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Written By Colin Graves

I had to pick up a pair of jeans the other day, and it reminded me how much I hate spending money on clothes.  I’m not a fan of shopping at the best of times, but there’s something about having to buy clothes that I find completely frustrating!  If it’s for my family, I have no issue with it, but even if I desperately need an item of clothing for myself, it feels as though I’m throwing my money down a drain.  It got me thinking about other stuff that I hate spending money on, and I ended up compiling a list, which I’ve included below, along with ways to make the experience less painful.

Please note, I’ve excluded debt and taxes because, well, those are no brainers….here’s the other stuff!


clothes shoppingI’ve never been a clothes guy.  I don’t own more than 2 pairs of jeans at one time, a couple pairs of shoes, and a handful of shirts, mostly tees.  The clothes I have are always worn well beyond their expiry date.  Too me, once a shirt has more holes than fabric, it’s still a perfectly good shirt, I just wear it around the house, that’s all.  I often think that if I was in government, and in charge of the public education system, I would push to mandate school uniforms.  I LOVE hearing stories about people far more successful than me who wear the same clothes everyday. Joshua Becker has a great article on why folks like Barack Obama, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have chosen to simplify their wardrobe.

There is one caveat to this.  I wear suits to work every day, and tend to fork out the extra money for quality suits because they last longer and are much more comfortable to wear. Regardless, I still hate spending money on them.

Solution: Take a minimalist approach to clothes.  Avoid thinking about clothes as a fashion statement.  Chris over at Keep Thrifty has a 2 part post on Escaping The Fashion Money Trap, it’s a great resource if you hate clothes shopping as much as I do!

Car Repairs

The first car I owned was an old, 2-door Volvo.  Unfortunately, it was completely unreliable, and a financial disaster in the 12 months that I owned it.  It seemed as though every time I spent a few hundred dollars on a repair, it was back in the shop with another issue.  It was too bad, because I really loved that car.  I was just out of college, and in a way it symbolized my newfound freedom.  It was silver, with a black leather interior, sunroof and was pretty fun to drive.

Solution:  Fortunately, I’ve had much better luck with used cars since.  In fact, I’ve developed a winning formula of sorts, which involves purchasing Toyota’s which are about 8 years old.  This way I get the benefit of owning the most reliable brand in history after someone else has paid for the vast majority of the vehicles depreciation.  Trust me, more often than not a 10 year old, high mileage Toyota will run better than most other brands half its age.  Top-down, Toyotas are my top choice for reliability,  although there are other quality brands out there.


spend moneyI really detest spending money on fuel for my vehicles.  Mind you, it’s not at the top of my list, because I clearly don’t hate it enough to move closer to work.  I do commute everyday, and having a fuel efficient vehicle takes the sting out of filling the tank.  I know that if I owned a pickup, or any other number of wealth destroying, poorly engineered trucks or monster SUV’s, this would be at the very top of the list.

Solution:  Look for alternative forms of transportation.  Walk, bike, take a bus wherever possible.  If you are driving, make sure it’s a fuel efficient vehicle, and not a pickup truck or monster SUV!

Back-To-School Shopping

Ask any parent, school supplies can be a significant expense!  Teachers tend to do one of two things: they either provide a very, very long list for parents to shop from, which usually includes their preferred brands for specific items.  Some teachers actually purchase the supplies themselves, and simply ask parents to cut a cheque to cover the cost.  Needless to say, that’s my preferred method, because it enables me to avoid the mall.  Also, it’s tough to save money on school supplies, because the individual supplies aren’t that expensive, it’s that the list is so long.  When you factor in back-to-school clothes and  sports registration, August and September can be more costly than Christmas.  It certainly is in our case.

Solution:  It’s tough to avoid back to school costs.  My advice is two fold.  Don’t overdo it on the discretionary items, only buy what’s absolutely necessary.  Also, consider saving throughout the year for back-to-school.  By setting aside $25 bi-weekly into a savings account throughout the year, you’ll have $650 when the school year arrives.

There you have it, four things besides debt and taxes that I hate to spend money on.

I’m sure you can add several items to this list, and I’d love to see what others come up with.  Please feel free to share yours in the comment section!


  1. For clothes I would also suggest buying exclusively at thrift stores. I picked up a giant bag of work clothes a few weeks ago for $7–and I had some really nice designer pieces, too. Jeans are great to buy at thrift stores because they’re already broken-in. As a plus, they’re super cheap!
    I really hate spending money on utilities. In our area the city has a monopoly on water, gas, and electric services. We’re forced to use them. That means there’s zero competition, which means we’re at their mercy for any rate increases. It also means the customer service is non-existent. I want free enterprise, dammit!

