Ever since I became self-employed, I’ve managed to cut my expenses dramatically. Thanks to living in the middle of nowhere, I can pay all my bills and buy gas and groceries on a little more than $1200 a month. While I (obviously) strive for more than that, it’s nice to know that I can live on very little when I need to, and that I can do so without giving up a ton of conveniences.
Despite the relative ease of making enough money to meet my needs each month, I’m always looking for ways to reduce my spending even more. Especially since that $1200 a month only allows me to make my minimum car payment instead of the accelerated payments I used to make, and I’m not replenishing my anemic emergency fund very quickly.
Every time I look at my budget, there are five areas I’d love to be able to delete from the list entirely. Unfortunately, since they’re necessities, I can’t really do that, but it’s nice to dream!
1. Health Insurance
Why I hate it: I might get sick enough to go to the doctor once a year. My only regular prescription is birth control, which isn’t covered by insurance anyway. I absolutely hate shelling out money every month for something I don’t even use.
How much I’d save without it: $150 a month
Why I pay for it anyway: Let’s face it – my good health may not last forever. Knowing my luck, the second I dropped my coverage, I’d have a stroke or break my arm. Even though I complain about it now, I won’t be complaining if something ever goes wrong and I have health coverage to pay for it.
2. Car Insurance
Why I hate it: In 14 years of driving, I’ve been involved in one accident (knock on wood). I’ve never had a speeding ticket or done anything that would make me a terrible risk behind the wheel. Yet I pay all kinds of money each month just in case.
How much I’d save without it: $90 a month
Why I pay for it anyway: My only wreck was enough to teach me the value of adequate coverage. Plus it’s the law.
3. Internet Access
Why I hate it: I’ll have to write a whole separate rant about my crappy service with Comcast. Basically, for the past six months, my connection has dropped 40+ times a day for no reason. I’ve called. I’ve replaced my modem and router. They’ve inspected the lines inside and outside. Comcast insists there is nothing wrong, yet I can’t even have a conversation over Skype without getting disconnected.
How much I’d save without it: $60 a month
Why I pay for it anyway: Um, mainly because I make a living doing freelance writing and web design. But also because I can’t imagine life without internet access. I need rehab or something. So I’ll just keep crossing my fingers that another provider shows up to break the Comcast monopoly.
4. Dog Grooming
Why I hate it: Grooming for 4 dogs is kind of expensive. Also, they know when we’re going to the groomer versus a leisurely drive or a trip to the park. I get the joy of four frantic animals crawling all over me in the car, one of whom usually manages to puke on me, and hair everywhere.
How much I’d save without it: $130 every 4 months (so about $30 a month)
Why I pay for it anyway: One time I got the bright idea to groom my dogs myself. That experiment gave me half-shaven dogs running around with bleeding toenails where I clipped too close, a bathroom floor full of water, and scratches all over my face. No thanks. I’ll leave it to the experts.
5. Contact Lenses
Why I hate it: Luckily I buy my contacts online and they aren’t too expensive, but I still get annoyed. It never fails – if I’m on my last pair and waiting for more to arrive, I WILL rip one. Or lose one. Or get an eye infection that leaves the current pair unwearable. I just want to have LASIK and be done with these stupid things forever!
How much I’d save without it: $125 a year
Why I pay for it anyway: I’m legally blind. Even with contacts with a very strong prescription, my vision can only be corrected to 20/40. And I’m not allowed to drive in glasses because they only correct me to about 20/80. Since I can’t afford $3000 or so for LASIK, I’m forced to deal with contacts.
Altogether, I could save over $300 a month if I could find a way to live without health and auto insurance, internet access, dog grooming, and contact lenses. However, since I do benefit from all of those things (whether or not I enjoy admitting it), that’s $300 I’ll continue to spend every month for the foreseeable future. While the costs don’t always seem worth it, the benefits win every time. Doesn’t mean I won’t whine about it, though!
Confession time: What necessity (or necessities) do you hate paying for?