Mike and I are dissecting our bills, trying to determine where we can cut back. The reason for this is not necessarily today’s economy, the falling stock market, the exorbitant price of gas. Although they all play into things, certainly. Our new budgetary strategies are due to that little slip of paper originating from the ominous Bursar’s office. We’re sadly all too familiar with tuition bills: our own, from Syracuse University–where Mike and I met. (go Orange!) Then, Kate’s private school since 7th grade, and Andy’s since 3rd grade. Then, Kate’s tuition at Cornell University (go Red!) and now Andy’s at RPI (aka Rensselaer) (go Engineers!) Way too much higher education!

So, now it’s time to determine what we can do without. Would we miss reading the morning paper every day? Perhaps we can peruse our news on the internet instead. That’s what Kate does, and she’s pretty up to date on current events. What about losing our land line? I calculated that this move would save about $700/year. That seems like a lot of money for what I consider a fairly redundant service–we all have cells. But, is this concession enough to make a difference when we’re talking about $52,000/year tuition bills?

I know there are many ways to reduce our utility bills. How much will we really save if we remember to turn off the lights when we’re not in a room, or crank down our heat another couple degrees? And where do we stop? Is it worth freezing in our own home to save a couple dollars a month?

The answer is different for everyone. As we grapple with these tough questions, we’re always trying to determine the difference between needs and wants, how we can wisely use our resources, where we should sacrifice, and what is right for our kids’ futures. We’re no strangers to tightening our belts. But it’s time to take things in a couple more notches. Ouch!

Tail’s End: Possessions are only things. We can get by without things. We can’t do without you, all our friends and loved ones in our lives.