Recently I overheard two of my coworkers discussing their favorite rapper. One mentioned he sold 60 copies of his physical album at $1,000 apiece. Upon hearing this, I had to join the conversation.
“$1,000 for one album! It better be gold-plated!”
Of course, we all agreed that he had set the price purposefully high as a marketing tactic, especially since he released all the digital songs for free. At such a ridiculously high price, $1,000 an album, selling only 60 is a success.
Still, I couldn’t even imagine why anyone in their right mind would pay $1,000 for an album – maybe for a meet and greet, but for an album alone? I mentioned that I’m not even willing to pay for music from iTunes or Amazon, Instead, I use Pandora and if I really want to download new music, I use Freegal, a library music downloading service providing up to five free, legal (hence the name) songs per week to library members. (You know, as Arthur said, “Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card!”
He joked that I was destroying the music industry with my cheapness, to which I clarified that “I am “not cheap, just economically efficient.”
Of course, this conversation made me think about some of my other money-saving ways.
Using Freegal, Pandora, Youtube, listening to the radio.
Cost: Free! vs. $1 per song.
Checking out library books, sharing books with friends and reading books in bookstores (B&N can be a great place to spend a rainy afternoon).
Cost: Mostly free, except for the few books I do buy on Amazon and share with my friends.
Watching TV on Hulu or using an antenna to watch broadcast channels like Fox, CBS, ABC, etc. (Great $30 investment I made when I wanted to watch the Olympics one summer and didn’t have access to cable).
Cost: Free for Hulu, one-time payment of $30 for the antenna vs. $100+/month for cable.
Borrowing DVDs from the library, borrowing from Redbox if I really, really want to see a specific movie.
Cost: Free or $1.25 per day per DVD vs. the cost buying a DVD which ranges anywhere from $5-20.
Not buying new clothes often, thrift shopping, which I do only occasionally if I need something and I have time to spare. Thrifting offers huge discounts on clothing if you have the time to search and are open to whatever you happen to find.
Cost: Obviously zero if you don’t shop! You can get huge discounts from thrifting. I once purchased a work dress for $10 that typically cost $90.
Sometimes using a drying rack instead of the dryer.
Savings: Running the dryer takes up a lot of energy, which increases your electricity bill. When I can, I use my drying rack.
The truth is I’ve lived without some of the small conveniences (the cost of which do add up over time), so I see no reason to introduce them into my life and add an extra expense. My “economical efficiencies” have in no way hampered my social life or happiness. Once you upgrade, it’s hard to go back, but if you’ve never experienced the upgrade you can just move along as per usual.
Also, you don’t have to upgrade whenever you get a raise. You can just keep living life as you normally would and invest that extra cash or put it toward something big…like saving for retirement, buying a house, paying for a car, etc.
Heck, I held out a long time and only purchased a smartphone last year. And it was out of desperation…my laptop had died and I still had a flip phone. It was time for a change.
I’m not saying everyone should follow my budget or that I’m such a penny pincher that I’ll never splurge. But in general, I prioritize what’s important and am only willing to spend money on those items. For example, I don’t buy music, but I subscribe to the Economist.
I don’t think you can have it all and still make wise financial decisions, especially when you’re first starting out. You don’t necessarily have to deprive yourself, but you do have to make a conscious effort to spend your hard-earned money and time on only what’s most valuable to you.
So what do you do to be “economically efficient”?
P.S. I highly recommend reading Mr. Money Mustache if you’re interested in financial savviness.