I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve played the game Monopoly. It’s such a classic, and I had no idea that they eventually get rid of (OK, “retire…”) game pieces. They are retiring the iron now and replacing it with a cat! I’m a dog person and have been known to wear some wrinkled clothing, so I really prefer the iron to a cat…but it wasn’t my decision! And it did take me down a different thought path.

What “irons” do you need to retire? By that, I mean what old habits or financial obligations are in your life that need to be a part of your past? Recently, I’ve talked to a number of people and reviewed their monthly budgets and here are some things that we found that they took immediate action to eliminate.

  • I met with someone who had two gym memberships that she was paying for, and because of her work and childcare schedule, she can’t ever make it to those gyms but she does go to the one at her office. Cancelling those two memberships will save her over $100/month.
  • Someone who recently got engaged after a 2 year relationship still had a membership to match.com on his monthly bank statement. He was paying for something that he hadn’t used in 2 years (but used successfully to find his fiancée) and if that charge were to be seen by his fiancée, he might have a whole separate slate of problems.
  • A person recently came in to talk about his financial life and we started talking about his mortgage, and it turns out that he is paying nearly 9% for his mortgage.  In today’s rate environment, that is ridiculously high. His credit score is in the 700’s (we checked on CreditKarma and Credit Sesame) so he should qualify for a mortgage in the 3-4% range and save an enormous amount of interest each month.
  • It’s not just individual items that can make a difference; it’s also your habits. I talked with someone who goes to happy hour every Wednesday and Thursday every week. That’s on top of enjoying the weekend out with friends. Her budget for hanging out with her friends (which they could do with walks in the park or hiking or something to trade in a high calorie, low nutrition event for a more healthy and budget-friendly event) was actually higher than her budget for groceries. A tweak of a long-held tradition can make a big impact on fiscal and physical health.
  • Another person takes his kids out to eat far too often and spends as much on restaurant meals as he does on the rent for his apartment. Again, here’s an example of a behavior that could go the way of the Monopoly iron. Hitting the grocery store and cooking a few meals per week at home can make a huge impact on his financial life, allowing him to not feel like he is living paycheck to paycheck.

Whether it’s a single line item in your monthly budget or a habit that could stand to be updated, take a look at your financial life and see if you have any “irons” that could be replaced with cats. (A cat? Really? That’s the best that Internet voters could do???)  A few small changes can have a huge impact on your long term financial future.