Pleasures that Pilfer Your Bank Account

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I remember standing at a jewelry store counter once with a fellow who purchased a gold chain big enough to tie a python in knots.He flopped his money on the counter and said, “Easy come, easy go” with a huge smile.

People who think like that are a hamburger short of a Happy Meal. I’m not against people owning gold chains if they can easily afford it and that’s their thing. But I happen to know this fellow was so broke he couldn’t pick up all the pieces.

When you’re coming out of debt or seeking to build your investment portfolio, there some expenditures that you need to carefully consider. I’m not talking about doing without groceries, rent or even clothing.

Good common “cents” tells us certain things just aren’t necessary for our lifestyle at the moment.I’m not going to name names, so don’t get bent out of shape with me if I begin to step on some of your sacred cows of pleasure.

Things like. . .the daily latte, premium cable, a weekly manicure, a new lease automobile and cell phones for the family.

Unfortunately, way too many Americans are born with a sense of entitlement.Orget into the habit of buying things as a way to release stress.I’ve got a better idea.Work in the yard; that definitely relieves stress.Volunteer at the soup kitchen and get a first hand look at what it’s like to have nothing.You’ll look at what you have differently.

What you’re entitled to by the US Constitution is “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”I can tell you that you won’t be happy if you’re broke, and using evasive driving methods to avoid the snatch-and-grab repo man.

Happiness is not found at the bottom of a Starbucks cup or with a closet full of new clothes. The quality of our life depends on peace of mind and successfulrelationships. Worry, guilt and a flat-lining bank account don’t make for a happy heart or home.

Here are 11 "new necessities" you might find you can downsize or even live without! Take a look and see if these necessities have become part of your lifestyle.

Expensive coffee or refreshment

A specialty-made drink roughly 100 times more expensive than a homebrewed cup of coffee. Brew your own 3 or 4 times and save $25 a week, or $1,300 a year

Cable TV
Do you really need all those channels? What could you do instead of watching all those movies and TV sitcoms? For TV, try basic service and see all the positive differences in your home. Dropping premium channels should save you about $25 to $30 a month, or $300 to $360 a year.

Standard manicures average $10 to $15 at nail shops and $20 to $25 at spas and salons. Standard pedicures run $15 to $35 (nail shops) and $40 to $50 (spas and salons). Acrylic nails run $25 to $35 (nail shops) and $35 to $45 (spas and salons).

While it is nice to feel pampered, is it a weekly necessity or can it be a special occasion? Some working people would rather indulge in this and omit the coffee or other little expenses.

So everyone wants to look younger but in the end nature will win and you could have saved on average between $300 and $1,200 per visit. Is that money that could be re-directed somewhere else?

Bottled water
If you’re going to drinkbottled water, buy it at discount stores by the case.That will save you lots of money.I drink seven bottles a day.If I were to buy that at a convenience store it would cost me $1.50 a bottle or $10.50 a day.Since we buy it by the case, my cost is abouttwenty cents a bottle or a savings of nearly nine dollars a day.A less expensive way is to buy a water filter for your kitchen sink and fill your own bottles…that will save you even more money.

Second car
Hands down, a second car is the highest-ticket "new necessity" in America today. This is a tough one as often there are two income earners struggling to get out the door every morning. If it is a necessity, then it is. If you have a second car for the occasional grocery trip or in case the main car is gone then rethink the value.

Not only does that second vehicle likely add another monthly payment, but it will also require repairs, insurance and now another big ticket item – gas.

For a number of years, my “fine” wife Bev and I had two cars, but over a year ago, we dropped one of the cars and now have more money to sow and invest.

Cell phone
First, you should read my blog from June4, 2008 on the “6 Things Cell Phone Companies Don’t Want You To Know.”

Two, just because somebody comes out with a new cell phone doesn’t mean you have to have it.Your social standing will not be imperiled by your using the same phone for at least eighteen months when most companies will give you a free upgrade anyway.

Lawn service
Sure it is hard work but good exercise.Plus your kids need to learn and understand how to maintain a yard.

The average cost for weekly mowing, hedge trimming and leaf blowing is $30 to $60. Really? That’s $120 to $240 a month.Is it worth it? Isn’t it ironic how we pay to have someone else sweat over our lawn and then pay good money for a health club membership so we can go there to sweat? If we cut the lawn service we can pay for the fitness club and we won’t have to work out as hard there.Smiling.

Too many clothes make for a messy room, disorganized closet and too many choices for kids in the morning. In reality have you actually worn something out lately? Most people could easily go for one year without buying any new clothes.

When our kids were growing up…they wore some pretty nice clothes … many with a designer label … but they were all purchased from a second shop.A good second shop offers you upscale clothes at the same price or less than you’d pay for new, plain-jane stuff at the local department store.

Childhood parties

These have gotten a little out of hand lately. I have heard parents spending $500-$1,000 for their 10 year old’s birthday bash. Then what about graduation parties? Might as well light a match to a barrel of money and watch it burn.
Parents need not be guilt ridden if they don’t compete with the richest kid on the block. You can still throw a nice party without throwing away a pile of money.

Dog Walking
The cost of grooming your dog averages $30 to $50 for small breeds, $50 to $70 for midsize breeds and $70 to $90 for large breeds. A pet walker on average runs $15 to $27 per walk.

Save some money and be your own dog walker or become one for someone else. Walking is good exercise and smart thinking.

Bottom Line
We live in a society full of guilty pleasures we can do without.Let’s throw that extra money towards debt and feel really good about our financial future.