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The $15 annual tax that supports my public library. I still spend about $100 a month buying books, but the library is great for discovering new authors and exploring topics I wouldn’t spend money on. They also sponsor a great lecture series.
My $50 monthly Community Supported Agriculture membership. Every Tuesday, I collect a big bag with 5-6 pounds of vegetables harvested that morning, usually including at least one that I’ve never eaten. Fun and healthy.
Soft pretzels from the local pretzel shop. Like 5 bucks for 20 of ’em and they freeze and reheat well – great football game snack that everyone seems to enjoy.
Though I haven’t had one in ages, a McDouble.
There is a Par 3 golf course close to where I live. Each Saturday morning, my friend Dave and I spend $10 each to play a round. I find it a great way to unwind from a week of work and Dave and I spend a leisurely two hours playing golf and discussing everything and anything while enjoying a good walk.
My cell phone bill – I get so much utility from my cell phone. Second is probably Netflix.
Postage stamps. Yes, I know the mail service is horrible these days but we pay about half what Europe pays. (not speaking to their quality of service, have no experience with that. Still, paying .45 to get a Birthday Card from New York to California is incredibly reasonable, even if it does take an inordinate amount of time these days.
Air conditioning and refrigeration. I think most Americans have no idea how 90% of the rest of the world without our electric generation and power grids live without cooling our homes and office and preserving food for storage. In countries like parts of India the power grid is often powered by imported diesel fuel and is unreliable. The whole food supply changes radically without frozen food.
A friend and mentor once remarked that the GPS Navigation system was the most successful government space program ever. It provides world wide navigation services seemingly for free. A few years ago my wife and I and some family were in Italy. We used Google Maps to navigate all around the hills, lanes, and mountain towns of Tuscany. It was amazingly accurate. GPS navigation has become a utility, like water and electric, and we count on it everyday.
Books. For $10 or $20 you’re getting hours of entertainment or education. A good book can be way more valuable than the dollars it costs!
Driving 10 miles or so to experience something fun – such as a free symphony at the university. I estimated it costs about 20 cents a mile to drive my 2008 Yaris. Can’t beat that! But even $15 for a couple beer at trivia with friends is worth it. Also, not everyday, but my indulgence is of course visiting the Brazilian Steakhouse which runs about $30 (after my coupon!) and going during the cheaper lunch time.
I’m a wine aficionado. The global stock of quality wine is enormous. You can find very drinkable wines for $10 or less, and terrific wines for not much more. I was in Tuscany in 2019 and spoke with a small producer of Chianti Classico. He told me they were lucky to make $1 per bottle on wines shipped to America.
My gym membership and my cup of home brewed coffee in the morning. About a $1 a day for both with my work discount for the gym membership. Stress reliever, relaxing, good for me and prime me for my day, they’re a bargain!
Gas at Costco. No only the price is lower than most gas stations, the 4% cashback on the Costco Citi card is a nice bonus. For that matter, we buy most food items from Costco because they seem to be great bargain too.
The Google Fi mobile plan is also a bargain. We were with AT&T and had a hefty corporate-discount. But given our usage pattern, Fi is not only a bargain, it’s a big convenience too for our overseas travel. I also got a free Moto X phone when I first subscribed in 2018. It was good enough for my purpose, but the charger came loose. I got a new Moto G Power last month for $50 (big discount on 2020 models). Not bad at all!
For those who are uber frugal like me, it’s also worth taking a look at the mobile plans offered by the company Mint Mobile. Their network coverage is not as good as Verizon’s since they piggyback off of T-Mobile’s network, but their plans are very aggressively priced. They don’t support international usage, however.
Electricity, by a mile. Literally. We said farewell to our last gas car in 2020. We refuel in the garage at 11.8 cents per kWh. On average, it costs us 3.1 cents to drive a mile or about $1 to drive 32 miles. Bonus: EVs are a hoot to drive, too.
Quality craft beer. Yes, it’s probably double the price of bland beer like Bud or Coors. But those brands have virtually no taste or quality. Neighborhood craft brewers can provide quality beer – and perhaps entertainment – at modestly higher prices.
A gallon of milk is less than $3.50.
$1.40 for a dozen eggs.
Gasoline. When I was 16 and learning to drive gas was ~$1.50. Then it was a significant percentage of my income. I filled up yesterday for $2.42 I don’t even track how much I spend on gas because it is not in my top 20 expenses.
Water and electricity. I make an effort to conserve as much as I can, but H2O and electrons are seriously cheap (at least where I live) considering their utility. At 10 cents per kilowatt hour, a 10 watt LED lightbulb costs only one penny to run for a full 10 hours. That’s absurdly affordable by historical standards.
Bananas, I believe, are a great bargain (plus they come in their own packaging and don’t need to be washed). Seltzer, soda and tonic water are also dirt cheap. I’m always pleasantly surprised when I go to the hardware store and have to buy, say, wall anchors or a box of nails. And while this isn’t an everyday purchase, I consider Kindle notebook computers to be a steal, especially compared to the price of an iPad.
Bananas for sure are a bargain, but you should wash before peeling.