I Get a Pass

Day 24 | $24,666 paid | $66,051 till freedom

A lot of my recent posts have been about the second part of my debt-reduction framework, increasing revenue. This one is dedicated to the first and most fundamental part of the framework: cutting costs.

I was at Lowe’s  the other day buying a caster for my chair–by the way, I think this whole not-spending-any-money thing is going to have a remarkable impact on my handyman skills. I broke one of the wheels on my office chair (crappy Staples crap), and instead of paying $120 for a new one, which the old me definitely would have done, I went to the hardware store to see if they sell casters. They do! And they cost only $5. I saved $115!

Anyway, I was at Lowe’s getting the caster for my broken chair, and I saw some of of those huge inflatable plug-in yard decorations for Halloween, and I realized that it was the buying season for all things Halloween–decorations, costumes, and candy. I looked down at my watch to check the date and see how many days I had left before everything was sold out and it was too late to do my Halloween shopping. To say I panicked would be an overstatement, but there was definitely some anxiety.

Last year, I spent over $200 and several hours prepping for Halloween, and that was with some restraint–I really wanted a huge decoration for my yard, maybe a dude in a coffin that leaps out at kids coming up the sidewalk for candy, but I didn’t want to go spend too much money. The $200 and time was spent running around town to piece together a Mike “The Situation” Jersey Shore costume which I wore downtown, a scary costume with which to hand out candy, a voice modulator for the scary costume, a scary music CD to play while handing out candy, and the candy itself. I have a statue of a knight in my foyer, so I also spent some time and cash putting red LED lights in the eye sockets. My goal was to scare the crap out of kids.

I terrified about 90% of all the kids who came to my door and even managed to make a few cry! It was frighteningly fantastic. I wore a black floor-length cloak and a super-scary mask, and during parts of the night, I stood in the open front door and watched kids trick-or-treating, the scary music blasting out of some huge speakers I had put in the windows and the red LEDs glowing in the knight’s eye sockets, staring over my shoulder at the trick-or-treaters. A lot of kids looked at me and refused to walk up the driveway–they passed on by, casting cautious glances in my direction. Others had their parents go get the candy while they waited in the street.

At one point, I stepped away for a second, and when I came back, I walked up behind my then-girlfriend who was holding out a bowl of candy for a little guy who was reaching into it to get a treat. I stood behind my girlfriend and peered over her shoulder, and the mom noticed me before her kid did, so she threw both of her hands over his face and turned him away from me so he wouldn’t get freaked out.


(Well, not exactly–it cost about $130, but you know what I’m trying to say.)

Downtown was also a good time. Dressing up like a Jersey Shore buffoon does, in fact, give one the right to be a douchebag, so I really took advantage of it–Joy-zee accent and all–and had a complete riot.

  • Downtown costume (multiple hair products, bronzer, headband, fake tattoos, bling bling watch, bling bling chain, bling bling sunglasses): $100
  • Scary costume + modulator: $60
  • Candy: $50
  • Scary music: $15
  • Red leds + battery: $5
  • Total: $230

Throw in the cab ride to and from downtown as well as the drinks for my girlfriend and me, and Halloween 2010 was easily over $300.

So, to get back to the original story, there I was, standing in Lowe’s, thinking through a plan to outdo myself and building a schedule and financial budget to get all of the stuff together. My anxiety was growing a bit because I knew it would take a lot more time and money to make more kids cry this year than last, and to get more attention downtown this year than last.

But then I realized that it was all moot because I can’t afford Halloween!

There’s obviously some hyperbole in that statement, but most of it still rings true. I can’t really afford to go big–I have $0 in my budget allocated to Halloween, and I’m over $5k from my goal in the budget I have, so it’s not like there’s any wiggle room.

I basically get a pass on Halloween, and surprisingly enough, that’s actually a stress reliever. I don’t have to try to outdo myself or keep up with the Joneses on my block because I’m on a debt-paydown mission, and–at least in my mind–I’m allowed to bah-humbug Halloween this year.

