Author Topic: Spending money to save money  (Read 7908 times)

Bullseye

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 52
  • Location: Burlington, Canada
Spending money to save money
« on: March 14, 2012, 11:42:18 AM »
Looking for more ideas on how to get a high imputed 'return on investment', meaning spending money to save more.

Some current ideas;

Energy savings - stuff like buying solar/wind gear that will eventually pay for itself.  Paying for more insulation.  Buying a wood stove.  Buying a scanguage to improve my mileage. 

Food savings - buying fruit trees and installing a veggie garden.  Raising livestock.  Possibly some capital equipment that will save money in the long run, like a bread machine.

Other savings - a home haircut kit. 

Would be interested to hear more ideas, or even just comments on any ideas I've mentioned. 


sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8372
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2012, 12:24:43 PM »
These days I'm thinking that there are very few things I can buy that offer a higher rate of dependable return than a diversified investment portfolio.  Plus the accrued benefits are cash, available for whatever need may come up, rather than something like fruit.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2012, 01:38:56 PM by sol »

Mike Key

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 247
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Nomadic
  • Entrepreneur & Adventure Seeker
    • Tiny House - Big Backyard
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2012, 01:04:12 PM »
For a minute, I thought this was going to be a lesson in Keynesian economics.

velocistar237

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1422
  • Location: Metro Boston
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2012, 02:14:31 PM »
I found http://hes.lbl.gov to be a decent guide to home energy improvements.

smedleyb

  • Guest
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2012, 03:47:13 PM »
Love this idea of "productive consumption," as opposed to consumption for the sake of consumption/disposal.

I would add anything relating  to"general maintenance" to your list, from good tires, cleaning big appliances, proper landscaping, staining decks, etc.  Too often people neglect the stuff around them until it's too late.  Preserve what you have, make it last. 

This is a great concept and I'll try to circle back with better ideas.




Landor n Stella

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 103
  • Location: Utah
    • Heartland House Project Blog
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2012, 07:52:11 PM »
I cut Landor's hair all the time with a home trimmer kit. It cost $35 and has lasted over 4 years. If he got a haircut at a barber (~$15 each time) every other month, it would have cost us over $300 by now. I consider that a good investment.
Also, if you don't have one already, a programmable thermostat is the first step in home energy savings. A decent one will cost between $30-$50 at home improvement stores, but will make up that much and probably more than double in utility costs over a heating season. Also a good investment.

nolajo

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 111
  • Location: New Orleans, LA
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2012, 09:14:56 PM »
I think that some of the one-off projects, like insulation, should absolutely happen. With a single outlay of time and money, you get rewards that will last for years. I have greater reservations about the ideas that may require a shift in your day-to-day life.

Your average practitioner of the art of mustachianism probably knows this, but you shouldn't buy things simply because if you end up using them, you'll save money. Kitchen gadgets are a big culprit in my experience. Gardening can be another. If cooking or gardening are something you already enjoy, then that's great and they can be productive hobbies. There are, however, a lot of start up costs and if you don't particularly like them, good tools don't always make that any better. Decent cookware makes daily cooking less bad, but I still end up just going for some veggies or cheese and crackers pretty often because cooking is still not something I especially like to do. (A big caveat here is that you don't want to go to low-end when starting some of these activities, since lousy knives, for instance will actively make cooking worse, and may convince you you don't like something that's actually alright-to-fun.)

Now if you have ways to acquire some of the goods cheaply (CL, gifts, borrowing, etc) so that you can try it out first, that'd probably be ideal. See if you actually use and enjoy that bread maker, then invest in one knowing you'll stop purchasing baked goods.

Adventine

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1250
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Manila, Philippines
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2012, 06:39:55 AM »
I find investing in sturdy shoes is worth it.

I walk a lot every day (about 40 minutes to and from work), rain or shine, and I've worn out countless cheap ballet flats. Each pair cost me anywhere from 7 to 15 USD. In contrast, the 70 USD Crocs ballet flats my parents got me for my birthday two years ago are worn, but still very walkable.

catalana

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 119
  • Location: UK
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2012, 07:23:35 AM »
Good quality outdoor gear.  I don't know how many water "proofed" winter jackets I went through before taking the plunge and getting an expensive gortex one.

I agree on the general maintenance idea too.  As my granny would say "a stitch in time saves nine".

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8372
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2012, 08:58:54 AM »
Good quality outdoor gear.

I'll second that, with the caveat that you should never pay retail for it.

I've destroyed virtually every piece of outdoor gear I've ever owned, eventually, so these days I only buy new stuff with an eye towards long term durability.  Buying quality makes a huge difference.

Unfortunately, quality outdoor gear is also outrageously overpriced.  If you can't get an employee or organizational discount, at least shop closeouts.  Like most other product lines, last year's model is now half price because they've updated the colors or something.

