How to accidentally save money.

Girl Ninja and I have made multiple intentional decisions on how we can best reign in our spending and control our monthly expenses. There are numerous ways in which we intentionally cut costs to save money.

Last night, however, I started thinking about all the ways I unintentionally have saved my family a bunch of money. Here are a few of the things I came up with…

Alcohol:

I’m one of those rare human beings that actually hates alcohol. This is not a religious thing or moral thing, but more a I-hate-the-way-it-tastes kind of thing. It amazes me how much some people wish I drank. I swear every time I go out someone is begging me to try their glass of wine (Girl Ninja always asks me to try her wine), their beer, or their rum and coke, as though, my taste buds will suddenly do a 180 and be in alcohol heaven.

I’ve done a lot of taste tasting over the years and the scale in which I use to describe alcoholic beverages ranges from “extremely disgusting to moderately disgusting”. I’m yet to find a drink I legitimately enjoy. Actually, I did have a Mike’s Hard Lemonade once and that was actually tasty. Only problem is, I would never be caught dead ordering such a drink at a bar. Haha.

Since alcohol has never really been a part of my life, I don’t really know how much I’m saving by not drinking it. I’m assuming most other 20-somethings probably drop between $30 and $200 a month on alcohol. Is that reasonable? How much do you spend? 

Haircuts:

From age 18 to 28, I kept my head shaved. I probably saved $2,000 in haircuts over those ten years. But in 2013 I decided to join the “hair having” club and grow out my luscious locks a bit.  I kept my hair around for a year, but after spending $20 per haircut I was sick of the expense. I shaved my head again.

Girl Ninja got pissed because she liked my hair so I made her a deal I would grow it back out if she learned to cut my hair. She’s given me two haircuts so far and while she is no Picasso, she is showing potential.

The only thing I miss about going to get my haircut is the way the hairstylist would run her fingers through my hair during the shampoo process.

Coffee:

I must have some extremely jacked up taste buds, cause not only do I hate the taste of alcohol, but also the taste of coffee. In fact, just about anything with coffee in it makes me want to projectile vomit all over the place. Mostly on to a cat because I hate cats.

Girl Ninja, however, loves her some Starbucks.

It’s a good thing I don’t, otherwise we’d probably be there every day. She does her best to minimize her “Tall non-fat vanilla latte” purchases, but probably averages two or three a month. If I was joining her each trip we’d be out a couple hundred more dollars each year. Extrapolate that over the next few decades and we are talking TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars saved by not liking the flavor of coffee. Booya for sensitive taste buds. 

Video Games:

I may get beat up for mentioning this one, but I don’t really get the point of video games. I played them in elementary and middle school, but by the time I got to high school I cared more about my outfit, girls, and sports then I did about what type of gun Lara Croft used. While video game consoles are reasonably priced (most around $200), the video games are a budget killer. At $40 to $80 a pop, I don’t know how gamers sustain themselves.

Oh that’s right, they all live in their mother’s basements.

Kidding….kind of. Thank goodness World Of Warcraft and NCAA Football ain’t my thing.

Okay now that I’ve pissed a bunch of video-gamers off, it’s time I step down and give you an opportunity to share some ways you’ve unintentionally saved some money.

Do you hate desert? Or Flying? Never shave your armpits? Or do use public transportation? It might take a minute to think something up, but when you do drop a comment below.

21 thoughts on “How to accidentally save money.

  1. I’m with you on most of these as well. I do drink occasionally, but only ever buy alcohol when bringing wine to a party or for a recipe. $10/month max. I think I save the most “accidentally” by using public transportation. I hate driving and I live in the city, so it makes sense, but I end up paying it in housing costs so I guess it is all a wash in the end.

