What we don’t spend on, and how it maximizes our Saving Potential

After that amazing feature on Rockstar Finance and all the eyes that viewed my post about Big Savings and Happiness. I thought I should shed some more light on the details. You can get a general idea by looking at our yearly spend but I’m getting really detailed here.

Maybe your a Californian and your jaw dropped by last years numbers. Its California! it’s super expensive! Or maybe you live in the Midwest and still are spending more then us.

How do we do it? Well, we do a lot of things the common American does. Like watch movies, and more movies. But we have a few areas where we are very different.  Here’s the list of things we don’t spend money on. This doesn’t mean we never, ever, ever spend money in these areas but it means that they are not monthly fixtures in our budget and when we do spend on it is rare.

I wanted to anchor this with some real numbers to illustrate the savings so I decided to separate it by the categories listed on this spending chart by CCN money.

The spending chart only went up to income of 94k so I used that to provide a reference for how much we save compared to our income compatriots. But one thing was clear right off the bat, the more you earn the more your spending increases in almost all areas.

Food (Fancy Drinks)

According to that CNN chart the average american who earns 94K will spend about $10,991 on food costs.  Last year we spent $3,986. Here are things we don’t spend on in the food department that I think will make up for some of that difference.

  • Coffee. We don’t spend on coffee. I’m glad Mr. and I never developed the habit. While I think coffee smells nice I don’t enjoy the taste.  I do have to note that Mr. Roamer has turned into a tea aficionado, but that is purchased through his personal $100/ month allowance. ( That doesn’t mean he spends $100 on it just that those are the funds use to pay for it) According to this Time article average Americans spends $1,092 on Coffee.
    • What we actually spent (tea): $155
    • Difference that can be put into savings: $937
  • Soda (Pop for mid westerners). This includes at home but especially when we go out to eat. Sodas are incredibly over priced and having them out of the house is worse then just buying some cans to enjoy at home. I had to give up soda senior year for Cross country and the change stuck. Now if I get the hankering for it, usually a sip or 2 is enough. Even when it’s free it’s not something I reach for. We don’t encourage the kids to have it, but of course it’s something sweet they would enjoy. So it actually works out nicely that we don’t drink it. So we don’t keep it in the house at all, which means we don’t have to watch how much they drink .( Not just a money hack but a parenting one, Just don’t bring it in the house. Saves you from unnecessary battles.) (According to the Time article the average spend is $850 on soda.)
    • What we actually spent: $0
    • Difference that can be put into savings: $850
  • Juice, Yeah juice has turned into a special occasion kind of drink. Which I am fine with since nutritionally juice is less ideal then just having the plain old fruit. Since its all the sweet of it but none of the fiber. Want some juice, cut up a juicy orange or watermelon. Now I don’t have actual number for what we spent on only juice, since it would be bundled with the grocery budget. Assuming you buy a bottle every week at ~$3. $3 x 52= $156
    • What we actually spent: probably $12
    • Difference that can be put into savings: $144

Which leaves our drink of choice to be water (not bottled water). We also buy milk, 1 gallon a week. In case you were curious what drinks that leaves you with.


According to that CNN spending chart the dollars for apparel clock in at $3266.

  • Kid Clothing.  We don’t spend money buying designer clothing
    Outfit that is 100% 2nd hand.
    Outfit that is 100% 2nd hand.

    for our kids. Actually, buying almost any clothing. We have been super fortunate to be recipients of lots of girl hand me downs and even some boy clothes for JR. I am not attached to a notion that my kids need to look camera ready all the time. I actually find those commercials where the kids walk around in mismatched clothing endearing. JR is starting to get more expensive in this department. Not in the sense that we buy him fancy clothes but he burns through new shoes in 3 months. I feel like shoes these days are such junk!!!

  • Grown up clothing. If you haven’t read, I have plenty of clothes, so much I am minimizing it. Funny thing is that I never really spent money on clothing so where did it all come from? Clothes is one of those things that you can purchase, but that doesn’t need to be replaced yearly. So we don’t do it. If you have a lot, then each item gets such little wear it should last you quite a while.
    • Actually spent: (kids)$114.83+(adult)138.38= $253.21
    • Difference that can be put into savings: $3012. 79

Addicting habits

The chart  has the cost for things like alcohol and tabacco at $1260.

