Challenge: Find One Spending Category to Cut Entirely

by Will Lipovsky · 3 comments

cutting money
Self-control is a challenging thing to master, as it’s always easy to cheat just a little bit. For instance, you may tell yourself to stop eating candy on the weekdays. But pretty soon you find yourself eating candy on your days off of work because those days feel like a weekend so they don’t count. Surely, you find the loophole. Like a mouse, most people are very skilled at running through the maze until they find that cheese.

Since loopholes are pretty easy to find – it’s often best to eliminate the ‘reward’ entirely. For instance, if you know candy is bad for you – it’s best to give it up completely. Cold turkey.

Candy is too broad of a category for most people, though. Broad categories like that make it easier to cheat so that’s not great. Because what exactly is candy, anyway? Always be specific.

The goal of this post is for you to determine one spending category which you will cut out entirely. You are not spending a dime on it anymore. It’s a pretty powerful way of kick that temptation in its gut and increase your net worth.

For me, something I’ve cut out completely is pop. Or soda, if that’s what you call it. Just kidding. I can have soda, just not pop. What’d I tell you about loopholes?

But seriously. I haven’t drank the overpriced liquid for over a decade. It’s not good for me and it’s wildly expensive for what you’re getting – sugar water. So I never buy it. Ever.

What are some other spending categories to cut out completely? Fast food is a good one to cut. It’s far more expensive than cooking at home. Even when traveling, it’s more cost-efficient to hit up a grocery store and snag an Airbnb with a kitchen.

Buying premium fuel may be something you can cut out completely too. If your current car requires premium, you can consider selling it. The price between premium and regular unleaded is quite a bit, so you may be able to recoup the cost of switching cars eventually. Or maybe you want an electric car – in which case you can cut out gasoline entirely.

Another suggestion is to look for subscriptions to cut. Netflix, HuluPlus, filtered water subscription, the Jelly of the Month Club, etc. Instead of downgrading your subscription – just cut it out entirely. You’ll love the savings – no doubt – but you may also love the freedom.

There are also many spending categories which you can cut out for certain periods of time. This saves you a lot of money – just make sure to stick to the ban during its entire duration.

Something to skip for a certain period of time would be clothes shopping. See if you can make it six months without stepping into a clothing store. If you have enough of a certain type of clothes, ban yourself from buying more for a period of time to get you started. Say, no shopping for winter clothing.

Video entertainment is another good example. Limiting video consumption over the summer is something that’s pretty achievable for most people. Instead of sitting inside watching TV over the summer, you can get out and experience the summer for yourself. What’s likely to happen is that you’ll get so used to not watching TV that this digital entertainment ban may continue throughout the rest of the year. For some, they may even become a no-TV family. This may sound pretty startling but think of how much more productive and probably how much happier you would be? Maybe instead of watching the travel channel – you’d actually be out there traveling yourself. And, yes, this would mean you would spend the money you would’ve spent on TV anyway, causing a net loss. But money is for putting to work in some way shape or form – whether it be investing or enjoying.

You should be careful when cutting a spending category for a certain period of time though. What many people do is stock up right before the date they plan to stop spending. In reality, this saves them no money – it just changes when they spend the money. And if you spend it all at once, you may find yourself in credit card debt or lost money due to opportunity cost (in this case losing the opportunity to do something else with that money rather than spending it right away).

It’s always smart to trim the fat from your budget. And cutting out categories completely is the best way of doing so. What will you cut?

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  • Katie K. says:

    We cut out television (we had satellite, but cable – same thing) completely just over a year ago and it has been one of the best things ever. We are a family of four, with 2 kids ages 12 and 7. We watched a lot of TV. There was always a show playing in our living room. We wondered how we could possibly live without Nickelodeon, the Disney channel, or Discovery. Guess what – we lived! Not only do we find ourselves not watching as much TV now (we still have Netflix, Vudu, Amazon Prime, and do iTunes movies), but we are saving over $50 per month. Some people may think that is a small savings to be excited about, but we put that extra $600 per year to good use! Plus, it feels like a small victory, which always helps keep you motivated. If anyone is considering giving up their TV connection — I highly recommend it!

    • David Ning says:

      It’s incredible how many people are happy about cutting out TV, but most of America is still addicting to the tube. I personally think not having a cable connection is good even if there are absolutely NO savings, but like you said, the $50 monthly obviously doesn’t hurt.

    • Will Lipovsky says:

      Yeah, it’s like $50 isn’t much but it’s important to make sure every dollar is working for you in the hardest way. So if $600/year would be better put to use in a different way – good for you for finding that out! I’m 26 and I’ve never paid for TV and unless something dramatic changes, never will. You’ve encouraged me to keep it up.

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