How to Whip a Spending Plan Back Into Shape

My spending has ballooned out of control. Normally, I’d seek out ways to enjoy my lifestyle for less money. But this time, that tactic won’t do.

Real sacrifice is an unavoidable necessity. To remain a member of the self employed masses, I need to inspect my current expenses and brainstorm opportunities to reduce cash outflows.

Since I have to go through this hunt and slash exercise anyway, why not share the details with you?

Perhaps you’ll learn a thing or two from the process. Perhaps I’ll learn something from your feedback.

In the interest of not boring you with a 2,000 word blog post, I’ll focus exclusively on my largest expenses.

So here goes.

HousingWritten Budget

I shell out $1,075 each month to cover rent, electricity, gas, and water.

To trim housing costs, I could relocate to a cheaper, less desirable neighborhood within the metro DC area.

Additionally, sharing a place with roommates might shave a couple hundred bucks off rent. However, I use my apartment to generate rental income, meaning a move might cause my net expenses to jump. So for now, I’ll stay put.

Groceries

Like many Americans (as well as Canadians), I lose an ungodly amount of food to spoilage. If I minimize the quantity of sustenance that finds itself into the waste bin, I’m guessing my grocery bill would plummet 30%.

Here’s what I plan to do to alleviate the problem:

1. Either totally forgo fresh produce or buy one or two servings at a time.

2. After cooking family sized meals, portion out enough to eat off of for the next day and a half, then freeze the rest. Accept that I’ll get bored with eating the same dish for three consecutive days and prepare something else.

3. Set up a cell phone reminder to transport food from the kitchen counter to the refrigerator before falling asleep at night. (I’m too ashamed to admit how much money forgetfulness costs me.)

Dining Out

Restaurant meals are one of the largest drains on my bank account.

I tend to make the worst decisions, financial or otherwise, when I’m hungry. That’s why it’s so important that I always have a variety of interesting dishes handy.

In the event, I’m out of delicious prepared food, I’ll keep healthy snacks handy to stave off hunger while I whip up a quick meal.

Health Insurance

Like magic, my monthly health insurance premiums dropped $362 in the middle of this year.

At the moment, I’m covered under my former employer’s group health insurance plan. It provides superior benefits at a lower price than anything I’ve seen for individuals.

Switching health insurance plans in the United States is a serious decision. The wrong move could land you in bankruptcy. I’ll hang onto my current medical insurance while I’ll research my options. I have until June 30, 2013 to finalize my decision.

Wireless Phone 

With the addition of portable Wi-Fi service onto my wireless plan, my cell phone bill shot up to a whopping $150 per month.

Sure, there are steps I could take to slash this expense, but I refuse to accept the level of discomfort brought on by the cancellation of my data plan. Plus,  since I don’t subscribe to a home phone service, I “need” an unlimited talk and text plan to avoid overage charges.

Internet 

Believe it or not, but I pay for high speed internet service at two locations. In total, the charges add up to over $110 per month. I know, it’s sad.

Even though I just installed internet service (and incurred a hefty set up fee in the process) less than a month ago at the second location , I’m cancelling it. I can’t justify the recurring $50 fee when mobile Wi-Fi service bleeds me of $35 a month.

Gym Membership

Even though I could chop gym membership fees in half by getting my fitness needs serviced at a local community center, I think the change would be too dramatic.

The local community centers are frequented by old people instead of hot guys or women who inspire me to keep moving even when I feel like passing out.

I could cancel my membership and workout at home with the exercises I find on Bodyrock.tv or Zuzka Light’s YouTube channel. But honestly, I like people to watch me work. ;)

As you can see, I kept the luxuries that were most important to me, e.g., gym membership, data plan for my smartphone. Primarily because nixing those things wouldn’t add much time to my stint as a solvent business owner.

Can you find any other ways for me to reduce my expenses?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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About the Author

Shawanda Greene is a free thinking, frugal gal whose only vices are boxed wine, lip balm and money grubbing. You can find more of Shawanda's musings at You Have More Than You Think – a productivity focused guide to maximizing the money you have to obtain more of what you want.