Want vs. Need
That whole transformation was surreal–one minute I’m in a cold sweat trying to plan the perfect Halloween, and the next minute I’m completely mellow because I’m nixing Halloween. The surrealism got me thinking–where else in my life am I causing myself unnecessary stress by placing pressure on myself to outdo myself, get attention, or keep up with the Joneses? By going out as many nights in a single week as possible? Two cars and a motorcycle? A house at the age of 27? Traveling? Clothes?

Are there areas in my life where I can simplify?

Every since I started this mission three weeks ago, I’ve majorly slowed down my spending, and in fact, I’ve started a list of things I want or need but won’t buy until after my loans are paid off.

As of 9-20, I’d really, really like to buy the following things:

  • Black dress shoes for work. I buy my shoes from Aldo and replace them every six months–my current ones should have been replaced about 9 months ago, and they look it. Yikes. | $125
  • Rear tires for the S2000 | $400
  • 8GB SD card for my camera. The old one broke. | $60?
  • Motorcycle repair, so I don’t have to run-start it every time I get gas or run a short errand | $200-$300
  • Soap dispensers for my master bathroom. I got a couple of really sharp, brushed aluminum soap dispensers from BB&B a year ago, but they aren’t working very well anymore. | $40
  • Replacement subwoofer and speakers for my office computer. Six years later, I’ve finally blown the original set-up. | $150

I could easily spend a grand tomorrow, or 1.5% of what I owe on my loans (about $65k). But this is my “deferred shopping list,” and if I can get it away with it, it’s stuff I’m not going to buy until I’m student loan-free.

Per a comment that Mike made in an earlier post, one should always purchase preventative maintenance or repairs that will prevent a more expensive repair down the road. I completely agree. That’s why I’m having an exterminator come out to my house on Saturday for the $100 quarterly treatment–carpenter ants and termites will destroy a home and cause thousands of dollars in damage. And I’ll still be getting regular oil changes on my cars and my own oil change on the bike. Maybe I’ll invest in a jack and some stands to do the car oil changes myself.

But to get back to my earlier point, are any of the things from my deferred shopping list complicating my life unnecessarily? I would argue that scuffed up shoes can lead to a negative perception at the office which could lead to my termination, and bald tires can lead to an accident, so I don’t know if I’ll go another nine months without replacing the rubber for my feet or my car. I’ll definitely try to hold out for as long as possible, but I don’t know how long it will be before my better judgment wins out.

I can delay the purchase of an 8GB SD card for my 12MP camera since  my phone takes decent pics with its 8MP camera. I can also delay the repair of my motorcycle–run-starting a motorcycle, while annoying, surely builds character.

The subwoofer and speakers for my computer? I already have a killer surround sound system in my living room, so this would be a luxury. Brushed aluminum soap dispensers? Maybe I’ll put those on the wedding registry ten years from now. I’ve since replaced them with $2 Dial soap dispensers.

There’s a difference between want and need, but the line is so often blurred between the two. I need new shoes so I don’t get fired. I need new tires so I don’t hydroplane and crash my car if it ever rains again in Austin. I need a 8GB SD card for my camera so I can lock in memories. 

Or is my 8MP camera phone good enough? Do I need two subwoofers in the house when one is sufficient? Does my soap need to come out of a flashy container? Maybe that’s where the simplification kicks in–things that are nice or luxurious to have, but aren’t critical for everyday living, get the axe.

To take things to an extreme, you could ask to define what is “critical to living.” I need warmth, shelter, and food to live. I don’t need new tires if I don’t need a car to live. So am I supposed to learn how to hunt and build a shelter, sell everything I own, and live in the forest? Clearly, there are unclear shades of gray here that will not get answered tonight.

For now, I’ll continue to update my deferred shopping list.

Materialism & Self-Esteem
An article came out awhile ago that stated the obvious: “Researchers have found that low self-esteem and materialism are not just a correlation, but also a causal relationship where low self esteem increases materialism…” Thanks, Captain Obvious. You mean that the dude flying around in the super-bright yellow Ferrari, with name-brands emblazoned all over his clothes, feels an incredible amount of self-worth, and he’s happy just being himself, as he is, flaws and all? He’s not compensating for a small…amount of self-esteem?

