Ever since starting Dumb Little Man, Jay has gone out of his way to elaborate on the ways I am tossing money in the garbage. He asked me to put together a list of the things my wife blew money on, he then asked her to do the same for me. We combined lists and are challenging ourselves to make some changes in the baby-steps process to frugal living.
Here is the list and and now we have copies on the fridge and in our cars. I was surprised that we came up with 25 things to get rid of. We certainly have some work to do.
2. My fitness membership: $80 per month for Lifetime fitness. Guess how often I go? Annually. This is getting canceled. I will just take a walk if I ever decide to be physically active as opposed to sitting in front of a PC all day.
3. Parking in the city: [on a huge sign] “PARKING SPECIAL, $17.00 FOR THE FIRST 90 MINUTES”. That’s the special? I don’t feel very special. Actually, I feel like I am getting taken advantage of. Why don’t I get a super-special discount if I am back in 30 minutes? No solution for this one yet but instead of parking here for convenience, I will at least look around for a metered spot.
4. Food I don’t eat: Let’s say you want some bananas. You go to the store and they have bundles of 9 bananas and you buy all 9. You know you are only eating 3 of those things before they brown-out. I am going to start taking off 3 and leaving the 6 others behind. I don’t know why this never occurred to me before. Same is for eggs –I just found out you can buy half dozens.
5. ATM Fees: $1.00-2.50 per transaction is hitting me for $15-$20 each month. From now on, each weekend I am going to my bank and getting out enough money for the week. There is no reason that I can’t plan this a little better.
6. Tips:This should not be automatic. If the server was terrible, there should be no tip. If they did their job to your expectations, tip 15%. If they clearly went above the call of duty, maybe go to 20% but tipping $5.00 on a $16 check is too much. Tough part is bringing yourself to not leave a tip – I feel bad.
7. The Paper: My recycling bin each week is full of unopened newspapers. There is just no time to read them and I get most of my news online anyway. Sorry Chicago Tribune, you have to get cut.
8. Valet Parking: Although I always tell myself to walk 100 ft. from the parking space to the door instead of paying the $3 fee and the $2 tip, I am usually running late. Somehow in my feeble mind, I find it acceptable to pay that $5 just to get to my destination sixty seconds faster.
9. Dry Cleaning clean shirts: So I wear a shirt and then toss it in the closet on the floor even though it’s totally clean. After a few weeks, I pick them all up and go to the dry cleaner where we proceed to pay $1.50 to clean and press a shirt that’s already clean. I am not worried about the $1.50, it’s multiplying it by 10-15 per month that adds up.
10. Convenience Charges: If we pay our homeowner’s insurance bill annually (all at one time) there is no fee. However if we want to pay monthly like every other bill, we have to pay an additional $3 per month. Thanks a lot State Farm. I will have to figure out a way to pay this in full as opposed to giving up the $36.
11. Lottery: Each time I get gas, I get a lottery ticket. I think I have won $10 in 10 years. So, yes, this is being cut.
12. Plan: Why is gas $0.50 more per gallon at the Rest Areas on the expressway? We need to start filling up in our lower tax home-county before hitting the road.
13.Toys for the cat: My wife insists on getting a new cat toy everytime she goes grocery shopping. We honestly have a large tupperware storage bin full of stupid cat toys. The cat doesn’t even play with them! This is a complete waste of money.
14.Printer ink: When my red ink is out, I have to get an entirely new cartridge for $35.00. Damn you HP. With all of the photo printing, this is getting expensive. The only solution here that I can think of is those refilling stations. I’d be curious to hear if anyone’s used these and if there is a difference in print quality.
15. Grocery Store Membership cards: So if I don’t have a Dominick’s Fresh Values card, my eggs cost $4 instead of $1.50 and a frozen pizza isn’t the normal $3.00, it’s $6.50. They must really want to track my purchases. As much as I disagree, I think it’s time to give in and get their silly card.
16. Delivery Fees: I don’t plan on ordering many pizzas under my new budget, but if I do, we have to watch the “Delivery Charge” on your ticket. The driver usually gets to keep that + whatever tip you give. I fall for this every time because the only thing on my mind is getting rid of this guy so I can eat some Pepperoni.
17. Packing food: This one just happened, I took my daughter to a carnival last weekend and spent $25 on food. There is NO reason that I don’t start packing lunches and planning ahead. This would hold true for movie theater food, bowling alley food or lunch at work.
18. Pay-per-view: I need to limit this to one or two per month. As it stands now, I am Tivo-ing 2 per week and I rarely watch them. Half of them get overwritten with my wife’s Oprah recordings or some cartoon network stuff for the kids.
19. A/C: I need to install one of those programmable thermostats. We have the A/C set at 72 degrees whether we are home or not and the cat doesn’t appreciate it. I am not sure what kind of decrease we will see in our electric bill but it has to be something.
20. Lights: This one is probably over the edge but I really thought a lot about my list here. Why do I need all of these lights in the bathroom? I actually unscrewed half of them and can barely notice a difference. These bathroom lights are the ones generally left on all day because the kids or someone forgets to turn them off. (see pic)
21. Debit Card stays home: This will hurt a lot but I am committing to keeping my debit card at home. When I have to run to the store, I can easily use cash and generally do. However, my problem is that I pass a Dunkin Donuts or a McDonald’s every 4 blocks and the temptation to get some coffee or a burger is just to much for me. If I donb’t have a way to pay for it, I can’t buy it.
22. Batteries: It occurred to me that 90% of the batteries I buy for the kids toys are not purchased because they played with the toys quietly for hour on end, it’s because they forgot to turn the toy off. On Day 3, the batteries are dead. I am making the switch to rechargeables. It will cost a little more now but I have to believe I will come out ahead having 2 kids and a ridiculous amount of toys.
23. Research: I am going to look online for any non-food purchase that’s over $25.
24. Biking It: I work 10 miles away, I am going to commit to riding my bike there at least once per week. That’s a savings of like $6 roundtrip or $24/month.
25. The weekly menu: On Sunday night, we are going to plan the dinner menu for the week. We tend to wait until the last minute when fast food becomes the best option. Grilled Cheese Night, Breakfast night, grill night, etc.
We tried to stay away from coupon cutting and things like that because it’s not going to happen, not yet. Besides, I believe we would look at coupons as a reason to buy and using coupons to buy things that you don’t need defeats the purpose.
If you have other easy tips that can be used everyday, let us know.