Recent Divine Discussions

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Trimming the fat off of your monthly bills....

One important step I take towards becoming debt free is to find extra money to pay down my debt. I have been doing this from the beginning. There are many different ways to find that extra money but one way that can work for a majority of people is to trim the fat off of your expenses.

First, track your expenses. If you already have a budget in place then your golden. If you don't, then track what you spend on bills in one month. This is what my monthly expenses looked like a year ago:

BILL

Amount

Rent

$800

Cable

$70

Electric

$160

Phone

$60

Cell

$90

Car Note

$532

Daycare

$410

TOTAL

$2122



Second, analyze your monthly expenses and find areas where you can "trim the fat". If you are willing to make sacrifices then do so. Analyze each category and find cheaper alternative. Here is how I trimmed my fat:

Rent: I was paying $800 for a 2 bedroom apartment located near the university. My lease was up in April so in March I started searching the internet for a less expensive apartment. Even though I was looking for something cheaper, I refused to stay in a bad neighborhood or run down place. So in each time I found a inexpensive apartment complex I would also check this an apartment ratings website to see what past and current residents had to say. While searching on there, I came across an apartment complex that I had never heard before and had a n almost perfect rating (99.5%). I called them up and discovered that their 2 bedrooms were renting for $650. I moved in there about 4 weeks later.

Cable: This was an easy one to "trim". I simply cut off my cable. All my shows were shown online for FREE. So were my daughter's. I thought it would be hard to let go but now I wish I would have done it sooner.

Electric: This is one of those tricky categories because it is affected by variables that are out of your control like the type of apartment you stay in. But I started doing little things here and there that amounted to a huge savings. I stopped leaving my computer on over night and when I wasn't using it. I unplugged electronics and appliances that weren't in use. I invested in energy saving light bulbs. I also turned my AC up when I left the apartment.

Phone: I used to have Sprint. I could never understand how I was paying $60 a month on a $30 plan so I searched the internet for a better alternative and found Vonage. I have been with them ever since.

Cell: I have a personal cell and a work cell. It didn't dawn on me until a year later that I could lower my plan on my personal cell and just juggle minutes between the two. Duh Dimps!!! So I lowered my rate plan and took off all the perps I had with my Cingular phone and saved $30.

Car Note: Of course the savings in this category happened just recently but as I think over it I could have done this a year ago. I refinanced my car with my credit union @ a lower rate and trimmed off $140.

Daycare: Florida offers the Voluntary Pre-K program for 4 year olds. The program prepares four year olds for kindergarten and is free to all eligible parents regardless of income. The program also pays 3 hours of instruction a school day which allows the parents to save on daycare. I signed my daughter up and saved $110 off of her monthly tuition.

So with all that trimming, here is what my monthly expenses look like now:

BILL

Amount

Rent

$650

Cable

$0

Electric

$70

Phone

$20

Cell

$60

Car Note

$392

Daycare

$300

TOTAL

$1492


I have trimmed off a total of $630 from my monthly expenses. Now this is gradually over the course of one year. Imagine doing this over the course of a month or two. All that extra money could then be redirected towards your debt payoff, bringing Debt Free Day even closer.

I found the definition of a "debt diet" that Transwiki provides. It goes a little more into detail and actually takes into account ALL spending while my focus was on expenses. It is a good read so you all should check it out.




9 comments:

SingleGuyMoney said...

Now that is some real budget cutting. Do you plan to apply some of that money to debt and/or savings?

Dimples said...

@ single guy

Well majority has been redirected towards my debt. Some has been pulled into some of the new categories in my budget (beauty, car maint, etc). And this was done gradually over the year. If I did something like this now, in one month, then all of it would go towards debt. The money I trimmed off my car note will be going towards debt repayment.

Morgank98 said...

Ok, I'm super impressed.

Jon said...

I'm also really impressed. That is some serious savings!

Sistah Ant said...

Very good! I did the same thing about 2 years ago, and it really really helped!

Anonymous said...

Dimps,

I am a fan of your site. This one is a great example. I have a 5 year old daughter (affectionately known as chocolate) who loves Little Bill, Dora, Backyardigans...where did you find online for programs for your daughter? Thanks for the inspiration

Theodor Adams said...

hello and.. wow nice savings (I never though about internet TV programs...). It seems that more and more people are interested in saving their money. Probably one of the most expensive things is gas. More interesting is that you can save a couple of $ a week just by doing simple stuff like driving at a certain speed or planing your route to be the most efficient (I know these look too simple but their a great way of saving)

Dimples said...

@ Anon

Check out the following links:

http://disney.go.com/dxd/index.html?channel=17138&

http://www.nickjr.com/


Hope this helps.



@ Theodor Adams

I totally agree. Gas is definitely expensive and getting more expensive each day. And I am feeling it. I need to start driving the speed limit and planning routes.

Theodor Adams said...

hello again! well... I found this book about Gas Saving Tips. I started saving gas a couple of weeks ago and what can I say, there is a slight improvement (2-3$ / week), but in the course of a year, those savings add up. (I'm probably just not good at this thing now, but after a few months I expect my savings to increase :)