3 percenter's vs 97 percenter's

3 percenter's vs 97 percenter's

I do enjoy reading all the stories about folks that go for a test drive, get blown away, put in there reservation and 6-8 weeks later ... voila! A beautiful Model S appears! I'm soo happy for you ... really ... (mutters under breath ... rusha, frusha!! I wish I could plunk down 90 K for the car of my dreams ;-(

Ever since I heard about Tesla, I'm completely hooked!! Unfortunately my bank account cannot match my enthusiasm for a Tesla IMMEDIATELY :-)
Literally, one month before I heard about Tesla ... I had invested my 50K savings into an investment property.

BUT ... no worries ... us 97 percenters can be very resourceful, when we put our minds to something.

And so I thought I'd share some of the ways that I'm 'pinching my pennies' so that I can have a Model X in my garage (maybe even a signature one :-)

- Starbuck's trips have been reduced from 3-4 times a week to 3-4 times a month.
- Mani/pedi's have been decreased from weekly to monthly.
- Salon trips reduced from every 6 weeks to 9 weeks.
- Eating out reduced from 1-2 times a week to 1-2 times a month.
- No new clothes for me :-(
- I run a small home based business - actively working on increasing revenue by 25%.
- All revenue from my investment property will be put towards Model X.

I'm open to any and all suggestions :-)

AmpedRealtor | 24 July 2013

Depending on where you live, you might be able to flip your investment property, flip again, rinse and repeat until you decide you want to do something else. You should be able to pay cash for a Tesla in short order.

RedShift | 24 July 2013

One suggestion: drop the apostrophe for plurals. One way to make your life better is to start using better grammar.
Cough cough, you are welcome Brian!

Captain_Zap | 24 July 2013

I quit my trips to Starbucks in 1998 when I figured out what I had to give up to go there. (My awesome superautomatic espresso machine has paid for itself many times over.)

I always do my own manicures. (Nice collection of polishes.)
Salon 3 times a year. Just a trim. (Sometimes they cut too much.)
Eat out only when traveling.

I like the clothes I have and I buy very well made timeless garments.

Buy a house where you want to live and stay. As your pay goes up, your payments take a lower percentage of your income, and interest paid goes down.

I paid off my last car after 5 years. I cringed at a 5 years of payments. After the payments were gone I started saving for my next car. Again, the highest quality vehicle I could find that made sense. I drove it for 15 years. I had a hard time finding a car I liked more until the Model S.

There is only a few other items you don't want to cheap out on. That is your mattress, benefit/retirement plans and ketchup.

Keep it up and you might end up getting a boat too... or end up like Warren Buffet.

TikiMan | 24 July 2013


I bought a Jura ENA-5 automatic espresso machines three years ago, and that along with the best local coffee-bean roaster (Portola), I can't stand the taste of Starbucks. Plus, it's still cheaper than starbucks in the long run (kind of like my MS).

Skotty | 24 July 2013

Take a look at all your monthly bills and assess which ones could be reduced or even eliminated. Reduce or drop cable? Drop land line? Reduce cell phone service? Efficiency improvements on your electricity, natural gas, or water usage? Find ways to use less gas?

tobi_ger | 24 July 2013

How many hours do you spend browsing the forums? And how many of those could you earn money instead? :)

cybrown | 25 July 2013

@TikiMan you should get a coffee roaster too; your coffee prices will go down to around $5/lb or less!

Mathew98 | 25 July 2013

Ahem, I gave up caffeine 20 years ago. Now for all you smokers out there, give it up and watch the $10/pack saving racks up too.

You'll be amazed out much people spend on coffee and cigarette.

Let's see, 2 cups of coffee and a pack of smokes a day costs $14/day. Monthly cost x 30 = 420/month.

Let's replace these two items with a local gym membership ($70/month) and cut the caffeine and nicotine addiction. Net saving is still at least $350 each month. If you can save $200 in gas every month with MS then is it more affordable now?

BTW, a base S60 costs 63k after the federal rebate. It still gives you most of the acceleration and Tesla grin of a 90k version (at a 30% discount).

blaquito | 25 July 2013

I'm right there with you Edie, but my plan was to wait a couple of years for one of these 3 percenters to upgrade to a newer MS and snatch their old MS. But judging from these forums, I'd be better off skipping starbucks and saving money like you! otherwise the wait might be longer that i expect.

earlyretirement | 25 July 2013

@blaquito. MY plan was to wait until next year when more features came out. Parking sensors, center console, work out some more kinks, vampire drain, etc. But once I test drove the car, I put in an order that same day. I didn't want to wait.

