Most articles about saving money talk about cutting out cable, or reducing your cell phone bill, or calling your insurance company to get a better rate.
But are those things really enough to make a significant difference? Today, I want to talk about some things that most of us don’t even question, but that are significantly changing our ongoing expenses. I don’t think it’s a problem at all to keep paying for these things; but choose to do so consciously, instead of just wondering why you’re not saving enough money.
So let’s talk about some expense areas that don’t typically come up for consideration. Think primitive, “if this were a survival situation would I need this?” type of expenses. That’s not to say that we’ve cut out all of these expenses; just that I’m now more aware that they are in fact luxuries and not necessities.
Before you get outraged, bear with me. Our pet budget, between dog food, cat food, fish food, medications, the occasional vet visit, etc. is more than $100 a month. There is absolutely no chance in hell we’re going to get rid of any of our current pets – we consider them part of the family, and that won’t change.
But, that said, when our current pets are no longer with us, we have agreed that having this many pets doesn’t fit our long-term retirement plans.
So before you hit the pet store (or hopefully the rescue shelter!), recognize that pet ownership is actually a luxury. It’s not a necessity.
For someone in Florida to mention that you might want to go without air conditioning is extreme, believe me! And I’m not talking about the standard set-your-thermostat-higher-during-the-day advice. I’m talking about setting it dramatically higher, or turning it off altogether. Recently, our AC went out and the house rose to around 85 degrees inside during the day. My husband was miserable (and cranky!) during this time, but honestly it didn’t bother me much. Even on days I was working from home, I was either too busy to really notice, or out running errands during the hottest part of the day.
I am a HUGE fan of a long, luxurious hot bath. But are daily hot showers or baths really a necessity? Or could you do a quick, turn-off-the-water-while-you-lather, military-style shower? Or try showering in cooler water, which will automatically make you hurry your routine?
Personal Care Items
A friend of mine posted on Facebook recently that the airline had lost $500 worth of makeup out of her checked baggage. My reaction was rather incredulous…I don’t know that I’ve purchased $500 worth of makeup in my entire life! However, we all have our little indulgences and I did realize I don’t really need:
- That electric toothbrush for $9 each every 3 months…instead of a basic version free from the dentist’s office.
- The most expensive shave-gel-included razor cartridges, because it’s so much more convenient that way (but they only last like 3 shaves).
You get the idea. What items are you buying automatically because you made decisions years ago about what you were going to use, that could be revisited? Is it worth giving up those items to reach your goals?
Are you bumping up your grocery budget to save time? Buying convenience items in order to avoid a little bit of additional prep work?
I think we’re all guilty of this one to some extent; my worst is probably the pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we keep around for the days we’re in a rush to make lunches. But really, we could just allocate an extra 5 minutes in the evening and buy the less expensive ingredients instead of the pre-made versions.
I have, however, cut out the quick run through McDonald’s after my workout (irony noted) for an Egg McMuffin. Even though the price is reasonable and the convenience is amazing, I’ve gotten really used to making the same thing myself at home every morning after I hit the gym. Over time, I realized it actually takes LESS time (about 5 minutes total, versus a 10 minute McDonald’s stop), and I can incorporate tweaks when I’m bored. I’ll admit, this one took a while to get used to, but now I look forward to cooking a real breakfast every morning, and we’re probably saving around $25 a week.
Everything from pre-cut broccoli to pre-portioned chips costs more for convenience…just make sure the convenience is worth the extra money.
What other commonly accepted luxuries have you cut out to reach your goals? What are we taking for granted that is actually optional? Comment below!