For many people living frugally simply means spending less, and while that is technically a valid definition it is far from the mark of true frugality. Spending less is a great start, and those who have lived a frugal lifestyle either through necessity or by choice know that there are a lot of things that one can eliminate to keep the costs down and the savings up.
Every once in a while it is good for everyone to stop focusing on their normal routine and take a look at things they don’t normally think about. Here are a few things that might help you eliminate even more unnecessary expenses.
One of the leading high cost items for the average family besides their homes is cell phones. Even the so called ‘low cost’ plans can be in excess of $40 per month. Take a look at your cell phone bill and add it up over the year. That $40 per month for a single phone equates to $480 per year, and that is before any over minute plan charges, taxes, and additional fees. The average household has 2-3 phones on a plan. These 2-3 phones can add up in a month’s time. It isn’t hard to reach $90-$120 per month for a 3 phone family plan. On a yearly basis that’s as much as $1,440! For phones! It might be good to look into some of the pre paid plans out there. It is possible to get a phone through a pay as you go plan without a contract and still keep you individual phone cost below $20 per month!
Speaking of cell phones, how many people that have 3 cell phones in their household still have a hard line phone in their homes? Too many! If you have 3 phones in the house that can be used to contact you, there is no reason to pay for the land line. Look at getting rid of the land line and the associated $50 per month that goes with it.
This drum has been beaten long and hard, but it is worth repeating. Unless you are interested in becoming a competition body builder you really don’t need a gym membership. Most people are interested in fitness, and most experts say that cardio workouts are what keep people fit. Instead of spending money on a membership, go to the park for a walk or a jog. Save you money for something else.
Internet and TV
Here is another topic that most people are sick of talking about. However, regardless of the amount of information available, they are still two mediums that suck large amounts of cash out of peoples’ budgets. Cancel the cable, subscribe to Netflix and save a ton. For internet, why not take advantage of your smart phone and use it as a Wi-Fi hotspot for your laptop. It might be cheaper than paying that monthly internet bill on top of your cell phone bill. (If you’re going to keep the cell phone plan, then make it do double duty!)
If you must get internet, cable, and TV make sure you get a bundled package from the same company. Verizon Fios has great packages for all three of these services. Often they may have a Verizon fios promotion code you may apply for additional discounts.
Most people don’t look at this cost enough. There has been a lot of debate on whether it is more economical to shut the lights off when you leave the room or to leave them on. The idea of leaving them on comes from people stating that the power consumed at start up to power the light on is a higher amount than just leaving the light on all the time. Fortunately, we can call this one a myth thanks to Adam and Jamie at MythBusters. They took this one on and proved that turning off the lights as you leave the room is the most economical choice.
If you still aren’t sure where you can save more money on your monthly expenses, then here’s a great way to find out a bit more. Most people today rely on their online banking and automatic bill payer features to pay their bills. As a result, people tend to forget how many things they are really paying for. This will take a bit of time and a little effort on your part, but turn off your automated bill paying feature and start paying all of your bills by hand, at least for a few months. You might be surprised at how many trivial bills you may be able to eliminate by doing this. Some people might not even realize that they didn’t actually cancel some subscriptions they totally forgot about.
As always, frugal living is about the details. But sometimes we get caught up in the day to day details and forget about others, the things we take for granted. Just take the time to look at everything, not just the things you normally look at. Routines are great, but if they get in the way, then it is a good idea to change it up…at least every once in a while.