Ten things I absolutely refuse to buy are;
- New cars
- New phones
- Gym memberships
- Extended Warranties
- Unnecessary insurance
- Edible food like substances aka processed JUNK
- Name brand clothing
- CDs or DVDs
- Bottled Water
Why is this? Because I just don’t think they are required. I value my time and I am just not happy with having to exchange my valuable time for these things. I choose to lower my footprint and concentrate my spending on the things I really care about, so I can accelerate my journey to FI.
I want to use the money I would have wasted on these things on investing in good quality low fee stock index fund ETFs – I would rather own an asset producing a Dividend! Ask yourself… WWWBD? (What Would Warren Buffet Do?)
New cars really are a huge black hole for money. Especially when combined with complicated and expensive finance products like personal loans with high interest rates. I have some colleagues that swear by complex leasing agreements; taking advantage of tax reductions through using pre-tax income spending benefits linked to employment. I have investigated these options and no matter which way I look at it, it always works out better to drive a car that is at least a couple of years old.
New cars depreciate on average at over 20% per year, which is a staggering rate! If you were investing in the stock market or chasing dividends, you would be amazed at a 20% rate of return from the stock market. So why not drive a car that is a few years older and cash in on this massive return? After all, it’s the same car (and it will even have all the kinks worked out of it!)
Some people are just tech junkies. They have to have the latest phones, laptops, tablets and gadgets. Not me, I am happy to keep my phone until it stops working. The last time I upgraded my phone was in 2013, and it still works like a dream; iPhones are actually pretty incredible bits of technology. I just remember to back up my files occasionally, and then clear the files out, and I don’t clog the phone up with hundreds of useless applications.
Some of the latest smartphones are costing over $1500, and studies have shown their prices are increasing almost 10% every year; in stark contrast to other consumer electronics like flat screen TVs which get cheaper every year. If you’re annoyed about this, don’t worry, the overwhelming majority of consumers are too. TechNewsWorld found that only 16% of purchasers surveyed were happy to spend over $750 on a new smartphone. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that replacing your phone every year isn’t helping you towards Financial Independence.
And whilst every few months we seem to get a new smart phone or tablet or watch (that is soaking in all of your information and selling it to the highest bidder), my trusty iPhone still continues to do its job marvellously. This isn’t a bad thing for savvy consumers though, because it means you can pick up a nearly new model for an absolute steal when a tech junkie loses interest in it! Save the difference and put it into the stock market!
Check out why I quit going to the gym here. Gym memberships on average cost us $65 per month, or $780 every year. That is a big expense in your budget, and over time that expense can make a serious dent in your investments towards FIRE. If you wanted to retire in your late 30s after a 20 year career, skipping the gym membership could net you around $50,000 (if you instead invested the membership fee in low fee ETF index funds).
The fact is that fitness is a huge part of overall well being and health, but it doesn’t need to cost the earth. Some basic home gym equipment and weights can be purchased for as little as the cost of one or two months membership, and you will have them forever if you take care of them. Local parks and trails are a great free way to get your cardiovascular exercise, whilst being out in nature and fresh air and getting some sun.
“And would you like to purchase the extended warranty for only $200 more…?”
“If your product is so good, why does it need an extended warranty?”
The fact is that extended warranties are just unnecessary deregulated insurance policies and a way retailers can slug a fearful or unaware consumer just that little bit more. The contracts can be complicated, and the fine print can be a bit on the nose meaning your insurance might not even be covering what you think it does. I buy most of my goods second hand, so I usually don’t have this option anyway. Make sure you do your research and ensure you are buying a quality product; that way you shouldn’t even need an extended warranty.
You also have some pretty amazing consumer rights that a lot of retailers are keen to downplay and pretty reluctant to adhere to, but these are legal requirements. A good example is budget airlines and the so called ‘non refundable tickets’ – it’s just a fallacy. Choice, Canstar and Canstar Blue are some great Australian consumer review and comparison websites, and also have some great information on warranties.
Didn’t we just cover that? Well, partly. What I am getting on about here is the more serious insurance policies you might have. You should only insure against things that are going to ruin you financially. For example, I only buy rock solid, dirt cheap third party insurance (personal and property) for my car. This is because I drive a sensible car and I maintain an emergency savings from which I could buy another reasonable car with. So no need for expensive comprehensive policies.
It’s not just car insurance though, home and contents insurance can also be cleaning out your wallet unnecessarily. Whilst you might love that ‘bespoke’ couch and dining room set, the value of your home contents is drastically less than what you think it is, I assure you. Of course, insurers will tell you that it’s not the cost of the item, it’s the cost to replace the item – and they would like to inflate this a bit so they can sell you more expensive policies. Much like the car insurance, keeping a nice thick emergency cushion means you can afford to lower your policy, and reap the benefits of heavily reduced premiums. I wouldn’t skimp on your home insurance though, your house burning down could ruin you financially.
Make sure you have an appropriate level of medical or health insurance, and that you aren’t ‘paying double’ through any employer or superannuation schemes. Scientific American recently published an article where experts have estimated the US healthcare system alone wastes $765 Billion annually. On average, Aussies are spending over $20 Billion a year in insurance premiums they don’t need or which don’t provide adequate levels of protection – in 2018 alone nearly 70,000 Aussies dropped dud health insurance policies, the majority being young adults aged 25-29.
Edible food like substances aka processed JUNK
We all know Junk food is bad for you. Edible food like substances are highly processed, contain masses of refined sugars and fats, and come in variety of wasteful and non recyclable toxic plastics. Despite appearing cheap, the addictions people have on junk food means feeding their habits can add up to some serious coin – Just check out your work social club or canteen bill if you don’t believe me.
Instead, I prefer to eat whole foods, and concentrate on eating mostly a heap of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts seeds and grains. Check out why this is hugely beneficial to your health, and your wallet here.
Name brand clothing
If there’s one thing I don’t like doing, it’s giving away my valuable time to things or people that clearly don’t deserve or need it. So why should I work hard for my living exchanging my valuable time for money, only to then give that up to a giant corporation?
The fact is that buying name brand clothing is exactly that, giving your time away for free. I don’t enjoy walking around giving these brands free advertising either, and I think that branding and logos on clothing actually looks really tacky and dare I say, cheap!
Instead, I focus on shopping savvy and buy quality clothing from manufacturers that I know produce a good product (with bonus points for no or discreet branding). My $2 Target gym shirt works just as good as the $50 Adidas sweatshirt I received as a birthday gift.
CDs or DVDs
Do we even need to get into this? Dead format guys, dead format. Stop clogging your shelves and bookcases with things you’re only going to stream anyway.
Why I would pay to read advertising is totally beyond me. But, obviously people do it or else they wouldn’t print them anymore. Sure, there are some useful things you can read in magazines, but I can read them all online, anytime, for free on my portable tablet or iPhone.
Bottled water is incredibly wasteful, especially when you consider the free access to fresh clean drinking water we have most of the time. Plastic water bottles also contaminate the water, meaning there is actually a bunch of hidden health risks with drinking bottled water; leeching chemicals and micro-plastics are only one part of this. And most of them just end up as plastic waste in landfill or polluting our environment.
I absolutely refuse to pay $3 for a bottle of water in the supermarket, and I have seen them being slugged for over $10 at festivals before. I always bring my own water bottle which also helps me to keep track of how much water I have drunk so I can reach my daily target of at least 3L per day.
So I hope you liked my reasoning for the ten things I absolutely refuse to buy on the road to FI. If there is something you refuse to buy, why not list it in the comments alongside your reasoning – it would be great to hear your view why. As always, stay motivated and hungry for FI!
Get FI !