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What do you NOT care about spending money on?

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Lots of people talk about spending on things you value. But what about the things we don’t care about?

Baby doesn't like this

This baby knows something most people don’t: What he doesn’t like
When I wrote An Ode to Jim Blomo, I talked about my friend who’s honed his conscious spending and spends thousands on the things he loves:

Jim has told me over and over that he doesn’t care much about living in a fancy place, so he saves money on that. He cooks at home when he can instead of eating out every day. But he loves outdoor stuff–biking, camping, travel. And so he splurges on those things. He has a top-of-the-line bike. He just got back from a week-long trip to New York, just for fun.

Jim also cuts costs mercilessly on his housing, choosing to live in a place far smaller than he can afford. To him, it’s not important, and he’d rather spend his money elsewhere.

This decision — of what’s important as well as not important — is at the heart of the Conscious Spending Plan I describe in chapter 4 of my personal finance book.

Previously, I’ve written about friends who spend $21,000/year going out and $5,000 on shoes.

But we haven’t focused on what you choose not to spend on.

When I asked friends this, they were quick to answer what they valued — “organic food” or “travel” or “nice clothes” — but almost uniformly found it difficult to answer what they didn’t value. When I asked one friend, “What do you not care about? What would you be willing to buy a lower quality of (or not at all)?” he looked at me blankly. I considered violence.

It’s critically important to be explicit about what you don’t value as much as what you do. By writing it down — on a blog or a notepad or an Excel doc — you can prioritize your purchases and avoid being sucked into spending on things you really don’t care about. As Jeff Solomon writes:

“When I come to work tomorrow I’ve got to figure out what NOT to do first and focus on the single most important item first. No matter how hard it is, I’ve just got to get through it. It’s just too easy to get sucked into the unimportant. There are too many things on my lists that just don’t move the needle or don’t make a difference. At work and at home, some things have more impact than others. And when the lists get long, I’ve got to know what NOT to do before I can figure out what to do.”

What do you not care about spending money on? I’ll start. When it comes to spending, I don’t care about…

  • A fancy sports car. I’d rather have a Honda Accord and drive it for 10+ years (more on how I bought a car)
  • The type of cheese I eat — Kraft singles are just fine
  • Shampoo, etc. They’re all the same to me
  • Super-fancy restaurants. I’d rather eat out a lot with friends at a bowling alley than eat at the fanciest places. (Note: This specifically fits into my Conscious Spending Plan by letting me see more people at less-expensive restaurants. If I cared about expensive restaurants, I would eat fewer meals at higher-end places.)

As part of your conscious spending plan, what do you NOT care about spending money on?

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  1. I’d say that people can’t immediately name what they don’t care about for that exact reason: they hardly think about it at all. It’s not an active part of their lives. But I agree that knowing is important.

    I don’t care about eating out, going to bars, expensive clothing and shoes, expensive sports, cars, jewelry, living in a big place. There are probably more things that I can’t remember now.

  2. It is always like that – finding negatives are more difficult that positive ones. Like what you don’t want to be is more difficult to identify than what you want to be. Other way of thinking is identifying what you value the most (say, 3 things) and everything else is undervalued and rather don’t spend good money on that. You can ask yourself before you spend money on anything – does this fall in those three things? If not, I will hold back.

  3. Great question Ramit. You are so right about people thinking about what they value, but not what they can do with out.

    For me, a fancy car is not that important. Like you, I drive a Honda Accord. Another area where I cut back on are expensive restaurants. I would rather be able to eat out more often by going to less expensive restaurants.

  4. For me things that aren’t important right now include:
    – music / gigs / clubs – does nothing for me 🙂
    – expensive restaurants generally (though I’d like to experience a 3-star Michelin restaurant at some point)
    – running a car – no need given that public transport in London is excellent

    It’s a good question, will be interested to see what others say.

  5. I do not care about smart phones and expensive data plans. If I do not have my laptop with me it is probably in my car and I will get to my desktop soon enough.
    I do not care about cable TV. The few shows I watch I order as complete seasons from Netflix or Itunes. Political blogs have made CNN/MSNBC superflous.
    I do not care about having the latest ipod but will splurge on quality headphones. Superior sound is more important to me than having the shiniest ipod when all I care about is listening to music.

  6. I DON’T spend money on going out drinking or to expensive restaurants, but I do love to go out with friends somewhere casual, so I spend money there. I don’t spend a lot on entertainment (DVDs, Netflix, lots of iTunes downloads) because I love spending time outdoors and would rather save up for a hiking trip or a weekend rafting excursion.

  7. I’m a car nut and enjoy photography – so I will skimp on other things purposely so I can drive something that I enjoy and be able to upgrade my photography equipment.

  8. I’ve always thought about my spending like this – in terms of what I won’t spend my money on.

    I’ve bought maybe 2 CD’s in the last 10 years, only a half dozen books (thank you library), never bought a dvd and I don’t buy magazines at all. I spend maybe £25 on make up in a year despite wearing some everyday.

    But I do love clothes shopping (not designer stuff, don’t believe in it) and shop regularly for clothes, shoes, handbags and inexpensive jewellery. I also love good food and we cook amazing food at home every night.

    Alcohol – just not a big thing for me, hardly drink anymore and especially when out with friends (I’d rather, if I’m going to have a drink, have it be with a meal). I prefer eating my money to drinking it.

    Holidays and travel are my other main category I’m happy to spend money on. Accommodation isn’t important, but destination, the meals and shopping out there are. I love in London because it’s such a great centrepoint for travel.

  9. I don’t spend money on alcohol, a fancy house, a car, expensive shoes, jewelry, expensive kitchen utensils, books or eating out.

  10. Name brands and designer labels, whether it be in clothes, cars, food, or household items I find you can almost always get a lot more bang for the peso by keeping away from paying for high priced advertising campaigns.