012: Value Busters 2 | Money Mechanic Joins In

In this episode, Money Mechanic tells us what he won’t spend money on, while Chrissy and Ryan reveal the items they missed in Value Busters I. MM gets a little angry and ranty in this one! We hope you enjoy it!


  • Todd from Twitter and Sam from England told us they’d like to know what Money Mechanic’s value busters were.
  • They also want to hear the rest of Ryan and Chrissy’s value busters (which they couldn’t get to in the previous Value Busters episode).

Money Mechanic’s top 5 value busters

1. Lottery tickets (and other such types of gambling)

  • It bothers him when people say they’re playing the lottery for their retirement.
  • If they really thought about all the money they’d spent over the last 30 years, they may have thought about it differently and instead invested it.
  • Hi grandfather said to him, “Never gamble with money you can’t afford to lose.”
  • MM ans Ryan acknowledge there’s a difference between buying lottery tickets and spending your money at a casino—where it’s just as much about the experience.
    • If you have fun and find value in that (and you can afford it) there’s nothing wrong with that.

2. Frozen convenience foods

  • MM only goes down this aisle for frozen blueberries to make smoothies (or for the very rare time they have ice cream).
  • Instead of buying expensive meals frozen in plastic and cardboard, they make their own batch-cooked frozen meals.
  • He does understand the convenience of some frozen meals, like pizza, especially if you have kids. But with a bit of planning, you can can avoid them and make healthier alternatives at home.
  • Chrissy accuses MM of being a pizza snob. He clarifies that he has nothing against leftover pizza—he just objects to freezing leftover pizza!
  • It’s not hard to learn how to cook a few basic meals and make your own frozen dinners.
  • Ryan says if you’re shopping for food that comes in a cardboard box in the frozen food aisle, you might not be doing it right.
  • MM agrees that there are good, healthy options (like frozen fruit and veggies) in the same aisle.

3. Soda and sports drinks

  • MM can’t believe that there’s a dedicated wall of sports/energy drinks at the gas station.
    • Every one of them is $2 or more, which ends up being mindless spending.
    • These people are not crossing a desert and can make it to a water faucet within the next hour! It’s money they don’t need to spend!
    • It’s sugar-laden garbage and you have zero need for them.
    • Buying these drinks then lead to more convenience store spending (with their brutal markups).
    • If you want a Gatorade to give to your kid after their game, buy the crystals at the grocery store. Use your own reusable container and mix up the drink for 1/8 of the price.
  • MM used to frequently stop at a Petro-Canada gas station that was the halfway point in his 5-hour drive up the island.
    • He’s pretty sure they know and hate him!
    • He goes straight to the bathroom with a full bladder and empty Nalgene bottle and comes back out with the bottle filled with gas station tap water.
    • He then hops in his car and drives off without spending a cent.
    • He’s happy to drink gas station tap water to save money and another wasted plastic container. The water on Vancouver Island is very safe and good quality.

4. Consumer electronics

  • MM’s not a luddite, and does buy consumer electronics himself. But:
    • He bought his laptop used for 1/3 of the purchase price.
    • The stereo upstairs in the kitchen and in the FI Garage are $10 thrift store Sonys that have the old iPhone 4 plugins.
    • He still has an iPhone 5 (which the guys at FI Garage tease him about).
    • His TV was a demo model that they bought at a great price.
  • MM shops for quality used items whenever possible to save money.
  • He doesn’t believe in upgrading to the latest and greatest models just to have something newer.
  • He’ll spend a lot of time to research the best way to replace devices that need replacing.
  • Chrissy feels the same about gadgets, but her husband does like them. However, he’s not an early adopter and is willing to wait for things to get a little older before he buys them.
  • Ryan wanted replace all the appliances in their house when they bought it. Three years later, he’s on the FI path and no longer feels the need to buy new appliances.
  • MM’s stove is literally from the 60s. It works perfectly, except for one wiring fix which was no problem since he’s The Mechanic! If it works, and it’s sensible, why spend money to replace it?
Money Mechanic’s 60s-era stove
  • The Victoria area has a fantastic used market.
  • MM especially likes ReStore that’s run by Habitat for Humanity.
  • There are also lots of thrift stores near his house, so it’s very easy and worthwhile for him to shop there first before having to go to Home Depot or Lowe’s to buy a new dishwasher.
  • Ryan gripes about how new appliances come with screens and apps. Instead of buying an appliance for life or 20 years, people now feel they need to keep upgrading so their fridge can connect to WiFi.

