Previous   Next

What would you cut if you had to trim 20 percent from your personal budget?

Asked at Speedway Shell on February 12, 2009

Browse the archives

Photo of Rod Smith

“I would probably not eat out as much, not shop for organic groceries as much.”

Photo of Chelsie Masenthin

“I would cut down on the fast food and probably cut down on spending money out on Mass. Street on the weekends.”

Photo of Mike Huebner

“I would (try to) cut eating out, completely.”

Photo of Alice Modica

“I would cut back on my household expenses, my rent.”


jonas_opines 9 years, 1 month ago

I can always put my bionic robot project on hold for awhile.

jonas_opines 9 years, 1 month ago

Generic lemur chow from China is often corrupted with melamine.

Eaglepass 9 years, 1 month ago

Eat out less........Shop at wal-mart less.........take fewer trips to the legends........

deskboy04 9 years, 1 month ago

I probably wouldn't be able to afford to go to KU football and basketball games.

Godot 9 years, 1 month ago

Monkeyhawk, if you stop paying taxes, you will cut your budget by 65%. I'm with you on that one.

dajudge 9 years, 1 month ago

I would only flush my toilet once a day. And, quit peeling the potatoes. Then, stop taking multivitamins, and,let the bird fly free. Got it? Good!

Flap Doodle 9 years, 1 month ago

jonas, I found a generic lemur chow from Mexico. Its primary ingredient is ground-up Humbolt squid. The lemurs clamor for it, but it makes them windy.

Godot 9 years, 1 month ago

Actually, who needs to cut their budget? Obama is giving us an additional $13 per week. He is so beneficient.

And it only took $9,700,000,000,000 in government spending in one year to do that.

alm77 9 years, 1 month ago

“I would (try to) cut eating out, completely.” It's all about where you put that coma isn't it?

We would cut out the trips to Wendy's and King Buffet. :( We would also probably have to forgo the organics. And I would have to give up the Target clearance racks, my only real vice.

However, I think I would find it easier to get a side job than to do a budget cut. We've already cancelled the satellite and have quit having beer/wine on hand. Townhouse living isn't expensive. Not much else to cut back on.

monkeyhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Some of us laughed a couple of months ago when that woman said she was now going to get a free house ..... Little did we know how right she was.

Why don't those of us who actually pay taxes just quit our jobs and have the almighty provide? Why should we even bother? There is no incentive to be productive when our wealth is just going to be spread around.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 1 month ago

I would quit squirrel hunting, and look for some meat.

rusty2 9 years, 1 month ago

reduce bottled beverages of all kinds #1.

Bryan Moore 9 years, 1 month ago

Is anyone going to be serious about this? Over the last couple of years watching this site I have seen so many complain about things like a rise in taxes for families earning over 250,000 a year. If you make that kind of money (which so many on here proport they do) and had to cut 20%, after taxes you would be talking about a monthly cut in your spending of (approx. depending on tax liability and such) $2500. If you earn less, say you only bring home $2500 a month you are talking about a spending reduction of $500 a month. That's a whole lot of Mickey D's! The only way things like "stop eating out as much" are going to solve the 20% delima is if you are a college student with only a couple hundred a month in true spending and everything else paid for by other means. For example "Informed" say's they would cut cable $50 and internet $30. That's a total of $80 (Sorry Informed not picking on you, just an example). If that's your 20% you would be bringing home $400 a month. Where do you live? In a refrig box on Mass? 20% is big! I could cut cable, internet, eating out, turn off the heat and get rid of the car and still not reach 20%. I'm not saying it can't be done but to say that "stop eating out" is real a response to this question is just silly.

reanne 9 years, 1 month ago

I would get the minimum cable, internet and cell phone plan. We have pretty much already cut out everything else we can. We take our lunches to work everyday which saves a lot of money.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 1 month ago

arizonajh (Anonymous) says…

Is anyone going to be serious about this?

Sorry, can't do it. I would be too depressed. Don't even open my investment statements. Just file and smile.

