11 Things We Don't Spend Money On
Personal finance can be such an internal struggle. Especially when you have established a goal that you really want to achieve. You get so focused on your goal that you can easily forget about some of the smaller things on your budget that add up. (Or you might be like us and have been on budgeting auto-pilot for too long and don't challenge yourselves to cut out unnecessary items.)
Disclaimer: We are not perfect. And this post doesn't mean that we have it all figured out. I'll share some areas that we are working on currently further down. This post is meant to get you to think about your budget, routines, habits and hang-ups that might be holding you back from reaching bigger budget goals.
Over the years, we slowly cut some things out of our budget or never had them on the budget in the first place. It recently dawned on me that these might be pretty common expenses on other people's budgets.
For example: We recently had a conversation about excess with some good friends and they were telling us how they haven't bought paper towels in a few years. That made me scratch my head ... in a good way.
How do they live without paper towels? I use probably three or four paper towels a day. That's like 1,000+ paper towels a year. How could I cut paper towels out of my life? (This would not likely be a great cost savings, but would make for a greener household for sure.)
The point of the example is that it got me thinking. I hope this list does the same for you, or at least sparks some other budget items for you to scrutinize. We've found that things slowly, over the years, got added to our budget, and then you get used to it and it gets more difficult to prune back the excess.
11 Things We Don't Spend Money On
By "don't spend money on," I mean it's not on our budget. It might fall into a gray area once in a while where I would use a cousin category like home maintenance to buy a tool I need.
- Halloween costumes: Neither of us really like Halloween. I know, we're not very fun, but aside from the candy we hand out, we try really hard not to spend money on the holiday. My company always has a costume contest on Halloween and I usually end up with a mediocre attempt at a costume (see our costumes from 2011 and 2012). Rooney gets her costumes as hand-me-downs from her cousins.
- Tools: I really don't like spending money on tools. But, it's so frustrating to take on a project and not have the right tools. And tools can be really expensive for as often as I use them. I tend to ask for things that I really need on either my birthday or Christmas list. (Kelsey got me a nice Craftsman cordless combo kit last year for Christmas.) With our big basement project coming up, I'm planning to borrow the tools I need since my dad has two of everything.
- Cable: We cut cable a few years ago. We've saved more than two thousand dollars since and have barely noticed a difference since many shows can be watched online or via Netflix. It's really only rough during football season.
- Movies in the theater: We splurged on Kelsey's birthday and went to a movie in the theater. We were given free tickets but we spent $28 on snacks! This was probably a little extreme (it WAS her golden birthday which meant a snack for each of us plus popcorn and drinks), but man, that's expensive. We probably only make it to three or four movies in the theater a year (but most of the time it's at the theaters in our hometowns where the tickets are $4 or less).
- Alcohol: We don't keep our fridge stocked with alcohol, nor do we order drinks when we go to restaurants. We'll drink on very rare occasions, but it usually comes out of our entertainment budget.
- Target: We used to go to Target for recreation before we started budgeting. We'd come home with sacks full of stuff we didn't need, or really even have a use for. After we got on a budget, we knew we had to stop. We actually successfully avoided Target for a few years before Rooney was born. Now with the Target REDcard debit card, we save 5% and typically only buy well-priced baby items there.
- Kids' toys: Rooney has a ton of toys, and I'm not even sure where they all came from. Christmas, birthdays and baby showers, I suppose. We don't really buy her toys. She has plenty for sure, and doesn't really play with what she has anyway.
- Gambling: We don't buy lottery tickets, and the last casino I stepped foot in was for a bachelor party (on a budget, of course). This is a slippery slope for sure. Tread with caution.
- New cars: We'll try to pay cash for vehicles for the rest of our lives. For us, new cars are simply not worth the price tag. But, right now we're not saving up for our next vehicle. Working on that...
- Bottled water: We'll occasionally buy a bottled water when we are away from home, but we don't keep our fridge stocked with bottled water.
- Gym membership: This could certainly be a good investment if it was used. We simply can't find the time or discipline to make a gym membership worth it.
This list should get you thinking through your own budget and each of its categories. Slow down and really look at each item and weigh those items against your bigger goals.
Get a calculator out (how I have to do it ... terrible at mental math) and figure out how much you can save per year by cutting something out. When I was writing about cutting cable above, that's what I did. I hadn't thought about it much lately, except that I miss some football games that make me wish I had cable. But when I calculated that we've saved over two thousand dollars since cutting cable in 2011, it's not worth bringing that category item back on the budget.
What's something you want to try cutting from your budget? How much will it save?
P.S. The book has tons of helpful, motivational tips on getting your budget working for you. Check it out if you haven't already. And thank you if you have. It helps support this blog.