Frugal Living 

Don’t Develop Expensive Tastes

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The summer after my sophomore year, which was back in 2000, I started working at a startup in New York City on 50 Broadway, spitting distance to Wall Street. The startup, now defunct, was called Webmind (after changing from a much cooler sounding Intelligenesis), and it had all the amenities of startups of that period. You had your classic IKEA furniture everywhere and you had your fridge stocked full of sodas, water, and all manner of non-alcoholic beverages. In the beginning, I’d pound about three or four sodas during the course of the day and soon decided that I’d probably want to wean myself off the little fizzy delights. So I switched to some Poland Spring bottled water and felt all was good. Then one weekend I went home and had some water out of the water dispenser on my parent’s refrigerator and it tasted like crap. It tasted a little like metal, some bitterness, but not the “clean” feel of the Poland Spring. That’s when I realized that I had inadvertently developed a taste for bottled water.

Being a college student, I quickly lost that expensive taste for bottled water whenever I returned to school because there was no way a kid in college was spending their money on bottled water. I went back to regular tap water and soon lost, thankfully, the ability to taste the metal and other crap in my parent’s refrigerator filtered water.

The moral is that you should avoid developing expensive tastes because eventually those expensive treats will become the norm and you may find yourself spending more on things that aren’t as important.

{ 13 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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13 Responses to “Don’t Develop Expensive Tastes”

  1. alex says:

    Do you have any reccomendations for the situation where you don’t have expensive tastes, but your spouse or significant other does?

    BTW: I drink bottled water and its pretty frugal for me. $5 for 36 bottles of water saves me countless money that might have been spent on juice or soda, and having it in bottled form allows me to drink it as my drink for the meal whereas in a cup doesn’t psychologically satisfy me.

  2. Dennis says:

    What I wonder about is the kids who grow up in households that developed expensive tastes. It must be hard to break that habit when you’re an adult…

  3. Elena says:

    I think the moral of that story is that anyone should be able to afford a simple water filter. The thought of intentionally putting the chemi junk they treat the water with into my body would be too disgusting to me. Bottled water is a filtered water that cost alot. Save the plastic waste + the money, filter yourself, and enjoy your good taste.

  4. rocketc says:

    I used to be able to drink any kind of coffee from literally anywhere. I purchased a 25 cent cup from our local gas station almost every day and liked it. When I got married, my wife introduced me to Starbucks, Caribou, et al. I will never be the same.

  5. Steve says:

    Good Post. The same thing happened to me with beer after I got out of college and started buying higher quality brews. Now cheap beer just doesn’t cut it.

    On a related note. If you are buying a house always buy a little bit under what your potential price range would be. Typically your house drives your lifestyle and if you buy one you can easily afford it will be easier to stay out of debt because you won’t be stretching to maintain the payments on the house and stretching to keep up with the lifestyle of your neighbors.

  6. WH says:

    A little off topic from your other comments, but…

    It’s noteworthy that tap water also contains fluoride, which helps prevent cavities. I found this out when I left NYC for school and developed – for the first time in 18 years – a bottled water habit & the cavities to go with it. NYC water comes from the Catskills…you’d have to check on fluoride levels in water in other states, but let me just say that, since returning to NYC & tap water, my dentist bills have gone way down!

  7. Tell me about it.

    I may actually have to do my own post about this, but living on my own on an entry-level salary is definitely more than a few steps down from the lifestyle I’d gotten used to as my parents’ dependent. I eat out far less, I see fewer movies in the theater and much less live entertainment, I never get pedicures and rarely take taxis…that kind of thing. I have mixed feelings about it–sometimes I just really want things I can’t afford and get cranky about it, and other times I’m perfectly happy to revise my lifestyle and enjoy the fact that I’m supporting myself.

    Truthfully, I haven’t found it that difficult to change my behavior–no matter how much I want sushi, if I can’t afford it, I can’t buy it. Period. But that doesn’t mean I stop wanting it, and it’s not so much fun to go around wanting things you can’t have.

  8. Tell me about it. Our income should afford a us a much nicer lifestyle, but we’re too busy trying to catch up to our peers in retirement savings so we can’t enjoy life as much. arrgh.

    And not buying nice stuff? Trust me DH and I never look at cars because we’re driving our first and only cars still into the ground. My it would be lovely to afford something somewhat nicer, even a used nicer car. It can’t be done though.

  9. Miller says:

    “Ignorance is bliss”

  10. My job gives me free lunch and dinner every day from a catered restaurant as well as all you can snacks and soda (including Red Bull). It’s too late to not develop expensive tastes :(.

  11. Ed says:

    it is usually expensive taste of any kind that gets in the way of financial prosperity. Where I live, my generation, don’t survive on McDs. The current younger set, many will probably “die” if the go a week w/o McDs. (Here we can get a decent healthier meal for half a McD meal)

    Btw, even if you can afford bottled water, the used bottles are currently causing a massive environmental problem.


  12. chris says:

    Most things that are better, after a while feel normal, and you only get the better experience back, by experiencing the lesser experience again. This applies to sound equipement, food and cars, etc.

    Remember going out to an evening meal with a friend who dined regulary because of his type of work. I enjoyed the meal, because it wasn’t my usual experience, all he did was criticise it as it wasn’t as good as he had experienced at other places. His taste had become too up market to enjoy the more normal experiences!

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