I spent the majority of my early twenties living in an apartment with three dudes — and no other girls. I definitely don’t miss living with that many roommates, but I actually enjoyed being the only woman in our apartment. I’ve always mainly had girlfriends, so living with guys necessitated spending more time around them, which I ended up really appreciating for a number of reasons.
One of the main things I appreciate from that time? All of the things I figured out weren’t worth spending money on. Dudes aren’t inherently better with money or anything, of course, but living with a bunch of them at once gave me some perspective I personally wouldn’t have had otherwise. And while the guys definitely showed me a few better ways to stretch my dollar, there were also instances where I realized I had different spending priorities than they did. Here are the seven things I never spend money on anymore after living with all guys:
1. Tech products with “cuteness” as the main selling point
I’ve learned that it’s often more cost-effective to go more “utilitarian” with tech products. But that’s not because I don’t want tech items in cute, “girly” colors. They just often cost way more, and perform way worse.
I learned this the hard way with a pair of rose gold headphones. I hadn’t bothered to find unbiased customer reviews, and they crapped out after a few months. My techy roommate let me borrow his boring black pair, and they worked so much better…and I found out they were $30 cheaper than what I’d shelled out for my cute pair. I now know to read as many testimonials as I can when it comes to purchasing an electronic.
2. Cheap, purely utilitarian home items
One thing I noticed about living with all guys was how much they seemed to not really care about their “everyday” belongings. They had a few special items they really took care of, but their armchairs would always be covered with dirty clothes, their shelves were always dusty, they didn’t take care of their dishes or cutlery.
I realized that a big part of this was because they often just went with the cheapest item possible and never felt like these items were really “theirs,” even though they were. They often ended up damaging or breaking things, or wearing them out quickly, as a result of their lack of care. I resolved to always make sure my everyday items were ones that I actually cared about and wanted to take care of. I may spend a little more up-front, but I am motivated to care for my things when they feel like a true part of my home.
3. Jeans that last less than a year
Now, while my dude roommates never invested in home items, one of them happened to be more than willing to splurge on long-lasting clothing. I can’t tell you how many times he and I have gotten into a drunken deep-dive on the virtues of “selvedge” denim. Is he a bit mansplainy about jean quality? Yes. Am I about to go drop $300+ on a pair of stiff, starchy jeans that are somehow “the best ones out there”? Hell no.
But I used to buy the cheapest “cute” pairs of jeans I found, which inevitably developed inner-thigh holes after only six months of wear. My roommate showed me that it is more than possible to find great jeans that last literal years, helping me seriously consider the cost-per-use of what I buy.
4. Outsourced product assembly services
I admit that I used to always pay for someone to help set up something like a new piece of furniture or even paint a wall. I, like many typical girls, wasn’t raised to have a lot of “construction”-type skills, so I never took the time to learn how to do these things.
But since living with these guys, all of whom figured out how to manage any construction task simply because they didn’t even consider outsourcing it, I realized that I can do all of that stuff, too. I’m proud to say that, after mastering a few basic skills and tools, I can always figure out how to assemble something by myself.
5. Gym equipment you won’t actually use
I’m looking at you, aspirationally-purchased pull-up bar that my roommate used maybe twice before leaving it to forever gather dust in our living room doorway. I’m sure buying home gym equipment is cost-effective for a lot of people, but it certainly wasn’t for my roommates, who also somehow each had their own forgotten set of weights. And it’s definitely not for me, either. I’ve lived in an apartment surrounded by home exercise equipment and just never used it — I need that external accountability of fitness classes to not just get up and quit in the middle of a workout (which is exactly what I’d do at home).
6. Food products that are more about packaging than quality
The guys used to make fun of me for all the foofy groceries I bought that were clearly more about their amazing packaging design than the quality of the food. And honestly, if I hadn’t lived with a group of people for whom the siren song of an adorable wine label or glass yogurt jar fell flat, I may never have changed this habit — it’s so normalized, and women especially are so heavily targeted by “cute” packaging.
Their teasing about my love of fancily-packaged food and drink didn’t make me swear off my beautifully-bottled almond milk forever. But it made me really think about which products I was buying and reconsider what had become my default habits when it came time to grocery shopping.
7. Separate products for every element of my grooming routine
I know it’s basically a meme at this point to make fun of men who use one grooming product for literally everything from washing their face to conditioning their hair. And while that’s definitely not my case, I couldn’t help but notice that in our shared bathroom, my shelf of products literally took up as much space as three guys’ worth of bathing products, and all of them had pretty solid hair, skin, and general hygiene.
It made me wonder how many of these individual-use products I really needed, and where I could save money by combining. For example, I now use a little bit of conditioner as shaving cream. I also swapped out my fancy body scrub for a homemade one using raw sugar and lemons. Basically, I’ve gone from having a full grooming aisle in my bathroom to just having the essentials, and being much more discerning about how I spend.
Cassie works as a content marketing manager in the D.C. area, but secretly daydreams about escaping to small-town New England and running an inn.
Image via Unsplash