But then the article, in the very same sentence as the one above, goes on to completely blow my mind: “…and materialism can also create low self-esteem.”

Wait, what?

I graduated from grad school in 2009 and I bought a black-on-black 2004 BMW M3. I thought it was awesome, and I thought I was awesome. Upgrading from a lowly Honda S2000, I was sure that I had arrived.

Driving that  car was stressful, though. Everybody was always trying to race me at stoplights and even on the highway. Car enthusiasts would look at me wherever I went. I could never fly under the radar. And because it was black, and I like my things to look clean, I had to constantly wash it to keep it clean, and that was a huge time-suck. Owning that car was a lot of work, mentally and physically.

And then my friends started upgrading their rides. One of my friends got a brand-new 2010 BMW 335. And then my other  friend got one. And then a friend got a new Lexus is350, and another one got a new Lexus GS400, a new Benz C300, a Porsche Cayenne. Suddenly, my old Bimmer was just looking old, but somehow still attracting enough attention at streetlights that I was constantly being forced put lesser cars in their place.

I bought a motorcycle a few months after getting the car since 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds wasn’t cutting it anymore. I had to get something that did it in less than 3 and could get to 100 in about 7. The motorcycle, due to the enormous smile it put on my face every time I drove it, became my daily driver, and I didn’t see the point in making $500 payments on something I left behind in the garage  every day on my way to work. It just seemed like such a waste of money. I decided I wanted something in the garage that I wasn’t making any payments on. And since I had recently bought a house, I wanted something a little more appropriate for a homeowner. I was on a auto debt-paydown mission then, similar to now,  but on a much smaller scale.

I sold the BMW and got a 2003 Nissan Murano with 126,000 miles on. And something really, really bizarre happened when I drove it home. I fell in love with it. Nobody looked twice at me. Ever. At stoplights, I didn’t exist. I flew completely under the radar. And because I hadn’t spent a lot of money on it and it wasn’t  black, I didn’t care if it got dirty. And I didn’t feel a need to park it away from other cars like I did the M3.  Bring on the door dings!  To top it off, the Bose sound system was actually better than the Harmon Kardon system in the M3.

Like Halloween of 2011, I get a pass by driving the Murano. I’m telling people, “Look, I’m not here to compete. I know my car sucks. I know it’s a slow, utilitarian vehicle. I know your car is faster than mine and costs more than mine and looks better than mine. Bravo.” Nobody wants to race me, nobody cares. And it’s actually kind of empowering. It’s almost equivalent to the hubris of a counterculture that knows it will never fit in and meet society’s expectations and mores, so it flaunts its rebellious nature and amps up its irregularity to an almost excessive level. By driving the Murano, I disqualify myself from the start, and don’t have to go through the stress of being on top and then falling, or clawing for the top and never making it. I willingly and gladly cede the top.

The fight for the top–when it comes to material goods–is not worth it. It’s way too stressful.

Hell, I should put a child seat in the backseat of the Murano just to let people know I’m in on the joke.

The M3, and the materialism that drove me to purchase it, really was bad for my self-esteem. I would constantly compare the car and performance to other vehicles, and my comparison never included a Dodge Neon or Ford Focus, it included my friends’ Lexus/Benz/BMW/Porsche/etc, and as they kept upgrading their wheels, my M3 continued to lose its shine. When friends asked what car I drove, I would tell them the year/make/model, and some would say apologetically, “Oh, the older generation.” Apparently, an M3 is not an M3 is not an M3.

Even if my self-esteem were resistant to my internal comparisons and their judgment, which I think it was, it didn’t exactly make me feel awesome.

(If you’ve been reading my posts, you know I also have an S2000, so please let me get on the pre-emptive defensive here: One could argue that because it has two doors, two seats, a convertible top, and looks decent, that it’s my attempt to seek status with a car and fly at radar-level. But  it’s a 10-year-old car and cost $11k, so that argument doesn’t hold much water. If I really wanted to try to seek status, I could have gotten a BMW Z4 or a Corvette for about $5k more. I bought the S2000 because at the end of the day, I’m an unabashed sun-worshipper and an auto-enthusiast, and anyone who knows the now-discontinued S2000 product knows that it’s one of the few true driver’s cars. And it has Japanese/Honda reliability going for it, unlike the Bimmer.)

