Americans take for granted a number of items constantly in their lives that are not required to survive.
One of those things is a vehicle.
Obviously you need transportation, but not having a car will save you thousands in payments, monthly insurance, weekly gas fills and routine maintenance.
If you live in a heavily populated area, you can use the public bus system to go to and from work and your shopping excursions. If you’re friends want you to hang out with them, they’ll pick you up. Your kids can take the bus to school and you can ride share with a co-worker if the bus doesn’t go near your home or work.
Just because you have a job or live on your own doesn’t mean you have to have your own transportation. It’s a luxury and most people take this huge money drainer for granted and it’s expected every family will have a car.
If you live within walking distance of the grocery store and your children are young enough, grab the wagon to haul the groceries.
Choosing not to have your own ride also helps promote the green side of nature.
You’ll become accustomed to the change if you’re used to having your own wheels and you’ll stomach the lack of convenience by realizing the savings you can use to pay off your mortgage faster or contribute more to your retirement fund or more frequent vacations.
Another object you can make it through the day without is cable or satellite tv.
This monthly bill is far too expensive for the amount of use you give it if you work and the kids are in school.
The couple of hours in the evening that your family is in front of the television and on the weekends is hardly worth the cost you are being charged for having mega channels.
Opt instead, for buying or renting movies with substance. If you really need to keep up with a season of your favorite sitcom or drama show, check out Hulu online.
You’ll pay a fraction of the cost going this route and you have more control over what your children are exposed to.
Don’t forget you can always get local channels for free and channel 2 still has excellent toddler and preschool programs as well as fascinating documentaries.
Cell phones for each member of the family is also over-rated.
Seriously, one phone for the kids to share is plenty if even that. If they are involved in a lot of after school activities they can take turns or the oldest gets dibs. There’s always going to be a friend or team mate that’s willing to letting your child give a quick call home to pick them up if you didn’t make it to their game and practices should usually get over at the same time every afternoon so they don’t need to call since you know when to be there.
You can leave one home based phone available to all of your brood so they can keep in touch with you until you get back from work or shopping.
Understandably, a lot of the family plans give out free phones or discounts for each line added, but you’re still paying substantially more for a couple of people compared to just the parents.
Having a cell phone in high school or even elementary school is not a requirement to surviving. It’s not your parental duty to provide telecommunications for your children, it’s an optional perk.
Internet service at home is not mandatory for getting to the next day.
Think about how much time is spent on Facebook, online games and random searches like YouTube and music sites.
You really do get surprised on how quickly time flies while you’re trying to master your favorite quest. Before you know it, it’s too late to throw that last load of laundry in or finish mending that pile that’s been in the corner forever and did you ever get around to your latest DIY project?
You could have spent more time with your family or gotten some exercise or taken the time to start up that new hobby that’s been on hold.
The final thing you can live without is actually a credit card.
Don’t get defensive. You know it’s true. If you stopped using them, you would not be subjected to paying more than what you originally paid for the item you just had to have right that minute. Most often, you end up paying double what it would have cost than if you had paid cash for it.
By saving up for an item, it gives you time to think thoroughly and clearly if you really need or want to make that purchase.
Could you actually be able to have money in your savings if you weren’t paying dearly for a whim of a deal?
Think about how much of your hard earned money is being wasted because you were afraid the item would be gone if you waited until you had enough cash or you were bored and bought something you already had at home.
Was it worth it going into this kind of debt? How often do you wear that piece of clothing that cost so much that now is hanging in the back of your closet? Would you make more of an effort to wear it if it took some effort and time to acquire it?
What about the furniture you paid too much for? Even if it was on sale, you’re still racking up the monthly interest payments. Would it have been more satisfying to continue using what you had even if it was a bit worn for a while longer until you could pay for the set outright?
All these things can enhance your life, but are not a necessary component to living. They can be included in your budget if you can afford them. If not, get rid of them and try living a little more simpler to ease the stress on your finances. You may find it actually brings your family together and all of you will appreciate what you do have.