I use this phrase often when working with clients to determine a budget that can help them change their life:

If I’m you guys, nothing is off the table in this discussion.

The point is this: When you’re trying to get out of debt, save for something really important, or radically change your life, everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – should be up for discussion.  There are no sacred cows.  There’s nothing that is “untouchable” and above consideration.

That’s a nice sentiment, right?  But it gets harder to swallow when it has some practical clothes on.  When you start looking at some of these bigger items in our budget, it represents some major life change.  Your house is strapping your cash flow?  Sell it.  $400 car payment keeping you from making progress?  Sell it.  Cell phone plan costing more than you realize?  Shed a tear as you lay down the iPhone for a season and go back to the basics.  

Just a few examples:

A Car (and it’s payment book) – The average car payment in America is $450/month.  Along with the car comes a sense of “security” that it won’t break down, plus the enjoyment of some luxury relative to a 10+ year-old car.  Selling a car can represent some hassle and a real life change; and though it’s tough to swallow it could be the best way to reach your goals.

Cell Phone Plans – If you added up how much you spend each year on your cell phone plan, you might be appalled.  It’s not the minutes that make it way out of whack most of the time, but the texting and data.  There’s a lot of feelings of security tied in with the cell phone, so it’s a tough one to consider.

Your Home – It’s very easy to be “house poor.”  Banks will qualify you lend you more than your can comfortably afford on a monthly basis.  If you got stuck in an adjustable-rate mortgage, your payment may be going up.  That can ruin your chances of success.  Though there’s arguably no possession more emotional than a home, you might have to consider changing your housing situation to get control of your money.

Food – The fact is that many of us spend so much more than necessary on food.  Between restaurants and grocery stores, it’s huge.  Hey, I get it; you like to eat food.  Most of us do.  No one’s suggesting you starve yourself.  Let’s just not be ruled by our stomachs and our desire for convenience, thqen make excuses about it.  Let’s be wise with how we handle our food budget so it doesn’t get out of hand.  Cutting how much you spend on food may be the way to force yourself into that discipline.

There are more examples of “untouchable” expenses throughout our budgets, but these are a few come up a lot.  But when you’re changing your life, why would anything be off the table?  Take those sacred, untouchable pieces down and examine if they should really be there.

What are some other “untouchable” expenses that people don’t even consider when trying to make a change?