Bare bones is ONLY essential expenses. I consider them to be mortgage payments or rent, utilities(water, electricity and natural gas), transportation( car payment, gasoline and maintenance), from scratch food made with actual ingredients(no processed food), basic health and paper items(like toilet paper) taxes, medications, and medical insurance if you can afford to keep it. In my estimation, car insurance, homeowners or renter’s insurance, and life insurance are also essential expenses. They are things either mandated by law or that would not be to your benefit to let lapse.
Take a look at all of your last three month’s of spending. If you haven’t tracked it, then look at your checkbook register or bank statements and credit card statements to see what you have been spending your money on.
All other spending except for those mentioned in the first paragraph are non essentials. Clothing is not essential unless you have nothing to wear. Eating fast food, going out to restaurants and stopping at Starbucks or anywhere else for coffee is definitely not essential unless you were gifted a gift card that will cover the total cost. Going on vacation is not an essential item nor is buying home decor or kitchen utensils for your home. Going to the movies, sports games and concerts is not essential.
Cable TV is not essential if you have had a loss in income. Nor is Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, etc. The first two you pay monthly and can cancel. If you have Amazon Prime, you can cancel at any time and they will refund your money for the months you have left on your membership. Magazine subscriptions, the daily newspaper, warehouse store subscriptions, and gym memberships should be cancelled. Some kind of telephone, whether it be landline or cellphone, is essential. The most expensive plan is not.
I am not giving up cable TV, Hulu or Amazon Prime because I have not had a loss in income. If you have, you should consider cancelling them.
Question each and every purchase. Am I buying something that is really unnecessary? Can that money be used for something that is basic to your survival? Will it help keep the lights, heat or A/C on? Will it buy oil, flour, fruits and veggies, dairy products or some more meat? Do whatever you have to to make sure that you have all of the basic expenses paid. Look at each and every penny that is being spent and decide whether it is really important to do it.
I will be scrutinizing our expenses until at least the end of 2019 to be able to get to our goal of not touching savings and investments to pay for upcoming expenses that are important to us.
Come and join me. You don’t have to let anyone know that you are doing this. Just do it!