PS: The less you spend, the less you need to earn!

Three years ago I stumbled across a passage from Mr. Money Mustache that completely changed how I view my expenses.

It came from an article I had read on many occasions prior – and is one of his most popular – but for whatever reason it never hit me as hard as it did then, perhaps because I wasn’t open enough to fully appreciate it at the time.

Here’s what it said, from “The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement:”

“The most important thing to note is that cutting your spending rate is much more powerful than increasing your income. The reason is that every permanent drop in your spending has a double effect: it increases the amount of money you have left over to save each month, and it permanently decreases the amount you’ll need every month for the rest of your life.”

Think about that for a moment…

Every time you cut one of your permanent/recurring expenses, it *increases* the amount of money you have let over to save each month.

But even more powerful, it then *permanently* decreases the amount you’ll need every month for the rest of your life! (Provided you don’t go back to it, of course ;))

It’s one of the most simplest concepts in the world, yet so many of us still haven’t fully understood it.

And I was one of them, up until three years ago when I stumbled across this again. And then do you know what happened??? I started the Challenge Everything mission where I went on to shave off roughly $223/mo from my recurring expenses, and banked a whopping $5,484.07 by the time the project was wrapped up 12 months later! Amazing!

And really, it’s only “wrapped up” in terms of being a blog series, as the savings are still very much hitting my account month in and month out! Further motivating me to do even more, such as finally cutting cable TV from my life, as well as hawking more stuff on Craigslist and stepping up my minimalism game.

Here’s a breakdown of the savings after the first full year in effect:

challenge everything savings chart

(Similar to our current Spavings Challenge, I threw all extra money I came across into the Challenge Everything fund as well for extra motivation)

But here’s the even crazier thing – it didn’t affect my lifestyle a single bit! In fact, it actually improved it. Not only did cutting stuff out help me appreciate all that I had more, but it also gave me a better sense of pride and confidence, knowing that I was (finally) optimizing my expenses once and for all as a 30-something adult. (And as a financial blogger, at that!).

If you think about the last time you switched phone carriers or called to lower your cable/insurance bills, you might be surprised how much you’re leaving on the table as well. Especially those you’ve just got into the habit of paying every month without even giving them a second thought.

For me, one of the biggest shocks was how much we were paying for our two iPhones year in and year out… We were hovering between $150-$180/mo, and because there was no way I could “live without my iPhone” (words many of us have spoken!), I never even considered cutting it from my life. It was just “one of those things” I paid for and couldn’t do anything about!

And then after reading that same passage from Mr. Money Mustache, I thought to myself, “Is there another way? Is there a different phone/carrier that does the exact same stuff so I don’t hate my life, only costs me gobs less?? ‘Cuz that would be awesome!” And sure enough, there was. Republic Wireless. And these days there’s even MORE options out there for people as the competition – and “wireless over wifi” technology – has only exploded in recent years.

But the point is – what we think we can’t live without is seldom not true, and even when it is there are usually alternatives that can do the same thing, but for much less.

It’s not always the easiest or most fun making it happen (switching phone carriers is a bitch no matter where you transfer to!), but if you’re committed enough it’s well worth sucking it up for a hot minute.

That initial $223/mo of savings three years ago have now blossomed to a total of $8,028.00 (more than enough to max out an entire Roth IRA, and halfway towards a second!), and doesn’t even factor in all the other benefits the shavings have had on my financial and mental life.

And the best part? Most of these savings were from ONE-TIME actions! Just like with investing, only for your expenses! Put in the money (time), and then watch the dividends (savings) roll in!

It’s a beautiful thing :) And I owe MMM approximately 13 six packs now for finally beating it into my head. (Thank you, sir!)

I was reminded of this recently when someone told me she couldn’t believe how obvious it was and that it’s taken her so long to realize it, and so I share it all with you guys again today in hopes it gets YOU closer to that epiphany as well.

Cutting out expenses from your life goes on to do TWO very powerful things:

  1. Frees up more money for savings every month forward!
  2. Allows you to *need less* to survive every month forward.

Those who live off $2,000/mo can retire a lot earlier than those who need $10,000/mo to survive. We’re all in different phases with this stuff, but let today be the time you kick it into overdrive if you know you can be doing better.

