Self-control is a challenging thing to master, as it’s always easy to cheat just a little bit. You may limit yourself, for instance, to eating candies only on the weekend, but pretty soon you find yourself eating candy on your days off too because those days feel like a weekend and don’t count. It’s human nature. Most people are very skilled at figuring out how to get what they want if they think and try hard enough to find loopholes.
And since loopholes are pretty easy to find, it’s often best to eliminate the ‘reward’ entirely. If you know candy is bad for you, then it’s best to give it up completely. Cold turkey.
That’s why we are going to try this today. The goal is to choose one spending category and cut it out entirely. You aren’t spending a dime on it anymore. This method is pretty powerful way of kicking that temptation in its gut and increasing your net worth, and I promise it’s worth the effort.
For me, something I’m going to completely cut out of my life is soda. Drinking the substance isn’t good for me and it’s wildly expensive for what you’re getting – sugar water. So I will never buy it again. Ever.
What are some other spending categories to cut out completely? Fast food is a good one to cut, as it’s far more expensive than cooking at home. Even when you travel again someday, it’s more cost-efficient to hit up a grocery store and snag an Airbnb with a kitchen.
Buying premium fuel may be something you can cut out completely too. If your current car requires premium, you seriously need to consider trading it in. The price between premium and regular unleaded is quite a bit, so you might be able to recoup the cost of switching cars eventually. Or maybe you want an electric car – in which case you can cut out gasoline entirely. Do the math, though, before you go car shopping.
David’s Note: Don’t use this as an excuse to get a new car though. The difference in gas costs is significant, but you won’t be able to recoup the costs most fo the time by buying another car. Like Will says, do the math and only make the switch if it makes financial sense.
Another suggestion is to look for subscriptions to cut. Netflix, Hulu Plus, filtered water subscription, the Jelly of the Month Club, etc. Instead of downgrading your subscription – just cut it out entirely. You’ll love the savings – no doubt – but you may also love the freedom.
There are also many spending categories you can cut out for certain periods of time. This saves you a lot of money. Just make sure to stick to the ban during its entire duration.
Something else to skip for a certain period of time is the habit of shopping for clothes. You likely already stopped, or at least slowed down, these days. Did you really miss it? I bet not. See if you can avoid it for another six months once everyone is going out again. If you have enough of a certain type of clothes, ban yourself from buying more for a period of time to get you started. Say, no shopping for pants.
Video entertainment is another good example. Limiting video consumption over the summer is something that’s pretty achievable for most people. Instead of sitting inside watching TV during the warm months, you can get out and experience summer outdoors. What’s likely to happen is that you’ll get so used to not watching TV this digital entertainment ban may continue throughout the rest of the year. Some of you may even turn into a no-TV family. This may sound pretty startling but think of how much more productive and probably how much happier you would be? The fresh air and exercise may even improve your health too.
Be careful when cutting a spending category for a certain period of time though. What many people do is stock up right before the date they plan to stop spending. In reality, this saves them nothing, since it just changes when they spend the money. And if you spend it all at once, you may find yourself in credit card debt or lose money due to opportunity cost (in this case losing the opportunity to do something else with that money rather than spending it right away).
David’s Note: One way to avoid stocking up is to just give up the expense right away. You read the article, and already have everything you need to immediately reduce your expense. There’s no need to wait and think things over. What can you give up now? In Will’s case, he wouldn’t be able to stock up on soda if he stops consuming the moment he wrote the article. You can apply the same urgency for what you are committing to give up.
Another benefit of committing now is that you won’t have a chance to second guess yourself on that choice either. Do it now. Don’t wait!
It’s always smart to trim the fat from your budget. And cutting out categories completely is the best way of doing so. What will you cut today?
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Originally posted at https://moneyning.com/frugality/challenge-find-one-spending-category-to-cut-entirely/