Stuff or Experiences
There’s an article that tries to answer the answer the question of how much money one needs to make per year to be happy. Well, scratch that–not happy, but how much it takes to be satisfied. And the answer is about $75k. I already read that money doesn’t buy happiness, but that $75k…is that before or after student loan payments? Regardless, $75k is not much, and it’s tough to buy a whole lot of material goods with $75k. But it can buy plenty of beer, which leads me to my next point.

Between losing my friends in the pursuit of a motorcycle and realizing that buying a nice car doesn’t generate happiness, I’ve started leading a less materialistic life, looking to spend money on experiences rather than stuff–which explains my $1,400 in monthly entertainment spend. And this article indicates I might be on the right track: “Those who never drink are at significantly higher risk for not only depression but also anxiety disorders, compared with those who consume alcohol regularly.” A similar article explains that heavy drinkers outlive nondrinkers! “Alcohol lubricates so many social interactions, and social interactions are vital for maintaining mental and physical health.”

And in case there are any doubts, check out this article: “One major finding is that spending money for an experience — concert tickets, French lessons, sushi-rolling classes, a hotel room in Monaco — produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff. Unlike consumption of material goods, spending on leisure and services typically strengthens social bonds, which in turn helps amplify happiness.”

I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve been stressed for the past couple of weeks, and I attribute it to the fact that the last time I had a drink with friends was over two weeks ago, on September 4th. All of my free-time has been consumed with revenue-searching  ventures and avoiding spending money on entertainment. Nothing has ever, ever made me happier than spending a good night out with my friends. Clearly, it’s time for a night out, flask-style.

To bring this post full circle, the question now is how to have experiences cheaply. I would argue that Halloween for me last year was more about experiences–scaring kids and acting South Jersey in Austin–than it was about accumulating material goods. But as I demonstrated with Halloween last year, some experiences can get out of hand cost-wise. And as indicated by my swing of emotions at Lowe’s, some experiences can actually stress me out when it comes time to redo them to the point that I actually look forward to getting a pass out of them.

I’m glad I’ve gotten over the materialism (at least I think I have). I just need to take some time to reflect on the whole “want” vs. “need” concept in a little greater detail. And I need to learn how to have experiences more cheaply–$1,400 a month in entertainment and $300 Halloweens are probably not a great idea.

The next nine months will be a balancing act:

  • Limit entertainment spend as much as possible and work as hard as possible to generate incremental revenue, but somehow make time and spend some money to go out with friends.
  • Figure out what I need vs. what I want, and spend money on the former only. Also, identify situations where deferred maintenance or repairs will lead to more expensive repairs down the road.


Filed under Cut Costs

29 responses to “I Get a Pass

  1. Ron

    As I mentioned before, I think this is a great attitude to take – all work / no play and all that. Completely forgoing social interactions and friendships for the sake of saving a marginal dollar comes at a high psychological cost.

    Also, I totally identify with you for Halloween. I like to go ‘all out’ for Halloween. One year I made a Duffman costume from scratch and ended up spending way too much. I literally bought the real articles of clothing, utility belt, boots, and for the coup de gras I made my own Duff beer cans out of generic cola cans. (I literally punched holes in the bottom of the cans to drain them, filled them with expanding foam for stability, sanded them down, and sprayed them red, and then created a with a Duff logo stencil.)

    It was admittedly insane, but awesome. I memorized a bunch of Duffman lines to shout at the crowd. My buddy and I took a cab from Pasadena to Hollywood where the streets are shoulder to shoulder packed. Everything was expensive, as was to be expected. My costume did make me a minor celebrity though. Literally 20+ people throughout the night took their picture with me. We had an awesome time but looking back on it now as an entrepreneur (who is not making much money yet) I couldn’t imagine spending the $300+ on the night that I did when I was making a good salary. I suppose it’s all relative.

