3 Steps to a Budget Detox
By Michelle Kuehner, Financial Coach
A few months ago I decided to do a body detoxifying cleanse. I’m sure you've heard about them and all the benefits they claim to produce. They're supposed to remove toxins, increase energy and vitality, and help strengthen the body to fight off infection. In addition, you’ll get a flatter belly because it gets rid of the excess waste from your colon. Enticing, right?
The one I found required drinking a daily 64-ounce concoction of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and water for three days. That’s it. Not this spicy-citrusy brew in combination with a sensible meal, but instead of anything else. Surely I can make it three days, I thought. Three days isn't that long, especially for a fully detoxed body, right?
So I’m proud to announce my colon is now one-third cleaner than it was before starting this regimen. I guess- I’m not entirely sure how to gauge the results, so I’m just going to assume it worked. And yes, you read that correctly... one-third cleaner. I only made it one day.
Now, back to the money stuff…
Reviewing your recurring payments
First, look at your budget and review all of your recurring payments. I’m not talking about the important ones like your car and house payments, but more so the ones like Netflix and Ipsy. Decide which ones aren't really necessary, then cancel away. If you’re having a hard time deciding, try this little trick: Calculate how much the service costs you per year. Are you willing to pay that full amount right now, in cash? If not, cancel it.
Can’t think of all of those subscriptions you are signed up for—maybe they’ve gotten away from you? No problem, asktrim.com can help you find and cancel unwanted subscriptions—for free! Once you add your bank and credit card information, it sends you a message with a listing of those subscriptions. If you want to cancel one or all of them, you just let Trim know, and they do the work for you. Pretty good deal, if you ask me (and it’s safe; I use it!). Dieters are always looking for that ‘magic pill’; for the Budget Detox Cleanse, this is as easy as it gets!
Negotiating for a better rate
Next, see if there is any wiggle room for savings on your monthly services like utilities, auto insurance, cell phone, etc. How? Call and ask. Yes, calling does work. Many of these service providers will offer a special rate to keep you as a customer. Others may offer a free premium upgrade instead.
A couple of years ago I (finally) took my own advice and made some phone calls. Yes, it took a few hours and I had to continually repeat some information, but in the end I saved a little over $4,100 per year. It was definitely worth the time and the mind numbing pain of hours’ worth of Muzak I was forced to listen to while on hold.
Not a good negotiator, or simply don’t have the time to make the calls yourself? There’s still hope for savings in your future! Billcutterz offers to do the work for you. You provide them the bills you’d like negotiated, and they will make the calls on your behalf. Whatever savings are generated over the next twelve months you split with them 50/50. If your savings continue after those twelve months, it’s all yours. And if they aren't able to get you a better deal, you won’t owe a dime. In the long run, you are giving up a portion of your savings, but some is better than none, so it is still a win-win.
Another service I mentioned, asktrim.com, can help you reduce your cable or internet bill, activate cash back deals on your Visa card and let you know about refunds or price drops on things you buy on Amazon.com.
The Shopping Fast
The final step in your Budget Detox Cleanse: The Fast. This will require the most willpower, as it allows for no new unnecessary spending. That means other than food, gas, utilities, and bills, you spend no money. No eating out at restaurants or picking up take out. No spending money on hobbies, activities, or entertainment. No buying clothes, shoes, or accessories, no matter what kind of sale you find.
If you want to get really die-hard, try hitting your pantry and freezer for dinner options. See how much you are able to clear out of both over the next 30-days. You’d be surprised how many recipes you can pull up online that include cans of black beans and corn.
The money you save over your 30-day span of excessively-limited spending can be used to pay on credit card debt, towards an emergency or vacation fund, or for a special evening out for a job well done.
While a body cleanse may (or may not) increase vitality and help strengthen the body to fight off infection, a Budget Detox Cleanse is sure to strengthen your financial outlook, while warding off infectious debt, ultimately increasing your fiscal survival. So detox away!
Michelle Kuehner is a Registered Investment Advisor Representative and Managing Director for Personal Money Planning. She is also a Certified Credit Counselor, Certified Financial Health Counselor, writes Fix Our Budget blog, and has over 24 years of experience in the financial industry.