On a side note, if you have access to an REI and aren't shy about returning items you've worn out, you can potentially save thousands of dollars by taking advantage of their no-questions-asked return policy.

zinnie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 602
  • Location: California
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2012, 10:24:24 AM »
Home improvements for energy efficiency--insulation, we painted our roof white, sealant for windows and doors, replacing screens and broken windows.

Invested in materials to build a raised garden bed to grow veggies.

I buy quality clothing. If it's not going to last me at least 10 years, it's not worth it.

There aren't a lot of areas where I think it makes sense to spend money to save money--but what it comes down to for me is that when you buy items you evaluate whether it's something you will use for a long time (and therefore something that should be quality) or if it's something you can buy on the cheap (which often means that you didn't really need it in the first place.)

To nolajo's point, there is a great analogy to kitchenware in one of Bernstein's books. I can't remember the specifics but he talks about buying something like an electric mixer. If you're a professional baker and use it daily, you'll probably want an expensive stand mixer. If you're a weekend baker, you can get along with a hand mixer. If you're me, and bake 3-4 times a year tops, a whisk is all you need.


iamsoners

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 178
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2012, 11:00:48 AM »
I love this from Mark Bittman on everything you don't need in a Kitchen!

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/20/mark-bittmans-bad-kitchen/

kolorado

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 368
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2012, 06:48:06 AM »
Sewing machine and basic sewing supplies. You can get these all at yard sales and Craigslist for about $30-50. Being able to repair clothes and linens and create new items from cast offs has saved my family $1000's over the years.
Cloth diapers and wipes. I bought a premium brand of cloth for my first child, made my own cloth wipes from cut flannel receiving blankets and spent $400 total on diapering him 2.5 years including laundering cost. I bought a few extra diapers when #2 came along because I had two kids in diapers for while and needed a larger rotation of available diapers. I spent $200 to diaper #2 for 2.5 years including laundering costs. I spent $150 on diapers for #3. Laundering costs are more now than they were 5 years ago especially since we now have to use the dryer instead of line drying. I estimate that with laundering, #3 will cost about $600 over the 2.5 years of diapering. All in all, we saved/will save about $1500 over disposable diapers and wipes with an investment of about $450.
Internet. I save so much money every year shopping for things online instead of in stores. Just this month I bought a mattress online for 75% of what my local bargain/close-out store had it listed at. They usually have the best deals on everything. I do my banking online to save gas and stamps. I can chat on Facebook for free instead of calling long distance or upgrading my cell plan. I can stream free entertainment and music whenever I want. The internet is a vast library of free information and how-tos. I got rid of most of my actual books because the information is out there with just a few clicks.
Freezer. We spent $400 on a large one. It costs about $5 a month to run it. However, with so much storage I am able to stock up on loss leaders, store garden surplus, and make meals in bulk to save energy. I average $300 a month in food costs for our family of 5.

nolajo

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 111
  • Location: New Orleans, LA
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2012, 05:00:32 PM »
Sewing machine and basic sewing supplies. You can get these all at yard sales and Craigslist for about $30-50. Being able to repair clothes and linens and create new items from cast offs has saved my family $1000's over the years.

I'll second that. It's amazing what you can do if you can sew in a roughly straight line. That skill lets you make plenty of things as well as do simple alterations, which is critical if you've say, got short legs. (Not that I would know :) ) Definitely worth it - just get a machine that can do straight and zig-zag stitches, and you're set.

Grigory

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 228
  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • (rhymes with "story")
    • my attempt at blogging
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2012, 05:23:10 PM »
I think it's definitely possible to take the "spending money to save money" idea too far... Earlier today, a friend of mine told me that he spent more than $2,000 on a high-quality mattress with a 20-year warranty. His reasoning? He didn't want to have any allergies and/or back problems that apparently plague people who use regular spring mattresses. And no, he's not part of the 1% - he's a blue collar factory worker. O_o

At what point does one's desire to save money in the long run become an exercise to justify extravagant, unaffordable purchases?..

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8372
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2012, 05:27:34 PM »
At what point does one's desire to save money in the long run become an exercise to justify extravagant, unaffordable purchases?..

Answer: the moment you make an extravagant purchase.

It is only later, when that expense has proven to be worthwhile and economical over the long run, that you get to drop the guilt.  Every big purchase, no matter how well intentioned, is still a big purchase.

velocistar237

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1422
  • Location: Metro Boston
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2012, 05:36:46 PM »
At what point does one's desire to save money in the long run become an exercise to justify extravagant, unaffordable purchases?..

When we fool ourselves into thinking we're doing it to save money. If anybody wonders about a particular purchase, the Ask a Mustachian section of the forum could prove helpful.

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 27549
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Traveling the World
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2012, 05:46:12 PM »
At what point does one's desire to save money in the long run become an exercise to justify extravagant, unaffordable purchases?..

When we fool ourselves into thinking we're doing it to save money. If anybody wonders about a particular purchase, the Ask a Mustachian section of the forum could prove helpful.

