Things You Irrationally *HATE* to Spend Money On

by Mr. Cheap

Three years ago Ramit Sethi wrote a post that made me laugh and think of my parents (it also looks like it might have subconsciously been influencing my post last week).  In it he talks about how his parents are very generous with him, but they (and, according to Ramit, all Indians) HATE to pay for dry cleaning or shipping.  He claims that reluctance to spend on dry cleaning somewhat makes sense to him (same clothes, just cleaner), but he can’t understand the shipping reluctance.  To me it’s very similar (it’s the same object, it’s just in a different location).

It made me laugh because my parents live in fear of long distance phone calls and taxicabs.  When I was a kid a couple of times I wanted to order something or call somewhere long distance, and my mother made a *HUGE* deal of it saying I could make the call, but when the bill came in, I was responsible for the charges!!!  I made the call and ended up paying $0.63 or something.  Whee.  The only way I can make sense of their fear is that long distance cost FAR more when they were growing up (and maybe they haven’t internalized that it’s actually pretty cheap now).  I’m not sure what the problem is with taxis (sure public transit is cheaper and should be taken if possible, but it isn’t the end of the world to take a cab a few times a year).

My mother was once going to visit my brother when he was in England, and it happened that it was quite tough to get where he was living.  He gave her directions which involved flying to Heathrow, taking mass transit into the city, then taking a taxi to avoid a 50 minute walk to get to his place.  My mom said she’d just walk the last leg.  With her luggage.  After having just been traveling for well over 10 hours.

I suspect we all have a couple of things that it really bugs us to pay for.  There are a number of things that it kills me to pay for, but the biggest are probably:

Easily Prepared Foods at Restaurants

I find it VERY hard to order steak or lobster at a restaurant.  Not because of the price (I’ll have expensive meals out on occasion), but just because you pay such a premium and they’re *SO* easy to make at home!  It doesn’t take much to grill a steak to perfection, and the hardest part of cooking a lobster is not feeling guilty when you pop him in the boiling water.

It kills me to buy booze in a restaurant too: I can open a bottle of beer at home for half the price, thanks.

I *LOVE* getting Pad Thai, eggs Benedict, butter chicken and other, more difficult to make, dishes at restaurants.  If I can easily make it for myself at home, I’ll do so.

The flip side of this is, if a steak is what you feel like, get it.  If you’ll enjoy having a beer with your meal, who cares if it costs more than at home (your goal when enjoying a nice meal out should be to enjoy it, dammit!)

Expensive Rentals

In many ways renting a DVD is an incredibly cheap way to spend a night with friends:  for $5 you sit around in someone’s living room and watch a movie (compared to $12 per person to go out to the theater).  When you can BUY DVDs for less than $20, it kills me to give Blockbuster 1/4 of the price to borrow it for a day (as crazy as it is, I’d almost rather buy it and just watch it once, then give it to a friend).  I keep waiting for the $1 / day DVD rental kiosks to take off.

Intellectual Property

It’s bizarre, since almost any way I’d make money involves intellectual property or selling information (programming, publishing, teaching, etc) but I find it really hard to place a value on non-tangible goods.  What I’ve read suggests I’m not alone.  From music to television to movies to books to software it really kills me to pay for content when there’s an alternative way (such as lending libraries or black markets) to get it free (or so cheap that it’s next to free).

What do you find it (irrationally) hard to spend money on?

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Four Pillars

I like ordering steak because I rarely grill it to perfection – far from it! 🙂

I try to order things that I would normally eat at home – duck, venison etc.

2 Mr. Cheap

Mike: You guys normally eat duck and venison at home? I need to come over more often!

3 Balance Junkie

I agree with you on the restaurant and booze issue. Why would I pay $35 for a bottle of wine that I can enjoy in the comfort of my own home for $15? Likewise, we enjoy fine italian dining, but I would never order a simple dish with pasta and tomatoes or tomato sauce. I can make it very quickly (and cheaply) at home.

