Cutting Out The Fluff

In tight times, be it a recession, or a personal financial crisis there are some basic ways to save money that never lose their impact. These are the ways of being frugal that apply in all situations and out of all of them there is one tried and true method that can help you save big money - and it’s also the most commonly turned to method.

This is the art of cutting out the fluff. That means getting rid of the excess in your life. Losing the excess spending, consumption, and waste can turn into lots of savings for you and may make the difference between keeping afloat and financial destitution. Now when you cut down on the nonessentials in your life it doesn’t mean that you give up the things that are necessary or that make your life comfortable and convenient. For example if you really would hate not having a car then that’s not something you should cut out. If having a car, as opposed to taking the bus or walking, is important enough to you that you’re willing to cut back in other areas then that’s what you should do. What you should do is take stock of what you value you most in your life and what you can do without - this can also show you what lifestyle changes might be necessary for you to make and can even benefit your life in other was.

Recessions and rough economic times are interesting this way because they shine a bright light on the way we are spending our money. When there’s less money coming in there’s less going out and what does go out takes on a different look to it. In a recession the way we spend our money changes drastically, we look for better values, less cost, and longer lasting products. We end up cutting out all the fluff and the extraneous spending in our lives. In many ways this is actually very good for our economy as it highlights companies that are providing a good valuable service or product and allows them to succeed while companies that provide cheap, worthless junk, will quickly go out of business.

To do this it’s simply a matter of identify what you don’t really need in your life. Again this isn’t about reducing your quality of life - it’s simply about doing away with the extras that aren’t making that much of a difference in your life. For me personally this meant I quit drinking coffee. Now some people absolutely love their morning latte and couldn’t live without it but for me it was just something I was getting to warm me up on cold days and I was using it as a boredom escape as well. I didn’t adore my coffee so it wasn’t that hard to give plus I recognized that it was a lot better for my health to make that change. That little change has saved me hundreds of dollars (designer coffee is expensive) and it hasn’t made much of a difference to my lifestyle. Now if I want something warm I just make tea or hot chocolate at home and bring it in a thermos. It’s little things like this that really add up to monthly expenses.

I also stopped renting movies. It was a little thing that ended up cutting into my budget a fair amount each month and instead I decided to sign up with a rental company where I could get as many movies as I wanted monthly for a flat rate. That alone saved me a good amount and I put the money I save each month toward buying new movies that I really like.
Small changes like these are really all it takes to see a difference in your budget each month. All you have to do is spend a little time watching where you spend your money and then determine which things are more important to you to have. For example being able to spend money on really nice kitchen supplies was really important to me. I wanted to be able to have lots of nice dishes, pans, silverware and so forth so instead I stopped eating out as much and I stayed in more and did movies at home instead of going to a new movie every weekend and in turn I was able to put that money to getting really nice things for my kitchen that I enjoy using and that will last me a long time. It’s funny because now that I have such nice things for my kitchen I enjoy cooking at home even more, and thus eat out even less which saves me even more money. It’s really all about balancing the things that are important to you and weighing what you can live with out and what you can’t.

Once you’ve identified the areas that you know are important to you to be able to have money to spend in then you can also see areas that aren’t as important to you where you can be a little bit more frugal. A good example is the different ways my boyfriend and I chose cars to drive. My car is simple and basic. I chose it because it was safe, reliable, easy to fix and got good mileage. It isn’t the fanciest or most hi-tech car out there but it does exactly what I need it to and it’s pretty cute. On the other hand my boyfriend chose his car because of how fast it was, the options he could have on it, and the luxuries it had in it. Neither choice was wrong it was just our level of priorities. I didn’t want to be spending much on my car every month because I would rather my money go to other things I want, like books and clothes, and fun nights out. My boyfriend though drives his car around a lot and it makes a big difference to him whether or not he enjoys his car whereas I’m only in my car a few minutes a day and I’m usually focused on my music, not my car. So when it came down to it his car was more important to him and he was willing to pay that extra amount for it where mine wasn’t as high on my list of priorities so I chose to go with something a little more economical.

If you’re willing to cut back in some areas it can give you more room to work with in others that are more important to you and usually you’ll notice it with an improved quality of life in those areas. Specifically, I don’t miss my morning coffee but the extra money I saved from that I use to buy new books which I absolutely love. I love having new books and being able to spend some money on that indulgence every month. So I gave up something that wasn’t very much of a big deal to me in the first place to have more of something I really really liked. So this cutting out the fluff business doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. In fact it can help you appreciate what you have and bring you even more of that.