Most people who want to get out of debt quickly will make a budget, then start cutting.
Naturally, the first thing you need is a budget! Once that is drawn up and you see where your money is going (and how much) here are the most common budget items that go on the chopping block and get sacrificed:
- Eating out: Restaurants can kill your cash flow fast. trust me on this one, it is a vice I struggle with myself. While dine-in restaurants can take large chunks out of your budget at one time, my problem has always been the convenient
and “cheap” fast food drive-through while out and about and pressed for time. Yes, that’s a double whammy: the food is less than nutritious and it hurts the budget. When I first started out on the budget last year, I allocated only $20 per week for all eating out.
- Cable or satellite television: This one waited until last summer to go on the chopping block. Now I am not even sure why I waited! Since there is no “a la carte” channel choosing option available in our area, we were paying for 60 channels and only watching about 15 of them. Last fall, I decreed that until the cable company offers the “Nerd Channel package” we weren’t going to bring this back (nerd channels: Sc-Fi, TLC, Discover, A&E, History, etc. You know, stuff “only nerds watch” that I do enjoy.)
- Cell phone package: If you are under under contract like we are, then the cell phone calling package gets stripped down to the lowest level. The teenagers in the house will cry and moan, but as an adult I personally see no reason to text message “lol” and “what u doin?” all day.
- Store brand groceries: Buy the store brand at the grocery store instead of the name brand! Usually they are made by the same company anyway, so this isn’t much of a sacrifice except in image.
- No “window shopping” for entertainment: So-called window shopping and mall-crawling end up in impulse purchases that we so often don’t need. If you need to venture into the land of retail temptation, make a list and stick to it!
- Cut the clothing budget: Buy only what you need. I don’t consider myself a clotheshorse, yet I have enough clothing in my closet to last two weeks without doing laundry. Honestly, I don’t know how this happened. Children outgrowing clothes is a necessity. Work clothes are a necessity. A nice outfit you might wear only once a quarter isn’t.
- Movies or DVDs: I haven’t been able to stomach movie theater ticket prices for about half a decade now, unless you are talking about the dollar movie theater (which is now $1.50 even!), but impulse buying DVDs were a drain on our finances. We now have a movie-buying policy: If we won’t watch a DVD at least five times we don’t buy it.
- Home phone (Land line): If you have a cell phone package that includes long-distance, you can cut your home phone service to local only, then strip off all the little add-ons like call waiting, caller ID, and about a dozen other little services that I don’t even recognize anymore. My monthly home phone bill is under $21 a month! That is for local calling only, which is the only thing I use it for anyway (and to receive incoming calls from friends and relatives who have had that phone number for years). I’m even thinking of getting rid of the home phone completely.
This is just a list of the simple little budget sacrifices that often add up to a surprisingly large number! Cutting back on these things often doesn’t even feel like a large sacrifice after a short time of adjustment (usually two months max). I haven’t even touched the larger sacrifices some folks make to slash their budget like selling vehicles with notes attached or actually going back to a dial-up internet connection (which I shudder at!).
Now I’ll throw out the question: What are some common budget sacrifices that you know of and have done?