In biking or hiking, those enthusiasts that are obsessed with the weight of their gear often refer to themselves as “Weight Weenies”. I’m not one (mostly because I could never stand to spend that much money on gear; generally, the less it weighs, the more it costs) but in both sports, I love to read of their latest methods to shave a few ounces or even grams off their load. Occasionally there is a takeaway that I can afford; but always there is some entertainment and maybe an enlightenment to be found reading of the lengths they go to save a half a gram.
If you are currently in a season of your life that screams for you to reduce expenses either to pay off debt, live on a smaller salary or save like crazy for something you really want; adopting a “Budget Weenie” mentality will help you achieve you goal faster.
Just remember, “Weight Weenies” do not live like this every day. They may live this stripped down life for a long 5 months on the trail but once they achieve their goal, they head back to their queen sized bed in a real house with running water. Similarly, I don’t want you to be a “Budget Weenie” forever – just until you hit your goal.
These guys are fanatical. Here is an example so you will understand how far they will go to save weight.
Lots of these guys cut the handle of their toothbrush down to a stub exactly the length they need to reach their back teeth and then they drill holes in what’s left.
Or, “I sawed off just the top of my toothbrush and hot glued it into a carbon fiber arrow shaft. The handle was full length and it weighed .1 oz.”
Let’s examine the principles of ultra light backpacking:
Choose the smallest lightest gear suited to the purpose And then ruthlessly remove every part that is not functional, like the tags, any inch of unnecessary drawstring, extra straps etc.
Choose gear that serves multiple purposes-as seen in the toothbrush example above
Eliminate un-needed gear-you must learn the difference between a want and a need. These guys will carry luxury (anything that does not meet a real need) items but only after they openly and honestly label it as such.
Take only the amount you need – you Sam’s club shoppers need to remember this one
The more you can reduce the weight; the more you can reduce the weight – this is a very important concept. If you reduce the weight of the stuff you are carrying, you can reduce the weight of the pack you put it in.
The Hiking “Weight Weenies” always start with the big 3, the backpack, the sleeping bag and the tent. Since these are likely the three heaviest essentials, big gains can be made by paying very careful attention here. The trick is to making sure to allow just enough weight to get the level of comfort and protection for your satisfaction. Some will be miserable without a real live tent on the trail while others can be quite satisfied with a very lightweight tarp. It’s your pack and you are carrying it so you get to make the choices.
Let’s examine our big 3, housing, transportation and food through some of the “Weight Weenies” principles:
As a “Budget Weenie”, preparing your food from scratch at home is the least expensive option that serves the purpose. Eating out or buying preprocessed packaged foods is way too expensive, not to mention unhealthy. Beans and Rice is not just a saying; it really is a very inexpensive way to eat.
In this season, you don’t need a guest room or a garage, the kids can bunk up, and you all can share one bath. Get a roommate.
If you are a single, fresh from college with a big bag of student loans, you need to take whatever you are thinking in terms of housing and cut it in half or maybe less. You need to be one-step up from the homeless guy living in the box.
Pay very close attention to the where when choosing housing. This line of thinking is much like the “Weight Weenies” principle, “the more you can reduce the weight; the more you can reduce the weight”. If you choose an inexpensive place very close to where you work, not only to do save on housing costs, you can save a ton on transportation.
If you want to be a real “Budget Weenie”, you need to bike, walk or bus your way to work. If you’re a two-car family, become a one-car family for this season. If you can bike or walk to work or at least to your errands, you’ve conquered the exercise bit without paying for a gym membership while saving gas and wear and tear on your vehicle. Wow, multiple budget cuts with one action.
Eliminate the un-needed. Is this a want or a need?
Luxuries are allowed, but only if you consciously and honestly acknowledge that you are willing choose to postpone your goal in order to have them.
Remember, we are ruthlessly removing every single expense that is not absolutely necessary.
To successfully adopt the “Weight Weenies” principles to your budget we must:
Measure -“Weight Weenies” must have a scale and a spreadsheet. If you are going to be a successful “Budget Weenie” you must have a spreadsheet of your income and expenses and a graph showing your progress toward your goal (debt reduction, savings, net worth).
Enjoy It – “Weight Weenies” take great personal satisfaction in every teeny tiny reduction. You need to make this a game, every cent you free up to throw at your target is a win.