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Paring back expenses exercise

Revelate
Moderator Emeritus

Paring back expenses exercise

I posted a rather rambling response to a question regarding minimum payments on credit cards when ends couldn't be met, and it wound up being an exercise in ruthlessly optimizing my expenses... so cross posting over here just to see if others have done a similar analysis and what their own savings might be if the proverbial fecal matter was headed towards the air circulation device and financially cutting back and what one would gain.

 

Anyway cut and paste in most of it's glory below:

 

At some level I think everyone has to make a rational choice: *really* do a budget (and the $5 I spent at Starbucks this morning for example would get kicked to the curb if push came to shove for example, as would any drink other than water FWIW, and I don't mean the Smart Water and other pay for service, tap water where clean or the 25 cent gallons one gets elsewhere).

 

Other things similarly just get airstruck:

  • Prime: maybe I'd still keep this, big maybe but probably not as I can walk to get basic necessities and there's cheaper ways to kill time for me.  $10/month
  • Kindle Unlimited: same, actually this may go anyway $10/month 
  • Experian:  $10/month gone
  • NPR donation: $10/month gone
  • Netflix: $13/month gone
  • AF's on credit cards: if I'm not eating out as much re-evaluate the CSR, and the extraneous CIP / Marriot both get killed immediately; I lose out on some things with that as the Marriot card more than pays for itself but ultimately it's about stopping the bleeding.

Then the big things:

  • Restaurant habit: $444 spent last month; cook no matter what when at home, long as the food is safe it's edible.
  • Tesla: I could probably optimize my life to the point I didn't have this expense; I don't have to go onsite that often currently and Uber for a given month would be cheaper than the nominal payment for all that I'm way ahead on the loan already.  Or take the $15k I'd get back probably after sale and loan payoff and buy a beater for a few K, use the rest to shore up debt or cash reserves.  Might be able to refinance the payment down too, I might go look into that if my life changes as I will need a car for most employment opportunities in LA (or elsewhere, mass transit sucks so badly in the US overall if I have to move for a gig)
  • Mortgage: refinance it, rate doesn't matter just go and get that payment down by ~700/month.  
  • Second bedroom: rent it, yeah I've lived by myself for perhaps too long but I can deal with a roomate: extra stuff, just get rid of all of it, condense down Marie Kondo style, God knows I don't rationally need a TV anymore and if I don't need that I don't need the stand or the receiver / DVD / etc components.

That's just adjustments I can make on the back of my hand but admittedly I know my expenses well cause I've done the budgetting exercise and track all of it, and I think virtually everyone could make similar if they tried... I suspect the vast majority of consumers *really* don't ruthlessly budget to minimize expenses in order to get out of debt or back on financial track.

 

Admittedly even when I'm looking at this list maybe I need to pare back anyway, that small list still comes to 1186 a year approximately, and that big list well, I could cut out ~22K a year, still keep my condo, at a one time expense of around ~$3k call it to refinance the mortgage assuming I just sell the Tesla as regardless of how much I enjoy driving the car I'm driving less than 7k miles a year and no soccer refereeing would reduce that even further, I'll deal.

 

I suspect compared to my income my bleeding is WAY less than most people's too, but when I can slash call it 1800/month out of my expenses... well, that's a lot, and I think as soon as one of my two gigs comes to an end I'm going to implement a lot of this.  Right now it's all about convenience and mental sanity and a lot of money (for probably most people TBH looking at average HHI, last month I was in the 1% income wise with 3 gigs) sloshing around and just hammering the debt... but I could be doing a lot better rationally just looking at it.




        
Message 1 of 13
12 REPLIES 12
Dinosaur
Moderator Emeritus

Re: Paring back expenses exercise

@Revelate... a sobering reality that is hard to swallow but befitting of our financial needs if the income is not there to sustain the existing way of life's expenses. Humbling to say the least ... Smiley Sad

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Message 2 of 13
VanderSnoot
Established Contributor

Re: Paring back expenses exercise

I slashed my budget, or more precisely, I became a lot more conscious of my spending when I started tracking with Mint (or YNAB) and budgeting. Upped my savings rate north of 50% after taxes. I did little things, like getting rid of Prime, and bigger things, like learning not to shop for fun/stress relief/boredom. I still buy groceries from a local co-op and a CSA, so I could cut more there, but the quality is worth it to me. I also buy pre-made food from the stores instead of going out, which is a cheaper way to get the same convenience, but still more expensive than cooking from scratch every day. The kids still get ice cream, but now it's from our freezer instead of driving to the trendy gelato/paleta/whatever spot. Since I don't have Prime, I get my books from the app "Libby," which is linked to your local library. Their selection is pretty good, but occasionally there are books they don't have. I'll keep my car until it dies (it's nearing 200k now and will likely live to 250k and maybe even 300k). I knew that increasing my savings would give me more peace of mind, but was surprised to find that more intentional spending allows me more free time to connect with people. Even my dog gets more attention, because instead of whipping around running errands, I'm at home and can play or go for a walk.

