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Why a Budget is Like a Shower

I recently read an article from Readers Digest about a writer who decided he and his wife and son should try and not spend any money for a month. Of course the essentials were covered like mortgage and car payments/insurance and the like, but newspapers, videos, lattes, etc were cut. I will include the link at the end of my essay.
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It made me remember my comparison that I share any time I can and thought what better place than here to share it with my "thrifty friends".

When a Budget is Like a Shower

I hear all the time how people can't make their money stretch. I feel for them, I really do. But they are usually holding a $5.00 drink in their hands when they say it, so for all of them out there, this is for you.

If you step into a shower and it's too hot, you have two options. Either add the cold or reduce the hot. Sometimes, your budget is like this. But the first thing people think of is "I just need more money", or adding the cold. Most people don't think of reducing the hot. They are convinced that they can't shave any more money off their budget, they are certain they are as frugal as they can be. Now to be honest, some people really can't shave anything off. They are maxed out on what they can cut back on. This article is not for them.

Instead, this is for you who have a budget you are close to reaching but just can't quite get there. So, imagine you have a make-believe budget of $2500.00 and your income is $2000.00. This makes you $500.00 in the red. So, if you think you can add that $500.00 to your budget, let's look at what you would have to do to get that money.

A second job adds more than money to your life. It means your new employer doesn't care about your other job or school. Their job is the only one they want you to concentrate on. You will spend money on gas, meals, clothes, etc. You will lose sleep, time with your family or studying and the added stress all to make $800.00 a month so you can take home $500.00 a month. That's adding the cold.

You can reduce the heat in more ways than you might think. Here are some examples. There are, on average, 22 working days a month and that $5.00 latte is $110.00 per month. Lunch at the local deli for $8.00 is another $176.00 a month.

Can you take public transportation or carpool? Say your average daily commute is 20 miles round trip you can save about 440 miles per month. On average, a car gets about 15 mpg in the city, so that saves you about 30 gallons of gas per month. If your gas station averages $2.50 per gallon, that is on average, $75.00 a month.

Do you go to a gym? There is about $35.00 a month. Do you have 123 cable channels and you only watch 12? That's about $75.00 a month. Do you go to a movie once a week? With a drink and popcorn, that is about $120.00 a month.

So, let's tally up what can be saved by just eliminating these basic things.

This fictional person/family just saved $591.00. They are now $91.00 in the black. No extra job or stress, with time for sleep and family. So the next time your shower is too hot, reduce the heat. And yes, that will save you money, too!

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Source: I came up with this about 6 months ago.

Link: My Family's No-Buy Experiment

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July 28, 20170 found this helpful

I had to quit a second job due to medical reasons, then realized that after it was gone, I was making the same amount of money because I no longer had a crazy commute, didn't buy lunches and coffee out (it was the office social norm), nor did I have to purchase all the mandatory office gear. :) I love this write-up, Sandi. Thank you for sharing it!

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July 29, 20170 found this helpful

You are welcome. I live on so little it just pains me to see young people (mostly) thinking their job will last forever or that you can borrow from tomorrow to pay for today.

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Hey, I just made a rhyme you owe me a dime!!

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September 30, 20170 found this helpful

Ideas from Sandy/poor but proud, you do have some wonderful ideas on all different things and they are all good. I use to use Verizon's tv, internet and phone. I quit the tv because the cable from them kept going up in price instead of the price they quoted which was cheaper than the previous cable company. When it kept going up I got 4 streamers for 4 TV's and made some homemade antennas for them so I get local channels and about anything I want. Now I do subscribe to Netflix for 4 TV's its $12.84 a month and Hulu which is $8.00 a month so that is $20.00 a month instead of $175.00 a month for Verizon tv. I do keep Verizon for the phone and internet though and that stays at the same price without going up. I would highly suggest people to get a streamer for the tv and make your own antenna, you can also buy them at pretty reasonable prices too. Even if you don't get Netflix or Hulu there is a lot you can see on the streamers and it will save you a lot of money in the long run and you don't get all the commercials you get with the cable. I think with cable you pay for the commercials it is terrible. You can make your own clothes and save money, lots of times you can get patterns from thrift stores and even make clothes from sheets, no one would know but you. You can redesign some things from a thrift shop.

