12 Reasons You’re Poor


I am a frugal girl. I save on things that don’t matter to me, so I can spend on the things that I want. But not that much matters to me. I don’t care about the label on my clothes, my car doesn’t inspire lust in anyone, and I stay at plain, boring hotels when I travel. As long as there’s a free continental breakfast waiting for me in the morning, I’m happy.

My cell phone is 3 or 4 years old, but it has Google Maps to get me to the office, Podcast Addict to entertain me on the way there, and the ability to make a phone call if I forget to download the latest episode of the BiggerPockets Podcast, so I’m all set there, too.

I spend a LOT of time in the forums. I see the same question over and over again.

“How can I invest in real estate with no money and bad credit?”

I’ve talked about how you can improve your credit score in several articles. Let’s look at why you have no money.

The 20 Best Books for Aspiring Real Estate Investors!

Here at BiggerPockets, we believe that self-education is one of the most critical parts of long-term success, in business and in life, of course. This list, compiled by the real estate experts at BiggerPockets, contains 20 of the best books to help you jumpstart your real estate career.

Click Here For Your Free eBook!


I have tattoos. This isn’t meant to be a slam against people who have tattoos. But a good quality tattoo costs a lot of money. Heck, a bad tattoo still costs a lot. This is quite possibly the least important thing you could ever spend money on.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25, although states can impose their own, higher minimum wage. Let’s go with California’s minimum of $10 for mathematical ease.

Let’s say you want to get a tattoo that will take 3-4 hours to complete. That will cost around $400, not an unreasonable sum for quality work. You are going to have to work an entire 40-hour week just to pay for it. Actually, you’ll have to work more because of taxes and social security.

More than 25% of your entire month’s salary is going to that tattoo. How are you paying for rent, food, gas, etc. if you only have 75% of your salary leftover after your new ink?

If you’re only just making ends meet, body art should not be the last thing on your list — it shouldn’t be anywhere near your list. Showing your love for the Tasmanian Devil can wait until your finances drastically improve.

Your Brand New Car

According to this article from Trusted Choice, your brand new car can lose up to 11% of its value simply by driving it off the car lot. The average cost of a new car in 2015 was $33,560. You stand to lose $3,691 by the time you get home and park it in your driveway for the first time.

Let’s do some math. Let’s say you purchased that car brand new above and drove it for 10,000 miles. You are paying $3.36 per mile, plus taking a hit for depreciation.

Now let’s say you buy a 5-year-old used car for $10,000 and drive it for that same 10,000 miles. Those miles only cost you $1.00 each, and you don’t take the huge depreciation hit.

Related: Two Awesomely Creative Ways to Furnish Your Short-Term Rentals on a Budget

I’ve heard the argument that when you buy a used car, you’re buying someone else’s problems. I don’t believe that. I’ve had mostly used cars my whole life, and they run just fine as long as you take care of them. I had an Acura Integra that I put 100,000 miles on AFTER I bought it with 150,000 miles on it.

If you are barely scraping by, you don’t need a new car. A quality, used car will get you from A to B just fine.


Your Leased Vehicle

Worse than buying a brand new car is leasing a brand new car. You are essentially renting the car for a specific period of time, and then you give it back at the end or buy it outright after you have made years of payments and it’s worth a whole lot less.

Worse still is that you only get a certain number of miles with your lease. Go over, and you pay per mile. I’ve seen leases where you pay $.30 a mile for overage. That’s $300 for every 1,000 miles you go over!

More House Than You Need

I was guilty of this financial sin, too. I had far too much house for my needs — to the tune of more than 4,000 square feet for 4 people. Four bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 2 stories, plus a full basement AND a 4-car tandem garage. Guess how many houses I owned when I lived in that monstrosity? One. I could only afford that one house. All my purchasing power was tied up in one mortgage. I literally could not qualify for any additional loans while I lived in that home.

While we lived in that house, I was a stay-at-home mom, and my husband felt the burden of H-A-V-I-N-G to work to pay our mortgage. There wasn’t any wiggle room in our finances.

We sold that house and bought another home, slightly smaller in size but significantly lower payments. When we sold that house, we actively looked for a decidedly smaller home. We currently reside in 1,800 square feet. Our considerably smaller mortgage can comfortably be paid even if we both lose our jobs and have to work for minimum wage at an entry-level job.

And I can now invest in real estate again. (If I could only find a deal…)

How much house do you REALLY need?


How frequently are you going out to eat? I know as a stay-at-home mom, some days I just didn’t feel like cooking. As a working mom, those days have increased significantly.

According to this article from The Simple Dollar, you can cook a relatively easy meal at home, hitting all the right spots on the food pyramid, for a family of four for around $10. Not only that, but frequently that meal was too big for just four servings, so there was food leftover for lunch the next day, making these meals less than $2 per person!

