I think we are at the point where we are constantly trying to be more efficient in spending money. I can immediately identify several places where we could still reduce or cut if we absolutely have to:
- $175/month Crossfit membership (+ much more reasonable $47/month gym membership for Mr. LL)
- $120/month dining expenses
- $16/month magazine subscriptions (2 of which we could read at the library or check out on Zinio through the library)
- $69/month for both cell phones
- $19/month internet
- $115-136/month outdoor recreation (hiking, camping, snowshoeing, skiing/snowboarding as determined here)
We can also continue to try to maximize our savings on electricity/water/natural gas, though our gas bill, for example, is at the point where we are only paying about $4/month for actual consumption (the rest is just the fixed fee to have gas at all).
Some of these expenses can be reduced by doing less of whatever the activity is, although some expenses are fixed and must be eliminated entirely in order to “reduce” them. But either way, that’s $561-582/month that we could save or cut down on. There’s also some partially redundant disability insurance that we could cut down on, but I won’t include that in the total.
Reasons/excuses why we have not reduced/eliminated these expenses:
- I have addressed Crossfit in other posts, but I love it and would be really reluctant to eliminate it. Obviously if we had to, I would, but I feel I would really miss it compared to all the other expense cutting we have done, which haven’t actually even been sacrifices at all (don’t miss not going out to movies, having a Blockbuster Online subscription, going out to eat for non-social occasions, having house cleaning). If it turns out that I can’t make it to 12 classes a month, though, I can drop my monthly fee to $140/month for 8 classes.
- We only dine out for social occasions – specifically post-hike dining, or pub trivia, which can’t be replicated at home, and at which we usually win a gift certificate for the following week. We could do this less but would probably also see our friends less.
- Mr. LL has the two subscriptions that we could read at the library, which is kind of inconvenient already, since one of them is The Economist (which calls itself a newspaper). It comes out weekly and is a fairly dense read (essentially all of Mr. LL’s leisure reading time during the week). While we could check out magazines on Zinio, I wouldn’t want to read a magazine on my phone, and neither of us has a tablet.
- We could reduce our cell phone bill if we were willing to buy new phones, although I haven’t really looked into specifics. Or we could get rid of our smart phones (although I had an old school Kyocera until 2011 – when I started texting regularly, I ended up spending as much as I do now for my current phone – $25/month for 300 min. and unlimited texting and data).
- We could reduce our internet bill to $9.99/month if we want to drop from 10 GB to 5 GB of data for the month with a slower connection.
- Seeing as how we want to do even more outdoor recreation in early retirement, I don’t see us cutting our outdoor rec budget, honestly.
Looking at my list of reasons/excuses, I can see that I really value fitness, fun social experiences, and outdoor recreation. Of the remaining reasons/excuses, I can see I like convenience and entertainment (such as the music I am currently streaming via Spotify by virtue of our internet service). I like being able to text, talk, and check email and internet on my phone, and am willing to pay a bit more to do so (although I haven’t closely examined the exact amount extra I would be willing to pay). Considering the magazine subscription, if I could only read books at the library and couldn’t actually check them out, I would probably end up buying a lot more books, so it makes sense for Mr. LL to have his subscriptions.
However, knowing that there are these places to cut means that we are not so close to the bone, so to speak. It is currently worth it to spend this money, but if something happened in the future that required us to give some or all of these things up, it would be painful but doable.