The “Latte Factor”
Don’t believe that changing something small like not buying lattes or changing the way you shave could affect your FIRE date by years?
Ok, so changing one minor thing like how you shave isn’t going to cut your expenses at a mach 3 rate, but making hundreds of small changes like this in your life/daily routine will. You should make a habit of questioning every bill you pay, every Thing you buy in your day-to-day. Question if you really need it, is it just a “straight to landfill” item? Is there an alternate way of accomplishing what you want to do that is low cost or even Free? Do you even need to do the thing you are thinking about?
Because these streamlining habits follow you into your retirement, they cut down how much you will need in the future. Less future expenses means less needed to save to get to the point where you can pull the trigger on quitting your 9 to 5. And I’m not just talking to the male readers, ladies there is a community of women out there who love shaving with Double Edge (DE) razors too!
Straight to Landfill Items
A lot of what you find at Walmart or Target are things which I call “Straight to Landfill” items. Stuff which was not built for life. Like those plastic shelving systems everyone buys in college and throws out at the end of the year, discolored and cracked in places. My coworkers and I were talking recently about Amazon’s new drone delivery. I joked:
Me: “They should set it up so that the drone flies the product I order directly to the landfill and drops it from 100 feet. You know, cut out the middle man.”
Coworker: “You’re the middle man in this situation?”
Me: “Yeah, you know, make a more efficient system.”
That got a pretty good laugh. I kid, of course, there are a lot of things of value you can buy online or even at Walmart. But when I buy something I try to make sure it is necessary or will bring great value to my life, and that it will last a long time or is otherwise a good value. But how high could you pile a 1 acre landfill with all the 56 years worth of plastic disposable razors and disposable plastic cartridges like the Mach 3 uses? The disposable plastic razor was invented in 1960, mind you.
This post is about something that is:
- Built for life
- Brings me joy
I say necessary because for my job I am required to not look like a scruffy rapist who lives in a van.
Wet shaving is when you shave using an old school brush, hot water, and hard soap, whipping up a foam the old fashioned way. The DE razor was invented in 1901. All the razors the big-name shaving companies made after the DE razor are just un-necessary junk. An attempt at a “better mousetrap.”
The DE razor, or safety razor as it is also known, allowed you to change your blade when it dulled, so that you didn’t have to maintain a straight edge blade using sharpeners and leather strops. However, what you remove is simply a tiny 18 cent piece of steel which can be recycled easily, not the $2 largely plastic 2 to 5 blade cartridges they peddle us nowadays.
Wet shaving with a DE razor makes shaving more interesting. You are doing something with the same equipment your great grandfather might have used. For me it conjures images of WWI or II soldiers shaving in the field. You can use fancy shaving soaps from boutique online shops (preferably that someone got you as a gift) or the cheapest bar of shaving soap you can find. It’s old fashioned, but not just for the sake of being old fashioned, it’s cost conscious, environmentally conscious, and perfectly effective.
A Cost Comparison: Mach 3 vs DE Razor
Let’s break down how much the typical Mach 3 tri-blade shaver is costing you. I used current costs from Walmart for the Mach 3 side, because back when I used that product years ago that’s where I purchased my shaving goods. For the DE razor side I used the real price I paid for my razor (from a now closed online business) and other goods on Amazon. No state tax paid, nor shipping due to my Amazon Prime account. I did not add aftershave lotion to the equation because it should be equal for both sides.
Oh man! If you started shaving at age 15 and at 35 you have the FIRE finish line in sight, doesn’t it pain you to know you’ve wasted TWO GRAND on shaving related expenses? Not only that, but the opportunity cost must be considered as well. $97.55 (total M3 cost – total DE cost, divided by 20 years) per year sent to a Total Market Fund like FSTVX for 20 years, starting in 1996, would have resulted in a balance of $6,243.44!!! That’s a nice used Honda Fit right there, mang.
Ok, I know someone’s going to call me out on inflation, but give me a break! I’m trying to make a dramatic point here. No? You still want me to figure in inflation, you bloodsucking Debbie-downer finance critic? 😉 … suppose we knock down the amount saved each year to account for 1996 buying power ($63.42, increasing each year with inflation until we get to 2016’s $97.55 figure,) the answer is still a whopping $4,793. That’s still a used car, it’s a hell of a lot of money. I could call up this guy in Honolulu right now and buy his sweet 2005 Camry with my shaving savings, and then have a cool grand left over to spend on insurance and gas.
Imagine if you optimized 9 other things in your life like that? $48,000 saved. That’s more than a year’s expenses for me, hell the 4% SWR of that would pay my electricity and our 2 mobile phone bills for the rest of my life.
Hop Aboard and Join the DE Shaving Movement!
If you’d like to try it out, I’ve included some links to the wet shaving equipment I already trust and use. As I mentioned, my DE razor isn’t sold anymore, but the Walrus wide grip razor linked below looks to be almost exactly the same.
Just be careful, some people end up spending a lot of money on this “hobby,” buying all sorts of vintage razors and trying every blade type and buying artisan soaps hand-made in Brooklyn hipster lofts. Stick to the basics and wet shaving is sure to save you money. Arko soap works better than some of the fancier soaps I’ve had, and although the smell is like a neutral hotel-soap, you can buy a nice aftershave (or better yet make it yourself!) for a nice finishing scent. Get the soap just to do the job.
Are you already a member of the wet shaving cult? Are you even more manly than me and use a K-BAR to dry shave? Did I convince you to order a DE razor and join me? Please comment below and let me know!
I created this blog to connect with other members of the FI community. I have some affiliate links to try to at least pay the server bill, but making money is not the Mission here. The Mission is to connect with you. My IRL friends couldn’t care less about the FIRE life.
Going to be in Honolulu soon? Do you share my interest in memes and finance too? Hit me up and perhaps we can grab a beer.