The same article shares that the average American eats out at a restaurant 18.2 times per month, to the tune of $13 per meal per person.

I noticed that when I started at BiggerPockets, all of the sudden we went out to restaurants a lot more. Once I started meal planning, my restaurant spending dropped to almost nothing. I love not having to worry about what to make for dinner based on the ingredients I have in the refrigerator, and I spend one Friday night per month preparing the meals. I invite friends over, and we have a glass of wine and chat while we chop.

Are you trying to get ahead, but every step forward seems to turn into two steps back? Try cutting back on restaurant visits to free up some space in your budget.



I used to watch the TV show Cheers. I thought the premise of the show was a bit ridiculous — the same people went to the same bar every single night to sit in the same chair and drink the same drink while talking to the same people.

Then I got a job as a cocktail waitress at a bar. That show is 100 percent accurate! I worked there for two years 20 years ago, and I can still remember the guys who came in every single day.

Does this describe you? First off, bars are expensive. A good quality craft beer is going to run you anywhere from $4-$8 (really, really good quality beer is going to run even more than that!), while an entire 6-pack at the liquor store will run more along the lines of $8-$12.

Second, alcohol isn’t a healthy choice. I’m not slamming alcohol. I love a good chocolate stout, and my city, Longmont, CO, is home to nine microbreweries today. (I say “today” because there are three more opening up this summer.) Alcohol in small quantities is just fine. But alcohol is 100 percent not necessary.

Do you regularly find yourself short of cash? Stay home — or better yet, go for a bike ride or run, rather than to a bar.

Cable TV

My sister-in-law’s ex-boyfriend spends $300 on his cable bill every single month. He has every channel available, every package, multiple boxes, and all the other bells and whistles the company offers.

Guess how many houses he owns? One. Which, I suppose, is better than zero.

Do you know what his life consists of? TV. He gets up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, and plants himself on the couch, watching TV all night long. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Related: Most Americans Overspend & Fail at Frugality… But It’s Not Why You Think

I’m pretty sure that if we were to go visit him in a few years, his life would look remarkably similar to today.

Cable TV is expensive, and with all the more affordable options out there, including Netflix, HBO GO, Hulu and Amazon Prime, it is completely unnecessary. If you find your pockets are empty too frequently, cut the cord.


There isn’t a go-getter on the planet who sits and watches TV all day every day. Not one.

The average American watches five hours of TV every day. FIVE! Do you know how much you can accomplish in five hours?!

Regular TV is basically free, so this isn’t an outright money-drain. But all the money you could make in five hours adds up, so if you need more money, stop watching TV, get a second job, and start saving.

Your “I Deserve It” Attitude

Do you need it?

Can you afford it?

Then no, you DON’T deserve it. You want it. Learn the difference between a want and a need, and then fulfill the needs and prioritize the wants.

How badly do you want to be debt-free? How badly do you want to start investing? How badly do you want to quit your job? How badly do you want financial freedom?



Seriously? In this day and age, when cigarettes cost $8 a pack and it is a proven scientific fact that they cause cancer, which can KILL YOU, why are you still smoking?

Stop. Now. There is zero argument against this. You can’t afford to smoke, even if it was free.

Hiring it Out

There is a debate on BiggerPockets about DIY vs. hiring it out when it comes to home repairs. That isn’t really what this one is about. This is about doing things for yourself instead of hiring them out, like mowing your lawn, shoveling your sidewalk, raking leaves, landscaping, pool/spa maintenance. The list goes on forever.

I used to live in a neighborhood where everyone had a lawn sprinkler system. It gets hot enough in the summer that sprinklers are very helpful in keeping your grass from dying — especially if you combine it with a timer to water at night so it soaks in before the sun bakes it away. But every single person in the neighborhood paid someone to come blow out their system before winter.


You don’t need a manicure every week. You don’t need a pedicure every week. You can live for the rest of your life without ever having another one. And no, you don’t deserve it.

It’s very easy to paint your own nails, and you can connect with a friend to paint each other’s left hands. When you have to choose which bill you’re going to pay and which one you’re going to allow to go into delinquency, the state of your nails is your absolute last priority.

Harsh? Maybe. But look at your life. Do you want to continue to live like this forever?

I haven’t named one N-E-C-E-S-S-I-T-Y. Not one. Every single thing on this list is something you don’t need.

You want to invest in real estate? How serious are you? Cut out these unnecessary expenditures, start saving up your extra cash, and become the investor you want to be.

What are some unnecessary expenses you have been able to cut in order to start investing?

Let me know with a comment, and let’s help each other make better financial habits.

About Author

Mindy Jensen

Mindy has flipped numerous homes in the past 10 years, one at a time and doing much of the work with her husband. She lives in Longmont, CO, and is always looking for an ugly duckling to turn into a swan.


