Personal finance is about choices. Many frugal people continue to splurge on a couple of things that are truly important to them – because they’re frugal in most areas, they can afford to splurge on things that they value. Frugality doesn’t have to mean giving up everything you love – if, and only if, you can afford to buy those things.
If you’re buried in massive debt or living paycheck to paycheck, that’s a different situation. This article is for those people. If you can’t make ends meet, here are ten things to cut out of your budget entirely. You can always add these things back into your budget once you’re in a better place financially.
It amazes me that so many people who are broke treat themselves to Starbucks every day. I understand that Starbucks drinks taste amazing, but you can make tasty beverages at home – without breaking the bank. $5 per day may not seem like much, but if you go daily, that’s $150/month or $1,825/year.
You could make your coffee or tea at home for a fraction of the price. My hubby and I love our Keurig (it is by far our favorite and most-used wedding gift). We were lucky that we didn’t have to pay for it, but even if you spend a few hundred dollars on a Keurig, you’ll save a ton of money in the long run if you stop going to Starbucks.
Fancy Gym Membership
If you are living paycheck-to-paycheck or you’re in debt, there’s no reason to spend $50+ per month on a gym membership. There are cheaper gyms that offer rates as low as $10-$20 per month. You could also work out at home or outside for free.
When I committed to getting out of debt, I decided to stop drinking altogether because I feel alcohol is a waste of money. I understand that others enjoy drinking and feel it’s worth the expense. Still, there’s no reason to spend a lot of money on booze. You can easily find a cheap bottle of wine for $5.
Ritzy Salon Visits
If you’re broke, you shouldn’t be throwing away money at the salon. You don’t need to have perfectly highlighted hair, manicured nails, waxed eyebrows, and tan skin. If those things are truly important to you, you can spend money on those items after you pay off your debt and/or become more financially secure.
Before I got serious about paying off my debt quickly, going out to eat was always the first thing that came to mind for a date night or get together with friends. Since I implemented a spending ban on outings with friends, I’ve been forced to look for creative ideas.
I’ve been surprised to find that there are actually a ton of fun things that can be done for free. Instead of going out to dinner, why not go for a nature walk or check out a free art museum?
Why spend $20-$30 on a new hardcover book when you could get books at the library for free? If your library doesn’t have much of a selection, try checking out a bigger library, going to a used bookstore, or hitting up garage sales. 50 cents for a book is way better than $30!
While I think it’s important to rest and recharge, you can relax without blowing a bunch of money on a vacation you can’t afford. Instead, why not try having a “staycation”? This could be especially fun during the summer months. Go for walks or bike rides, swim at a lake or pool, read some library books, and take some free classes.
Services You Can Do Yourself
Unless you have a disability that prevents you from doing certain types of activities, there’s no reason why you can’t do things yourself. Don’t pay someone to mow the lawn, clean your house, wash your car, or file your taxes.
If you really hate doing any of those things, you can pay someone else to do it in the future. In the meantime, if you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck, you need to cut back on your expenses!
I cringe when I hear other people saying that they spend $100+ per month on yoga classes (while they’re in debt). Yoga doesn’t have to be expensive – there are a ton of ways to do yoga for free! In the past year, I’ve done yoga more times than I can count, and I haven’t paid for it once.
Giving is one of the greatest joys in life, and you can be generous after you’ve become financially secure. While you’re broke, you can give homemade gifts or cheaper gifts that are still meaningful – it’s truly the thought that counts. Anyone who genuinely cares about you will understand that you are giving all that you can afford.
One Last Thought
When you’re broke and you can’t make ends meet, you need to cut your expenses. While giving up some of these things may be difficult in the short-term, it will be worth it when your debt is paid off and you have savings in the bank.
Once you’re financially secure, you can start “splurging” on the things that are important to you – without wrecking your budget.
What items have you cut from your budget?
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