5. Fast food establishments

  • MM doesn’t like the food that much, and like with frozen meals, he feels that good planning can help you avoid most fast food purchases.
  • He’ll even go to the grocery store before work just to pick up groceries for the next few days at work.
  • He channels his inner Mr. Money Mustache and pushes himself to last another hour until he can get himself home and make a meal there.
  • Ryan makes a living delivering to fast food restaurants… so clearly Money Mechanic doesn’t want to see his family survive the long winter!
  • MM thinks fast food is a lifestyle choice. He forces himself to refuse that convenience and come up with a better choice.
  • Chrissy also tries to avoid fast food, but it can be hard when you’re out with kids, especially when they get hangry.
    • Fast food is definitely a value buster for a family of four.
    • When she goes out with her sister and their kids in the summer, they always bring coolers full of fruit, sandwiches, dry snacks, and water.
    • It’s so nice to find a nice spot to sit outside to eat lunch.
    • When travelling, they do the same with a cooler in the car.

Chrissy’s other value busters

Drinks at restaurants

  • Whether it’s alcohol, pop, or juice, she and her family avoid ordering drinks at restaurants unless it’s a special occasion.
  • Ryan delivers pop bibs for his job in food service. The entire bib doesn’t cost a lot for the amount of pop it can make.
    • Restaurants clearly make a lot of money from these drinks.
  • Chrissy’s family also avoids buying drinks when they travel to theme parks.
    • They just bring water bottles that they refill at water fountains for free throughout the day.
    • People love those bottomless cups that you can buy at these parks, but all that sugar is so bad for you.

Personal care services

  • This includes spas, manicures, pedicures, eyelash extensions.
    • They’re expensive, and Chrissy doesn’t care enough to spend money on them.
    • They’re also a lot of fuss to plan for (you have to find childcare, time, and deals).
  • She received a spa massage as a bridal shower gift, and it was just okay.
    • She hates lying around doing nothing. Even when watching TV, she’ll be folding laundry or doing some mending.
  • Chrissy knows moms who get eyelash extensions. Though they look pretty, but she would never get them because they’re expensive and bad for your real eyelashes.
  • MM feels fortunate that he doesn’t live or work in a world where he needs to have fancy work clothes or be perfectly coiffed to fit into a corporate culture.
    • He suggests that we all sit down and think about what our true cost of living is.
  • Ryan says there’s a difference between fixed, recurring visits to the nail salon or random once or twice-yearly visits.
    • If it’s once in a while or for a wedding, go for it.
    • But if you need to go every Friday because it’s for your job, you’d better be compensated for it!
    • He felt the pressure at RBC to come to work in a different suit every day (even though he only made $14/hour).
    • He certainly wasn’t compensated for those suits. It’s a huge value buster just to work there.

Ryan’s other value busters

Retail banks

Image credit: The Financial Brand
  • Ryan has RBC accounts and doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with using their products, but you should never step into one of these retail banks expecting customer service (even though you can get that).
  • There’s propaganda and displays everywhere and the staff will approach you like at the Apple Store and try to sell you on TFSAs like they’re the newest iPhone.
  • Chrissy is baffled by this and has never experienced anything like it. She and MM have never been sold to by a teller at a bank.
  • At Ryan’s job as an RBC teller, he would swipe customers’ client cards then hit a ‘View All’ button to see all the different products that could be sold to them.
  • If he managed to get their butt into the seat in the ‘advisor’s’ office, he’d receive a commission.
  • He didn’t like having to sell to people, especially since his branch was next to a senior’s home… so he quit.

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12 Replies to “012: Value Busters 2 | Money Mechanic Joins In”

    1. That’s too bad! We’ve gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback from Value Busters 1 & 2 so we’re not stopping anytime soon. You’ve also given me an idea for Value Busters 3, thanks 🙂

  1. Holier then thou rants followed by “but weren’t not here to judge anyone” ring hollow. I listens through the entire episode hoping some value would come of it but all I got was frustrated.

    Let’s consider the topic of store bought bread.

    1. “There is a whole area dedicated to this pre-packaged, adder filled, chemical laden bread products. I never go into that area… except for the occasional baguette or hamburger bun, but that’s totally reasonable and no one would judge me for that, right! It is SOOOOO easy to make this stuff at home I don’t understand why you ever stuff your pantry with these expensive sub quality products! Who does that!”

    How would you react to this? “Who is this a-hole judging me for buying bread!” would probably be top of my mind.

    2. I choose not to spend money on pre-made bread. Instead my family makes bread most Saturday mornings as a family activity. The kids enjoy mixing the ingredients and the older one helps form the loaves and put them in the oven. We get amazing tasting fresh bread, a fun family activity, and it only costs us about $2 to produce 3 loaves. For my family making bread is a win-win-win. We have a fun family activity, we get a product we enjoy, and we save some money.

