Delay ‘n’ Save

by Lindy on January 4, 2012

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A few months back, blogger FB from Fabulously Broke in the City wrote a little post about cutting back vs. cutting out.

The premise is simple. Instead of eliminating things from our budget completely, why not just delay them?

This concept sits quite well with me because it’s one of my favorite ways to save.

Here are some of the things I delay regularly.

Delays Possible

Haircuts. Over the past few years I’ve managed to average two haircuts per year. Each time I go I have my stylist cut my hair to just below my chin. And because she’s the best stylist in the world and she knows I’m lax about attending on a regular basis, she gives me a cut that will grow out well. Then six months later I return with my long, flowing hair, and she cuts it short again.

As an added bonus I get extra compliments on my new do because it’s a drastic change each time.

Note: this method also works for kids’ haircuts.

Car Washes. Dare I say I only get car washes twice a year too?  Or maybe three. Either way it’s less than I can count on one hand. I don’t live in a town where there’s snow or salt, so it’s not required for maintenance. And many times the rain from one storm washes off the dust from the last one, so it all works out in the end.

Sure, I can’t let anyone ride in my car out of extreme embarrassment at times. And when the interior filth reaches that tipping point where I start to feel like less of a human being riding around in it, that’s when I take it in to get scrubbed.

Buying new bath towels. We’re still using the ones that were given to us as a wedding present eight years ago. They’re terribly frayed and not so fluffy-soft anymore. But they still dry our derrieres.

Grocery shopping. Sometimes this works. Like when you get back from vacation and don’t have time to go to the store before the busy week starts. It can be fun to scour the cupboards and see what semi-nutritious meals you can come up with in a pinch.

However, this method can also work against you if your less frugal husband is in charge of lunches. He may use it as an excuse to go out for pizza every day. Not saying this happened in my family or anything.

Home updates. We ate our meals on a borrowed folding table for almost a year after we first moved into our house. It took that long before we found a table we liked and could afford. We’ve slowly replaced old ugly light fixtures and old ugly door handles as budget has permitted.

Buying new clothes. Okay, this is one I’ve maybe taken too far in the past. I recently started NOT delaying clothes purchases so much. I grew tired of the emotional beatings I took every morning after staring at my dearth of a wardrobe (read more about that here).

Buying a new car. I’m driving my near-hooptie as long as I can.

Cosmetic car repairs. While we’re on the topic of cars, cosmetic repairs are another thing I put off. I could go to the auto store and buy some new pistons to keep my back hatch up. Or I could not.

Upgrading technology. I rocked the iPhone 1G until it fell off my lap and cracked. It served our family well for four years.

Looking back on this list, I fear I come across as being a little ghetto.

I promise I don’t delay bathing.

What do you delay to save money?

(photo by didbygraham)

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  • Laziness for the win!

    I delay all of the above and more.

    • Lindy

      Yes, laziness does have its benefits.

  • I don’t know that I delay anything with the specific purpose of saving money, it just works out that way! I’m terribly lazy and some things–like washing the car–are just a pain that I’d rather put off until absolutely necessary.

    • Lindy

      The funny thing is, I wasn’t even thinking of the laziness factor of all of these things. I think a lot of my motivation is cheapskatery, but even if I had all the money in the world, I probably wouldn’t stay on top of this list. So maybe it’s a combination of both. Either way, yay for dirty cars and happy wallets!

  • I feel like I could have written this post! I’m the worst about getting my hair cut.

    We had high hopes of our old car running forever, dings and all, but it didn’t so now we have a car payment and dreams of this car running forever. We’ll see. In the meantime, it needs a wash . . . .

    • Lindy

      Well now you have an excuse for not getting that hair cut so often. ;)

  • In my 20’s I would spend $100 for a cut and color every 3 months. Now I use over-the-counter color for $2.99/box and don’t even bother with a cut. I kid you not. I have Mike cut my hair short (about an inch off the nape of my neck) and let it grow. Occasionally I’ll take a pair of scissors and cut a rough curl off but pretty much I let it grow out for two years and then he cuts it back. In my defense you can hide a lot in curly hair :) (but probably not as much as I think).

    • Lindy

      I agree, you can get away with a lot when you have curly hair. Mike does a pretty good job!

    • Skrpune

      ditto on getting away with more with curly hair – for the last 13-15 years, I only cut my hair about every two years. Once I’m sick of it and it’s too much work to take care of, I lop it off in one fell swoop & donate it. I do periodically clip off a dead end here or there, but all in all, taking good care of my hair means I don’t need much in the way of trims.