  1. Nice Article. The only thing I would add is wasting time on the internet and Social Media.

    Everybody go to the library ( it’s free) and check out and read “The millionaire next door”. Heck buy it on Amazon for 17 bucks. It is chock full of wisdom with the facts to back it up. A must read for a successful investor.

  2. Alex Craig

    I think the main reason here is not because one is spending to much money on unnecessary items, it is not making enough money to be able to do spend money on things that make people happy. I think the key here is to make more money, which requires a serious look at the profession one has chosen. If you want all of things you have listed, but went to college for a Business Management degree, then I would have said you should have gone to college to study something that provides a higher income. For instance, in the business world, maybe a finance degree instead of a mgmt degree. Or if you did not go to college and started working right out of high school being a (enter low paying dead end profession here), then one should figure out what skill set the posses that is in demand that can make more money. No one wants to be Jack Nicholson from “The Shining”, All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy. One just need to figure out ways to make the money to do the things they want to do to make them happy. In my 20’s right after college, I wasn’t making enough to do a lot of the things you mentioned, but I worked hard and sitting around every weekend I felt was not something I wanted to do. What I did is make sure I worked hard at my corporate job so that I can make more money there, but I also started bar tending 3 nights a week. Bar tending was play money. Corporate paycheck was bills, savings and retirement. Not everyone is interested in working 60 + hours a week; I did not mind. Work hard, play hard has always been my motto.

      • Alex Craig

        No reason someone in their 20’s can’t as a short term means to a end. All I am saying is, if one wants to do those things in your blog, but does not have the money, then they need to figure out how to do it. It can either be work harder, work smarter, learn a skill, do real estate, sell Mary Kay, etc. Most good things come with a price and success is not easy, but failing is.

        • Cody Steck

          I have to agree with Alex on this one. I was a little bit disappointed in the list that was here. In my mind, there’s only one reason why your poor and it’s because you don’t make enough money in the first place.

          Sure, spending money on unnecessary leisure items can be a drain on your finances, but if more people focused on how to earn another $1,000/month they would be much better off. It’s a different way of thinking. They can go from earning an extra $1,000 to $2,000 to $5,000 per month and so on. You can infinitely increase your income but you can only decrease your spending so far. And, after all, having money to do the things we love is the reason we all want to earn money.

          I’m a big fan of Grant Cardone. He mentions often that you can’t worry about the “baby money” if you want to earn the big money. That’s not to say that spending should go rampant on unncessary things, but rather to focus on how to earn more money which will help you build cash flow and wealth.

        • Lia Martinez

          I have to say, it’s not all about making more money. I agree with Mindy that a lot of it is just living smarter. For many years I worked 20 hours a week as a bartender and managed to live of less than $700/month here in Denver. How? I rented a moderate room a couple blocks from where I worked, rode my bike to work, didn’t own a car, bought clothes and dishes from Goodwill, didn’t own a cell phone (I had an iTouch I used a free app to make calls and texts at local places with free wifi), didn’t have internet or cable, and basically took every free piece of food or drink that was offered. And the funny thing is, I still saved enough to take 3 months off work every year to travel around South America. Back then -4 years ago- travel was my focus, not real estate investing. Anything is possible if you want it strongly enough.

    • Jay C.

      Well Alex and Cody both agree just make more money. I am here to tell you that just is not true. Proof is in the pudding we have many millionaires that are broke. They don’t have a handle on spending and are pay check to pay check and many end up bust. They are making bank but are not building any wealth. At the end of the day its impossible to earn your way out of bad spending habits. Those habits become more expensive and you are no better off then someone making min wage. Mindy just put up a list of money bleeders that many participate in. I am surprised Mindy left off the mother of all money bleeders and number one on every money site as the absolute biggest waste of money. I personally laugh every time I drive by those fools in line at one…………The coffee shop/drive up coffee shop.

      • Alex Craig

        Jay, agree. Look at professional athletes. I was more referring to if you can’t afford simple everyday things that people enjoy such as Tattoos, Cable TV, going out to eat, drinks with friends, etc. then you need to make more money. I have a friend who makes 250k and come a few days before payday, his family his eating Little Caesar’s $5 pizza. I can’t tell you how many times they have been out to eat with us where there card is declined. Those are the people that will never make enough and have done a lot of the things in Mindy’s blog post. However, if you can’t schedule a Mani/Pedi for an evening out with your significant other at Outback Steakhouse, then come home and watch ESPN, because it is literally a income problem and not a over spending issue, then I would say you need to make more money.

        • Victor Omoniyi

          The analogy in The Millionaire Next Door is that your income can be likened to offense in basketball and frugality (savings, budgeting, etc.) to defense. As I’m sure you are familiar that in sports, offense wins games, but defense wins championships.