    My reaction to this would be “Ok, seems interesting, this wouldn’t work for my family but maybe I’ll try making bread as some time with the kids”

    If you want to feel superior to the rest of us keep ranting about frozen food, pop, fast food and electronics. If you want to produce helpful content consider leaving the rants for your buddies after you’ve had a few beers.

    P.S: Who buys beer in those cardboard carrying cases with their ridiculous government taxes! if you aren’t home brewing gtfo 😉

    1. Hi OnTheRoad,

      I’m sorry we frustrated you with this episode. Our intention wasn’t to judge or make others feel bad about their choices.

      In fact, some of the rants pointed the finger in the face of our other co-hosts! For example, Ryan complained about alcohol consumption in our previous Value Busters, but Money Mechanic drinks beer!

      And Money Mechanic took shots at frozen foods in this episode, but my family buys the occasional frozen pizza!

      Our intention was to present some opposing views on what most Canadians blindly spend on without reconsidering. We just want others to pause and think. And if they still find value in the things they spend money on, great!

      Really—we genuinely think it’s good to spend on things you value, even if it’s not frugal (or we don’t agree).

      I apologize that this episode turned you off, and we will do our best to be less rant-y in the future! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. Thanks for another great episode! I’m looking forward to hearing Value Busters part 3. I totally agree with Krissy regarding restaurant drinks and personal care. We also always bring snacks and water for any trip that will be longer than a couple of hours. Also agree with Mr. Money Mechanic regarding lottery tickets. The Stats course I took in university regarding the future value of playing the lottery sealed the deal for me many years ago.

    Looking forward to hearing more from you!

    1. Hi Joelle,

      It’s nice to hear that this episode resonated with you. Very interesting that you learned about the stats of playing the lottery… maybe that course should be mandatory for all students! Thank you for sending your feedback. We love hearing from our listeners.

  3. On The Road. Thanks for expressing your opinion, we’re all entitled to have one. It wasn’t my intention to be as ranty, and definitely not judgmental. We’re all entitled to make our own choices, you’re the only one that has to live with those choices. BTW I do brew my own beer at home.

  4. I particularly enjoyed MM’s rant about soda and sports drinks. It’s the sort of thing that I want to say to people when I see them wasting money. I think it’s good to challenge people’s thinking on what’s necessary in their lives. To my mind one could get rid of the majority of the aisles in the supermarket and I wouldn’t even notice. I also agreed with Chrissy that drinks at restaurants are such a rip off. More often than not I drink tap water, which in the UK they are legally obliged to provide free of charge (although this is not the case in other parts of Europe which I discovered on a holiday in Italy recently).

    I do have to admit to being a fan of frozen pizzas though! When we have time we make our own dough in the bread maker, top it with homemade tomato sauce and other fresh ingredients, but if time is short an emergency frozen pizza is better than spending money on a takeaway. I first came across this recommendation on the Frugalwoods website. In Tesco (a big UK supermarket) you can get 3 pizzas for £5 (that’s just over CAD$8).

    Keep up the good work.


    1. 3 frozen pizzas for $8? That’s quite reasonable! Easy to hold as “inventory” in your freezer and whipped out in a pinch. Thanks Sam!

    2. Having traveled to Italy, it might be a good thing if they don’t offer you their tap water! LOL.

      But in all seriousness, drinking water is such a FI and life hack. It’s free, better for you, helps to decrease plastic use, and saved energy and resources (from reduced need to produce other beverages).

      I’m amazed that you can get pizzas so cheaply in the UK. I don’t think I’ve seen as good of a deal here in Canada!

  5. Great episode, I really enjoyed listening and hearing your value busters. I (and I am sure most in the FI community) refuse to spend money on similar items so I have been thinking about what is a different value buster that none of you have mentioned…

    So I wanted to add what I refuse to spend money on… I refuse to buy greeting cards. It drives me nuts when I get a greeting card that someone spent $3-$5 on and I read it and then recycle it. What a waste!!! I know people who spend hours choosing the perfect greeting card, and I know some people keep cards for a long time.

    Instead, my husband and I have been buying organic dark chocolate (for our female friends) or we try to get a nice beer (for our male friends), usually spending around $3-$5. We use a sharpie to write a personalized message on it. Voila, way better bang for your buck and you don’t need to feel guilty when the bottle or wrapping gets recycled! It just so happens that our female friends prefer chocolate over beer and vice versa (not saying that females don’t like beer or males don’t like chocolate!).

    1. That’s a great value buster. I never buy cards of any kind! Like you, I just write my message on the actual holder of the gift. In my case, I was giving a cheque as a wedding present so I wrote on the envelope I put the cheque in. No card necessary. They sent me a thank you card (ironically!).

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