Author Topic: Spending money in order to be more frugal? A new Mustachian  (Read 2243 times)

Tree

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Spending money in order to be more frugal? A new Mustachian
« on: February 23, 2017, 02:35:04 PM »
Hi everybody, this doubles as a bit of an intro, apologies for the length!

I discovered this blog in the past two weeks and am currently traveling. After reading a TON of MMM articles, I cannot believe how much money I was flat out wasting, and I realize I was almost proud of it in some instances. In the past few years I've been fortunate to not really have to think about what I was spending, as my business was doing quite well. Eating out every meal, ordering groceries through instacart and in many instances them going to waste, uber/lyfting everywhere, not preparing adequately and buying stuff in the moment to compensate. And just a few years ago I biked through Northeast winters!! I can't believe how averse I've become to discomfort in such a short time.

A few months ago my car broke down because of a bad mechanic (only had 80k miles on it ughhh) and I haven't replaced it. I have a road bike, but I bought it for $75 bucks off of craigslist and I don't feel like I can conquer biking with it as it's pretty crappy. So I've got a list of things to buy: a mountain bike, rainproof laptop pannier, groceries pannier etc as soon as I get back.

My financial situation is pretty good all considering, so I'm not super worried about the cost. I'm almost 27, own my house and roommates cover mortgage and then some. The value has doubled since I purchased at 24 (negotiated 100k off asking and the neighborhood has become incredibly popular), and following that I managed to start a business that allows me a retired like lifestyle, while still raking in the dough doing enjoyable part time work. So if one ignores the past two or three years where I was living large instead of paying down my debts, I'm doing great. By simply eliminating the conveniences in my life that don't actually add any enjoyment, I'll save an easy grand a month, and I could have credit cards/student loans paid off within a year or two.

As I have a history of biking and loving it, I'm reasonably confident that I'll readopt my former lifestyle with gusto. But I find it funny that the first thing I'll be doing as a Mustachian is dropping probably close to $1000 on biking gear. Did anyone else find that they had to spend a substantial amount of money to start reducing? An MMM article I read advocates going ahead and buying a bike new instead of fussing around with craigslist so you get into it and hooked as soon as possible. I think I'm making the right decision with this, but I'm curious to hear about anybody else's experiences of significant purchases that helped them to save money and live better.

Thanks so much! I'm excited to embark on my new frugal life!

Heroes821

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Re: Spending money in order to be more frugal? A new Mustachian
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2017, 02:43:16 PM »
Welcome to the forum and MMM.

Well if your going to truly jump into this lifestyle with gusto take some of MMMs earliest advice and take a breath, then look at this purchase of multiple items that are "required" to switch to biking and wait at least 2 weeks before making a purchase to ensure that you still need those especially all at once.

Also Craigslist will probably help reduce the cost.

Read more, ask more questions and since you aren't in a dire financial situation take things one step at a time. a knee jerk reaction to spending $1000 to "save money" is really just a spendy-pants compulsion trying to adjust to the new lifestyle you want to adopt.

For getting back to biking your current bike should be fine.  Use a backpack for groceries or carpool with these tenant roommates for now.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Spending money in order to be more frugal? A new Mustachian
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2017, 05:38:18 AM »
According to MMM a bike is a very good investment that pays back quickly if it stops you from driving. But I think you shouldn't take up a new loan for it, if you're planning that. Indeed good bags to carry your laptop and groceries when cycling are a good idea. In time, you can also buy a used bike trailer to hang behind your bike.

Other good investments:
- Spare inner tire(s) for your bike. And repair pads.
- A closed wood oven in your house, if you have trees on your patch for chopping yourself.
- Enough kitchen supplies to be inspired to make good homemade food.
- A freezer (this may be just a part of your fridge) to freeze labeled leftovers, or portions that are bulk cooked in advance.
- If you live near the coast: a fishing rod to catch fish for eating.
- A shopping list app for your phone (for free). Keep it up to date so you always know when you need to buy groceries and don't buy too much.
- Shop groceries twice a week for just a couple of days ahead. This way, vegetables won't get wasted at the end of the week.
- Bulk buy tinned or frozen food when it is on sale.
- Cash back credit card(s).

