Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The "Skip It" list

A few weeks ago, the bloggers at Young House Love put up a post called "Skip It" (complete with a video of the '80s toy by the same name). Basically, it's a list of all the things they save money on by just forgetting about them entirely. Their list included food and drink (bottled water, alcohol), cleaning supplies (dusting spray, fabric softener) and some grooming items (most hair products, manicures, lipstick, perfume). Then, at the end, they named a few things that they can choose not to skip thanks to the money they save this way: "project materials, organic produce, cable TV, and ceramic animals."

Reading through their list, my response was more or less, "Check...check...check" as I passed by item after item that we had chosen to skip as well. However, there were a few differences, so I thought I'd write up my own Skip It list here and note how it compares to theirs.
  • Food and drink: The Petersiks say they skip meat "three or four nights a week," which presumably means that they eat it on the other three or four nights. In our case, we eat meat more like three or four nights a month, but when we do, we eat only the free-range stuff. So for us, meat is both a skip and a splurge: we skip it most nights so that we can splurge on the humanely raised meats when we do indulge. Shari Petersik also skips Starbucks by making her chai at home from a mix, saving the Starbucks for "special occasions." I, however, prefer the Frappuccino to the chai, and I've never been able to make a reasonable facsimile of it at home, so I allow myself one per month as a special treat. (At 300 calories a pop, it's probably just as well that I don't indulge more often anyway.) Like the Petersiks, however, we skip bottled water in favor of a filter pitcher and reusable bottles, and we skip alcohol because neither of us cares for it much.
  • Home care: The Petersiks' list includes both fabric softener and dusting spray. I don't think we've ever used either of these, although I will confess that we tend to skip dusting altogether more often than we should. As for fabric softener, I've never understood what it's really for; isn't fabric soft enough already? We also skip most store-bought cleaning supplies in favor of a few staples (dish soap, vinegar, and baking soda), and we've skipped paper towels in favor of rags and dishcloths. And one item we've never bought or even owned is an "air freshener," which I consider a total misnomer. (Yech.) We also join the Petersiks in skipping incandescent light bulbs, but frankly, I consider that a substitution rather than a skip. I mean, it's not as if we're choosing to go without electric lighting altogether.
  • Media: Unlike the Petersiks, we skip anything beyond the most basic cable TV package (and the only reason we even have that is because the package deal was cheaper than phone and high-speed Internet alone). However, we join them in skipping the newspaper and getting most of our news online and from the radio. I don't currently pay for an online newspaper subscription, although I've thought about signing up for one just to support the struggling papers. But with the New York Times currently charging $5 a week and the Washington Post $2.50 a week, I'm not really convinced it's worth the money. I'd sooner go with a print subscription to the weekly Christian Science Monitor, which works out to only 83 cents a week
  • Grooming products: Like the Petersiks, we skip gel, hairspray, mousse, serum, and other hair products beyond simple shampoo and conditioner. I also join Shari in skipping perfume and all "creams and self tanners." However, while she skips lipstick (but does use bronzer, mascara, concealer, and eye shadow), I use lipstick (a $4 tube from Burt's Bees) for special occasions, concealer (a $1 tube from Wet 'n' Wild) as needed, and nothing else. And, unlike Shari, I skip contact lenses: I used to wear them, but they always got dry and uncomfortable by late afternoon, and Brian actually likes the way I look in my glasses. So now I kick it old school.
  • Services: We join the Petersiks in skipping dry cleaning by choosing clothes that are machine or hand washable (with the exception of one winter coat and Brian's good suit). I skip haircuts too, especially since I've never in my life gotten one I really liked—but unlike Shari, I've never gotten the hang of cutting my husband's hair, so he still goes to the barber a few times a year at $17 a pop. (And then I invariably complain that he made it too short.) I do join Shari in skipping manicures and pedicures, but unlike her, I don't bother polishing my nails at home, either. Just clean them, clip them, and call it good. The Petersiks do have one gym membership for John, but we skip them altogether; Brian gets his exercise by riding to work, and I take an hour-long walk every day, weather allowing. One other thing we skip that the Petersiks have is a cell phone plan. We do have one basic prepaid phone, but it's strictly for emergencies: we do not give out the number, period.
  • Transportation: Like the Petersiks, we've skipped the second car; with me working from home and Brian biking to work as often as possible, there really is no need for it (and fitting two cars into our driveway would be a tight squeeze, too). The Petersiks skip bag-checking fees when flying by only packing carry-ons; we tend to go all the way and skip flying altogether.
  • Kids: This is the biggest difference between our Skip It list and theirs. While the Petersiks skipped some baby-related expenses, like a diaper bag and disposable diapers, we have chosen to skip kids altogether—which means we skip a whole array of other expenses as well. This choice isn't for everyone, obviously, but for us it was the right one. And with nine (count 'em, nine) nieces and nephews, we'll never lack for a connection to the younger generation. We're comfortable with our roles of crazy aunt and uncle; Mom and Dad just wouldn't fit us.
So that's our Skip It list, or at least all of it that I can think of at the moment. How about yours? Do you skip some things that we keep, or keep things that we skip? And what kind of splurges do your skips allow you to enjoy?
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