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

I make next to nothing as it is, so cutting 20% would put me at spending pretty much nothing. So ... I'd cut everything.

What I'd like to know is what the government would cut if it had to trim 20% from its budget. Also, I'd like to know how to force it to cut 20% from its budget.

oldvet 9 years, 1 month ago

Hey, Informed... that's not stealing... your neighbor is running a free internet wireless hot spot and you are a customer of theirs...

and sgt... once Obama takes away your guns you will not be able to force the government to do anything, nor prevent them from doing anything they want to do... just check history...

Bryan Moore 9 years, 1 month ago

Informed (Anonymous) says…

Sorry, arizonajh, but I have no current plan to reduce my spending by 20%. I have 0 credit card debt and my SUV is paid for, thus no car payment. The money that I did have tied up in payments now goes to savings, specifically for any car repairs/maintenance and toward when I need a new vehicle.

But the Question is "What would you cut if you HAD to trim 20 percent from your personal budget?" Not do you plan on cutting 20% from your budget? Why post if you're not answering the question? I think it was John Lennon that mused "everybody's talking and no one say's a word". If you're talking just because you love to hear the sound of your own voice, quit it, someone else may have something worth hearing. If you'r posting because you think you are funny chances are you're not. There are lot's of gov agencies out there that are drastically cutting budgets and people that have lost jobs that are trying to cut much more than 20% and I think that is why this questioned was asked. I feel for those people and agencies. I'm not one who can say "oh my life is OK so anyone hurting is just whining". My brother-in-law lost his job when the company moved the plant he worked in for 17 years to Mexico. The only job he could find pay's $9.50 an hour down from $22 a hour at his old job (that's 43% cut). My wife teaches 1st grade non-English speaking students she has 29 kids in her class now. The district she works for is required to cut just 10% of their budget which means they are going to loose 1 of the 6 1st grade teachers they have. That means next year she'll have approx. 35 - 6 and 7 year olds who don't speak our language in one class. My point is people who are not in the situation rarely find empathy for those who are. Snide remarks, B.S. answers, and jokes about it (which seem to be the norm here) demean those who actually have to make these tough decisions (IMHO).

Hoots 9 years, 1 month ago

I already have cut more than 20% from my budget. I'm actually living on 20% of what I was a few years ago.

trinity 9 years, 1 month ago

i see i have been wrong all these years with toilet paper placement. dammit. well i STILL like it rolling UNDER better.

20% from my personal budget??? wow...well i'd have to quit eating or something, i'll be damned if i'll give up my harley. :)

sorry to arizonajh-i am in a particularly glib mood this morning; i'm a laugher not a crier. or is it cryer....hellifiknow.

remember_username 9 years, 1 month ago

"Over the last couple of years watching this site I have seen so many complain about things like a rise in taxes for families earning over 250,000 a year. If you make that kind of money (which so many on here proport they do)..."

Seriously, people - do any of you really make that kind of money? If so, I've got to get out of academics and back to punching a clock and wearing a tie. I could buy a lot of ignorance with an income of 250K.

I get what arizonajh is saying though, and the real numbers should shock you. I work 1.5 jobs now and I'm 10% away from bankruptcy. To get to 20% I'd have to take on a full time second job. But heck, sleep is over rated.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 1 month ago

arizonajh- It's not that we don't care (well maybe that is part of it). At this time it is safer to joke about my poverty. Otherwise, I might really give up.

remember_username 9 years, 1 month ago

Ok, I don't get the Lemur reference...can anybody clear that up?

Reading the comments on the LJW site does remind me of the buttons Spider Robinson made up saying...