I hear you on the rental thing too. It’s especially cost effective to buy the DVD if you have young children, as they tend to love to watch their favourites over and over.

I hate spending money on T.V. too. My cable bill irritates me monthly. Although I’m not sure whether that’s irrational or not. 😉

4 Chris

The first thing that came to mind, for some reason, was ice cream. Only once-in-a-blue-moon do I feel good about paying $5 or more on an ice cream cone or some other form or frozen dessert when it costs the same for 10 times more of the product at the grocery store. And don’t get me started on concession stand prices at ticketed events.

There are about a million other things, though!

5 guinness416

Now picturing the average 4pillars family meal involving him sitting on a throne and knocking back jugs of wine while being served big cuts of venison.

My husband is an extremely accomplished cook and while this works out very well for me and my ever-increasing waistline, after leaving a restaurant he almost always whines that he could have cooked the meal better/more cheaply/more healthily – probably true but drives me mad!

I really hate paying for “extras” when travelling, which is silly as it’s peanuts compared to what I spend on flights and fun – valets, food/drinks on planes, any extras at hotels and so on. I’ve gone hungry for hours rather than buy breakfast at a hotel or a sandwich on a plane.

6 Four Pillars

Sorry, I meant stuff I “wouldn’t” normally eat at home… 🙂

7 Mr. Cheap

$0.02: Yes, kids DEFINITELY get their money’s worth out of DVDs (when I was growing little sisters of some friends would watch a Disney movie EVERY DAY after school).

On the other hand, I watched 2012 the other day and couldn’t see myself ever watching that again (and would feel guilty inflicting it on someone else).

Chris: Yes, Ice Cream is another pricey one! I someone like that it’s expensive (it helps me eat less), but a cone is CRAZY expensive compared to a tub of ice cream at the grocery store.

Guinness416: That’s what I was imagining too! Mike’s daughter’s first words will be “Your duck m’lord!” 😉

Mike: You should consider Guinness’ suggestions and get a throne in a padded room! ;-P

8 Tom @ Canadian Finance Blog

Yeah right Mike, don’t try to cover it up now… we all know you have kitchen staff ready to serve you whatever you’d like at any time of day.

9 Four Pillars

FYI – for anyone who wants to invite me over for dinner, I prefer to see the animal slaughtered in front of me so I know it’s fresh. A short ritual should be performed as well.

10 Mrs Pillars

Mr C: She’d be more likely to say, “Your gucky, Daddy.”

11 Mr. Cheap

Mrs. P: lol 🙂

12 jesse

– Rent movies from the library for free. (On a related note, Blockbuster is close to bankruptcy.)
– Europeans pay no more for alcohol than they do for pop. Your irrationality is not irrational at all. Write your MLA/MPP if you want it changed.

13 gailc

Having dinner out with friends at an Indian restaurant , they were amazed that I’d never had butter chicken. I googled it later and found several recipes and attempted it one nite.
It is now in my ” SO” easy to make favourite recipe collection. Yummy, fast & definetly cheaper to make than the $ 17.00 / 5 0z. portion ( a small soup bowl size) at the restaurant. Bon Apetit !

14 Dana

I hate paying service charges at the bank. The fees are ridiculous!

I also cringe when I see all the *addtional* charges and fees on our utility bills – debt retirement, distribution fees, etc. There’s nothing I can do about them, but I still hate them.

I hate the constant demands for money from our kids school. They are constantly fundraising, selling something, asking for sponsorhips or charging for ‘supplies’ . I would rather write them one cheque at the beginning of the school year and be done with it.

15 AnnieA

Paid parking is also a bugaboo.

16 Mrs Pillars

I usually have a guilty conscience about using a cab, but I do it once in a blue moon anyway.
One of my reasons for learning to cook was to be able to make some of those delicious meals at home that I had had at restaurants. But going out for dinner is a nice treat now and then. We usually pick somewhere interesting to go.
The library is a great resource.

17 Mr. Cheap

gailc: Do you make it from scratch or with a purchased sauce?