          To Mindy’s point, we need both, but people often miss out on the defense and focus on the offense. You’ll be surprised that an overwhelming proportion of the millionaires in the US make less than $80K annually – they are self-made millionaires just by choosing to be frugal!

          Also, an estimate of one’s networth should be one’s age multiplied by one-tenth of one’s income (Age * (Income/10)). Frugality and budgeting is a surer means to get one closer to that number – one has GREATER control on one’s spending, but LESSER control whether or not one gets a raise!

    • Duke Marquiss

      We all suffer from spending creep. If you are on a salary and are living within your means, I mean just spending what you make, and then you get a 4% raise in your salary, you will immediately increase your standard of living to spend the exact same amount of your raise. Mindy is correct that you have to really watch your unnecessary spending habits. You will have to give up some today to have more tomorrow. The extra job that you did was good. It allowed you to make more and also took away from the time that others are spending.

      We all have 1440 minutes in day, so we have to be selective in how we spend minutes. You have spent them wisely.

  3. Mike McKinzie

    The nice part of that list Mindy is that if you do that for 20-30 years, avoid those budget busters, and invest, then you can do all of those things and have plenty of money to pay for them. My wife and I drive new cars, shop at Nordstroms, go out to eat a lot, and more. But that is because between the ages of 20 and 50, we did NOT do those things. I took my lunch to work lots of days, I rode the bus to work lots of times, we bought clothes at Wal Mart, Ross and Target. We always had used cars, I usually bought them at an auction. We never had too big of a house, we never saw the need for it. Our largest house was 2700 square feet and that was for 2 adults and 6 children. The one thing I want to add to Mindy’s blog is to STAY OUT OF DEBT. It is bad enough that folks go out to eat, but then they put in on a Credit Card and then pay for that meal 3-4 MORE times. If anyone of you are paying interest on a credit card, you are throwing money away. And one last thought, you are NOT going to with the Power Ball Lottery, so don’t even try!

    • Alex Craig

      Certainly stay out of debt. Something else you mentioned Mike, but Mindy did not was Children. I do not suggest waiting until you can afford them to have them, otherwise you may never make up your mid that you can. I do suggest waiting until you are married (sorry, old school here) and or have the support cast to help out. In laws are great that way, but not always possible. The day after Benolyn told me she was pregnant, my first thought was, “I have to make more money.” I knew I could not bartend at night with a baby; that is how I got into Real Estate. I saw someone post on Facebook today that said, “Live like you are retired, work like you are broke.” Even though my wife calls me cheap (which I take as a compliment) because we save so much, I do like that saying.

  4. Dawn Anastasi

    People wonder how I was able to buy 16 properties in 5 years, while only working full-time in 3.5 of those years. Well this article pretty much answers it. I don’t have any tattoos (even with a cousin who’s a tattoo artist). I don’t own a brand-new car, I bought used. I have a small 950 square foot house that didn’t cost that much and my mortgage is more than affordable at $810/mo and I rent out part of my house for $550/mo. I don’t go out to eat or hang out at bars all the time, and I absolutely DON’T smoke (yuck!). I also don’t have cable TV. I keep up on a few shows via Netflix and Hulu. The only thing I do indulge in is someone to cut my grass, clean my gutters, and general yard work. That’s one thing I can’t stand doing!

  5. Steve Vaughan

    Great article, Mindy! Awesome advice!
    Good to see others out there as weird as I. You are speaking my language here.
    I often tell folks starting out with no money to stay out of malls and restaurants unless it’s to get to their 3rd job. Now I’ll add bars and tattoo shops to the list!
    Since we’re talking inexpensive, we also buy name-brand clothes and sports equipment for the kids at yard sales and thrift shops. Saves us a ton.
    Some day, please write an article about how to loosen the purse strings a little. This gets so ingrained in us! Thanks again!

  6. Rudy LeCorps on

    Your article seems to say that doing just about everything will make one poor. I don’t even know why we use the word poor in an article suggesting ways to build wealth. A lot of people are making a lot of money and doing really well even though they drink coffee, watch TV, do Mani/pedi. Do you think these are the reasons people are poor. How if you’re working hard, say in your cleaning business making $50k a month, drinking a few cups a day will make you poor? Some of your thoughts are flawed. We don’t get rich by pinching pennies!

  7. Antioch Girl on

    Mindy, you are spot on with your tips and no-nonsense advice. It takes guts to put your beliefs out there and take criticism. I’m glad most people had positive feedback as well as adding some of their own tips. : )

  8. Frank Sanchez

    Frugality Rocks! Viva Benjamin Franklin and Viva Ms. Jensen for this post. I love it.
    Below is my take on ” Your Brand New Car”

    The issue with brand new cars is that many car buyers, purchase a car they can’t afford with useless extras. I don’t think the issue is buying a new car.