Go, Lemmings. Go!

pace 9 years, 1 month ago

More lentils, no meat. Reduce cable services, change phone and internet service provider. Rent my spare bedroom. No lattes no ice cream, Less driving fewer gold and diamond teeth implants. Cancel the standing dancer.

ms_canada 9 years, 1 month ago

If I HAD to cut 20%? That is a lot to cut. No matter what your income, 20% is a lot. I thought I would die laughing when I read about the over/under $250,000/annum tax business. How the he(( many people make that much a year? Many don't even make $25,000 per year. My daughter just had to take a cut on her salary of $400/month. That is a lot for her to cut. She is definitely going to have to find ways to spend $400 less each month. Can anyone on this crazy board give her any tips that make sense? I doubt it. BUT, I am happy to see that it IS just a joke to so many of you and glad that most of you seem to be financially secure. Whoo hoo!!!

keith horinek 9 years, 1 month ago

we live in a world where professional athletes and coaches make more money than they will ever spend, wall street heads can run our investments into the ground and get away with it, and you want the little guy who barely makes ends meet, to cut 20%? our govt. borrows money from china and saudi arabia, countries that we would not ever want to go to war with and if they decided they wanted their money back what are we going to do? when is this borrowing going to end? I have a question, someone here said they or someone they knew lost their job and had to cut 20%. how do you cut 20% from nothing?

mom_of_three 9 years, 1 month ago

20% would be quite a chunk to have to cut, so I will think of it on a monthly basis.
We are making a car payment, but we could get rid of that car. save on insurance and gas.
switch to cheaper pet food go back to cheap hair cut places which i hate hubby would have to quit smoking cut groceries by doing who knows what... watch gas consumption Yeah, we could do it if we had to... and we have cut some things that are nice to do, like go out to eat, in order to save/spend it on rising prices.

EasilyAmused 9 years, 1 month ago

ms_canada - I have reduced most of my bills lately, worried about the current economic condition. Even though I'm pretty sure I'll have my job, I'm not sure that I won't receive a cut in pay. I don't have cable or internet - I check internet when I'm at home on my phone and I watch my favorite shows online at work at lunch (which I bring from home - another huge savings) (savings approx. $70) I cut out soda - even half price drinks from Sonic during happy hour on "bad days" add up (savings approx. $30 a month) I canceled my gym membership and walk my dog instead. (savings approx. $30 a month) I walk to work - I only drive when I have to travel out of town (business = mileage paid). I don't go out of town as often for pleasure - instead take an extra day when I go and stay with friends or family (savings approx $30 - 40 a month in gas for driving to work) I have an errand day and make a list so that I get everything I need and nothing I don't (no idea) I make a meal plan so I'm less likely to eat out and don't buy groceries I don't need (especially so I don't waste produce) (probably $100 a month saved, because eating out is tempting) I cut out theatre movies and use redbox instead (no idea) I turned down the thermostat a few degrees (if you do this gradually, you don't notice the change) and open the curtains on sunny days for natural heat. (at least $20) I only turn on the lights I am using and unplug my cell phone charger and anything else that wastes electricity when not in use. (probably $20-30 because my electric bill is consistently around $25, lots more in the summer because I don't use the air conditioner in the summer until it gets over 100 degrees) Total savings of about $300.00, which is still below what your daughter will have to cut (and below what I would have to cut) Thats about all I can do, save extending repayment, consolidating or deferring on student loans. If something happens, that'll be my first change - it eats up 42% of my after-tax salary. (Making that change alone would be the 20% cut I need) It really is scary how difficult making those cuts are, especially if you don't have a lot of expendible income.

remember_username 9 years, 1 month ago

ms_canada - I've had to take cuts like that before. The first thing to do is carefully look at how you budget your expenditures. Don't forget to spread out over twelve months the bills you pay once or twice a year. If possible, relocate to a cheaper place to live only if the monthly savings will offset the expenses of moving in a short time. Stop eating out, and eat less. Fix food at home from scratch, buy in bulk and cook up a weeks worth, then store. Rely and family and friends who are not suffering as much as you can. Cut out entertainment expenses like TV, movies, nights out - to the point just above a level that leads to depression. Walk, use public transport, or car pool if possible. The right second part time job will keep one busy while earning extra money and can add variety. You could try a job that is something different you've never done before, or if you've a desk job find a part time one that is physical. Why spend on a gym membership when you can throw boxes in a warehouse. Hope those ideas stir something.

