Sacred Cows

by Steve and Annette Economides

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In years past, when we helped people one-on-one with their finances, we regularly saw one scenario repeatedly: The Sacred Cow.

In India, many people consider cows to be sacred. Bovines freely roam the streets and countryside, nosing through rubbish and gently begging food from passers-by. While millions around them go hungry, they are untouched, free to consume all they desire.

What is an Economiser Sacred Cow? It's a term we used whenever we encounter a "luxury" item that folks who were struggling financially were unwilling to sacrifice on the altar of fiscal responsibility.

All of us have things that might be called "little extravagances." And if you have your finances in order, with savings in the bank and debt under control, you can freely enjoy these blessings, guilt-free. But if you are living paycheck to paycheck, or dodging creditors, then read on. Eliminating sacred cows can help lower monthly expenses and may even take you from deficit spending to a wonderful surplus.

Here are a few sacred cows we've seen. If any cause you to cringe or toss your computer across the room, we apologize in advance for hitting a sore spot. The list includes Cable TV (if you can't pay your other bills, then this is a luxury), the daily newspaper, bottled water or a water cooler, the spa or health club membership, buying lunch out everyday, magazine subscriptions, first showings of the latest movies, acrylic nails (sorry ladies) and season tickets to your favorite sports team.

Even investments such as 401(k)s or IRAs can be sacred cows, especially if they keep you from meeting your monthly obligations. We've seen families investing large percentages of their income while struggling to make the house payment. This list could go on forever (but we've probably offended most of your already, so we'll stop now). In reality, there is nothing wrong with any one of these things, unless you're behind in paying utility or other bills, scrounging for food money each week or just making minimum payments on your credit cards.

It takes courage to identify an expense that you're willing to sacrifice, but there is hope. One friend of ours finally gave up his daily newspaper habit, saving $30 each month, only to discover that someone brought it to the office everyday to share for free!

So, what are you waiting for? Get a rope. We've got to get that cow to the altar.

True or False

Debt from my past is preventing me from saving for my future! Tell us: Yes, debt is hindering my ability to save! or No, debt is not a problem but I am trying to get ahead financially!

Steve and Annette Economides are authors of America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money (A New York Times Best Seller). They also publish the HomeEconomiser newsletter six times each year. For more information and a lot of free money saving ideas, visit

For more ideas on saving on groceries, get their seminar CD - "Stretching Your Grocery Dollars Without Becoming A Coupon Queen." They also publish the HomeEconomiser newsletter 6 times each year. Subscriptions are available for $12 per year.

Take the Next Step:

  • Do you have any sacred cows that need to be sacrificed on the altar of fiscal responsibility? What little extravagance in your life can be eliminated to help lower your monthly expenses? Think about it.

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