    I don’t live in LA anymore but when I did, I figured out the secret to getting in free to Hollywood clubs. Walk right in like you own the place and act like a self-entitled celebrity about to throw a tantrum. This tactic may not work everywhere but in Hollywood everyone is so afraid of pissing off the wrong person and ending up in the tabloids it’s easy to pretend to be a C-list celebrity. (Thanks reality TV!)

    I ended up living in Hollywood for 6 months and after realizing I was spending $100+ a night to go out, we adopted the aforementioned strategy to save money. We would pre-party at my apartment, try to BS our way into a club for free, and pay for maybe 1 crappy $15 cocktail to keep the buzz going. I literally walked right into parties that people paid $200-400 to wait in line for.

    The reason I’m sharing all of this is because I think it relates to the idea of having fun on a budget. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to live large, you just have to be a little creative. I would say the flask solution is pretty solid. If you are going someplace where you can’t take the flask, pre-partying is the name of the game. If you have a couple drinks before heading out and limit the number of drinks you buy at the bar to 1, it actually isn’t that expensive. (Personally I’m not really into any drug other than alcohol, but I suppose there are other alternatives along these lines as well.)

    So again, best of luck, I really hope you achieve your goal – just not at the expense of living the next 10 months of your life.

  2. Ron

    P.S. Another great way to drink for free: In just about every major city in the US at least a couple times a week there are sponsored open bar events. Many times they are hosted by various alcohol brands and the invites go out to all the local bartenders / industry people. Befriend a bartender and get on the right mailing lists and you can go out a couple times per week for free.

    Other similar routes: Crash industry specific events. I’ve pretended to be everything from an architect to a wine blogger with a buddy of mine. You usually have to be on a mailing list, but if you befriend someone in sales (maybe Real Estate) who gets invited to a lot of these things it’s not too hard.

    It’s kind of a ‘Wedding Crashers’ principle. Have a basic back story, but at the end of the day if you are the life of the party nobody really cares. Speaking of Weddings; receptions are fairly easy to crash, though I have a greater moral qualm with taking advantage of the generosity of individuals vs. corporate events. You just have to preempt whoever you are talking to with the question “So are you from the Bride or the Groom’s side?” Based on their answer, you are the opposite.

    Now I’m giving away too many secrets, haha… Anyways, like I said, there are a lot of ways to party for cheap (or free). I know people who don’t make much money on their own but are just well connected and party all over the world. They help connect people with money who want to throw parties with the people who can make it happen and then reap the rewards.

    Just get creative and the world is your oyster.

  3. Barbara

    Way to go……. on your frugality and being creative…..not sure about the alcohol thing….drinking more is healthier; not believing that one. Drinking to get drunk…..now that is very destructive, but I’m hoping you’re not doing that. Alcohol has broken up more marriages, friendships, families, job losses and most of all your health!! It is a horrible thing to become dependent on

  4. I love the blog and hearing about your experiences — have a couple of comments about today’s…

    First, on your “deferred purchase list” — another way to reduce costs is to not only defer purchases, but make sure you are getting the best value when you do make a purchase. I’m not sure where you are shopping, but on Amazon you can get an 8gb SD card for <$20, and 2.1 computer speakers for <$50. So either you didn't really price out those items on your deferred list, OR you have high expectations / styles / name-brand shopping habits that are costing you more. If its the latter — well, that's the same issue of materialism that you spoke about with the M3 (competing with the Joneses).

    Ramit Sethi's book "I Will Teach You To Be Rich" makes the point of spending lavishly on the things you love, and cutting costs ruthlessly on the things you don't. While you may not be at a point to spend lavishly right now (until after the debt is done), its never too early to start identifying the areas you can cut ruthlessly. The shoes & brushed aluminum soap dispensers sort of caught me by surprise. New $125 shoes every six months? If that's something that is important to you — then by all means, go for it. But if it were me, I'd be looking for a lot more longevity out of $125 shoes. Or I'd be buying lower-cost shoes. And, honestly, I do both — I recently bough $60 black dress shoes from DSW that I expect to wear for at least 2 years (with the important caveat I don't wear them every day like I assume you do).

