As a self-proclaimed frugal minimalist, I enjoy living with less and being careful with my money. But I wasn’t like this naturally. As soon as I started working, I thought of my money as fun money and spent it on little luxuries to keep myself entertained.
I was young, careless, and still living with my parents, so the consequences of such foolhardy decisions weren’t felt immediately.
I shudder to think about how much money I wasted. Here are things I’ve wasted money on (or why you should learn from my mistakes!):
Fancy Coffee Drinks
When I was in college, I never drank straight coffee. It was always an Ice Blended Mocha with whipped cream. I chugged those things daily and during finals week I would increase my intake to two. Not only was it bad for my health with all those unnecessary calories, it was bad for my wallet. At nearly $5 a pop, it got expensive quickly!
Currently, I dress in a very utilitarian fashion. I like clothes, but I love being comfortable. When I was 18, I was a lot more adventurous and was still trying to figure out my identity. I fell in love with vintage clothing — but not the kind from Goodwill — the expensive kind.
I would happily pay $75 for a blue go-go dancer dress, or over $100 for an orange 50’s inspired dress and jacket. I wanted to be unique so I paid the price for unique things.
I still have a few remnants from my vintage loving past, but now I don’t even like buying clothes.
I was never really a hardcore smoker, but nearly everyone in the arts department smoked. It was tempting, so I tried it a few times. I somehow told myself that cigarettes are a nice conversation piece (you always have something to talk about) and that they helped me when I was stressed.
Like I said, I never smoked that much, but I probably bought about 5 packs. For a non-smoker wannabe smoker, that is 5 packs too much. Cigarettes are so expensive and are terrible for your health. And let’s face it, they make everything around you smell bad.
As a teenager, I had pretty terrible skin that required dermatological help in order to fix it. It was embarrassing and I hated it. When I started growing out of it, I spent so much money on beauty creams, lotions, and makeup.
I even bought anti-aging cream when I was 18! No 18-year old should think they need anti-aging cream.
Now, I simply use a face wash and a nightly cream and my skin and budget love me for it.
In college, I spent entirely too much money on food. I didn’t know how to cook, so it was the perfect excuse to eat out. It took me a long time to teach myself how to cook, and it wasn’t until I was truly on my own and realized I had to stick to a budget and going out all the time wasn’t helping. Now, I’m no master chef, but I make simple, healthy food that I enjoy.
If our parents don’t teach us, I think it can be easy to fall into a trap of “I don’t know how.” But there are so many free resources out there to get started. Google cheap healthy recipes, or look on Pinterest. Learning how to cook is simply following directions and it can be learned. Like anything, it takes practice.
As you can see most of my money wasting ventures were directly correlated with my self-esteem and my stubbornness. I think insecurity and apathy are costly and can wreak havoc on your budget. Start to see where you are wasting money and why.
Learn from my mistakes and know that it’s possible to turn things around!
What have you wasted money on?
Melanie Lockert is a freelance wordsmith, a passionate debt fighter, and frugal lovin’ minimalist who writes at DearDebt.com. She devotes 50% of her income to student loan debt and is often dreaming of her next adventure.