    • That’s great advice Mrs. P! My Mom is a thrift store guru. She buys not only most of her clothes there, but clothes for our daughters and her other grandchildren. She saves so much money that way. I find it more difficult to find guys clothes at thrift stores, just not as much selection, where I shop at least. Utilities can be tough. Overall, ours aren’t too bad, but it all adds up!

  2. I’m with you on clothes for sure! I had to buy a pair of shoes this month (my old ones were literally falling apart) for the first time in years. I got to the store and realized I had no idea what I was doing 🙂

    Thankfully I found a no-frills pair of sneakers for $60 and got the heck out of there!

    Thanks for the shout-out!

  3. Wow, 2 pairs of jeans! I have more than 2 even though I consider myself a person who doesn’t spend a lot on clothes. I definitely have much to learn! I also like to try and go for outfits that you can mix and match with. It’s the same few clothes but just a lot more “outfits” to choose from.

    Back to school supplies, cut down on the items as much as possible. I find that most parents tend to buy too much and there’s always a pile that ends up not being used and that’s just a waste of money and resources.

    • Hey TW, thanks for sharing! You can definitely own more than two pairs of jeans and be still be reasonable about clothing, I’m on the extreme side that way. It helps that I wear suits 5 days a week. As far as school supplies, I agree that the kids don’t need near the number of items on the list provided by the schools. I have yet to rebel against the list though, maybe I should see what I can get away with next year! 🙂

  4. School supplies really drive me crazy because at the end of the year, when all the crap comes home, I look at 16 different notebooks with two pages written on in each and I just want to cry. Our school lets you just order the whole kit and have it sent straight to school so you don’t even have to see it. Which, of course, I do because it saves time, but I’m sure it would be cheaper if I bought everything myself. I really hate spending money on paper towels. I refuse to do it, much to my husband’s dismay.

    • That’s funny, Linda. 🙂 I think I read something else you had written recently, bemoaning paper towels. They are a real waste of money, I agree. They are great for soaking up bacon grease. : )

  5. This falls into the same category as “debt and taxes,” but I hate spending money on insurance. I agree with Chris Rock — if I don’t use the money I pay towards “in case sh$%” policies, shouldn’t I get it back?! I also hate paying for “convenience” fees, no matter how small. In fact, I won’t pay them. I just mailed our truck license renewal because an online payment tacked on a $3 convenience fee. Nope!

    • Oh, yeah, I hear you on the convenience fees. What an excuse to rip people off. It’s everywhere too, across so many industries. I’m ok with insurance, because I believe in it in principle. It makes me think of extended warranties though, which I guess are a type of insurance. I’ll never pay for an extended warranty, that’s for sure!

  6. I don’t tend to spend much on clothes either. Most of our clothes are second hand – from a great local consignment store. I consign our clothes and shop on the credit, so most of the time, I leave spending nothing.

    I hate spending on appliances (and kitchen faucets). They just don’t seem to last long enough. So, I’m always on the fence on whether it’s better to spend more for the better brand/quality or just buy the cheapest thing I can.

    • Amanda, that is a amazing, to have a near zero clothing budget! Very cool! We’ve actually been super fortunate with appliances, I actually wrote a post a few months back about how my wife and I have only spent $900 on appliances in 17 years of marriage. We’ve almost always bought used, but they’ve been very reliable.

  7. My top two items are totally the same! I’ve only spent 32 on clothes related things this year… and it was to repair a strap on a small purse and get a jacket dry cleaned. Mostly, I just can’t stand the process of clothes shopping. It’s a painful time suck. I would add to this list: Home repairs that don’t make a visual improvement. We’re reroofing a garden shed, and I just wish I had a pretty something to look at after spending those dollars.

  8. Melanie, I can’t agree more on the home improvements. One issue is that aside from keeping your home well- maintained, which of course is important, those “unseen” improvements don’t usually do much to increase value, if anything. We’re looking at a new hot water tank and perhaps new shingles in the near future, and I’m not looking forward to it. : )

  9. I hate spending money on clothes as well! More importantly, I hate having to decide what to wear. So since I work for myself, I literally go into Sears, find one thing that’s good, and buy 5 of those. (haha now that Sears might not be around for much longer, I’ll have to go somewhere else).

      • Although granted, some people will think that I’m crazy. But then again, I don’t really care what others think. As long as I’m comfortable, that’s all that matters to me.


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