Over the past two years I have incurred a lot of medical bills, so I am low on cash a lot of the time. The mental burden of feeling helpless in the face of those bills made me constantly concerned about our finances. I found that curbing my spending, and only purchasing “essentials” made me feel less anxious about those bills, because I am doing everything in my power to reduce my spending and increase the money available to pay off my doctors. It helps me feel like I am, somewhat, in control. Here are a couple of things I do to curb my spending:
1. We do not have cable or satellite television. It is unnecessary, expensive, and there is never anything on anyway.
2. I don’t shop just for shoppings sake, so I don’t buy shoes or clothes unless it is absolutely necessary. I haven’t purchased any apparel or shoes for almost seven months. Full disclosure however, I haven’t totally gone without because my mother bought me a couple of gifts of clothing over the past year
3. We don’t purchase home decor items because they serve no purpose other than being aesthetically pleasing. When money is low, a new throw for the couch isn’t the best use of my money. It’s better to save that money or put it towards bills. Also, we have found that taking stock of what we already own often reveals a decorative item we overlooked
4. We limit outings that cost money, this includes eating out. At first we limited ourselves to twice a week, but now we have it down to once a week. So if we go and see a movie then the rest of the week we hang out at the house, invite friends over to watch movies, go to friends houses to watch games/movies, go to free events such as outdoor festivals, or do other free things like go to the park or go fishing. I will admit that this is easier for us than most people since I am not always well enough to go out. Still there are things that we want to do sometimes, that we just have to either delay or go without. For example, my husband wants to see the new Bond movie. Well, we can’t go this week because we went to a hockey game. So we will see the Bond movie next week, unless we go and see the holiday lights at the county park instead
5. I don’t drink. Again, this is easy for me because alcohol makes my condition much worse. So noooo thank you. But on a more serious note, alcohol is expensive! Even one bottle of wine a week translates into $40-60 a month
6. I extend the time between hair cuts. I have very straight hair, and nobody cuts it evenly except one expensive salon. Well, I don’t enjoy the $60 price tag on my hair cut, but I don’t like my hair looking ratty so what do I do? I keep my hair well conditioned, I don’t color it (don’t need to), and when I do have it cut, I have four inches taken off to get rid of absolutely any split ends
7. I avoid doing things that will result in me having to purchase a non-essential item. For instance, I wanted to paint my nails, but I knew I had run out of nail polish remover. Therefore, had I painted my nails, I would have had to buy nail polish remover eventually. So I didn’t paint my nails. It sounds stupid, and maybe it is to some people, but until I have fewer medical bills, I prefer to have $3 in the bank or put $3 towards bills rather than having polish on my nails
Going without these things doesn’t mean I feel like I am missing out. I want to enjoy life, and I do. I just don’t want to spend money I don’t have and end up in debt or losing my house, which I wouldn’t enjoy very much at all! Maybe you aren’t inundated with medical bills, but perhaps you have been affected by a layoff or the bad economy. Reducing your spending may put you in a better place both financially and mentally. I have benefitted greatly from cutting the fat out of my spending and you might too!
Best Life Tip: Sometimes going “without” today means you will have an easier tomorrow. Take charge of your finances by reducing your spending! How do you save money? I’d love to know!