And then make sure to email me with how much you’re saving, so I can be the first to congratulate you :) I’ve gotten a lot of emails over the years from people challenging their expenses, and I have yet to hear anyone now say they hate their lives because of it! Ain’t no one enjoys wasting away their money!


Full article again from MMM can be found here – highly recommend it: The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement

And then here’s the recap of our 12 month challenge experiment as well, if you weren’t around back then and want more of the backstory behind it (or to see some of the notes people have written in after trying it themselves – some people absolutely killed it!): The Challenge Everything Mission

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  1. Lily | The Frugal Gene April 23, 2018 at 6:01 AM

    I always think it’s weird people have trouble saving money or the concept of saving money when it’s something so natural.

    When I was working and making $40-$60k a year living in San Francisco my savings rate was 40-50% because I bunked with my parents and I found inexpensive room & board. At the time I didn’t think that 50% was unusual for a 23 year old…

    I’m glad MMM became a voice of reason for people like us :)

  2. Olivia April 23, 2018 at 6:25 AM

    Last week my iPhone died because I dropped it in the bathtub for 2 seconds! I was so mad. Headed over to the store to get a new one and instead of buying the latest version as mine was around 4 years old at the time, I just got the oldest version since truly those phones are not super different. 0% financing was awesome as well :D.

    It’s a tiny conspiracy of mine that auto-pay is being pushed on us so much that they can insert random increases to our plans and we don’t notice. Haha.

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 7:27 AM

      Oh yeah – automation can be both good and bad. You kinda want to “set it and forget it” when it comes to savings/investments, but not so much your bills unless you’re good at paying attention to them every now and then :) I still manually pay a few bills each month just to force me to check-in or else I’ll be back to overpaying on everything again!

      1. B.C Kowalski April 24, 2018 at 3:27 PM

        I agree – I don’t do this for bills either. I just set a Google reminder. If it just comes out automatically, you might miss the chance to contest the bill!

    2. Lee April 25, 2018 at 11:20 AM

      I agree wholeheartedly about the phone. Society is to a point now where the phone commercials just show the phone and they make it look somehow sleek and sexy and don’t even say a word in the commercial. I’m yelling at the TV that it’s a phone! Tell me specs and improvements and how much internal memory it has! Sex appeal for a phone blows my mind.

      1. J. Money April 25, 2018 at 2:35 PM

        Haha… That’s like a lot of car commercials too :) You never know what people are hawking until the last three seconds of them sometimes… Could be for some cologne, a car, or a new bag of Doritos! All that sells is lifestyle!

  3. Accidental FIRE April 23, 2018 at 6:30 AM

    The most important thing to note is that cutting your spending rate is much more powerful than increasing your income.

    Be careful, this might ‘trigger’ some in the pf blogging community. There’s been quite a backlash in some circles lately about frugality. A lot of posts saying “you have to make more money, stop telling people to bring their lunch to work”, or “if you only make the median income you can’t save your way to FI”. I personally disagree with these people.

    The frugality vs. making more money argument as to the best way to get to financial independence is very hard to quantify for all cases. Obviously MMM thinks frugality is more important, I think it’s likely more parity.

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 7:21 AM

      Haha – I hope people DO get riled up! Those are the best types of posts out there – when people passionately argue one way or the other :)

      And honestly, *both* positions are right – the less you spend the faster you get to wealth, and the more you earn the faster you get to wealth! (Provided you’re not spending it all) I think each of us goes though stages where one is more focused on than the other, and then it flip flops over the years until you get a good rhythm down…

      I’m personally just coming out of a “hustle” mode and into a “spending less and enjoying my free time more” mode, but I’m sure I’ll be back to the hustling again sometime soon :)

      1. Laurie@ThreeYear April 23, 2018 at 9:35 AM

        I think that if you’re already frugal, then there may not be a lot more you can cut. But for a lot of people, me included, we can do a lot better trimming the fat. We still, even after ten years of paying attention to this stuff, waste a lot of moolah on stuff we don’t need, so for me, the practice of focusing on an area of our spending and working conscientiously to improve it benefits me more than another side hustle. Sometimes earning more takes so much mental bandwidth that I then increase my spending. So if I can make spending less at the grocery store, for example, second nature, then I’ve increased my “earnings” by $2400/year NET.

        For people who are just super frugal anyway, I get that there’s not as much optimizing available. But there def. is for our family.