  • Alcohol.  We don’t have a line item for liquor or wine or beer. Alcohol is not really enjoyed in our household. How can I explain this? I’m sure most people will look at me quizzically here. But Mr. and I never developed a taste for beer. It’s gross and we are completely happy with that. I personally have this thing where I need to be in control, and I also don’t need a drink to be out going so I’m happy to save the money. We aren’t sophisticated enough for wine either. But, if we do purchase it, ( happens 1-5 times a year) it goes into our extras.
  • Smoking. I’ve expressed my distaste for this habit before. We also don’t do this. Including recreational smoking that so many PF bloggers seem to be a fan of if you know what I’m saying.
    • Actually spent on alcohol: $40
    • Difference that can be put into savings: $1220
  • Gambling. According to this USA today article average american losses $400 per year on this habit. Remember when the Powerball was greater then $656,000,000  and even the financial people on twitter started chirping about maybe this time tomorrow. We bought zero! This can be a costly weekly habit.
    • What we actually spent: $0
    • Difference that can be put into savings: $400


We actually do spend on entertainment but not in the following areas.

  • Sporting events. We don’t buy season tickets for any team in any sport. Fortunately Mr Roamer and I agree that is a waste. Googles quick answer says this is a 25 billion dollar industry. This mint info graphic say it’s about $386 per year, with 98% of american’s identifying themselves as sports fans.
    • What we actually spent: $0
    • Difference that can be put into savings: $386
  • Cable. We don’t pay for cable. Never have. I was a tv addict, but even so I never ever felt the need to pay for tv.  Also like I said earlier we are not sports fans so no need for premium channels. Actually I’ve never really understood why there was so much advice on cutting cable. Since that is something I never encountered personally. I just can’t understand why it even exists. Honestly there is sooo much to watch on regular free tv.  It has sports, movies, cartoons, tv shows… So yeah, cable, not an expense. From what I found average monthly bill is $99 which comes out to $1188 per year.
    • What we actually spent: $0
    • Difference that can be put into savings: $1188
  • Pets: We had a fish once, before the move. It lived for 6 months and cost us $8.62 for food and water cleaner. The same Time article states that most pet owners spend between $1,100-$1,500 dollars
    • What we actually spent: $8.62
    • Difference that can be put into savings: $1491.38


The CNN chart has this expense coming in at $2585.

  • Private school. School its such a mixed bag. I strongly believe that education is very reliant on parent involvement. I hear teachers get blamed for things but I think a child’s learning is a partnership. Where for the first few years the parent has the bigger stake. Jr. actually attends a school where the rating is 2/10. That’s a bad rating based on test scores. But I couldn’t careless, because he is also having a chance to participate in a Dual Language learning program and is doing very well with his own grades. We also don’t spend much with back to school shopping.  We have signed JR up for some extracurricular activities before, but last year we didn’t.
    • What we actually spent: ~$100
    • Difference that can be put into savings: $2485

Personal Care

  • Cosmetics or beauty care products. This is also not a category in our home. I am the only female of make up using age and it’s just not something I ever really got into. I haven’t bought stuff in years. It shows by the age of the products I do own. I have a hairspray can that has to be over 6 years old, I use it so infrequently. Same with some make up I bought 4 years ago for my wedding. I own 2 lip glosses, 2 eye shadows, 2 black eye liners
    Skirts, shorts, leg hair
    Rocking my natural self.

    all still more then 75% full. Don’t use foundation, lipstick, anti aging cream ( I’m 29), or hair coloring product ( even though my gray hair count is steadily increasing). But about once a year I spend $11 on a box of body wax. Because I find shaving my legs to be super annoying and unnecessary. The way I put on a face or dress up, is simply by switching my main accessory, my lip ring. If I really want a different look I’ll put on some contacts instead of wearing my dark glasses, make use of that 4 year old eyeliner and throw on some earrings. Cost on CNN graphic comes in at $1202

    • What we actually spent:$11
    • Difference that can be put into savings: $1191
  • Gym memberships. We just don’t do it. We have kids and going to the gym would require some extra money for babysitting. When we feel motivated enough to exercise we usually just take runs around town pushing a stroller and having Jr bike along side us. Kids are no excuse not to exercise. Since our move Mr. Roamer has been biking consistently to work so he has been getting 6.5 miles in 5 out of 7 days. I couldn’t find number for this, but I didn’t want to take it out because it can be a regular expense for many Americans.


  • We don’t spend on upgrading our home. We’re renters and as such we don’t spend big money on home improvement but we also don’t live extravagantly. The more you earn the more you are expected to inflate standard costs like housing. For a 94k income the CNN chart has us spending $29,321. But we don’t meet that average.
    • What we actually spent on housing: $17,902
    • Difference that can be saved: $11,419


After all that, how much was available for saving? Lets do the math by adding up all differences: (937+850+144+3012.79+1220+400+386+1188+1491.38+2485+1191+11,419)= $24,724.17 available for savings. Now that might not be our $72,360 of savings but it’s a big chuck of change and it’s a start. It helps illustrate to you where our money is NOT going.

