Amy Dacyczyn, author of The Tightwad Gazette, recounted in one of her newsletters that a woman approached her, said how great it was that Amy could be a stay at home mom and wish'd she could, too, but the family just couldn't make do without her income.
Amy grilled the woman about her expenses and pointed out all the ways that the family could cut back. . .they just chose not to.
Afterward, Amy felt bad about the encounter because she recognized that perhaps the woman really didn't want to stay home, either because she enjoyed her job or because she didn't want to sacrifice the creature comforts her family enjoyed thanks to her income.
However, she made one important point–there are always places in the budget you can cut–if you want to.
Our Experience Cutting Corners–Have We Cut Enough?
We've been cutting expenses for awhile now in our effort to pay down the hefty debt we racked up when my husband was in grad school. Here are just a few of the things we currently do to save money every month:
- Wear clothes twice if they aren't dirty instead of throwing them in the laundry after light use (we have to pay $1 per load to wash our laundry)
- Hang up our clothes on a rack rather than pay to use the dryer (another $1 per load)
- Switched to Ooma Telo for our home phone service
- Negotiated our cable/Internet bill down to a promo price for a year (we get both services for $47/month)
- Buy our clothes used at thrift stores, garage sales, and Goodwill
- Drive an 8 year old minivan that is paid off
- Use public transportation so we only need one car (my husband takes the train to work every day)
- Listen to our music on YouTube rather than buy new CDs
- Buy our specialty foods like rice and soy milk at Costco to save over regular stores
- Go out to eat less than 5 times a year
- Make all of our food at home and pack lunches
- Rarely throw out food but eat it all the leftovers instead or freeze them for later use
- Watch movies for free on Hulu or Amazon or borrow them from the library
- Cut my son and husband's hair, and my husband dyes my hair at home
By doing this, we have shaved our expenses substantially. However, when my husband came home from work last week shaken up because a number of his colleagues had been laid off, I realized that there is still plenty more we can do.
- Our deep freezer is stocked, and we could easily buy fewer groceries and use up what we have on a regular basis.
- We could also eat more bean meals with basic, low cost vegetables like carrots and potatoes to lower our grocery expense
- Even though our cable is a good deal now, we might save a bit more by cutting the cable all together.
- I could spend more time clipping coupons to save on toiletries.
Dacyczyn is right; there is always more to cut.
Peter's Experience Cutting Cost
Peter and his wife are saving for a new house, and even though they are already frugal, they found an extra $1,600 a year by making a few simple changes in their services.
While $1,600 may not seem like a huge amount, if you break it down, you'll see that they are saving $133 a month or $30 a week. That is significant, especially as the years go by.
Whether you are trying to curb your expenses to save more for retirement, to save for a down payment on a house, to pay down debt, to become a stay at home parent, or to prepare for possible unemployment, there are always additional ways to cut expenses. If you need help knowing where you might cut expenses, look first at your regular monthly bills. That's where you'll likely see the most impact.
How do you cut costs? Is there more you could be doing?