If there is anything we can learn from celebrity disasters such as Mike Tyson, Don Johnson, Kim Basinger, and Nicholas Cage is that no matter how much money you earn, it is very easy to spend just a little bit more.
The only sure-fire reliable way to control your debts is to spend less than you earn. This requires some discipline, but what it really requires is changing the way you think about spending.
The Total Cost of “Stuff”
When considering a purchase, don’t focus solely upon the purchase price. A new item may cost only $49.95, but add the cost of storing, cleaning, and maintaining the item over it’s entire lifespan.
Think where you will put the item. Think about where you will store it and how much larger your home would feel with less clutter. Think about having to find the item every time you want to use it, and having to clean it and put it up when you’re done.
The Monthly Burden
Recurring costs account for a huge portion of monthly expenditures for most Americans. Think about what you can reduce and what you can eliminate entirely. Can you switch to a less expensive cell phone plan, or do you really need a cell phone at all? Imagine the peace and quiet you will enjoy if you aren’t reachable 24 hours a day. Can you switch to a less expensive cable or satellite TV package? Your favorite television shows are very likely available on the Internet. You may not have much to lose by canceling your TV subscription entirely.
Eat At Home
Most of us spend way too much money eating out. Eating at restaurants is far more expensive than eating at home. The meal lasts for an hour, but your money is gone permanently. A $20 dinner at a restaurant can be easily replaced by a $5 dinner at home. It most likely won’t take any more time, as the time you spend preparing food replaces the time you would spend traveling to the restaurant.
Can you walk or bicycle instead of driving? Can you take the bus or car-pool? Do you need two cars? Do you even need one? Getting rid of an automobile gets rid of enormous insurance, maintenance, and fuel expenditures. The cost of an occasional taxi cab ride can be far less expensive than the continual grinding burden of auto insurance.
Housing – Think Small
Do you need to live in the house you are living in now? Could you save maintenance costs (and time) by moving into a condo? If you are in an apartment, could you move to a smaller apartment? Housing costs drain money from your budget every single month. How much house do you really need?
Delay to Save
If you put off buying new shoes for two months, you will get two more months of use out of your existing shoes. Most things that we want are things that we can live without, at least for a little while. Often, by the time we are ready to buy something, we realize that we don’t really want it anymore. Delaying purchases reduces money wasted by impulse buying, gives us time to research alternatives, and often prevents the expenditure altogether. In addition, you can save money by delaying many purchases until items go on sale, such as Black Friday or after-Christmas sales.
Think before you spend and you’ll discover that you’re thinking a lot more and spending a lot less.