July 28, 2008 12:07 am

about Cutting down monthly personal budget…

Filed under: Finance — ramsblog @ 12:07 am


Take a look at this video http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/25600619#25600619 about cutting down the weekly/monthly budget from the things in our control.

During my past few years in the US, when the topic comes up about budgeting, monthly expenditure and so on, the top most items people talk about or at least perceive as most spent on, in any given month are [not in any particular order] (a) Clothing  (b) eating out. And these are outside of regular fixed costs like rent/mortgage, car payments, phones, cable TV, etc etc…

I think Two factors to be considered for budgeting are the Fixed costs and variable costs. Fixed costs are inevitable (depends) and not always in our control; where as variable costs are in our control that can be reduced or increased.

Most of the articles talk about cutting down on Eating Out, Movie theatres, impulsive buying of clothing as top most. Well, now-a-days it is about gas, encouraging people to use ride-share, carpooling, transit systems, etc.

My wife and I at times wonder if there were any other pointers in such articles outside of eating out or buying clothing. We always kept budget for our eating out (approx $40 together per month), and our clothing (around $300 for 6 months). and we also have a budget for international calls we make.

We often eat home food  So cutting down on eating out is not really an option. Even with a 3year old at home, we still prefer home food and not really go out for lunch/dinner. We pack our lunch from home. We were pretty much always under the budget for clothing, under the budget for gas (unless few instances).

When it comes to day trips, we often pack our food for 1 or 2 days. We also tag along our little electric rice cooker so that we could cook some rice within 30mins. Well, a motivating factor is also that we don’t eat outside and being vegetarians, we don’t find the vegetarian food that we can eat everywhere we go, so that makes it even more a necessity to pack our own food, thereby cutting eating down budget.

Well, looking from outside, we always wonder, how most people here manage their money in spite of buying lunch almost every day (which is at least about $6 per meal in cafeteria, and $15 at restaurants) .

MSNBC video I mentioned above shared just that – being able to cut down on eating out (pack food for travel, work, pot luck dinners), washing car yourself, buying bulk.

Look at the FrugalDad, TheSimpleDollar and any other articles on MSN money [1][2][3] [4] or MSNBC financial about personal budgeting, they most often point to eating home food, buying bulk when possible, cut coupons, save on gas, etc. I have also noticed about looking for better car/home insurance deals where some people end up paying more. [note: these are just my observations, I am sure I might have missed other pointers that could potentially answer my situation]



  1. One option if your eating at home stuff has a significant prepared food portion is to increase the amount you are cooking from scratch.

    Canned beans are $0.80/can

    Dried beans come to an equivalent of about $0.20 a can.

    Spagetti sauce in a jar is usually more expensive than spaghetti sauce from canned tomatoes, fresh onions, and powdered oregano (and a splash of red wine (get the stuff in a box) if you want to get fancy).

    Bread: One pound loaf is $4.00 at the store.
    Bread: one pound loaf is about $0.80 or just above the cost of a pound of flour (basically, the cost of a pound of flour plus the cost of the energy to run the oven, which could be as much as $0.30-$0.60) at home and is really quite easy, and also easy to fit into a working person’s schedule, if you use a no-knead recipe like Mark Bittman’s from the new york times.

    Comment by Steve in W MA — September 17, 2009 7:46 am @ 7:46 am | Reply

  2. Once you get past this point of frugality really the best thing to do is try to make more money as the monetary “returns” on more frugality are less and less.

    If you have a car, about $500 worth of tools is enough to make it possible to fix just about everything except your engine internals. Suspension, brakes, clutch, putting in a transmission, whatever. This probably would break even for you in one year of car ownership or maybe two years. But you have to put in time to learn how because when you start everything will take 3x as long as it would take a professional mechanic, for a number of reasons mostly having to do with familiarity and technique (or lack thereof.

    As another bennie, those repairs that are “too expensive ” to be worth it on an older car become very affordable when you do your own work. So it becomes much more feasible to hang onto your car for much longer than 10 years. (For example, my car is 17 years old, I am putting a lot of new front suspension parts on this coming spring, and it will handle like new. All for under $500 for the parts, no labor except my own.)

    If you want to know the list of tools, write back, tell me your car, and I will do my best to tell you what you actually need (learned from 15 years of doing my own work on the car).

    Comment by Steve in W MA — September 17, 2009 7:52 am @ 7:52 am | Reply

  3. Rice cookers are great. I even have one at my job and, rather than eating out, I often bring a rice cooker and use it (with some “babysitting”) to do things like make soup and pasta as well as making rice if I am going to be in a place without a kitchen and will need to eat during that time yet don’t have time to pre-prepare a lunch.

    Comment by Steve in W MA — September 17, 2009 7:55 am @ 7:55 am | Reply

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