How to live on less: Priorities

retrochick.JPGIvy says:

If you’re going to live on less money than you have in the past, chances are good that you are going to have to start spending less money as well. This is where prioritizing comes in handy. Now, not everyone is going to have the same priorities, so I can’t sit here and say, “Get rid of X, Y, and Z” because X, Y and Z may be very important to you.

What you have to do when prioritizing is write down the order of what you need, figure up a budget for that, and then cut out the lower priority items. This can be both very easy and very tricky at the same time. Some things will be obvious, like:

A place to live

Heat/cooling for that place






Even some of those are negotiable, since you may already have all the clothing you need, or you may live in an area where you can walk everywhere you need to go. But that’s a good start, figure up the costs for those items, and then start on the harder parts. I personally think it is very important to keep your internet access because it’s a source of entertainment, the biggest reference book ever, a money saver, a time saver, a communication device, everything. So the next thing on my list is internet and then phones.

What can you cut out? Can you do an exercise video at home instead of having a gym membership? Can you make your hobby more inexpensive, or will you have to stop the hobby temporarily? Can you rent games and movies from places like Gamefly and Netflix instead of buying them? Can you live without your cable box?

As yourself the hard questions and come up with the answers, even if it’s something you don’t really want to do. Your budget will thank you.


  1. Kilimanjaro Climber on January 27, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    You know when I am camping or hiking I realize how little we do need. When you are in the mountains all you think about is food, water and shelter. Then you come back home and realize you have some much junk.

  2. Trish on January 25, 2008 at 1:27 am

    Pam, I think Sarah’s referring to using vs. buying games retail. It is a huge savings and you end up playing more games than you ever would buying everything. I have an account too and swear by it.

  3. Christopher on January 25, 2008 at 12:03 am

    Over the years I’ve had several coworkers who keep running into money troubles, but I always see them carrying lattes, and find when I visit that they have digital cable at home. Those two items alone should be easy to give up and chew up about $200/month. I spend $5/week on flavored coffee creamer and $37/month on the Netflix six-at-a-time plan.

    Of course I spend all the money I save on alcohol, but hey. Priorities!

  4. Nancy on January 24, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    I did this recently. After many years of dancing around making a budget, I finally created one last week. It was far less painful than I had expected. A few things we do in our family to live on less:
    (1) Since my husband refuses to carry a cell phone, we only have one. I use prepaid cellular and was able to get my phone for free. It is a bare bones phone, but I spend maybe $150/year on cell service when I used to spend $50/month.
    (2) The other thing we have just started doing is limiting ourselves on dining out. We get a seet amount each month and once it is gone, it’s gone. We just started this a couple of weeks ago, but it is working really well.

  5. Badbadivy on January 24, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    You can rent one video game at a time for $15 a month at I really wish my local library had video games, I could drop Gamefly too!

  6. hsgbdmama on January 24, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Check out your local library for movies and video games — at mine most movies and all games are free (which is a great “try before you buy” option) and new and popular movie releases are $1.50/week. This is much less than spending $4-5 at the video store, plus I know that the money is going back into our library system rather than a corporate coffer.

    Since we have DSL (with no other high speed option available) we have to maintain our phone line, but we have eliminated all the add ons, and have as basic of service that we can get. Cable — dh will not get rid of it, and again it is a relatively inexpensive form of entertainment and we have only the basic service and have been fine with it.

    I’m starting to eliminate some of my subscriptions as I find suitable replacements on the Internet, plus has made their opinion page completely free, so now I can eliminate that subscription.

    It really does come down to looking at everything critically and asking:

    * Is it really needed
    * If so, is there a suitable, less costly or free alternative
    * If it is dropped will there be costs elsewhere that will be increased and by how much (i.e., if Internet is dropped, will there be an increase in postage and gas costs, and will those ultimately exceed the cost of the Internet)

  7. Pam on January 24, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Please tell me how you can try every new game for $15 a month….Pam, South Bend

  8. Sarah on January 24, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Very timely post. In this economy I’ve been looking for ways to save.

    So yes I can:

    No more bottled water & lattes. I”m spending like $10/day on these.

    No more buying games. I spent over $300 last year on buying video games for only 5 games. At $15/month I can try every new game. Seems like a great way to save and still satisfy my gaming addiction 🙂

    And I’m also going to start a little online savings just so I have something in case of an emergency.

    But no cable box…hmmm….not sure if I’m ready for that. Maybe I’ll drop some of the prem. channels and save some that way

    Thnx 😉

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