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    Monday
    Mar282011

    Cutting back

    In celebration of spring, I'm cutting back on quite a few things. Okay, it's not really in celebration of spring, it's out of necessity — financial, physical, and sanity-saving necessity. I've survived and dare I say even thrived (in non-financial ways only, of course) after corporate cutbacks. Now the time has come for a few personal cutbacks.

    Here are the ways I'm cutting back:

    Telephones — This week, Jim and I officially drop the land line and go to cell-phone-only mode. Which is fine by me, as I loathe phones ... and loathe even more telemarketing and political phone calls. Good riddance, home phone.

    Cable television — This week we also drop all cable television and will rely on Netflix, Hulu and television networks (thank heavens for HDMI cables!) for our television fix. Farewell, DVR and On Demand.

    Screen time — Not only am I cutting down time in front of the television screen, I'm cutting down time in front of the computer screen, too. I have a life ... I need to live it, not let it pass me by while I'm blogging and commenting, tweeting, e-mailing and Facebooking.

    Idle time — Less screen time equals more active time: gardening, cooking, crafting, reading, playing piano, walking the dogs. And plenty of time to figure out if "Facebooking" can legitimately be used as a verb.

    Dog food — Speaking of walking the dogs, they're officially overweight. The vet says Mickey weighs twenty pounds more than he should. Which means Lyla surely rates the same in rotundity. So not only do I need to walk the dogs more, I need to feed them less. Per the vet. Which is hard because they love snacks. And we love giving them snacks.

    People food — Jim and I love eating snacks, too. But we're cutting back, working toward a more healthy diet. So we not only look better, but so we feel better, too. A lovely, thin, and healthy friend of mine recently recommended YOU: On a Diet. So I'm reading it, taking it to heart, implementing some of the suggestions, such as replacing white rice with brown, enriched flour with wheat.

    Sugar — Per the suggestions in YOU: On a Diet, the cut causing the most trepidation has been sugar. Because Jim loves his sugar. I recently purchased for the first time ever a package of Splenda. It sweetens my iced tea and Jim's chocolate brownies just fine so far, so I plan to continue buying it ... as long as my pared-down budget allows for the outrageously expensive sugar substitute. Or until Jim cries "Uncle!"

    Spending — Jim and I, like most of those living above the poverty line, have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle — a lifestyle unnecessary filled with stuff. Too much stuff. Stuff we don't need. So I'm paring down and no longer spending as much on stuff. Stuff of any sort. I've committed to grocery shopping every other week instead of every week so there's less food stuff. I resist temptation for all non-food spending by refusing to look at the bright and shiny ads in the Sunday newspaper, and I immediately delete e-mail offers from Overstock.com and — heaven help me to continually find the strength! — Amazon.com.

    Photo: stock.xchng

    Today's question:

    What have you managed to — or plan to — cut back in your life?

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    Reader Comments (20)

    Those are some very brave cutbacks. I would have a very hard time giving up my cable television. Seriously, we made many of those same cutbacks when I lost my full-time job and decided not to work full time any more.

    It took me a while to stop shopping for stuff I don't need. Cleaning out my mom's "stuff" after her death made me acutely aware that I need less stuff. It made me realize that shopping had become a recreational activity for me.

    Good luck with all these changes. The Splenda web site has some excellent recipes to help with your husband's sweet tooth.

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGrams

    This is very awesome. I am proud of you for actually taking these steps. I talk about them but have never committed myself to go through with it.

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJules

    YOU GO GIRL. Those are great. We use splenda for everything, and believe me, Mike would not use it if it didn't continue to taste good, I do agree however on how expensive it is. They want Americans to eat healthy but they charge an arm and a leg to buy these things. :)

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

    Great goals! Good luck in your cutting back quest. Sadly, what I've been cutting back on lately is my exercise, so I actually need to bulk that back up. :)

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKate

    We got rid of cable in the fall. We've survived. I am trying to get back to healthier eating habits after allowing myself to "eat for two" for a couple months. (Lisa, I'm here if you want to talk about nutrition!) I have also tried to cut back on screen time, but the lure of Zuma Blitz is too much. I also use the library a lot more instead of purchasing so many books.

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPammeey

    I haven't had a TV in 4 1/2 years. Single best thing to cut out. Everything good increased in that one move. Cut out meat more years ago than that and lost weight from a diet high in veggies, fruits, and whole grain/ seed breads, rice, cereals and pastas. Increased exercise by taking up the run/walk system of Jeff Galloway 3 years ago. I feel healthier too. I salute you for all you're doing!
    p.s. When helping our dog to loose weight, we gave him rice cakes- very few calories but crunchy. He loved them.

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGrandmother

    Good for you and Jim, my friend! Sounds like a good plan that'll be good for you in the long run.
    I also went to brown rice and Splenda over this past year, and the transition was virtually painless. We don't have a Lan phone, but I do love my smart phone and spend too much monthly for all the features. I could cut back, but the jury's still out as to whether I ever will.
    I have cut back on a LOT of snacks and Diet Pepsi. I was drinking 4 or 5 a day and now just drink One a day, and I'm strict about that.
    You have got me thinking about what else I can cut back on, though. Have a wonderful week!

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTerri

    All your cut back steps sound like good ones, Lisa!

