10. A television
Nope, haven't ever bought one. Haven't had one in my living space for 5 years now, and even before then I rarely turned it on. When I lived in that house, I had no TIME for TV -- I'd get up, go to work, go to rehearsal, get home, maybe eat dinner, and go to bed. I moved it into the closet one year to set up the Christmas tree in the living room, and didn't realize until months later that I'd never moved it back. The last time I had cable was when I lived with my parents before graduation; I did watch that a lot. But now I can find most of what I want -- including shows currently airing -- on Hulu, which is free, or Netflix (I received a subscription as a gift, but I consider it a reasonable luxury and might pay for it myself depending on other circumstances). It plays in the background while I do homework, and since I pay for Internet for other necessary purposes and wouldn't if it was only for TV, it doesn't cost a thing.
9. A car
In some areas, you need to have a vehicle to get from place to place. However, in the Bay Area (especially in San Francisco), public transit is available. I either walk or take the bus or train to work, church, grocery stores, farmers' markets, the library, restaurants, friends' places, and almost anywhere else I want to go. Yes, it's time-consuming and sometimes inconvenient. But I don't drive, and so I pay less than a car payment for the fares (I buy monthly passes and bulk-value tickets using pre-tax funds from a flex-spending plan.) And I also don't have to pay for parking (very dear in the city -- in terms of both space and money), maintenance, or...
I CANNOT believe how much gas costs, considering how much of it is used every day by the average person. Ugh.
7. Cell phone contracts
I'm away from home at LEAST 11 hours of most days. I text more than I talk. I check Nextbus.com and my email (and, yes, Facebook) from the bus stop. Cell phone service is essential. We don't even HAVE a landline. I just can't stomach spending so much money! I've been a happy MetroPCS customer for more than 5 years now, because I pay a flat rate at the beginning of the month for unlimited service. No counting minutes. No overage fees. No obligation to continue past the monthly billing cycle, no separation or early-termination fees. Just $50 a month, or
6. Body wash
Shampoo, which I do use, cleans my body as well as my hair. I don't see the need for specific types of soap. I have dry sensitive skin, so harsh chemicals aren't good for it. Some people really like the versatility of Dr. Bronner's. I like the peppermint version over the citrus. Sometimes I use an exfoliating salt or sugar scrub. (You can make these at home with kitchen ingredients -- they're foodsafe even if they probably wouldn't taste very good!)
As a kid and a teen, I remember purchasing (and selling, and seeing for sale) newspapers at 35 cents. Nowadays I'd have to check a newspaper stand outside of the subway, or maybe Walgreens, but around the internet people estimate that a daily paper is between 50 cents and a dollar. A subscription to the San Francisco Chronicle will run you $10.75 a week for daily delivery. While I sort of understand the appeal of spending Sunday morning in bed with the paper and some bagels... I'd rather sleep when I can. And usually I can't -- I have homework to do or somewhere to be. On a weekday, I don't have time or space for a newspaper -- I don't get a seat on the train, and I barely manage to read my book one-handed! So my news comes to me online and by word of mouth.
Yeah, that's probably a little too much information. And to be fair, my primary concern when making the switch to a reusable product was not cost. But women should know that there are alternatives to buying processed cotton at incredible markups and throwing it out every month. Some frugal options that are also eco-friendly include The DivaCup, The Moon Cup, and The Keeper; you could also use washable cotton pads (like Lunapads) if you want to do the extra laundry (it's kind of like cloth diapering, only they're smaller and less frequently used). There's a startup cost, as there would be when switching to most new habits, but after a couple of months an alternative method will pay for itself. Consider the difference between $40 for The DivaCup, once every 10 years, and $6 for a pack of 40 tampons (once a month? every couple of months? depends on the woman). Even if you only use it for a year, you could save up to $40.
I fished one out of the office fridge the other day, and found I couldn't drink more than a third of it with lunch. It doesn't quench my thirst like water, and the carbonation is, frankly, uncomfortable. Around the house we drink water, diluted fruit juice (usually purchased in gallon jugs on sale), and lemonade from a powder mix. My sweetie drinks milk; I can't and won't. Very occasionally I'll have a Sprite at a party, or I'll ask for a Shirley Temple (don't judge!) when out on a dinner date, but I don't buy it for myself.
2. Alcohol (or cigarettes)
I've realized that I spend less in both grocery and entertainment costs by not drinking alcohol. Too, I wasn't exposed to smoking when I was a child, and I know very few people now who smoke; it was never something that I thought I'd do or wanted to do. (I SING, dammit!) What with taxes, those are both expensive habits. I saw a budget the other day where the weekly grocery budget was equal to the combined weekly budget for alcohol and cigarettes. DOUBLING the grocery bill? I don't think so!
Here, a literal interpretation of The Latte Factor won't help my budget. I've never bought a coffee drink in my life. (Although I've made enough of them to come home smelling like the stuff.) When my peers were developing a taste for coffee in order to get through late night studying, I found that a)caffeine didn't appear to have any effect on me and b) coffee tastes horrible!! (Without the "benefits" of caffeine to balance the bitterness, I don't see how anyone could acquire a taste for it.) So wipe the #1 (#2?) social addiction off my list, and pretend I sock away $3.25 a day instead. (I don't; I'm sure I would spend it on other stuff if I weren't careful.)
Now, these are not changes that I made in order to save money. They're things that in almost all cases I would do (or not do) anyway. In that way I'm lucky, not virtuous -- I have some habits that I'm sure COST me money, but that's another list. But the part that's not luck is examining my own priorities, knowing what a reasonable cost for something should be, and deciding -- consciously deciding -- whether to pay for it or go without. These are goods and services that I just don't feel are necessary, and even if I had unlimited money, I might not buy.
Is there anything you'd add for your own list?