Nora and Tim help you find balance when dealing with a stressful debt situation. Learn how to manage stress and enjoy travel without breaking the bank.
Old habits die hard.
Some are monthly expenses you're so used to paying that you don't even notice them any more; others are regular expenses we incur that are viewed as necessities (or rather, necessary luxuries) - all of which there are reasonable alternatives for. Check it out!
Monthly Expenses You Don't Need:
Credit Card Insurance
It may seem cheap at a few pennies for every hundred dollars you owe on your credit card, but credit card insurance is not only exorbitantly expensive in relation to comparable forms of insurance, but it's also one of the least effective and most difficult insurances to successfully claim on.
Bank Account Fees
Take a look at your bank account. Do you pay a monthly fee? Could you avoid paying that fee if you maintained a minimum balance? What about withdrawal, debit, or other transaction charges? A friend of mine recently scrutinized all her bank account statements to discover she can save over $400/year in unnecessary fees, simply by paying more attention to the structure of her account and transactions.
For some people, television is a non-negotiable requirement, and if you're one of those people, far be it for me to tell you that you don't need it. All I ask is that you take a look at exactly what you watch on TV that gives you the greatest sense of satisfaction, and ask yourself if there's any other way to view the same show or obtain the same information (online, for example).
Years ago, I moved into a place that (accidentally) had free cable. When the cable company realized the error of its ways and revoked it, I decided to do an experiment and see if I could live without it. Although there was an adjustment period at first, I coped pretty well, and also managed to save some cool cash each month in so doing.
Other Expenses Worth Reconsidering:
Coffee Shop Coffee
As much as I love a really good cup 'o' jo, I refuse to feed my daily addiction at a coffee shop. Instead, I buy good quality coffee beans, grind them fresh daily, and use a nice French press to create the perfect cup. If I need one for the road, I take a travel mug with me. I figure I'm saving about $1,000/year on lattes, as well as the environmental cost of ordering all those coffees to go.
In grocery shopping with a friend recently, I was shocked to see her load up the cart with multiple cases of bottled water. I see very little up-side to bottled water; it's largely unregulated, the plastic leaches unhealthy toxins into the water, the waste factor is horrific, and for all this you pay a formidable price. There are alternatives; please consider them.
After too many uninspiring sandwiches and granola bars, I lost the plot and spent a small fortune eating lunch out for a short spell. I tried to justify it by choosing inexpensive and healthy lunch options, but no matter which way I sliced it, I was consistently spending more money than I did on my packed lunches.
But I couldn't bear to prepare and force back another dull packed lunch. So instead, I started cooking larger dinners at night and taking the leftovers for lunch. Now I enjoy a hot healthy meal at lunch; one that I often look forward to enjoying during my mid-day break.
Grocery Shopping Strategies
This is yet another lesson learned the hard way by yours truly. Despite having a solid routine of weekly grocery outings armed with a well-prepared list, I moved somewhere with great shopping nearby and it all fell apart.
I truly believed I could shop just a meal or two in advance without spending any more money. In some ways I still don't understand why it didn't work since I bought many of the same ingredients, but ultimately my grocery expenses doubled. A little planning and fewer trips to the grocery store can go a long way.
These are just a few expenses that I've found success in cutting out of my life without too much ado. What expenses could you do without?
Avoiding Pain at the Pump
Running Your Business on a Shoestring Budget
Balancing the Needs of Tomorrow with the Desires of Today
Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo: a full-time traveler and freelance writer. She is a contributing writer under Life Balance. Having sold her business and belongings to travel, she has been on the road since 2007. She travels in a financially sustainable manner, taking advantage of creative volunteering positions while constantly balancing life and her location independent work on the road. As a former certified Financial Planner, she is financially responsible for her actions along the way. She believes there is a fine balance between planning for tomorrow, and living for today.Compensated CareOne Blogger.
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I have a strange confession to make; I have turned into quite the non-consumerist, in fact I have spent less than twenty dollars on myself since the first of the year.
It's kind of obnoxious that it is assumed that these expenses are there in my life for me to cut out, like it wouldn't have occurred to me that these are unnecessary; this obviously comes from a position of privilege. I don't spend on any of these things because I can't afford them (not as in "to help me save money to have other nice stuff" but as in "if I was paying for this crap I would not have a place to live.") Why not write about how, as crazy as it sounds and as bitter as the sacrifices will be, you too can limit yourself to just one Cadillac and cut back on your intake of fair-trade organic truffles and try feeding your greyhounds plain ground beef instead of sirloin? I wonder if, when I tell my friends I am flat broke, they assume that it's because I am overspending on Starbucks and Aquafina...
I am doing alot to save money, I dont have cable, i run all house hold appliances when it gets dark, water the grass at night, have guard dogs, have a cheep cell phone, although i do have a land line i only pay 6 dollars a month for it and thats rounding up. I have the cheapest internet possible thats mostly to have netflix - which we dont pay for and to watch free tv and movies. we never turn on the lights in the house we use natural lighting and we are even starting to switch to solar panels..these are just a few things i am doing to save money..
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Want an easy way to consistently stay on track with your monthly budget? All you need is a few envelopes and a little organized commitment.
This post isn't (necessarily!) to convince you to travel full-time; instead hopefully it will help you understand the ever-increasing trappings of the "comfortable" life so you can make decisions accordingly.
You decide to clean up your finances, create a budget, and start saving money. But a few months later, progress is slow and you're losing inspiration to stay on track.
I had internet phone, and it did not work for me. If the power blinks off, even for a second, the system stays dead until you reboot it manually. I once went without phone for a couple of days. I wasn't expecting it to ring, so no big deal when it didn't. Then, I needed the phone, and it was dead. No 911, voice mail, anything, if that happens! I dealt with this about once a month, then I reinstated my land phone. I got on a family cell plan with my boyfriend's family, and my share comes to $12 a month. This is unlimited phone and text. As for the bottled water comments, I agree that the water for the most part is no better than out of most people's tap, so is a serious waste of money. Get a thermos! I also work in the plastic business, and the bottles will not kill you, just your budget.