Systematically Reducing Expenses Through Budgeting

Reviewing our spending in 2018 and pinpointing how we can easily save more money in 2019

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Once you’ve got your budget and have been using it for a few months, you’ll be able to see where your money is actually going. This insight is incredibly powerful and allows you to put your budget to use in a real way that will help you save money.

My wife and I have found that through reviewing our spending over the course of six months or a year, we’re better able to tell how we can reduce our spending day-to-day in certain categories based on our tendencies. It allows us to make behavior changes based on real data, not just feelings. We’re by no means perfect. Not even close. Which means we can keep trying to do better.

Abagail and I identified the following spending categories at the beginning of 2019 based on our 2018 spending as easy places we could cut back without impacting our quality of life. We wanted to reduce spending in categories where the change would be significant: at least $100 or more. Here’s what we cut back on and how it’s been going.

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Every. Single. Year.

Apple phone announcement parody comic

It’s fun following along with announcements of the latest, greatest stuff. At least it is as first. But when you realize that being a “fan” of large corporations only leads to one thing – wanting to buy their products – it becomes a lot less fun.

Rarely ever does buying that new thing change your life. Chances are that you don’t need it at all. Sure, maybe the new phone is faster. Or lighter. Or thinner. There will be a new phone next year though. And the year after. Over time those changes to the thing may add up to something significant that could impact your life. But be wary of the lust of newness.

See what happens when you don’t follow along closely with companies and products. Don’t actively seek out tech reviews or news. I bet you’ll have a healthier relationship with your stuff. You’ll spend less time anticipating and more time using what you already have. It’ll free up time to enjoy art or learn or be of service, all three of which I’d rather do than think about some new gadget.

Getting Serious About Saving

Setting financial goals, minimizing what we don’t need, and saving over 50% of our take-home pay

My financial mindset for the last few years has been pretty simple:

  1. No debt, at all costs 🙅‍♂️
  2. Have at least three months of safety net saved up 💰
  3. Max out my Traditional IRA annually 🏖

My wife and I have managed to avoid debt, build up a safety net of six months, and contribute to our retirement accounts as much as possible. Beyond that, we weren’t really sure what to do. So, inevitably, we spent our extra cash. Not on anything too lavish or wild, but we weren’t mindful and didn’t have a plan. Until now.

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