Laura33

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Re: Spending money in order to be more frugal? A new Mustachian
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2017, 08:54:04 AM »
Think a little bit about Heroes821 said.  You have spent several years training your brain to solve problems by throwing money at them.  Now you have realized that is unsatisfying and wasteful -- huzzah! -- and you are eager to change it.  But your brain is still used to solving problems by throwing money at them.  So your first, instinctive, knee-jerk reaction is to create a list of spanky new equipment that will allow you to start your new life in earnest.  But if I'm reading correctly, you haven't even tried biking regularly yet!  You don't know if you will find it workable, or if you will get frustrated or find difficulties along the way that will get in your way.

I would encourage you to come at this from exactly the opposite approach:  challenge yourself to spend as *little* money as possible on your new lifestyle, at least until you're sure it will still stick.  Start with what you have -- the bike isn't awesome, but is it good enough for a while?  For the extras like the panniers, is there some alternative available at home that you can repurpose?  E.g., what's wrong with sticking your laptop in a 2-gallon Ziploc?  If you can start with "good enough," that will give you time to (a) figure out whether this whole crazy idea will work long-term before dropping a lot of coin, and (b) take your time scouring Craigslist for cheaper used versions of the gear you think you need, or looking for various bike shops in the area that might offer used/refurbished equipment.  (I know you're traveling, but presumably you have internet acces -- why not start the research now?)  And most important of all:  you are mentally challenging yourself to look at issues from a completely different angle -- solving problems with ingenuity, not money.

Please note that I am not saying that you need to become a virtual cycling bag lady for the rest of your life.  If you are going to rely on your bike for transport, I have absolutely no problem with you getting a good, solid, comfortable one that will last you years (SO much cheaper than a car, and so much better for you)!  I just think you need to change your mental mindset first.  And I bet anything that if you start with "first, spend no money," you will be able to get yourself fully outfitted and comfortable for significantly less than your current estimate -- you are clearly smart and driven, so use some of that brainpower and cleverness on yourself!

letired

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Re: Spending money in order to be more frugal? A new Mustachian
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2017, 09:22:29 AM »
My old bike was a Lotus road bike I bought off craigslist for $85 dollars. It came with a rack and I added a basket + bungees for ~$30. It served me very well until it was stolen out of my back yard. My current bike(s) are all old steel-frame road bikes from craigslist, costing in the $100-$200 range, plus a little extra over time for lights/rack/bags/fixups.

TL;DR don't spend that much money on a bike, especially not before you've proven to yourself that you aren't going to drop it in 6 months.

Unrelated, but why do you want a mountain bike? My sample size is incredibly biased, but everyone I know commutes on road or 'hybrid' style bikes. Maybe I'm not thinking of the right kind of mountain bike.

aceyou

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Re: Spending money in order to be more frugal? A new Mustachian
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2017, 09:50:04 AM »
Yep, my current bike is also a craigslisted steel frame Giant road bike that I bought 5 years ago for $180.  I bought a Burley bike trailer on craigslist for $100.  Got a helmet for Christmas from my wife. 

It's better to have a cheap bike.  When I go to Walmart/Aldi/etc on my shopping runs, I'm far happier locking it up with a cheap lock and worrying less about theft.  An expensive bike is a target, mine is less of one.  For this reason I'm probably actually happier with an old bike. 

Don't overthink/overspend this.  You need far less than you think you do. 