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You can get sewing machines from thrift shops too. The older machines may just need cleaning and oiling and are fine to work. Sometimes you can even find them out for trash. Even good clothes sometimes and furniture that is good too. Look at the colleges what the kids throw out for trash you will sometimes find nice things they don't want to take back home with them. Art school kids throw out a lot of art things and they are like new for airbrushing for painting and the compressors that go with them, a lot of good things. Hospitals may throw out old hospital beds when they get new ones. I got a hospital bed like that and they are really heavy to move for going up steps, on the ground very easy. Just get your own mattress for them as they usually won't have one. They will still work great. Sometimes you can find computers and printers out for trash, now if your handy and know something about them or can find out you have free stuff. Older typewriters too. Sometimes microwave ovens are thrown out that work and sometimes if they don't and you can figure out what is wrong with them, look up on google and whatever is wrong with them you can fix. Just get the parts and you have a very low cost microwave oven. There is a lot of things out there people throw away that are perfectly good. So everyone keep your eyes open for good stuff people throw away.

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July 30, 20170 found this helpful

You are so right! And smart!! Thanks for your insight and suggestions!

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July 30, 20170 found this helpful

Thanks Sandi - I believe most people just cringe at the sound of the word and think - oh well - I can just cut "this" and "that" down/out and let it go. Of course, if they cut something out one time it may not last even a second time because they are not committed to a "budget". Sad, because these are usually the ones who need it the most.

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You have a lot of good points so I hope it will be beneficial to someone in the large TF family.

Betty

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July 31, 20170 found this helpful

Thanks Betty. With the waste in Washington, and cuts coming soon, it's more important than ever.

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July 30, 20170 found this helpful

I have been driving my family (and sometimes myself) crazy by multiplying things by 30. I think it mostly started when my boys (real garbage guts) were eating my budget up with a vengeance. Theyd go through a gallon of milk a day. We were thirsty! Well, can you try a glass of water instead? I dont remember what a gallon of milk cost back then but well say a dollar a gallon.

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That was $30.00 a month! I was a single mother, living in a high cost-of-living area, making not enough to even squeak by on. To this day, I very often start multiplying what some people would say is the small stuff - its only $2.50! - by 30 days of the month. Its a real eye opener sometimes!

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July 30, 20170 found this helpful

That's a great way to figure things! Or you could break it down some more. Until my Tai Chi teacher moved to New Mexico, I was donating $5 per class, 2 days a week. Not much for a class, but that is about $40 a month! I now do the exercises at home because I took videos of all the forms and save over $400 a year!

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July 31, 20170 found this helpful

And what's really an eye-opener is when you multiply that monthly expenditure by 12! That 591.00 is now 7,092.00!! That is braces, a vacation, college fund, etc. You are smart and even if you drove them crazy, you also taught them. Good job!!

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July 31, 20171 found this helpful

Yep. When the Gold Rush happened in California, the only people who made any money are the ones who sold the miners their equipment.

So, while your instructor might have been providing a great service, he was profiting from you. Now you can profit from him. Win Win.

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Anonymous
August 1, 20170 found this helpful

I couldn't agree with you more Sandi - You and I think so much alike that my 1975 daughter has said that 'we must be sisters that haven't meet yet' [I was adopted at birth & don't have any adopted family female siblings].

'To think that there is another female out there that thinks like you do mama IS saying something because I personally know that 'you are as tight as bark is to a tree.' HA!

I know that we have all had our share of hard times BUT I have truly valued all of your posts & essays over the years [in fact, I look for them when I get on line with ThriftyFun.com] so please do not ever stop writing them. I live in the lower western mountains of NC and my name is Paula Jo...

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Anonymous
August 2, 20170 found this helpful

That is one of the sweetest reply's I have ever gotten ! Thanks when I get back from Missouri we should exchange email! Sandi

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August 13, 20170 found this helpful

Sandi I would be very proud & honored to call you an email friend/pen pal. My email is dpcarr@bellsouth.net and my name is Paula Jo. I'll be looking for your reply with great anticipation !

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August 1, 20170 found this helpful

I believe many people fail to measure the monthly/yearly cost of how much we spend on our animals. Many people do not even think about just the cost of food let alone the ordinary/necessary veterinary bills. I have often wished the humane society would post a notice of the approximate monthly/yearly cost of owning a pet and maybe some of the not so wealthy folks would give it a second thought before grabbing that puppy or kitten and know whether they can really afford it.
Another tidbit - I know of people who use part of their food stamp allotment to buy "people" food for their pets (chicken, ground beef, lunch meat, etc.). Is this okay with everyone?

