Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Want......



My husband is a student, and I'm not working, so our budget is tight. Most the time I find I can bear this pretty well. I think I'm really good at not spending money and although I'm not extremely thrifty (as in, clearance sales, second hand, yard sales, and coupons elude me) I feel that my husband and I have a good budget and we keep with it. We are very reasonable with what we put on our budget and we have enough money for our needs and SOME of our wants....

But sometimes I get caught up in the "I want" syndrome. For example, I have $30 to spend left over from my birthday money, and the number of things I want (certainly don't need) could cover several pages. I also walk the mall each morning and "window" shopping isn't the best for me. Because I find that I want new shoes, new dresses (and come on, there are about 5 dresses and 5 skirts I'd just love to have), some new jewelry (nothing expensive, just some long beaded necklaces), some cute stylish headbands, nice interior decorations for my house, a new table, and on and on and on......

I'm really good at restraining myself from buying things because I simply know we don't have the money. But sometimes I get a little crazy (for lack of a better word) thinking that I can't have all the things I want. Inside I KNOW that isn't what is important, but....

How do you avoid buying things that aren't necessary?
How do you decide what to buy when you do have a little extra money to spend on fun things?
Do you and your husband have a budget set aside that gives you discretionary money each month?
Most of all - how do you keep your spirits up when you can't buy those little things you want? How do you remind yourself of what is important?




7 comments:

Alyssa Harper said...

Great topic! I find myself in the same boat sometimes, wanting to buy 16 pages full of unneccessary stuff but not having the budget to do so!

My husband and I do have a discretionary budget. A weekly budget. Somehow it feels different from a monthly one. For example, having a monthly budget of$40 (that's way too high for us right now, but keep with me here for example's sake) IS different than $10 a week for 4 weeks. With the weekly budget, if we want something that costs more than $10, we have to save up. With the monthly budget, I could blow everything on day 2 and be left with nothing for the rest of the month. The main difference is that with the weekly budget, I'm holding money for more days out of the month. Once I spend the saved up money, another $10 comes into my mental account next week. Nothing's more stressful to me than feeling like I don't have ANY money to spend. Saving up a weekly "allowance" also helps me keep my spirits up when I can't buy something I want, (too expensive) because I know that I could get it eventually with enough time. It's also easier to see that I really don't want the item as much as I thought, because saving up to buy something else helps put impulse-wants into perspective.

How do I decide what to buy? I buy whatever I want within my built-up sum. I've convinced myself that that's the beauty of a discretionary budget. Freedom. Sometimes I really crack down and figure out how what I "want most," but having the freedom to spend or not spend money on things just for me (like spontaneously going out to lunch so I don't have to make a meal...GORGEOUS!) keeps me feeling less...confined.

Oh, and when I do have money to spend. I go shopping. I mean, really shopping. Out for a couple hours just looking at stuff, kind of thing. Just going and buying something is a bit anticlimactic for me. If I'm going to spend $10, I get more for my money if I have the full shopping experience to go with it. Besides, it's nice to have a reason to get out of the house. My 12 month old comes with me. He's pretty good about the whole thing. Apparently for him, stores are pretty cool.

JeriLynn said...

Yes, we give ourselves a monthly "allowance". This covers dining out, gifts, personal items, clothing, etc.

I'm afraid I don't have much else to add to this conversation. :S

Delia said...

We are in the same boat as you Tannie. Our budget is very limited so it is hard to find any money for extras. Thankfully there is always Christmas and tax returns. Outside of that though, I have had to combine things to buy what I want. For example our gift budget is very, very small. So to save money I make many of our gifts which also fulfills my hobby wants. Even within that parameter, I try to up-cycle fabrics from old clothing or old projects. I make a game out of it to see how little I can spend while making it as nice as possible.

I also try to shop garage sales, KSL or craigslist, or thrift stores. You can get decor and furniture by sprucing up used stuff. Again making a game out of it helps. Making something out of little or nothing is very rewarding at least for me. I feel that is very empowering too.
The key is to remind yourself not to get discouraged when you don't find stuff every single trip or when not every project turns out how you hoped.

As for clothes. I try to get classics that can be accessorized easily. When you feel like buying a new outfit, buy or, often in my case, make an accessory to spruce up your wardrobe. It can help you want that new dress less and be happy with what you have without breaking the bank or even spending any money if you can make it from scraps of stuff.

When I get discouraged I think of "maybe someday" and for some reason that satisfies me. When I am so caught up in what I want and I can't snap out of it on my own I pray for help to be grateful for what I have now and the peace always comes.

Megan said...

We try to give ourselves $30 a month for spending money. I try and decide a little bit before hand what I want/need to buy with the money so that when I go shopping, I don't go crazy! I also try to do the wait thing. If I see something that I really want, I try to go home and sleep on it and if I still want it the next day and have the money, then I will go buy it. This tends to weed out the impulse buys because if it's something I don't really want/need I don't go back to the store for it.

For keeping my spirits up, I try and do the same thing as Delia. I tell myself, someday I will be able to have that. If I still feel down about something, I talk to my husband and we decide together if it's something we want to save up for and buy or if it's something that really isn't that important. Generally after talking to him, I feel pretty good and can continue on.

Heather said...

I know I don't always think this way, but this is the reality, so I'll put it out there. My husband and I were talking about all the things we'd like to have and the list kept growing with some very expensive items: new couches, new kitchen table set, new car, professional carpet cleaning, big trips, etc. Then I went and helped a lady in our ward with a husband and 4 children who didn't have a couch or any other chair in her living room, food in her cupboards or gas to heat her home. Wow!! That was a reality check. I have pretty comfortable and definitely highly functional furniture in my home--even if none of it matches. :) We have a steady income and insurance--even if it doesn't feel like enough and the copay keeps going up. We have 2 (not one, but two) vehicles and NO car payment. We have a nice home with terrific neighbors--most of whom are in the exact situation we are in. We have clothing to wear without holes even if some of it has been purchased from DI and a good portion of the kids clothes are hand-me-downs. And we have good, healthy food AND the occasional treat, even if we can't go out to dinner as often as I'd like. For keeping your spirits high, service is the key! After taking a peek at someone else's challenges, I guess I have enough.

Chris and Laura said...

We have our budget set up so I get a certain amount of money every two weeks. It goes into its own checking account that is used only for that, completely separate from the account we pay all the bills from. From this budget comes all the groceries, gas money, clothes, and play money. I am responsible for buying all the groceries and such. I know that if I am responsible with that money during the two weeks, I will have some left over for fun stuff at the end of the time. It works for me because I am able to have some control over how much I have left...and if I don't have any left, I know it was because I made other choices along the way.

I guess what I'm saying is that knowing exactly where my money is going and having some level of control over it makes it work. I have the ability to save up for something I want or spend it now if that's what I choose. Even small amounts of control can make a big difference.

Tannie Datwyler said...

I LOVE these ideas! Heather - you hit it right on the head with the service. I think you are right, when I step out and realize how lucky I am - I stop wanting things.

I also do your trick Megan. I go window shopping and see all the things I want, but don't buy something until I've had a few days to think about it. If I still want it, then I know that is what I'll spend my discretionary money on.