    Buying a brand spanking new car is a great idea if- and only if- they buy a mid or low level car. Think about it, it’s like the daytime savings fallacy. If you remove hours from the beginning of the day and add them to the end, you don’t get a longer day. The same applies with car ownership. People pay either at the beginning – in price and opportunity loss- or at the end on repairs – Let’s call them CAPEX for fun!
    Buying a new car be the same than buying it used- or very close at least, if played smart.

    Also, people need to buy a car that they will drive to the end of its useful life. Additionally, with this artificially low rates, people could use inflation to get a loan with negative return.

    Tip: How to buy a new car. Select a model – nothing fancy. Create an email template and send it to dealers within 100 miles. Then, have them bid for your business, don’t pay for any paint protection, extended warranty, delivery fees, etc. Don’t even think of putting a foot at the “Stealer” until you get a low price. Use a temp. google number and disposable email, btw. After a few rounds and some healthy FUN. You will get a few decent bids. Then, beat them even harder and don’t give up. It’s hard work, but it works. Google is your friend on this.


    • Charles Morgan

      I’m still going to have to go with Mindy on this. Even the smallest new cars are $15,000 or more, so you have a large payment, and also have to pay for for full coverage insurance. I bought my car used in 2012, it was a 2008 model, I paid $5,000 with TTL, I have spent $1,500 since then on repairs other than normal maintenance, total cost $6,500 in four years. I only have liability insurance saving tons on insurance, I have put over 100,000 miles on it ($.065/mile) and it is still running great. That’s right, 6 1/2 cents /mile.

  9. Thanks for this post Mindy, I think you’ve summed up several good points. But changing the mindset from the small, instant “wants” to the bigger overall picture is a lot like trying to get a 2 year to put down the candy bar in the check out lane. Instant gratification is so much easier and that’s one reason why so many folks live beyond their means.

  10. Brittany Doyle

    I love reading these articles because it always reminds me to pay my credit card bills! (No balance ever!)

    RE: buying a new car– I unfortunately live very far from my (well-paying) job and put about 90miles/day on the car. After 3.5 years I’ve put almost 100K miles on it. Poor baby. But, she’s a diesel so gas mileage is awesome (sorry environment, but VW did pay me $1000 in reparations), and she should last me many more years!

  11. eric bozenhard

    Great article! I absolutely cannot stress quitting smoking enough. When my fiance and I quit we were shocked at how much extra cash we had at our disposal. At a pack per day between us it worked out to about $240 per month, more than enough to cover our electric and cellphone bills. I am definitely eliminating cable when my contract expires, keeping nothing but the internet and adding Netflix. In my area Comcast Xfinity is the most reliable and fastest service, but the cost for internet alone seems excessive. Can anyone recommend from experience a comparable carrier that has reasonable rates?

    • Deanna Opgenort

      Are you close enough (location-wise) to a neighbor you trust to split the bill on internet service with a wireless router? My brother did this for years with his non-tech neighbor. He’s a tech-geek, she was non-tech, so their deal was that he provided free tech support while he got to use the access for free. Win-win.

  12. Mike Lemieux

    Mindy- I loved this article, great job!! You hit on some traditional and non-traditional points which many people don’t consider. You hit a personal note for me when you mentioned tattoos; I would love to get one but I have never been able to justify the cost…LOL

    The “I deserve it” attitude is key though. Most the people in the BP community can probably count on one hand the people in their immediate circle that work relentlessly towards their goals and would have no problem filling both hands with others who come up with excuses but continue to mis-manage money due to a poor financial attitude. Money can be one of the most powerful tools in your toolbox if we learn how to make it work for us correctly. Keep up the great work!!

  13. cynthia gillespie

    The only thing I disagree with is the title…unless one is guilty of 90% of the items. Good points. Some hit home (fortunately no tattoos, don’t smoke, no Mani/pedis, but house(size doesn’t really matter cause there are some expensive smaller homes), cars, dining out, cable (gotta change thIs) affect our net worth. But we’re far from poor because 15% 401k savings and real estate investing (9 sfh) have been on the top of our list. I liked article because it hit some items that we’ll need to (and can) manage better once we hit retirement. We enjoy life now, but not at the expense of not being able to increase our wealth for retirement. Don’t spend on what you can’t afford.. Particularly if it prevents you from saving or investing.

  14. Aaron Sauceda

    Hi Mindy — I enjoyed the post. I think you outline very smart — and doable — ways to be financially fit here. The one opposing viewpoint I’d present is in reference to certain cases of DIY vs. hire-it-out. I’ve been on both sides of the coin, so I can certainly appreciate either argument.