I know some of us "plan" to keep the car for 8 years or so. But quite honestly I think the reality is that many of the ones buying have the finances to upgrade in a year or two when the car is improved. I know most won't admit it but I've met some guys that traded in their cars from last year to this year! LOL. And read about it on the forums.

I think if Tesla gets many upgrades in the next version you will have plenty of people upgrading. Plus, several people that went with the 60 that went bad on themselves and will move up to an 85. So I wouldn't think that you won't be able to snag one next year.

I think plenty of people will upgrade depending on the new features.

ItsNotAboutTheMoney | 25 July 2013

Increase income: work more; work smarter; invest more; invest better
Reduce expenses: buy smarter; improve efficiency (energy, food, stuff)

- Reduce target: wait for Gen 3; buy a more affordable PHEV
- Forget target

EdieMilo | 25 July 2013

@ Red
'Thanks for the corrections, I do appreciate good prose and English, but my line of work doesn't allow me to exercise them all that often.' ;-]

@ tobi
I agree! I've limited my forum time to meals only. A little light reading while eating.

I also just signed a new contract this morning with another agency!
That puts me 5% closer to my goal :-))

TikiMan | 25 July 2013


I would LOVE to do that, if I owned a guest-house where I could roast them without making my home smell like burning coffee.


For me, my espresso is $$$$$$$$$$! Without it, I don't last a day in my business before Zzzzzzzzzzzz set in! Me + Espresso = Tesla :-)

LionPowered | 25 July 2013

@TikiMan +1 on the Jura machine. I love mine. Got a refurbished on from an Internet site for 50% off for the best kitchen appliance deal I've ever made :-)

For interesting money management ideas I recommend Ramit Sethi's "I Will Teach You To Be Rich" book and other works. He seems to think there are better ways than skipping lattes and that while smart spending is good it's even better to find ways to increase income.

bogartsdad | 25 July 2013

Buy an S - save $300-$400 on gas per month. No more oil changes, etc. Finance from credit unions less than 2%, almost free money. Tax credits/local incentives such as free parking, free charging stations, etc. Look past the initial price tag, do the math, this car is for the middle class.

ssarker | 25 July 2013

It sounds like you have a good plan. I am lucky enough to be in the 3% but neither my husband nor I had a proper paying job until our mid 30's. So, the Model S definitely took a bite out of our retirement savings. This is what I did starting 4/2012 when I placed my reservation:

1. absolutely NO dresses, shoes, etc unless I absolutely couldn't live without it AND was on sale
2. absolutely NO buying lunch (took leftovers from home or restaurant; cup-a-noodle if no leftovers)
3. if it was available at Costco, that's where it came from
4. donated goods, but no cash donations
5. signed up for ComEd Residential Real Time Pricing: laundry, ironing, etc during off-peak hours
6. no buying books, minimize renting or going to movies; got books, movies from the library for free
7. turned in the 1999 Toyota Solara for a 2012 Camry hybrid and use as primary vehicle instead of the gas-guzzling Toyota Sienna

Good luck!

RedShift | 25 July 2013



eAdopter | 25 July 2013

Here are some long-term suggestions.

1. Avoid debt whenever possible.
2. Don't increment your living expenses after a raise or promotion. Save and wisely invest the additional money instead.
3. Buy most things used. Thrift shops and craigslist are gold mines.
4. If you ignore rule 1 to buy a home, live there at least 8-10 years. Don't purchase a Condo.
5. Create a budget to account for everything you need and want so you can see where you're falling short, and by how much.
6. Never use an ATM. Never!
7. Join Costco just to get their American Express card, then use it to pay for everything possible. Forget earning miles, this card pays you CASH.
8. Pay off any high interest debt ASAP.
9. Save/build a contigency fund so you can use it for emergencies instead of credit.
10. Dump the $100/month cell phone. Get a basic phone and prepaid minutes from Walmart.
11. Dump your bank. Almost all Credit Unions offer a better deal.
12. When buying new items, always buy them when on sale and negotiate whenever possible.

How can you tell when you're doing all this well?
Answer: When everyone who knows you thinks you're broke...while your bank account is large and growing.

And I'm sorry to be the one to say this, but a Model S is not for people in your current situation. It's a relatively high risk purchase with plenty of potential for additional costs. Purchase a 2-3 year old Honda or Toyota, and upgrade only when it's affordable. It may take years, but someday you'll have EARNED a Model S.

cybrown | 25 July 2013


I have this roaster:

It has pretty good smoke control, particularly if you use the kitchen vent fan and stick to medium roasts. If you prefer darker roasts, it does make a lot of smoke. The kitchen smells a bit like burnt popcorn afterwards, but you learn to like it :) Between spring and fall, I use it outside on the patio. If you can make do with a pound at a time, it's great for the price!

