Three Ways to Trim Budgets: Identifying Want versus Need

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Holly Miller

You are probably familiar with the saying “one paycheck away from bankruptcy.” Unfortunately, too many people have already experienced that tragedy, and some are victims through no direct fault of their own. Lay-offs and injuries are two such reasons. However, more people are on the verge of losing everything when they can still be proactive in improving their income-to-expense ratio.

Petty Cash Use

Track every cent you spend on gas when you run errands, buy meals at restaurants of any type, buy single packs of cigarettes, rent movies or other impulse purchases, including that specialty coffee through the drive-through on your way to work every workday.

Most people are astounded at the amount of money they spend without thinking about it. They budget the major items but forget all about that “pocket cash.”

Eliminate every one of those that you can. If you smoke and don’t want to quit yet, buy by the carton, not the pack. That single price difference can pay for a tank of gas every month. Reduce the cost even more by buying from authorized sellers overseas. The United States Postal Service allows mailing of up to three cartons at once. Depending on the website and prices, you could cut your cigarette costs by almost 40 percent—including shipping.Reduce the pocket cash total to $10 or less; use your bank card instead, and the proof of spending is right there in print. Do not use a credit card. Use the card that is associated with your checking or savings account as a charge card and avoid debit card transaction fees.

Revolving and Recurring Expenses

Using your credit cards to pay your living expenses should set off loud, blaring alarms. Your credit history often represents a large chunk of your financial future. If you are overextending the household expenses and need to borrow, which exactly what you do when you pay with a credit card, you need to reevaluate your budget and find room without the cards.

Do you really need that cell phone? If everyone in your house has a cell phone, even on a family plan, do you really need that land line, too? Do you or your family need text messaging?What about in-home Internet access? Unless you work from home and work on the Internet, face the facts: Internet access at home is a luxury, not a necessity.Cable TV is a great invention. However, generations survived and thrived without it. It’s really not a necessity either, is it? Many cable or satellite monthly fees range from $30 to $90 per month or more. It’s a temporary, no-permanent-gain expense. That means you are wasting money. Consider buying discounted DVDs instead. Purchase a discount DVD, and you not only save money, but you also have the movie for far longer than the 30-day calendar month.


Look around your house, condo or apartment. You are paying for all that space. It might be nice, but does your family really need all those bedrooms? Do you really need that finished basement? Is a smaller house with a smaller mortgage—and reduced recurring expenses—or rental amount possible?This article was written by Holly Miller from Coupon Croc, where you can find discounts on all your essential purchases, including household appliances and electronics with an Argos discount code.