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Money Saving Technique: Try Living Without Something

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In reading Ed’s post about cutting budgets, I came to realize a budget cutting technique I’ve used but never actually wrote about. The basic idea is that a lot of your needs are actually wants, so how do you objectively separate the two? You can’t and it’s futile to try! So instead of trying to ordain which is which, go through your needs one by one, scale them back or cut them entirely and see how it affects your life.

Take one of Ed’s brief examples: “Is it necessary to have the fastest internet possible? Would a slower speed connection be ok?” Cancel your internet or reduce it to dialup, how is your life truly affected? Personally, I had no internet access for a month when I first moved in and I visited the library quite a bit (it’s within three minutes walking distance, no car involved) but I truly missed having an internet connection at home.

So cancel that Netflix subscription, replace it with some time scouring the internet for Red Box promotional codes and see if it truly impacts your life in any appreciable way.

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9 Responses to “Money Saving Technique: Try Living Without Something”

  1. Very true. I recently seen in my local paper that cox.net was raising rates on their Kansas customers. I called cox up and lowered my internet service to the cheapest (value) service. I already have the cheapest TV service they offer (and that was the only service that didn’t increase). When I told them it was because of their outlandish rate increase, they told me that they hadn’t raised rates in 2 years. At this point I became irritated, and told them I hadn’t had a pay raise in 3 years. That pretty much shut them up, and they said, “OK, I will put this through.”
    I swear, these big corporations making millions of dollars try to act like they are so poor, and it’s the consumers they are ripping off, who are really the poor ones.

  2. This is a great post, as I sit here drinking my Starbucks coffee (yikes!).

    On a positive note, we were able to save a small chunk on our internet service. We have Adelphia cable modem. Our 6-month promo rate was expiring, so I called to see if they could keep cutting a deal for us. They wouldn’t. However, I found out that we had the high speed version, and that we could save even more than we had been by downgrading to the regular version. The speed difference is virtually unnoticeable, except in the most intensive use cases. We know only pay about $25 / month, instead of $50.

  3. frugal mama says:

    It’s always a good idea to periodically re-visit those services you really thought you “needed” to have. We went on vacation this past summer to a place with no television in the rented house. When we returned home, no one bothered to plug the TV back in – not parents, not kids – and four weeks after that, we canceled the cable. It’s a $60 savings per month for something that we now see was simply sucking up our time. We found more quality time together, time for reading, time for playing with the dogs, time for bike rides, time for chatting and just TIME. Even if you think you won’t last a week, I dare you to try it. You may be very pleasantly surprised.

    ~fm

  4. prlinkbiz says:

    I like my lifestyle, but I’m in growth mode. While there are some things I refuse to give up, like my Starbucks and high speed internet (those are necessities in my book), I agree it is amazing what you can live without. I find it easiest when the money is not even there to spend. Tomorrow is More Money Monday’s at NLL and that’s what I’m blogging about-

  5. Matt says:

    Occasionally I’m reminded just how foreign some people’s perspectives on finance are.

    Cut back to dialup internet connectivity? Then I’d have to go into the office every single day…and I’d get way less time with my fiancee. No, unacceptable.

    Crappy mass-market bread for sandwiches? That stuff makes me sick…no, thanks, I’ll stick with the bakery bread. It’s only about 20c per loaf more than the cheapest crap.

    Replace Netflix with e-coupons for some tiny little kiosk thing that doesn’t stock anything interesting? Give up FoodTV and HBO? Maybe if the situation were desperate…that is, if I hadn’t had a W2 job in over 2 years and my business had completely fallen apart and my fiancee couldn’t work either and we were tearing through our remaining savings to survive…but short of the apocalypse coming that seems pretty unlikely.

    GIVE UP OUR HOUSE??? To SAVE MONEY???!!!??? I’d sell my organs on the black market before I gave up this house. I would lay down my life in its defense, should that prove necessary. There is absolutely no way whatsoever that any set of financial difficulties would lead me to get rid of it and move back into the kind of crappy apartments I’ve lived in most of my life. (Especially since it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find even a crappy apartment for much cheaper than the mortgage on this house.)

    There’s a moment that comes in budgeting when it starts being painful. That pain is a signal, and should not be ignored. The pain is there to tell you that you’re about to write in changes that will be hard to live with…that you’ll spend your time rebelling against…and that very likely will ultimately lead to worse outcomes than the pre-budget situation. You’re better off focusing on adding income than you are cutting past the pain.

    • echidnina says:

      We all have different priorities, but chances are there is SOMETHING in your life that you can afford to lose. A gym membership you never use? Name brands instead of identical store brands? Magazine subscriptions, daily papers? I don’t think I could live without high-speed internet either, but I can definitely live without cable. Once I ditched the TV habit I found so much more time for myself and my loved ones. We all have different needs, but cutting out the fat can lead to a richer life, not just financially.

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  7. frugal mama says:

    As Matt wrote, “There’s a moment that comes in budgeting when it starts being painful. That pain is a signal, and should not be ignored. The pain is there to tell you that you’re about to write in changes that will be hard to live with…”

    Okay… I can see that. There is a quality of life issue at stake here for him. Not to attack you, Matt, but you are young. You are not married and have no children, right? Your fiance works and you work – two incomes and no dependents. In other words, you don’t have a clue about how much it costs to raise a family. Nor how much just spending time with kids can mean to you, playing in leaves, making cookies, reading a book. That’s worth more to me than a second income. That’s worth more than anything. There is always money to be made, but kids are only young once.

    What I got from your posting are two main points (and correct me if I am wrong)
    1. don’t give up the biggest pleasures for the sake of a couple of bucks
    2. it’s easier to make more money than to cut pleasurable expenses.

    You seem to be saying, “I earned this house and they’ll kill me before they get it!” But it’s just a house. My opinion is, “Just give me my kids in good health and there is always someplace to live.” I guess my point is, giving stuff up that we choose to give up to save a few bucks is a choice we make. If you don’t want to get rid of high-speed internet, great. Keep it. I don’t care. It’s your money. But to me, keeping my slow dial-up for $10 a month and giving my kids the gift of a fully paid college education is worth more than fast internet service. It’s about choices. You may find, after you have a family, that you see things in a different light. I have five houses and a Mercedes Benz sitting in the garage, and no cable. Why? Because we choose to live that way. I am living beneath my means…and if one person reading about my lack of cable decides to try it, and likes that life, then it was worth the five minutes of typing with a slow dial-up service.

    Grow up Matt… then brag about your bakery bread.

    ~fm

  8. katy says:

    yay, FM! ITA. I like your priorities and was happily surprised to hear about your 5 houses and mercedes.

    I am also frugal, but with a smaller lifestyle (married, no kids, unemployed but looking actively and HARD). It’s about priorities and doing the best you can.

    yeah, he can have his bakery bread, etc. Time wounds all heels.


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