  2. Oh finally – I’m so glad I’m not the only one. I HATE alcohol. I can’t even do mouthwash that has alcohol in it because it bothers me so much. I also hate when I have to explain people why I do not like it – sometimes its just easier to say I’m in AA than telling them I just don’t freaking like the taste of it. I had a guy break up with me because I did not drink ($10 says the douche knew I was not going to do “you know what” and he could not get me drunk to do it – so he said that the alcohol was the reason) My friends did a taste test to see when would I not be able to taste alcohol in a drink – I can go on shot on a large fruit margarita before I start tasting the alcohol and cannot drink it.
    Same with coffee – I cannot stand the smell or the taste – but I love tea. AND CATS 🙂

  3. You just made my day with this post. I thought I was the only person who hated both coffee AND alcohol (besides my friend who’s allergic to the stuff). AND cats (the ones that think they’re dogs are sometimes okay, I guess, but I love my dog, and bathing him is worth it for the laughs over how pathetic he acts!). AND video games, though I do play party games like Mario or RPGs occasionally. And while I can’t skip haircuts (downfalls of being a girl), I only get them 2-4 times a year, usually. I also unintentionally save money by living in a super crappy apartment – $450 for a 2br, without working heat, with leaky windows and doors, and only half working appliances. I’m also in the middle-of-nowhere Ohio, so that means I don’t go much of anywhere (haven’t been to the mall or really bought clothes in… maybe a year?). I know if I ever move back to Seattle, though (how do we live in Starbucks capital and hate coffee? Haha), I know my costs will go up, especially in housing. But I’ll still hate coffee and alcohol and not play many video games, so I’ll still unintentionally save some money!

  4. You will hate me for saying this, but I love all of these things. I love alcohol, but I also run a blog dedicated to reviews, various cocktails, techniques, etc. It has been a hobby of mine for years, but unlike those who like to binge drink, I am actually interested in how things are made, where our beer comes from and how I can make it at home. I am working on cutting back significantly in an effort to focus on saving money and investing…but I still love alcohol! I do believe that you can find something that you like, it will just take a lot of tries (think thousands of different beers, spirits, wines, liqueurs, etc.).

    I love good coffee, but I typically don’t buy it because we have a surprisingly good coffee selection at work and through one of my other blogs I get sent tons of free coffee and caffeinated products to review or pimp so on weekends I spend nothing.

    I also love games and have tons, but all PC games. Through Steam and GOG, you can get great games for sometimes as low as $1. Sure there are blockbuster titles at $70-$80, but you will get a better bang for your buck from an indie adventure game that will keep you occupied with original content and mods for months, if not years.

    Haircuts…meh…I get them once in a while when my hair is long, but I don’t care about them.

  5. I don’t love coffee either. I love the smell, but I only drink coffee occasionally. Like maybe three times a year. There is a Starbucks in my building (I work on a college campus) and many of the folks I work with are there everyday. I don’t need the caffeine or the calories.

    I have never been in the habit of drinking very much while I eat a meal. For this reason, I rarely ever order a coke or tea at a restaurant. Water is free. I just can’t see spending up to $2.50 on a drink that will end up being poured out at the end of the meal.

    For haircuts, I make a day of it. Pick up my mom and we both go at the same time. I drive about 30 minutes to the salon, but it’s only $10 a piece. So for the same price (or less) than a fancier salon – for one haircut – I have a Saturday morning spent with my mom and we both have our hair cut.

  6. This post is one reason I don’t get flack from my husband for forwarding some of your blog feeds to him; except for the video game part. But then again, he waits and waits (and waits) for his games to go under $20 on Amazon before buying any.

    And I’m his hair stylist as well, our $20 haircut kit from BJs wholesale has already paid for itself several times over. Albeit with some small bald spots once in a while from the electric razor.

  7. The one place I personally have to disagree is the video games. I actually find that they save me money. I don’t tend to try every game, I find one I like and stick with it a while (like, oh, a year). And having them gives me something to do to kill spare time on the weekends as opposed to going out and boredom shopping. My game of choice atm was only $20, and I don’t even want to think of how much money I would have spent by now otherwise.

  8. I dislike the taste of alcohol alcohol nor do I metabolize it well. However QFC was once stocking Moonstruck chocolate liqueurs and I happily bought some… they are so pretty! I also use alcohol in recipes… wine for meats and stews and dessert liqueurs for sweet crepes. Outside of those uses I won’t touch the stuff.

