Do you know where your money goes?

How often do we spend money on frivolous things without even considering that they are frivolous? Writing 10 Things I Quit Buying (to Save Money) really made me think hard about that. It didn’t take me long to come up with ten things I STILL spend money on that are “wants” and not “needs”.

Things that I over look in my spending regularly, just because I’m not being mindful enough, or because I’ve got a good “excuse” to buy them.

If I don’t even realize that the things I am buying are frivolous, how will I know where I can cut back if the need arises? I think it’s imperative that you are conscious of what you could cut out of your budget tomorrow if you were faced with a financial crisis, because financial crisis DOES happen.

Because I am committed to intentional living – actively deciding where I will spend my money instead of just letting it leave me – I wanted to see if I could justify these things I still buy even though they are unnecessary…  a self-audit. Where am I spending foolishly? Where am I prioritizing the “wants”? Do I know where I could cut back right now if I had to?

To preform this self audit, I asked myself three questions: What am I buying on a regular basis that is not necessary? Can / should I justify continuing to buy this based on my current financial situation? Is there a way that I can reduce or eliminate this cost right now?

10 things I still spend money on – that are not needs

♥ 1. Gym Membership. My house is too small for a treadmill & I hate running outside… But running outside is free and I can do all the other gym stuff at home (I don’t use many machines). Conclusion > I won’t give up exercise because it has changed my life so much for the better and even helped me to beat anxiety, but I am gonna give outside running another shot this summer and see if I can reduce this spending by 5 months.

♥ 2. T.V. Subscription. I fear I might be the first blogger in blogging history to suggest that I know how to save money and spend wisely who is gonna admit to a TV subscription. I would give this up in a heartbeat, but my husband is really attached to it, and honestly the man spends a grand total of almost nothing in a year. And he makes 80% of the money! Although, with options out there now like Amazon Prime, where you can access TV and movies for literally a fraction of the cost of cable I can definitely see us doing something that like in the future. ← Update! I’ve been thinking about trying Amazon Prime, and now is the time to do it, because you can Try Amazon Prime with a 30-Day Free Trial. YAY! Conclusion > If we need to find a way to pinch the pennies, I’ll give up some of my many indulgences long before I ask G to say goodbye to his T.V., but we can at least SAVE a bunch by finding a cheaper way to do T.V.

♥ 3. Wine. I have recently reduced my alcohol consumption pretty drastically, but there’s still almost always a bottle of wine on the weekend. I love wine. Conclusion > in light of the amount I am already saving by cutting back, I’ll still allow myself one bottle. But this is probably the first thing that I would give up if we were really strapped for cash.

♥ 4. Paper towels. I know I know. But I don’t use them that often and I love having them in the house for really “icky” situations. I spend less than 15$ a year on paper towels and I don’t feel bad about it. (Once I read a blog post where the author claimed to be saving 250 bucks per year by not buying paper towels. That would be different. I would really have to think about just throwing away that much money.) Conclusion > the 15$ is worth it to me.

♥ 5. Washing towels in hot water. I don’t feel bad about this either. When we were backpacking and couldn’t get a hot water wash to save our lives, our towels stunk. I asked a guy in New Zealand once if I could pay him extra and get a hot water wash. He called me a fanatic. Conclusion > I am a fanatic, but my towels smell good and I like it.

♥ 6. In wash scent booster beads. Maybe I have taken the nice smelling towels too far. Conclusion > I may actually have to give this one up on principle alone.

♥ 7. Some Essential Oils. They’re nice, they don’t all save me a bunch of money on painkillers and creams and stuff – I hardly spent anything on those things before! Some of them are very useful, and some of them are just for enjoying. Conclusion > I like my essential oils, but if I was in a financial crisis then I would need a reality check here. There are 4 I would still buy – lavender (for bug bites & itches), cedarwood (for sleep and anti-anxiety), peppermint (for headaches & muscle aches), and thieves (for colds and flu) because THOSE are the ones that I use all the time and have seen the benefits of. I absolutely love stress away and aroma ease, but they are a luxury for me. (To learn more about essential oils, or to learn how to order oils for yourself at wholesale price see my Young Living page!)

♥ 8. Cell phone. Yes, a phone is practically a necessity now, but I know for a fact that you can have a cell phone for 10$ a month. My mom does it. She has no data, but she makes due without it. Conclusion > I dunno, how do we all justify our cell phones? You know I’m not giving up data. I spend $75.00 per month on my phone, but I fee like I use it 75.00 worth AT LEAST.

♥ 9. Flowers. I mean bedding plants I guess, or planters, for the summertime. I spend around $250.00 a year on bedding plants, that DIE every fall. But I LOVE gardening, and sitting on my deck surrounded by my flowers in the evening is one of my favorite things. Conclusion > This year I will be starting petunias, snapdragons, marigolds, and poppies from seeds I saved last year. If they grow I’ll save most of that $250.00. Fingers crossed! If they don’t, I’ll reduce the amount of plants I buy.

♥ 10. Holidays. I love to travel… and as long as I can afford it I will GO! Our holiday budget is usually $3000.00 (read about how we visited Hawaii in 2015 for $2995.37!), so even tho that’s cheap for a holiday, that’s more than a months worth of expenses covered if we aren’t working. Conclusion > The economy is really down this year and we are considering not going on a holiday because we recognize that if things get worse we will need that holiday money for living. Boo.

Taking the time to identify and evaluate the frivolous things I spend money on definitely helped me to see where I can further cut back now, and it’s helped me to prepare a game plan for the uncertain future. I know where I can trim costs ASAP if need be. I also recognized that I really appreciate most of these things, so that made me feel a bit better about the money spent. I don’t believe that I’m working and being mindful of my money to just store every saved penny in the bank. I think a few indulgences are ok as long as you keep them in check. What are the indulgences in your life? Could a self-audit be useful to you?

How to audit your spending