Saving by going À La Carte [Financial Friday$]

À La Carte means picking and choosing what you want off the menu. This can translate to a way of life by picking and choosing what you buy instead of buying the full package. For example, all those cable channels you have but don’t watch? Those are part of a package. What if you could do it differently to save money and make you more conscience of your spending?

Try it

Try these little tips to start:

  • Get rid of your cable subscription and pay for only what you truly want by downloading the shows you want to watch off Hulu or iTunes for a fraction of the cost.
  • Buy individual songs off Amazon for $0.99 and save buying the CD for when you know you want the whole album.
  • Cancel all your magazine subscriptions and only order the articles or buy the issues that you really want to read.
  • If you don’t go to the gym most days a week, cancel your membership and just pay for a day pass.

By cancelling your automatic subscriptions to things you are forced to recognize what you do and don’t pay for. The realization? Chances are you’re overpaying for nearly everything in your life. For example, how much value do you really get out of your Netflix subscription? TiVo? Cable? You can quantify this by dividing the number of shows or movies you watch by how much you pay.

My numbers look like this:

I pay $24 a month for a Netflix subscription. We watch one movie a week streaming, and rent one movie a week that is mailed to us. So, that’s 2 times 4 weeks, or 8 movies a month for my family and I. $24 divided by 8 is $3 a movie.

Is it worth it? Yes, it’s worth it to keep family night traditions going with a wider selection of movies.

We’ve run through the numbers a few times with other services such as Hulu, Redbox, and others that my kids have come across. Netflix is still their favorite, so it’s the one we have.

[icon name=”icon-exclamation-sign”]Warning: You will become more conscientious of your spending!

Not that this is a bad thing at all, really. When you become more aware of your spending, you are more likely to think about what you really want and what you really value. It’s one thing to have your subscriptions directly taken from your account or charged to your credit card. They are very easy to overlook like that. It’s another thing when you have to pay for things individually and pull the money out of your pocket when you want it. In turn, you’ll stop to think, “Do I really want to go get my wallet for that? Do I even really need it?

Compare it

You should know what you were spending before on monthly subscriptions. If you don’t, pull out those old bills and look it up. Then, tally up the subscriptions and write down the number. Now, do the same thing with the à la carte subscriptions you’ve bought. What’s the change? Tout your difference and tell us how much you’ve saved by going à la carte.

Want to take it a step further?

Now that you’ve gotten the hang of the  à la carte method, see if you can’t reduce your monthly expenses. For example, if you spent $100 this month, try to get it to $90 next month. Then try to lower it again the next month. So, what to do with that money you saved by going  à la carte? Give it as a gift to your future self by putting it in savings or an investment. How will you save that money? Shout it out in the comments!

Resource: I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi