After my earlier post proclaiming this as my first post-MBA turnaround project, I thought I’d roll up my sleeves this afternoon to see what I could do right away to stimulate the reversal of fortune that serves as the purpose of this blog. Fortunately I already use Quicken to track expenses, so it wasn’t hard to get a handle on where my funds are going. Uh, I have a lot of subscriptions – automatic monthly deductions from my checking account, most of which fly under my radar since I have nothing to do with paying the bill. I'm sure that's no accident. Anyway, so I sat there for two hours staring at the table of expenses, committing to cancel then un-committing, scratching out, erasing and moving around the various subscriptions between “Don’t Take Away or I’ll Die” and “Into the Dumpster” lists. Ugh-gad, this was not easy. Into the Dumpster
1) Premium Cable. I’m not a fan of monopolies, so this one was easy.
My rationale goes something like this: I have more important things to do than watch 500 channels. Don’t get me wrong – I love television. Some of Hollywood’s best work is on cable TV right now. I’ll resume my love affair when my affairs are in order. I feel so brave.
Savings = $30
2) Tivo. This hurts. It hurts less than it might have one month ago, though.
Rationale: Tivo is starting to sell-out anyway; more evidence here. Despite my MBA moniker, I'm a hippie-at-heart and companies that forget what made them in the first place deserve to be deserted.
Savings = $13
3) Xdrive account. I keep my files backed up here in case of emergency.
Rationale: The user interface is clunky to begin with and I often times can’t log in due to technical problems on their end (which they never admit to). I hear AOL has bought them out, even more reason to jump ship. I’ll write my files to CD-ROM and put them in the fire safe I was planning on buying anyway.
Savings = $10
Don’t Take Away or I’ll Die
1) Audible.com. I have a membership plan that allows me to download one audio book + 1 periodical subscription (I get WSJ every morning) each month.
Rationale: I’m already hopelessly addicted to my iPod, which at this point probably stores as many books and periodicals as music. I used to get WSJ in print, but the papers just collected unread in a large pile in the corner of the room. Strange phenomenon. Anyway, I spend 2-3 hours in LA traffic each day, and Audible helps me make good use of that time.
2) Netflix. No late fees. Ever. No having to leave the house. Ever.
Rationale: My plans for a reversal of fortune will no longer permit a $20 expense at a movie house. I won’t be eating out much anymore either, so watching DVDs at home is likely to be the best (only?) entertainment we’ll have for a while.
3) Gym membership.
Rationale: Heart disease and stroke run in the family. No brainer. At $59 per month, I could look for a less expensive option, no?
So there you have it, in a matter of hours I've come up with monthly savings of $53!
Glass half-full: "Why, if I invest that amount an earn the average annual stock market return of 12%, that amounts to $14K over the course of 20 years! I'm on my way!"
How I really feel: "Woo-wee, what an accomplishment. Life just got more boring but at least I can afford to pay cash for my gas."