I’ve noticed that our spending has crept up over the past few months, and I think I’m mostly to blame. The problem is that I can justify just about any purchase and make it seem like a necessity. That’s probably a big reason we got into so much debt a few years ago. We’re not in that situation by a long shot, but I’m not liking the trends. I’ve found that when I share my financial woes, I’m much more likely to turn negative into positive, so here are the things I’m spending too much money on and how I’m going to stop.
No, I won’t stop buying food, but our grocery spending has crept up since we paid off our debt. In a way, I’m OK with that because one reason to pay off debt is so you can actually buy a bag of cherries and not feel guilty about it.
On the other hand, I do think I get fooled by the store’s advertising. I see things on sale and buy them, even if we don’t really need them at the time. The other day I went in for a few items and found myself buying 6 boxes of granola bars because they were on sale. Since the cart was filling up, I decided to stock up on a few more items. Next thing you know I’ve spent $100 instead of the $20 I was planning.
The other thing I’ve been doing is not using up what’s in our pantry. We had some guests over last week. I had plenty of stuff to make lasagna, but I wanted to grill outside because, well, I was lazy. I went to buy steaks, shrimp, and chicken. It was a great meal, but we could have just had the lasagna and been fine.
How to fix my grocery habit: I am not going to the grocery until at least October 20th unless it’s for milk or fresh produce. We have plenty of other stuff to eat. I’m also making sure I stick to a list so I won’t be distracted by tricky sales pitches. No more buy 4, get them for $1.99.
I am ashamed at how much we’ve bought on eBay recently. I can justify it because it’s all used stuff and much cheaper than buying retail, but it still adds up. Some recent purchases have been a box full of kid’s chapter books, a Halloween costume after I swore we weren’t spending a penny on Halloween, and some compression bags to save room in our suitcases. All nice things to have, but I need to space out my purchases and not buy them at the same time.
How to exit eBay: Stop buying anything until after Christmas, unless it’s actually a gift we have to buy anyway. I’m going to try and give Amazon gift cards to most of the people on our Christmas list. It’s not one of those thoughtful, personal gifts, but I love gift cards and I don’t want to shop, so there you go. I’m also going to make up all the money I’ve spent on eBay by selling stuff from around the house. I’ve already made back $38.
Including the eBay books, plus what I’ve spent on Kindle, we are way over budget for this category. I justify it by saying that reading is an excellent hobby, and it is good for my daughter. That’s true, but we don’t need to buy more books.
Avoiding the book: I am trying Kindle Unlimited to see if that can curb my spending, but I think I’ll cancel it, at least until after the holidays. Until then, it’s the library all the way. If I have to wait a week to get a book, that’s a good lesson in patience.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have a bad vice about fountain Diet Pepsi. I used to get one a day and was able to justify this as personal spending and not any worse than coffee. Lately, I’ve found myself getting two a day, them I might pick up a snack or pack of gum. If you want to piddle away money, buy crap from the convenience store. Spending way too much on stuff that is not good for me, hmmm, what’s wrong with this picture?
Skip convenience at all costs: I gave up soda last week, cold turkey. I do crave one around 3PM, but it passes. I am also not going to a gas station for anything other than gas. This should save about $7 and change a week that will go straight into our travel fund. Realizing that giving up soda for a year will buy a plane ticket or a couple of nights in a hotel was the kicker.
This really isn’t something I have control over and that’s why it’s driving me crazy. For our house, we cut insurance costs substantially last year by switching companies. Our property taxes also went down by just a bit. Our escrow payment, however, went up. When I called Wells Fargo, they told me they are only able to review escrow accounts once a year and it had been done a couple of months before. So like fools, we paid the higher payment and then got a refund check at the end of the year. I let Well Fargo keep my money for almost a year!
How to beat escrow: Last month, the same thing happened with our rental property, but I won’t fall into the trap again. I cancelled it. I thought it would be harder actually, but all it took was a phone call. It was so easy that I cancelled our home escrow account as well. Now, we can keep our own money and pay taxes and insurance ourselves.
This would never have worked in our over spending days, but we are certainly able to set aside money each month to cover these costs. While I don’t expect to earn huge interest, at least we aren’t giving our money to a big company to hold on to.
Thoughts on Spending Money
Spending money is personal and not up to me to decide for anyone other than myself. Our main goals for our money are to invest and pay off our mortgages. Our spending priorities outside of basic necessities are for family experiences and travel. This is why I’m putting my foot down on unnecessary spending that keeps us from those goals. I encourage you to look at your spending patterns and see if anything has gotten out of hand. Are you justifying your over spending? From experience, it’s much better to squash it right now instead of looking back years later and wishing you’d done things differently.
Is there anything you’ve been spending too much on lately?