Do You Think Saving Money Is Always Worth It?

by David Ning · 36 comments

man taking a shower outdoors

I was in the shower when I was thinking about The Simple Dollar’s 5 simple water conservation methods and whether they save us money or not. I was contemplating whether or not I could compromise and implement his suggestion of using a low-flow shower head. The savings was obvious – Less water equals less money spent, not to mention conservation of the world’s precious resource.

I thought about the savings, which according to his calculations were about $7 a month. It wasn’t life changing, but it wasn’t an amount that I could just ignore either. I thought about Emma too, who loves taking a really hot shower. It helped reduce her stress, so she claims. The verdict – it wasn’t worth the savings for me.

The thought process carried further, extending to other places where Emma and I don’t cringe. Below is a few that I thought about:

  1. Groceries – In fact, we started buying higher quality products recently.  Organic milk, omega-3 eggs are now common in my house.  They definitely cost more, but we are willing to pay more for it if it helps us stay healthy.  We always clip coupons and wait for sales but if we really needed to, we rather eat less of it to keep the grocery bills the same.
  2. Vitamins and supplements – Actually, it’s everything that is health related.  We generally don’t worry too much about the fact that these (water filters, prescriptions, eye-care) can become quite expensive because without health, money is without meaning.
  3. Safety – While we don’t own expensive and exotic cars, we definitely do whatever we can to keep up with the maintenance of our cars.  We also have an AAA membership that act as an insurance in case something happens.
  4. Monitor – I bought a 24″ monitor and while part of the reason why I did it was because of my love for expensive gadgets, I also wanted to save myself from going blind.  I look at the monitor more than 10 hours a day and my eyes used to be so tired every evening.  Since my purchase, my eyes are better since the monitor is further away and I don’t have to squint to read everything on the screen.
  5. Mattress – I’ve been thinking about getting those Tempurpedic memory foam mattress forever now.  They are expensive (actually, ultra expensive), but I have a pillow made from that company and it improved the quality of my sleep ten-fold.  If it can further improve our ability to rest and recoup our energy, it is worth every penny.  I plan to buy one once we actually get a house and move in so we can keep our current mattress as we only live in a one-bedroom apartment right now and there’s no space for 2 mattresses.

The list goes on, but here are some of the more important (and obvious) ones that popped into my mind at the time.  What are some of the things that you won’t try to save every penny on?  Don’t worry about what others think because these chocies are just personal.

Ironically, I was thinking about possibly switching out my shower head to a high pressured one a few weeks ago. It all started when I tried one the other day at my friend’s house after a round of golf. For whatever reason, the high water pressure felt good. Instantly, I wanted it, but that’s a topic for another day.

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy November 24, 2008 at 8:46 am

Great post and a good change of pace in times like now where everyone is talking about saving every penny. Like you said without health, money is pointless. My vice is hot, high pressured showers too. However the other thing I still splurge on is a nice coffee a few times a week.

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Richard November 24, 2008 at 9:21 am

I’m a high-flow guy too and my situation is very similar to yours in this regard because my wife would be very mad if she changed our shower head.

I totally agree that saving money is a personal decision. I know starbucks coffee is expensive but I work hard so I can afford this and don’t want anyone to tell me that it’s a waste of money.

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Don August 10, 2013 at 1:36 am

It’s a HUGE waste of money.

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vilkri November 24, 2008 at 9:40 am

Saving money is only delayed gratification, unless you never spend it. But what’s the point of that? Also, if your hot shower or your expensive cup of coffee makes you more productive, it would be silly to skimp on it and become less productive. – The shower is one of the best places to have great ideas, isn’t it?

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Trevor November 24, 2008 at 11:29 am

Earn more. Not save.

When you save, you’ll just be delaying the time when you buy while when you earn more, then you can buy more and not be in a circle.

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Steve November 24, 2008 at 10:33 am

Be careful on the Tempurpedic thing… We bought one for the same reason and now my wife can’t stand sleeping on it. We’re considering switching to one of those sleep number beds since I like my mattress firm and she likes hers a little softer. Not to mention the fact that the bed is always ice cold when you first get in it (but it warms up quickly) because you can’t use an electric blanket.

Just food for thought.

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Ankit November 24, 2008 at 12:33 pm

A good post.It is very vital to understand the difference between invesments and wasting money.
we can sure save money by being frugal to the core but if takes a toll on health or our social life,then i think its not worth it.
Moreover,Saving will never be worth it if we dont have a plan to invest the savings:-)

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Craig November 24, 2008 at 1:19 pm

I agree you have to pick and choose. For example, people tend to adjust how they drive because they claim you will get a little more mileage. I say just drive and be safe, don’t worry about little techniques. I agree with you on the health aspects. I try to buy bulk vitamins to save money. Buying a $15 package that will last a year makes sense to me. I also enjoy working out and am willing to spend money on going to a gym. Another health related activity for me is joining leagues. I have joined a flag football, basketball, and softball league. The money adds up for sure, and people don’t join because of it. For me, it’s a competitive weekly activity in a sport I enjoy and will gain exercise from, so it’s worth every penny.

