Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tightening the belt

I hate money and I love money -don't we all feel that way?

Last January, in an effort to lose weight I decided I would only go to Starbucks once -every other week versus my 2-3 times a week habit. I immediately had a little bit of extra money and realized it was not only helping my waistline but my wallet as well. Additionally, I wanted to help the environment in some way, when I made these decisions as well (hence the clothesline I received from my in-laws, for my birthday that is still in the box, residing in our garage). It was around this time I started to talk D into buying me a Vespa ( I got so close, but being that I am super accident prone and have to travel quite a distance to school, he vetoed it - probably a really good idea in retrospect) - so we could save on gas.

Because D is self-employed, we rely on my paycheck for not only a steady income that pays the mortgage but medical/dental/vision insurance and a defined retirement plan. D's work cyclically slows during the holiday season so we are cautious on our spending. With recent economic worries, surprisingly (please knock on wood) D still has a steady stream of work and now we are more worried about my job. AAAAAACK!

So... we discussed, last night, what I would do if I lost my job - in kind of a humorous way because that was the only way we could muster the topic. We also talked about the cutbacks we have recently made so we won't feel blindsided *if* or rather when the other shoe drops.

We stopped the LA times (boo hoo), Netflix (super boo-hoo) and I phoned AT&T to ask about a few unexplained charges and got them to change our long distance plan, resulting in a $30.00 monthly decrease. I would also like to share with you that I am no longer using my $25 a bottle shampoo and $25 a bottle conditioner and this is probably where I feel the tightening in the belt the most - on my head, resulting in tangles. OUCH.

Today, instead of Starbucks I stopped at 7-11, where I purchased a grande size coffee, pack of gum, some hostess crumb doughnuts and 2 packs of gum all for 5 bucks. Usually, I make coffee at work but today I needed a treat. Oh and I bring my lunch to work, every day - usually last night's leftovers.

So I ask, in an effort to find ways to cutback - Where are you cutting back?


katd said...

You are doing great! Netflix would be SO hard for me. We really had to cut back when I decided to stay home. We have only a prepaid cell now for emergencies and have Vonage at home - only $25 or so a month for unlimited long distance. We do all the basics, too - go out to eat less, blah, blah, blah. No fun, but it does work:)

Jules said...

Oh! Great topic. I was actually going to write a similar post on my blog, but it looks like you beat me to the punch. :) Oh well, I still might do it.

I'm really trying to ratchet down our food bill. It's our biggest expense next to our mortgage, and the only one that is really variable.

Kara said...

katd- Netflix was really difficult, I've heard GREAT things about vonage and they are next on my list. Initially, I tried to see if we could get everything bundled into Verizon and they aren't in our area yet for the TV stuff - Darn it! I forgot to mention the going out/eating out less. We have been really focusing on that lately, as it is our achille's heel.

J - You were going to write about this because this has been the topic or our discussion for the last month or so. Please write about it because I think we can ALL benefit from each other's words of wisdom - plus you have all of those great links.

Bri said...

We sold our Tahoe last weekend (boo!) for a much more fuel efficient car. We also stopped our netflix, made changes to our cell phone plans, cancelled our home phone line, and cancelled our pest control. It all stinks! But is necissary.

Emily said...

Great topic.

We changed our cell plans, our car insurance, canceled some of our tv channels and are using our cell phones less.

We also menu plan and eat whats on the menu which means we eat out less.

I'm not noticing much difference in my day to day life but we are noticing a difference in our bank balance!

kate said...

Hmm. Well, we've basically cut back by me refusing to pay when we go out anymore, which means my tightwad husband suddenly doesn't want to go out as much anymore (go figure!). I have pushed as many expenses off on him as I can, which results in him finally paying attention to exactly how much I really was contributing to our household.

I, being the hypocrite, still spend way too much money daily eating breakfast out someplace. BUT, I give myself the huge excuse that I have to drop H off at work early, so I don't have time to make breakfast before we leave, and it makes no sense to go back home after dropping him off, and so, if I don't want to die, I need to buy breakfast some place. But I'm thinking I might buy some freezer waffles and start taking that with a bit of peanut butter for breakfast instead, just to cut back a bit more in anticipation of this Germany trip.

Hmm. Other than that, I've been taking my husband's hand-me-down sweaters instead of buying new ones of my own (I like menswear sweaters better anyway), altering old clothes of mine (since my belt literally needs to be tightened a bit after all the running lately), and before we started this whole "Kate Doesn't Work" thing, I cancelled Netflix. I've also started to do more of my own minor maintenance on my car (oil changes, air filters, etc.). I would like to dump our landline, but H has to be able to call Germany, which you cannot do from a cell phone. Our cable bill (which includes phone, internet, and TV) is our single largest monthly expense, and I don't see how I could do without any of it (even though I'm sure I could if I really had to, but my quality of life and my school work would suffer substantially).

Sadly, it really is getting to the point that I need to get a part-time job, but ultimately it almost doesn't seem worth it for the cost of gas to get to and from someplace and for the amount of time taken away from studies. It's like I need to get a babysitting job at my neighbor's house like I did when I was a kid (too bad all my neighbors are elderly...). It's pretty much a full-time job just trying to hold my shit together, so it would be best to avoid that if at all possible.

Grr. Now I just feel hopeless about how we're gonna make it through the spring semester without the extra income... Suddenly, I'm really sad.

Io said...

Whew I am so behind in commenting as always.
I'm so sorry it's hitting you over there too. We are pretty much tightening up on everything. I don't know where else we can tighten up, since I'm already pretty cheap, but I'm going to have to find it.
And I am thinking about getting a part time job.
And maybe selling stuff. I love my new chair, but I could totally make a couple hundred bucks on it.

Karen said...

Like you, I've cancelled Netflix and I've cut way down on my Starbucks visits. I'm embarrassed to say that I was up to twice a day last spring. Now I go once a week on Fridays, and sometimes I'll even skip that. I make coffee at home or make tea at work. We're not eating out as much and we base our menus on what's on sale at the grocery store. I've started using the library instead of buying books, but this is a tough one for me.