#44 5 Things I Gave Up To Save Money

If you're like me, once you're at a certain standard of living you don't want to give it up.

The other day I made a trip downtown to run some errands, but I had about 4 hours in between appointments, so I dropped into a Starbucks and got some work done.

When I'm looking to do some work coffee shops are not always the best place to do it. There's always someone talking too loudly. It's a place where people meet to complain about their lives. And of course the only seat available was the one nearest the washroom, so you have the cool chilling air of people rushing past you and the sound of flushing every few minutes. 

But sometimes you overhear some interesting conversations.

"Would you give up sugar?", one woman asked her friend.

I wasn't eavesdropping at first. But then her friend replied, "Does honey count?"

I chuckled under my breath.

The classic response to a question about giving up something. Find an alternative. 

My question is:

Why does there need to be an alternative? 

Is committing to something that is, arguably, good for you so hard that we have to cushion the change?

Whether you think sugar is a necessity of life, good for you, bad for you, unnecessary, or something you want and "need", is beside the point.


If you grew up eating sugar, you probably like a lot of things packed with sugar. Cakes, candy, soft drinks, and ice cream.

But her response was pure gold and a perfect example of how people respond to change or the thought of change. They immediately look for alternatives to fill the void.

They make specific criteria to change one thing, but fill it with something that is similar but different.

On the surface, she may make a change, but the purpose of the change was lost in translation. Sugar and honey are essentially the same when it comes to calorie content and this was the main purpose of the conversation.

Her friend's weight.

5 Things I Gave Up To Save Money

I've long since optimized my spending where I only spend intentionally now. It's much harder to find things to give up, and thankfully I don't have to look for them anymore. Otherwise, I'd probably be living on the street with hair down to my waist, with a 15-year-old Asian man's beard, in ripped jeans (not ripped in the right spots).

Here are 5 things I gave up long ago:

1. Eating out lunch every day.

When I was in university, I would buy lunch every day. Both my wife (at the time friend) and I would order lunch from the sushi restaurant next to the campus for $10 every day. We really spoiled ourselves. $10 a day for a year. And this included weekend a lot of the time since we were hardcore studying 7 days a week. For a pair of students not making money to spend $10 a day on lunch is pretty steep.

2. Tim Horton's extra large steep tea and breakfast sausage sandwich every morning.

I really don't know where I got all the money to eat out every meal, but apparently, I put someone else through school at the same time as me. The steep tea was $2 a day, the breakfast sausage sandwich was $3.50. That's another $5.50 every day.

3. Car

After moving out of my parent's house to Toronto I moved into an urban centre. Some would say the edge of downtown. I didn't see the need to get a car, so I gave up driving. Back at my parent's house in the suburbs, not having a car would have trapped me in the middle of nowhere. This is one of the biggest money savers for sure. Car payments, insurance, gas, and parking would add up pretty fast. I estimate $10,000 a year in savings.

4. TV & Cable & Streaming Services (Netflix)

We first lived in a pretty small condo. 540 sqft with a nice view. The only place to put a TV was right in front of the nice view. So we opted to not get a TV. This made the choice easy when it came to not getting cable or any streaming services. Now that we live in a house and have plenty of space for a TV, we still aren't getting one. We've lived for 5 years without a TV. It's not a sacrifice for us, it's normal. A TV saves a few hundred dollars every few years. Cable saves $1,200 a year. Netflix saves $130 a year.

5. Desktop Computer and Computer Games

Ever since I got my first laptop 6 years ago, I've given up a desktop computer. And with the reduction in computing power, I've also given up computer games. Not having both saves me $2,000 every 3-5 years, plus a few hundred dollars of upgrades every year. Without a computer to power my gaming habit, I save a couple hundred dollars a year on games and hundreds of hours of time. 

Are there 5 things you would give up to save money? 


Save Money Retire Early is written by Jon Lo, a barely 30 something change optimist, and personal finance guy. I believe anyone can be rich or poor, it's what you save that makes the difference.

Follow on FacebookYouTube, Seeking AlphaTwitter  

Related Posts

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published