When Ryan and I started our journey to financial independence we had to not only make more money but save more money. Every day, a lot people throw away money on things that just aren’t necessary and those extra expenses are slowing down their path to FI. We’d like to share with you the 11 things we don’t pay for anymore; saving us over 9,000 a year.
11 Things We Don’t Pay for:
The amount of money spent on haircuts can be astronomical. Usnews.com estimates that the average haircut in America is $44.00 for women and $28.00 for men plus an additional tip average of 20%.
For the last few years, 100% of Ryan’s and the kid’s haircuts have been done at home for the cost of a clippers. Sometimes, (about once a year) I have to go to a salon to get my hair cut but we maintenance my hair for free at home.
*Bonus* We usually do take advantage of free salon haircuts when salons give out promotional coupons. If you are a veteran like us, you can also take advantage of a free haircut sometimes offered by salons on Veteran’s Day.
Annually, for our family, we are able to save about $650 a year or more just by cutting our hair at home.
2. Greeting Cards
This includes Thank You cards. (Gasp!) When I worked at a card store, our store alone would sometimes bring in thousands of dollars a day on greeting cards alone. The average price of their cards were between $.99 to $9.99, so let’s estimate the average card to be about 5.00.
Let’s say I buy just 30 cards a year for birthdays, holidays, sympathy, etc. That would be about $150 a year for items that someone else is going to probably throw away. Why would we pay out $150 for someone to throw our money away?
So how do we “thank” people? We pick up the phone, we text, or we make a stellar Facebook post so everyone can see how thankful we are for our friends!
3. Kid’s Party Supplies
Don’t get us wrong, we throw our kids some amazing parties. But what we found out over the years is that the kids don’t really care about themes and décor. They just want some fun.
I’ve learned to be really creative when it comes to parties. One year I invited my son’s entire class for a party and only spent about $75, including food. I made use of anything we had around the house and yard. I managed to create a 100% free obstacle course that everyone loved that included a broken items I’ve been meaning to throw away! The party was a blast!
The online averages for the cost of kid’s birthday parties range greatly. But a lot of people I know easily drop $300 on a birthday party with a lot of guests. So for just this type of party alone, I’ll estimate savings to be about $225 per kid.
4. Books, Magazines, and Movies-
In the last 5 years, we checked out over 400 books from the library. The LOWEST averaged price I’ve found for books is about $14.00. That’s a savings of at least $1120 a year!
You can also check out magazines for free or get free subscriptions with a number of online companies by taking advantage of their reward points. (Thanks Recycle Bank!)
As far as movies, those are free to check out through your library as well! We also rent with free Redbox codes. And don’t forget about utilizing rewards apps such as “Google Opinion Rewards” and use the credits for digital movies you want to always have available.
Our library will even request items for you if they don’t have them available in stock!
You will not only get books, magazines, and movies for free at the library, but as an added bonus – you and your family are probably more likely to read more!
You can check out library books physically or digitally now. For digital books, we use the Libby app – you just need a free library card.
5. Food Storage Clips
Use the pant hangers that come with clothes that you are already buying! They are the best clips and we use them all the time!
Not a huge savings here – but I love to share this tip.
6. Paper Towels and Napkins-
I couldn’t find the average annual price of what Americans spend on paper towels in a year, but in 2012 AOL said that Americans paid 182.00 a year. If you added only inflation to that each year, that price is probably closer to $220.00 annually today.
We simply just don’t buy them regularly. We use dish towels and cloths instead of using paper towels. However, we do keep an “emergency only” roll usually on hand for messes that we don’t want to use our cloths for (such as dog messes – gross.)
As far as napkins go, we also use dish cloths to wipe our hands with. We also keep any extra napkins we get when we eat out on the go.
7. Travel, Rental Car Insurance and Cell Phone Insurance
We have stopped paying a lot of travel-related expenses. You can read How to Book Family Vacations for Free or Cheap to learn how we have started travel hacking to save money on flights and hotels.
Travel hacking will save us anywhere from a hundred to thousands of dollars a year, so I am just going to estimate that our savings are about $2,000 a year.
Also, our credit card covers the costs of rental car and cell phone insurance. Be sure to look at what benefits your credit card offers. We have estimated that this savings adds up to about $450 a year.
No, we aren’t nudist. We do purchase clothes. However, we wear our clothes usually 10 years or more. I actually shared a picture of me on Facebook a few months still rocking my old high-school gym t-shirt. And Ryan still has a t-shirt from ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!
Additionally, if we want to purchase something that we won’t wear often, we will check our local second hand stores or discount stores like Ross.
Second hand stores usually have like new items such as men’s ties, formal dresses, dress shoes and other items that people don’t wear often. You can reduce your clothing costs simply by shopping second hand stores and wearing your clothes for a long time.
I’ve seen that the average adult 25-34 spends about $1932 a year on clothes. We probably average about $600 a year. Which is a savings of $2264 for both my husband and me.
As far as the kids, we are fortunate enough to get hand-me-downs for my daughter so we really have only had to spend money our son’s clothes. For simplicity, I won’t add in the savings from kid’s clothes.
I make my own souvenirs. I usually know what I want to make before we go on the vacation. When you have an idea of what you want to create, it’s easier to pass up the inflated prices of the “made in China” items that are everywhere regardless of where you travel.
As an idea, I am really into making travel ornaments right now. Last time we went to the beach, we took a beach photo and I collected some small shells. I put them in an ornament and soon I will have a Christmas Tree filled with precious memories!
I can make homemade souvenirs for about 1.00 a piece! When we vacationed in the past (about twice a year), everyone in our family got to pick a souvenir and we spent about $20.00 per person. That’s a savings of about $158.00 a year.
We tend to treat toys as a minimalist would. Everyone knows that babies would rather play with the toy’s box than the actual toy. As my kids got older, I noticed that they would really only play with 3-4 toys.
So typically, we don’t buy our kids toys. If they want something, they have their own money they can use to purchase the toy.
Before they had money to spend, we would use different techniques to save money. For example, we would put up toys that they weren’t playing with for a while. Then, once they got bored with their current toys, we would open a box of the stuff they have forgotten about and it would be like they were getting new toys all over again!
As far as Birthdays and Christmas, we have actually started asking family members to gift them with an experience (zoo ticket, movie pass) rather than a toy. This reduces clutter and allows for wonderful memories.
According to the statista.com, parents spend about $500 a year on toys, per child. On the high end, we may spend $100 dollars a year per child. For both kids, that’s a savings of $800.00.
We have not paid for cable tv for years. With all the other options available now, we just don’t think that paying the average price of $65.00 a month is worth it. We share subscription accounts with our families and use free services like YouTube.
That would be a savings of about $780 a year.
If you would add these savings up, they would total AT LEAST $8,592. That doesn’t include the savings I’ve talked about with storage clips, kids clothes, money saved on movies, etc. So let’s round it to $9,000 in savings annually.
Your expenses might be different from mine or the “average” person but take a look at your own expenses and determine what types of expenses can you cut back on to help achieve your goals.
These are just 11 things we don’t pay for. There are plenty others that I will include in a future post. Don’t let other people make you feel like you have to overspend on things you might not have to buy at all – you know a better way!