Off the top of my head here are a few things I didn’t spend much money on this year that most people spend a lot of money on.
Haircuts – I didn’t spend any money on haircuts this year. I use clippers to cut my own hair and am quite happy with the results.
Clothing – I bought two pairs of hiking shorts at $1.15 each. That was my only clothing expenditure for the year. This number will go up a little in 2010 since I’ll need to replace my underwear and socks but I don’t plan to spend any other money on clothing.
Cable – I haven’t had it and don’t plan to. I spend too much time watching TV with just the over-the-air channels.
Landline Phone – I have a cell phone that costs me $30 a month and includes unlimited texts and data. That is a much better value than a home phone.
Personal Hygiene – Ok, this one sounds bad but it isn’t. I get most of my personal hygiene items for almost free from CVS or Walgreens by playing the drugstore game. The fact that a 99 cent bottle of shampoo will last me all year helps also.
That is just a few of the items I don’t spend much money on. I’m sure I’ll think of a few more things later. What items do you spend little or no money on?
The big expense I’ll be cutting is transportation because I won’t have a car. I’ll still have some transportation expenses but I think I should be able to cut this expense by up to $1000. Another expense I’ll cut is my cell phone. When my contract expires at the end of June I am not going to renew it. This will save me $35 a month. The savings will be less if I decide to add a line to my GF’s cell plan. I most likely won’t though and will just use a public phone if I need to make a call away from home. I’m also enrolling in an HSA eligible health insurance plan. This will save me about $10 a month plus any tax savings from contributing to the HSA. The biggest way I plan to cut expenses is by hiking the Appalachian trail for five months. I intend to hike on $200 a month. I’ll still have some non-hiking expenses but this will greatly reduce my overall expenses. These aren’t all the ways I’ll cut expenses but it should be all the major ones. What are your plans for cutting expenses in 2009?
Judging from the response I got to my post “How Much Should You Save for Retirement?“, people are really interested in the subject of my retirement. In that post I mentioned my desire to retire at 50 and that I had some ideas on how to do that. I do need to make a plan in order to reach this goal.
When I was in my early 20’s I read a book titled How to Retire at 35. I decided that would be a good goal. I didn’t make much money then so my plan was to start saving big money as soon as I had a good-paying job. Of course, once I had a good-paying job I forgot all about my idea of retiring at 35 and spent money like crazy. When I turned 30 I made a goal of retiring at 40. That goal obviously didn’t happen either. The problem was I didn’t really have a plan and I kept getting sidetracked and putting other things ahead of saving for retirement. Whenever I saved a little money I’d go off on some adventure and then be broke again. I did have fun on my adventures but if I had just been disciplined I could be having adventures all the time now.
This time I’m going to do things differently. I’m already better off than before because I’ve already gotten in the habit of saving for retirement. This time I’m going to keep retirement as a priority. My goal is to have $1000 a month to live on at age 50. If I retired today I’d only have $34.87 a month to live on. That is a very large gap but it isn’t as bad as it looks. That is based on just living off the interest from my savings. Based on just living on the interest, at 6% I would need to have $200,000 saved. Since I have about $6000 saved now I’d need to save about $1200 a month to meet that goal if my savings had an 8% return. That seems like a large amount considering I don’t make that much total right now. After I finish school though that should be a reasonable amount and in the meantime I’m saving all I can afford.
My goal of living on $1000 a month might seem far-fetched to some but I’m confident that it is reasonable. I’ve lived long enough to see the effects of inflation but unless we have really high inflation the next nine years I don’t think it will be much of a factor. I live on about a $1000 a month now and I could live on considerably less. One way I could cut my cost of living would be to live in a van. I’ve already posted about that and I believe it is a feasible option and one that I would enjoy. Another way to cut my living expenses would be to live in a foreign country. I lived in Guatemala for 3 months on $450 and had a great time. The cost would be a little more now but it would still be dirt cheap. A third option would be to spend half the year hiking a long trail such as the Appalachian Trail. I’ve hiked about half the AT and I think with some planning I could hike the trail on a budget of $200-$300 a month. Those are just the ways I came up with off the top of my head on how to drastically cut my living expenses, I’m sure there are many more.
That is my plan for now. It might undergo some changes before I turn 50 but I’m going to keep my focus on the goal.