When people start talking about cutting down on expenses, a lot of individuals have this idea that it usually involves sacrificing a lot of things, sometimes including the necessities of a decent living. Nothing could be further from the truth, because making a decision to change where you buy your purchases could save you a few bucks, or even reducing the quantity you consume of a particular item will reduce your total cost. Suzette Jamieson explains how to go about cutting back on your expenses without drastically changing your life.
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed with your bills and starting to get anxious about the need to get out of debt? Well, believe it or not, it can be a relatively simple process … if you know what you’re doing. Have you heard the question “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is simple – “One bite at a time.” Just like in life, the simple and obvious answer, is not always the first thing that comes to mind when presented with a big “problem” like eating an elephant. But getting out of debt is no different … you just need to tackle things one bite at a time.
For example, if you take ANY regular expenditure and cut it just a little bit, you’ll be surprised at how much of a difference it can actually make. We’ll use haircuts as an example since most people get one on a regular basis. If you normally go every 6 weeks for a trim, make it 7 weeks instead. Or maybe you go every 4 weeks and there is no way your style can go another week. You could always opt for a different style (yeah right!) … or just push it back 3 or 4 days instead of a full week. So how much could you save if you just got your hair cut a little less often? Well, on the cheap end, let’s say you pay $15 for a haircut and tip. If you go every 6 weeks, you’re paying this $15 eight or nine times a year. But if you went 7 weeks between haircuts, you would only pay $15 seven or eight times a year … for a total savings of $15 a year.
Not very impressive or motivating, is it? Remember, that is just ONE bite of the proverbial elephant. Now you need to take another bite. Find something else that you spend money on regularly and just cut back slightly or make a little adjustment in timeframes. Here’s another example. Do you buy more than one soft drink or vending machine snack every day at work? Cut back by one a day or bring them from home. You can catch canned soft drinks on sale at the grocery store at a price that comes to about $0.35 – $0.40 each including tax. If you’re paying more than that in the vending machine, you’re wasting money that you could be re-directing elsewhere. If your employer doesn’t have a refrigerator you can use, bring your soft drink in a lunch box with an ice block to keep it cold. Even if you only save $0.50 a day, you’ll save about $120 over the course of a year.
Now, while those 2 examples are very small, keep something in mind. If you have a family, the savings are even larger. A family of 2 working adults and 2 children could save $60 in haircuts and $240 in work snacks for a total annual savings of $300. That averages out to $25 a month … and that was just on TWO small changes. That $25/month savings could either be used to ease monthly budget stress, put into a savings account towards a large purchase, or used to get out of debt. With a little bit of planning and small changes in the way you do things, you could easily “find” $100, $200, $300 or more each and every month!
What about trips to the movies? dining out? daily lattes or lunch out with co-workers? How much do those set you back every time? Try cutting just one a week and see how much more impact larger expenses have. Spend more time with the family and do a little brown-bagging. You’ll feel like you just got a raise! So the next time you get ready to spend money, STOP and think. What if you made just a small change in the way you normally do things … how much money could you save? Then make the decision to make that change … and then find another one, and another one, and another one. The savings will add up … but your life will not be drastically altered.