Craig
http://www.budgetpulse.com

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JasonM November 24, 2008 at 2:01 pm

Nice article,
I agree, if you live healthier it will save you more money in the long run. ie. medical.
I understand why the car is on the list, however I think not maintaining your car would cost more money in every scenario… I like the arguement between buying new versus used.

to further the list, shoes are a must…

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Vik Dulat November 24, 2008 at 5:19 pm

High pressure shower head feels great. It actually saves you money since you waste less water because of the speed of the water. Rather than taking 5 minutes shower with a regular shower head, you can finish showering in 2-3 minutes.

You should definitely look into it David.

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Kiwikid July 30, 2012 at 3:47 am

Bwa ha ha, oh yeah a low flow shower head will take soooo much longer to wet you than a high pressure one. Rubbish! A high pressure shower head feels great because of the massage effect. Not because you use more water. Want to save money and have high pressure (but low volume)? Easy, get a venturi shower head. You get a high pressure stream (because of the venturi) and heat but use a fraction of the water, thereby saving on water bills and heating bills.

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Jacob November 24, 2008 at 5:59 pm

I’ve contemplated getting one of those timer shower heads. In the morning I’m usually so overtired that I kind of daze off while I’m in the shower. I think a LCD countdown might help me shave more than a few bucks each month.

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Rick Vaughn November 24, 2008 at 6:40 pm

This is the difference between being cheap and being smart. Sometimes a $1,000 suit will out last 5 cheap suits. It’s knowing the difference which makes you financially intelligent.

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The Financial Blogger November 24, 2008 at 7:17 pm

Spending for expensive suits definitely a smart move (if you work with suits obviously.).

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Justin @ FixThePig November 24, 2008 at 8:34 pm

There is definitely an intangible value to some purchases. I always give people a hard time for buying those $5 dollar cups of coffee from the major chains, including my wife. It drives me nuts; but on the same token if it gives people a better attitude and feeling throughout the day to start off with an expensive cup of java, then perhaps it’s well worth it.

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Studenomics November 24, 2008 at 8:58 pm

I love the post and I agree with the thinking. I hate when people tell me I should cut my own hair to save money. MY barber only charges $10 and it allows me to look presentable in school and work. Some saving tactics are just very petty and the funny thing is I had a similar post on my blog the other day.

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Andy @ Retire at 40 November 25, 2008 at 2:07 am

It’s all about compromise. In some cases, saving money is good since it makes you feel better. But there is no point saving money on something which will make you feel worse. For these situations, you need to figure out which is more important.

Like me, I have to decide between a four day work week or more money. I’m choosing the former because it makes me happier.

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Andrea November 25, 2008 at 7:59 am

I think everyone has their “thing” and if Emma’s is her hot showers, it’s worth it. In our neck of the woods, the water bill is about $60/month before you even flush a toilet because we live in a semi arid area and (I think) because our water district has way too much power … low flow showerheads, xeriscaping, and other water saving measures are really not optional, in my opinion.

As for vitamins, I am a pretty firm believer that most of your regular vitamins are a waste of money. Scientists can’t replicate the balance of vitamins, minerals and other “stuff” in food and probably never will. We do take whole food supplements, flax oil and enzyme-combined B vitamins in our home, but I’ll probably phase out the flax and the whole food supplements because we’re moving towards a much more raw organic food based lifestyle and won’t need them … and we had to make our tradeoffs there too. Organic produce is more expensive, but so are supplements. I’m thinking it will even out.

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Mike November 25, 2008 at 8:28 am

Make sure you get a filtered shower head to eliminate chlorine. It could cause cancer and I believe it also has other negative effects.

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marci November 25, 2008 at 9:13 pm

I’m with Andy on the 4 day work week versus more money…. I just wish I could talk the boss into 3 day work weeks. :) I sure enjoy my extra day off, and don’t miss the money.

Two things I always splurge on – Tillamook Cheddar Cheese (the baby loaf and the shredded cheese), and Tillamook Ice Cream. I’m not happy with the cheese nor the ice cream if they are not Tillamook, so why bother buying it if I don’t enjoy it.

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Kiwikid July 30, 2012 at 3:50 am

Hah, I’m looking forward to the 5 day weekend. : )

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mharms November 25, 2008 at 11:53 pm

Saving money is always a big deal to me. So far my husband and I have an extra bucks additional for our weekly groceries because we use discount coupons on buying stuff.

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Jon Kepler November 27, 2008 at 10:59 am

Trevor’s comment is probably the best one here (though the suit one is really good too).

The solution is simple; earn more money. Also, spending is easier to control when you really love your money and focus on keeping it for yourself (as opposed to giving it to someone else).

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Slinky December 2, 2008 at 7:21 am

Cars, ice cream, computers, and clothes for me.

I don’t buy cars I can’t afford, but I do want a nice one that’s a little fun to drive. Right now I’ve got a Scion tC.

