I really enjoy the challenge and the reward of living with less. While the American way is to constantly strive for more money and more stuff, we’ve always felt like the fastest way to have more wealth is to spend less money. For us, less stuff and less debt has always equaled more freedom.
In the spring, as COVID was ramping up, we knew pretty quickly that our income for the year was going to take a hit. Instead of panicking about how we would make money, we asked ourselves what changes we could make so that we would need less of it.
These are five of the ways, some big and some small, that we went about reducing our monthly expenses.
1. eliminate our mortgage
We’d been tossing around the idea of selling our house and returning to living full-time in an RV sometime in 2021, so as the conversations about reducing our expenses started happening, this was an obvious consideration. I realize this isn’t a realistic option for everyone but it is an option for some. And luckily for us it made perfect sense. Our mortgage was the only debt we had so selling our house rendered us debt-free. From there, we very intentionally chose a style of travel that would cost us very little. Now our living expenses are a fraction of what they were while living in a traditional house.
2. cancel unnecessary subscriptions
Chances are high we are all guilty of signing up for a monthly service that we no longer need but have never gotten around to cancelling. This was one of the quickest, easiest way we reduced our monthly expenses. I found a handful of subscriptions that I could cancel without second thought. Furthermore, there were a few subscriptions that we used but didn’t use to the level that we pay for and were able to downgrade to a cheaper option.
3. take advantage of free recreation & entertainment
There are so many options these days for free recreation and entertainment. I traded in my yoga studio membership for free yoga videos on YouTube. Getting outside more and getting active by way of hiking, biking or walking is also free and wonderful for our mental health…something I try to do everyday. Our Amazon Prime membership comes with tons of movies and tv to stream as well as a pretty solid collection of music. We rarely pay for any kind of extracurriculars right now but we hardly feel deprived for it.
4. Eat at home
Food used to be one of our biggest monthly expenses. We ate out a lot. Then the lockdown happened and we didn’t eat out (not even carry-out) for 3 months. The fascinating thing that happened is that we realized that eating out was more of a habit than an intentional treat…and not going out for 3 months broke the habit. Not only did we save a ton of money but we lost weight without even trying. Once restaurants started reopening we didn’t have a huge desire to return to our old ways. It’s hard to drop $40 on dinner when you can make something equally good (if not better) for yourself at home for a fraction of the cost. This new trend has had a substantial impact for the better on our bank account.
5. triple check the need for new purchases
Living in an RV with limited space forces us to seriously consider every purchase. Because of that we are so much more intentional with our purchases which naturally benefits our overall expenses for the month. What we’ve noticed is how often we don’t actually need a thing that we may have just bought without second thought if we lived in a house. Sitting on it for a day or two, rather than buying something right away, is an effective way to determine if you actually NEED that thing or not.
sell what you don’t use / need
This might not necessarily change your monthly expenses but it’s a great way to reduce mental and physical clutter in your life while making a little extra cash. Inevitably we were going to need a storage unit to store some of our possessions while living on the road but we weren’t about to pay a monthly fee to store EVERYTHING. We sold a ton of stuff we didn’t need and made a decent amount of cash getting rid of it all on Facebook Marketplace. Everything that was left fit in a 12×12 storage unit for a reasonable monthly fee.
For me, needing less money, having less payments and less stuff that require cleaning, updating and maintenance is a liberating way to live. It greatly reduces the stress that I know we all experience, on one level or another, in regards to our financial health. Our goal for this year was to reduce our expenses while maximizing our freedom and I’m happy to say that we’ve done just that.