+1.  Many people rationalize a purchase with that excuse, but it's just that: an excuse to spend money.

Also if it's done with little thought (i.e. an impulse buy), little to no research, etc. then there's no excuse for spending that money.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

James

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1680
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Rice Lake, WI
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2012, 07:47:18 PM »
We just got an email from a college student we support.  She wants to use her tax return ($800) to purchase a camera, that way she can use it to make money doing photography.  I'm a big fan of photography, but I'm 100% sure she is using the "I can make money with it" to justify her purchase of a new camera while in debt.  I told her that I wasn't opposed to her buying a camera, she doesn't have a working camera right now and is graduating this year with only $5,000 in loans, but not to fool herself by justifying it as a way to make money.  It's a slippery slope that is much more worrying than just the camera issue, I mostly want her thinking clearly about money and not using bad logic.

velocistar237

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1422
  • Location: Metro Boston
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2012, 06:40:03 AM »
She wants to use her tax return ($800) to purchase a camera, that way she can use it to make money doing photography.  I'm a big fan of photography, but I'm 100% sure she is using the "I can make money with it" to justify her purchase of a new camera while in debt.

I agree with you. As a person who has photographed events for pay and spent most of the income on expenses, it's not likely to work out well for her.

Zach Arias is a well-known photographer. He started out shooting weddings with a Nikon D100 and a 50mm lens.  If she can borrow a Nikon D40 and a 35mm lens, she can try it out without a big outlay.

kolorado

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 368
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2012, 06:50:23 AM »
James, I had a relative do the same thing with a $1500 camera. The person was newly married and struggling financially and looking at every get rich quick scheme out there. I pointed out a few statistics about hobbyists who turn pro at things and shared my honest opinion that there is a glut of good photographers who work fairly cheap already. It'd be really hard to make money at it now unlike say 15 years ago when quality cameras were very costly and somewhat difficult to use and photo editing programs were not so available and easy to use. Anybody with a $100 digital camera and $30 photo program can take/achieve somewhat professional looking photos. The relative got furious at me for not supporting their "dream". They bought the camera anyway, on credit, and never shot a single client photo session in the three years since the purchase.
My brother started a coffee business by first getting verbal commitments and orders for his products before he even had products, before he even had a company formed or a location to work or any equipment at all.
You should have some kind of real assurance of income from something before you start throwing large chunks of money at it. My relative could have followed their photographer "dream" just as well on a used $300 camera after they'd booked 5 or so discount sessions with people.
If my brother can sell coffee nobody has tasted, a photographer can sell talent someone hasn't seen. It takes confidence and courage and choosing the right price for your product/services to start that way but those same skills are what will make your business successful year after year. My brother is still selling coffee 14 years later.

MacGyverIt

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 233
  • Location: Not in a tropical, underpopulated location. And that's just wrong.
  • What Would MacGyver Do?
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #21 on: March 18, 2012, 09:21:09 AM »
Home heating and cooling --

I've not run my heat since December when I realized I could invest in a electric+oil heater and just "live" in one room in the house during the coldest months. So I looked online and eventually bought two units, one for my bedroom and one for the main floor in the house. Total investment for the two heaters was $90, I avoided running the heat throughout my home all winter so that paid off rather quickly. Highest bill this winter was $68!

Now that it's warming up, I'm considering one or more window fans to run during the night to bring cool air into the home as MMM documented in an earlier blog post: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/07/18/how-not-to-use-your-air-conditioning/.

Here's the fan I'm considering: http://www.amazon.com/Holmes-HAWF2043-Twin-Window-Fan/dp/B000065DK8/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC?ie=UTF8&coliid=I2NT2IE8CKD8XN&colid=EJP9ZVVI9XBO, does anyone have any other recommendations?

Two concerns with opening up the windows at night to bring the cool air in, I'm interested in people's take on the issues of:
1. road noise - maybe that'll be drown out by the window fans? I'm think I'll open up windows on the other side of the house (not in my bedroom) to reduce the potential for middle of the night ambulance runs from waking me up.
2. allergens - window fans will blow pollen in while cooling rather than running AC with a super duper 3M filter to filter out allergens, for those of us who sneeze most of the year. Maybe it's just a matter of buying the window fans as well as some allergy meds but I do dislike taking meds if I can avoid it.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2012, 09:42:42 AM by MacGyverIt »

Chris

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 89
Re: Spending money to save money
« Reply #22 on: March 18, 2012, 09:35:38 AM »
Here's the fan I'm considering: http://www.amazon.com/Holmes-HAWF2043-Twin-Window-Fan/dp/B000065DK8/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC?ie=UTF8&coliid=I2NT2IE8CKD8XN&colid=EJP9ZVVI9XBO, does anyone have any other recommendations?

That's the one I have, and I'm pleased with the purchase. It won't move as much air as a large single-fan model, but it is easy to remove when you need to shut the window.