10 Things You’re Paying For That You Probably Don’t Need

by Frost on March 10, 2011

Unless you love your job enough to do it for free, every dollar you spend translates into more of your life’s precious hours melting away. Ball out on stuff and experiences that make you happy, but be aware of the crap you spend money on that you wouldn’t miss. For example:

1. Bank and Credit Card Fees

Call those motherfuckers and tell them you aren’t paying them to invest your savings and keep the returns. Threaten to change banks. Dig up your old student card and ask for a better plan. Remember, they are making money off of YOU, so there’s no reason you should pay for it. Check out Ramit Sethi for specific advice and call centre scripts.

2. Cable

Fuck TV. Buy a season of your favourite show on DVD and watch it at your convenience, commercial free. If you need more than 1-2 DVDs to make up the time, you’re watching too much crap anyways.

3. Internet

Do you live in a dense apartment building? If so, you can either be the sucker who pays for your entire floor’s wireless, or you can cancel your high-speed and find an unsecured network.

4. Clothes

No one cares if you wear the same shit over and over again, every Friday night. Your guy friends won’t notice, and the girls you care about impressing will have never seen you before. If you’re spending mucho time with a single girl, explain your wise clothes budgeting logic and watch for her reaction. It’s an excellent test of whether or not she’s a materialista unworthy of your time.

5. A Car

Gas, repairs, insurance, DUI’s – that shit adds up. Sell it, then don’t be shy about taking cabs and renting for weekend trips and whatnot. Massive cash savings and little or no impact on quality of life.

6. A Gym Membership

This came as a great surprise to me upon entering adulthood, but real gyms are friggin expensive. $80+/month for bare bones memberships, and you can spend way more if you’re easily seduced by nice showers, cute desk girls and laundry service. A thousand dollars a year so I can borrow some big metal plates for an hour a week? No thanks.

This one is difficult though, since heavy lifting is a key ingredient in manly health and freshness. Possible solutions are to find a bare bones gym on the cheap, find out if you can get a student rate, or find out if your employer can get you a corporate rate. I’ve done all three and now I’m practically getting paid to work out. Alternatively, you can pick up a kettleball and some used barbells off of Craigslist.

7. Music, DVDs and software

Bypass the studio and mail a donation to any artists you think deserve it. Welcome to the 21st century.

8. New Gadgets

I’m sure you’ll make it through the indignity of brandishing a clunky cellphone, 2005 iPod or Kindle 1. Chicks dig the style of a true retro playboy, complete with pager, discman and book.

9. A Girlfriend

If you’re buying dinners, presents, fancy dates, vacations, jewelery, weddings and houses for a woman, Stop. You aren’t winning her respect by spending money on her, she probably makes more than you anyway, and contrary to what you learned from multiple viewings of De Beers ads, you don’t need to spend money on a girl for her to sleep with you.

Actually, some girls DO demand you spend money on them before they’ll give it up. But we have a word for them, and it isn’t “girlfriend.”

10. Guy’s Nights Out

New shirt! Haircut! Cab! Cover charge! Coat check! Jagerbombs! Beers! Jagerbombs! Beers! Buy shots for table of girls! Jagerbombs! Beers! Beers! Bad food from a street vendor! Cab!

Ahh, the old morning-after bank statement cringe. The perfect garnish to a hangover.

$100-200 per night, 1-2 nights per weekend is a lot of money. And for what?

Go to a dive bar if you want to drink and laugh with your friends, and introduce yourself to a few pretty girls at the coffee shop/mall/street the next day if you want to get laid. Much cheaper, and much higher odds of actually picking up, and actually having a good time with your friends.

The sooner you escape from western culture’s consumerist orgy, the sooner you can free yourself from the obligation to spend your one and only life doing bullshit work to line someone else’s pocket. Get savin’.

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous October 3, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Is it actually easier to get laid outside of clubs? From my experience most girls out in the day time are trying to get shit done, not get laid.

Extinguish April 6, 2011 at 12:14 am

The other option is that you could learn some dickering skills. Dickered my gym down from $70/mo + $80 join fee + $30 ‘one time’ gym equipment fee to just $20/mo. The key is to recognize you have options and to only make a deal on terms you can live with. It is a little gym; but its part of a national chain and I can visit any other gym for free.

Also, cart your ass up a mountain a few dozen times over a summer and you will be in decent shape. Take up fossil collecting or rockhounding; smashing rocks for hours on end builds good muscle.

Dan March 24, 2011 at 10:35 am

I was raised frugal so it all seems like common sense to me…don’t buy shit you don’t need.

