Reducing Expenses and Curbing Impulses

Curbing Impulses

Today, I found myself about to buy a movie because it was on sale and then caught myself. I could, of course, afford the movie — it was $7.99 on iTunes for the HD version — but I was going to just impulsively buy it so I could watch it immediately. And this wouldn’t be the first time in the last month I’d done so. I’d estimate that in the past few months, I’ve spent nearly $150 on movies alone (to be fair, $75 of that was to purchase the Star Wars HD set on iTunes). It’s clear I have a weakness for entertainment and I do not like to buy hard copies of things.

But still, it’s a weakness. And one that potentially harms my ability to maximize savings and reduce expenses.

It’s clear that if I ever want to live solely off of passive income, this is some behavior that has to be addressed. Luckily, today I took a moment to think it through and come to an understanding with myself that I really didn’t need to make the purchase. In a way, I saved myself an extra $8 for the lost opportunity. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

And this is a behavior I’d like to make permanent.

Reducing Expenses

For the past few months, I’ve been actively working on reducing expenses just by cutting out the extra and unnecessary. Of course, there are still some things to cut in order to really get ongoing expenses under control, but up to this point I’ve cut out some great ones. Take Sirius radio, for example. This was costing me $54 every quarter, or $18 per month. We are already paying for Rdio to eliminate the need to buy any music and satisfy our need to find new music, so my wife and I agreed that it was unnecessary to continue paying for something extra.

To further emphasize how much of an addiction I apparently have to entertainment, I was also paying $10/month for a subscription to Stream Nation. Luckily, they merged with another service I was paying for, so that expense sort of disappeared but regardless, I was paying $120/year for the ability to watch not only my movies by my friends’ movies as well. It had to go.

There are also some services I’m using currently that will soon face the chopping block:

  • Mozy – An excellent back-up service that charges $7.99/month ($95.88/year). I have effectively replaced it with CrashPlan, which blows them away for $5.99/month with unlimited online storage. I just need to make sure I’ve absolutely transferred all my data before I pull the trigger.
  • RescueTime – I absolutely love this service for tracking my time spent on the computer, but soon, the company I work for will provide me with an alternative and I can’t justify keeping both. They charge $9/month, which is $108/year I will soon be shaving off.
  • Audible – Another service I absolutely love that I have put on pause for now. I have 5 credits saved up with them that I’d like to let dwindle a bit before I re-activate my account. Still, I love Audible, especially during long commutes. For the program I had, it was $14.95/month ($179.40/year), which is pretty decent in terms of saving over the next year or so.

So already, we’re saving $216 + $120 or $336/year by cutting Sirius and Stream Nation. These additional cuts will result in a total savings of $719.28/year, or around $60/month. That’s less money I’ll have to worry about generating passively in the future.

As I continue reducing expenses, I’ll post more because it is an extremely important factor in achieving financial independence.

Update: I knew I was forgetting something! I came back and added in Audible (and adjusted the math) which is technically paused but it should take me a while to get through those 5 remaining credits. I give it a year. :)

6 Responses

  1. Nice job FI Monkey!

    I have the same problem with seemingly small expenses. Its so easy to spend!

    I didnt see it noticed here but i exchanged all of my music services for spotify. You can stream on any computer for free and pick what song or album to listen to. The only negative is you cant use it on your phone or ipod type devices for free.

    It does become easier to stop spending once you have a place to put that money that will make more money… Such as dividend stocks :)

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Adam,

      I use Rdio which is very similar to Spotify and has those same limitations you mentioned here. But also gives you the same benefits, for the most part.

      Thanks for commenting and for the kind words!

  2. FI monkey, good progress! Cutting small expenses here and there really adds up. It was the same for me. Now, my saving rate is in quite high simply by removing the stuff we don’t need.
    I think you definitely turned your ship around, and when you start investing, your income will grow. Just be patient for the compounding to work.

    1. Thanks! Anything to keep that savings rate pushing to 50% and beyond. Just means I get to independence that much quicker.

      I appreciate the encouragement.


  3. Monkey,

    It really is the recurring bills that are set to auto pay that hamper your ability to save. Id like to think that I am lucky, starting out with no bills like this, as it allows me a clean slate from the start. The only thing holding me back is temptation at this point!


    1. Div,

      I’m not sure how much luck plays a part but you’re definitely wise for using the things you’ve learned in our community to make sure your monthly expenses aren’t eating away at your future earnings. Your ability to exercise self control and trading having-the-thing-now for having your freedom later is something few even learn about, let alone master.

      Great work. Keep it up!


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