. There are many places to find such unique jewelry including Carolyn Pollack/American West. They provide a very unique collection of jewelry. From opals, variscite, peridots, and citrine there is a large variety of gemstones. I have not even heard of the last three of these gems. You will likely find something fitting for you while avoiding spending too much.
To be clear, I am not asking you to be a cheap date, but to avoid spending too much. There is a very large gap between taking someone to a fast food joint then splitting the bill and taking your date in a helicopter to be served filet mignon and caviar on the Eiffel Tower with violinists serenading the meal.
We all know some situations in which as soon as we agreed/paid for a particular date we have regretted it. I blame miscommunication almost entirely.
You should make it perfectly clear what you can do with your dates. You will not have a healthy nor lasting relationship otherwise. Many people are afraid that they will meet a person who will not like them unless they peacock their cash. I have not met anyone who only cares about money for their relationships, I am sure they exist, but they seem to be a minority. Deep down, most people want connections with other people. Unless it is a strictly business relationship you want, the connections will not likely center around money or transactions (in fact they never should).
You can always suggest other ways to make connections in which you do not need to go out and spend money. Last I checked it is hard to find anyone against home cooked food, sometimes, even if you are a terrible cook. I still advocate that home cooking is one of the best ways to make connections, I am a married man and I know its not because of my irresistible charm (definitely not irresistible, arguably not even charming).
Also, make sure to talk with the person you have a relationship with, know what they want and like. I believe everyone has been in a situation where they thought a certain outing or gift was a good idea, only to hear later that they wasted their money. For example, you may buy tickets to a concert while the other does not like the artist at all.
5) Interior Plants
I see interior plants as essentially pets that are even more fragile and that you cannot pet. I know there are health benefits to interior plants which is why I say you should avoid spending too much on them, not you should not buy. For example, it is different from having a small aloe vera tree that could cost $5 versus a Bonsai tree that could cost over $100. You certainly do not need to lean towards the expensive side, it is unlikely the added cost for certain plants is strongly correlated to the health benefits.
The newest video games cost $60, and that is assuming you do not want any dlc or anything else. Video games are expensive to make and you should never expect them to be cheaper in retail.
There are mulitple options to obtain video games for cheaper. One of my favorite is GameFly. GameFly is a subscription service where you can rent and play games. They ship the games to you to play and is said to be the best online game rental service. Not only is this a great service for gamers, but it can help broaden your window to try games you normally wouldn’t. Even if you do not like the game you can exchange it like nothing happened.
If you are a PC gamer or prefer indie games, GamersGate is more your thing. They offer PC and Mac games online for download. Unlike GameFly, you do not have to ship the games. They offer deals on favorites, classics, cult games, and games that deserve more attention then they have. While you can find the most popular games in the world on this site, you will also find indie games that deserve more attention. I am no more than a casual gamer, but I have noticed that indie games have been making more content in which I never knew I wanted. I love some of the new directions indie games go to while some still go retro.
Movies & Shows
It is hard to find someone who does not like movies or shows. However, some say they are too expensive when going to the movies or buying one costs $20. Really? There are so many other options to enjoy movies or shows that almost everyone has some streaming service. However, this is only a cup in an ocean of cultural media and some can only be seen in theaters.
I recommend going to matinees or early bird specials for particular shows. And I am probably going to say the most un-American thing I ever said (do note I said you do not need to be in debt). You do not need popcorn and soda. That will save you at least $5. However, there are many streaming services for indie films and I promise you, you already have at least one subscription to find these. That being said, you should only ever need one subscription. There is so much variety already provided I do not know why people get two streaming services.
This is probably going to shoot myself in the foot since I advertise books. I still feel like I need to say this. You do not need to buy every book you want to read. There are libraries you can receive free books at, and for those who believe that going to the library is inconvenient let me tell you this. I have read almost 50 books this year from the library and I have never set foot in the library this year.
I use an application called OverDrive. This app allows you to access libraries using your obtained library card and you can be loaned eBooks and audiobooks. The library has over 4000 audiobooks for loan so I think I have at least a few years before I go through all of them. However, most of the books I have no desire to read, and many of my favorites have only the first and last book available to read for some odd reason (maybe to convince people to buy them).
However, you can read these books using electronic book readers. They usually cost less and there are multiple services in which allow you to read all these books, much like a streaming service. Also I live in Philadelphia, almost every week there are books you can grab for free that people leave on the street, that will definitely help you avoid spending too much.
Furthermore, there are multiple services you can use to buy books for cheap. This includes Thriftbooks. Thriftbooks gives amazing deals on used books so you can find a large selection of books for cheap.
It is easy to get carried away and spend too much on something that you will look back and wish you could get your money back. Do not fret too much though, as easy as it is to spend too much on stupid things, it is just as easy to avoid spending too much on these stupid things and instead spend them on what matters. Be creative with your life, you will be surprised at much much extra money you have to forge your wealth.