How to Eliminate Expenses From Your Budget And Keep What You Love
Expense creep is real. You added a Hulu subscription last week. You signed up for an Audible account a few weeks ago that you might have forgotten about. The kids started piano lessons a few months back. And in the meantime, the price of everything has seemed to have slowly crept up too. What once was a manageable budget with some wiggle room might start feeling a bit too tight. If you’re considering cutting some expenses, there are three questions you’ll want to ask.
It’s important to evaluate your budget and think about the things you’re spending money on. Expenses come into our lives for many reasons, but guess what? Life is not static and neither are your expenses. What once brought you joy may no longer. What you once used religiously, you may not have cracked open in months (um, hello Peloton app). Budgets are meant to change.
So if you’re in a place where you’re looking to cut expenses, don’t just start cancelling everything. Ask yourself these three questions first.
Question 1: Am I getting enough value from this to justify the expense?
Value doesn’t always mean the same thing to everybody. It’s important to know and understand what is valuable to you because the things you value should dictate how you spend your money. People who value family and their home and people who value travel and adventure are going to have very different budgets, and that’s ok.
Value can be a lot of different things. Perhaps you value the accountability you receive from a certain expense (like a personal training app) or the community you gain from it. If an expense gives you access to a group of people who share your values, it’s probably a pretty important expense.
Maybe what you value from an expense is that it saves you time and allows you to put your energy in other things that are a higher priority on your list. Time and money are linked together in so many ways. So if your time is the most valuable, an expense that saves you minutes a day or hours a week might be worth it.
Identify what is valuable to you and ask yourself if this expenses is giving you enough of that to justify it. If it is, keep it. If it’s not, cut it or reduce the amount, if possible.
Question 2: Is there an alternative that would get me the same benefits for less?
If you signed up for an expense 5 year ago, chances are it could have some competition you’re not aware of. That’s why the second question you need to ask if you’re keeping an expense, is if there’s something else that will do the job cheaper or easier.
Do the research. I know, for some of us, researching is not our favorite thing to do. But what if spending 30 minutes on your computer looking at different gyms, signing up for free audits, looking into different streaming services, etc., could save you a $100+ every single month. Or even better yet – what if you find a FREE alternative option? You never know if you never try to know, right? So get your internet sleuthing on, and see what else is out there.
Question 3: What can I NOT pay for/save for because of this expense? What is my tradeoff?
This last question is tied to your goals and values again. Just because you value an expense and you’re paying the best rate you can for it, you still need to ask this final question. Unfortunately, you do not have an unlimited supply of dollar bills. Bummer, right? You will need to consider the tradeoffs and think about if this expense is worth delaying your goals.
The question you want to ask is this: Is paying for this expense more important than paying off or saving up for X? Do you want this thing you’re after more? The thing in your sights could be no more student loans or enough money to renovate your bathroom. Whatever the next big thing on your list is, is it worth it to keep the expense in light of that? Will the $20/$50/$100 you’re spending on an expense be better utilized on something that you want or need more?
The answer could very well be yes. We’re not here to shame you into deprivation budgeting. We don’t believe in cutting out all expenses and sacrificing the good things in your life in order to meet a certain goal. In fact, that line of thinking is a sure fire way to fall off the budgeting wagon and get frustrated with your money real fast. It’s all about balance.
By asking yourself these three questions, hopefully your budget will start to feel a little more balanced, a little more aligned, and your bank account will start to have a little more breathing room.
And if you want a little more guidance or help figuring out a plan for your money, book a free, 15-minute Q&A call with one of our coaches.