        1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 2:33 PM

          Yup! If you’ve mastered frugality or come close to it, even better! You can then focus your energies on the *income* side of things and know you’re maximizing all sides of the equation :)

  4. PFgeek April 23, 2018 at 6:38 AM

    I see what you mean. I myself just slashed my rent by moving to a cheaper apartment with even more amenities than my previous one! It was a great deal and I took it, so now I have just freed up a sizable chunk of cash each month. This is going to my Freedom Fund! And since I am currently working on saving enough to quit my desk job and take up remote work, this will have the added benefit of reducing how much money I need to survive for 3-4 months of unpredictability while I hunt for another opportunity. :)

  5. Jason@WinningPersonalFinance April 23, 2018 at 6:51 AM

    That may be the most powerful paragraph in the fire community. I made drastic changes myself (even before finding it). When my wife left her job to stay home with our son we slashed everything. Housing was the big one. The result was decreasing our annual spending by more than $94K per year. Our future annual dollars saved was lower but because of the “spend less, need less” concept, we are much closer to FI now and much happier.

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 7:30 AM

      Wowwww that is a huge difference!! And to think you could have done it at any time too but it took something (your wife wanting to stay at home) to get y’all to make it happen… So many of us have this potential if we just pay attention enough and then take action. Myself very much included :)

    2. Accountant on Fire April 23, 2018 at 9:28 AM

      Wow that’s awesome that you were able to decrease your spending that much and also be much happier! We have a similar experience. When our daughter was born my wife stayed home and we reduced everything we possibly could. Now we are on our way to maxing out two IRAs (one spousal) on top of my savings into a Simple IRA at work.

  6. Prudence Debtfree April 23, 2018 at 6:59 AM

    This is timely for me. I remember reading that MMM article too, and it impacted my outlook. I needed this reminder:) I will be deciding over the next year whether to retire in June of 2019 (when my age + my years of work will add up to 85 – which allows me to receive my teacher’s pension) or to wait another year or two – meaning both a higher income for that year or two and a slightly higher pension if I retire later. I used to think in would be a no-brainer, but as it approaches, I’m getting antsy. I definitely value time over money – but the fear factor is coming in. Thanks for this:)

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 7:31 AM

      Well that’s exciting no matter which route you take! And I know you really analyze and think things through, so I’ve got no worries for you whatsoever :) It’s not like you can’t go back out there and get a job anyways if/whenever you need to. No one’s forcing us to never work again no matter how awesome or not our finances are!

  7. The Poor Swiss April 23, 2018 at 7:11 AM

    I also was not realizing this until last year. I then realized that I was spending way too much. I also saw that most of my expenses could be cut without affecting my life style at all. A lot of things can be have for less. It’s so important to reduce expenses, more than increasing income. Even if both are important.

  8. Mrs. Kiwi April 23, 2018 at 7:30 AM

    Yep! If we hadn’t learned to spend less money we wouldn’t be living out our dreams and working low/no paying jobs today. That $16,000 less we spend every year is what made that and option.

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 7:32 AM


  9. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance April 23, 2018 at 8:02 AM

    I try to stay away from monthly subscription as much as I can.

    Hubby asked me if we could get YouTube red and a monthly movie pass, but I told him it’s not worth the money. We can use the regular YouTube and Netflix and spend our free time with each other.

    We ended up not purchasing those subscriptions, and I’m very happy about it.

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 9:34 AM

      Yes, but is your husband happy with it? :)

    2. mike April 23, 2018 at 12:22 PM

      For the amount of hours I watch Youtube, Youtube Red is well worth the $10. I don’t watch other TV.

  10. Leo T. Ly April 23, 2018 at 8:03 AM

    I pretty much have it the other way around. My thought was that when you cut your expenses, there’s only so much that you can cut. On the other hand, if you keep your expenses alone and try to increase your income it’s much easier.

    I must admit, sometimes, I am a bit lazy and try to take the easy route. Now if I can lower my expenses and increase my income, I would definitely do even better.

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 9:37 AM

      Well the nice thing with expenses is exactly that – there’s only so much you can cut, so once you hit your limit you can be done with it! And then focus on the income which is *unlimited* potential :)

  11. Kate@OnOurWayWorld April 23, 2018 at 8:29 AM

    This is one of my favorite concepts! I’m working through something similar right now, inspired by your “Challenge Everything” and MMM’s “Principle of Constant Optimization” (or something like that, I can’t remember the exact wording at this early hour ;) Widening the gap is so important – and yes as per Accidental FIRE – you’ll never get rich and FI if you only have $12K/year in expenses but only make $12500K per year. But why not decrease expenses AND increase income? I’ve probably come relatively close-ish to maxing out the amount I am going to make working as much as I want to work, so I’m focusing a little more on decreasing costs right now..

