Get Rich Slowly has a story about “Gillian,” a woman who came asking for advice on setting up a budget so she could save money and stop charging emergency expenses on her credit card, but was unwilling to actually cut her expenses. We found the story hilarious because it seemed so familiar…
“Okay, let’s see what we have,” I said. “You’re paying a housekeeper $50 a week. If you were to clean the house yourself, you’d save $200 a month.”
“But…” she began.
“I think you’d be surprised at how much difference $200 a month can make,” I said. “I know from experience that even a $50 positive cash flow can make the difference between feeling broke and feeling flush. A $200 difference is huge.”
“Yeah,” said Gillian, “but I don’t want to clean the house. It’s too much work.” I was puzzled. To me, this was a quick and obvious way to free up money. If I were in her shoes, the housekeeper would be the first thing to go — it would be worth some extra work on my part.
Now, we’ve never had a housekeeper or anything, but we have had to go without some things that we couldn’t afford, but wanted, like cable tv. Gillian, seriously, it wasn’t so bad. After awhile, we didn’t even miss it.
When we got bored, we decided to check out a lot of old sci-fi movies from the library, then wrote a silly book about those old sci-fi movies that was published by Simon and Schuster. We had more free time and our parents were proud of us. Getting rid of cable was no big deal.
Some people think they just can’t live without cable or an expensive new car, and when you try to help them cut these extra expenses so they’re not overspending, they get all “but but but” with you. Well, guess what: You can live without a housekeeper, a new SUV, and cable tv. Nobody wants to clean their house and watch NBC. Nobody. But honestly, it’s not that bad. It’s better than being in debt.
You’d actually be surprised by how easy it is to live without the things you only think you need.