    However, I’d argue that if the goal is to become an effective real estate investor, a great compromise would be to hire out low leverage activities such as pool cleanings, lawn mowing and other similar services. Instead of performing this often $10-20/hour work, I propose that you hire it out. BUT, you *must* use that exact same time you freed up to perform higher leverage activities, such as work on a direct mail campaign or analyze deals. Or spend high quality time with your family. To be clear, I think if you choose to use the time you freed up by hiring it out to watch more TV, then its certainly something you should DIY.

  15. Wow Mindy, that hurt! I was with you until you said don’t get my mani pedi omg! I think I will start with cutting out eating at restaurants everyday first! So far I have 3 rental properties but could really have more if I follow your advice. Thank you for “keeping it real” with us.

  16. Alex Chin

    Jim, if I went and bought property that only appreciated 4% annually, and had no other benefit, then yeah, that would be an incredibly terrible investment.

    On the other hand, if I bought a property and am paying 4% interest on my loan while appreciating 4% annually, plus was able to rent out the property for say…$1,000/month, plus was able to write off another $3,600 annually on my taxes for depreciation, plus was able to refinance or HELOC the property in 5 years to re-leverage it…well then, I might feel a bit better about the investment.

    I guess what I’m trying to say, is that I don’t understand your post and am really confused as to where you’re going with it.

  17. Andrew Syrios

    Tough love, but a very good article. TV is a big one for me, which is why I just got rid of mine. Although the Internet can be just as big of a time suck. I’m experimenting with simply turning my home computer off before dinner so I can’t waste any time with it.

  18. Tim Yang

    I don’t do any of those things you’ve listed except for occasional restaurant eating. I’m poor because I’ve made financial mistakes, and hated working at any one job. I could never stay at one place due to boredom. Instead of trying to pinch pennies and save a couple hundred which amounts to basically nothing in the grand scheme of things, I rather make more money. I’m not the type to splurge and spend excessively just because I have the money. There was a time where I made a whole lot more money than I used to now but I was actually saving a lot more then, because I was just making a lot more money but not spending it with much more discipline than I have now.

    To me if I have to pinch pennies to save just a few hundred that won’t help me retire there’s not much point to it. I rather learn the skills to build the wealth/life style I’ve always wanted and still live within my means. If I want to eat out then I’ll EAT OUT. A poor mindset is someone who thinks by saving dollars here and there will really amount to anything in the grand scheme of things unless you plan on barely getting by with a meager income. Then yes saving to that extent and pinching pennies will help you survive if you stick with a meager income. I rather flip it around and increase my income and not have to deal with annoying decisions like that.

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thanks for reading, Tim.

      You are absolutely correct – $100 isn’t going to fund your retirement. But this points to a mindset. “I deserve it” will keep you from saving.

      Yours is a common reply to posts like this – and increasing your income is another way to be able to invest. But for most people, it is far easier to cut expenses than it is to increase their income.

  19. Tim Yang

    I mean is a few hundred dollars a month x 10 years really going to make or break your retirement? 200 x12 = 2400 x 10 years = 24000, Woop de doo! 24,000 saved! *sarcasm) Unless you’re using that as an investment fund, then yes it’ll have purpose. But I think a better mind set is to have additional sources of income. I understand that what you actually keep vs what you make is going to determine if you are a high paid slave or a rich person. But to me pinching pennies isn’t the answer either.

    It’s both, smart spending AND increasing your income. You can only cut your spending by so much if you make so little.

  20. Charles Morgan

    I’m noticing that some people are saying you should just make more money, that’s great if you have the option (by the way, I am open to suggestions on other ways to increase my income other than working another w-2 job). What Mindy is saying works even if you do make more money. I do not have cable, I have the slowest/cheapest internet connection I can get, I drive a used car, and more, I also have 7 houses right now and THAT is how I am increasing my income rather than another W-2 job.
    Making more money isn’t going to help if you then spend it on a new car every year, Largest cable package available, Starbucks twice a day, etc. If you follow Mindy’s suggestions AND make more money you will be able to invest more and retire earlier.

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thanks for reading, Charles.

      It is far easier to reduce spending than to increase income for most people. Family obligations, mental health breaks and just life in general take up all your time. But you don’t really NEED that new car, cable tv, etc. You just WANT it.

    • Mindy Jensen

      The coffee out argument is the darling of the personal finance community. Yes, it is silly to spend so much at the coffee shop every day. You can buy quality coffee beans and have just as awesome an experience at home – AND save yourself 15 minutes at least every day by skipping the lines.

      I used to live in quite the pretentious neighborhood, and the Starbucks there ALWAYS had a drive-through line at least 10 cars long. What made it even worse was once you got into the line, you couldn’t just leave, there was a building on one side, a small curb with a very steep dropoff on the other. You were stuck in the line for as long as it took to get through the customers in front of you.

