Weird Ways I Have Been Saving Money

In my last article, I talk about how I have been trying my best to consume only water.

As much as I try to limit myself to only drinking water, I find that I cannot possible only drink water for the rest of my life. What about the pleasure I get from drinking a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice? What about my favorite ‘Mango Plus’ smoothie from the nearby smoothie cart? And how could I not mention COFFEE!

I work at a 9-5 job that slowly drains my soul every passing day, which means I drink a lot of coffee. When I first started working in 2012, I didn’t touch the caffeinated stuff. However, over the years I slowly began to enjoy the smell and the perk coffee would bring to my day.

This eventually turned into a daily habit where I currently drink 1-2 cups of coffee every day. Besides the migraines I get when I don’t drink coffee, the worst part of this habit was how much I was spending on coffee!

Consumer Surplus

Don’t get me wrong – we don’t need to STOP drinking coffee or stop the consumption of any good for that matter.

Instead, my point is that we need to find a way to capture the value we obtain from a good without paying retail prices for that good. This concept of buying something at a discount when you would have been willing to pay the full price is called your ‘consumer surplus‘.

For example, let’s say you are willing to buy a coffee for $2.50 in a normal situation but you happen to go to a breakfast cart that sells coffee for only $1.50. In this scenario, you buy the cup of coffee for $1.50 but would have been happy to pay $2.50 for the same cup.

The $1 difference is your consumer surplus.

So, instead of paying the typical $2.50 for a cup of coffee from Au Bon Pain or Starbucks, I have been making my own coffee! I have been making my own pour-over coffee in the comfort of my own home – costing me 15 cents for every $1.00 I used to spend.

I even bring my entire set up to work and make drip coffee in the break room at work!

Weird Ways I Capture My Consumer Surplus

Bringing my grinder, filter paper, ceramic filter, mug, kettle, and coffee brush into the office to make drip coffee is not the only weird thing I do.

I do plenty of weird things:

  1. Biking to work – saving the $116.50 I would spend on a monthly MTA metro card
  2. Bulk cooking 6-8 portions of food in a single night – saving $50+ compared to eating out/take away
  3. Never eating in a restaurant – saving %15 on every meal that is eaten outside the home
  4. Airbnb-ing out my 2nd bedroom – saving %70 on rent
  5. Buying groceries from Chinatown – saving %50 on grocery costs
  6. Canceling my gym membership – saving $25-$80 a month
  7. Getting free t-shirts from conventions and conferences – saving on clothing costs
  8. Cutting my own hair – saving $20-$40 a haircut
  9. Cutting my girlfriend’s hair – saving $40-$80 a haircut
  10. Dying my girlfriend’s hair – saving $40-80 a dye
  11. Re-wearing slightly dirty clothes – Saving $0.10 for each article of clothing for the price of laundry
  12. Bringing water/tea with me when I go out – Saving $1-$3 on drinks
  13. Buying games on sale – Saving %50+ on games (thank god for Steam bundle sales)
  14. Refusing to pay for microtransaction on mobile games – saving $1-$20
  15. Learning to code in C# from Youtube & Google – Saving $2k – $7k for a college level course
  16. Investing instead of consuming – saving far too much to calculate
  17. Doing my own basic plumbing work – saving $300+

These are just several ways that I have been saving money as they relate to my hobbies, habits, and goals.  There is a unifying theme for each item in the list above, and that is that each item requires more patience, effort, and time than the respective consuming counterpart.

Produce Instead Of Consume

The point that I am trying to drive home is to produce instead of consume. Once you begin focusing on producing the items you want to consume instead of simply spending money on the items you want to consume, you will be saving more money than you could have ever imagined.

I will use the example of cutting hair – since we all have hair or had hair at one point. Instead of going to your barber and paying someone $20 to $100 for a haircut, you can buy a pair of clippers and scissors for less than $30 and cut your own hair.

Sure, you won’t cut it as well as a professional barber, but you will get better over time. It is surprisingly easy to cut male hair, but if you are a female – cutting your own hair is definitely achievable. If you are struggling while trying to cut your own hair, then take the time to learn! With the power of Youtube and Google, you can learn pretty much anything.

If you spend $20 a month for your haircut, then you could save $240+ every year just by doing it yourself! This is just one small step that all of us should take if we are to take control of our finances and become Financially Independent.

Now imagine you had your own list of 16 things you did to save money but still allowed yourself to enjoy the same lifestyle you had before – you would be saving a lot of money.

These small steps accumulate over time and will eventually make you think differently about how you spend your money. Take the time to learn how to produce something you would consume and capture your own consumer surplus!

If you found this article insightful, helpful, motivational, or just a slight bit entertaining, then please like, comment, subscribe, and SHARE!

Thanks for reading.

