This post is about a question I am often thinking about: Am I being aggressive enough with my debt repayment?
I have had some great wins lately (paying off my first credit card, making significant progress on the second one), but I still have a long way to go. I often wonder: Am I being aggressive enough with my budgeting? Where is my edge? Where could I cut back more?
There are two things I often think about when looking at my budget:
1) I need to make more money, and
2) Where can I spend less?
I often wonder if I am being aggressive enough with my frugality. How aggressive is aggressive enough? I have made sacrifices, but surely I could make more, right? Where is my edge? I am constantly looking for, seeking out, and applying for jobs where I might be able to increase my income, but that is a subject for another post. In this article, I will talk about reducing my spending: where I have already made reductions, where I think I could do more, and where I refuse to cut any further.
- Where I have reduced my spending already:
- I moved home from Hawaii to Canada, and moved in with my parents in order to not pay rent.
- I have missed my 3 best friend’s weddings because they were overseas, and therefore expensive to attend.
- I have said no to hiking trips, rented cottage weekends, concerts, paid activities, festivals, etc.
- This is a struggle because I often want to go to these things, and I have had to navigate the reactions of people who invited me, and who have not always been happy when I said no.
- I give myself 40$ spending money per week, which can be hard to stretch.
- I cancelled my yoga membership (this one hurt). I am a certified yoga teacher so technically I should be able to do yoga in my living room. Ultimately, I calculated that in order for the monthly cost of 115$ to be worth the money, I would have to go to a minimum of 6 classes per month to equal out to the 18$/class fee. I looked back at my attendance on the yoga schools website, and I just wasn’t doing it. For this reason, I decided to cancel the membership. The unfortunate result of this is that because I only give myself 40$ of spending money per week, I can never really bring myself to spend half of it on a single yoga class, so I basically just don’t go. This might be something I need to reevaluate and work on.
- Where I could cut back more:
- If you read my previous post about beauty spending, you know this is an area I think about a lot, and often go back and forth on. I am already spending-conscious in this area, but lately I think I could spend less on beauty products, treatments, makeup, and hair styling (cut/color). One thing I spent money on last year that may have been questionable was laser hair removal. This cost 1015$ all in, spread over 3 separate treatments. I ultimately did it because I was beginning to have allergic reactions to waxing, and I had been waxing every month since I was 16 years old. Each wax cost about 55$/month for the first 4 years, and 85$/month for the 10 years after that (after my aesthetician moved up to a fancier spa). It’s actually sort of horrifying to think that all of that adds up to roughly 12000$ over those 14 years of waxing. For this reason, I actually wish I had done the laser 14 years earlier, because it would have saved me 11000$. Ouch. I wonder where else I might be making these types of mistakes, and I continue to watch out for them in my spending.
- I find that my gifts category often amounts to nearly 50% of my spending money. It always seems to be someone’s anniversary, birthday, graduation, etc. The thing is, I really like giving people presents, but I don’t like spending the money. I am not sure what to do about this. It would probably be a good idea for me to start thinking about ways to personalize homemade gifts for people. I could do things like baking goods for them, or doing research on Pinterest to discover and learn other types of DIY gifts. In order to do this, I likely need to start planning further in advance.
- This is something I talked about in a previous post, and that I continue to work on. I love pre-made snacks from the health food store, and they are generally quite pricey. I talked in that previous post about working to differentiate between what I want vs. what I need. Spending more time learning to cook is likely something that could also really help me in this area. If I knew how to cook more of the things I enjoy eating, I would spend less money on pre-made food. Perhaps as a follow-up to this post, I will buy the cookbook from my favorite restaurant (yes, they offer one) and will try a couple recipes.
- Where I won’t cut any further:
- I spend a moderate-significant amount on fitness. Each year I buy a cross-country ski pass, a snowshoe pass, multiple pairs of trail shoes and running shoes throughout the year (because they wear out and you have to replace them after a certain mileage to avoid injury). I often occasionally buy other equipment for my sports, but for me, it is worth it. My fitness activities are my social group, my mental health maintenance, my physical health maintenance, my goal setting, and my most enjoyed and meaningful pursuits. For me personally, getting outside, into nature, and away from my work, chores, electronics, etc., is the best way I know to de-stress and to feel happy and fulfilled.
Overall, my level of frugality is something I continue to think about and work on. I imagine that this will always be a growth and balancing act, and will always require adjustment as my debt load, lifestyle, income, and priorities change. Where do you cut back? Where could you do more? And where do you refuse to?
As always, thank you for reading.