The $110/month Savings Challenge

Savings Challenge -- Cutting the Budget

I am now gratingly faced with an increase in monthly expenses by an extra $110 per month. No, I didn’t buy a motorcycle with the requisite gear and insurance. It’s not the result of a purchase for some neat-o item or entertainment, and, even worse, it’s not due to upping my savings percentage. No, of course it’s not something like THAT. It’s because my health and dental insurance premiums went up that much. $1,320 per year more in unexpected expenses.

This is happening at the same time my auto insurance climbed to new heights due to a teenager addition to the policy. And my income will not be increasing by that much to cover it. There’s really no way to “cut back” enough somewhere else to make up for it all. But I did want to see if I could make up for the $110 per month health and dental increase, at least. That’s not an insignificant amount for us. So we took a hard look at our budget to see what additional fat might be lining the meat, if ever so thin. Ever heard of thin fat before?

Now, we already live pretty modestly, which is not to say we are choking on extreme frugality, depending on how you define that. That might be coming next. There are some things we could conceivably cut out yet if we were to suffer a sudden and drastic loss of income. But this isn’t that kind of situation, it’s an increase in living expenses. So it really begs for more belt-tightening even though we’re already wearing a financial corset 2 sizes too small.

So we sharpened the budget-cutting knives and found a few additional ways to slice our monthly budget.


1. Mobile Phone Insurance, $11/mo

First, there was $11/month going toward insurance on my mobile phone that I had purchased last year. The phone isn’t an inexpensive model, though I did get a great low price on it, fortunately. I need a reliable unit for my job, so I bought a decent phone and purchased clumsiness insurance. I bit the bullet and canceled that $11 insurance.


2. Mobile Phone Reprise: Employer Discount and Reduced Data Plan, $17/mo

Then, we realized I hadn’t applied my new employer discount to our data plan. So we did that for a gain of $2 over my previous employer’s discount. And in the process of looking at this, we realized that we consistently use less than 2 GB/month on a 4 GB shared data plan. The 2 GB plan costs $15 less per month than the 4 GB plan (there is no 3 GB plan currently), so we cut the data back to save another $15/month.

If we go over the 2-Gig limit, we’ll pay that $15 again to get an extra 1 GB, so we’d be back to where we started cost-wise for that month should that happen. But our usage history shows that’s not likely to happen often. So, on the mobile data plan, we’re now saving a total of $28/month from before ($11 for the dropped insurance, $2 for the new employer discount and $15 for the reduced data plan).


3. Credit Monitoring Service: ProtectMyID, $12.95/mo

Another $12.95 per month was being consumed for ProtectMyID, which is a credit monitoring service. The service has always been quick to alert any time an inquiry was made against our credit (which was always something we initiated). But, with the Equifax hacks, we were forced to freeze our credit at the major credit agencies. I had pondered doing this for a long time and saving the money for the monitoring service, but never got around to it. So, “thanks” to Equifax (ironically), I finally made the move, froze our credit and canceled service. So this is another $12.95 per month in savings.


4. Eliminate Unneeded Supplements; Take Coffee To Work From Home, ~$15/mo

Next, I looked at the supplements I regularly take. A couple of them were fairly expensive (as far as supplements go), and I had started taking them based on others’ recommendations. I did some more research and determined I don’t really need them all. For a few others, I stopped taking them on the weekends and just kept them in my M-F workday routine. I didn’t take a lot to begin with but cut my already-short list even more to save a few bucks.

I also started making my coffee in the mornings and taking it on my commute rather than buying K-cups on sale and using the machine at work. We buy the inexpensive ground coffee that lasts a while, 2 level scoops and I’m good to go. Estimated savings on the coffee and supplements is about $15/month, give or take.


5. Cut Hair At Home, ~$10/mo

We also determined that we could easily (and quickly) cut my hair at home instead of going to the local barber shop or hair-styling salon. I don’t need a fancy hair style at all, just a straightforward trim every 7 or so weeks. My wife already did a good job clipping my son’s hair, so why not mine? So we tried it and it worked out well. Not to mention, it saved some time and gas as well. Estimate savings is about $10 per month.

So far the savings only totaled $66/month, not even close to the $110/month increase in expenses. What else has been secretly siphoning money under our noses? There had to be something else to cut back or cut out.


6. Candy!?!?, $48/mo

Whoa! It turns out that the four of us used to share a bag or two of candy per week for dessert, and somehow that had graduated to each person having their own choice bag. When you take the average cost for a bag of candy, multiply that by 4 (per person) and then again by 4 1/2 weeks per month, it comes out to about $48/month! We don’t need to spend $48 a month on candy! And it just “slipped” right on in as we blissfully enjoyed our sweet tooth, you know how it is. So we decided to do away with the candy altogether for now.


TOTAL: $114/mo!!

So all total, that’s about $114 per month in extra savings! Awesome! What do you have hiding in your monthly expenses that you might be able to eliminate?


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