    As for the brushed aluminum soap dispensers — those indicate a certain amount of style & class. I'm sure they look great — but I know for me, that's not a style or level of class that I want to spend the money to maintain at this point in my life. Since you already have them however, I'm betting you can probably just replace the dispenser nozzle/pump mechanism for a few dollars, instead of replacing the whole thing?

    Keep up the faith and best of luck to you! I'll be reading 🙂

    ~ Dave

    • The $125 Aldo shoes jumped out at me too. I don’t know about their men’s shoes, so perhaps those are better, but all the women’s ones I’ve bought have fallen apart within a few months. I’d rather spend $200-$300 up front for shoes and boots that will last years than buy a new pair of $100 shoes every few months.

      I loved your analysis of the need vs want mentality. Looking forward to following the rest of your journey!

    • You’re right–the fact that I want to spend that much on stuff could be just another way my materialism is manifesting itself. Very interesting. And yeah, I actually just went ahead and scrapped the soap dispensers. I don’t think the parts were replaceable, unfortunately. Thanks for your note!

  5. $60 for an 8GB SD card? Newegg.com has a 32 GB class 10 for $40.

  6. Alex

    Thanks for sharing your quest with us, it is truly enlightening to see somebody go through the day to day struggles of cutting back.

    Today’s post really struck home when you started talking about materialism. I’m getting married in a few months, and while we are doing the wedding on the cheap (not that important to either of us), the whole registry thing has started to get on my nerve. I see my fiancee adding things to the list that we already have or cooking appliances that aren’t even necessary. Why does a person really need a quesadilla maker? It doesn’t seem right to have family and friends buy us useless gifts that will probably just sit in the closet until we decide to move.

    Keep up the great work, and hopefully this blog will inspire others to cut back and live a richer life.

  7. Amy

    Depending on how you care for your leather dress shoes (trying polishing them at home) and resoling worn down soles, can make them last longer. I do not think Aldo makes quality shoes, I would invest a bit more $200 or so, get a better pair and make it last >6mo, like 18mo or so. Also, while the upfront is higher, getting two pairs and alternating them (even if they’re identical) will make each pair last longer cuz the leather has some rest time to breath and return to it’s natural shape (so two pairs at $200 each, and each pair would last 3-4 yrs with every other day wear)

    I agree that halloween and other hallmark holidays should not even be on your radar this year. Don’t be Mr. Scrooge to your family for Christmas/religious holiday, but aside from that, halloween, Valentines, doesn’t matter.

    I know you aren’t going to do this cuz you’ve expressed how much you love your S2000, but you must realize that those $400 tires would go to $0 if you didn’t have the car right? Or else you can park it for 10mon while you pay down debt because driving unsafe is worse than driving at all. If you park the S2000, you can delay tire replacement, reduce your car insurance and depending on your state’s registration fees, save on that as well. Your bike and Nissan sound like the workhorse transport anyways.

    • Amy, thanks a lot for your note. I’ll consider getting two pairs, but that’s such a hefty expensive right now…will try to get by on the one for now and see how far I get. Parking the car for ten months saddens me, especially as we’re nearing the best top-down weather in Austin right about now…

  8. Nancy

    1.) Stop buying shoes at Aldo. They are crap (my sister works there). Invest in a solid pair of shoes (I like Clarks) and also invest in some shoe shine!!

    2.) By the end of the ten months, you will hopefully learn to stop caring/imagining about what other people think (good bet is that they are thinking about themselves) and realize that the most interesting people go their own way and make choices based on what they want not what marketing grads tell them to want. Usually, these are the people everyone else tends to copy.
    Keep up the great work!

  9. Cole Haan makes great dress shoes, and you can find them on sale for around $150. They should last you at least a 3-4 years. Nordstrom Rack and DSW are favorite places of mine to get shoes, both for men and women.

  10. sw

    Wow, man. I’m really enjoying your blog so far. I graduated from UT, so there’s a certain nostalgia I have when reading your posts. Austin is an amazing place.

