Someone on one of the forums reached out to me asking what I do that’s Mustachian. My answer was pretty lame, I basically said I stop worrying about money along with a few other things. Coming from a position now of being able to fully articulate my thoughts.
1. 20% to Retirement – Even when the market is getting a beating I still contribute 20% of my gross wages in my 401k. 95% FSKAX and 5 % in bonds.
2. Take lunch to work – At least 3 times a week I bring lunch with me to work. Usually it’s a salad with some extra protein and toppings tossed in.
3. Get gas from Costco. Considering my round trip work commute is 35 miles a day x 5 or 175 miles a week that adds up. Car gets 24mpg so that’s usually 8 or 9 gallons a week at the bare minimum. Double that for everything else outside of that… So 18 gallons @ $2.40 for premium is $43, two other stations nearby are $3.00/gal which would be $54. So $11/wk savings or $572/yr
4. Cut the cord – I don’t pay for cable. My parents do and I log into their account for what I need. My boyfriend has Hulu and Amazon Prime so occasionally we will watch that.
5. Got rid of Amazon Prime – My subscription just came up for renewal. Prime is $119 per year. I rarely watch movies on there, dislike their music app and I don’t have a smart speaker. If I am patient with shipping and shop around I can often find product for cheaper.
6. Use points – With my Chase Freedom Unlimited card I’m getting 3% cashback on all purchases and 5% through my regular Freedom card in rotating categories.
7. Renting – I rent a 1br/1br apartment in a suburban neighborhood. It was built in the 1980s. It’s not the lap of luxury but I’m also not worried about getting shot at night as would be the case in Downtown Dallas… I pay about $915/mo. Not saying I will never be a homeowner again, but taxes alone for property I’d consider would run around $5k/yr. That’s 5 months of rent. Who knows what 2020 may bring. I do see folks coming down in price on their expensive homes though.
8. Use rewards points – When I do go out I try to use apps like grubhub or Ritual for takeout food. With Ritual I got $5 off my first order, frequently saw $5 off Deals and 20x points (every dollar equals a point and at 10k points you get a $10 off bonus coupon).
9. Intermittent Fasting – Ok so this one isn’t for money but I have some extra lbs I want to burn. Skipping breakfast makes that process a lot easier since my body uses its fat reserves. I do consume some tea however to help suppress my appetite.
10. Travel Hack – When I do travel, I will look up prices with a service like Google Flights or Expedia. I refuse to fly Spirit or any other airline where I will feel like a sardine stuffed in a can. I try to avoid travelling on major holidays because the prices can often be double. During my trip last month to Provincetown I did an AirBNB with 4 others and split the costs. The friends cooked a few meals at their home. Little things like that add up, $20 here, $50 there.
11. Buy Discounted Tech – I never pay full price for any of my products from an Apple Store. Sales Tax alone on a $2k mac is $180. Then the prices can be hundreds more than an authorized reseller. I got a Microcenter Apple certified refurb mid-tier MacBook Pro for about $1999 vs $2799 brand new. It looked brand new when I got it, screen is great, battery works fine, no issues with the keyboard.
12. Drink out less – Some years ago when I did go out to dinner I’d often get 2 or 3 drinks. Now I try to limit myself to one. I honestly don’t miss it, I can make myself a quick something or other at home.
13. Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. I could lease a BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus I wanted to. Maybe one day I will, but for the time being I am perfectly fine with my 3 year old Nissan Maxima.
14. Keep insurance. Without insurance I likely would be borderline bankrupt. Or struggling to pay $50k worth of medical debt. I hate paying the premiums, but it has saved me from huge expenses over the years.
15. Max out my HSA – HSA is a great concept. I get a tax deduction and can use it for things like a blood pressure monitor, orthotics for plantar fasciitis, my braces, normal doctor visits. Since I have a high deductible savings plan this is a also great buffer from unexpected medical expenses. Once I hit a savings certain threshold I can turn it into an investment account.
16. Avoid high interest and maintain good credit. Even with my student loans, after consolidation my interest rate was 4.25%. That allowed me to get ahead much quicker than others with 8, 9% or higher. My car loan is 1.9%… some people with subprime loans pay upwardsof 29%. Not blaming them, but it’s really a night and day difference.
17. Don’t lease a car – It’s different if you own a business obviously. If you have a monthly car payment that never goes away, you have no assets after 3 years. Then if your mileage goes over the terms you’re paying extra. I’m 76% done paying it off my car right now. Then I will own it, not the bank, not Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp.
18. $1-2 movies – Haven’t been in a while but occasionally there will be something that catches my eye. Occasionally I’ll sneak a snack in. Is it ethical? Maybe? But…I usually don’t like what the theaters even have.
19. Pay for a 12 month Apple Music subscription with discounted Apple Gift Cards Per month Apple Music is $9.99 ($4.99 if you’re a college student) . That’s $120 vs $99 for the annual one I have. I got a 33% discount on mine through Best Buy Rewards points, 20% sale on Apple Gift Cards at Best Buy, combined with 3% cashback on my credit card.
20. Get someone to cook for you. Food always tastes better when someone else cooks for you. Especially when they know what they’re doing. We can eat at home, then grab a drink somewhere out if we choose to. If there’s a Happy Hour special running, even better.
21. Buy Clothes on Sale – I like discounts. Clearance, sales, almost every retailer in America offers some type of deal. Even name brand designers should be on sale.
22. I wash my own car. Usually pay about $5 a week at one of those self serve bays instead of $10-15 by going to one of those modern car washes that often scratches your car.
23. I switched to a low cost energy provider. I’m projected to spend $73 this month, but typically average out to around $50.
So there you have it. 😀