    My husband and I did not have cable TV until 9/11 and network TV failed because the main transmission antenna went down with tower one. I enjoyed watching all the new shows afterward, like HGTV and the Food Network but lately I'm watching TV less and less, and would also consider giving it up except we have a "triple play" package where our phone, cable and Internet are all in one price and the price is a fair one for all three.

    I have cut back a little on computer time as I, too, feel that my reading and outdoor time was being effected by too much Internet use. I've seen a general slow down on quite a few blogs, and probably for the same reason.

    I have tried to cook from scratch lately --soups, baked goods, etc, as I am trying to not only cook less processed foods and cut back on added salt, but because I find cooking and baking relaxing and satisfying. I love gardening and look forward to more fresh vegetables from my own little garden this summer.

    I'm also trying to pare down "stuff'! Living in the same home for many years has enabled me to squirrel away a lot of mementos from my children's years growing up and assorted nick knacks and books galore. I'm slowly making "keep" "donate" and "discard" piles and I'm seeing results!

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPat

    I love your list and applaud you and Jim

    ! Because my husband and I decided to retire early from our jobs, we've had to cut back on alot of stuff. But we made that choice and are very happy with it. We don't eat out as much and don't go to Cripple Creek as much. We are throwing around the idea of getting rid of our land line phone too...it's a hard thing for me to do since I've been around a land line for about 50 yrs! My husband would just die without cable tv and it's a terrible shame that the healthy food they want us to eat is so darned expensive!

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie E.

    I really NEED to cut back on computer time. It's like a magnet and darn near impossible to pull away from! Kudos to you and Jim for making necessary cutbacks!

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette

    Wow! I'm proud of you for all your cut-backs. We were without cable for about a year and didn't miss it. But then football season rolled around and I just couldn't bear the thought of missing the Sooners play. (And I won't go to a bar because I don't want other people to judge me for my wild theatricalities during close games.) So we hooked it back up and haven't UNhooked it yet.

    After reading Dave Ramsey's "The Total Money Makeover," we cut back HUGELY on our spending to get debt-free. We've kept that up for the most part and it's become a habit. So it feels really strange to be spending money on re-doing our bathroom. But I keep telling myself it's an investment. ;-)

    I also really need to cut back on computer time. Really.

    And yes - Facebooking is definitely a verb.

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteramber

    You go girl!! Rich and I have made many of the economic changes you're talking about making. I have to say getting rid of the land line was one of the biggest and one of the best! No telemarketers during dinner! The one we're currently working on and struggling with the most is the diet -- the eating healthy part. I love my veggies! But I also love my Dove Dark bars! It's hard!

    One of our biggest victories was our electric bill! If you become diligent about noticing what lights are on when you leave a room it is amazing the difference you can make. Between learning to turn off lights and learning to NOT crank up the air conditioner all the time we cut ours by more than half in 6 months time. It's even lower now.

    Good luck!

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Kc

    Wow, that's a lot of change all at once. We are eating healthier, but it means I do have to go to the grocery store twice a week to pick up fresh produce. I'm learning to buy only what's on the list. This summer, I plan to start shopping at farmers' markets. We have them all around us on nearly every day of the week.

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBLissed-Out Grandma

    You made some great choices.
    Sometimes giving up things or changing things up is very liberating

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersherri

    That is a great list and it includes some that we have talked about doing too. Regarding the high priced Splenda it does go on sale and they do run coupons for it. I have also found that the WalMart store brand of it is very good and far less expensive. It is called Alterna.

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Shelley

    It's always nice to lighten the load, whether it's bills, stuff, or time wasted. Your list is great and I bet you won't miss much of it! I've cut back so much the past couple of years I wouldn't even know where to start to tell you about it in a comment. Maybe I'll make a blog post about it!

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTammy

    You have created a great "to do" list for all of us. I have been working on cutting way down on sugar lately and I have actually done pretty well, but it is hard. I will be looking forward to hearing how you are doing with each of your "cuts"

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeanie

    This is a terrific list. I, too, have been cutting back. After giving up the corporate life I'm much happier and many of the "things" that may have been required before are no longer necessary-the wardrobe, eating out a couple of time a week, etc. We've stopped the multiple newspaper and magazine subscriptions and I'm struggling about what to do about the TV and the phone. My 20 something son is living with just his cell phone and just Netflix streaming on his TV and that seems to be working out for him. I'll be starting a garden soon. I have three 4x4 raised beds I've decided to plant with vegetables this year. I can't wait to get started. I'm also sick of all the "stuff" we've accumulated. I need to weed it all out! These are all good changes though. Life is good!

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

    I've already cut down on a lot (turning heat down to 60 degrees every night has decreased my gas bill considerably) and am looking into going to a cell phone but... my land line is bundled with my TV and computer, so, I've got some checking out to do first in order to keep the total at a better price, not to save on the phone just to increase on the other two. Oh, well, need to do it anyway because, when the frequent "no electricity" interruptions that happen up here DO happen, I can't even use my land line to call and yell at IREA because land lines only work with electricity! I've decided that, being on a fixed income and IRS now taking another $40 per month out of my miilitary widow's benefit (just because they want to, I guess), if anything costs money, I'd dog-gone well better "cut down" if I can. Saved money is almost like getting more income. (Hee, hee!)

    March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

    One of the main ways we cut down on expenses is by not eating out. That helps with the better nutrition, too, because if I'm going to eat out, I automatically see it as a treat, and I don't want to deprive myself of the bread or the loaded baked potato.

    March 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Adcox
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