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8 Expenses to Cut and How

8 Expenses to Cut and How

Are you looking to simplify your life? Do you have financial issues? Are you still paying off debts with no end in sight? Hey, me too! Part of my methodology includes plugging expense holes, and shunting that money towards my debts. Here are eight expenses to cut and how:

  • Make Your Own Morning Coffee– I have a tiny little one-cup machine with a steel filter. Why? Because it’s silly easy to operate and clean. I buy really good coffee by the pound, and so a pound of coffee costs $6.50 or so US. Buying coffee at the coffee shop is $2.50 or so for a large. That means, I save after only 3 uses, and it doesn’t really slow down my getting out the door, especially if you think about how much time it takes to wait in a drive-up line.
  • Use Your Public Library– Libraries have changed. Most libraries are now connected into a big sharing consortium, expanding the collection of what you can take out and what they’ll have that you might want. Further, most now have an online catalog that you can use to browse and request from home. Libraries now frequently stock DVDs (mine favors Hollywood movies, and the one in the next town features mostly highbrow independent stuff). Heck, my library just launched a big commercial digital audiobook download deal, so I can get books on my computer from my desk.

    How often do you reference a book after reading it once? Make that your point. Are you going to open it many times over the years, or is this a read once, use often kind of information dump?

  • Get Netflix– Going to the movies isn’t a great plan if you’re trying to save money, but renting movies is a hassle too, right? At least in the States, this is a much better option to going to brick and mortar stores for movies. They deliver the movies to your mailbox. You can’t get a late fee. Oh, and you can choose from getting just one disc at a time, two, three, or even larger numbers, for those of you who get to watch tons of flicks at once. BONUS: using one of your Netflix slots for a kids movie lets you save money, too. Kids will watch a movie 200 times, and then never need to see it again. Right?
  • Bring Meals From Home or Find a Cheap, Repeatable Meal– We tend to bleed cash on feeding ourselves, and rarely do we really savor or notice the food anyhow. It’s just a meal that we consume in between doing other things. If you can bring meals from home, that’s the least expensive, and it’s also the bet way to ensure that you know what you’re getting. I’m currently taking frozen dinners that cost only $2.00 a meal, and that’s cheaper than any sandwich I can buy. If you have to eat out, trying finding the healthiest, best value meal you can find, and stick to it or slight variations. The more adventurous your meal seeking gets, the more it will likely cost you.
  • Drink at a Friend’s House, Not a Pub– The cost of a dozen bottles of beer shared between a few friends will always be less expensive than a single drink out at a pub. Surely, one of you has a place to go for the casual entertainment experience, right? Okay, you might not be able to meet attractive members of the opposite sex there, but even if you spent a few days at one of your homes, that’d save some cash, true?
  • Reconsider Your Driving Habits– Are you a leadfoot? Are you the kind who goes on an hour or more jaunt just for something to do? With gas/petrol costs being so high thanks to some interesting world stage situations, considering how often and how fast you travel will help you cut a few bucks in the short term. BONUS: Get out your bike and kill two birds with one stone. Work that spare tire back off the ole belly.
  • Sum up all Your Entertainment Expenses– When you look at each one separately, it probably doesn’t seem weird to pay $15 a month for Netflix, $10 a month for XBOX Live, $60 or so a month for Cable TV, $100 or more a year on various magazines, not to mention all the ways you spend money when you go out, including clubs, pubs, bars, concerts, shows, events, and dinners. These are all entertainment. If you’re working on your debt, tally up all those expenses and look at them in a big sum per month. How much does your entertainment budget really cost, and does that relate to how much money you’re putting towards your debts and other expenses? Maybe it’s time to reconsider.
  • Go on a Clothing Fast– There are a hundred reasons why you need that new shirt, or that clever belt. You might need those shoes because they’re quite a bargain. But take a good long look at your closet, at what you already have. Do you need more right now? How often are you buying clothes for fashion’s sake versus need? Are there ways you can stretch your budget by coordinating differently? We buy clothes on impulse more often than just about anything. Pay close attention to this, and consider a clothing fast. Promise not to buy clothes for one month at a time. Say, “I’ll go all of August without buying a single article of clothing.” At the end of August, assess. Do you really need anything? See if you can go September, too.

Sure, you’re deserving of a good life. This isn’t as much about deprivation as it is examining the life you’re leading. If you’re working on your finances, and you’re serious about putting them in order, there are even more holes than those I’ve listed above that could use plugging. With a little bit of tweaking, you’ll recover money at a fairly decent clip. This adds up. If you tally up your savings from all eight tips above, it could quite easily be $200 or more back in your finances a month. $2400 a year? That’s a nice tidy raise, eh? Congratulations.

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–Chris Brogan is working hard on his expenses over at [chrisbrogan.com]. Well, not really. He’s writing about self-improvement and creativity.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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