READER MAIL: Help me reduce my spending

I have been emailing with a fantastic reader about his financial situation which is similar to mine and many others with tons of student loan debt in addition to the expenses of living in 2013 and being in your mid twenties.  After going back and forth about some idea’s I thought it would be interesting to use his situation as a sort of case study here on Degrees and Debt.  Most of the information is a bit skewed to protect privacy but we are both excited to see what the readers will come up with! Below is a breakdown of his typical spending. Where do you think he can save and how? I am interested as well as I may personally implement some idea’s that are shared here if they apply to my own situation as well.

Expenses

Mortgage: $1100/mo (static)

Condo Fee: $260/mo (static)

Comcast (TV+Internet+SHO/HBO): $130/mo (static)

Student Loans: $1100/mo (static)

Utilities: ~$100-$120/mo (variable-based on season+usage)

Groceries: ~$80-$100/week

TOTAL: ~$2790/mo (doesn’t include various other expenses such as credit cards, going out, etc.)

Options

Comcast – Cable TV and Internet are sometimes considered luxury items. While I would consider TV, especially premium channels luxury items in 2013 I would disagree that internet is a luxury item anymore, it seems more like a basic necessity to successfully go about your day to day life.  There are tons of options out there to reduce this expense. The obvious is cutting off the TV and reducing to the cheapest internet service locally available to you.  Typically a cheap internet service would go for about $20-$30/mo.  You can also add a video streaming service such as Amazon, Netflix or Hulu which will give you internet-based streaming of movies and TV. The missing piece of me is being able to watch new shows, when they are new, being able to watch live sports/news and also the simple variety and randomness.  Most times I do not exactly know what I want to watch so being able to scroll through channels is nice.  I guess this is more a lifestyle change then anything else. We are so accustom to live TV, live sports, etc. that we cannot imagine being without it. Honestly, the only thing I cannot imagine being without is my iPhone 🙂 Plus, there are some ways (instruction not to be provided here) on how you can stream live sports/tv through other “methods” online, although the quality and integrity of the feed may not be the best nor will it be high definition.

Student Loans – This one is sort of set in stone.  You may have a better chance at having dinner in the lost city of Atlantis then getting rid of your student loans in any method other then paying them.  These are obviously one of the worst types of debts to carry and bring about their own set of unique problems.  There are a few options though. Depending on what your degree is, what you want to do and where, you could get a job in public service which qualifies for student loan forgiveness after certain criteria is met. The trade off with most of these jobs is your salary may be less then what you would make doing a similar job with your degree in the private sector. You should do a cost-benefit analysis to determine if less salary but substantial loan benefits outweigh your potential salary and payments on your own.

Additional Income – If you bring in more money, you will have more money. As simple as this sounds its much more complex then this. If you are able to develop some side income streams this will significantly help with reducing bills. That is a belief I have and work towards every day, seven days a week. The more income streams I have coming in the more money I can allot to principle on the debt and in turn reduce interest and pay off faster.  Income streams can be anything. You can start a website or store online. You can offer your skills and services to others through Craigslist or oDesk or Fiverr.  You could pick up more formal side jobs at stores or restaurants.  The list can go on and on, but the more you bring in the more you will have, just dont forget your our 20’s will fly by and before we know it we will be in our 30’s so remember to take advantage of everything life has to offer 🙂

Readers, what do you think? What options are there to reduce these and other expenses you may have? How are you cutting your bills?

Edgar @ Degrees and Debt

AuthorEdgar @ Degrees and Debt

Founder of Degrees and Debt. Edgar just wrapped up his MS in Project Management with a focus on Information Security Management. Battling back to even from student loans, mortgage and credit card debt is an art Edgar is learning to master. This is his journey.