Nickel and diming your way into the poorhouse

Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.
~Benjamin Franklin

When I bought my car, the salesman tried to get me to go for power locks and windows. I said no. He said “It’ll only add a couple of bucks extra to your monthly payment.” I said no. Those couple of bucks a month add up.

I’ve got a friend who’ll buy anything if it’s just a buck. I know other people who don’t even think about the two or three dollar purchases they make. This isn’t buying a $3 latte every morning, it’s buying a brand new box of plastic bags because you throw them away after just one use, no matter how piddly. It’s grabbing breakfast at McDonald’s more often than you really need to because you don’t feel like eating what’s in your apartment. It’s dropping by the convenience store for a single bottle of soda that costs you half as much as a whole 12-can box of it.

When I was paying off my debt, these kinds of behaviors were not allowed. I just didn’t have the money to waste. Or I had the money and would rather have spent it on something else. I was thinking about it one day when I thought it might be nice to get some frozen yogurt. Part of my brain sent up a red flag that said “FROZEN YOGURT IS FIVE BUCKS.” That’s still a lot of money for me. I could buy something better with that. Add a couple more bucks to it and I can get beer, which I’ll derive six night’s worth of pleasure from than the one-time happiness of frozen yogurt. Not to mention that frozen yogurt, much like beer, tastes better with company.

And it’s so easy to drop a dollar or two on something without thinking about it. A co-worker of mine and I can’t stand to drink the tap water at work. So when we ran out of the Sparkletts usually provided for us, we pitched in a bought a 2.5 gallon jug of water from the grocery store. Two single-serve bottles of water from the convenience store would have cost us as much, if not more. Instead we’ve got enough tasty water to last us a couple of days. (At home I have a water filter which works well, but there’s no room for one in the work fridge and even filtered tap water tastes shitty if it’s not ice cold.)

I make hot tea at home…for less than the cost of two hot teas anywhere else, I got a whole 48-count box of tea bags. Takes just as long to boil the water myself as it does to wait around at the coffee shop for the barista to do the same.

Your biggest enemy in this is laziness and not paying attention. “I don’t feel like it” strikes hard. So does just not realizing that it may be cheaper to just keep some sodas at home and bring one in with you to work instead of grabbing one from the vending machine.

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3 Responses to “Nickel and diming your way into the poorhouse”

  1. Well said. You hit the nail on the head!

  2. I am notoriously bad about this sort of thing (as you well know…). It’s something I’m /constantly/ fighting with myself about, and even after years of being conscious of it, I’m still not winning. I don’t know why, either. I just don’t seem to have that voice in my head that says “Dude, wtf, you need a FUCKING CAR, not a .” Lunch with coworkers is one of the worst, cause sometimes I feel like I can’t politely decline (though I really totally could).
    I don’t have a solution, or insight, or anything. I’m still a complete failure in this respect, and it’s hell. I’m better (MUCH better) than I used to be, but being able to say “Yay I don’t overdraft anymore!” really isn’t something to celebrate…
    I guess part of the problem is that, while I need to change, and I mostly want to change, there’s still that bit that hangs out and is used to the habits that really doesn’t want to change. I’ve heard all the tips. I’ve read all the tricks. it just comes down to I need to fucking do it, and the force is not strong with this one =/

    • *nods* It may be something that takes a very very long time. Baby steps, baby steps. Just keep getting better, that’s the goal.

      I have the opposite problem…I’ve got a stranglehold on my money so hard that I feel guilty for buying something “just because.” Striking a balance between the two is a tight-rope walk.

      And you’re not the friend in question who buys anything that’s just a buck, fyi. :P I’ll not specify who he is here, but we both know him.

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