Dana: I’m with you on all of those!

AnnieA: I don’t mind paying for parking so much (I don’t have to do it very often – usually I’m just happy to find somewhere to leave the car: especially in downtown Toronto).

Mrs. P: Yeah, eating out is something I do (far too often) with a clean conscience.

18 Manjula

Landscaping: I know it’s not a must-have, but why is it so so expensive?.

Expensive Indian Food: Once you’ve had it all your life and have eaten at enough rough looking family joints that serve amazing indian food for so little, you can’t understand how a small dish of aloo gobi is $15.

btw, Mike, butter chicken is pretty easy – they even have those Patak sauces at any grocery store than you can use to speed up the whole process. Give it a shot,

Manj

19 Mr. Cheap

Manj: I’ve made it with those sauces you buy (have one in my cupboard right now), but I always assumed that was cheating and REAL butter chicken is made some more complex way…

20 Potato

I hate spending money on taxis, but I can’t say it’s really all that irrational: they are actively trying to kill me at every turn. I don’t understand how they’re still on the road when they try so very hard to murder pedestrians and cyclists, who are of course their main year round and winter customers, respectively.

Although I hate it, I at least understand their rage towards other drivers and their cars, who compete with them for roadspace and transportation.

21 Outtahere

I HATE paying for cabletv (but Hubby just HAS to watch Hockey) , late fees, bank fees, newspaper subscriptions (the internet has all the news) school fees that seem constant (just let me pay ONCE in the beginning of the year!)…anything that costs more if someone else does it… I LOVED having someone clean my house, but then I got cheap and figured that extra $200 a month should go towards paying down the mortgage (but now i spend one whole day each weekend cleaning!!! I guess i am pretty cheap.

22 Car Negotiation Coach

I hate having to pay $30/mo in data charges for my iphone. I love the thing as an mp3 player and cell phone, but don’t really use it for much else….but you can’t get the phone without the plan!

I’m also not a fan that Verizon (and probably the other guys too) charge $2 more per movie on demand just to watch it in HD. How ridiculous is that? Of course, i won’t watch the normal version because that would just be silly.

23 Phi

I hate paying for shipping, dry cleaning, bank fees, cable, cellphones, long distance… I especially hate paying premium for things I feel I could do/make better myself (photo touch ups, gift wrapping, housecleaning, coffee).

However, I don’t mind paying for the newspaper at the door every morning. I like getting the local flyers and having something tangible to read. Mostly I like being the sort of person that subscribes to the newspaper (at 25).

I also don’t mind renting movies for 1/4 the price of purchase. Besides the fact that I almost never watch movies more than once, if I rent it I don’t have to deal with where to store the case forever after. I hate storing things indefinitely. It always feel like a hidden cost of ownership.

24 Future Money-Bags

I love eating out, but I always try something I haven’t had; Thus enabling me to make it myself at home! The problem is convincing my lovely lady that its more fun and practical to make the food ourselves.
But than there is always the convenience factor and special occasions.

I rarely take cabs, rather bus or drive.
I don’t rent movies.
I don’t pay late fees, I make sure I am always ontime.
I don’t pay credit card fees, free CC’s are the way to go, I don’t need ‘Platinum’!
I wait for gas to go down .03/litre before buying, than I only fill up halfway incase it goes down .03/l more.. 😀
hate paying near $20 to get a simple haircut that I could do myself, but I figure its one of those things that is worth it as I need to look semi-professional.
I don’t buy new electronics unless old one stops working.
I don’t get warranties unless I know it will break.
I don’t order online unless I get free shipping. (5 days longer? sounds fine to me)
I don’t goto starbucks, unless I’m pressured into it 🙁
I rather buy sorbet icecream from grocer, than spend $5 for 1 scoop.
I hate monthly subscriptions, and I don’t have any unless it benefits me longterm.

I do love saving money though, can you tell?

Ps. I have never had lobster, I will cook it myself instead of spending the $40-60.