  12. Mike @ Balanced Dividends April 23, 2018 at 8:52 AM

    Good points raised here. Thanks, J.

    We’ve shaved off about $125 a month recently by switching to Hulu. I’d like to cut out even more, but I like being around Mrs. BD even more :)

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 9:38 AM

      Yeah, def. a balance thing, especially when wives/husbands are in the mix ;)

  13. Brian April 23, 2018 at 9:20 AM

    “The most important thing to note is that cutting your spending rate is much more powerful than increasing your income.”

    Cutting spending is something you can immediately do, earning more income might take a bit longer. Getting a raise at a job or kicking off a side hustle, but I like the power of the combination of doing both. If you cut spending, and maintain it and increase your income just slightly, you have a powerful 1-2 punch. :)

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 9:39 AM

      Very true, yup! Much faster/easier shaving expenses than earning more!

    2. Kate@OnOurWayWorld April 24, 2018 at 2:35 PM

      ooohhhhh – good points, well said.

  14. Accountant on Fire April 23, 2018 at 9:37 AM

    I love that post by MMM as well. Trying to spend less and earn more at the same time is even better. A year ago I was freaking out about going down to one income because my wife was going to stay home with our daughter. Then I figured out how to lower our annual expenses to about $35,000. Now I’m side hustlin’ by doing a blog, taking on tax and accounting clients, and hoping to lead some tax training soon. Great post!

  15. Jess @ Minimise With Me April 23, 2018 at 10:02 AM

    Loved this article! I did the same thing when I was tackling budget expenditure. Went for the stuff that didn’t impede our lifestyle: a cheaper phone plan, better mortgage rate, better interest rate on our savings and sold as much as we could. In just under two years we’ve sold $3000 worth of stuff. And would you believe we have more to go! I’ve also started meal planning and adopted a minimalist lifestyle which has made me realise how much money I wasted before on excess. Those savings should pay for years to come.

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 10:21 AM

      Beautiful!! And even more so that you’re sharing your journey with others via your blog too :) Another nice side effect is that whenever it’s time to move it’ll be that much easier as well! Our last move was by far easier than all previous ones since we keep decluttering more and more as we go (unfortunately we keep getting more and more toys in our house at the same time, but hey – always have to have something to work towards, right? ;))

      1. Jess @ Minimise With Me April 24, 2018 at 7:23 AM

        Thanks J. Every now and then I get tagged in an insta post saying I motivated someone to declutter and it feels amazing! Even slowly our parents are catching on and it is just awesome. And that’s awesome definitely a bonus of decluttering! I am sure you are about to get a whole lot more where that came from. Just you wait till Christmas rolls around haha. But that’s it, decluttering if fun right, so more fun for you :p

        1. J. Money April 24, 2018 at 7:30 AM

          Haha for sure… I just have to cheat every now and then and pluck away the older toys when no one’s looking ;) Miraculously no one ever misses them!

  16. Mr Crazy Kicks April 23, 2018 at 10:47 AM

    I think this hits at the crux of this whole financial independence and early retirement thing. The best part is that you feel stronger and more empowered each time you make another optimization. Selling extra things and eliminating unnecessary bills not only clears up cash flow, but also up your mental bandwidth. When that gets mixed in with the feeling of freedom from your paycheck, it’s a wonderful thing :)

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 2:37 PM

      And you would know, Mr. Early Retiree! Is it still going as swimmingly as the first year or so?

      1. Mr Crazy Kicks April 23, 2018 at 6:15 PM

        Well today I slept in, gathered some eggs, messed around in the garden, picked up some wood from a neighbor, then had some homemade wine while checking out a friends greenhouse. Now I’ll make dinner and hang out in the yard with the chickens while enjoying a homebrew with the wife. Nothing crazy, and aside from the incredibly awesome weather, a pretty standard Monday. I’m not racing around in a lambo, but I’m grateful for everyday I get like this :)

        1. J. Money April 24, 2018 at 6:11 AM

          No joke! Those lambos don’t have anything on them chickens! :)

  17. Sean @ Frugal Money Man April 23, 2018 at 11:02 AM


    That strategy has afforded you the ability to essentially MAX out and IRA for the year! Just by simply cutting back on a few items, and it didn’t even affect your lifestyle!

