I read a lot about personal finance. I read several books a year on it — most recently I finished the 2005 edition of The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need and I am currently working my way through The Millionaire Mind. In addition, I follow numerous personal finance blogs. All of this recent reading has started me thinking about what I really need and whether there is a way to cut back on spending. So, to that end, I have two cuts that I am implementing for the month of September and, at least one of them, for beyond.
Since before Emily was born, Ashley and I have paid the extra money every month for digital cable because we wanted to get high-definition channels. However, the past few months, I have realized at we, as a family, really watch very little TV. Further, the TV that we do watch is mainly found either on the local channels or on Netflix Instant. So, after talking it over with Ashley, we are going to drop cable entirely in favor of receiving our local HD channels over e air. The one show that we really enjoy and are current on that is not on local networks can easily be downloaded to the Apple TV for a small charge per episode. All in all, I expect this to be a fairly easy transition that should save us somewhere around $70-80 every month.
The second challenge for September is more of a personal challenge for me. Since I do most of the cooking around here, when I get home and don’t feel like making anything, it has become entirely to easy for me to declare that we are going out to eat. Lately, we have been eating out at least one weeknight and just about every meal except for breakfast on the weekends. Also, this does not count the 3–4 days a week that I have been eating lunch out instead of taking a lunch or coming home to eat. Now, that is really ridiculous since I work five minutes from home and it almost certainly takes me longer to grab something for lunch that to come home and heat up leftovers or make a sandwich. So, for the month of September, I am challenging myself to not eat out unless it is meaningful to me. I am making an exception for Ashley and my date night this Saturday and I am debating whether or not I will make an exception for the weekly lunch group I meet with. Hopefully, by the end of this month, I will have broken the eating out habit. It is a bit on the embarrassing side, but we spent almost $500 on eating out this last month so by breaking this habit for me, we will probably save at least 80% of that for September.
These personal spending cuts are inspired by financial reading, but the reason is not really austerity related. While the amounts that we spend, both of cable and dining out, are high, neither one is really breaking the bank for us. Granted, I can find better things to do with the money, but this challenge is more about just making myself do it.