I buy ice cream that’s not on sale if I really want it. I also buy pints of frozen custard pretty often.

I play computer games and I spend a lot of time in front of my computer. I don’t constantly stay on the cutting edge, but my system does get upgraded every 4-5 years or so.

I spend more on some pieces of clothing that I will get a lot of use out of and/or will last forever. Jeans, winter jacket, suits, high heels, etc.

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Saving Lady December 6, 2008 at 12:12 pm

On Thanksgiving I finally became a senior citizen. I turned 65. I received two very expensive gifts. First, I can not see a doctor without having to worry about how much it’s going to cost. ith a $7500 deductible, I paid everything out of my own pocket. Second, our city university allows anyone 65 and over to take classes absolutely free of charge. Being semi-retired, I now have time to learn just for the fun of it.

Retirement is all about saving — saving from a very young age. Living is an expensive habit, and the older you get the more costly it becomes. We begin adulthood with very little. Society forces us to compete, and so we begin accumulating “stuff” — most of which we really don’t need, and most of which, at 65, we want or need to get rid of. Today, living seems to be all about spending. Our saving rates are abominable. Just take a look at our economy today and you’ll see where greed and avarice has taken us.

So, is saving always worth it? You better believe it is…

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click4credit December 10, 2008 at 8:32 am

it’s really all about smart spending. You cannot just skimp on everything. There are some things that you would really have to spend on but you should also know when you are spending too much.

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Magali January 10, 2009 at 2:32 pm

I’ve pretty much given up trying to save on health related stuff like vitamins, contact lens solution, etc. I figure my health is priceless so I go ahead and just buy it. I find that being single, I can eat well for not much money if I cook. Eating out is a a major budget buster.

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Isabelle January 22, 2009 at 1:06 am

I’m with Andrea, everyone has their thing. Ours is a bottle of wine with our evening meal. We buy specials and in bulk, but it still comes at about $8 a day.

Apart from that we live very frugally. Our evening meal probably costs about £1.50 or $2. We save money on cars and all other areas of living.

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Ryan @ Planting Dollars January 10, 2010 at 10:15 pm

I’d say things that are more important than money should be treated accordingly. So my health and relationships don’t really get much money discretion. This means that I buy groceries based on value, not price, and keep my gym membership as it makes me feel a lot better and keeps me healthier.

In regards to relationships this means that I place people in front of money which is more of an opportunity cost than actual hit, but same concept nonetheless.

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Cash Saving Mum July 18, 2010 at 8:46 pm

I completely agree that living frugally is the key, however sometimes there is things you just shouldn’t save on. Like sacrificing food just to make it to your next pay day. Fair enough, some people would feel like they don’t deserve to eat, if they are short of cash until their next pay day- because they spent it on other less essential items. But this shouldn’t really be the case.

Sometimes unexpected expenses pop up and generally they can become more of a priority than one’s self eating. So to avoid this happening to you…like it has to me before…I thought I’d let you know there is the option of going to a payday lender. They can give you just the right amount of money for you to make it till your next pay day, and then the money just gets withdrawn from your account come payday. Which means you live comfortable-even when your a bit short of cash and trying to make ends meet…and you avoid debt. How great….

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IC July 21, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Quite a dilemma on the way you said these things. But if saving could mean your health, then it’s really not worth it. I buy vitamins and food supplements too. Hospitalisation fees are more than that plus I don’t really like being tied to an IV. I work hard not just to earn money but to have a better life. But it doesn’t mean for me to spend too much on Starbucks just to be happy. I think I’ll be happier when I get to discover their secret in making delicious coffee. Did somebody here discover the secret already? Please do tell so that I can make mugs and mugs of coffee and save money at the same time.

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Thordar January 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm

My husband bought a Keurig machine and recently bought an adapter that you can put your own coffee grounds in. I bought him flavored coffee. We managed to save 90% from the k-cup cost. He says it tastes just like gourmet coffee.

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Thrifty Gal January 23, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I just installed one of those low-flow shower heads. I do notice the difference, but it’s a small sacrifice to benefit Mother Earth. Lower flow still rinses off the soap adequately. It has 4 or 5 different settings, so I can play with it depending on weather I’m shampooing or just showering. Let’s remember that a lot of things that save money also have environmental benefits.

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Shane June 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm

It is good to save money but you also need to splurge on yourself every once in awhile and I actually consider good mattress’s a must not a convenience.

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Merydith Willoughby July 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I once saw a report that said the happiest people were those who spent money on things that they loved and were important to them and saved on other non-essentials. From my own experience, I would concur with this finding. There are key things that are essential to the quality of my life but there are also many things that are not that important when I really think about it – it’s up to me to make that call.

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Thrifty gal June 9, 2013 at 1:36 pm

There is a difference between being cheap and being frugal. Personally I like a bath over a shower once in a while……… and to hell with the cost. Saving a few £’s a year for not having something I really enjoy is not worth it to me

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