EdieMilo | 23 September 2013

Happy Birthday to Me :-))

Reserved my Model X today (#5908) and I'm so excited!!
Can't wait to test drive it!!

NomoDinos | 23 September 2013

Congrats/happy birthday (?)!

Jay w | 23 September 2013

Congratulations, when you get your new model X you are gonna be one happy camper ....

SUN 2 DRV | 23 September 2013

AWESOME! Happy Birthday Edie..................

I'm trying to convince myself to pull the trigger and order one too. Other than your birthday, what else prompted you to take the plunge?

Brian H | 23 September 2013

thank's thanks!

xradr | 23 September 2013

Congrats EdieMilo!!! Happy b-day and more to come.

Interesting re-reading the original post.

What struck me when I first read it in the summer and still strikes me now, is that most of the 3% 'ers that I know came from the 97% 'ers originally. These are the people that did exactly like you did (myself included). Saved and saved and saved. We cut out or reduced things that weren't really as important.

Like you, I also cut out a lot of items (and budgeted for 3 years). Amazing how much it adds up ... when it came time to buy, it was no longer a stretch.

EdieMilo | 24 September 2013

I've been driving a 2-door 335i for the past 4 1/2 yrs and have enjoyed it.
But 6 months after buying the BMW (paid cash), I found out I was pregnant ... SURPRISE!

Everyone suggested I switch over to an X5 (or equivalent) but I just wasn't ready to give up my sexy 335 yet and the joys of driving my first 'luxury sports car'. Besides, I just didn't 'love it' ... the X5. And I promised myself that I would only buy cars that I "LOVED". and so I survived the baby seat phase in a 2-door with no back issues (good body mechanics :-)

Then in May I was introduced to Tesla by my sister, who's husband took deliver of the Model S. I went for a test drive and was blown away, not only with the car, but Elon and the whole mission and EV movement. When I saw the Model X and the falcon wings, it was "love at first sight". I spent the next few months reading, researching and decided that I want my 3 yr old son to grow up in the EV world. I want to take long trips for him to see the country and have great memories. And I want his mom driving the sexiest SUV on the road :-)

Mathew98 | 24 September 2013

@Edie - Congrats. I know the feeling.

My birthday gift this year was the early arrival of my fourth kid so we will celebrate the same BD going forward.

I took delivery of my MS for father's day this year. Now I have four kids plus the two adults in the MS and never gonna get into a minivan, ever!!! We may trade in the MS for MX in a few years...

Wow, Model X just for one kid? I hope your rental property will give you enough monthly savings in time for your MX. BTW, have you looked into financing your MX via credit unions like Alliant or PenFed at 1.49%?

EdieMilo | 24 September 2013

@ Matthew
You're right, Model X is a lot of SUV for just the 2 of us.
It is the equivalent of a Q7, but the thought of having to wait for the smaller platform SUV that will come out with the next generation ... 4-5 years down the road .... just can't wait that long.
Besides, I can always trade it in, when they do arrive.

Meanwhile, I have lots of family and friends that will most likely pile into the 'cool bat wing' mobile ;-)

I will look into the credit unions for financing, but my goal is to put at least half down.

mario.kadastik | 24 September 2013

Congrats indeed :) Seems that you saved up real fast considering this isn't a super long thread ;)

However eAdopter: What's with the ATMs?

I went up the income ladder extremely fast, I earned my first salary when I was in elementary school writing some code and then had a full blown job when in 11th grade and swapped to a highish paying IT job just out of high-school by appearance and gamble. I dressed up for the job interview, acted confident and asked for an outrageous amount of money for my age yet something that would be industry standard in the higher bracket for that job. When asked if that was pre- or post-taxes I said of course post-taxes ;) The bluff worked perfectly and I got the job and was good at it so the employer was happy and I even got promoted in a year before a competing company bought me over (I had done some certification that was crucial for them and was the only person in country who had it) for even higher bucks.

So I was extremely well fed income wise and I didn't really care what I spent. Then at some point my life took a few turns in the love life and I decided to start looking into what I was spending and with some basic tricks I reduced my monthly costs by a factor of three. That had an immediate effect on my available funds. I then spent ~5-8 years "investing" in funds etc the free money, but always came back with less or about what I had put in. Really do the math as in many cases the fund management costs, risk of currency and exit fees actually eat up your whole profit. So when investing I turned to investing on my own into companies that I know how they operate and on what products. That however is not doable with basic savings due to again cost prohibition as well as the time it takes daily/weekly/monthly.

