Pennies add up

One of my new financial rules is about reducing debt at every opportunity. One way to do that is reducing unnecessary ongoing expenses, so there’s more cash to go towards paying off debt. We have been taking some baby steps in that direction over the past month. Each of these expenses seems small, but combined over the course of time, they will add up. Here’s how it’s going so far:

  • Before Tony was laid off, we had dinner out at least 3 times per week, plus lunch on the weekends. Over the past year or so we’ve cut way back on that, although we would still have our weekend lunches or brunches. Now, we’ve almost completely stopped eating in restaurants, except for my occasional work lunches. It helps that Tony is cooking dinner most nights, and this has other benefits too: better quality food, and easier portion control. We’re spending a little more on groceries, but we’re probably saving at least $200/month.
  • Last week we discontinued our landline phone service, which we hardly ever used because everyone in our family has a cell phone. This will save us about $45/month.
  • I don’t consider myself a high maintenance girl, but for a while I had acrylic nails. I realized this was costing me about $150/month to maintain, so a couple of weeks ago I had them taken off. For less than half of what it was costing, I can get twice-monthly french manicures, which look almost as pretty as the acrylics — plus pedicures too. Savings: $80+/month.
  • While we’re on the subject of maintenance, my other big princess expense is hair. Normally I go for a cut and highlights every 8-10 weeks. It’s already fairly low cost – instead of a pricey city salon, I go to a local girl who has a tiny salon in her home and does a spectacular job, for $150 including tip. She’s fully Redken certified and has years of experience, and I am pleased to keep money in my community and help support her family. But now I’ve waited a little longer to go, stretching it to a full 3 months between salon trips. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but over the course of a year I will go 4 times instead of 6, saving about $300 or $25/month.

So far, this savings adds up to an extra $350/month. It’s not major, but it is a step in the right direction. The next expense I’m considering cutting is my gym membership. I belong to a small gym in my corporate office park, so it’s only $15/month. That isn’t going to make a big difference in my budget or pay off my debt a lot faster. But I haven’t gone over there to work out in five months, so over that time it’s cost me $75 for the privilege of feeling guilty about not-going. I think I can do that at home just as easily, and for free.




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