Every day on the news (which I really need to stop watching, to be honest), there are stories about families giving up this or that due to the continuing downturn in the economy. As I mentioned the other day, we have not really felt that much of an impact yet due to where we live and what we do for a living, but people are really struggling out there. Some are giving up “luxury” expenses, like nights at the movies, while others are selling their second cars and making due with just one. Each situation is different, of course, dependent upon income level, job security, location, size of family, etc.. But as I see each of these stories, I cannot help but give some thought to the things that I would definitely give up immediately if we were in a financial bind due to the economy, and this is what I came up with:
Drastically Reduce Any Dining Out
As of late, we have been spending about $150-$200 a month eating out at local restaurants, give or take a meal or two. This would probably be the first thing we would cut out of our budget if times started getting really tight.
Look Into Alternative Cellphone Plans
We are no longer on a contract with AT&T, and for the benefit of my family I would definitely give up my iPhone and it’s expensive plan. I rarely if ever use any minutes, and I could adapt to not always having the internet in my pocket. We could both ditch this plan and get prepaid phones for much cheaper. In fact, mine would probably cost nothing as I don’t use minutes!
Reduce Or Eliminate Satellite TV
Granted, we cannot do this right now because of stupid DirecTV and their contract. (Never again, never again) But if I was out of my contract or had cable TV, we would either reduce our package to a cheaper one or just dump it altogether.
Reduce Contributions To Retirement Accounts
Because we are young and have a long time to go before retirement, to have an extra chunk of change each month available for food or shelter, I would cut contributions to our retirement accounts down to the bare minimum. We can always play catch up when things start looking up.
Cut Back Our Movie Rental Plan
I have long been an advocate of Netflix, and absolutely love their service. We are on the 2 at a time unlimited plan, which is $13.99 a month. Since every penny would help, I think we could cut that back to the 1 at a time, maximum 2 for the month plan for $4.99.
We are already pretty frugal for a lot of things: by reducing our energy use, by avoiding bank charges, by keeping high deductibles on our insurance policies, and by not doing a lot of shopping. But even for us, there are some changes we could make to free up a few hundred bucks a month to put towards the truly important stuff in life. These things don’t make or break us, they are just nice little luxuries we can afford right now. If we couldn’t, losing them would not have that much of an affect on our quality of life but would definitely have an impact on our balance sheet. So my question to you is – what would or could you give up if you absolutely had to? Have you already started giving some of these things up due to the economy? Let us all know what you think in the comments!