As generic advice: do proper budgeting and planning. Take into account EVERYTHING you spend and earn for multiple months and optimize. There are idiotic small things that are low hanging fruits to cut costs. I think the most obvious ones are the daily habits like coffee and smoking, but there are also items in your food basket that might be quite relevant.

For example I remember that when I first exercised the budgeting and started to go over my shopping bill every time I discovered a bunch of surprises. For example I loved the parisien potatoes (the small round potatoes) done in an oven. However checking their price / kg I discovered they are 10X (!!!) more expensive than ordinary potatoes just for being small and pre-peeled. I also learned to never buy fruits off-season as I managed to take my favorite fruit and discover I paid for it absurd amount of money.

Also, if you shop in a hypermarket, then usually they have products on sale in almost all categories. For example you run out of cheese, instead of going and getting your favorite cheese check what's on sale. You'll be surprised how many times there's a far cheaper option that you had never contemplated and in many cases it's as good as what you were used to. Not only will you incur major savings you'll also be able to experience a wider variety of selections. Also, don't get duped by various sizes, always try to do the math of cost / liter or cost / kg and choose the one that is cheaper.

The obvious thing too is whenever possible to avoid purchasing something on debt or financing. For large things like house where you live in it's ok because the benefits that you get from it in your life outweigh the extra cost you incur on interest and at least here the housing loans have very low interest rates. However commodity goods and worst of all fixed interest credit cards have huge interest rates. Purchasing anything with them will be 2-3x more expensive than collecting the money and purchasing it outright.

I also see that you have a small business and that's good for extra income, what ever you manage to apply in the personal space applies there as well. However don't slack on customer satisfaction. A happy customer is a paying customer and hopefully a recurring customer. Even if that at times means taking a small hit on the profit margin. Word of mouth is a double edged sword that cuts both ways, it can bring you tons of new customers (like Tesla does with the MS) or a bad experience can chase away many potential ones (as negative experiences are often more vocally given).

Hope it helps you or someone else (boy that whole text came out long, all I initially wanted to ask was from eAdopter about the ATMs....)

bonaire | 24 September 2013

Mario - you were raised well. Very few people other than people who come into this country from other, less wealthy countries, act the way you did. Great ambition too. All kids should look up to your story. Most adults should also look up to your story.

mario.kadastik | 24 September 2013

bonaire: Ok, maybe I should have added a small disclaimer, am from Estonia, a small country at the edge of EU that was up until 1991 under the Sovier occupation. I took my own fate into my own hands when I was 14 and chose that a rural school will not enable my future as much as a good elite school in the capitol. So I organized with my grandparents and went after 8th grade to the best school in the country, walked straight up to the school directors office (wearing a snow white suit) and asked to be admitted to the 9th grade. There was one other boy there asking, but he was wearing sports clothes and was shy, the director dismissed him immediately. Me he invited in and we had a nice 40 min chat about my past and future plans and then he showed me around the school personally and told me to come and pick up my school books on 1st of September. We still keep in touch at times :)

From that point on I've managed and steered my life myself and have to say I've been lucky, extremely lucky that I have not had serious setbacks, but things have always worked out the way I have chosen and planned them. One thing I use to motivate myself is that when something is really risky or tough and requires me to really be disciplined I tell my friends about it, then some more people and then I have locked myself into a social state where I just have to do it ;) This is how I completed my masters studies in one year to be admitted to PhD studies in time before the LHC started at CERN. It was partly political decision for me and it paid off.

So to some extent buying the P85 now is me going way above what I've paid ever before and making myself a gift of a superb future car. But at the same time I took the time to do a full total cost of ownership calculation going back the last five years of car maintenance costs and getting insurance and financing quotes from every possible location. They were bad so I lobbied for a full month getting as far as insurance risk management bosses and had a long chat educating them about the Model S. The final result was that the risk boss that listened to me properly and with whom I had a long and nice chat gave me an insurance offer that was 3x cheaper than the competition and in the ballpark I was willing to pay. The outcome now is that the Model S will only be 50% per year more expensive than my current car and only require ca 10k eur extra initial investment from my company that I own in part. One can manage it, but it takes loads of time and dedication and controlling your impulses. Though I couldn't really control them fully with the MS as I started with the 60kWh model, moved to S85, confirmed it and then called Tesla the next day to upgrade to P85 ;) Oh well...

And I do have one major flaw... I can't stop writing long stories (you might have noticed...)

Mathew98 | 24 September 2013

@Mario - Keep the long and interesting posts coming. This is way more entertaining than most of the posts about missing cup holders.

Brian H | 24 September 2013

Yes, do ramble on!

With the seats down, you will discover there are lots of things you can do/carry with the MX that you wouldn't have suspected. Consider getting a bright, friendly dog! They benefit kids tremendously.