  21. While I agree with most items on this list, one really threw me off. Yep, it’s mani/pedi… Of course you can do your own nails, no question about it. But there is a necessity that I will argue about all day long – pampering yourself. And I do believe it’s a necessity that is a huge part of work-life balance. And while some people can go without taking care of themselves at all, others like to look good and there is nothing wrong about it.
    My gym costs me $75/mo plus another $250 for personal trainer. Some people don’t need it, but I do! And no one can prove me wrong. We have standards and we better make enough money to meet our standards!
    Of course I don’t suggest spending your last cash on mani/pedi but if this is something that makes you happy (and it does it for me), there is no reason to say no to your happiness. Just my two cents 🙂

    • Mindy Jensen

      Hi Olga.

      My point against the Mani/Pedi is not that you shouldn’t pamper yourself. But if you are trying to get started investing in real estate, and you have no money and bad credit, it’s quite possible you are making poor choices with your money. Skip the mani/pedi until you can easily afford it. I’m assuming you aren’t having to choose between paying your electric bill or paying the gym/trainer bill.

      I see many people in my everyday life who claim they have no money to invest, yet spend it on ridiculous items that don’t make any sense instead.

  22. Konstantina Mazaraki

    Many thanks Mindy for a great article.

    Reading all the comments above i must say that it all comes down to how badly you want financial freedom.

    If you want to get out of the 9-5, if you really really really want to escape, then “sacrificing” some luxuries will simply become a non event! I know from experience. I used to be that person saying: “oh, i can’t do without this or that”. NOT ANYMORE! Why? Because at some stage i arrived at a decision. I just want to stop working and be able to have all i want in life from passive income. Period. Moment of clarity and purpose.

    When you get to that point nothing else matters. Those who have experienced this will know exactly what i mean.

    And funny enough when you get to that point suddenly a world of ideas seem to pop out from all over the place on how you can save money even without sacrificing your lifestyle in majority of cases.

    One example of my own. I used to go to the hairdressers every month since i need to color my hair (i belong to these unfortunate souls who start showing grey hair from a very early age, namely in my case at 26). I used to pay 80 euros for the privilege of having to go to the hairdressers, being there for at least 2,5 hours plus the ride to and from. I was entirely convinced at the time that going to a hair salon was the only way to go about it.

    Solution? Recommendation from a friend for her hairdresser that comes at home. Because he does not have a fancy hair salon to support (related business costs etc) his prices are significantly less! I now pay 20 euros every month for exactly the same service (same color, same products used on my hair, same softening treatments, all the bells and whistles). He comes at my place, at the time of my choosing and he does my hair. There is only one thing that i have to provide and that is hair towels. For that “inconvenience” i managed to save 720 euros per year. I think the hair towels is a small price to pay…..

    Bottom line? I saved quite a bit of money, i did not have to sacrifice on the quality of service and i am actually saving time and hassle by having my hair done at home.

    So perhaps we can all look at our “must have’s”. Some are simply not needed (cigarette example from Mindy was spot on on this) and some we can simply find alternative ways of getting them done.

    Question is, how badly do you want financial freedom?

  23. Greetings Mindy!!

    I delighted in the post. I think you plot exceptionally keen — and possible — approaches to be fiscally fit here. The one restricting perspective I’d present is in reference to certain instances of DIY versus employ it-out. I’ve been on both sides of the coin, so I can unquestionably acknowledge either contention.


  24. Great Article and we agree absolutely with your major premise. Watch your dimes and your dollars will grow! I was once asked what were the major ways I was able to manage an operation to financial success (they were looking for the silver bullet). My response was that it was not the big score or the major innovation but paying attention to the little things…save a dollar here make a dollar there…adds up! One can run one’s life in the same way.

    Someone above mentioned debt and I’d like to reinforce that. Get rid of credit card debt and don’t buy it if you can’t buy with cash (the other peoples money on this site will guffaw at this point but then they’d be missing the point).

    I’d also like to reinforce the car comment with one change. We have always bought used cars but then we also drive them to 200,000 miles, meaning we keep them for 15 years or so…each month without a car payment (assuming I would have one) is money in the bank…also in our state the cost of licensing declines with older cars. I’ve often enjoyed driving up to one of our properties and noticing that in the parking lot EVERY car is newer and more expensive than mine…and I own the property! There is a reason why I do and they don’t…and of course it’s for all the reasons that Mindy points out

    I also recommend “the millionaire next door”



  25. Justin Davis

    “Do you need it?

    Can you afford it?

    Then no, you DON’T deserve it. You want it. Learn the difference between a want and a need, and then fulfill the needs and prioritize the wants.”

    Love it! Absolutely kills me to see lifestyle inflation creep into people’s lives by way of entitlement. Generally speaking, we are all already so privileged – we have more than we need – and probably “deserve” a lot less than we already have, to be honest. Thanks for this post, Mindy.

