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Tuesday, May 18, 2021   
 

Trimming the Fat From Your Budget
by Nancy Twigg
Nancy Twigg is a speaker and author who loves inspiring others to live more simply. Adapted from Nancy’s newly revised book, Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions (www.celebratesimply.com). Visit Nancy online at www.countingthecost.com
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Nancy Twigg

When my husband, Michael and I decided it was time for me to quit my full-time job, the first thing we did was pull out our family budget and go over it with a fine tooth comb. If I was going to quit, we knew we had to cut our expenses to the bare minimum until his then-new business was up and running.

People trim fat from their budgets for various reasons. Sometimes after the birth of a child, the new mother just can't face putting her baby in daycare as she originally planned. Maybe a family car dies an untimely death and payments on a newer car are higher than expected.

"Fat" in your family budget is very much like the extra pounds around your waistline: it sneaks up on you! Those little, seemingly insignificant expenses here and there add up to big chunks of your income that could be used otherwise.

If you're looking to put your budget on a diet, the first step is to realistically look at where your money is going. The following is a list of "extra" expenses (spending over and above necessities like food, transportation, utilities) that are easy to overlook. Some of the items on the list are necessary (such as haircuts and oil changes) but can be done less expensively by doing them yourself. When looking over the list, ask yourself if any of these could either be eliminated by altering your spending habits, or reduced by substituting something low-cost or by doing it yourself.

As you work to trim the fat from your budget, start by eliminating the expenditures that bring you the least amount of pleasure first. Gradually work up to those that you would truly miss if you cut them out. As you look over the list, be creative. Look for ways to get the same enjoyment for less.

Special Occasions
Family birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's Day
Christmas gifts
Gifts/showers for coworkers, friends, church members
Greeting cards and postage
Postage to mail gifts to out-of-town friends and relatives

Entertainment
Eating out/ordering take-out
Movies (renting or going to theater)
Cable TV/satellite service
Internet service
Book, video or music clubs
Hobby supplies, equipment, and magazines
Magazine subscriptions
Sports-related expenses (equipment, fees, memberships)
Spectator sporting events
Added grocery costs of entertaining at home
Music tapes and CDs 

Kid-related Expenses
Sports or school activities that require equipment, dues
Allowances
Birthday parties (their own and those they attended)
Fundraisers (things your kids and other people's kids sell)

Pets
Pet food, treats, toys, cat litter
Veterinary bills
Kennel, grooming and obedience services

Personal Grooming
Haircuts, perms, hair coloring
Cosmetics, skincare and hair care products
Manicures, nail care products
Hosiery, clothing accessories 

Services
Lawn care services
Car washes, oil change and tune-up services
Housecleaning
Home maintenance and repair services
Home delivery of newspaper

Miscellaneous Expenses
Additional services on phone
Impulse buying when shopping
Dry cleaning, alterations and repairs
Home decorating items
Kitchen gadgets or power tools 

As you looked over this list, you probably were reminded of a few of your own expenses that weren't listed here. Remember that this list is not meant to pass judgment on any expenditure as "good" or "bad". If you're looking for ways to save, simply use this list as a starting point to help you brainstorm ways to accomplish your goal.

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