Since the beginning of time, necessities have consisted of food, shelter, and clothing. Basically whatever it takes to keep you alive. Today you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t add internet service, a cell phone, and dining out to the necessities list. Needless to say, this has impacted our budgets. In the Ideal Budget we designate 10% for Utilities & Phone, but more is hidden in this category than you’d think.
Here is what we include in the 10% Utilities and Phone category:
The Ideal Budget is meant to be flexible; a living budget that adjusts to your lifestyle and spending habits. There are some categories you will be over or under in. Let’s take streaming services as an example:
You could file them as Entertainment, which is 5% of your total pie. However, if that category is already filled, you can include streaming services here. Overages in this category will need to be met with cuts in other categories to keep a balanced budget. There may be some budgeting games you'll have play to make your spending fit with your income.
If you are looking to cut costs in this category, here are some questions to get yourself thinking about cost-reducing options:
Home phones have gone out of style in the last decade, but you may still be holding on to yours. It may be deemed necessary to your lifestyle, but if you haven’t used it in a while it could save some money to break up with your home phone.
Call your provider and work your magic. Ask all the details of your plan. How many minutes, data, texts do you actually use? Can you reduce your plan size? You might be surprised at how willing customer service is to help you save money, especially if you go in person to a store.
Do you really need the fastest internet service available? Have you called your provider recently to see if there are any deals you can take advantage of? What about combining your services to get a lower price? Call your provider at least once a year to make sure you are getting the best price is a smart budgeting tactic.
Cable and Streaming
Do you even watch the premium channels? If not, downgrade to a lower package. Or can you forgo expensive cable for a cheaper alternative? Do you need cable plus multiple streaming services? Do you regularly use all the streaming platforms you are paying for?
While these are true necessities and you likely can’t make large financial changes here you can think through a few aspects:
Are you over-housed? Are you heating a home you only use half of? Are you over-consuming disposable goods that lead to excess trash use? Are you teaching your kids to be energy-efficient by turning off lights in rooms not in use and turning off the water when they brush their teeth? While we are focused on financial costs, there are many ways you can cut back when it comes to energy use.
As you work your way through this list you may only save $20 here or $40 there but it all adds up. Whatever number you’re able to save, should go into a savings account.