25 Brandon

Ironic how at the bottom of your post you have ads for intellectual property / things people can do on their own…

26 Ben

Wow, it’s the middle of April and no one has mentioned taxes yet…

27 Amber

Totally agree on the restaurant & booze. Can’t *stand* trying to work up a buzz from $6 beers when I could do it for 1/4 the price at home. For food, Italian is my least favorite to spend money on, and soups of all kinds. Italian, especially low-quality, “family style” is the same stuff I could make myself at home, if I loaded it with cheese and gave myself a 5-person portion. Soup is always made from scraps of other things and is *never* worth what they charge for it. I make exceptions for soup like lobster bisque or french onion.

28 Soph

I hate paying full price for tickets to events. Cirque du Soleil is awesome! I just can’t justify spending $190/ticket, especially when I hear from someone, usually a stranger, that they got a killer deal on the same tickets. I hate paying ridiculous amounts on plane tickets too. I usually get lucky and pay very little, but I also dedicate a lot of time to finding that deal. I can’t justify paying for a hair cut- but then I remember how bad my hair looks without it. I typically try to cut it myself, go to a beauty college and take my chances, or wear my hair up; I go six months between hair cuts. I agree with a lot of people’s comments here, but isn’t it an important point that we can’t always be perfect and sometimes… you pay for that (fill in the blank) anyways? I know I do. I also think I have too many irrational things I hate to spend money on than I can possibly list or admit to myself!

29 Liz

$1/day rental kiosks have taken off. There about 10 different redbox locations within 5 miles of my home. You can also get a Netflix subscription for $8.00/month and get al least 2 movies per week delivered to your mailbox…and you can stream as many as you want onto your tv as well.

I hate ticketmaster fees. the taxes and surcharges on phone bill, internet bill, energy bill etc.

30 Four Pillars

Amber, I love your blog name. 🙂

31 scottiep

1. I hate paying for bottled water (when there is no alternative – or public places without fountains).
2. cable tv – the networks get paid billions for advertisements – they should be paying cable companies to brainwash our children not the other way around
3. “student association fee’s” – i am a part-time student but I am paying for a tonne of services i never use, and support a bunch of student groups I don’t agree with.
4. Coffee at a breakfast restaurant. Everyone drinks coffee with breakfast, how dare you charge me $10 for eggs and toast and then extra for some foldgers-like instant coffee.
5. ANY sort of “system access fee’s” (also known as gravy revenue for providers)

It could be worse… I must have spent 20 euros last time I was in Paris just to use the restrooms at restaurants and cafe’s. How can you serve people food/drink and then charge them to use the bathroom? isn’t that like extortion!?! 😉

32 Chase Saunders

Car Negotiation Guy, why don’t you just get an iPod touch. I think it runs most of the same apps, and no data plan. Better, you can probably find someone to pay you for the trade on craigslist

33 AKA

I don’t know about irrational hates, but I quite rationally HATE paying an NSF charge when someone writes me a cheque and it bounces after depositing it in my account. Why am I penalized for someone else’s irresponsibility? On the other side of the coin, I have no problem paying NSF fees if I don’t have the money in the right account at the right time, it is my fault after all.

And paying for parking at a hotel. Grrrr. I’m already paying for the room, I’m obviously from out of town, and I had to get there somehow. But of course, if I didn’t have a car to park there, I wouldn’t want a higher room rate which hides an inclusive fee for their parkade. Hm. I guess it’s not that bad after all.

34 serpent

Get a position with the provincial gov’t. I submit my restaurant, taxi (w. tip ), and a portion of my entertainment and long distance calls from work. No questions. Sweet deal.

35 Isabel of Montreal

Hotel room fees PLUS all the “services and taxes”. It’s just space! Anything I can get on sale/at a discount (hello, Priceline), I hate paying full price for. A typical example is clothes (hello, Winners).
Sales tax is QC is a killer. Worse than that, though: tipping on the total with taxes. It’s just too ridiculous. I actually prefer to give a 20% tip, but on the total before taxes.

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