  26. John Teachout

    I have to go with the frugal crowd. For the past 20 years I’ve been working for a non profit and our household income has been pretty small. However, we have always lived a very frugal lifestyle and even on an adjusted gross income in the thirties we have been able to save enough for investing in houses (buy and hold). We are closing on our 5th house in two days. These are all fixer uppers and we do ALL the work ourselves. Two days ago, we had carpet installed in a house and hired it out because it turned out to be about the same price as if I purchased the carpet and installed it myself. (which I usually do). Most people don’t have money because they spend it, not because they don’t earn it. I know lots of people that make two or three times what we do and don’t have two nickels to rub together. I’d rather wear clothes from thrift shops and not have any debt (haven’t had any for 20 years) than to drive fancy cars and eat out all the time but have a mortgaged house and credit card debt. My opinion, it’s not what you make but what you spend (or don’t spend).

  27. Have been educated and entertained by you before Mindy J. This just adds to it. Keep them coming.
    Agree with this list fully, though I’d add Starbucks to it. The idea of spending $3 or more per cup of coffee just makes me cringe.

  28. For those serious about living an efficient lifestyle, check out Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker. I do not recommend his traditional investment vehicles, but he will force you to take a more serious look at the big ticket ways to save money.

  29. Chris Pochari

    Great article. People who just say “make more money” are oversimplifying the situation. To make more money you need to acquire more assets and that unfortunately takes time, so if you spend you entire paycheck from you job it isn’t going to happen. 99% of people don’t have the leverage or the power to go up to their boss and ask “can you double my paycheck”! If you’re making 50k a year from your day job you could easily save 35k/year for downpayments. You could buy $100,000 each year at 65% ltv each year! After 10 years you could be financially free.

    • Deanna Opgenort

      You don’t make $50k per year, do you.
      With an income of $50k about $10k goes to taxes. To be “easily save $35k” out of that you’d be living on $416/mos. Not exactly enough to live on unless one is living at home with Mom & Dad footing the bill for food, shelter, utilities, car, insurance, etc.

  30. Maurice Showers

    Hi Mindy,
    Nice article! I like your humorous but serious style of writing. And umma do some of the things you mentioned in your article. I already cut the cable. HBO Now, I kinda like Game of Thrones, is cheaper but definitely NOT NECESSARY. Thanks for your insights.

  31. Angela A.

    As far as leasing a car, if you lease the car under your LLC, you can write off the portion you use for business thus offsetting the cost if you need a car.

    If you feel mani/pedi helps you relive stress or gain confidence (I could not paint my way out of a paper bag) that helps you move forward towards your goals (I do) then one can go to a beauty school.

    Good article if not just to get one’s mind moving in the right direction on reducing expenses and from the comments raising income/capital.

  32. Jerryll Noorden

    I tried this. Investing in real estate with no money. The one thing I have learned doing this. It is very possible…. but it is expensive. Yup, Investing in real estate with no money (or bad credit) costs a lot of money! Stress and worries. (that is my experience at least).

  33. Meagan Ruxer

    Great article Mindy! Since I work as a contract travel RN, I save half my pay. I slowed down on mani/pedis unless it’s a treat for my BF daughter. I use coupons through websites for food, laundry, all grooming… I do drive a brand new car because I am changing jobs every 3 months and getting paid mileage, (safety is huge for me if I’m alone driving across states)!!! I stay in the cheapest hotels or extended stays with my stipend money, I have a condo in Indy that I bought to flip, but ending up holding onto it. I have changed my financial situation in the last year by paying attention to my spending, coupons, mileage points, eating out less, and doing free exercise outdoors. Now I just have to make good financial decisions with my savings:)

  34. Allen Fletcher


    I read this article as a checklist to see where I could further reduce spending and it turns out I already have low to no expenditures in the areas you denote here. I was wondering if you had ever looked into controlling entertainment expenses like toys for the kids, family activities, family trips etc. On thing that I have found is that the extra effort put into looking for less expensive family activities really opens the world to you and you find some gems that allow you to spend great quality time without shelling out a lot of cash. My wife and I have also found that requiring our children to earn new toys (via chores and other such activities) and then requiring them to get rid of a toy before they can get a new one has taught them how to appreciate what they have more, learn the joy of giving to those that do not have (giving their old toys to needy people), and be less materialistic. What do you think?

    Allen Fletcher

  35. I never had cable. I got rid of the TV in January. I ride my bike for free exercise. I stopped buying junk food (your health is important). I and my son get our movies from the library and sometimes go to the Redbox. I take my lunch to work (tastes better than Cheetos and more healthy). I buy books from the library ( for about 40 cents). I sometimes bike to work. There are many ways to save money! Thanks for a great article.

Leave A Reply

Pair a profile with your post!

Create a Free Account


Log In Here