A Lifestyle Change… Is It Permanent?

Veuve Clicquot bottle - Champagne - France

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Affected by the terrible economy of late, my husband and I must undergo necessary lifestyle changes that will affect our finances now and in the future.

I’ve always considered myself “independently wealthy” even though I work hard and have a career.  I never worried about money.

Now that times are tough, triggered by a 2 month job loss last December 2009 – you’d be surprised how much that sets you back – I am diligently TRYING to change my lifestyle.

The first thing I did was to buy Quicken to see where my money was going.  Then I went from there.  The cuts have been do-able with an occasional bail-out from Daddy but I still haven’t seen much cushion yet.

My mother used to tell me that I had Champagne tastes and a beer wallet.  It’s true.  When I buy a $900 dress for $300, I look at it as though I saved $600, not spent $300.  I have – or should I say had – a skewed sense of reality.

Here is a list of changes I / we made, both small and large and my approximate monthly savings (unless otherwise indicated) for each elimination:

  1. I cut my nails off.  No more manicures.  $35 x 2 = $70 + tips monthly.
  2. No more pedicures.  $30 x 3 = $90 + tips monthly.
  3. I shop at Costco and Shop Rite, clip coupons and have stopped my twice-weekly jaunts to Whole Foods.  $200 per visit x 2 = $400 savings monthly.
  4. I stopped buying a case of wine every week.  $150 to $200 x 4 = $600 to $800 monthly.
  5. No more clothes and shoes shopping unless absolutely necessary.  $300 to $1000 or more depending on the fix I need.
  6. We’re eating a lot of pasta.  $$ savings = getting fat.
  7. I stopped going to Happy Hour as often as I did.  $20 x 3 or x 4 = $60 to $80 monthly for a slow month.
  8. I stopped going out for expensive dinners several times per week.  Alone $65 per visit.  With husband $150 per visit.
  9. We stopped going to our favorite restaurant in Staten Island ($300 per visit for the two of us for dinner add $65 for the bar bill before and after dinner) and quit weekly trips to Atlantic City (Anywhere from $150 – $1000 per visit).  We don’t even gamble but we spend so much on food and drink, it’s sickening.
  10. No opera tickets this year.  Boo hiss!  $500 for tickets + beaucoup $$$$$ for parking, tolls and dinner and drinks post opera.
  11. Monthly haircut & color.  Not monthly anymore.  $275 + tips monthly.
  12. Heat.  I keep the thermostat at 65 degrees and hide under a blanket while I’m typing my blog.  $$ but I’m not sure how much yet.
  13. No more frivolous jewelry purchases.  I can’t even put a price on it.
  14. Switched from Starbucks coffee at home to a Costco substitute.  $5 per bag – about $10 – $15 per month.
  15. Cut down on weekly diner breakfasts.  $90 monthly.
  16. I no longer buy bottles of Veuve Clicquot.  I switch to a non-Champagne Champagne.  $40 per bottle savings.
  17. I stay away from stores like Marshall’s and TJ Maxx.  $100 to $500 savings monthly.

    I’m sure that I’ve made a few more cuts that I can’t think of now but I think this a good start.  I can believe how much I used to spend!

Spending is always relative.  The more you make, the more you spend.  The more you make, the more they take.  I should have learned a lesson from my father’s generation – no credit cards and pay in cash.  If you don’t have the money for it, you don’t buy it.

Do you have similar problems?  Have you made any sacrifices?  I’m trying not to be a spoiled brat anymore.  I hope will last.  What do you think?

© 2011  J. H-M and CultureChoc2010



    2 responses to “A Lifestyle Change… Is It Permanent?

    1. I don’t have most of these problems you mentioned–but only because I live in a part of the country and in a town where most of the things in your list (nice restaurants and bars, stores, Starbucks, etc.) don’t exist. Most of my extra money goes into . . . traveling! Good luck.

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