For years, I’ve been tracking every cent I spend and looking for ways to reduce my expenses. You’d think I’d have found every shortcut by now of what to not buy. But I continue to add to the list of things I don’t buy.
But as my life evolved from life-long student to working mother, as I learned more about personal finance, as my values changed to include acknowledging the impact my actions have on my world, and as I find that I am happier with less, I also discovered new ways to save and minimized lifestyle inflation.
I started by cutting some of the obvious items, such as $120.77/mo for cable and a similar cost for two phone lines. Then I realized the importance of also reducing the smaller recurring costs, including $40/mo in soda and $14/mo for streaming TV. Now my family is learning more about how to DIY and easy ways to prepare food on our own rather than buying pre-packaged or pre-made.
One-by-one, I’ve made changes to reduce my expenses. In most cases, they’ve also improved my health and reduced my waste.
Here are some of the things I no longer buy
Cell phone contract (replaced with monthly pre-paid plan)
Cable TV (replaced with YouTube, free streaming, or HD antenna)
Anything from vending machines
Anything from convenience stores (except on Free Slurpee Day)
Tissues (unless someone’s ill)
Paper towels, paper napkins, paper plates, plastic cutlery
Plastic storage containers
Bottled water, Soda, Iced tea, Juice
Coffee filters (I got a reusable one)
Individually wrapped items
Plastic pots for propagating plants (I put my succulents in old plastic containers until ready to pot)
Shredded cheese (we buy the block and shred ourselves)
Canned beans (we buy dried)
Taco seasoning (we make our own)
Pasta sauce (we make our own)
Broth (we make our own using vegetable scraps)
Guacamole or salsa (we make our own)
Basil (we grow our own)
Meals at Sit-down Restaurants (unless with friends or on special occasions)
Memberships for gyms/salons (though I do join organizations I value, e.g. PTA)
Newspapers or magazines
Coupons (yes, some people buy coupons)
Services I don’t pay others to do
Trim my grass or trees
Trim my nails
Color my hair
Rub my back
Carry food from a kitchen to my table
Clean my pool
Clean my house
Deliver food to my home
Individually wrap each ingredient in plastic and mail it to me
Run my errands
Change my oil
Put gas in my car
Repair or replace (most) appliances
Pressure wash the house
Wash my car
Watch my kids (we moved closer to family)
Wash/dry clean my clothes
Wipe my butt*
Keep track of my continuing education hours
To be honest, many of these services are performed by my “I’ll look it up and figure out how to do it” husband. Without him, I’m certain I would need to hire help for at least some of these tasks. But I am grateful that my partner and I agree on a financial plan that includes doing things ourselves whenever possible. It keeps us skilled, strong, and out of debt!
*I am considering getting a bidet, so this might change.
What other things have you been cutting out of your expenses?
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