    I think one of your toughest challenges will be to maintain your social circle, and if you’re able to do that, it’ll make your debt pay down mission all that much easier and enjoyable. It’ll also be hard to avoid spending on things that you are used to spending on, especially since you’re going cold turkey. It’s hard to break a routine, but it seems like you have a lot of determination and self-motivation. That will definitely take you pretty far. To help with these two challenges I suggest the following:

    1) To stop spending, don’t just “avoid spending on X.” You’ll be even more successful if you’re able to replace it with a different habit. That way it’s not all about trying to “not” do something. It’s about actually doing something. It helps distract you from what you’re trying to avoid. For example, your search for a second job has probably already helped you in this regard. You want to stop spending, sure, but you’ve been so busy trying to bring in extra income with a second job that you haven’t even had the time to spend extra money.

    2) So, building on #1, how do you maintain your social circle? Is it even possible? Or will you have to create a new social circle? The flask idea should allow you to limp through the night, but the temptation to get an actual drink will probably get stronger as you drink more (at least that’s how it would work with me). It seems like your best bet is to find something fun you can do with your friends that is also really cheap. Of course, it has to be something y’all genuinely enjoy. It has to be “accidentally” cheap, so to speak. Unless your friends are incredible people, I doubt they’ll go too far out of their regular routine to accommodate your new found “economic resourcefulness” (my euphemism for trying to scrape by on as little as possible). Three specific suggestions I have are: disc golf at Pease Park, Pitch & Putt, and Peter Pan Golf. All of these are really fun, and you can drink while doing all of them. Board games can be really fun as well, but that’s pretty dependent on the quality of players (and whether or not they even want to do that).

    It’s been a few years since I’ve done any of these, so you might have to ask around to make sure they still exist, but I’m guessing you’ve already heard of these. I’m not too sure about the legality of drinking at these venues, but there’s always seemed to be an “understanding” about it. Everyone at Pitch & Putt was wheeling around a fairly large cooler.

    Good luck.

    • Dude, thanks for taking the time! I agree, I need to backfill my money-spending time with something worthwhile; I think you’re absolutely right. I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to my current social circle. I love my friends, so I don’t think that’s an option. The BYOB options sound magical–I will have to check them out. Thanks for all of your thoughts.

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  12. Susan

    Seriously, man, the shoes. . . . You do realize that there is an outlet mall right down the road in San Marcos, right? And that they sell men’s dress shoes there? If you go, stop by the outlet customer service office for a discount coupon booklet and check the clearance racks!
    My husband would recommend Allen Edmonds shoes, which probably aren’t available at Prime Outlets but will in fact last forever if you polish them – you can return them to Allen Edmonds for resoling at any time. I’ve heard of people buying Allen Edmonds at garage sales or thrift stores and doing just that. You could also try on a few pair at Dillard’s or Nordstrom for sizing purposes, then check what’s available on Ebay.
    Also, BB&B constantly mails out coupons and will accept expired coupons. I don’t buy anything at that store without using a coupon. I need new soap dispensers, too, but am hesitating because the last one I bought at BB&B literally fell apart (after 5 years of use. Maybe I expect too much??)
    Check TireRack.com for tires. Discount Tire will match Tire Rack prices. Also compare prices at Costco if you or a friend have a membership. . . . .

  13. Pingback: 4th Teach-Back’s a Charm | No More Harvard Debt

  14. Sorry for jumping on board so late in the game, but this post resonated with me. Also reminded me of a book that really helped to clarify why I spend/relate to finances in the way I do: http://www.amazon.com/Its-Not-About-Money-Financial/dp/B003H4RBE4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335469712&sr=8-1 (It’s Not about the Money).

    It describes spending styles and how to adapt them to cut costs. One of mine is pleasure seeking, and the simple advice to learn how to have pleasurable experiences in other ways (ie running outside in beautiful weather, going to museums on free days, Skype video calls, etc.) has really changed my life.

    Anyhow, as someone who also enjoy going out, I thought it might relate. Really loved the book, too, and thought I’d pass it on.

    • I’m definitely going to check out this book–I’ve been doing pretty well post-NMHD in terms of entertainment spending, but I could probably be more effective than just trying to brute-force my abstinence from heavy spending.

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