d_prowess 9 years, 1 month ago

I guess I don't even really understand the reason behind this poll. Why should people be cutting their spending by 20%?
If you have lost your job, you probably need to cut a lot more than just 20% so this question is useless for you.
If you still have a job, why do you need to worry about cutting your spending? You probably have the same income you had the last couple years, so why the sudden need to change and save?

mom_of_three 9 years, 1 month ago

Ms. Canada, I have been in your daughter's spot before, with three young kids to take care of. People lose their jobs all the time, and hubby has been worried lately about his as have the rest of us.
About 13 years ago, hubby lost job, over half of our income, which was much smaller than it is now.
Our biggest expense was daycare. Made arrangements with provider for them to watch kids at certain days/times so hubby could find job. Thankfully, I had the health insurance and not him.

Danielle Brunin 9 years, 1 month ago

To the people who are upset:

You can laugh about it, or you can cry about it, but either way we're all pretty much screwed so you might as well laugh.

mom_of_three 9 years, 1 month ago

When I was a kid, my mother worked at a place in our small town, and experienced layoffs from time to time. We didn't live a rich lifestyle anyway, only got new clothes at the start of school, wore same shoes for a year, and went out once a week to long john silvers or pizza. Little less food in the kitchen, heater/air not on quite so much, but we got by.
As long as I can keep a roof over my head, my kid in jccc, and some food on the table, then I will be happy. It is hard to think of 20% to cut, but if you had to cut more than that, if you lost your job, it's actually much easier to do. Your priorities change, your mindset changes, and it's a totally different thing than cutting a percentage.
Alright, that's my 2 cents, or 1.6 cents after cutting 20%

remember_username 9 years, 1 month ago

T_O_B - The image of a bunch of hooting Lemurs jumping off a cliff was too much. They have the perfect expression of "I just did what?". I'll have the chuckles all day, thanks!

remember_username 9 years, 1 month ago

Multi - Insurance and licensing is required - not sure about the electric fence.

I doubt it will get bad enough for the community to pull together as you suggest. I remember the old days when banks were foreclosing on farms left and right and all the neighbors within miles had to pool equipment and work together to survive. That was the last time I've seen that kind of cooperation except in natural disasters. It's weird, I still feel residual dislike of bankers.

mom_of_three 9 years, 1 month ago

In case anyone cares, Justin Thurber was convicted of capital murder in the death of Jodi Sanderholm in Cowley County.
penalty phase is next week.
My hometown news - just through I would share

ms_canada 9 years, 1 month ago

easily amused and username - I do thank you for the good tips. The dilema for my daughter is that she loves her job and the work that she does and would not like to quit. She is communications director for AINA Arctic Institute of North America at Calgary U. and is learning so much about the Arctic etc. but it is a government grant sponsored position and they do what they like. She will just have to learn ways to cut down on expenses.

ms_canada 9 years, 1 month ago

multi d - yeh, I pretty well know these guys on this board. And must admit it is fun and games most of the time, but what the heck, can't be serious all the time.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 1 month ago

MD, just won the Golden Fruitcake. (BTW, instead of Lake Titicaca, the lemurs & I wound up in Muleshoe, TX & had to raise some cash doing street theater {mainly from people who paid us to go to another street} before we could buy bus tickets home)

remember_username 9 years, 1 month ago

ms_canada - I spent some time there a few years back, and you're right about academic jobs being scarce. I've kept my eye on BC / AL since the visit just in case something is offered in my field. Beautiful country, sparsely populated, and such wonderful people. Academic jobs are tough to cope with as they pay less and the hours make supplemental jobs hard to find. Maybe if she gets together with some friends to rent a large place and pool resources, that might be workable in a university town.

remember_username 9 years, 1 month ago

Snap- Did I understand you to say you were going to Lake Titicaca and ended up in Muleshoe TX? And you didn't simply die on the spot?

