The First 10 Things To Cut From Your Budget

My partner and I are frugal my nature and by necessity. When friends complain about their finances, I gladly offer suggestions. The biggest push-back I get when I talk about cutting costs, boosting income, and saving money is that it’s hard. Many people associate the the word “budget” with sacrifices and suffering. But that’s simply not true.

The point of budgeting is not to deprive you of life’s joy. Rather, it’s an opportunity to identify your priorities and curate objects and activities that make you happy. You know what you value and what you can cut better than anyone else. Thus, budgeting is a highly personalized task.

The cost of everyday goods is on the rise. Housing, groceries, and gas prices are outpacing wage increases. With a little less in our wallets each month, this is a good time to think about what we value and where we can cut back.

The First 10 Things To Cut From Your Budget

  1. Alcohol – Alcohol is expensive, may lead to poor decisions, and hangover can ruin an otherwise perfectly good day. Consider going cold turkey or limiting drinking to social occasions.
  2. Clothing – Clothing and accessories can be huge sinkhole, especially with any social pressure to follow trends. Contrary to popular belief, most people aren’t paying attention to what you wear or how often you repeat an outfit.
  3. Beauty Products – There is always some magical new facial serum or hair product that promises to change your life. The reality is that few will live up to the hype. Use what you have on hand, skip the monthly manicure, or try cutting your own hair.
  4. Luxury and Convenience Groceries – We pay a premium on pre-made meals, protein bars, and low-nutrient snacks. The same goes for fancy cheeses, expensive cuts of meat, and bottled water. If finances are tight, stick to the basics–fresh produce, poultry, white fish, and spices.
  5. Eating Out – Most fast food meals are around $10 and low-end restaurants are $20 per meal. Healthy meals can be had at home for under $5 per serving, so eating out is a great money saver.
  6. Paper Towels – Years ago, I bought a huge pack of white rags from Costco and placed a secondary trash can in the kitchen. I still use paper towels for grease, but the rags are used for everything else and then thrown in the laundry.
  7. Entertainment – Consider cutting out movie theaters, bowling, and visits to the zoo. These activities easily cost $20-$50 per person for just a few hours of fun. Instead, brainstorm free activities, such as visits to the park, board games, potluck parties, or working on crafts at home.
  8. New Technology – Most of us don’t need the newest phone, laptop, gaming PC, video game console, fitness tracker, or workout machine. Often times, what we have is good enough. Electronics are expensive and patience is a virtue.
  9. Cable TV and Streaming Services – I’ve never had cable or streaming services, but my life has been just fine without Sunday football, Netflix, and Spotify. There are plenty of free forms of entertainment, such as outdoor activities or renting media from the library.
  10. Books – I love books and, at one point, owned over a thousand. Now, I borrow books from friends, family, and the library. If no one has it, I’ll choose another book to read.

Your list may be different than mine but, as you can see, the easiest things for me to give up have been food, activities, and consumer goods. On the other hand, I have no problem spending money on organic produce, supplements, clean household products, and quality products with a lifetime warranty.

With the current level of inflation, it’s a great opportunity for each of us to assess where we are spending and what our priorities are, and then align to two.

What items would you include on you “”first to cut” list? Would any of my suggestions be challenging for you?

14 thoughts on “The First 10 Things To Cut From Your Budget

  1. Gas station coffee. It adds up. I’ve got snacky doodles under wraps. But I love me my coffee. Could probably add it to no.4, though.

    Great list. Ramsey would more than likely approve. I would add, bouncing off your ‘not to deprive of life’s joys,’ half these things don’t really add that much at all. We keep habits because discomfort with change and effort overshadows actual benefit or cost. Like when I give up the gas station brews, I never miss them, and feel better without the added chemicals being processed by my liver.

    Restaurant food is bland and notoriously corner cut. You can, with minimal training, do so much better than a sous chef. When I grill burgers, they are always better than whatever joint. Same with my wife, she can make a stir-fry better than the import economists who open up generic Asian restaurants.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re absolutely right about how easy it can be to give things up, or replace them with a homemade alternative. And, I agree, it’s far more a discomfort with changing an old habit than giving up a true pleasure… but I suspect a lot of people can’t sit with that temporary discomfort long enough to realize it is just an illusion.

      Home cooking is a great example–with access to fresher produce and a bit of practice, you can blow peoples’ minds. The first stretch of learning to cook can be tedious, but it can become a form of entertainment or an ingrained habit once that you’ve got the basics down.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I love your list along with your wise acknowledgement that everyone’s approach will be different – and that’s your point! Make it work for YOU…and it’s much easier than people think.
    In fact, other than overpriced coffee (which Seaxwulf mentioned) I can’t think of anything to add! The first couple of items really hit a note of recognition. My friends are amazed that my favorite facial cleansers are Albolene and Cetaphil – mixed with a little baking soda to make a scrub and add a hot washcloth? Magic facial for my sensitive skin. And as much as I like new clothes and fashion, the urge to shop is quelled when I ‘shop my closet’ and discover things I haven’t worn, still love. Thanks for these reminders, Erin! xo! 😘

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I wouldn’t cut back on books because, as an author, I feel an obligation to support writers. There are many wonderful facial products at budget prices including The Ordinary brand (vitamin C does work!) You can find amazing deals on gently used clothing and some never worn at Threads Up. One of my favorite dresses cost 20.00. I would never cut my own hair but kudos to those who can do it well. Better yet, find a skilled friend. I cut back on impulse buys, dining out (so expensive!). There are other big areas to try to save on electric bills, insurance, bank fees, groceries. Learn to cook and make home-made nutritious meals. In the end, there is only so much one can cut. And since I like to have money to spend on travel and gifts for others, (and savings), I look for ways to make more and invest where I can. Wishing you a Happy New Year!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Evelyn, you make some great points! There are lots of tricks to reduce electric bills, we can shop around for better insurance rates, negotiate bank fees, and reduce grocery costs. Once you figure out the basics, it can be easy to implement some habits to save and invest more. Happy holidays, and a Happy New Year to you, as well!


  4. These are all great tips! Many I already use, simply by virtue of our lifestyle, but there are certainly ways I could be more conscientious. I enjoyed reading these great ideas, and the ones in comments as well.


  5. Agree! Wonderful advice!! I try not to buy “convenience” foods & stick to mostly whole foods, although that doesn’t make our food budget “cheap” by any stretch of the imagination. I try to always buy “used” first if possible as well! We don’t eat out or do fast food etc… very, very rarely & never for myself. Generally I just ask myself “do we truly NEED this?” It helps that I’m a minimalist at heart…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, whole foods are a top priority in our household as well… not cheap, but will hopefully prevent expensive medical issues later in life. And, yes, buying used and considering whether something is actually needed is a great approach to minimize unnecessary spending. Thanks for stopping by!


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