      Given that I’m not a spring chicken anymore, I’m considering making the next big cut my last…not sure how much longer I can rock the long hair, I’m getting more grays every day, and there are only a couple hair donation places that take donations with stray grays. Once I stop the hair donations, I’ll have to find some room in the budget for regular hair cuts! ;)

    • Tracy

      I only color my hair when we win the free box of color. Thankfully my gray is coming in very very slowly

    • Lindy

      That’s a good way to do it. I’m very thankful I don’t have to color my hair yet. That opens up a whole different hair ballgame.

  • Great tips lindy! One of the things i delayed the longest was new glasses. I didnt wear the old ones very often, and so I put those on hold for almost 2 years. Finally, it got so bad I just got new ones – as for haircuts, i get 4 per year, but i’m sure the $15 that I spend for each one is less than what you spend. Delaying tech is also a fav of mine – I still have a 1st gen macbook and a 2nd gen ipod nano from 06! I self upgraded the ram and the OS recently, so it feels like a new machine. I did the same with my phone.

    • It’s amazing how long tech can last if you’re willing to do a little upgrading and repair and you don’t feel the need to have the newest and the shiniest. I get a Kindle 2 in early 2009; last month the battery refused to hold a charge and I was afraid I was going to have to replace it. Instead, I overcame my fear of messing with the insides of things, bought a battery replacement kit, and within just a few minutes had resurrected it! At this point, I have no desire to replace it, and in fact really can’t imagine a feature they could add to new generation that would make me want to replace it.

    • Lindy

      Glasses are another good one, Jeff. What’s a little blindness when you can save so much money by waiting?

  • I delay all of those. Working from home lets one get away with a plethora of haircut and wardrobe sins. I’m going to have to get decent work clothes and regular haircuts by this fall, though – I’m going to be student teaching and have to look responsible. (Not just be responsible.)

    Your mentioning the back hatch pistons brought back a lot of memories: For the first 10 years of our marriage, my wife and I drove a Geo Metro. Somewhere around year 6, the back hatch pistons gave out entirely. We figured “no point in replacing them – the car won’t last too much longer,” so we put a piece of wood in the back to hold the back hatch up and kept on going. If we had known we’d end up using that piece of wood for the next 4 years, we might have felt a little different about replacing the pistons!

    • Lindy

      Wow. See? A piece of wood saves the day (for four years straight)! I’m loving these stories.

  • I delay all of these. Actually, I never get my car washed. My oil change includes a car wash, so one wash every three months is just the way I roll.

    • Lindy

      Tricky, tricky. I like it.

  • I rarely get my car washed too! With a dog though, it can get pretty dirty.

    I was also just thinking how often I need to get new towels. Ours are only 2 years old so Still got a ways to go, I guess!

    • Lindy

      Two kids can get a car equally dirty. And yes, enjoy the softness of those towels while they last. ;)

  • Nadine

    If you live in an area where they sand and salt the roads a lot at this time of year, it’s in your best interest to wash your car regularly, particularly the wheels and undercarriage. I learned the hard way that leaving it go in the winter can cost you big in car repairs. My car is only a 2008 and I had to replace the brakes last summer because the rust made it impossible to grind the existing ones. Conditions can make the salt act like a glue with the sand. To keep the cost low, I use the local self wash.

    • Lindy

      Ouch! That salt can be a killer. The self-wash is a good alternative when laziness is not an option. Thanks for sharing!

  • This is great! I hardly ever wash my car, it’s pretty disgusting right now.

    • Lindy

      It sounds like there’s a lot of dirty cars driving around here. I’m glad I’m not alone in this one.

  • I delay all that stuff too. I go to a very expensive hair dresser because she is the only one I’ve ever found who believes me that I need something that will grow out nicely. She even does the color so it will grow out well. She rocks!

    I try to delay pretty much everything. I like my money with me, not out traveling around!

    • Lindy

      Oooh, that’s a talented stylist who can do color that grows out well.

  • I like this idea a lot and I agree with the 1st comment, this is where been lazy and slack and actually pay off! Take advantage!

  • laura

    Dare I say clothes washing! I used to wear and then immediately wash everything, now I’m more selective….and still don’t smell…promise ;)

    • Lindy

      That’s a good one! I used to do that too before I had kids who wiped gooey things on me.

  • Serena

    Yep, all those things!

