Friday, April 18, 2008

Five Budget Busters: and ways to combat them

5 Budget Busters
I was tagged by Carlie at Why Ask Why for a new meme challenge-The Budget Busters Challenge. I am supposed to list the 5 things that can keep me from staying on budget.

I figured I would tie this meme into my Frugal Friday post, since I have wanted to write on how we have managed to keep on budget for those things that can normally make us overspend.

5 potential budget busters at my house:
1. Buying books and magazines
I am avid reader, so I love buying books. I also have a love for homeschooling and homemaking magazines. The problem is, most of the books and magazines I read are not ones found in regular bookstores. That means I have to order them online and then adding a shipping fee on top of it.

Some of the ways I have found to not overspend here is to give myself an "allowance" of sorts. Scott and I pay ourselves a little bit out of each check to spend for things we want. Now I tell you, this is not a huge amount since we have a goal to pay off all our debt this year. It is the one way we have found to not overspend though. When I get my money I am free to buy a book or magazine I love so if I want to.

There was a time where we just didn't have any extra at all, so I would check at my library for any books they had. I also used the interlibrary loan option. Another thing I did was to sell extra books that I wouldn't read again on ebay and then I would use the money to buy new ones. I still do this! I keep the money I earn in my paypal account so I always know what I can spend. I also ask for gift certificates for my birthday and Christmas. I love amazon or ebay gift certificates.

2. Hobbies/Crafts
I am the type that always has to have some kind of project going on. I get bored easily, so I am always learning something new. I never took the time to learn any crafts while growing up, so now I want to learn them all! I have taken up cross stitching, sewing, crocheting, knitting, and far.

As i'm sure you already know, these can all be a big budget buster if I let them! What I have done to keep within my budget is to once again use that allowance, if I have any left. I also have picked up craft items on my local freecycle, at yard sales, and on clearance.

This is another good thing to ask for gift cards for! Hobby Lobby, Joann's and even Walmart carry giftcards. Use them when they have a great clearance to make your buck stretch even more.

For my sewing, I fit that into our monthly clothing budget. I love sewing sweet little dresses for the girls. I still get to practice a hobby I love, as long as I stay within that preset budget. Who knows, maybe i'll start selling some of the little dresses I make to pay for some of my hobbies.

3. Eating out
This can be a big budget buster for us. Just bringing all of my family to McDonald's costs around $35.00. This is why we don't do it very often at all. If we do, we order pizza.

I make a menu and I stick to that faithfully. I prepare in advance now for dinner so that i'm not left at 6:00 with nothing cooked. A little time and planning on my part helps in the eating out department. We used to have to pick up food at least 2-3 x's a week, now I don't have to do that anymore.

Not wanting to totally deprive ourselves of ever having a nice night out to dinner, my hubby and I always go out for our birthdays and anniversary. We also take the whole family out when we get a nice sized check. this is usually income tax time or when Scott finishes a nice sized side job.

4. Gasoline!
Have you seen the prices lately? Gas just went up here again yesterday. I think I saw it at $3.45 for regular unleaded. I know that may not be as much as some of you are paying, but it's the most i've ever seen it here.

You can read my recent post here on what we're trying to do to keep as close to our set budget as we can.

5. Home improvement projects
Our house is always a work in progress. It seems as though the list of things we need to do or want to do grows continually. When we finish one project, we add two more.

While we have no set budget for this, we just put aside money until we have enough to do our project.

We have gotten things we need for our projects from freecycle and the Habitat restore to save money. We have also learned to do everything ourselves. We are even building a set of bunkbeds this weekend. This saves a ton of money! Although we are ever greatful that people hire painters. It helps provide for our livelihood.

The biggest thing that helps, is being content with what we have. Many people overspend here because they want everything beautiful all at one time. While it's nice to dream, we are content with things the way they are. God has blessed us and continues to do so.

There you have it. While we may occasionally go over board and bust our budget, we do much better than we used to. It helps when you have a goal in mind.

Take a minute to think about your own budget busters. What can you do to help bring the cost down to where you can stay within your budget?


Alyssa said...

I really like how you included ways to combat them, good idea!

Kate said...

Great post Teresa! We have some of the same areas where we could break our budget. I had no idea eBay and Amazon did gift cards. I'm definitely asking for those this year.

Also, eating out is a hard one for me. We very rarely do it, maybe once every other month or so. And even then, it is because Eric is part of a trade organization and there is a restaurant close to us that takes trade dollars. We don't have anything else close by to spend our trade dollars on, so we do use it to treat ourselves. (If there's extra sometimes Eric will even pick up dinner just for the two of us on his way home at 10pm) I'm really the downfall when it comes to eating out. Sometimes I just want to eat something someone else has cooked. I know that's not the best attitude, but it does make for a huge treat when we do eat out.

You know, as sad as this sounds, I've found the best way to not overspend in these areas is to have absolutely nothing to spend on them. Isn't it funny how we can adjust and be content when we can't afford certain things, but once we can, it is so easy to overspend.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Mom2fur said...

Magazines used to be a HUGE weakness for me. I would easily spend $40 or more on them. And then I really started to think about what I was getting for the money. I'd flag articles to read later...and realize that I'd only marked off one or two. I used to read just about every scrapbook magazine out there, and then I found the only 'new' things I'd learn from them involved spending money on more 'stuff.'
Cooking magazines? I've let some subscriptions die off because I was only trying less than 10% of the recipes. And there isn't a recipe out there that you can't find either on line or at the library!
And most magazines are cyclical, anyway. For all the articles on organizing I've read in the past few years, I haven't found anything new.
So now, before I bother paying for one (or subscribing to one), I ask myself just how much 'bang' I'll get for my 'buck'!
My husband and I have breakfast at a diner once a week now. It's a 'cheap date' and a nice time to sit and chat. What law says it has to be dinner, right? But, like you, we do go out to 'nicer' dinners for special occasions! By not spending a lot of money every week, we can justify taking ourselves, the four kids and maybe a friend or two out a few times a year!
In other words, being on a budget doesn't mean deprivation. It just means having your priorities straight!