(THIS POST PROBABLY CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)
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.
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?