As for the gym I pay a little less than $30/month for my membership…it kinda seems like a lot for such a run down sweatbox but I don’t mind too much…the funky smell, dingy old iron and chalk all over the floor makes for a nice atmosphere. The big commercial gym I had a pass to before had a rock wall and a lap pool and a sauna and all sorts of stuff but they played justin beiber over the loudspeakers and the place was full of rude urbanites who would take up space on essential equipment to chit chat and generally leave the place a disusgting mess. My gym has old bearded powerlifters whose trophies line the walls and who don’t mind sharing their knowledge with a noob…that alone is worth my membership. (And at any rate the other place had a 2 year contract requirement…I’m not gonna be in this town for 2 years so fuck them)

BTW I just started reading your blog today I must say I’m very impressed. Keep up the good work.

Frost March 25, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Sounds like a man’s gym. Rule #1 in life: Surround yourself with the people you aspire to be. Fitness-wise, at least, I’ll go with powerlifters over vegan metrosexuals eight days of the week.

And thanks! Hope you stick around.

V10 March 24, 2011 at 9:16 am

Agreed, trying to piggyback your neighbors’ wireless is hardly something you can plan a budget around.

As for #5, DUIs as a fixed cost? That says a lot and not much of it good.

I had a co-worker once who was always bitching about how much it cost to maintain and operate a vehicle here in the big city. Gas? Parking? No, it was the constant speeding tickets that was the biggest cost for him.

Fines shouldn’t be budgeted items, as you sure as hell can avoid them.

Frost March 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Some of us just got the need for speed, man! And, uh, liquor.

DUI cost was tongue in cheek.

Fines can be avoided but I ask you – at what cost? I run red lights at 3am, roll stop signs, and speed all the time. Total time saved > total lifetime cost of fines.

Zen Buddhist March 20, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Gyms are a waste of money. Get outdoors!

Unsecured apartment building wireless rarely works – you get booted off every 4 minutes.

Albert March 14, 2011 at 4:53 pm

BW training can go along way but if you want to have a really strong grip you need to do things like deadlifts and wristcurls.

Anonymous March 13, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Regarding gyms, resistance training doesn’t need to involve more than your own bodyweight if done with the correct technique and intensity. And it’s free and builds up your joints, ligaments, and supporting muscles while building mass simultaneously in multiple muscles.

Bodyweight calisthenics for strength training can kick your ass. Look up “Convict Conditioning” on amazon (but buy it at the publisher’s site – it’s much cheaper) for reviews. Also look at the various bodyweight training forums. There are quite a few around.

Think old school strongman and bare knuckle boxing strength training. They didn’t go to contract mills like Bally’s Gym or Golds to get strong and develop cardiovascular endurance.

Frost March 14, 2011 at 11:46 am

I’m a big proponent of bodyweight exercises. Pullups, pushups, jump squats, lunges, power yoga, pilates – probably over half of my gym time is unweighted resistance training.

When I criticize middle aged men for their calisthenics class, I’m thinking the dance-y hopping around and clapping sort.

Gorilla March 13, 2011 at 10:34 pm

These are mostly really stupid. (3) Most people know enough to secure wireless networks and a lot of people are able to snoop traffic on unsecured networks (or set them up as bait).

(4) Looking like a bum who can’t dress himself contradicts a bunch of other stuff even you have said anyway.

(2,7) Come out and say piracy then you pussy. Don’t bullshit about buying DVD box sets.

Frost March 14, 2011 at 11:42 am

You sound like a really cool guy! Please stick around.

collegeslacker March 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Completely agree, especially about guys nights out.

It’s so much more fun and cheaper to go with a few of your tight friends and trusted wings to a dive bar where it is so much easier to pick up girls. Getting laid > Getting bombed with your homies for the sake of getting bombed with your homies.

Frost March 14, 2011 at 11:41 am

I have no idea why so many guys would rather go to a “grown-up” bar/club and spend 3x as much on drinks for lower-quality women, when every major city is filled with cheap, fun student bars filled with hotter, cooler girls. I guess it’s just what you’re supposed to do when you graduate?

I’ll take my weeknight dollar drink night and 21 year olds, thanks.

Although one point I disagree on, sometimes pounding a few back with your buddies for it’s own sake > picking up girls. The girls, they come and go, but the friends…

Badger March 15, 2011 at 12:59 pm

“hotter, cooler girls”

This sounds like an oxymoron but we all know exactly what you are talking about. Long live language!

raliv March 12, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Great post Frost!

If you live in an Apt complex with no unsecured internet signal, find a cool neighbor you can give a few bucks too every month for their password. I have done that.

You can stream any movie or TV show from a large variety of websites now. If you want sports, you can stream ESPN or games for free. I haven’t gone to the theater or rented a movie in years. (who wouldn’t download a car? Its a fucking car!)

What about food, Frost? How do we get healthy grub for cheap?

Frost March 14, 2011 at 11:29 am

I eat a meat/produce heavy diet, and go for fresh, organic, grass-fed whenever possible. That shit ain’t cheap.

I keep food costs low by 1) Living at home, and 2) Having girls buy and cook food for me. For anyone who doesn’t have those options, I would recommend splurging on food unless you’re incredibly poor.

Badger March 14, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Some things are worth spending top dollar on. Quality food is one of them (although Ho Foods is a big ripoff, make friends with Trader Joe’s and they have some pretty girls working the registers). Quality alcohol also qualifies for me – good beer, decent wine (I never go over $30 a bottle and that’s only for special occasions) and good whiskey if that’s your thing.

Anonymous March 12, 2011 at 5:31 pm
Badger March 15, 2011 at 12:58 pm

That is hilarious. Sparrow with AIDS? lozl.

Albert March 12, 2011 at 4:28 am

I’m a bit torn on the gym cost. I pay about 50$ a month but at the same time i feel its a nice place to go to. No owercrowding, always in good standard. For some people going to a shitty gym (even if it still has all the basic strenght training equipment) is really not an option after a hard day at work.

Rob March 11, 2011 at 9:48 am

On # 9: expectations are everything. When I meet new girls I make it known early on that I live a spartan lifestyle. I tell them I don’t own a TV and I don’t pay for the internet. Like you said, weed ’em out early.

On #6: my gym costs 99 a year. And I live in a major city. Plus, more and more gyms are 10 bucks a month. But at some point I’d love to have a home gym.

On #7: I’ve been guilty of spending to much on CD’s because I like the linear notes. But no more.

Frost March 14, 2011 at 11:23 am

Where is this gym??? Sign me up.

I pay ~ 2x that for my bare bones gym, even though I talked them into stacking the student and corporate discount rates.

I think the last CD I bought was blink 182’s Enema of the State, or something around that era.

Rob March 14, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Philadelphia…It’s in a basement. Half the cardio machines are broken, but no one uses the other half anyway. If they only had a power rack, it’s be perfect.

justadude March 11, 2011 at 8:25 am

Only one I need is tv for sports watching, other than that a very solid list.

Badger March 11, 2011 at 6:15 am

Brilliance. When you stop caring about keeping up a lifestyle you can really cut your cost of living. It saddens me to see young adults spending money they can’t afford to lose on a bullshit lifestyle that doesn’t make them happy.

If you’re the intellectual type, I would add books to the list; you pay taxes that support libraries, which have bajillions of free books you can take home with you! They also usually have comfy chairs and couches in which to read them, and free internet access in some places.

Frost March 14, 2011 at 11:19 am

Don’t even ask me how many friends I have in the 90th income percentile for our age, who are saving (at most) 5% of their income. Yeesh.

Libraries are great, as are teh internets. If, like me, you live in an intellectual world of pre-20th century books and post 20th century blogs, you won’t end up paying for much in the literary department.

I did splurge on a kindle however, but that payed for itself pretty quickly.

Badger March 14, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Good call, I don’t read much that was written in the last 30 years. Poison bullshit.

(R)Evolutionary March 11, 2011 at 1:55 am

Re: #6–Gym memberships–I’ve worked on this one a long time. Here are my strategies:

Go to every gym in your area and take advantage of their free introductory week. Lots of crossfit facilities offer this too. Between 24-hour, Bally’s, and the mom & pop places, you can go for months like this in a big metro area. It gives you the opportunity to check out new areas & meet people. Fun and free!

But that’s just a backup, and a routine-breaker. I found a quality used squat rack and adjustable bench for $200, and an entire Olympic setup –the bar plus 345 lbs of weight for another $140. I’m just now getting to the point where I need more weight for deadlifting, and I can do that by getting another 2 plates for $30 each, used, at a nearby thrift store. So I can do all of the functional movements I need to get stronger, bigger, and faster, with no more investment.

Frost March 14, 2011 at 11:15 am

Great advice! I used to do this all the time while home from Uni at Xmas/reading week/Thanksgiving.

I also had a go-to gym that I knew had a door with a magnetic lock that would come open with a good jerk. Free lunches everywhere…

Jake March 11, 2011 at 12:43 am

I love this post, Frost.

Thanks.

Assanova March 10, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Best post I’ve read in awhile.

Mackroyal44 March 10, 2011 at 6:52 pm

1. Bank and Credit Card Fees
Or you could have no bank account at all and keep your money under the floor boards. Accompanied by a close by .50 dessert eagle. Hell make two .50 dessert eagles.

jesuschrist October 3, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Desert*

NomadicNeill March 10, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Just become a hipster and date hipster girls!

Hughman March 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Classic, genuine made me laugh

Morghan March 10, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Looks like the only one from this list I spend money on is TV.

I did use EZTV to grab show torrents, but then my computer broke and I started paying for them.

It is at the top of my list of things that can go if necessary since I’ve already sold all the video games.

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