What I Do When I Find Something I Want to Buy


I got this question recently from a reader, and wanted to share my answer in case any of you are wondering the same thing. Here's her question: I was wondering how you manage your budget for extra things that come up. I know you have the Oops section of your budget, but what if you find stuff online that you want to get, or when you spend more than your Oops allows? Also, where in your budget do you account for decorations and accessories for the home? These are the two areas that I struggle with constantly in my own budget and I can never seem to work around it and plan properly.

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I think this is a great question!

If I find something I want to buy, here's what happens:

1. I try to fit the item into a previously-budgeted-for category. So maybe this is Kelsey Personal (clothing) or Kelsey Entertainment (which usually gets spent on iTunes). Those are the two categories that I own myself and can spend how I like, so they come to my mind first. There are also categories for Home Decor, Baby, Rooney Clothing, etc. Eric and I have agreed ahead of time what categories deserve a spot on our budget, so I think (sometimes really, really hard) to see if what I want fits into one of those budgeted categories.

2. If it DOES fit into a category that's already on our budget AND there's enough money in the budget for that item, I can buy it (I usually run purchases past Eric too to see what he thinks). Now, I know it's smart to sleep on it, but I don't always. If we have the money, we can spend it. That's what a budget is for!

3. If it DOES fit into a category that's on our budget BUT I don't have enough money for that item, then I wait to buy it until I have enough money. It might take one month or it might take three months. But this is good because it makes us think about our purchases and save up for them. By the time I have the money, I may have moved on completely to wanting something else. This happened to me recently with a globe I found on Urban Outfitters. Eric and I both liked it and decided it would be great for my globe collection. I didn't have enough money in the Home Decor fund so I had to wait. Well, I never got the globe, and not because I never saved the money (I did), but by that time the excitement had wore off a little and I got more excited about a gray pouf I saw on sale at Target. I ended up buying the pouf. Now the globe is sold out and I missed out. But, I'm not bummed at all, actually. Because I'm really happy with my pouf, and I've wanted one for a long time.

4. If I CAN'T fit the item into a category that's already on our budget, I think through it a bit more and see if it's something we really need or want. Basically, is it a priority? Is it worthy enough for our hard-earned cash? Because if we "add" it to our budget that means other categories will suffer, like saving for our Finish Basement fund (which is our current goal we're working toward). I also know I will have to present it to Eric and convince him that it's worth it, because we agree on where our money goes and our budget is a contract. So do I really want to fight that hard for this one thing? If not, maybe I pin it or store it away as a someday-maybe thing. One of the last times this happened, I realized we didn't have a carbon monoxide detector in our house. We have a Home Maintenance fund, but that money goes toward water filters for our fridge and filters for our furnace, so it was already spoken for. But I brought it up to Eric and we agreed that it was needed to keep us safe, so we bought it. I will say that "wants" barely make their way onto our budget after it's finalized. If they do get added, it's usually something we had talked about buying but just forgot to put it on the budget (professional family photos, Bible study workbook, enrolling Rooney in a Waterbabies class).

So, we do not spend more than our Oops allows, because we are disciplined with our budget, and we do not use credit cards, so we can't spend money we don't have.

To answer your other question, as I mentioned above, we have a category on our budget called Home Decor, which gets $22/month. It's not much, but we also don't need much for our home at this point (want, yes...that is a whole 'nother story...I love decorating!). We are hoping to finish our basement in the next year or so, and that is a separate category on our budget where there will be funds set aside to decorate that space.

What money questions do you have for us?

P.S. Eric's book launches tomorrow at 6:00 am Central time. We've got an early bird giveaway and a launch day giveaway planned for those who want to purchase tomorrow! Don't miss out on the fun.