Taking A Moment To Look at What I Buy

by Alison Gerber

money for sensible things

If we’re going to focus this month on buying less, it makes sense to start with a fair assessment of what I currently buy.

Most of our household budget is set firmly in place. Rent, utilities, car expenses, giving to church and charity, savings, healthcare costs are all worked out through set costs and a discussion between Jono and I at the beginning of the financial year.

My week-to-week monetary responsibilities include the following:

$10: My own personal spending. If I want to go out with friends or buy something for myself (clothes, books, haircuts), this is my money. It used to be $20 a week, but I have so overblown my portion of the budget over the last few months that now, in order to get back on track for the rest of the year, I’m scaling back to $10 for the next couple of months.

$40: Spending on the kids. It seems like a lot but it includes lessons for things, clothing, school supplies, stuff for their bedroom, haircuts, outings, whatever.

$110: to spend on food and family entertainment. This means whatever I can save on food, we can spend going out on dates, to concerts, eating out as a family and so on.

$10 (a roll of quarters): To spend on laundry.

Last week these were my expenses:

$15 – taking the kids out for lunch, $20 – back to school supplies for the kids ($5 left in their budget)

$7.50 – hooks from Container Store ($2.50 left in my budget)

$139.50 – food (over by $13.50 at the supermarket… and then I made a last minute trip to Chipotle. 😦 )

$10 – laundry ($0 left in that budget)

From the outset, it’s pretty clear where I need to spend less: on food. In particular, impulse takeaway food, but also at the grocery store. I also need to work out how to manage my own limited spending money such that I’m not spending it all on hooks.

I often feel like the portions of the budget I control from week to week aren’t that significant, but in thinking it over I’ve realized something important: they’re the only portions of our budget where we can save extra money. Which means that they aren’t frivolous at all, but incredibly important. I wonder – by buying less, how much can I actually save this month for our family?

Take a moment now, if you can:
What does your weekly budget entail?
What did you spend money on last week?
What could you do with that money if this month you bought less?

(Image: Purse from Etsy)