- Cell Phone: Slashed plan should save $30-40/month.
- TV: Killed TV should save $40-50/month. (Don't really watch things, and if I want to there's always the Internet.)
- Charity sponsorship of needy children: Discontinued saves nearly $100/month.
Making those cuts frees up at least $158 a month. Not bad work for the day. Had I been smarter and done this at the beginning of the year, I would have saved at least $1,580 from that alone to date, and more realistically saves me around $2000 per year.
- I've successfully quit smoking. (Finally!) Projected savings of quitting smoking are between $1-2K/year.
- I set up a joint bank account that my wife can use overseas, with a debit card, to eliminates wire transfer fees and provides a better exchange rate without a middle-man. This saves me approximately $150/yr. (My bank doesn't charge for foreign transactions, but Mastercard does charge 1% of every transaction -- still cheaper and faster than wire transfers and money services.)
From these changes alone, that's between $3800-5000 that I've flushed down the proverbial toilet each year for the last 2-3 years. Money that could have been put to better use.
Aside: I took in a sick, abandoned puppy and nursed it to health. This has cost me $1000 in medical expenses alone. It was foolish, and I'm looking to rehome her.
I'm planning to downgrade my living situation...moving to a place that's a couple hundred dollars cheaper in rent. With savings on rent, utilities, and even the gas savings from the shorter commute of my target area, I'm likely to save around $4600 per year.
There is a difference between a need and a want.
By my calculation, not monitoring and holding myself accountable to this difference strictly enough over the last 5 years has resulted in wasting at least $39,000. The numbers are rough, but it's a somewhat conservative estimate. (Honestly, it's likely to be higher, particularly factoring in any other wasted money.)
I physically feel sick to my stomach thinking about this. What seems small or inconsequential adds up rather quickly. I don't think I'm done making changes, either; I think there's more fat to trim.
I'm beginning to feel or approach it as a game -- how much money can I save? There are some areas I won't compromise much...there's a minimum housing standard (and neighborhood) I want to tolerate as well as a minimum standard on food (I rarely eat fast food and most of my meals are made from scratch, which is sometimes not as cheap as cheap food). But I'm certain more could be done.
And that, folks, is how I blew $39,000.
There is a difference between a need and a want. When was the last time you evaluated your needs and wants?