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May 18, 2007


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This is tough for me because my general rule of thumb if I need to save more money is to make more money. ;)

But to the question at hand...

I would cut out preschool and the gardener. About $400/month, certainly luxuries, but most easily first in the budget to go if we had bad times. In good times we enjoy them.

We could probably cut some gas and grocery expenses if need be. Certainly no need to buy things we don't need, which might free up $50-$100/month/our free spending allowance.

I could live without cable/NetFlix, etc. but my dh would consider that stuff necessity. He might even go hungry over it - he is just that way.

We could downgrade our cars and/or our house if need be, but things would have to be really bad/dire for the long-term. But I like we have many options.

I guess I would first cut down on free spending allowance, then food costs, then (sniff) dsl. I'm guessing I could free up about $200-250/month. I'm somewhat surprised media cutbacks weren't on that list.

It depends on the nature of the "cut-back". Because we are already at a relatively high savings rate, the measures might seem a little extreme to "squeeze out" additional savings.

If we only needed an extra $50 per month, we could just reduce our discretionary spending entitled "miscellaneous" in the family budget by $50.

If we needed to save up to an additional $350 more per month, then we would refinance, converting our 15-yr mortgage into a 30-yr.

If we needed to save more than $350 additional dollars per month, we would have to convert to a 30-year mortgage *and* be paying it on a house that is about 75% the cost of the one we now own.

Here is a list of things I could cut back on:

1) Food - We don't currently cook at home, eating out is a big expense each month (over $600).
2) Television - There are 100+ stations that I never use...and I am on the smallest digital package. I could get by via delayed airings on the Internet.
3) NetFlix - $16.23 for 2 movies at one time. Sometimes it is worth the money (holidays and rainy season) but it would be much better to go outside.
4) Gadgets - Being a geek I tend to spend too much money on gadgets and such.
5) Cell Phone - I have unlimited data on 2 phones (family share plan) and small text package. Both are nice but could go and leave us with voice-only if necessary.
6) Car (more specifically the cost of gas) - Cheapest I have seen for weeks is $3.55 a gallon....gotta love the Bay Area prices. The train station is 1/4 mile from home and 1/2 mile from work. Plus, walking can't hurt.
7) Internet Access - Almost everything I do is on the computer/Internet so this would be the last place to save money. I could give it up if I could find some free WiFi at restaurants, museums, and coffee shops.

Well I already have approx. 1/3rd of my monthly take-home income targeted at combined debt repayment and savings outside of my retirement funds. If I really needed to I could drop all debt repayment to the minimums and save the rest.

I could also drop my 401(k) down to where I'm just getting the match (though I've only recently increased it from that point and would resist it.

Then I'd squeeze the food budget. Even though I try now, I still could be more frugal here.

Otherwise I'd be hard pressed to limit expenses. When I started the debt blitzkrieg I slashed expenses where I could. I haven't taken a real vacation in several years (though I have taken a few weekend trips to conferences to help me professionally in some way during the debt blitzkrieg). I don't hire out cleaning or other similar services -- my dry cleaning bill is around $20-30 a year for just a couple of items that need it.

I could squeeze my phone/internet/cell phone only slightly -- I work for a telco so I have an employee discount on all of that already. I could cut my $14.50 cable/month if it really was necessary -- it wouldn't make much sense unless it was that or utter starvation to cut these areas from where they are right now. PLUS I need my high speed internet as a condition of being able to telecommute to work at certain times, like when I'm on call.

All that really leave is utilities, rent and the student loan payment and none of those are optional. If necessary I could try to downgrade the rent situation.


I'd start with the cable, mobile phones, and internet access. I wouldn't necessarily cut them all out, but at least drop them to a lower plan. I'd also look at trying to reduce the amount of driving we do based on the high cost of gasoline and raising our health insurance deductible to lower the premium.

Raising the temperature from 72 to 77 would save us a lot on air conditioning electricity. During the summer, cutting out a health club membership would save about $60 per month as well.

I could cut many things.
1) YMCA membership $57 per month
2) Digital cable with DVR $20 if it was really tight I could do just broadcast basic for another $30 savings.
3) Internet $35 (that might kill me!)
4) Swimming lessons for the kids $85 per month
5) monthly vacation savings $150
6) restaurant budget $90 monthly
7) $35 mer month that goes into the birthday present fund
8) $110 per month that goes into the Christmas present fund.

Total: $610

Only in dire straights would I cut the $166 per month we add to our emergency fund or the 14% of my husband's pay that goes into 401K.

I've already squeezed every penny out of our paychecks....

1. Combined insurance on all family vehicles, raised our deductibe to $1,000 while maintaining full coverage...savings ($52 a month)

2. Got rid of 2 cell phone contracts and went with a family plan...savings ($42 a month)

3. Got rid of 2 SUV's for a Jetta and a Prius...decreased maintenance, gas, and operating costs...savings (over $200 a month!!!!!)

4. Buying 87 octane vice 92...savings (go to the pump and find out)

5. Joined Costco...savings (roughly $50 a month)

6. Adjusted date night from dinner and a movie to "dinner at the movies"...savings ($30+ a month)

7. Oil changes for 2 new vehicles ever 5,000 miles vice 3,000 miles ($100 every 2 to 4 months).

8. Turned down the water heater...figure that one out..., bought a high efficiency washer and dryer, and started taking shorter showers...savings (bout $30 a month)

9. High efficiency light bulbs, turned off the heater, put on some warm clothes, turned down the fridge, started cutting my kids hair...savings (bout $54 a month)

I don't see where else we can cut cause the Cable is included with the place we live and the internet is rolled in with the phone bill. Clothes come around once a year at Christmass and we cook at home...A LOT!!! Believe it or not, we're actually quite comfortable. Me and the wife even have a healthy competition to see who can squeeze the most!!!

Husband cuts own hair with a buzz cut.
I go to a local beauty school and get hair cuts for five dollars!
We cook everything from scratch, including pizza dough.
We very rarely go out to eat.
Ask and get senior citizen discounts which are availalbe to people at age 55.
Rent one movie at a time from Netflix for $10 a month. We average around 5 a month.
Buy day old bread & freeze. Buy day old meat and freeze. Buy bruised fruit and vegetables, eat or cook immediately, then freeze.
Go to local food marts weekly and only buy their sale, loss-leader items in bulk.
Do regular food shopping once per month at super Wal Mart (get great organic buys!)
Replaced expensive beauty products with Wal Mart Equate brands.
Repair, mend, reuse. No labor charges.
Grow own herbs in containers.
Basic cable package. Most shows can be seen on internet now.
Replaced SUV with manual transmission Ford Focus that gets 36 miles to gallon.
Obay traffic laws, speed limits, no tickets. EVER!
Shop at discount stores ONLY.
Buy floor models at big savings. Never order anything new. Buy year end, older models.
Ask "Is that the best price?" You'd be amazed at how much you can save. It is better to make a little money than no money.
Find the best price on anything then see if you can get it even lower someplace else. Airline tickets included.

I'm curious -

Although the survey at the top includes Charitable Giving, I'm not seeing it much (if at all?) amongst the lists in the comments. Is that because even in hard times people wouldn't cut into what they give, or because they don't give a noticeable fraction of their income to begin with?

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