Message 3 of 13
Dinosaur
Moderator Emeritus

Re: Paring back expenses exercise

@VanderSnoot in reference to your library not having books you desire, your library maybe linked into what is called an "inter library loan" program/system that can source other libraries and have the book(s) of choice brought to your library of choice or mailed to you at home. Something you can consider.
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Message 4 of 13
VanderSnoot
Established Contributor

Re: Paring back expenses exercise


@Dinosaur wrote:
@VanderSnootin reference to your library not having books you desire, your library maybe linked into what is called an "inter library loan" program/system that can source other libraries and have the book(s) of choice brought to your library of choice or mailed to you at home. Something you can consider.

I think ILL only works for hard copies, no? It'd be great if it worked for ebooks and audiobooks. Alas, I think my only chance of expanding selection is to become a member of more libraries Smiley Wink

Message 5 of 13
Dinosaur
Moderator Emeritus

Re: Paring back expenses exercise

@VanderSnootyou got me? I can not remember if you can get ebooks and audiobooks? In the state where I live we have separate library regions but, they are interconnected so your library card while issued on one library or a regional library system could access the other libraries (used to be on the state library advisory council) and if what you wanted was elsewhere they got it for you. Before getting lot's of other library cards, inquire into if your state allows the uses that mine does. I have a card on a region and it goes to all of them (got'ta love the convenience and I have used it that way even into the college academic libraries). Well anyway food for thought Smiley Happy Good luck as keeping the young students of life engaged is important!

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Message 6 of 13
SteelerNYC
Valued Contributor

Re: Paring back expenses exercise

I don't really have expenses to cut back on - no recurring subscriptions.  Netflix and Pandora included with my T-Mobile bill (which is ridiculously cheap to begin with) and basically anything else I use, I do free trials on a rotating basis. 

 

I became very mindful of spending on subscription services when taking a year off of work in 2013 . . $10 here, $5 there, $15, etc., and I had over $200/month in stuff to cancel. You generally don't have time to use them all at once anyway, so that's why I rotate now.

 

My car is 12 years old (only 123k, fully maintained) and has long been paid off. Insurance is $550/year. I share an inexpensive apartment and have a small student loan and some CC debt (1.99/4.99) I am squashing before the promo period is up.

 

Low expenses are great, but it brings me to the issue I've always had of keeping discretionary spending under control. I contribute good chunks to retirement and savings, but I could still easily cut my dining/entertainment/travel/misc budget by $500-$1000/month. I somewhat gave myself a pass on spending the first half of this year, but am taking this month to set a new general budget for the second half.

 

 

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Message 7 of 13
SBR249
Established Contributor

Re: Paring back expenses exercise

I think that while slashing expenses is a good thing and one should periodically re-evaluate their spending, it's probably unsustainable to cut everything to the bone from the get go. What I would suggest is setting some type of goal or a series of milestones and work out a baseline for a comfortable amount you would like to cut to reach those goals. Give yourself some breathing room for occasional splurges or cheap luxuries. Once you've established a comfortable doable baseline, then you can think about things you can stretch to cut or cut just a little more. But setting concrete milestones is important, rather than just ideals like "I want to get out of debt" or "I need to cut down my expenses more". 

 

Essentially, you want realistic targets and you don't want to cut everything so severely that you are miserable for a long time. That would be hard to keep up. Figure out a comfort zone that will get you to your milestones and then stretch yourself a little periodically if you feel up to it. 

Message 8 of 13
kdm31091
Super Contributor

Re: Paring back expenses exercise

I would like to eat out less and cook more. It's easy to get caught up in bonus rewards for dining and it can encourage one to dine out more which in the long run costs far more than the gain from "extra rewards". I want to make an effort to cook more, for financial and for staying healthy reasons. Easier said than done though. 

 

I am proud that I've mostly eliminated my $2.32 a day Dunkin habit, which does add up over time!

Message 9 of 13
SBR249
Established Contributor

Re: Paring back expenses exercise


@kdm31091 wrote:

I would like to eat out less and cook more. It's easy to get caught up in bonus rewards for dining and it can encourage one to dine out more which in the long run costs far more than the gain from "extra rewards". I want to make an effort to cook more, for financial and for staying healthy reasons. Easier said than done though. 

 

I am proud that I've mostly eliminated my $2.32 a day Dunkin habit, which does add up over time!


I have the same problem, though a big reason for me is that I'm not a very good cook. I can muddle my way through a dish but it's hard eating so-so food day after day. I also have a tendency to overcook when I do and as a single person, it's often a week long commitment to a dish that I'm not too excited about to begin with. I think I might try one of those meal delivery services at some point, maybe it'll be a good compromise between going out and going whole hog on home cooking. 

Message 10 of 13
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