The Value Of More For Less

One of the keys to obtaining financial independence is finding ways to live your life for significantly less than usual.  When the average Joe (or Jane) spends $10 on something, a financially independent person (or ‘soon-to-be’) can score the same thing for much less.  Via this skill, people on the path to financial independence can save 50% or more of their income.

Sometimes a lot more…


My Confession

I have a confession to make:  I don’t give a crap what people think about me.  Image has never been something I cared about.  When it comes to my home, I never try to make it look awesome.  Rather than creating a beautiful home to set a false image of prosperity, I focus on our financial independence: Getting what we needed for a lot less than usual.

For the longest time this meant we had a sub-standard TV in the Tako household.  Our sub-standard TV was thick, had low resolution, terrible black levels, and washed out colors.  I wasn’t about to put money into getting a better one.

Don’t get me wrong – modern electronics are a fantastic thing.  Compared to when I was a kid, TV’s are gigantic now.  We grew up with a boxy 16-inch TV screen and thought it was great!  Now, it seems retailers hardly sell anything less than 50 inches.  I believe this phenomenon is primarily just a display of wealth rather than a true improvement in people’s lives.  Is the world happier today with big TVs than 30 years ago, with small TVs?  Highly unlikely.


Closing the Office

A few months ago, my previous employer announced they would shut-down the office on the west-coast.  The task of closing the office, fell onto my shoulders.  I did my work diligently, but I figured they would lay-off some or all of the west-coast employees.

As I worked with the east-coast to make the shutdown happen, I came to realize the company just didn’t care about the equipment in the west-coast office.  They had already fully depreciated most of the equipment (it had little accounting value), and they had no use for it on the east-coast.  Most of the office equipment would go to the recyclers – who take it away for free.


Making Opportunity Happen

Smelling an opportunity, I emailed a corporate vice-president to see if the employees could have the equipment instead.  I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask, right?  Surprisingly, she said “Yes” for most of the equipment.  Score!  We cleaned that place out!  Employees made off with office chairs, a refrigerator, shelves, laser printers, even desks – all for free.  I got my tentacles on some conference room chairs, and a conference room monitor (mounted to the wall).  

Normally employees would use the monitor for video conferencing and presentations.  That happened maybe once a month, so everything in the conference room was practically new.  It turns out, the monitor bolted to the wall was actually a 46-inch 1080p LED TV.  Not just a monitor!  Here’s my lucky score after I delivered it home:

The TV
Surprise! I brought home a TV!

Did you notice there’s no stand?  Yeah, I noticed that too.  It only had a metal mounting plate used to bolt it to the wall.  I wasn’t going to leave the TV on the floor, so a solution was needed.  We wanted a TV stand, but I wasn’t going to spend $73 for a universal tv stand.


Building a Stand

Being a fairly handy guy, I figured I could build one pretty quickly.  A trip to Home Depot (and $10) scored me some nuts, bolts, a couple steel brackets, and furniture quality wood.  A few hours later, I had this whipped up:

DIY TV Stand
Our fancy DIY TV Stand. My model wanted to show you his Star Wars toys.

As you can see in the photo, I kept the metal mounting bracket from the wall and built my stand around it.  


The End Result

OK so it didn’t end up being completely free.  I had to spend money on the gas to transport it, and $10 for the stand.  For someone who’s not a carpenter, I think it turned out OK:

The end result
Good enough for my house.
Monetary Value

Today a TV like this retails for about $550.  Sure, it’s probably not the best TV out there, but what do I care?! It was free and WAY better than what we had before!  I also had the opportunity to grab 6 conference room chairs worth $180 each that we now use as dining chairs:

The Chairs
Our fancy “dining” chairs. The table was also free, but that’s a completely different story.

That’s a total retail value of $1630.  I now have a fancy TV and fancy dining chairs – for free.  That same money invested over 10 years at 8% would be worth $3,519.  Not a bad day’s work for one email.  

Finding ways to improve your life for little-to-no cost can really pay off.  Do this over and over again, and the results will be incredible!


Change brings opportunity.  –Nido Qubein

8 thoughts on “The Value Of More For Less

  • January 10, 2016 at 4:10 AM

    Nice TV stand, ours is not that “sophisticated”, but still his home made.
    Are rolling chairs practical at the dining table? Free is always good! And if they don’t work out, you sell them on Ebay and buy something better at the local thrift store.

    • January 11, 2016 at 1:03 AM

      So far the chairs have worked out great. For our kids, we use a high chair and one without wheels.

      • January 11, 2016 at 11:24 PM

        I do have to say, there is unwanted/unintended rolling happening every once in a while… But all in all, they are super nice (way better than our table), free AND they can even turn into a fun ride for kids or kids at heart. ٩(^o^)۶

        • January 13, 2016 at 10:34 AM

          We were going to recommend a carpet…..but under a dining table with kids? Maybe not such a good idea 🙂

  • February 23, 2016 at 3:54 PM

    What I like with this story is that in addition to get good quality stuff, for free, for your family, you also helped a bunch of employees getting free stuff too. That’s awesome 🙂

  • February 23, 2016 at 9:39 PM

    Just started reading your blog. Love this. I’ve got the same mindset regarding buying stuff despite having the means. I retired in 2014 with the idea that I would have the time to save money by developing solutions, such as your TV and stand, vs. just going out and buying everything new. I sold one of my two vehicles that I had used to carry my 12′ kayak on but haven’t figured out (yet) how to build a kayak carrier for the small car I kept. Though I kayak very seldom I still missed a few opportunities last season because I didn’t have a carrier. So these frugal ways are a blessing and sometimes a curse.

    • February 23, 2016 at 10:37 PM

      I definitely have more ideas than time. The U.S. has a great DIY culture, but so much of it requires you to ‘go buy stuff’. I love to take a piece of junk (or repurpose something), and turn it into something great. I have more of these project/building posts coming!

      Good luck on the kayak trailer!

  • January 31, 2020 at 4:01 AM

    What a fantastic idea!!! I’m all for free stuff used stuff – quality matters to me – not the “new” part. When my husband’s office closed, they had reams of good quality printer paper destined for recycling centers. (Not sure what the center would do, but we asked and got quite a few reams of them. We also got great speakers for my computer.

    Btw, If the color of the wood bothers you, you can also stain them dark brown or black..

    I’ve also got caught up in the ‘I want quality stuff’ and spent big bucks on some ridiculous purchases, but I’ve toned it way down these days.


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