    My husband used to do game design at XBox. Our house was once cluttered with games and game consoles, but not so much these days. He is the first to tell you that their sole purpose is escapism.. which is what I would need if I were living in my mom’s basement 😉

    Travel. I think we could generalize that I don’t like to travel, but the reasons are complicated. First, I have severe anxiety regarding heights and small spaces which means flying is in itself a cruel form of punishment, but especially so when I’m flying to visit my in-laws 🙂 I also experience severe anxiety when my wallet is open and travel is giving various companies carte blanche to dig into our retirement or college funds. Where is the fun in that??? Finally I live in Issaquah. Why would I ever, Ever, EVER want to travel when I already live in paradise?

    I hate shopping. I hate shopping so much that I’m having a “spend-free for me” year. I’m not buying clothes (even used), accessories, nor am I doing salons or haircuts. I started on New Year’s and it’s working out really, really well. The few things I’ve needed I was able to get via various gifting economies on facebook.

    I hate crafting. I have friends that have whole rooms devoted to their crafts and I think they’re nutty for it.

    So where do I spend? Coffee! I am a 6-cups-a day girl, but I’m usually content drinking my PCC blends at home. When we go out it’s a “short drip, no room” for me, but very often I’ve brought my own (shhh… don’t tell!). My husband is the one with the latte love affair. Collectively we probably spend over $1000 on coffee each year. That sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Well, that’s about $10 a week for each of us. In our defence we substitute coffee shops for restaurants when going out. A $4 latte is cheaper than a food truck burrito.

    No love for cats, eh? Well, one thing you may or may not have considered is expense of cats vs dogs. Many breeds of dogs age faster than cats, and thus one will start paying vet bills sooner and more frequently with those animals. Many people ’round these parts get designer dogs that end up having various congenital conditions.. issues with the hips are particularly common. Also consider the costs associated to having them walked or taken care of in your absence. I’m a professional dog walker and pet sitter and I have yet to have a client ask me to come walk their cat or visit it 3x a day so that it doesn’t urinate or defecate in the house. Even still I have dogs that will urinate and defecate in the house even when I’m visiting every 5 hours.. they’re mad at their people for leaving and they know how to show it… To give a very concrete example of cost: I’m pretty cheap and charge $12 per visit. Most cats are 1 visit/day Most dogs are 3 visits/day. After 1 week the cat client is paying $84 whereas the dog client is paying $252. I love dogs, but I won’t own one because they’re expensive. A couple vet bills and the expense to board or sit them while we’re on our annual trip to visit in-laws (in Mexico, where my spouse is from) will more than exceed the cost of our coffee obsession. Thus I choose coffee and cats.

  9. On the haircut issue, you’ll find that Girl Ninja will get better and better. I do my own hair and at first I used to #3 my whole head. Now I let it grow out and sometimes I’m trimming a few times per week.

    I like water, and it’s my go-to especially at restaurants. Also I just use bar soap for shaving.

    Like you say, it’s little stuff like this, no alcohol, sodas, coffees, that saves a lot of money. I contend that not drinking alcohol saves at least $5000 per year when you add all costs involved.

  10. Only get water when out to eat. Drink costs are outrageous at restaurants; it is much more affordable to only get beer from the store and drink once in a while when people are over or I am over someone else’s place.

    Antenna TV

  11. I’m with you on all those things: I don’t play video games, hate the taste of coffee, never drink alcohol at home by myself, and get my hair cut once a year. However, I’m a cat lover, and the only reason why I’m accidentally saving money on pets is that I haven’t adopted one yet! 🙂

  12. I’m with you just say no to coffee and alcohol YUCK! Everyone always makes me try their drinks, both alcohol and coffee never tried anything and liked it. I also do not like peanut butte or peanuts at all . Most people loose it over the peanut butter they can’t imagine a world without it apparently.

  13. Is this thread about coffee and alcohol, or about accidental saving? If the first, I like one or two cups of coffee in the morning, but always with milk and never sugar. And I like a small glass of wine with dinner, unless the food is Asian, in which case I prefer a beer or Perrier. But I don’t overspend for wine; other than on special occasions, I stick with Cupcake or Yellowtail – which come in at about $10 a bottle and give me 4-5 servings.

