We live in a society that muddles the line between our needs and wants. Through media, how we were raised, our friends and family, or just our own disillusion, we think we need things that can easily be done without. For those of us striving to live frugally or those in desperate need to spend wisely, it is essential that we establish what our true needs are. I am in no means asking you to live in a cave eating only rice and beans, or don’t decorate your house with nice chandeliers, but if you are in serious need to save money, you may want to consider cutting out these luxuries in your life.
Cable: Can’t live without your TV shows? Growing up in a TV centered family, I thought the same exact thing. However, getting rid of cable could not have been better for my husband and I. When we had cable, we would both zone out in front of the tube and watch many different shows. Now without cable, we still watch our favorite shows, but only the ones that we really want to watch. We no longer pass time watching shows like Hoarders or Storage Wars because although they were entertaining, they were not something we looked forward to every week. We only watched them because nothing else was on.
We watch about five shows through Hulu.com and the TV channel’s websites. Not only are we saving more than $50 a month, but also we are saving a lot of time. Get rid of cable and get creative; you will not regret it.
Nice Cell Phones and Landlines: It is funny how so many people cannot live without their IPhones or Androids. They consider them essential because they offer many different, helpful apps. However, the cost of the IPhone or other smart phone is over $200 with the plan, and then you need a pricey plan that includes data and messaging to use it. If you cannot afford to make your car payment or rent payment, then you definitely do not need a smart phone. A basic phone, even a gasp flip phone will do everything you really need.
As far as landlines go, they are unnecessary unless you rely on it for your home business. However, even if you need to make long distant calls or business calls, there are several Internet options that are cheaper.
Non-Essential Groceries: We all need to eat. There is no arguing over that. However, think about your most recent shopping trip. What did you buy? Juice boxes and snacks for the kids? A bag of chips to snack on? Ice Cream? Jello Cups? The list could go on for miles. While we all need to eat, many of us spend our money on junk food and non-essential groceries.
Get back to the basics and spend only on ingredients for meals, instead of instant meals. Buy bulk rice instead of Rice-a-Roni or instant rice. Make wholesome and simple meals, such as baked chicken and steamed vegetables or rice and bean burritos.
Also, you do not need three different types of cheese or five different fruits. Enjoy apples and oranges one week and grapes the next. For cheese, use mozzarella for Mexican food instead of buying both cheddar and mozzarella. The recipe may call for Parmesan and mozzarella cheese, but you can get away with just using one cheese without sacrificing taste. Cut one non-essential grocery item from your list each shopping trip to ease into a smaller grocery budget effortlessly.
Social Outings: In no way should you make your social life nonexistent. However, going out to dinner with family members or to the movies with friends should be reconsidered. A night out with your significant other can cost as much anywhere from $20-50. If you have kids and need to hire a babysitter, do not forget about those costs. The amount for one night may seem insignificant, but going out 2-4 times a month can add up to almost $200.
The truth is that you need to socialize, but socializing through means of eating out or going out is a want. Instead, invite friends or family over for a potluck and game night or rent a Redbox movie and take it to a friend’s house. These gatherings end up being more fun because they are in the comfort of one’s own home. The cost of each gathering is minimal too, even if you were to make dinner for nine people.
Making cuts to your budget is not always fun. If you are serious about saving money, it is a necessity to realize what we need versus what we want. When considering buying a new item or whether to cut something from your budget, just ask yourself, “Can I live without this?” Most of the times, the answer is yes. You just need to be creative about how you live without it.