Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Miscellaneous Thoughts on Spending Less

Yesterday I talked about earning more money. Today I want to think about ways to spend less.

This is not easy for me. I looked at my budget recently and I was hard pressed to come up with any areas where I could reasonably expect to cut back. That's not to say that my budget is so lean and mean that I have no unnecessary expenditures. Frankly, my family is loath to give up our few creature comforts and I don't have the ability to impose a restrictive regime unilaterally.

We both have cell phones and my husband requires his for work. In fact, he receives some kind of allowance towards the cost of it. I find having a cell is important to me, especially when we go to our other house (where we have no land line). I recently made changes to my plan to try to optimize it for the types of calls I make and for the coverage I needed to improve my service (although that seems to be only marginally better).

What about giving up the land line? Well, I've read a number of posts on VoIP and I'm not convinced that this is the solution for us. The 911 issue is very troubling to me, especially when you consider that I spend about half the week alone all day with 3 active little girls. And my cell service in the house still leaves much to be desired. One second the connection is fine. The next second I have no service and I haven't moved an inch. I'd hate to be relaying important medical information and lose the connection. And this is not purely theoretical. One of the girls just got a cast off. She broke her arm mountain climbing on the couch.

Cable TV? Over my hubby's dead body! He's a huge hockey fan and watches all the games (plus football, plus...) and he wouldn't be pleased in the least if we even cut back on our service. Of course, the cable and satellite providers are very clever and put many of the most popular channels in the premium tier. Anyway, the subject is pretty well moot now that we live in the same house as my adult daughter and her family. We combined our cable when we moved in together and they'd have to agree too (the service is in their name and we just pay our share of the bill). Considering that they just bought a big screen HDTV LCD TV I'm thinking the answer is "No".

We only have one car and my husband uses it for sales calls so we can't get rid of it, although his office is in the process of moving and I think he'll ride his bike to work at least part of the time (when he doesn't plan to be out of the office during the day and when the weather co-operates). We also drive back and forth to the other house anywhere from once a week to once in 6 weeks. I spoke to my hubby about doing small things to improve gas mileage, although he seemed to feel it wasn't worth it.

We're not going to downsize our home. We've been seriously underhoused for several years and have only just moved in with my adult daughter and her family into an adequately sized area (between 800 and 900 square feet for me, hubby, DC and Dog). The good thing is that we've now eliminated the 3 storage containers we had previously. It's nice to finally have all our possessions accessible. It'll be even nicer when they're not all in boxes!

So, what can I do? Well, the one thing I've just done is to cancel my community centre membership. That's $43 and change every month we'll save. I know we need to cut down on the amount we spend on eating out (which includes eating at work and buying junk food) and so I'm going to take part in krystalatwork's June Dining Out challenge. We need to get better at paying things in a timely manner, so we're not paying late fees!

Over and above all of that, we need to just need to pay off the credit card debt so that we're not making those payments every month! It's frustrating because we've been credit card debt free at least twice in the past. I want to get back to that point and then not go back into credit card debt!

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