Good luck!!!

redbird

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Re: Spending money in order to be more frugal? A new Mustachian
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2017, 10:58:49 AM »
Yes, it's absolutely possible to spend money to become more frugal. One example for me that happened recently - I bought some good freezer-safe containers. I've been more into home cooking since I early retired in 2015, but more and more I'm trying to find ways to be more frugal in my grocery bill. I bought some dry beans and decided to cook the whole bag at once to save time. But there was no way me and my husband (only 2 in the house) could eat all of those beans! So I used those containers to freeze some of those beans. I can thaw them out later and have them with other meals. I did a similar thing with soup. I made a whole lot of soup and put some in the freezer for future meals.

My next step that I want to do (after our house buying/moving goes through) is start a veggie garden. I plan to take advantage of canning and freezing so I won't waste any of the tasty produce my garden makes! But I will need to buy some mason jars and gardening supplies to do that.

PJ

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Re: Spending money in order to be more frugal? A new Mustachian
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2017, 11:56:09 AM »
Yes, it's absolutely possible to spend money to become more frugal. One example for me that happened recently - I bought some good freezer-safe containers. I've been more into home cooking since I early retired in 2015, but more and more I'm trying to find ways to be more frugal in my grocery bill. I bought some dry beans and decided to cook the whole bag at once to save time. But there was no way me and my husband (only 2 in the house) could eat all of those beans! So I used those containers to freeze some of those beans. I can thaw them out later and have them with other meals. I did a similar thing with soup. I made a whole lot of soup and put some in the freezer for future meals.

My next step that I want to do (after our house buying/moving goes through) is start a veggie garden. I plan to take advantage of canning and freezing so I won't waste any of the tasty produce my garden makes! But I will need to buy some mason jars and gardening supplies to do that. 

I think the key here is that you are doing it slowly, on an as needed basis.  You'd been doing more home cooking already, before you decided to invest in good freezer-safe containers.  Then, when you move, you'll invest in some gardening supplies, and you'll add the canning equipment in when you're ready to do that.

Tree, welcome to the forum!  And good for you, for re-committing to biking as a lifestyle choice.  Have you already been doing that with your "crappy" bike since your car broke down?  Either way, as you say, your history of biking in the past bodes well.  But maybe you don't need to get everything all at once.  As others have said, changing your mindset of how you solve a problem is at least half the battle!

Tree

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Re: Spending money in order to be more frugal? A new Mustachian
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2017, 06:15:58 PM »
Thanks everybody for the good advice! I've postponed the buying of a new bike for a few weeks until a sale starts at a new local bike shop that I learned about after calling and chatting with the owner. I'm going to get my current bike tuned up in the meantime..

While normally I do a pretty good job of forcing myself to not buy fancy gear until I'm sure I'm committed to the activity, in this case, one of the reasons I got out of biking was because I had so much trouble with a bike I bought used after my other bike was hit by a car while it was parked. I'd like to just get going again with some gear I can rely on.

I'd like to have a good hybrid (not pure mountain  as I previously said) so that I can also do more leisure riding in the nearby trails. As far as the panniers, I could ziplock bag my laptop, but I'd still have to ride with it on my back and I want to avoid the back pain. However I could start with just grocery panniers. I mainly work from home, so I could generally avoid bringing my laptop.

So far I think that waiting a couple weeks for a purchase and starting with grocery panniers is a good middle ground.

damyst

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Re: Spending money in order to be more frugal? A new Mustachian
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2017, 01:03:36 AM »
I live in a bike-friendly but somewhat hilly area. Bought my first adult bike when we moved here - a cheap, second hand steel frame hybrid.
I ended up using it very sporadically - once every couple weeks or so, and for a fairly small set of use cases. Never if I'm in a hurry. Never if I need to avoid showing up sweaty to wherever it is I was going.

After landing a grown-up job, I went and dropped over $1,000 on a brand new aluminium frame Specialized Sirrus commuter. Been riding it everywhere ever since. We're a car-free household and the bikes are our primary means of transportation.

Not sure how well this experience generalizes for other people and situations, but for me the lightweight high-end bike made all the difference.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2017, 01:05:40 AM by damyst »