Home > Saving Money > Things I Refuse To Save Money On: Wasteful or Smart?

Things I Refuse To Save Money On: Wasteful or Smart?

Things I refuse to save money onSince turning over a new financial leaf a couple of years ago, I am always looking for ways to save or earn money. However, there are some things that I just can’t bring myself to do even if it could put some more coin in my wallet. I’d like your opinion on whether I’m wasteful or smart. Let me know if I’m crazy to refuse to save money in these ways. .

Waiting in Line For Gas

In our town, the Kroger chain grocery store is always the cheapest place to buy gas. I shop there, so I usually have a discount on top of the pump price because of my customer points. That being said, there is always a line at the pump if you try to buy gas at the end of the work day. I try to go in the morning, but sometimes I can’t make it. I refuse to park my car behind someone pumping gas. I always choose the person has to go write a check at the window. Instead, I pay 3-5 cents more per gallon down the street, where there is never a line. Approximate cost per year: $10  Wasteful or Smart?

 Property Management

Since buying a rental property last year, we’ve been enjoying some extra income each month. We could have 10% more if we managed the property ourselves instead of using a property manager. Why don’t we do that? We’re lazy. The property manager does a quarterly inspection, and we just got our spring report. We needed to replace a broken window pane, tighten the dishwasher mounting, fix some cabinet handles, and figure out why the tenants have a sheet across the kitchen doorway (what?). It was so easy to just let the property manager go in and fix this stuff instead of finding a time when we might coordinate with the tenants to get it done. I hate being bothered with nit picky, little things. Approximate cost per year: $1080  Wasteful or Smart?

 Shopping at Wal Mart

As I’ve mentioned before, one downside to living in a small town is the lack of stores. We have Wal Mart, a couple of chain grocery stores, and some dollar stores. Wal Mart is usually the best price on household products unless I can find the things we use on sale. While I often stock up when things are on sale, if I need something and it’s not discounted, I’ll pay more to buy it at the grocery instead of Wal Mart. I maybe go there every couple of months if I absolutely can’t find an item anywhere else, but I get in and out quickly. I have been using the pharmacy there because it’s cheaper, but I’m thinking about switching because I just can’t stand the lines and the apathy every time I go in. Heaven forbid I ask an associate for help.

To demonstrate the apathy, I remember a time when my daughter was pretty little and just learning to talk. We were in the line and someone had dropped a jar of peanuts, which broke and spilled all over the aisle floor. My daughter kept pointing and screaming, “Mess, Mess,“ which was one of her favorite words. It was really hard to get the cart through the smashed peanuts, and I told the clerk when we got up to the checkout. His response was to shrug his shoulders and give me a blank stare. I know you get what you pay for, but seriously, give the employees enough something to take a little pride and ownership in their jobs. Approximate cost per year: No idea, maybe $200? Anyway, Wasteful or Smart?

Getting a Maid

Before you think I’ve spit in the eye of all things practical, I have not hired a maid, nor have I ever had one. I’ve always thought it a waste of money for something I could do myself, even though I despise cleaning my house. I have to clean once a week, which takes maybe two hours on average. I also thought that when I switched to part time work, I would not hate my chores so much, but I think it makes them worse.

When I worked all the time, I came home exhausted and in a bad mood anyway, so why not knock out the house cleaning at the end of the day? Now, on my days off, I seem to find a ton of things I need to do. With a blog, you could spend all of your free time doing one more thing, as the list of never ending tasks doesn’t get shorter. I’ve also found myself doing things I never had time for like redecorating my daughter’s room, setting up spreadsheets for our various income streams, and cooking more at home.

I know the rule of thumb is that if you can make more money with your time than you would pay someone to do your housework, then it’s a good deal. Honestly, I don’t know if I could make more money. I think a housekeeper would cost around $200/month. I might be able to put that time into my blog and increase income. I haven’t pursued staff writing, and I don’t know that anyone would pay me to write, but I could certainly knock out several posts in the time I spend cleaning my house. Even if I didn’t try to earn money, I could go for a bike ride, read a book, or something else that would benefit me physically or mentally.  Approximate annual cost for a maid: $2400.  I am determined not to let our lifestyle inflate since ending our student loan payments, but is having a maid wasteful or smart?

Remember, personal finance is personal, so what works for me might seem ghastly to you. I do feel you readers would point me in the right direction if you thought I was drifting. I’m very curious to hear your thoughts on whether I’m being wasteful or smart in the ways I refuse to save money.

 Do you have things you refuse to do to save money? Should I suck it up and quit whining about housework?

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net/Pakorn

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. I will never make my own laundry detergent.

