Well it’s official- my monthly income has definitely dropped.
I am down to just three jobs (just three jobs?) and three paychecks and my-oh-my, how the numbers have fallen. Thankfully, kicking my own butt for the last 5 months paid off and I am on schedule to be debt free this week!
All that excitement aside, I have been adjusting my lifestyle here and there to try and compensate for my lower income. I’m challenging every expense that is in my life. Now that my income has slowed down I need to be extra careful with all my spending. My mindset is: how can I eliminate or reduce my monthly costs?
My financial focus is shifting away from debt payoff and more on maintaining healthy financial habits. I want to live a long term frugal life. Frugality makes me happy and helps me create the kind of life I want to live: mindful, minimal and present. As I am also in the low-income bracket of the personal finance world, frugality helps me do more of what I really love and spend less on the trivial things.
So I’ve decided to go through all my monthly and annual expenses to see if there is any way I can reduce my bills. First up: car insurance!
I pay my car insurance twice a year. I prefer bulk payments to monthly ones, just as a personal preference. That means each payment is pretty large though. Unfortunately, I was in a car accident in 2011 and it was completely my fault. My rates went up after that. When I turned 25 they went down some, but as I have a newer car and it has only been a few years since my accident, I pay just over $800 a year in car insurance.
In my effort to challenge that, I called my insurance company Geico and simply asked if they had a discount on low mileage. When I initially set up my policy I reported driving 5 days a week for work. I was waiting tables and had to get to the restaurant somehow. That’s 100% not true anymore. Last week I used my car twice. I don’t need to be paying for mileage I’m not using. I told this to the agent and she told me yes, there was a discount. Score!
Not that I’m not coaching, the only reason I NEED to drive is catering and I’m looking to minimize that as well. I walked to one event last week, which was amazing. It only took 15 minutes! There are some events that are downtown, about 3 miles from my house. I want to start biking to those when I can. The only drawback to biking is I can’t take as many leftovers as when I drive. =( For the events that are an hour away I’ll still need to drive but I’m carpooling these days as much as possible.
Anyway, I called Geico up and changed my driving days from 5 to 2 and dropped my annual mileage from 12,000 to 9,000. It was super simple and then poof! $15 disappeared from my bill. While $15 isn’t a huge amount of money, it’s still a savings I’m really pleased with. That’s $30 saved annually. Never forget that every little bit counts! This savings only took me 12 minutes on the phone too. It was totally painless.
Challenging your spending is a huge part of living frugally. I don’t just accept bills or expenses that come my way anymore. Asking for discounts never hurts and can only help. If they don’t have one, hey- they don’t have one. If they do, you’re walking away with some more cash in your wallet. Win-win!
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.