Thursday, September 9, 2010

Splurge vs Steal

I was looking over our budget today & started thinking about things that we splurge on as a family, & things that we are not interested in spending much money on. We live in a very High Cost of Living area, & I think it's all too easy to get caught up in the "keeping up with the neighbors" game.

Although we try to be conscious of this, we definitely lose our way from time to time.

  • We're huge spenders on produce. We buy organic whenever possible, and we buy a very big variety. M doesn't really believe in snacks (more on that some other time :-)), and is a fan of fruits, vegetables, or nuts if you're hungry between meals. If I followed this plan, I wouldn't be trying to lose weight, I'm sure. I did a tally a few weeks ago, & we had 14 varieties of fruit in our house at one time. Most people I know would consider this ridiculously wasteful. However, we don't throw out food. Despite the quantity & variety we're purchasing, it's all getting eaten. Our kids have definitely benefitted from the variety and availability of fresh produce - they regularly reuqest it and eat almost any fruit & vegetable.
  • Owning a vacation house is an obvious splurge. We couldn't have chosen something that I enjoy more than the house. We never vacationed with our kids due to logistical challenges, & having our own house makes life so simple. The boys have clothes at the beach house, toys, we store food there, so we can decide to leave for the beach & spend 15 minutes throwing things in the car. My family has also gotten a great deal of use out of the beach house, so we love that others are also enjoying it. We've considered relocating to this specific beach town, & thought that buying a vacation house was a good first step in determining whether we would ever want to live there full time. It's not for everyone, but as far as I'm concerned, was the best purchase we've ever made.
  • M & I regularly go to Las Vegas. Probably 2 times per year. It's one of the only locations we can get to quickly (and cheaply) from our house, and we're always very tight on time, as we have family watching the children. This is a definite splurge (although our rooms and food is comped by the casino) as M has a special "gambling" fund. It does not come out of our typical budget, and was funded by some stock he sold long before we met. I'll admit, the first time I ever heard about the gambling fund, it bothered me a bit, & I thought of 5700 other ways we could use the money. After spending more time thinking about it (and enjoying the plush room in Las Vegas and sampling fabulous food - for free), I realized something. M spends very little money on himself. He doesn't smoke, go out with the guys and buy drinks, have expensive hobbies, or anything else. This is his "thing", & I've embraced it. He recently gave me a big portion of his winnings to cover a few expenses, which was an unexpected treat. ;-)
It feels much easier to write about what we don't spend our money on, rather than what we consider splurges. :-)
  • Clothes. I love clothes as much as the next fashionista, but only buy on sale, & try to shop from my closet. I've greatly improved this, as clothing was a much higher percentage of my budget back in the single days.
  • Pampering. M & I both get the occasional hair cut, & I buy mostly drugstore brand makeup. I try to buy virtually all of our household items (shampoo, medicine, razors, etc) at Rite Aid on the cheap. I love Sephora, but avoid it unless I have a gift card.
  • Starbucks. Love, love, love it. We chose to buy an expensive espresso machine & kick our Starbucks habit.
  • Date nights. We go once a month & hit up cheap happy hours and/or use gift cards for our dates.
  • Technology. M & I both enjoy gadgets (phones, TVs, etc), but don't allocate a budget item for this. It's too easy for us to get caught up in having the latest & greatest.
  • Cars. We both had very nice cars before we got married, & have kept them. M has a beautiful Lexus SUV that is 10+ years old. We'll drive it until it dies. I have a BMW that I bought as a graduation present to myself (after I completed my MBA). Had I known that I would be having kids shortly after & the BMW would become a Mom Mobile, I would have gone with a Subaru or something infinitely more practical. However, I bought it with cash, so I'll keep it until it stops running. As you can see, neither of these cars are exactly depriving us, but we are not caught up in the "buy a new one every two years" game that some of our neighbors seem to enjoy.
I'm sure I will come up with more later, but am very curious - what do you consider to be your splurges vs steals?

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