More habits draining your net worth

By | December 1, 2013

These are more things that I don’t spend money on, but unlike the first post about habits, I won’t silently judge you for indulging in these.


I see the value of cable. Maybe television is your primary form of entertainment. Maybe you’re a sports buff and have no other way of catching the game. Shutting off your brain at the end of the night with some passive entertainment is an indulgence I cannot fault.

I don’t pay for cable because I spent too much time watching it when I did. I also liked cutting down my brain’s access to advertisements and thus its ability to ferment wants. Plus, I can’t imagine that watching the number of hours a day I used to watch television exactly enriched my life.

My main motivator, however, was the potential savings from ditching cable.

Apple likes cable and pays $61.63/month for her viewing habit, a price that creeps up an average of 4.8% per year.  Barry opts for a Netflix account for $7.99/month, which increases, on average, 5% per year. Barry calculates the cost of his yearly Netflix habit and calls up Apple to ask how much she spent on cable and invests the difference in a fund earning him an average of 5% per year. Clove calls Barry and receives the same information, but she doesn’t watch television, so she invests the full amount in Barry’s 5% fund.

Apple spent more than $85,000 on her television watching habit. 

Barry spent almost $11,600 on his television watching habit, but made almost $166,000 investing the difference.

Clove takes the $85,000 and turns it into almost $228,000.

Coffee don’t like caffeine and caffeine assures me the feeling is mutual, so coffee is another easy commodity for me to avoid. I think almost everybody in the entire universe (my universe anyway) disagrees and drinks copious amounts of it. Maybe people like the taste. Maybe there are health benefits. Maybe not. Coffee is similar to pop in my first post in terms of cost, but I concede that coffee is not as unequivocally terrible.

The current price of a cup of coffee varies widely depending on the place of purchase and the type of coffee. Making a plain cup of black coffee at home can cost as little as a few pennies, whereas buying a fancy sounding drink at a coffee shop can run over $5.

Apple spends an average of $2/day on coffee. Through inflation and increased consumption, the amount she spends creeps up an average of 3% per year. Barry takes the money Apple spends on coffee and invests it in a fund earning him 6% per year.

Apple spends $55,000 on her coffee habit.

Barry takes that $55,000 and turns it into more than $180,000.


I know that this will be a very hard sell for the vast majority reading this, but not buying meat is another no-brainer for me. My biggest qualm is the truly horrific suffering inflicted on the billions of slaughtered factory-farmed animals who only know fear and pain for most of their lives. The environmental effect of factoring farming animals is also breathtaking for its breadth; from the methane that contributes to climate change, waste runoff into the waterways, deforestation for growing cattle herds,  and the consumption of resources used for feed to name a scant few. The overuse of antibiotics is accelerating antibiotics obsolescence and eating meat is possibly unhealthy.

But meat, I’m told, is delicious. End of argument. But if you need more argument, it is possibly unhealthy to go vegetarian and eating meat is simply human nature.

Of course I’m only talking about going meatless because it pads my net worth. Meat is often the most expensive part of a meal and the vast majority of time, the vegetarian item(s) on the menu are the cheapest. Saving money is pretty far down the list of reasons I don’t eat meat, but the costs add up quickly. Notice the price of the vegetarian item in restaurants. Calculate the cost of subtracting all meat from your grocery receipt.


Curbing the latte habit is such a cliché in personal finance, but coffee is just one habit to consider when trying to bulking up your financial avatar.  I know that cable might not be around for 40 years and the costs are uncertain. My bigger point is that you have options and its well worth exploring the options to increase your net worth dramatically. Consider everything!

12 thoughts on “More habits draining your net worth

  1. Liu

    Stumbled upon your site from JLCollins and love your posts, they are really inspiring… even if you’re out there enjoying the world now and don’t have as much time for blogging (you deserve it!) My wife and I hope to join you in the vegetarian early retiree’s club in say, 10 years 🙂

  2. MrJones2015

    Hi Thriftygal, your expense cutting seems pretty extreme to most people. What do you plan to do when you retire with the abundance of time and money? Drink coffee, watch cable and eat meat?

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I don’t consider it extreme, but it’s possible other people might. 🙂 Now that I’m retired, I spend a lot of time and money traveling. Cheers and thanks for commenting!

  3. Bebe

    I don’t eat meat or drink coffee either but I find my grocery bills are still too high. What do you buy when you go shopping for food? Do you purchase organic or don’t find it’s worth the extra cost?

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I don’t purchase organic. I also shop at ethnic grocery stores. I’m amazed by how much cheaper they are than regular American grocery stores.

  4. Sandy

    Regarding grocery costs, I also shop at my local Chinese and Indian stores, and am amazed at the low prices and higher quality of the produce. And I can try new veg that my local Kroger does not carry. I also buy staples such as rice and tea at these stores. Love your blog. ❤️

  5. Alissa

    I found your blog from your interview with MMM. Just wanted to say thanks for sharing your thoughts – they are very inspiring and useful as my family and I tackle financial independence as our next life goal!

  6. dave

    Even if you like coffee I can’t understand why people pay so much at starbucks instead of making at home.

  7. Stan

    Barry needs internet to watch Netflix, so shouldn’t the internet charge be added to this equation? I love eating meat and my body actually craves it (I know because I went meatless for a while as a health kick, didn’t feel well) but whatever you can get away with. I rarely drink alcohol because of all the really bad things it does to your body, liver, brain, skin etc. Traveling and eating out all the time is expensive but a light breakfast and things that don’t spoil can make the food budget go a long way.

    1. David

      Apple and Clove have internet so the cost is the same for all of them. Barry would keep his internet if he canceled his Netflix. If netflix was the only reason to have internet it should have been included in the cost analysis.


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