Budget Planner: Three Discretionary costs to cut to help build your retirement

Updated: Oct 14

"Cutting costs is only a first step, You may not end up a millionaire but cutting expenses and following three rules will allow you to build wealth"

By: Allan R Kirby

I am going to look at three common expenses you can trim in order to free up more money to help pay down debt and save for retirement. We are also going to discuss what else you need to do in order to succeed. To begin, let’s look at the three common expenses that will help you with expense cutting:

  1. Dining out.

  2. Subscriptions.

  3. Entertainment/Travel.

Dining out

Okay, so you have Grubhub, Door Dash and a host of other food delivery services available. It makes it so easy today to order food. Additionally, you also have the very popular fast-casual restaurants that have sprung up over the last number of years, all of which make it so easy to just dine. It can begin to take a big bite out of your pay. In fact, even if you eat out only a couple of times of week for lunch and dinner, it can add up to a substantial amount over a period of a month. I have also been doing some price checking for services such as Door Dash. For example, I found one of my favorite restaurants added Door Dash as a service, for free. However, when I did a price comparison between picking up myself and using Door Dash, the actual costs differed on average $5 or more per meal. A five minute drive instead of Door Dash saves me between 15 to 20 % and was worth it. The point is that cutting out needless delivery and eating out less will save a substantial amount of income if you eat out regularly. Possible savings are $200 - $300 a month


Yes, I love subscriptions but subscription creep is becoming very common and can add up to a substantial amount over the course of a year. To give you an example, it might be great to have a subscription with Netflix but you may also end up with Amazon prime, CBS all access and Hulu, plus a host of other subscriptions such as gym memberships, newspapers, magazines, food preparation, etc.... It can really add up. I was in the same position when I did my subscription cleansing. It began to creep up so I did a complete review. Each person has to make choices and for myself. I decided to drop my magazine subscriptions but added Apple news ( a lot more for less). I changed my gym membership after I found a lower cost gym, but I did ditch NETFLIX while keeping CBS all access; strange, I know but that is what I was using most of the time, plus I still had my good old TV antenna. The point is that subscriptions can add up, but you do not need to ditch everything. Like myself you can just modify and find cheaper alternatives, however, overall you can still save enough to make a difference. Possible savings are $100 - $200 a month.


I am not as active as some people who still like to go out to sports events, concerts, or even smaller music events and short vacations. I am finding these types of activities are discretionary costs are no longer cheap. I do get that we all want to be active and go out and buy experiences. Unfortunately, I am finding the price of the ticket, food, parking or other forms of transportation together add significantly to the cost of going to a sporting event or short vacation. Recently I did a one day skiing trip and found it easily added up to over $200 in gas, parking, lift ticket, food etc.. and that was with every discount I could find. I will never advocate completely ditching buying experiences but I do recommend find a good balance, better yet, I have found many free to very cheap experiences that keeps me active. Possible savings are $100 - $300 a month.

“Cutting your expenses is only a first step. You need to ensure the money saved goes into a retirement fund to invest for growth"

Reality Check; My experience

When I was younger, I was spending a lot more on discretionary items so when the day came

for myself to make tough choices to cut expenses, I found that it was only a first step. You need to follow through with additional steps to compete the path to financial freedom. It isn’t complicated but you need to do the following:

  1. Set up your retirement accounts to deposit your money automatically.

  2. Invest your money in mutual or index funds, stocks, bonds, real estate etc...

  3. Continuously tracking and adjust your deposits and investments to ensure you continue to build your nest egg.

“Success is measured by your commitment and discipline"

Look, the reality is that simply cutting expenses will not always result in you becoming a millionaire. There is a lot of extra “follow through” required, which includes being disciplined to ensure you save your money and invest it. Even if you invest, you may not get the expected returns, so you need to continually track your retirement funds and make adjustments when required. It’s not easy and even if you have index funds, you still need to keep yourself committed and disciplined by reviewing your progress on an ongoing basis. Finally, life is life, cutting expenses is great but it’s up to you to determine the degree in which you want to cut your discretionary spending. I will always advocate moderation, too much spending is not good but you still need to keep yourself mentally sane.

Budget Planner is a segment of the MySmallBank.com blog written by Allan R Kirby, who writes and produces Personal Finance articles and videos along with My Success Magazine.

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Providing personal finance and money management articles, videos as well as publishing Mysuccess Personal Finance Magazine