Skimp and Splurge
Part 1: The Art of Saving Money
2019-10-19 00:00:00 -0500

This was initially written in December of 2016, even if I’m publishing it in 2019. In a way, it was my first attempt at a blog post (just not on this blog). So, I thought it’d be interesting to document it here. Since writing this, some amount of my opinions on these ideas have changed a little bit. Stay tuned for an updated list coming soon 😉.

There comes a point in most young adults’ lives where they need to think about saving money. Whether they just graduated from college, just bought their first car, or are trying to save for a special occasion, it’s important to understand that money doesn’t grow on trees. There’s rarely a way for an average, middle-class 20-something-year-old to afford everything they’d like to have and have a reasonable savings account, too. Therefore, it’s up to the person to decide how they’d like to spend their money. Which usually involves a mixture of, what I call, “skimping” on things and “splurging” on things.

Here’s 10 things my list of “skimps” and “splurges”:

1. SKIMP: daily coffee

In fact, I don’t drink any coffee at all. Call me lucky that I don’t need the pick-me-up of energy in the morning, but because of it, I can easily save $150 a month from frequent trips to Starbucks.

2. SPLURGE: apartment rent

Even though apartments provide a low-contract living situation, I like knowing that the place I’m living in is decently nice, in a good neighborhood, and I would feel comfortable living there for years to come if I wanted to. And it’s not like I was super picky. In fact, my requirement for living there included 6 things:

  • Central heat
  • Air conditioning
  • Dishwasher
  • Underground parking available
  • Free laundry (does not necessarily mean in-unit washer/dryer)
  • Fitness room in building

3. SKIMP: tons of new clothes

Call it luck that at my job, jeans and t-shirts are totally appropriate, but I never am willing to spend more than about $30 on a shirt or a pair of pants if I don’t have to. Stay away from the designer stores and expensive retail stores. I only buy expensive clothes when I know I’ll be wearing them to a very important occasion.

4. SPLURGE: eating at nice restaurants

I don’t mean super pricey restaurants, just ones that aren’t fast-food chains. I would never skip on going out to eat with an old friend at a decently nice restaurant. Worst case scenario, I’m fed with good-tasting food, my wallet is $45 lighter, and I’ve gotten some socializing done with friend(s). Could be worse. And I’ll probably get leftovers out of it, too.

5. SKIMP: tons of takeout and fast-food

Although it doesn’t seem like much, a month’s worth of take out fees and fast-food adds up. I’d much rather cook one meal, and have it and its leftovers last me three days than spend $5-10 every two days on lunches.

6. SPLURGE: Netflix

Of course everyone will have different opinions about this, but for me, Netflix is a necessity. Almost right up there with internet. For me, Netflix can easily occupy 3 hours worth of time, and it is a good distraction from the rest of your life when you just need a break.

7. SKIMP: expensive phone bills with tons of unused data

If you plan on getting Internet and WiFi at your apartment, like most people have, then you can skip on the data a little bit. For me, 5GB is plenty for the occasional watching of videos and browsing the web. But to each their own (some people use over 10GB a month, and I know that).

8. SPLURGE: a good car

Yes, my car was not cheap. I got a brand new Honda CR-V, with only 11 miles on it. The reason I got this car was because I think of it like an investment. If I bought a cheap car with 120,000 miles on it and it needed maintenance and new parts, then I spend the original amount on the car, plus gas, insurance, the maintenance, and parts. And, it could only last me 2-3 more years. But, if I buy a nice car that isn’t old and doesn’t need a lot of work, assuming I take proper care of the car, it could potentially last me 7 more years. And, I love my car.

9. SKIMP: buying a couch right when I move out

The truth is, when you first move out, there are some things you need. Some pots and pans, and a shower curtain fall under that list. There are also some things you don’t need right away. A couch and a TV are in that list. Couches are expensive. Besides the bed/mattress and the dining table/chairs, it’ll be in the top 5 most expensive things you’ll buy for quite a while (at least in terms of furniture). Therefore, skip the couch. If you’re a college student, you’re probably used to lying on your bed watching cute animal videos anyway, so you’ll do just fine without a couch if you wait a couple months.

10. SPLURGE: a good bed

The thing with mattresses is, the better quality mattress you buy, the longer it’ll last, the more comfortable it’ll be, and the better you’ll sleep. And hopefully you’ll learn sometime in your adult life that sleeping is never something you should skimp on if you can help it.

Well, I hope this list might help you as you begin to budget, make real money for yourself, and figure out how you want to live your financial life. Thanks for reading!