A less expensive lifestyle didn’t come natural to me. My natural state required all the good stuff money can buy. For almost every product or service, there is a price and quality spectrum. Many people, myself in my earlier years included, simply require the best (or think they do). They can find an unlimited number of reasons why we should all be buying the top of the line.

fixingmycamera

They say things like, “If you’re gonna buy it, you might as well get something you like” or, “You don’t want it to break down on you” and, “I want something that will last”. Cheap stuff has a reputation of breaking down, not lasting, or causing problems for us. The good stuff has a reputation of making our lives easier, more convenient, and happier.

The truth about the good stuff is that is actually makes our lives worse. It makes us unhappy, frustrated, stressed out, and broke. The good stuff hurts our lives instead of helping. Sure, they are better products, but they “cost” us more and I’m not just talking about money. I’m talking about our time and our energy, because that’s what money is.

Money is our time and our energy. When we don’t have enough money to support ourselves, we must march into the office everyday. I go to work 5 days out of the 7 days in my week. I spend over half of my waking hours each one of those 5 days at the office. I’m there because I need the money. I don’t have enough money to be elsewhere during that time. Along those same lines, I don’t have the money to be buying top of the line things. Let’s be honest, if you’re not financially independent, you don’t have the money to be buying anything top of the line.

After realizing this simple fact that I didn’t have the money to be buying these things, I of course cut my need for this stuff. Over the past 2 years, I’ve downgraded almost everything I buy on a regular basis. Here are the personal care consumables I’ve downgraded from top of the line to bottom of the line on and haven’t even felt the difference:

  • Haircuts – I went from paying $15 plus tip several years ago to buying a $15 hair trimmer at Target and cutting my own hair for the past 4 years. Money saved: $90/year
  • Shampoo – Due to my sporting of the buzz cut, I stopped using shampoo completely. Money saved: $10/year
  • Deodorant – I used to use Axe Deodorant at around $3.75-$4.00 per stick. I’ve since downgraded to Degree for Men Fresh Deodorant at about half that price. Money saved: $15/year
  • Hand Soap – I used to use name brand foaming hand soap. It smelled really good and looked great in my bathroom. Each container lasted me about two weeks (I wash my hands a lot) and cost about $2.50. Now, I use regular liquid hand soap (the store brand) and I buy the big refill containers of it for like $3, which last me about 3 months. The liquid soap just lasts longer for some reason. I also stopped using as much soap, which matters a lot too. Money saved: $48/year
  • Facial Tissue – I used to use Puffs facial tissue, which are around $2.50 per box. They are so soft and great. I decided financial independence was more important to me than the softness of the tissue I blow my nose on, so I downgraded to the cheap store brand version at around $1 per box. Money saved: $10/year
  • Tooth Brushes – I used to use Oral B Pulsar Soft Bristle toothbrushes at $5.50 a piece and use them for about 2 months before replacing. Now, I buy regular Oral B toothbrushes at around $1.50 a piece and use them for the same amount of time. Money saved: $25/year
  • Skin Lotion – I use skin lotion in the morning after my shower to keep my skin comfortable. I used to use Eucerin Body Lotion, Everyday Protection at over $7 per bottle. I’ve since switched to Vaseline Men Body & Face Lotion at less than half the price. Money saved: $24/year
  • Body Soap – I used to use Dove for Men at around $7 for a 6 pack. Now I use Dial for Men at around half that price and it’s just as good. Money saved: $25/year
  • Toothpaste –  I used to use Crest Vivid White. I’ve downgraded slightly to Crest Pro-Health. I’d love advice on ideas for further downgrades. Crest is a little too expensive for my liking, but I do like the gel type toothpaste. Money saved: $10/year

Total savings: $257 per year. And that’s just on personal care items. This stuff doesn’t impact your quality of life one bit.

How would you like to have an extra $257 right now and give nothing in return? That’s the equivalent of being able to take one day off from work  (or more than that) and get paid for it. Sounds pretty cool to me. I’ll trade money for nothing all day long.

My 5 Year Camera Gets Its Second Life

As many of you know, I recently traveled to California. It was a great trip for my sanity and for my bank account. One of the only problems I came upon was that my 5 year old camera, that I love dearly, had a heart attack and died. My girlfriend and I were hiking down a large hill that we’d climbed in the Big Sur area, when all of a sudden my camera went black. It was gone for good.

Or was it? Being the inquisitive guy I am, I quickly turned to my good friend Google. Within the hour, I had diagnosed my camera’s cause of death as being a popular manufacturer defect. This defect was one that Canon doesn’t apparently stand behind, or even acknowledge existence of so I knew I’d be on my own in fixing it. With yet more research, I found out exactly what happened. A screw had come loose, allowing it to fall down into the electronics of the camera, eventually causing a short and blowing a tiny fuse.

The good news is that the power board, which contained the blown fuse, could be replaced fairly easily and the part was widely available online. After some careful thought, I decided that I must fix this myself and that buying a new camera wasn’t an option. I bought the part online for $50 and had it shipped here. The part came on Thursday, 3 days ago. I immediately rushed my dear camera into a 4 hour, open heart surgery, taking out 25 tiny screws, removing several organs of the camera, transplanting the power board, putting the organs back in and closing up the wound. After $50 and 4 hours of my highly skilled labor, my 5 year old Canon G9 lives again.

Sure, I could have bought a new camera. After all, electronics are getting cheaper every day. But could I have gotten one for $50? And would I have liked it as much as my trusty Canon G9, which I’ve adored over the past 5 years? I would have had to spend over $400 on a new camera after all, since I am an amateur photographer and can’t settle for a less than a great camera. In fact, I may have had to break down and upgrade to a DSLR, which would be in the $700-$1,000+ range. Now just isn’t the time for that though as it would likely sit and collect dust like my G9 has these past few years. All in all, I practiced a bit of Mustachianism this week and put a little labor into something that was fun and saved me money. It also allowed me to not consume anything. I bought a used part online, put it in myself, saved my camera and didn’t do any additional consuming. Pretty awesome if I could say so myself.

Oh, and when everyone else forgot their camera this weekend with my family, mine was alive and present to capture some great memories of my two nephews, one who’s just starting to talk (2.5 years old) and the other who’s just starting to walk (1 year old tomorrow). It was meant to be.

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