  2. I don’t blame you for not wanting to wait for gas. The other ones, I’d happily spend money on.

    I don’t shop at Walmart because I have tons of other options around me, some with reasonable prices. But if I lived in a tiny town, I’d shop at Walmart.

    If I ever got into real estate I would want a property manager.

    I dream of having a maid. I’m too cheap to pay for one now, but I would love to have someone else do the annoying work of cleaning up my place.

  3. I have often thought about the property manager fee. While I like to think I would do it all myself and save the extra money, i’m not sure that I actually would considering I don’t have any free time as it is.

  4. We serve as property managers for our duplex, and when Mr. PoP’s parents are out of town, for theirs as well. Most of the work is done in finding tenants. If you are picky and find the right ones, then property management is pretty easy since they look after the place well, pay on time, etc.

    • I totally agree with finding the right tenants. I’m not sure I could take all the emotion out of it at this point. If I had a Mom crying that she couldn’t pay the rent, I’d probably feel sorry for her and let something slide. It took a long time as a boss for me to get to the point with employees where you can’t play the sympathy card with me. Maybe someday, I’ll be better and want to do the property.

  5. If we owned real estate, then we’d likely hire a property manager just so we would not always have to deal with things all the time. I know it’s a cost, but well worth it in my opinion. I am also the same way about gas. Unless it’s a really good price, I’ll just go to where I know that I won’t have to be waiting. In terms of something I would not do…we have friends that make their own baby wipes. Sorry, it just is not worth the money savings for us.

    • No kidding. I am that way about gardening. I love garden veggies, but the time and frustration and fighting with the deer is just not worth it. I’ll go to the farmer’s market.

  6. Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom

    I wouldn’t wait for gas if it only added up to $10/year. Your time is worth WAY more then that!
    Having a property manager is great way to take the emotion out of real estate and make it straight business. I think it’s a good move.
    Decided not to shop at Walmart is a personal decision you’ve made based on your values. I think it’s a great call.
    As for the housework, if you really dislike it I’d inquire about some staff writing gigs. Not only would it cover your maid costs, but it would also help out your blog in growing even more. Just remember to factor in that you have to pay tax on your staff writing income, and the maid is paid in after tax dollars.
    In conclusion Kim I’d say your one smart cookie, and not a wasteful Wilma 🙂

  7. I’m seeing a bit of a pattern in that you don’t like to waste your time doing things like waiting in line and doing things you don’t like to do, and in that case, if you are financially secure to begin with, I think that it’s smart. I mean, time is money and life is short.

    • We are certainly in a much better place than we were a few years ago, but financially secure? I think we need to build up our reserves a bit more. Maybe the maid is not such a good idea. I do hate wasting time, and would almost pay more to preserve it.

  8. Great list. We did recently hire someone to mow our lawn every 2 weeks. The cost is low and we hate doing it!

  9. I won’t sit in gas lines either. Luckily for me, there are a plenty of gas stations and I can just drive a minute down the road and pay 1 cent more. I will gladly do that.

    • If it even looks like a line, I keep driving. I think it’s also dangerous when all the cars are lined up and there are more trying to get in. Easy way to ding up your car.

  10. I am willing to save money on everything, however there are a few I will spend more no matter what. My shoes, although I have very few of them. I spend a lot on good quality shoes because it is important for them to last and comfortable.

    • Good shoes will last forever and you can’t skimp on good footwear. It causes too many other problems for feet, backs, and attitudes.

  11. I don’t think any of these items are really wasteful. They all make your life easier and more enjoyable which probably makes it worth the little bit of extra money. The two that I probably would forego are the property management company and a maid. I tend to be a micro manager, so I’d really like to personally manage my rental property rather than pay someone 10% to manage it for me. Also, I can’t justify paying someone $200 a month to clean when I have plenty of time to do it myself.

  12. I think if you can fit it in your budget and you’re saving you can do whatever you like! I hate that feeling that my time can be better spent elsewhere, but for me it’s not in my budget to have someone clean my place save for that 2/year spring cleaning thing (which I’m considering soon) which costs me $65. I think the thing is to ask yourself why you’re really needing something. If you really can justify it then go for it!

    • I’m not sure if it’s justified. It certainly doesn’t hurt me to clean the house. Maybe I need an attitude adjustment?

  13. Am I missing something – how is hiring a maid supposed to save you money? Or are you saying these are things you can afford but don’t want to? Maybe I don’t understand the article.

    • Leslie,

      If, in the time it takes for you to clean your house yourself, you could spend that same time making money – more money than it would cost to pay the housekeeper – then you would come out ahead.

