When we first began the Encore Voyage, we had a few moments of total freak out at our complete loss of income stream! Then, cooler heads prevailed and we took a deep breath. We realized that we would most likely not starve, at least for a day or two. To all you youngsters (and by that I mean anyone under the age of 40), listen to me now:
We are living proof that you absolutely, positively,
need to have an emergency savings plan in place!
And that means before you go out and buy those jet skis or that snowmobile that you think you absolutely must have! You don’t need it nearly as much as you will need to live in the event that you lose your income! Just sayin’…
So back to the story…For the first couple of months we were able to draw upon our savings, without raiding our retirement account, while we figured out what to do. We decided to start our own small business, and having some cash set aside allowed us to get that started. Having your own business takes lots of work and drive, and is the topic of many other blogs, from which we have learned a great deal. But I also started following The Minimalists and Be More With Less, and I started thinking about how much we really need to be happy. Now don’t get me wrong – this is not about being cheap. I want to have some cash in hand just as much as the next girl. But it is about really evaluating how and where you spend your hard earned money…and that’s where we woke up!
In the years when there was a much bigger income in this household, we spent a great deal. I don’t want to think of it as being wasteful, but let’s just say we ‘squandered’ quite a bit. We didn’t really give it much thought until recently. The Encore Voyage has started us thinking about some ways in which we could be wiser about our spending:
1) We reduced our cable TV package to the minimum package. When you actually sit down and calculate the cost of higher level movie/sports packages and then compare that figure to the number of movies or events you actually see, the cost per viewing for this convenience can be ridiculous. You can rent a lot of movies from Red Box for a buck…
2) We paid attention to how we use the heat and air conditioning in our house. Rather than just set the thermostat and forget it, we took an active role in closing shades, opening windows, adding another layer of clothes…and cut our heating and cooling bills by 4-10% over the previous year.
3) We cancelled our subscription to the newspaper. It was a habit that was simply adding to the bulk of the recycle bin. Lots of access to local and national news is available on my tablet. There’s even too much news and I must be cautious not to let electronic media rule my mornings! I even found a free app to replace the comics and my favorite daily word puzzles!
4) I monitored our cell phone use and ultimately reduced our data package. Not because we put ourselves on any type of data diet, but because we were previously paying for data that we were not using!
5) We have changed the way we eat. We now rarely eat at fast food restaurants. Not only is this change way healthier for us, but it saves us a lot of money! It is amazing how much fast food we used to grab, just for convenience. Seriously – I used to have the phone number for Pizza Hut memorized!
6) We plan, shop for, and cook more meals at home. I’m a much better cook now that I have time to plan and shop for groceries. I’m not “extreme” about any of it, but a coupon here and a trip to Costco there all adds up to savings. Not to mention that we have found we actually love cooking, chopping, and drinking wine in the kitchen together – An added benefit!
7) We got rid of a bunch of magazine subscriptions. That stack of magazines that are sitting there unread??? Yeah those – You don’t need them! You can find most of that stuff on line, and I have learned that your magazines should not cause you stress! Bu-bye!
8) We turn off the lights! There were times when this house was lit up like a Christmas tree! Crazy wasteful!
9) I download books from the public library. Probably cut my book purchases in half! My Carpe Librum post will tell you how.
10) We spend waaaayyyyy less money on both gas and clothing. Because we now work primarily from home, we don’t need nearly as much. The savings on gasoline is huge! And because our minimalist efforts are paying off, reducing all those clothes in the closets just makes everything seem lighter and less stressful!
11) I don’t know if this is going to be a savings, but because I have more time, I make many of the gifts I give. Shhhhhh…don’t tell – quilted things for everyone! And lots of pleasure for me!
12) Our most recent step was to get rid of our land line telephone! Why is it that everyone under the age of 35 has already done this, and everyone over the age of 35 has a hard time cutting the cord? We took the plunge, because the only calls on that number were usually solicitations! …And just like that, there’s another 20 bucks, and we found we really didn’t miss it!
So, you see, it’s not about being cheap. It’s about paying attention to where the money goes! And it’s about deciding with intentionality how you want to live. So how about it…Do you have any other strategies that you’ve used to cut costs? Please be sure to share in the comments!