    I tell Mrs. FMM all the time, there are 2 ways to reach our dreams faster…

    1. Increase our income
    2. Decrease our spending

    Decreasing the spending is always the easier of the 2, and I also find that it doesn’t really alter your lifestyle that much! I tend to find ourselves doing things we enjoy more like going to the zoo, hikes, longer dog walks, all of which allow us more REAL time together.

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 2:46 PM


      Just give me the ability to go on walks and that will satisfy 90% of my life! :)

  18. Jim @ Route To Retire April 23, 2018 at 11:36 AM

    This was a huge epiphany for me as well when I first understood this concept. Crazy how you get a win-win by living on less.

    We (mostly me!) went ultra-frugal for a while, but I wasn’t happy – we went too far. Eventually though, we found our bottom line of frugality that we’re comfortable and it’s perfect. I don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything and we’re now able to save money in droves. And with that bringing down our lifestyle expenses, of course that means we’ll be FI even sooner than planned.

    Great post, J!

    — Jim

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 2:53 PM

      Oh wow – that’s super interesting! You don’t hear too often that people have gone “too far” (at least not on $$$ blogs, haha…). I know Mad Fientist had experienced it, but now you’re the 2nd official person in our community to share :) Thanks man. Would love to read an article on it if you have’t shared something already?

  19. Melanie Moore April 23, 2018 at 11:53 AM

    I’m in Columbus and found out about a company started here for car insurance called Root ( They don’t use the standard insurance metrics to rate policies– it’s more about how you drive, when you drive, and how much you drive. You install an app on your phone and in 2-4 weeks you get a quote. I wasn’t expecting much difference (I had USAA and they are usually the best option). Instead I got a quote for HALF the price. I ride the bus a lot and don’t really drive that much… and apparently I don’t drive badly either. :) Yay!)

    You are giving location data etc via the telemetrics on the app, so that’s something to think about. (You’re probably giving the same info to Google and Apple right now though, too).

    I thought it was worth checking into, and I’m glad I did. FWIW– insurance is a very highly regulated industry so it’s not like other “startups” — there are stringent laws about how much money you have to have in the bank to issue policies, etc, so it’s probably as safe as anyone else available!

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 2:56 PM

      Interesting! I was about to ask why it takes 2-4 weeks, but then you hit us with the telemetrics route! Very neat! I wonder if others will start going that route as well?

  20. lisa April 23, 2018 at 12:31 PM

    I like the lines in one of Cheryl Crow’s songs (Soak Up the Sun) starting with,” I don’t have digital, I don’t have diddly-squat..It’s not having what you want..It’s wanting what you’ve got…..I’m gonna soak up the sun….”

    Spend less so you can appreciate more….
    We called the homeowners ins company and saved $800 on homeowner’s. Car ins was the same but we increased our coverage. Our electric is $29.60/mth due to solar panels. We don’t have cable or a landline and saved $100/mth. Our cars are 14 years old and no payments. We only buy necessary clothing (although husband doesn’t feel any clothing is necessary LOL) and our oldest son pays for Amazon while I pay for Netflix. We know a great mechanic and we both had our brakes done for $200 in labor (we bought the brakes) while the dealership wanted $1000. Now, even though we do a lot to save $, we still don’t have much of a surplus of disposable income.Which forces us to seek lower prices, reduce our clutter collections and appreciate what we have.

    1. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 3:13 PM

      Excellent song lyrics indeed :) (and frugality on your part!!)

  21. Jorge April 23, 2018 at 1:59 PM

    Awesome concept!
    Even though my budget is pretty much slimmed as it is, I can already think of cutting some expenses that can save me close to $100/month.
    Every little counts ;)

  22. Chris April 23, 2018 at 2:23 PM

    Man, you’ve saved a ton over 12 months J!

    I’m bummed out that Republic doesn’t support iPhones. I’m curious to see if there are other alternatives. Regardless, I think having the right mindset is key. After reading Ramit Sethi’s book “I Will Teach You To Be Rich”, I actually shaved my expenses. After reading your success I’m thinking it’s time to revisit my spreadsheet and start seeing what can be trimmed ;)

    Thanks for sharing your wins.

