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How to Lead a More Fulfilling Life by Spending Less

money scrabble save

You no longer have the same expenses or budget you did when you were raising your family. The money you have now is for yourself. That is why it is a good idea to check your spending habits. You want to save money to continue living an independent, peaceful lifestyle.

This article will cover the Alert1 steps that are important in reducing your monthly expenses.  Find out how these budget cuts won’t take away from you living out your life but actually add to it. 

Make A List

Here at Alert1, we too have to reevaluate our spending time to time. When working on your finances, the first step is to look over what you’re doing right now. The easiest way to see where your money goes is having a list. Follow the steps below to get started:

1.)     Write down everything you spent last month. (Don’t forget about cash expenses!) 

2.)    Separate your list into different categories. Below is an example of a graph that categorizes expenses into wants and needs. When you’re ready to start cutting back your expenses, you can see what areas have the potential to be reduced and which are absolutely necessary.

Needs

Wants

Utilities

Travel

Insurance/ safety

Entertainment

Mortgage

Shopping (splurging)

Appliances

Hobbies

Clothing

 

Food

 

Transportation (gas, public transit, etc.)

 


3.)    Identify what each category means to you. Keep in mind that the chart is subject to your own opinion and knowledge of your spending. Be honest with yourself. Is that expense really a need? An easy way to think of it is “needs” are what you cannot live without, and “wants” are what you will survive without.

Some items may fall into more than one category. For example, in the clothing section above, a clothing “need” refers to items you might need due to seasonal change. Let’s say you live in an area where the temperature drops below zero degrees Fahrenheit. You donated some clothing to the local homeless shelter, and now you are in need of warm clothing like wool socks and thick knitted sweaters. Those socks and sweaters would fall under “needs”.  Fashion accessories, on the other hand, would go under “wants”.

Let’s say your hobby is golfing. Playing golf usually comes with the cost of membership, golf equipment, and golfing attire. You can’t live without golfing because life wouldn’t be as fun. And in your golden years, life should be about fulfilment. Thus, you would put golfing under “needs”. However, for the sake of being honest and reducing expenses, additional golfing attire would be best to put under “wants.” You can live without extra golfing attire, especially if you have more than two outfits.

Cutting Back and Saving More

old lady washing veggies

When you use less of your money to get tasks done, you have to rely on your own abilities more. Cutting back gives you the chance to continue learning and develop a hobby. With a lifetime of learning, why wouldn’t you add another skill in your back pocket? Don’t worry. This doesn’t have to happen overnight. We suggest starting small.

  1. Cooking.

If cooking at home is something you think you would enjoy, this is a great opportunity to start. Take out an old recipe book or borrow one from a neighbor. Pick a simple recipe that sounds good and do your best with the ingredients you have. You might need to go to the store but don’t go overboard. Buy things that you’ll be able to use for other recipes.

Cooking at home is an activity that you can do on your own or with a loved one. You gain a fun meal to make, time for yourself or quality time with someone you love.

         How much can you save?

Why buy pre-made dinners you can learn a new recipe or culinary skill? For example, let’s say you like to eat out a lot and you noticed that your food spending was more than you imagined. Cooking at home twice a week is a good goal to start with. You’d be surprised how much money eating-in saves you.

Let’s break it down. If you eat out for dinner 5 times a week, then you will on average spend 15-25 dollars per meal. That means in one week you’ll spend between 75 and 125 dollars just for your dinners. If you have a partner, then the price will double. By eating at home you’ll spend at most 100 dollars for you and your partner. And that’s for all your meals for the week and then some. 

old man gardening

  2. Gardening.

You can take your cooking a step further and begin your own garden or volunteer at your local community garden. Are you starting to see the opportunities when you cut back on your spending? When you take away one thing you add another.

By having your own garden you’ll be able to hone a new skill and get free food out of it. Same goes with volunteering at a community garden. Most community gardens are open to everyone and you are able to take what is grown home with you. You are being active, getting free produce, and continuing to cook at home!

         How much will you save?

In urban areas vegetables and fruit prices are overpriced.  A bushel of lettuce can cost $4, three apples at Safeway costs $3.45, and blueberries be as high as $5 a cup. Three items easily add up to $12.45. Also, prices fluctuate if fruits and veggies are out of season.  Though prices might be slightly more affordable in suburbia, you can save around $30-$50 dollars a month. It depends on how often you buy produce.  With a garden you’ll save that money!

You can determine what your garden will hold based on the seasons. For example, plant an apple tree to have fruit during the winter and strawberries for the summer. Plan for the different seasons and have fruits and vegetables all year round. 

       

biking grandpa and grandson

 3. Biking.

If home cooking or gardening doesn’t interest you, how about changing your form of transportation? Many cities and towns are constantly improving roads to be bike-friendly. Break out of routine and you might learn biking makes you feel good.

         How much will you save?

Switch from four wheels to two! If a car is your main form transportation there are a few benefits to switch to a bike.

Let’s say that you fill up your gas tank twice a month and your car holds 15 gallons. Gasoline prices vary across the country and change every day. In California, gas is currently $2.77 a gallon and in Florida it is $2.19. If you live in California you’ll spend $41.55 each time you fill up the tank which is $83.10 a month. In an area like Florida you’ll spend $65.70 a month.

Biking reduces you gasoline spend. Make your goal to only fill up the tank once a month. Run errands on your bike or enjoy a sunny day around the town. You’ll feel productive, energized and free. You can reduce your stress and improve your mobility.

Biking is great if you suffer from health problems. It is never a good idea to sit around and become immobile. Biking is a great form of exercise for seniors because it easy on the joints. According to the President of the League of American Bicyclists says, “… Cycling gets your legs moving and your heart pumping without pounding your joints.”

Cut A Little From Everywhere

You don’t need to make drastic changes to save money. Cutting a little here and there will add up to big savings over time. You will still get the same benefits as if you were focusing on one thing without noticing it in your everyday life.

We recommend picking three of the below to start with:

  • Eat at home once a week
  • Make gifts instead of buying them
  • Change your phone plan if you think you don’t need all the extra features
  • Cancel magazine subscriptions  or subscribe to online versions
  • Buy more non-brand named products
  • Switch your lights to LED energy saving lightbulbs
  • Downgrade your insurance (if possible)

The Truth About Changing Your Spending Habits

old man with hands in the air

When you’re deciding to change your spending habits, it is always best to change something that you want to change - not something you think you should do. If you don’t agree with a decision 100%when it comes down making it happen, it won’t.

No one says you need change your spending all at once. Nothing is absolute. You can always change and update your plans. The goal is to make progress. Getting started is the hardest part, so start small, with bite-sized pieces.

Many people view budget cutting and personal finance as a drag. It doesn’t have to be that way. Reducing your expenses can be good for in in more ways than just for your wallet. It challenges you to be more active. You will find that reducing expenses is good for your mind and body as well as the environment. When you put yourself to the test you’ll find new hobbies and skills to love.

Managing your expenses is a key part of aging in place. Staying active, being smart with your money, and safe with your medical alert system allows you to live out your golden years in perfect serenity.