Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fixed Income Living-Small Changes Make a Big Dfference

In this journey I've taken to live on my current, fixed income, I've obviously made some adjustments.  As I've shared before, my goal has always been to cut expenses to increase disposable income.  While I do look for some increased income through  a business or part time work, my primary method of freeing up income has been to cut expenses.

In the past few months I've made quite a few adjustments.  What's notable about this is that many of those adjustments were minor, as well as painless.  At the same time, these changes have allowed my lifestyle to become a bit more flexible.

What kind of small changes have I made?  Well, unlike Bob, I have yet to cut the cable, although that decision is at the front of my mind (and is a discussion worthy of its own post at a later date).  What HAVE I done?  Well, let's see:

  • I lowered my prescription cost by using my insurers prescription by mail service.  This was a slap in the head moment. I should have investigated this option as soon as I returned from Germany (where everything, including prescriptions was so affordable insurers dont even ask for pre-certifications).  My blood pressure medicine which was costing me $40 a month will now cost $30 for a three month supply.  Not only that, but they give me six months at a time!
  • I made changes in my car insurance by changing to USAA (now, veterans in the audience will probably think this is another head smacking situation, but while I was in Germany I had Geico military which was VERY cheap).  Adding a male driver under 26 and moving to the US changed things, and I finally rectified that.  I do so love USAA.  I also adjusted my home insurance by half.
  • I adjusted my bundle and saved about twenty five percent off what I was paying. Texas has competition amongst cable providers and they know I could go elsewhere.  As I mentioned earlier, eliminating cable is still on the table, even with the cancellation fee. I could live happily without TV if I could just see myself at the local sports bar during football and NCAA basketball season.
  • I drastically lowered my cell phone bundle contract and saved almost a third. Even with three of us, we use fewer minutes than the lowest option in texting and talking available.  I'm considering lowering it more by eliminating my data plan, assuming the navigator in my phone will work without it.
  • I eliminated all magazine deliveries.  I can't bring myself to eliminate the newspaper, but I have cut it to Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday (which gives me the coupons, Sunday paper and weekend section.
  • When I go to the movies (not as often as I used to, also a separate discussion) I go to the first showing of the day for 3.00 instead of going "prime time" and getting all the goodies.
  • Instead of my two for one paperback exchange, I use the library exclusively for books.
  • I've stopped hitting drive thrus (not just talking about the so called "latte factor" here). On two days I am out for much of the day (now I've cut it to one) and instead of hitting drive thrus and restaurants I now bring my own water, fruit and snacks.  This is a health decision as well as I've lost fifty pounds in the past year.
All of these changes were pretty painless for me.  Some of them saved just a few dollars a month, some more.  The bottom line is that the totality of these small savings (and others unmentioned) have freed up extra income for those little things that ARE important to me, and/or those things that normally get eliminated from a bare bones budget.

Before I sound too Pollyanna-ish, I've also had to make some changes that were, while not life shattering, certainly a bit more painful (giving up my weekly French restaurant, cutting my quilting fabric purchases).  But the impact of little changes like those mentioned cannot be ignored when looking at my overall financial situation and health.

Coming next: Cable-should I live with it or without it?

4 comments:

  1. I don't think I could do without cable if I were living alone. I don't watch that much TV- but it is a comfort of sorts. If I lived in a big city and could get local I would be alright.
    Drive throughs were a big cut in our budget. It helps not to live near one now. I find while traveling that I eat better if I don't do the drive through.
    Congrats on the 50 lbs. THAT I would enjoy reading about as well.

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  2. Janette, I enjoy tv shows but am happy to watch them on disc, and get plenty of news from the paper and online....my problem is that I am a female sports not and dont know what I would do without all of that.......Ill be sharing my weight loss experience some time soon. I lost fifty, took six months off and gained none of it back and am now on to the next fifty.

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  3. Barb ... NCAA.com is offering all the tournament games online for free! (go to March Madness on Demand) We just cancelled our satellite service and have been watching games on that. It's worked out well -- the games I want to see weren't on networks offered by our former provider.
    Does your ISP offer ESPN3? It has a variety of sports. NFL is tough ... I know MLB. com and I think NHL.com offer out of market games via subscription

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  4. I'm with you Barb ... there's little I can't get via ROKU that matters to me with the exception of SEC football. If anyone on here knows how to get Alabama or Georgia football via the Internet, please educate me! :)

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