An experiment in saving money ...

This post doesn’t have anything to do with development, but I’ve just been pretty excited about it and felt pretty inspired to write something about it. This is my experiment with attempting to get my life back to “scratch.” I’m making a valid effort to cut out any service that I don’t feel adds to my daily “happiness” factor in an attempt to reduce my monthly cost of living.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “What in the world is a happiness factor?” Well, in my opinion it’s different for everyone. For me, being a developer, obviously I can’t cut off my internet. I use it daily and it’s just not something that I’m willing to part with. On the other hand, my television was costing me ~$80 a month; which I probably only utilized maybe 10% of the time in a month. The cost just wasn’t there. So I cut it out.

Over the past month I’ve managed to cut down my monthly cost by approximately $235 dollars. And to be honest I’ve been able to cut out services I really don’t find myself missing all that much. What are the things I’ve managed to cut out? Here’s a list:

  • DirecTV ($80) - This was a pretty simple thing to cut out for me as I’m still able to watch most of my television programs online or downloaded via torrent watched at a friends house.
  • Lawn Services ($50) - I was paying $25 every two weeks, because I was too lazy to get my ass up and go mow my own lawn. No more.
  • Gaming Services ($30) - I hadn’t played this game in probably 6 months yet I was still paying $30 a month for it to sit there.
  • Netflix ($25) - I love my Netflix account so I couldn’t cut it out completely, but I did drop my movies from 5 at a time to 2 at a time; which was a nice little savings.
  • Slicehost ($20) - I had a personal VM that was nice to have around and got some use, but it was just a nicety that I could live without.
  • Haircuts ($30) - I’m a guy and I have short hair. I don’t think it’s rocket surgery to cut it. I was paying ~$15 every two weeks for someone run some clippers over my head and have an awkward conversation with. I went out and purchased a $30 pair of clippers and just taught my wife how to do it … fairly simple, but I will probably end up going to get it done every now.

All that adds up to about $235 a month. Which is a total of $2,820 a year! I never really took the time to think about how much all that adds up to, but all together it’s a vacation every year! Or an extra payment on a mortgage or car.

When I started to think about why I never cut these services out earlier I had a couple thoughts. One, I just couldn’t get over this weird feeling that I’m required to be paying for these things. I have this feeling like I need to be loyal to my services.

For instance, I love DirecTV. After hurricane Katrina came through the mailed me a card saying (paraphrased), “For the families in the area of hurricane Katrina we’re offering you three free months of premium channels (hbo, showtime, cinemax).” For that, I had this strong feeling that even if I wasn’t using their service … I wanted to give them money.

And two, I also had this nagging feeling of, “Well, what if I need it sometime?” “What if I have people come over and we want to watch TV?” “What if I want to go back go and play my online game one weekend?” “What if I wanted to watch a TV series over the weekend (5 disc netflix)?” And to be honest, I hardly ever did any of these things. And I certainly didn’t do them enough to justify not saving $235 a month!

Anyhow, I still have some more things that I would like to do in order to reduce my monthly costs even more. Get a better rate on an electric plan, contemplate disabling my XM radio in the car, seeing if my wife would be willing to cancel her tanning, shopping around for insurance rates, selling my motorcycle