November 17, 2013 | Posted in:Spend less
It’s a fair assumption that someone who invests almost three-quarters of their disposable income must have to make some pretty significant sacrifices to perpetuate that kind of behavior.
While I’d agree that our family does things differently than the average Middle Class American family, there isn’t one area that I feel like we deprive ourselves or our children.
I felt like I should compile a list of all of the areas where the average person would probably think that I am forcing my family to make sacrifices. You can be the judge.
I’m not sure what most people think my family eats. They probably think our diet consists primarily of rice, oats, beans and water. All of the cheap, and nearly free stuff.
But we actually spend A LOT of money at the grocery store. During an average weekly shopping trip we’ll spend about $75.
With that $75 we buy a lot of fruits, vegetables, and meats. We also buy a bunch of other stuff like almond milk, seltzer water, rice cakes, cereal, pasta, and occasionally ice cream.
I’ve never felt like our pantry looked emptier than anyone else I know. We just don’t buy any crap food like TV dinners, pre-made anything, and we hardly buy junk food.
The main reason we spend so little at the grocery store is because I know what GOOD prices looks like. I always make sure we’re getting the best deal in terms of cost per unit/weight.
We never use coupons either. They don’t make coupons for anything we normally buy, especially store brand items.
Level of sacrifice in this category from 0-10: ZERO
Recently I was having drinks with a friend of mine and the topic of conversation shifted to car insurance. I told him that we pay $300 every six months total for both of our vehicles. He got ANGRY! He pays nearly as much as that for one car EVERY month!
Our two vehicles are a 2008 VW Passat and a 2008 Ford Edge. They’re both paid off and our plan is to keep them running for the next decade or so. My friend is single and has a brand new fully financed 2013 Acura. Of course he’s going to pay more for car insurance than we do.
Having paid off vehicles with high deductible insurance policies means that we’ll have to shell out less money to the insurance companies every six months.
We try to minimize our driving expenses as much as possible as well. One thing that we did to reduce our spending on gas was move closer to work. My wife and I also carpool, which saves us money and makes sense considering we work in close proximity to each other.
Another way that we save gas is by turning the car off if we’re going to be stopping for more than 10 seconds. We do this at ATMs, when we’re waiting for somebody, and any other time we may be idling for no reason. I also like to ride in the draft created by semi-trucks whenever possible. This can increase gas mileage up to 25%! Just don’t get too close.
I guess you could consider it a sacrifice to not buy a new car every 2-3 years. Personally, I can’t understand paying $20k-30k for a two-ton box on wheels to take us to work and the grocery store. Since our vehicles are almost brand new they’ll easily run for another 200,000 miles or more.
Level of sacrifice in this category from 0-10: TWO (one point for each new car we’re not going to buy)
Dining out/Coffee shops
Anybody that knows anything about me knows that I could eat Chipotle burritos every day for the rest of my life and be happy.
Fortunately for my body and my wallet, we only eat at Chipotle occasionally. Like once or twice a month.
Over the course of a normal week we may eat out once, and order pizza once. When we eat out it’s usually at either Panera, Chipotle or a local BBQ joint. We hardly ever spend over $20, and usually bring our own drinks.
We started ordering a pizza every Friday night, because it is actually more cost effective that making our own. We had been making homemade pizzas for a few months, but shredded cheese can be super expensive.
One of the best investments we’ve ever made as a couple was a pair of decent lunchboxes, so we could bring our lunches to work every day. By doing this we save nearly $50 every week. We eat better than most of our co-workers, because our meals are always homemade and are never greasy cheeseburgers. There’s no sacrifice involved in eating well!
I’m a big coffee drinker. Every morning I make myself a travel mug worth of coffee to bring to work. And I usually have another cup when I get home. We still buy specialty drinks occasionally from coffee chains — maybe once or twice a month. If I could make those drinks at home, I’d eliminate this spending altogether.
Level of sacrifice in this category from 0-10: THREE (one point for every weekend that I don’t get to eat a burrito)
I have an amazing wardrobe. So does my wife. So do my kids. I might be biased but I think that they are the best dressed kids at daycare by a mile.
The best part about it is that my ENTIRE wardrobe probably cost about $200. I have name brand clothing that fits, and so does the rest of my family.
We buy nearly all of our clothes at the thrift store (preferably Goodwill or Savers). It sounds cheap to people who don’t care about money, but we save so much by not shopping at the mall it’s insane.
Level of sacrifice in this category from 0-10: ZERO (we literally never go to the mall EVER!)
We moved into a new house in September which came with a horrible, old and faulty fridge. It needed to be replaced, but we wanted to find the perfect fridge to replace it with. It also needed to have the perfect price tag. And meet Mrs. Moneyseed’s high standards.
She spent a couple weeks looking through the listings on Craigslist. We wanted stainless steel. We didn’t want to pay more than $500.
Then the PERFECT fridge popped up for $499. It was about a year old. And we knew it was going to sell pretty quickly.
My wife contacted the owner and we went to see it on Friday night after work. It was just as amazing in real life as it was on the Internet. We called up a friend with a truck and picked up the fridge this afternoon.
This is how pretty much every transaction has gone for us. Every time we want something we try to find it as cheap as possible, then we buy it when the price is right.
Level of sacrifice in this category from 0-10: TWO (we lose some time searching for the best products)
Back in January we cancelled cable TV. This may have been the single most liberating thing we’ve ever done as a family.
First, we got our time back. We don’t have to aimlessly flip through channels to find something to watch. We don’t have to fill our heads — and more importantly our children’s heads — with advertisements. And we don’t have to pay a $90 cable bill every month.
To supplement our lack of cable we have a Roku box that’s hooked up with Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus. Since we share a Netflix account it’s essentially free for us. Hulu Plus costs $8 a month, and Amazon Instant Video is free for Prime customers.
We haven’t purchased a single DVD since we bought the Harry Potter complete box set from Amazon for $30 two years ago. We watch all of the Harry Potter movies annually as a Christmas tradition, so that was worth the cost.
We occasionally rent new movies from RedBox as well. But we hardly go to the movie theater. We’ve been once this year to see Ender’s Game. And we went once last year to see The Hobbit.
As far as music is concerned we have a subscription to Spotify. It’s $10 per month, and let’s you download whatever songs you want to as many authorized devices as you own. You can then listen to the music is ‘Offline Mode’, which means absolutely no bandwidth usage for mobile devices.
Level of sacrifice in this category from 0-10: ZERO (only because I can’t assign a negative number)
This year we had a FEW epic vacations.
We spent a week in Orlando. Three of those days we had park hopper tickets to Universal Studios.
We spent a week in St Louis. Four of the days were spent at FinCon (the Financial Bloggers Convention). The others were spent with family.
We spent a week in Ecuador. This was our first International trip since my wife and I were married, but it was all inclusive and including airfare we spent less than $3,000 on the whole week.
We spend a lot of time traveling, so we try to make it as cost effective as possible.
Level of sacrifice in this category from 0-10: ZERO (we vacation more than most people, I’ll never complain about time off from work)
A Sacrifice-Free Family
Our family doesn’t make sacrifices. The average Middle Class family does.
What we do is called Optimization. We get the same level of Value out of the things we spend money on, we just tend to spend a LOT less than most people. We hunt down deals. And we’re not afraid to buy second hand.
We know that our efforts will allow us to walk away from traditional work by our mid-30s instead of sacrificing another 30 years of our time for a paycheck.