Clearly you should be marketing your Lemurs as antidepressants if they kept you alive during that disappointment.

keith horinek 9 years, 1 month ago

somehow i think this blog got off track....................

imaLttlGrl 9 years, 1 month ago

If I were forced to cut 20% from my personal budget I would:

  • Stop buying Xbox 360 accessories and games
  • Stop driving everywhere in town since I am centrally located between work and campus so I can walk or ride my bike (which the dust bunnies need to be evicted anyways)
  • Stop eating out (it really is legitimate - save your receipts, just toss them in a jar when you get home, and after 1 month look back through them and add up how much you spent on food out and look at the stupid crap you bought. You will be amazed! I always am.)
  • I'm with Rusty2 on the bottled beverages (of ALL kinds) thing, what a waste of money, so I'd stop that.
  • Stop buying new, unnecessary clothing

I think that is actually probably more than 20%. We don't realize how much money we are willing to spend on the smaller things we enjoy. Eating out and shopping costs a lot, and most of us do them quite often. Anyone who doesn't think that by cutting back on those (especially the eating out) must either eat at home or is going to McDonalds and ordering a small fry only. Just eating out may not do the trick, but paired with another cut back it can definitely make a drastic difference on the the savings account down the road.

And I'm not so sure about this whole lemur thing... but I'd like to find a cheap cat litter that my cats will actually use. They don't like the expensive food and love the cheap crap, but when it comes to where they do their business they only want the most expensive litter.

jonas_opines 9 years, 1 month ago

arizonajh: Well, I'm afraid you're just a little too late. You see, we used to be a serious group of serious people on a serious thread. Before the lemur, our Mascot was this cat.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 1 month ago

Cut wayyyyyyyyyyy back even more on gasoline purchases.

igby 9 years, 1 month ago

The government can't keep bailing out the economy, auto businesses and banks. Soon the government will be broke and will be forced to cut Social Security/medicare/medicaid in half and it will cut welfare first before it hits the retired people and elderly.

Remember the tax payers are paying for the broke tax payers and businesses who can't afford to pay any taxes. This is troubling because the candle burns at both ends until it burns up. Shrinkage will excel at so great a speed that tax revenue will shrink so fast all governments will be broke and raising taxes will be useless if the liquidity is not there.

The bail outs will have little to no effect because the real problem is the people have no purchasing power. Bailing out businesses will not help the people gain purchasing power it will only waste valuable tax dollars that we will need later to pay for all the assistance to the poor/hungry and soon to be homeless and renting.

We better cut back on the bail outs because their way too premature. It's like trying to save a sinking ship with a bucket. All will be lost trying to save and fix the economy if the economy can't correct it's self and their is no plan to fix it only treat the sickness with bail outs.

del888 9 years, 1 month ago

Since I've already cut my budget 50%, I guess a 10% cut would actually be a raise! I would pary like it's 1999,

Flap Doodle 9 years, 1 month ago

I've got two thoughts about what to call lemurs. I either name them for moons of the gas giant planets or I call them all Skippy.

9070811 9 years, 1 month ago

I would NOT stop buying organic because that's the best food for your body. Eating food filled with un-natural strange chemicals and syrups would likely increase your trips to the doctor, and/or create more serious bodily problems.

I feel like I'm already doing ways to conserve such as putting appliances on power strips and turning them off when I don't them. Not eating out.
Selling my car to avoid high insurance. There's a lot more I could do...

I would walk a ton more (to have more exercise, to increase energy..crazy effect you wouldn't expect)
Take the T to maximize homework on the bus etc. No wifi, use coffee shops, or sit outside them.
Buy in bulk from Costco. line dry clothes.

AND MAKE MY OWN BEER!!! Yah and kegarator!!!

There's so much we could do... maybe this will be my resolution for the year!

Deja Coffin 9 years, 1 month ago

I'd cut out my random spending on items that I really don't need and my husband's spending on chewing tobacco. It's just gross!

Satirical 9 years, 1 month ago

I would stop taking my weekly shower, and stop buying shampoo, soap, and deodorant. If that wasn’t enough I would stop brushing my teeth once a fortnight. Finally, I would stop washing my underwear once a month like I do now, which would save on water and laundry detergent. Then I would fit in when I ride the 'T' (which would also save me some money : )

Commenting has been disabled for this item.