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When Less is More: Avoiding Extras

This is a post written by Avishai Shuter, and up-and-coming zoologist who lives in his parents house while on the cusp of getting a job with the Bronx Zoo.

I was out for pizza with some friends the other day when I noticed something that many of us don’t even notice. A friend and I basically got the same order: a slice and a Snapple, but my friend got fries while I opted not to. I couldn’t help but notice that my order came to a total of $5.15 while my friend’s was $8.55. This brings me to my hypothesis: less is more (money in our pockets).

It seems to me that in almost any food-buying situation, many people spring for the extra option. Fries with pizza or burgers, dumplings or eggrolls with Chinese, Sour Patch Kids at the movies, the list goes on and on.’s fourth definition of the word extra, is even an additional expense. That is how I will now view all these small extras. Why do I need eggrolls in addition to my meal? My meal is a meal on its own (obviously)! All the extras do is add cost and calories. I’ve therefore taken the liberty of outlining a survival guide for all of you.

1. Survey your surroundings

Look at the choices you are being offered. Use your instincts to discern what’s necessary and what’s extra. This is usually pretty easy. Anything associated with the words, appetizer or combo is extra. Extras are also typically cheaper than full meals. Buy your meal, that’s all. (As a side note, drinks can also be considered extras in cases where you can’t easily get water for free. Do you really need a Coke? No. No you don’t.) Buying less junk means more money in your pocket.

2. Mooch

Because your friends haven’t read my Survival Guide, they’ll continue to buy extras. If you wish to partake of the forbidden fruit, take from them. You weren’t eating extras because you were hungry, you were eating them because they were in front of you. If your friends’ extras are in front of you, just eat those.

3. Fight the Urge

I know the pizza place makes great French fries, but you need to fight the urge to buy them. They’re not worth it. They’ll be gone faster than you know it, and chances are you won’t even remember eating them a week later. Like your ex, fries have no positive affect on your life, so don’t call them when you get lonely.

4. Be Victorious

So you resisted. Congrats, because your wallet is now heavier for it. You have also displayed some level of discipline and self control. Now, your friends are all jealous of you because you can buy an expensive movie ticket with the money you saved from not buying fries just 4 times. Your theme song is now, We Are The Champions.

I hope this helps all of you overcome your natural need for extras. Here in America, we’ve been conditioned to think that all extras are positive. This is not the case. What if you had an extra leg? Or an extra flat tire? Or an extra broken TV? All bad extras, to be avoided. So my friends, avoid the extras. Who needs them?



  1. I would have to ask if your friend enjoyed and was fulfilled by the “extra cost” of the fries. Granted, it’s not the healthiest of foods, but if they were hungry (and a slice would by no means satisfy me on it’s own), then where is the problem? Are they overwieght and shouldn’t be eating those types of foods? Are they strapped for cash (in which case you may be considered an enabler)? There is a big difference between adding fries to a singular slice of pizza and adding an eggroll to an entire meal. Besides, it was your friend’s splurge day after saving all week (that may be a stretch but an interesting counterpoint, no?)

  2. Good question Eric. You’re right, my friend might have gotten enjoyment out of the fries (although in my view, it would have made more sense just to get a second slice, as fried cost almost as much and are much less filling). But seeing as how I’ve been charged with offering money saving tips, I value the cost of the fries ($3.40) more than my friend’s immediate gratification. When I start writing for a personal happiness blog, then I can consider what a fair price for enjoyment is! Thanks for your thoughts though, they are interesting.

  3. Don’t the two go hand in hand Avishai? The two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive, and are talked about in the same breath on many pf blogs, even the frugal ones. If you spend money on things that you don’t enjoy, then there’s no point in spending, but if you are going to get enjoyment out of it (and if it will help keep you from starving), then that factors into most financial decisions. Utility and enjoyment should be big components of the spending equation.

  4. You’re right to some degree. But, for whatever reason, I cab’t help but view fries as an extra. They just aren’t a necessary part of a meal in my view (especially considering how much they cost in this case).

  5. I’m not much of a fry person either. I would have opted for a couple extra slices instead (particularly if it was New York style pizza!)

  6. Being satisfied with what you already have leads to more peace of mind, in my opinion. We are conditioned in America to want more and more. Working hard, saving and learning to have less will be our insurance policy for a brighter future.

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