Making Changes in that Which We Still Control: Spending

August 9, 2008 by  
Filed under Budgeting, Spending

One of my favorite financial writers – Scott Burns – spoke in his column this week about the power of “attentive spending.”  He pointed out the factors that most of us cannot control in our financial lives because of the precarious and volatile state of today’s economy.  These include stock market losses, low interest rates on savings accounts and CD’s, falling home values, rising oil prices, inflation, and uncertain job security.  This leaves a lot of folks feeling helpless and hopeless. Mr. ToughMoneyLove is sympathetic.

But Scott also argued that we are not completely powerless.  I agree with him.  By paying closer attention to spending in categories which we may have ignored – but which we still control – we do have options and weapons to use against the other stifling economic pressures.

Scott noted that the most recent issue of Consumer Reports suggested that the following savings could be achieved each month by many families without serious belt tightening:

  • $65 by getting cheaper car insurance,
  • $110 by selecting better life insurance,
  • $200 by smarter food shopping,
  • $35 in land line or cell phone costs,
  • $25 in bank fees
  • $65 by paying off credit cards.
  • These result in a yearly savings equivalent to a $6000 annual raise, after taxes!  Nice.  (If you want to read the entire Consumer Reports article, you can find it here.)   Looking at it another way, with the stock market currently yielding under 3%, you would need a portfolio of at least $300,000 to throw off this much income annually.   There are likely other small discretionary expenditures in your monthly budget where you can achieve more savings, again by being an “attentive” spender.  I wrote about some of them here as well as how much you can save just by bringing lunch to work.

    Folks, all it takes is a little willpower, some internet research, grocery coupons, and some phone calls to your insurance brokers, bank, and phone company.  So next time you are feeling overwhelmed financially, and looking to blame the government or big oil for your plight, fight back, and give yourself a nice raise.  Think of Scott Burns and his call for use of your “power of attentive spending.” 


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    3 Responses to “Making Changes in that Which We Still Control: Spending”
    1. doctorS says:

      Packing your food everyday for work is huge! I agree with all of those suggestions, but “paying off credit cards”… well that is easier said than done for most people. I myself spent almost $200 last month on food while I was at work and when I saw that total I was totally upset with myself! I will let you know how it goes next month. Great blog. Check mine out and let me know what you think! Be easy.

    2. doctorS – Thanks for your comment. You definitely need to cut back on that food at work budget! I will visit your blog soon.

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    1. […] by cutting costs because we have always lived below our means.  I do have some suggestions for saving money in some basic spending categories.  I have also talked in the past about small expenditures that can bust your budget so you can […]



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