      Some things are worth paying for,

      Here’s another example:
      I’m a professional web designer; I know how to build websites efficiently and so that they get the desired results for their owners. These days anyone can start a website – there are lots of free services available (mostly pretty basic) – but my clients choose to pay me to create a custom one for them. Why? Because what they get is much higher quality than the “free” services (which are usually expensive in time), and most importantly because it allows them to spend their time running their own business and making money rather than tearing their hair out trying to figure out how to make a website that does what they need it to. The amount they pay me to develop their site is a good investment as they gain more than they spend.

      • That’s my dilemma. Would I actually do something to make more money or just waste that time?

      • This example doesn’t make sense either. They are hiring you as a web designer because your design will make them more money than if they hired an 11-year old. However, a cleaner house will not make you more money. I understand that the time you spend cleaning, you could be making money but I don’t know. I guess I underestimate the time it takes to clean a house??

    • Well, it was things I refuse to save money on, and I haven’t decided to get the maid yet or not. It would certainly not save me money unless I used the cleaning time to earn money in some other way. The other things, like shopping at Wal Mart and waiting in line for gas would save money, but I don’t do them because it costs time or my well being when it comes to shopping at Wal Mart. Sorry my point was not made clearer.

  14. I am sooo not a fan of Walmart; I don’t blame you for not shopping there!

    You made a good point about personal finance being PERSONAL. If you want to hire someone to clean your house and you can afford to do it, why not? Spend that time that you would be cleaning, doing something that you enjoy. Life is short, enjoy it! 🙂

  15. I refuse to hire a housekeeper too. I have thought about a million times…but I actually enjoy cleaning. It helps me relax!

  16. I am wondering if your $10 savings loss on fuel-line patience is underestimated? I’m thinking you are only counting the price difference (3-5 cents) between Kroger and the station down the street. You said you shop at Kroger and receive the customer fuels points which when used effectively can add up to serious $$$ at the end of the year. I plan my grocery shopping days and the amount I spend on how I can best maximize my fuel points. But on the other hand I drive a 99 Tahoe and fuel savings have a bigger impact on me compared to someone who drives a high MPG vehicle.

    I also justify not shopping at Wal-Mart and missing some savings by saving on my fuel with Kroger. I can’t blame people for shopping at Wal-Mart to try and save a little extra, but it’s not worth the turmoil for me.

    • I usually have enough points for a 20 cents off per gallon per fill up a month, and we certainly use that one at the Kroger station. Otherwise, it’s the usual 3 cents per gallon discount. When they do the 4x points for buying gift cards, we buy as many gift cards as we can for things we use anyway throughout the year, like my husband’s prepaid cell phone plan, then get $1 off per gallon for a fill up. Makes sense if it was stuff you would have bought anyway.

  17. The gas idea is a good one; commuting is painful enough without the extra wait! Are you sure it only comes out to $10 a year, though?

    • I probably pass the cheap station once a month for a 15 gallon fill up max. I may have to keep better track, though, at most it wouldn’t be over $20-$30.

  18. Paying for property management is something I am struggling with right now. Maybe i’m just lazy….

    • I think laziness is part of our reason. I don’t know that we’re actually lazy and sitting around sleeping, but we don’t want to give up our free time to go work on the rental at this point.

  19. I’m not an incredibly patient person and time is money, so I’m with you on every single one. $10 is a small price to pay for sanity! Walmart has a presence in LA, but Target has more stores, so I don’t shop at Walmart either. But I have seen that apathy you mentioned and it makes me never want to set foot in there. Employees and shoppers seemed so downtrodden. Not a great environment! I do have someone come in a clean our home. We still keep it tidy but she does the heavy lifting. It’s worth the price to me.

  20. I wish I could have a property management company manage our property, but it’s part of our house and at this point we are willing to put in the effort (since it’s relatively easy with it being our basement and all). I don’t think that’s a waste at all, though, to have a company doing it.

  21. I wait at gas stations. How much extra gas are you burning by going out of your way to the other gas station?

    For a grand, I would definitely manage a property myself. But then again, I do actually like home improvement projects.

    Why hire a maid? Isn’t that the whole point of having a kid? 😀

    • Yes, my six year old is very helpful around the house, and it only adds around 20 minutes for me to go behind her and reclean her efforts, but I have high hopes for down the road.

      It takes about 30 seconds to get to the other station, so not much.

      I think it would depend on the tenants. These are better with a manager.

  22. I do the same except for property management, I supervise my UK property from Guatemala and so far I have been very lucky with impeccable tenants. They email me if there is a problem, I agree on the repair, and refund them once they send an invoice over. They also have fixed things themselves. If it gets complicated I’ll to with a property manager but in the UK it seems no one does it for 10%, it is more like 25%.

  23. Ha! I would love to shop at Walmart if it wasn’t so depressing. Everyone there just looks like they gave up …

    What’s wrong with having a maid? We have a cleaning lady that stops in every two weeks. It was the best money we’ve ever spent!