  23. J. Money April 23, 2018 at 3:18 PM

    I keep hearing that iPhones will come to RW at some point, but who knows how long (or true) that is :) For what it’s worth I haven’t missed it much at all since most smart phones do the same these days, but certainly if I had the choice I’d pick iPhone! There is another similar company out there though called Ting Wireless that I know people like – and they’re compatible with iPhones. Maybe worth looking into them? There’s also Google’s Project FI, however they too use Android only like Republic.

  24. Dr. Cory S. Fawcett April 23, 2018 at 6:26 PM

    Cutting expenses is more efficient than increasing income. But at some point you will get diminishing returns. There is a point where cutting expenses is not longer just saving you money but causing you loss and headache. Balance is the way.

    Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
    Prescription for Financial Success

  25. Kris April 23, 2018 at 7:59 PM

    Cutting down on expenses especially cable for me gave me more free time to do other stuff I never thought I had time for. Having more time reading books has feels more productive for me than sitting around and watching mindless TV programs. Really happy that my wife persuaded me to eliminate cable TV, it’s so much money to have it now.

    1. J. Money April 24, 2018 at 6:28 AM

      Agreed! We still watch a little TV (netflix, hulu, etc), but definitely way less than we used to. Although the book reading picked up a LOT more for me when I stopped working nights and weekends! Now I fall asleep reading them while taking naps – hah! Remember those?? :)

  26. J at Their Money Goals April 23, 2018 at 8:52 PM

    I missed “cell phones” on the savings pie chart legend at first, so I was thinking “where the heck are you walking?!” Lol!

    Thanks for this reminder, J. This is a classic article. I remember reading it for the first time, and my mind was blown because it’s so obvious.

    Paula Pant used a variation on her podcast that I’ve found people in my real life are able to relate to. She assumed that you want to take a year off from work, and you make $50k/year (ignoring taxes). If you’re able to save $5k each year, you’ll save enough to take a year off in 9 years because you need $45k to live on. If you can save $10k each year, you’ll save enough in 4 years—less than half the time.

    1. J. Money April 24, 2018 at 6:31 AM

      Oooh I like that thinking too! Seems like SO LITTLE money for an entire year off like that?? She should bring people onto the show if it’s still going on in 9 years and interview everyone on how its worked out! :) (And I bet once you get going you end up fast tracking the goal even more as the motivation compounds!)

  27. Bryan April 24, 2018 at 7:59 AM

    Thanks to you, Triple M, and ERE I have saved:
    Name brand company doing my lawn and tree fertilizing $1,200.00/year. Now I do it $100.00/year.
    Cable TV $1,440.00/year. Now $0
    Monthly car washes $144.00/year. Now I do it $0 (sorry Triple M, I still drive to work ;-)
    A call to lower my Internet saved $240.00/year
    Plus other smaller expenses not listed but still do indeed add up.

    Now extra saved/invested = $2,924.00/year

    1. J. Money April 24, 2018 at 10:20 AM

      Woot woot – beers on you next time!!

  28. Kara@provincialtable April 24, 2018 at 11:24 AM

    A couple years ago, we sold a ton of stuff on Craig’s List that resulted in several thousand dollars. That money was used to pay down the last of our debt. It was such a great feeling to eliminate all the clutter and check another financial goal off our list.

    You said, “what we think we can’t live without is seldom not true.” We found that to be true too. All this stuff we’d been hanging on to hasn’t been missed even once. In fact, I can’t remember some of the stuff we sold or donated. That concept goes for things we all pay for every month too. When you are willing to try going without it, it’s surprising how little it’s missed. Makes me wish we had turned off our auto-pilot spending a long time ago!

    1. J. Money April 24, 2018 at 12:05 PM

      YES! GOOD JOB!!! At least you realized it now so you’ll be able to implement for the rest of your life too! It’s a beautiful thing! :)

  29. JoeHx April 24, 2018 at 3:46 PM

    So true, but I feel as if there’s constant upward pressure to spend more. I guess that’s called keeping up with the Joneses or lifestyle inflation? That, of course, doesn’t give me an excuse to spend more – I just need to keep vigilant about my spending habits.