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August 1, 20171 found this helpful

This is a not a debate about what poor people spend on food.

And yes, pets can be expensive.

But there are already too many things poor people can't afford.
Denying them the love and devotion of a pet is like saying you can't have any kids. And with the overcrowding of the shelters, even owners who can't feed their pets the best food are better than those who can't feed them at all.

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August 1, 20170 found this helpful

Yes, I think its fine to do that when you don't have $$ for animal food. And.. something like 70% of food stamp recipients work, but just can't earn enough. So I bristle when I see people saying what kind of food people shouldn't be allowed to buy with Foodstamps. Not to mention there are thousands upon thousands of homeless animals as it is.. I certainly hope no one reads your comment and ditches their pets. SMH

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August 2, 20170 found this helpful

I think I said what I was thinking about incorrectly as the people that I have known that used food stamps for buying food for their pets usually divided the food between themselves and their pets but one was reported and decided/had to give up their pet. She was devastated and we got her pet back and now take pet food to her monthly. I really wanted to know if people really thought this was a crime or something. I did not intend for it to sound the way it apparently did.

I did want to mention about adopting a pet because it is expensive and for someone who has never had a pet the cost can be so overwhelming (especially if a pet gets sick) that they wind up returning the pet to the shelter or worse, abandoning it. I have volunteered with our local humane society and I love to see pets go away with a caring person/family but I still believe that a family should know the cost of keeping a pet.

I am now helping supply food to a person who takes care of feral cats (I think it is now about 25) that people have abandoned and most of these are not "wild" cats but cats that have been in a home and were put out for one reason or another.

I certainly do not advocate someone giving up a pet because they cannot afford to keep them (several people a week bring their pet(s) in to our local shelter and say they cannot afford to keep them (food, illness, moving) and it is sad but at least they are not abandoning them. Sometimes it is easy to judge actions when you have never seen the consequences of such actions.

I know this is a controversial subject and there is not one "fit" for all situations but if you have a humane shelter that is a "no kill" then perhaps sometimes it may be better to leave the pets in their care rather than maybe see an abandoned cat/dog roaming the streets looking for food.

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September 30, 20170 found this helpful

This is in answer to cybergrannie, to me if someone is on food stamps and can't afford pet food believe it or not human food is better for your pets than the commercial pet foods out there because of all the chemicals in them and also road kill. At least giving them human food won't hurt them, and I have seen many pets that eat human food don't have fleas like when pets are fed pet food. What did pets eat before pet food came out. You guessed it human food.

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August 4, 20170 found this helpful

Excellent post. If you have ever read "The Millionaire Next Door," you will find that they all lived simply, and well below their means. People who believe in conspicuous consumption are often in deep debt.

I judge how I spend by what gives me the most pleasure. I have many exercise DVDs, none of which were bought new, but I will spend for a yoga class because the teacher checks our alignment and there is always some new pose to learn.

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August 11, 20170 found this helpful

This perspective is so very true! Thank you for taking the time to draw our attention back to the basics. One thing needs added though... With the reduced stress of not trying to keep up with "adding cold water" to make ends meet, we also have time for building and enriching our relationships which is an integral part of a happy fulfilled life. :)

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August 25, 20170 found this helpful

Thanks. And from someone who has been poor all their lives, I have the mentality that if I can make it why buy it? And yes, I was a student, new grandma, and worker. I ran on empty most of the time so while it was tough, it was worth it. I am just glad I did it in my 30's because trying to do that in my 60's I truly believe I would have capsized.
Sometimes young people can't see past their own noses. To be fair, it's not just them. And when the ads for Christmas begin showing up, it will be horrible. They advertise furs and jewelry and we have hungry kids.
In 2012 I did a fundraiser for the Marion Polk Food Share in Salem OR. I crocheted 14 1000' chains from donated yarn. It was to represent the 14,000 kids they fed every month. I took donations and called it "food by the foot". I made over 1000.00 and the best thing is it was used for seeds. They had a community garden and that food will feed people for generations to come.
One of my pitches was "we spent 1 billion dollars on two movies (Avatar and The Dark Knight Rises) and we can't feed our kids". Our priorities are so out of whack that we have lost our sense of frugality.

If you would like to check it out, visit me here. https://www.thr  -Food-Share.html

The website is closed now but the story is up. I would love to have an advice website where I can share my frugal tips and show people how to save money on thrift store finds and cooking. Thanks again for your kind words.

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