Now I am not telling you to get rid of these items. Actually for us none of this symbolizes a sacrifice. We didn’t stop doing this stuff to save money. We just never got into the habit of doing most of these things. I didn’t give up coffee. We weren’t huge drinkers and tv is full of free programming.

Do your own math! How much do you spend on alcohol? is it more or less? Do some fishing in your costs, figure out how much you are spending. How much could you save by eliminating or seriously reducing these costs.

Funny thing, after reading through this it seems like we don’t do anything that is fun but we do. Come back next week and I’ll go through that. Don’t forget to follow me on twitter to get post updates.

What things does your family save money on? What do you think about our categories? come on be honest.

The Roamer traveling wallet

Love it? Like it? Share it! use the buttons below.

12 thoughts on “What we don’t spend on, and how it maximizes our Saving Potential”

  1. I’m a lot like you in many categories, but I do spend money on personal care for sure, and alcohol somewhat. I don’t like to get out of control either but I love a pint of beer or a glass of wine. I think there are more people with cable than you think, even though yes you can watch so many shows with either hulu, netflix, or amazon prime. I used to LOVE going to the movies, but with redbox being so cheap, I only go now on special occasions or if I REALLY want to see a movie.

    1. Yup Redbox has made going to the theatre a bit obsolete. Like you we will go if we really want the movie experience. Which right now includes Marvel films for Mr. Roamer. 🙂

    1. Yes!!! So much. The Time article breaks it down a bit more and says it takes into consideration insurance and depreciation. So I guess if people making 94k are buying 50k new cars they’d be paying a lot more in insurance and depreciation.

  2. Great analysis! It’s amazing how much money there is left behind when you just don’t want any of these typical expenditures in your life. I look at pretty much everything on your list (with the exception of the occasional craft beer, which we enjoy), and I think “I have absolutely no interest in owning/consuming that.”

    1. That great! It’s so important to check up on categories that are in our budget. Specially if we are high earners and living paycheck to paycheck. There are so many ways to enjoy and save specially if we can say“I have absolutely no interest in owning/consuming that.” Great way to put it Matt. Just don’t be the status quo.

  3. I really need to cut back on my makeup spending. I didn’t used to be such a collector, but now it’s getting out of control! You’ve inspired me to cut back 🙂

  4. Great list! While we are early retirees (early 50’s), and financially set for life, the things you mentioned are also things we have spent little, if any, $$ on. We’ve never had cable. EVER. We’d just rather read, or we do videos from the library, or Red box.
    Another add to your list that people seem to spend so much $$ on is dry cleaning. It’s unbelievable to me how many people regularly take their clothing to the dry cleaners! I wash 90% of our clothing. Wool coats, yes, they may go to the dry cleaners, but other than that, not much. Everything can be washed/dried/ironed at home if you know how or take the time to find out.
    I don’t buy “designer” make-up, but usually find what I need at Target. I also don’t get weekly mani-pedis – another big & regular expense by many of my friends. Same with hair cuts/colors/highlights. $100+ every visit??? No thanks!
    My $15 monthly cut or $52 quarterly cut/highlight is all I’m willing to spend – yet I’m always getting comments on my hair. (actually, my hubby used to do my nightlights!! And a damn good job he did!)

    I commend you at your young age for already being tuned in to your finances and realizing that you don’t have to spend gads of $$ on “stuff” – just being smart with your hard earned cash & making sure you save, save, save will definitely help to ensure you have a comfortable retirement nest egg.

    1. SMS Congratulations on your early retirement! YES!

      Yes, what a great point. Mani-pedis are such a huge expense for women( and some men). I don’t do those things so it completely didn’t even cross my mind. That would be a great addition to the list since it seems like such a common practice now a days, and the costs really add up. Honestly I don’t know how people can walk in there, the chemical stench is so strong I once went in for a hair cut and I had a headache after 5 mins.

      I can completely see that expense going under the personal care.

  5. Seriously, I think not drinking anything but water for the most part must save us a ton! (I don’t either: http://nzmuse.com/2016/06/accidentally-frugal/) I will say pets are a part of our life now, though.

    “Smoking. I’ve expressed my distaste for this habit before. We also don’t do this. Including recreational smoking that so many PF bloggers seem to be a fan of if you know what I’m saying.”

    LOL – which PF bloggers are these? I haven’t come across any of them!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *