06 November 2013

Trimming the Fat

There comes a point in our journey to frugality where it seems as though there is nothing left to save money on. You're paying half what you used to pay for groceries, the electricity bill has been slashed and the phone bill is almost non-existent. In fact you only have a landline because it's a part of your Internet package. The problem is that the budget is still not working and you don't quite know why.

We all have extras that we spend money on, those things that we regard as essential, when they aren't really. They are optional extras, in which case we can trim these expenses and find some give in the budget.

Things like cable TV, monthly trips to the hairdresser, movie hire, car detailing (personally I love paying $28 twice a year to get my car detailed but I pay for it out of my mad money, it really makes me smile), and dry cleaning are not really essential to living. Just by trimming one or two optional expenses you are saving money, the savings if you can trim more is huge.

These could be the optional extras in your budget:

Cable TV
• Can you switch to a cheaper plan?
• Could you do away with cable entirely?
• Scale back to the basic channels?
• Do you need a set-top box or hook up in every room?

Phone Plans/Internet
• Do you need caller ID and call waiting?
• What about voice mail?
• Could you cancel your long distance, and use a phone card instead?
• Do you need a landline and a mobile phone?
• Are you on the best mobile plan for your usage? Do you get free time, text, sms etc?
• Could you switch to a cheaper mobile plan?
• Get rid of text messaging or other features?
• Can you bundle your landline and Internet connection?
• Do you need the Internet plan you are on at the moment? Can you switch to a less expensive plan?
• Is it possible to bundle landline, Internet and mobile phones to save money?

Eating Out
• Could you eat at home more often?
• Pack your lunch, instead of buying?
• Bring your coffee from home?
• Pack snacks when you know you'll be away from home for an extended period?
• Bring drinks and snacks to work, instead of relying on the local coffee shop?
• Can you dine out for lunch (often cheaper) or afternoon tea rather than the more expensive dinner time?
• Do you use vouchers, buy one get one free coupons etc when you do eat out?
• Could you set a clothing allowance or lower your existing allowance?
• Could you swap clothes with a friend?
• Shop second-hand?
• Repair clothes, instead of replacing them?
• Skip dry cleaning?
• Revamp what you have - dyeing, new buttons, shorten hemlines etc?
Subscriptions and Memberships
• Are there seldom read magazines that you could cancel?
• Do you need to get the paper delivered every day?
• Is your mail movie rental subscription a must?
• Do you have a gym membership that you aren't using?
• Could you cancel your membership to clubs that you no longer have time for?

• Could you rent movies instead of watching them at the theatre?
• Go to free concerts and events, instead of paid events?
• Borrow books and movies from the library, instead of buying them?
• Listen to the radio instead of buying CDs or songs?
• Find a cheaper hobby?
• Scale back your holidays?

• Could you cancel your lawn mowing service?
• Change your own oil?
• Have your hair cut less often?
• Do your own waxing, manicures and pedicures?

Decide which optional extras are essential to you, worth keeping and make you happy. The leftovers are the ones that are keeping you in debt and they are the ones you can easily lose to save money. The money you won't be spending on these things can be put towards your payment push or to building an emergency fund or savings or….whatever you choose because you will have the money to be able to make the choice.

And you won't be paying for things that you don't really want either.


  1. I use the Advanced Salon of our local (Brisbane) School of Hairdressing, where a cut costs $17 and other services are much less than in salons. All work is closely supervised by fully qualified, experienced hairdressers who are often more pedantic about the students' outcome than one experiences in a salon.

  2. I use Skype and even if whoever doesn't have Skype it's much cheaper if not free. Plus I have a #3 every four weeks or so @ home. The main reason I haven't been to the cinema for several years is my osteoarthritic knees and I use my chooks as a good excuse not to go away - I still do day trips every so often.
    SereneBee in East Vic Park~


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