10 Things Americans Can't Live Without
1. Portable Computers--Notebooks and iPads can cost from $400 to $1000 or more.
2. High Speed Internet Access--Monthly, this averages to about $40
3. Smart Phones--the cost of a smart phone can range from $200 to $500 and the monthly bill typically exceeds $100/mo.
4. Education--average college tuition is around $40,000 for four years
5. Movies--ticket prices are on the rise at around $9 per person
6. TV--average cable bill is $71/mo.
7. Music Downloads--one song can cost $0.99, which can really add up
8. Pets--average spending ranges from $60-$235/mo.
9. Alcohol--average spending is about $40/mo.
10. Coffee--at a little over $1 for a cup of coffee, this can cost around $30/mo.
I can't think of anyone who doesn't have at least eight things from the list above, and I believe most people probably can't live without any of those ten things. While I don't suggest cutting off your high speed internet or getting rid of your pet, you could use this to examine where your money is going.
The Beauty and the Budget's Tips: The cable bill at my house is $7/mo. For me, this works because I never watch TV. If I like a particular show (and I only really like Will & Grace and Gossip Girl), I'll either watch it online or buy the season on DVD. I've completely cut out the internet from my Blackberry, which almost makes a PDA phone useless, but until I have enough income to support the extra $30/mo. charge, I'm doing without. I have only my favorite songs on my iPod, so I haven't spent much in music downloading. Instead, I opt for Pandora, a site that generates music I like based on particular artists, genres, and songs. I don't go to the movies, either, unless my sweetie is paying (thanks honey!) and I have also decided to cut out on those occasional after 5 cocktails with my best friend. And cutting out coffee is easy since I don't like it to begin with.
This is what works for me and there are exceptions to every rule. See what works for you and decide where you can cut corners if you're on a tight budget. There is always something that you can do without, it just may take a little time for you to readjust.