Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

Balancing My Budget In 2013 Part Three: Irregular Want Expenses

on April 29, 2013

Today’s post follows a previous post, Balancing My Budget In 2013 Part Two: Baby Expenses. My irregular expenses are the next area that I need to focus on, and the one that I have decided to tackle next. These expenses can change depending on a range of factors, which make them harder to predict than contractual expenses.

Spending money is an interesting thing, because we can’t avoid doing it if we want to have food to eat, clothes to wear, and things to do. We are conditioned to part with our money, and the world is filled with clever marketers who rely on that conditioning. The true minimum for our survival becomes clouded with emotions, wants mistaken as needs, and habits that we never question.

For the sake of this step in my process, I need to begin by distinguishing between the things that I need and the things that I think I need but really only want. Needs are things that allow me to survive and prosper. They fall into the following categories:

  • Things that keep me healthy, such as food, medical treatment, and sanitation;
  • Things that keep me safe, such as shelter, utilities, and protective equipment; and
  • Things that help me to produce an income, such as computer software, stationary and education.

If I am being honest with myself, most of the things I spend my money on don’t fall into those categories.

I do not intend to save money this year by reducing my quality of life. I know myself: if I am financially sad, I will go on a massive spending binge. I’m the type of dieter who becomes angry and eats an entire tub of ice cream. Binges are bad in any area, and I know that I am better off spending $10 per month on something than having a single day where I blow $1000 on useless crap that I can’t return.

Here are some of the ways I can save money without feeling deprived:

  • Go to the movies at a different time. Tickets are $7.50 all day on Tuesdays, $9.50 for matinee sessions, and $17.00 for an evening screening. If I see 12 movies a year, by going Tuesday night instead of Saturday night, I save $120. As an added bonus, my Saturday evenings remain free to do other exciting things.
  • Get creative with my clothes. My body is already changing with pregnancy, but there is no need to race out and buy a new wardrobe. I’ve started by wearing the clothes that used to be too big for me, which is exciting because I haven’t worn them for so long. My cupboards are filled with patterns that I could modify and fabric that is untouched. Not only will I have clothes custom designed for me, but I can also clear out some storage space for other things. Using what I already have will probably save me $500 in new clothing.
  • Walk to the shops. The supermarket really isn’t that far away, and the walk is pleasant. Petrol was 155.9c per litre when I last looked, so filling the tank in my car is easily $55. If I can avoid filling it once a month, I save $660. As an added bonus, I stay fitter and fill my body with endorphins.
  • Make gifts rather than buy them. I recently decided to make some cot sheets as a gift for my cousin’s first baby, because I didn’t like the ones in the shops. I only saved $20 on materials, and it took me days to do it, but I had so much fun. While I was entertained for a solid week by this one project, I wasn’t spending money on anything else. If I make the gifts I need to give this year, and save $10 on each of them, I could easily save $200. As an added bonus, homemade gifts get me way more points than shop bought ones.

Just these four changes could potentially save me $1480 a year, and I know there will be countless other changes I can make to shrink my expenses without shrinking my lifestyle. At my last job, it would have taken me two weeks to clear that much money.

2 responses to “Balancing My Budget In 2013 Part Three: Irregular Want Expenses

  1. […] post follows a previous post, Balancing My Budget In 2013 Part Three: Irregular Want Expenses. I am continuing to tackle my irregular expenses, this time focusing on the things in my life that […]

  2. Mandi M. Lynch, author says:

    I don’t know if you guys have loyalty cards like we do, but they give all kinds of savings, too, and are usually free. For instance, I have one that gives me discounts on movie concessions if I go certain days of the week. A $2 popcorn is much better than a $5 popcorn. I also have them for grocery stores, where I may save 10-20% on certain items, and they also send coupons for things I buy all the time. I also have some that give me points every time I buy stuff, which get me store credit when I accrue enough.

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