As I watched my children’s college fund disappear in the stock market free fall over the last week, I resolved to start cutting back on the extras that I am guilty of indulging in. Don’t worry, I’m not thinking about changing my entire lifestyle or anything! I just want to figure out where I can save some bucks and make some of those much-touted “baby steps” toward fiscal responsibility that the economists keep harping on about. I just recently returned from a two year stint in the UK, so I already have a lot of practice in abstention, but bringing those habits to the USA, where excess is the norm, is a bit more of a challenge. I mean, it’s awfully easy to abstain from a daily Starbucks run if you don’t have a one nearby and if that one doesn’t have a drive-though, right?
So, here’s a list of some changes that will help you trim a little fat off your profligate American lifestyle that is the envy and scourge of the rest of the world.
1. No more Target. Target is rife with pitfalls for the mom on a budget: from the Starbucks that tempts you at the door, to the “OMG! It’s so on sale, I can’t afford to NOT buy it!”, to the fact that it just plain has everything you could want or need in one place. Don’t even think about trying to rationalize a trip because of the “Dollar Spot.”
2. Time to get that eBay shopping habit under control. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have find another outlet for your competitive streak. You just got down-graded to Craig’s List: it’s either free or negotiable!
3. Treat Starbucks as a “special treat.” Look, if you made it through the last recession without giving up your daily Starbucks run: you either have so much money it doesn’t matter that the economy is in a tailspin, or you’ve got some hardcore coffee-centric priorities that need to be satisfied. If you could just winnow the need for your latté down to once or twice a week, though, that adds up to almost an extra $90 a month! You could pay for your own espresso machine in just five months at that rate.
4. Turn down the thermostat. Unpack your sweaters. All of them. And you might as well bust out the fingerless gloves and a cute knit hat, too. A great way to save money is to turn down your thermostat over the winter. If you don’t have many sweaters because you’re used to a cozy 72º at home during the winter months: view sweater purchases as a capitol investment. You will get a return on the money! Bonus: You can claim a deepening concern over the environment and oil consumption as your reason for the change!
5. Get more involved with social media. This may seem like a leap, but in line with “Idle hands are the Devil’s playground,” bear with me: If you are too busy monitoring your tweetdeck, facebook, Google+, and tumblr, then… EFF YEAH! YOU’RE TOO BUSY TO SHOP!!
6. Throw away any catalog that enters your home. I mean it. Don’t even keep one seemingly innocent copy of the latest Pottery Barn Kids for the downstairs guest bathroom. All catalogs do is breed discontent and desire: discontent with everything you currently own and the desire to replace said “everything” with newer, shinier things. Things you can no longer afford. Replace your current bathroom catalog selection with an issue of National Geographic or Smithsonian. Your mind AND wallet will thank you for the change in reading material.
7. Cut your iTunes habit. Sure, the occasional movie is still OK, but you could totally live without all those tracks you’re buying for $1.99 a pop. Especially when you can download Pandora or Spotify and listen to pretty much anything your heart desires. Add the fact that for a mere pittance (if you are a big-time buyer of music) you can extend your Spotify account and bring your fancy-pants new playlists with you on your smart phone. You can stay legal and still have everything you want to listen to, no probs.
8. Buy half a cow. This sounds crazy, right? But meat is expensive, especially if you buy only organic! You can order a half a cow from a free-range farmer and put that 250 pounds of meat in your freezer… and end up paying only around $4.00/ pound. If you are big time meat-eaters, have lots of kids, and space for a deep freeze, this is an option you should consider.
9. Ditch your cable. It’s time to move to Hulu+ and Netflix for all your TV and movie needs. If you don’t have a Wii or an X-Box to watch it through on your TV, then I’ll assume you already don’t have cable. It’s amazing how quickly everyone in the family can adjust to watching TV on the computer, too, so don’t fret: save your big flat panel TV for RedBox nights.
10. STOP BUYING BOTTLED WATER. First, YES, I am shouting at you. Second, you should have stopped buying bottle water during the first recession. Third, it’s water, people. We are lucky to live in a place where we get clean, drinkable water for practically free in every faucet, of almost every home in the USA and Canada. If you don’t like the taste of what is coming out of your tap, get a water filter jug and some water bottles, it isn’t rocket science to figure out that you can make your own great-tasting portable water without gunking up our landfills and recycle centers with millions upon millions of empty plastic bottles. And wasting a ton of money in the process. End Rant.
Note from the author: Please know that this post, while offering some real tips that can make a difference to your bottom line, is firmly tongue-in-cheek. I do not want to diminish the very real economic hardship that Americans are dealing with during these fiscally rotten times.
Read more posts by Amy Windsor aka @theBitchinWife:
They Get How Many Days Parental Leave in Sweden?!
Haunting Images of “Where Children Sleep” From Around the World
Afraid Your Kids Are Getting Exposed To Sexy Content Online? Think Again…
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