Jack

27 comments

  1. Wow! Good to see you going turbo on saving. I guess am luckier in a few ways that I get a very good quality coffee at my work place for INR 10 (about 15 cents) and access to a pretty decent in-office gym free for employees.
    Like you, I also do bulk cooking for a week’s worth of food on Sundays to not have to worry about cooking on rest of the days. As for the hair cutting, I think I prefer to go without one for longer than attempting to do it myself. For the last few years, a haircut has become an annual affair for me.
    I think till the time you are happy with these changes you are making it’s all good. The day any of this feels like a sacrifice and a “penny wise pound foolish” type of move is when it would be a problem. That question stops me at times from doing weird/extreme things in order to save some money.

    1. Great points! It’s all about how comfortable we are as individuals to save money. Somethings make sense to do yourself if you have the time and interest. Others it makes sense to outsource if your time is better spent doing something else.

      Thanks!

  2. I love your list! We also do many of the same weird things to save money. My husband bikes to work everyday. We don’t eat at restaurants – this started for health reasons, but we save a ton of money. We bring our own coffee to work (but we make it at home first) and cut our own hair. You can really save money if you do things yourself instead of paying other people to do them. Now if only we could learn to do our own plumbing too! 🙂

    1. I am glad to see I am not alone here. Being able to provide value with your own two hands (or two legs in cases of biking) really makes you realize how over priced many items are.

      Plumbing is usually just a matter of knowing some basics and applying them to your own pipe set up. I only manage to do simple things like a leaky pipe. I would have no idea how to fix a bursted pipe inside a wall for instance.

  3. Hi jack i agree with your ways to save money by avoiding the service offered by others. Just imagine what would happen everybody thinks similar ways to save money. Then in effect we would be simply stop the opportunity for others to earn for living or simply affecting thier lively hood. Do you think that is better way doing. Society itself survives on interdependence which eventually helps the economy to thrive.

    1. I think the world would be a better place if we were all a little bit more well rounded.

      I don’t expect people to be fully self reliant, but maybe you are really good at a few things like cutting hair, fixing computers, and setting up WiFi networks. And your other friends are good at other tasks, like plumbing, electrical work, or lawn care. You’d be better off exchanging your expertise where it makes sense.

      If we spend money or buy services, we are more likely to just funnel our money into the huge corporations like Amazon or Walmart that inevitably means that the money will not come back to 99% of people anyway.

    1. That’s great to hear. 🙂

      It’s all about working together. Cutting women’s hair can be tricky, but is easy if you watch enough YouTube tutorials on layering (or any hair style you like) and have enough patience (and hair) for a few mistakes.

      1. My favorite thing about YouTube is that it really give the opportunity for people that really know their stuff a chance to teach others.

        You can learn almost anything on YouTube.

  4. I do many of those things. I think the key thing is to make sure you take the savings – the money you would have spent anyway – and actually move it to a savings or investment account. When we were paying off our mortgage, I’d pack my own coffee for road trips and then log on that night to make an additional $5 payment to our mortgage. Now savings like these go to an investment fund. I love how you phrased it as producing instead of consuming.

    1. Absolutely. I can’t believe I forgot to mention that small caveat!

      With all the money not being spent, it’s important to save the difference! Capture your own consumer surplus!

    1. Biking I definitely far better than jamming myself onto a Subway car like a sardine. 🙂

      Also, it’s a good workout!

    1. I am sure we all would mess up the first time around. The best part about hair is that it grows back!!

      Don’t be afraid to give yourself a trim, you will get better over time.

  5. Yes! They are weird, but it is effective. As long as you are enjoying your lifestyle with your “saving money” tactics, I think it is definitely fine. I wish I could do some of the stuff you mentioned above but I am trying!

    1. Absolutely! I forgot to mention that I own a LG X Power instead of a more popular phone.

      The phone sucks and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but it works for me. 🙂

      Thanks!

    1. Everyone should definitely Airbnb. Even if you have a couch, you should try airbnbing it.

      Most visitors I get are out and about most the time and I am only awake at home for 4-6 hours on weekdays.

      Works perfect for me.

  6. I find myself doing about 9 of the 17 things off your list… Slowly working up! That’s awesome that you Airbnb your second bedroom. My wife and I use Airbnb all the time when we travel and wonder what it would be like to be on the hosting side of things.
    Also, I just went through the YouTube rabbit hole of DIY haircut fade. Any tips on easy cleanup? That was the most annoying thing whenever I used to shave my head.

    1. Hey Chris, do you mean cleanup all of the scrap pieces that stay on your head, or that wind up on the ground? The stuff that stays on my head will stay there until I take a shower, or I’ll dunk my head under my kitchen faucet. For the other, I shave my head outside and sweep the stuff off my deck onto the lawn below.

      Off topic, but I jumped over to your blog and love some of the stuff you have there. Looking forward to reading more!

      1. Hey OMSC, thanks for the kind words! Really appreciate it.

        Regarding cleanup, ya cutting it outside is a good call, I’ll have to try it. We have a little balcony at our apartment and the neighbors below us have been annoying us lately anyways, we can make it rain hair on then. Ha!

    2. Haha cleaning up the hair takes me just as long as it does to cut it usually.

      I find cleaning the bathroom before I clean makes it much easier to clean up afterwards as well.

      To pick up the short hairs, I sometimes use a small slightly damp Amazon basic’s towel and rinse it off in the sink.

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