    The property manager is something I would definitely get – not wasteful at all. You’re right. You don’t need to be bothered by so many details, especially if you end up adding more and more properties. Some things are better just farmed out to the right people.

  24. I don’t wait in line at a gas station and will not shop at Walmart unless required to for some weird reason. We all have our own boundaries and I don’t think you’re any less frugal. Rather than being cheap, I view frugality as being mindful of your spending.

  25. You are right, what you might deem necessary others may not. I think as long as you are happy, then continue doing what you are doing. We go to Walmart and I often hear such negative remarks about WM in the USA. It’s fine over here, it’s like any other store. So, what is it about WM in the USA that is so bad that people want to wear a shopping bag on their heads and get in and get out?

    • I’m not sure. I think employees feel more like indentured servants. I don’t think the company does much to reward going out of your way, so what’s the point. I know when I worked there in college, the management was always on us for something. One day they had a big meeting about taking things like pens or paperclips out of the store. It was considered theft and we would be prosecuted. I was always stressing out that I’d walk out with a pen in my pocket or something. I think it’s also really hard to get benefits. I’m not sure if only mid level management qualifies or what the requirement is, but most have none. I think the grocery stores must offer a better environment as far as salary, benefits, and job security. I’ve know several people who have worked for chains like Kroger and City Market who have made a career out of it and been pretty happy. I have a brother in law who is a manager at a Safeway and he is happy with his job, but I’ve never met anyone who likes working at Wal Mart. They might be there, but I’ve never seen it. It certainly reflects in the attitudes and lack of pride in the stores.

  26. If we can do it ourselves, why spend money on it? Plus, household chores are simple excuses to get my ass off the couch and actually move. lol

    • There are lots of things I can’t do that require paying someone else. You have a good point about being able to save money by doing it yourself.

  27. Great post, Kim. I always try and remember when making these decisions that our time is often so much more important than our money. I think you did the right thing for your family in all of these situations. We need to be careful about giving money too much power in our lives, you know?

    • I think money does tend to seem all powerful sometimes, whether we owe it, make it, or spend it. You really can’t put a value on your time, but you do have to weigh how much money you are willing to spend to keep more time for yourself. I’d have to be pretty sure to not waste my time if I was hiring someone to do my work.

  28. The maid question is not all or nothing. You could get a cleaning service for twice a month, or whatever else works for you and the amount doesn’t seem scary.
    We had a cleaning lady twice a month for about 4 years – from when your oldest was 2 months old, until our youngest was 1.5 years old. It was really worth it, and I also felt good about giving somebody work as she really needed the extra money. Nowadays the kids are older and we do our own cleaning, but I hate bathroom cleaning with a passion, so I worked out with our babysitter that she will come earlier twice a month for an hour to do them. Costs us $40 a month, very targeted and worth it for us
    Could you try a maid for smaller scale/ lower frequency? You can also test whether it works for you – some people are not easily satisfied with the quality of somebody else’s cleaning

    • Good points. If I didn’t feel someone cleaned as well as I did, it would drive me nuts. My Mom hired a maid for about 5 minutes once, but found herself cleaning before the cleaning lady arrived, which kind of defeats the purpose.

  29. I agree with you on two of the items: Gas and WalMart. The Speedway by us is always busy. I actually still go there but I make it a point to try to go when the lines aren’t long. Our WalMart is horribly managed. They have long lines any time of day, even the express lines are way backed up. It’s not worth it to me, so I refuse to go there on a regular basis, and my wife agrees.

    • If there was any other store to buy things like curtain rods and solar lights, I would probably never go there. I do think it’s a little better this time of year when you can check out in the garden center. The people who work outside seem to be marginally more cheery.

  30. Love the post! Hiring a maid (or maybe a lawn service for example) is not a waste of money in my opinion if a) it’s a need that fits into the budget and b) it will free up precious time for more important activities. After my wife came home with our first (then also with the second child) we hired a maid service for six months. I have to say, it was awesome! It was a great feeling to come home to a clean house and know that my wife had not been stressed out about cleaning it.

  31. We just recorded the podcast for next week and discussed this very topic (great minds….). My take: your answers to this question depend on your disposable income. If you make $40k per year, saving a couple hundred bucks is a big deal. if you make $250k per year, these costs are minimal.

    For me? I wouldn’t wait for the gas. I hate the 20 day old vegetable selection at our Walmart, so I won’t shop there. The property manager is the only one where I might think that you should do it yourself for awhile….and not because I think the property manager is a bad idea. I like you doing it yourself so when your property manager gives you a recommendation you’ve been there/done that and have more insight into how to handle each problem.

    • I think debt has to be looked at as well. If you make $250K per year, but are financed to the hilt, you can’t afford a maid.

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