    1. J. Money April 25, 2018 at 6:12 AM

      Oh, totally – that pressure will never go away, but that’s why finance blogs were invented! To help remind us every day of our true priorities! :)

  30. Tonya April 24, 2018 at 6:48 PM

    I am definitely in the “I can’t live without my iPhone” camp. My husband found a way for us to keep them and still save money each month. We were paying about $186 a month for two iPhones on Verizon and that was with my teacher discount. He tried to convince me to switch to T Mobile and I was skeptical. I was willing to pay for “good service” and “good coverage.” Then he showed me that coverage map that USED TO look a lot different for Verizon. It doesn’t look that different anymore. The companies maps were almost identical. I relented, we went into a store. T Mobile paid our our contract (leased phones) and we’re actually getting more for less. We now pay $140/month for unlimited everything. We were NOT getting unlimited talk, text, data with Verizon. AND, BONUS: T Mobile includes our Netflix account so we’re really saving about $57 a month. Not nearly as good as your Republic Wireless deal but there are still savings to be had even if you refuse to give up your iPhone. The point is SHOP AROUND!

    1. J. Money April 25, 2018 at 6:13 AM

      You married a smart man ;)

  31. Kim April 25, 2018 at 6:56 PM

    Very nice! Yes, I think that’s a great point, that those permanent/recurring expenses often take just one time to fix. It’s easy to convince ourselves that it’s a lot of trouble to deal with, but then once you’ve done it, you’re done! And you’re spending less from then on out, so it’s totally worth it.

  32. Rebecca @ BackroadsMotorsports April 26, 2018 at 11:25 AM

    Ugggg. The freaking cell phone. The hubs and I have had so many arguments about that ONE bill. We have three kids, they are on our plan. Its an expletive car payment. We’ve fought about it for years. I review the bill and continue to try to find ways to save money on it. I’m ready to go back to a basic phone. HOWEVER, we live in the sticks and can’t get internet service.

    I’m definitely going to check out Republic Wireless, if only for myself. I’m determined to get this bill down to something reasonable. I’d also cut off the dish, but my husband would have a cow.

    1. J. Money April 26, 2018 at 12:08 PM

      Dang – Republic Wireless won’t help in this case because it primarily uses wifi to keep costs low :( Can you pay to get internet installed so you can save in a ton of other areas (tv, phone, dish, etc), or is it not even an option for you? Def. a tricky one, I’m sorry :(

  33. Paige April 26, 2018 at 9:23 PM

    Man, I’ve been getting ripped off. My phone plan is $109 per month ($80 phone plan, $30 phone payment). I’ve been reading this idea on your website for a little while, but knew i was on a contract for my phone so hadn’t actioned anything yet. I have 4x months left, so i’d have to pay out my plan before and i didn’t think the cost would work out (and it stings to pay for something i wouldn’t use). Looked into it and realised even paying out out the last 4 months of my plans (required to pay 50% of remaining phone plan, plus remaining phone contract) would save me $6 per month for the next four months, and after that a massive $50 per month, or $80 per month as i wont upgrade my phone at the end of the contract (which i’d usually do).

    So essentially just saved myself $664 over the next year with only half an hours work…. If only my regular hourly wage was equivalent to that :)

    1. J. Money April 27, 2018 at 11:06 AM

      YES!!!! Good job!!!! Make it happen! :)

  34. Enoch@SavvyNewCanadians April 27, 2018 at 9:37 PM

    We try to go over our expenses every now and then to see where savings can be had. In general, I prefer to increase income if possible rather than trying to cut expenses even further. That said, dumping my personal phone 4 years ago and working out an arrangement where I can use my work phone for personal use as well (within reasonable limit) has saved us about $4000 over the last few years and I still get the benefit of a new phone every 2 years or so. So, yes, cutting expenses definitely goes a long way towards reaching FIRE.

    1. J. Money April 30, 2018 at 7:43 AM

      Nice hack!!

  35. Chris @ Mindful Explorer January 22, 2019 at 11:45 AM

    Thanks for bringing this post up again in your 2018 best of post. This foundational way of thinking was the single largest positive effect on my financial journey. Reducing all the leaks in the bucket allowed me to see my expenses drop, my savings increase and of course hand in hand results in my amount needed to retire being less while on a faster trajectory to getting there.

    1. J. Money January 22, 2019 at 2:05 PM

      Love to hear it man! Amazing what happens once we have these epiphanies! If only we can get them all sooner than later, haha…