Cheap Luxuries


    by Dr. Penny Pincher


    I may not be a billionaire, but I have just as many hours in my day as Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. The key to enjoying cheap luxuries is to find things and experiences that you can achieve using your time and knowledge instead of money.




    Here in Iowa, and in many other places, you can get fresh sweet corn in late summer. Sure, you can find it in the produce section of grocery stores, but to get the really good stuff, you need to get it fresh from the field. I buy mine from a local farmer who sells it under a tent at his house for $5.50 per dozen. Really fresh sweet corn is a good example of a cheap luxury.


    Another cheap food luxury is farm fresh eggs. I used to raise my own chickens and got fresh eggs every day. Fresh eggs have so much more flavor than eggs that have been refrigerated for weeks. If you don't have a place to raise your own chickens, you can get fresh eggs at a farmers' market for about $3 per dozen.


    Every morning, I grind whole coffee beans just before brewing and use filtered water to make great coffee at home for 60 cents for a 16 oz mug. It may be quicker and easier to buy coffee at a coffee shop, but you can make better coffee at home and save money too.




    One of my favorite activities is walk or ride my bike on nature trails. I have seen all kinds of animals, including deer, rabbits, beavers, turtles, geese, hawks and even bald eagles. I consider spending time in nature as a luxury because it takes effort to get out into nature and enjoy it. I am almost always the only person around. Spending time in nature seems to be a rare luxury, but one that I can afford.


    Going to an orchard to pick fruit combines a fun activity and a great food experience. October is the best month to go to an apple orchard in most areas. The orchard in my area has free tasting. As you walk around, you can pick any variety of apple you want from the trees and try. You can buy some of your favorites to take home with you.


    Reading a book is a luxury for most people. The average adult hardcover book sells for over $25 at the bookstore. But you can get new release books at the library for free, although sometimes you'll have to wait for really popular titles. Used books are inexpensive at thrift shops or used bookstores. I often see hardcover books selling for $2, but these may be a few years old. If you can get a book that you are interested in reading for nearly free, time is the only thing standing between you and this cheap luxury.




    Free time is one of the great cheap luxuries. You can always make more money, but you can't get time back. It's hard to beat having some unscheduled time to do whatever you want, and this doesn't cost anything other than a bit of planning. What would you do with a bunch of free time at home? I like to work in my shop, take care of my garden, do small landscaping projects, and work on my blog.


    Empty space is one of my favorite cheap luxuries. Most people seem to have stuff that fills all of their space. Having some empty space feels great and gives you room to work on projects that come up and move around easily. The cost of gaining empty space is spending time to declutter and organize your things to free up space.


    Doing things for yourself instead of buying something or paying someone else to do work for you can be a luxury. Washing and waxing a car by hand is a good example of this. It is quick and easy to take a car to a drive-through car wash, but you can do a much better job washing it and hand waxing it yourself at home, and it will probably cost less, too.


    Finding Cheap Luxuries


    You probably won't find cheap luxury in a store. There is not much money to be made from selling cheap luxuries since the main cost is time, effort, and knowledge, not money. People often find cheap luxury out of necessity. It is easy to spend money and get luxurious things, but it takes more work to find great things and experiences that don't cost much money. What are your cheap luxuries?




    Dr. Penny Pincher founded Penny Pincher Journal in 2013 to share tips on spending less money and has written two books on saving money every day.


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