Reduce Your Spending Painlessly – Revisited

Posted by idawrites on November 13, 2008 in Finance, Frugal Tips, Money |

Some of you may remember this post from the first time I shared it, six months ago. Most of you weren’t here yet though, and since it had some great information, I wanted to share it again.

Where Can You Reduce Spending Without Pain? This is the first question that many people ask when they realize they need to get their financial acts together. (It is certainly the first question we asked when we got to that point.) Just like with dieting, when you drastically alter your lifestyle to reduce spending, the changes will not last. You WILL get tired of having to sacrifice and go back to your previous handling of money. After all, you can only stay with Dave Ramsey’s recommended “Gazelle Intensity” for so long.

Here are some of the easier ways to reduce spending without impacting your daily life TOO much.

  1. Get rid of the Sirius or XM Radio – Unless you are in an area where there is no radio reception or you’re on the road a lot and make tons of use of it, get rid of the satellite radio. It’s a slow drain on your finances.
  2. Newspaper or Magazine subscriptions – Spending money every week or month for magazines and newspapers you don’t read is a waste of your resources (and the environment’s). You can read most of the local newspapers and magazines online. You can also read them at the local library, often with a much larger selection of reading materials. * Exception – Sunday paper for the coupons
  3. Cable Package – Remove services you don’t use. Figure out how many hours a month you’re watching the television and divide that by the amount you’re paying for cable per month. Is this really worth it?
  4. Cook Once Eat Twice – Double your recipe once a week to freeze for a quick meal later in the week. This will make it easier to resist the urge to eat out when you’re tired or rushed. I’ve been doing this for a while now, and it is working great!
  5. iTunes – Set a budget for music, just like everything else. iTunes can rack up tons of charges without you even realizing it. Don’t mindlessly pay for downloads on impulse.
  6. Movies – Movies are getting more expensive every day. Heading out to a movie occasionally may not break the bank, but if you’re a regular movie buff, you may want to try these alternatives:
    1. Check them out at the library
    2. Wait for 2nd run at the dollar theater
    3. Get a Netflix account instead of buying DVDs
      1. On the other hand, if you have Netflix but never use the service (don’t return the movies to get new ones or don’t watch them in a timely manner), cancel it and check out the DVDs for free at the library.
    4. Watch free movies On Demand from your cable company.
      1. They also have paid movie rentals too, which isn’t as good as free, but is cheaper than driving out to rent one or doing to the movies theater.
  7. Books – I am a book lover! We have a ton of books. Books on shelves, and in boxes, and probably a few tossed on the bedside tables. But, books are expensive, especially new ones. If you’re an avid reader, try these frugal alternatives to buying new books.
    1. Check out the library
    2. Start a local book swap group with your friends
    3. Use Swaptree.com or Paperbackswap.com
    4. If you have to buy, go to used book stores, not new
    5. Fast Food – Very few people really enjoy eating fast food instead of home cooked meals. Most of us eat it because it’s fast and easy. Some ways to combat the need to stop for fast food:
  8. Finger Food Night
    1. Chop up fresh fruit and veggies and combine them with dips.
    2. Make Ants on a Log (celery with peanut butter and raisins on top) your kids will love this!
    3. Make English muffin pizzas.
    4. Breakfast for dinner – No meal is much easier than pancakes and eggs, or sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches. Breakfast for dinner is also fun for the kids.
    5. Recipes for quick easy meals – Gather a few recipes for quick and easy meals for those days you’re really not up for being experimental
    6. Publix has an entire series on 30 minute meals. Some of them are fabulous.
  9. Cancel Unused Gym Memberships – You know the one. The gym membership you signed up for in January when you were on a resolution health kick. The one you only use once a month when the automatic draft comes out of your account and you remember that you really should get some use out of. That $40 a month membership full of good intentions is draining your wallet of $300 a year! Dump it and go for a walk.
  10. Switch to fee free bank accounts – The $7 for that Bank of America account, and $12 for that money market account are not doing you any favors. Try these free bank accounts to lighten the dings you take to the wallet every month:
    1. Ingdirect.com
    2. Wamu (Now Chase) Free Checking
    3. Wachovia
    4. There are dozens, do your own research and find the fee free accounts that are best for you. Worst case, you can put an end to those fees. Best case, you get an account that earns you interest on the money you have there.

What about you? What are some of the ways you can think of to reduce your spending painlessly?


  • Jackie says:

    Great article! You have lots of good pointers – I’ve actually been using Swaptree since last Christmas and can’t imagine how much money I’ve saved on my kids’ books, video games, and DVDs. The site is sooo simple to use, and there’s always stuff available. I don’t think I’ve had to buy a new book in months.

    Check it out: http://www.swaptree.com!

  • Great ideas–thanks! Some other ideas for books: I often buy from Amazon.com and sell on Amazon.com too. Our local garage sales often have good books–we’re a reading type of community! Our local libraries also have stores where used books are sold.

    And, for finger foods, having breakfast for dinner is one I like to do. I enjoy fixing pancakes or waffles and then “enhancing” them Deceptively Delicious style. Inexpensive, healthy and fun–what’s not to like and the kids never know the difference!

    Frugal Mom LA’s last blog post..Deceptively Delicious Works!

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