Bloggy post to follow.
Having a clearer view than ever before of my household’s budgeting needs and spending patterns*, the following two facts come into focus.
Whereas until recently we believed based on income-vs-expense calculations that we “should” be able to put away a few hundred dollars each month, and it remained a general mystery to us why this wasn’t actually happening, we now see how we are in fact living exactly on the edge. The amount we make is exactly, practically to the dollar, the amount we spend. This is fine except we are not growing our emergency fund, which is bad in itself, and means also we are not reaching the point where we can begin saving for a down payment on a house.**
I can see ways we might trim our spending by even as much as $500 a month. This would probably be an unalloyed good.
Should be a no brainer. Granted there’s the fact that trimming these expenses would involve things like:
*losing Hulu and Amazon Prime (the latter of which we use to stream Amazon to our TV through our Wii),
*downgrading our internet connection,
*telling the kids their birthday celebrations shall consist of a cake and zero guests (because our house can’t handle multiple guests but the school disallows inviting just one kid if you don’t invite the whole class, and we’re just not up for whatever kind of networking it would take to bypass the school in getting invites out),
*Resolutely insisting on “beans and rice” type meals once or twice a week.
Little things like this, which we could handle mostly stress free as we are a happy family, and which as we can see, would add up substantially. Specifically, cutting corners on these “little things” could save us $200 a month.
$100 more could be saved (“saved?” in this case) by downgrading my wife’s health insurance policy, which is risky. So maybe we’d do that, maybe not.
And then there’s the final $200, and what that $200 per month would consist in, would be our own personal discretionary allowances. The money each of us is allowed to spend however we want, whenever we want.
And here’s the thing. As we broach the topic of trimming expenses, I am dead certain that our personal allowances will be the first thing she suggests we get rid of. Because she’s this incredibly selfless individual who sees the allowance as an extravagance, an amazing gift, surprise money each month she can barely imagine how to spend.
And the personal allowance is absolutely the last thing I would want to allow to be chopped. Because I am this incredibly selfish individual, it turns out, who sees the allowance as my due, as a modicum of some kind of freedom, as the assurance that maybe I’ll have money for a nicer laptop when this one finally goes kaput. As MY MONEY. As the small, perhaps symbolic but totally spendable token that shows that we didn’t sacrifice everything. That having kids was not a complete mistake.***
And this is why I’m avoiding the subject. For this completely self-centered reason.
I have no one else to tell, so I tell the SDMB.
(Then there’s the ridiculous dance and sports activities we blow $118 each month on. This will only double once our twins get a little older. I hate, HATE, spending this money. But to my wife it’s nonnegotiable. You’re not doing your job as a parent if you don’t have your kids involved in extra-curriculars, ideally physically oriented ones. Probably most of you agree with her but gah, that’s over $1200 a year! Now I’m off topic.)
(And the fucking JCPenney photographs we spend upwards of $200 a year on. :smack:)
- Via the app You Need a Budget, which I highly recommend
** What has been happening is that unanticipated expenses and yearly expenses which we basically keep forgetting are going to happen end up adding up to the margin. No individual bit of such spending ever seemed significant enough to account for the loss, but, in fact, in aggregate, all such spending was exactly what accounted for the loss.
***Holy moly did I just say that? They’re beautiful, seriously they are. They’ll surely go places. Man I need to stop posting so late.