  • I also delay buying new underwear and bedsheets.

    I actually have holes in a couple pairs of knickers. *shameface*

    • Lindy

      Hehe. I was going to say underwear too. But I figured I had enough shameface for one post.

      Sheets are another thing we’re guilty of. We’re currently using two top sheets as our back up set, and even one of those has a giant hole. It’s sort of pathetic.

  • Thanks for the link!

    I do one pedicure a year, mostly when my feet get really bad and I can’t save them..

    Haircuts are another major one.

    • Lindy

      I love pedicures. I only have them when they are gifted to me, which works out to once a year too.

  • I’m the worst when it comes to delaying haircuts–my hairdresser always laughs when I “finally” walk through the door. I also delay most of what you’ve mentioned here, and I don’t really mind doing so!

    • Lindy

      Mine always says subtle things like, “don’t be a stranger!” It cracks me up.

  • Finally! I knew there had to be a benefit for my laziness! I’ve never washed any of my cars (*blush*). That’s what I thought rain was for?! Plus I also put off grocery shopping do we are forced to eat what’s in the house first.

    • Lindy

      Dirty cars for the win!!!

  • Like you do, I delay grocery shopping sometimes to force myself to eat what I have already (even if I don’t enjoy it that much!) Other than that, I do a lot of things similar to what you do, too.

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  • I hardly ever go through the car wash, although I have deal with my brother that he washes my car every sunday in the summer if he wants to borrow it.

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  • Mila

    I never delay doing exercise in the morning and never delay taking an afternoon nap on the weekends :)
    This actually makes me delay going shopping and has pretty much eliminated my old impulse buying/retail therapy habit. I just started thinking that I work quite hard during the week and deserve to catch up on some sleep as well as look after my body. Why should I drag myself all the way out to the mall to tire myself out even more?

    I also limit myself to 1 get-together with friends per weekend. I either meet up with them for Saturday brunch or dinner, but then relax at home all day on Sunday and skip Friday night drinks. If people want to see more of me, I tell them to come visit me at home. I think a lot of people tend to overfill their schedules and don’t really look after their bodies enough.

    • Lindy

      See, “not delaying” saves money too. :)

      I agree, looking after your health is a very good thing to do. I tend to favor time at home over social activities as well.

  • Delaying is something I have practiced since we moved to Denver. Last year around this time we packed whatever we could fit into the back of our Chevy Cobalts and drove 2000 miles away from MA to Colorado. I worked on getting a job while my bf started his. I looked all over Denver Metro for an aparment we could afford on his salary and I finally found one. A 425 sq ft studio for only a little over 500 in rent each month. It was in a great neighborhood for the price and allowed his dog. I soon got a well paying job and starting paying off the debt I racked up while unemployed.
    Heres were the delay comes in. When we lived in our last apartment back home we bought a couch for our apartment. The purchase has still not been paid off my credit card and the couch is no longer with us. Its sitting in my parents living room. When we moved into the tiny aparment here, my bfs brother offered to buy us a queen size bed. Knowing that we had no furnture and that we do not both fit on a queen size bed we opted instead for a futon. Also we didnt want our studio to be empty save for a bed in the middle of it.
    We slept on the floor for two weeks while we waited for the futon came in. For the next 5 months that futon was our couch, our bed and where we ate our dinner. Then Denver got an IKEA and we were finally able to buy a King Size bed that could accomodate us. We bought a bed, a table, a tv and stand and the futon became our couch. And we dont owe a single dime on any of it. It feels pretty amazing. And now I am slowly working on paying the couch off. :(
    Also since I am a temp I know I wont have my nice salary anymore I have been couponing as well in order to stock up the house with costly items so I dont have to get them while unemployed.

  • We do the same thing, delay a lot of things until the last minute. This is mostly with items that we don’t necessary have to have, but will need to replace. I’m not a fan of haircut as it is more stressful and too many decisions at once, so I delay and maybe have 1 or 2 times a year. I also put off car washes and lucky to have a couple a year. These things I don’t see as absolutes so I delay.

    I think actually delaying going to the store for groceries and picking up the basics to last us through the week at the local Braums actually helps us save a lot of money. Also my husband is the grocery shopper and we save a TON I know with him going, even though I’m the spend thrift. I will get caught up and “think” I need to get something b/c it’s such a good deal, but even free isn’t a good deal if you don’t need it.

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  • While reading this kind of post I imagine my self delay a lot of things until the last minute. This is absolutely right.

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