Archive for the ‘Cutting Expenses’ Category

Well — it can fell insurmountable, that’s for sure. But a recent post at No Credit Needed provides an alternative view of how the little things in debt reduction add up.

Debt reduction requires the same patient, day after day, commitment. Drip by drip, drop by drop, payment by payment, we work ourselves out of debt, one account at a time. A consistent flow of water, over time, can accomplish amazing things. (Think, Grand Canyon!) Waiting for a “flood” of money? Stop. Focus on creating a consistent flow of money. Think of each dollar that you send to your creditors as a single drop, working with hundreds or thousands of other drops, to eat away at your debt.

Just yesterday, as I was idling in my car at a stoplight on my way back to work from eating leftovers at home for lunch, I thought to myself “how much extra can I put towards the next few month’s credit card payments if I brown bag it every day for the next three months?”

Some weeks I don’t eat out at all, others I might buy 2-3 lunches at an average of, say $7 a pop. Also, I often spend about $4 a few times a week getting McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches in the morning. I quickly did a bit of rudimentary math and I estimated that I could save $15-20 a week on average by consistently eating breakfast and lunch at home.

As NCN points out:

$1 per day = $365 per year

$5 per day = $1825 per year

$10 per day = $3650 per year

$25 per day = $9125 per year

Drip by drip, drop by drop.

Today’s drip — I found some crackers in my purse to hold me over until lunch, saving $1 for a snack from the vending machine. It’s a start.

MSNBC reported a few days ago that the gas spike we have seen in the last few weeks — up 20 cents in some areas — may be short-lived. But with summer coming, they are likely to rise again.

As I was considering my need to begin looking hard at my budget, fuel is an item I don’t give much thought to. Filling my tank today however — which ran me about $34 — I started to consider it more.

I’m fortunate to live literally less than 3 miles from my job and a tank of gas can last me weeks if I don’t drive the hour to Little Rock too often.

But summer *is* coming and as a part of watching our $$, my brother, sister-in-law and I have been considering some vacations we can take camping. There are so many places we want to explore in Arkansas. Camping was also our main vacations as kids. When a family is on a tight budget, you can’t get much cheaper than a few days camping under the stars.

Gasbuddy.com is a resource to help the frugal out there find the cheapest gas prices in their locations across the U.S.

The station I went to today is on the list in my neighborhood — but even cheaper than that is Kroger, by at least 3 cents, using points earned with their loyalty card. I do my primary grocery shopping there and need to add fuel-ups as well to the shopping list.

Let’s start the morning off on a positive note.

Over the last two months I’ve made several cuts to some of my household and entertainment expenses, freeing up about $ towards debt reduction and savings.

<clap clap clap>

Here they are:

  • Gym Membership — I quite my expensive gym ($58/month) and joined a gym offering a good deal to families through my dad’s employer ($12/month). My old gym was definitely the cream of the crop and I miss the amenities. The new gym is much smaller, but they are under new ownership, remodeling, offering more classes…and I just can’t beat the savings. Total savings: $46/month
  • Phone and Satellite Services — I stripped all of my extra features from my home phone service, including call waiting and caller ID. Since I make most of my long distance calls from my cell, I also changed my long distance plan to lower the base monthly fee. Also, I got rid of my HD package with Dish and took myself down to the most basic satellite package (though I will admit I will likely add HBO back when The Sopranos comes back to finish its run!). Total savings: $50/month
  • Cancelled Netflix — Yes, I love Netflix. But I wasn’t watching the movies. Those red envelopes would sit for weeks near my dvd player taunting me. I plan to use the library for movie rentals on weekends when I’m jonesing for some couch potato time. Total savings: $15/month.

From those actions alone I’m saving $111 per month on what I was spending the last year. Freeing that up to put towards debt reduction and savings feels great.

Lifehack.org has a few more suggestions on cutting expenses. Making your own coffee at home and using the library are ones I’ve been incorporating for a while. And I definitely plan on incorporating some of J.D.’s tips on how to eat vegetarian on the cheap once our farmer’s market opens up in April.