“Waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality, nothing will do, and with them everything.” – Benjamin Franklin

Since my wife’s contact unexpectedly ended last March, we’ve had to make due with a substantial cut in income.  Although my wife is retraining for new career and has already found part-time work in her new field, our business’ monthly net income is down by roughly a third from where it was last year.

So we’ve had to make some cuts.

Surprisingly, we haven’t missed quite a few of the things we’ve completely dropped from our budget.

  • Cable/satellite television – Although this was the hardest cut to get used to, we’ve found that we don’t miss watching commercial television.  When we do use our TV, we watch rented or borrowed movies, series and documentaries.  These DVDs invariably have few or no commercials, which has made all of us more content and less apt to spend money on things we are encouraged to want.
  • Carrying a balance on our credit card – As soon as we realized that our income had dropped, we started using our credit card as if it were a debit card.  Every time we used the card, we’d allocate money from our checking account to cover the bill when it came due.  This meant we wouldn’t have to worry about how we’d later pay the bill, and we stopped wasting money on interest.
  • Trips to the movie theater – Our family really enjoys movies, but we’ve found that watching them at home on our nice TV gives us a much better experience.  We don’t have to listen to noisy people sitting nearby, worry that we might sit on a sticky seat, or pay for the expensive and not usually very tasty movie popcorn.  We’ve found that buying our own snacks, making our own popcorn and renting a movie is much cheaper and tastier.
  • Music lessons – No more hassling over finding the time and motivation to practice.
  • Online music subscription – We’ve found that listening to the radio, including public radio and alternative stations satisfies our desire for music quite nicely.

In addition to the items we completely cut from our budget, we’ve also dramatically scaled back on others.

  • Convenience foods – We’ve started making more of our meals from scratch, which not only has saved us money, it’s also delivering healthier and tastier foods to our plates.
  • Eating out – Since we’ve started eating out less, we seem to enjoy it a great deal more.  When our income was higher, we’d often eat out because we were tired and pressed for time, so we didn’t really enjoy our meals.  Now, we eat out as a special treat.  This also has had the benefit of helping to trim our waistlines.
  • Going out with our friends – We still do quite a bit of socializing, but we’ve cut way back on going on outings with our friends.  Instead, we socialize in each other’s homes, and plan a potluck meal.

Although much of what we have cut hasn’t been missed, there were a few things that hurt a great deal.  The cutbacks in our recreational expenditures were the most painful.  We were all disappointed that we didn’t go camping even once this summer, and that we canceled our annual vacation plans.

Even so, it’s been surprising how many things we haven’t missed at all.

Have you missed things you’ve cut from your budget during the economic downturn?

Next in series: Frugal Birthdays for Kids

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