    As for other accidental saving, first it helps enormously to be a “senior citizen,” much as I hate that condescending term. I can for instance ride the Long Island Railroad and New York busses and subways for half price, and there are always discounts at movies, museums, the barber, and even my wine store. I also never smoked. I tried one puff when I was 13, hated it, and never touched tobacco again. But the biggest accidental saving is that I never had a pet or child.

  14. I don’t hat alcohol but I do hate beer. I get similar urges from people to try their beer as somehow magically their beer will be the one that turns me. I don’t drink a lot but when I do, I tend to prefer wine or a Vodka Gimlet.

    I wish I hated sushi, that would save me a lot of money.

  15. Yay! There is someone like me who hates the taste of alcohol – I thought I was the only one. Oddly, if I do have a drink, I prefer whiskey.
    Anyway, I think I save $$ unintentionally by not buying makeup, like ever. The only stuff I have, I received as a gift or was given a gift card to the makeup place.

  16. I find it very relaxing to do my own nails, which probably saves me about $75/month, which is good because I can spend that at Starbucks instead 🙂

    Probably my biggest savings comes from being a bit of a luddite. I am the opposite of an early adopter when it comes to new technology. I use something until it dies before replacing it, which is why I have an iPhone 4 and a 2010 laptop. By the time I’m ready to buy a device it has already been discounted because it’s no longer the exciting new thing.

  17. I totally agree about Alcohol being a major expense… I would probably be half way to retirement right now if I would not have drank in my 20’s! Had alot of funny memories with friends under the influence though!

    Coffee is great… not only the taste(to each their own) but also the health benefits of a couple cups a day. What else can help ward of heart disease, diabetes and alzheimer’s for less than $1 a day(or free if your work provides you coffee)?! Stay away from the “fancy” shops and brew your own to maximize the benefit.

    Video games. I’m 31 and still play quite abit. I’m sure you didn’t intend to be condescending… “by the time I got to high school I cared more about my outfit, girls, and sports then I did about what type of gun Lara Croft used.” Really? Who says you have to choose one or the other? The majority of people play video games and perpetuating the nerd vs jock culture doesn’t benefit anyone. As far as the money aspects, I’m ashamed to say that I have played WAY too much(approx 554 hours since the end of Sept… wow) of a newer game Destiny with my friends and co-workers. I bought the PS4 bundle(which included the game) for $450 (also got 6% cash back by buying Amazon GC from my local grocery store with my AmEx Blue Preferred card). If you calculate the cost per hour of entertainment… that’s $0.81 per hour. I would think you would be hard pressed to find very many social activities with that low of a cost per hour.

    Enough of my rant! Love your blog, but that one comment stuck out to me as a senseless jab at people who have lived a life different from yours.

  18. I also hate the taste of coffee. And it’s funny because I get so excited when I find fellow coffee-haters since I always feel like I’m the only one.

    My Hubby and I hardly ever drink alcohol, so our budget for that is less than $10 a month, with many months being $0.

    We also don’t like going out to the movies. We much rather watch something at home. So our expense on movie tickets and over-priced movie snacks is super low. Maybe one movie per year.

  19. As a former government employee, HOW CAN YOU HATE COFFEE?! And Alcohol?!

    Our shop ran on coffee. Period.

    Not having those 2 vices has saved you a boatload. I can’t even tell you how much I have spent on coffee or booze because I didn’t keep track and it would throw me into a depression spiral that would lead to more booze.

    Good on you for saving and avoiding the expensive habits. I too shave my head to save on the haircut fees and it is absolutely worth the effort. No time wasted having to do your hair, it dries quickly, and looks darn good in the process.

  20. While I love my coffee (made at home, of course – but I do splurge on Starbucks when I can find one since there are none within an hour of me), I have found that I save by not obsessively following tv shows. I never signed up for cable when I moved into my place two years ago, and while at first I thought I’d die without it, I barely even notice that I don’t need it anymore. I do have Netflix, which helps, but I don’t have the urge to catch up on shows and I find that I’m more productive when I get home from work. But when I’m at my parents or a friends, I’m glued to their tv 🙂

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