The practice of purchasing only what we need and picking and choosing the items we want is something that David and I have done in phases over the past couple of years. And now, at a time when we have had to plunk down significant amounts of money to repair both of our cars, it is hitting me (again) that buying what we need trumps spending money on things we want.
So, I am making a list of things that I buy here and there that I do not need, and I am going to do my best to not buy these things for a good long while.
1 - My weekly “Friday treat” at Starbucks. This was something I began this summer, mostly because I enjoy having an iced caramel macchiato on a warm day. At first, I felt okay about this because it was “only once a week,” but because my purchase replaced my breakfast, I was spending $5.14 each Friday morning for a drink and something to eat. That’s anywhere from $20 to $25 each month.
2 - Music on iTunes. Sure, it’s fun to have new music now and then, but do I need it? We have an entire CD tower full of music that I love, much of which I haven’t listened to recently. At anywhere from $7.99 to $12.99 an album (or $.99 for individual songs), there were times I spent up to $25 in a month on music. I’d much rather save that money and put it toward purchasing a season of a television show that I can watch while I exercise. It’s a much better use of that money for me.
3 - Lunches out during the week. This is one thing I have gotten very good at avoiding. For the past four or five weeks, I have brought my lunch to work every day. On the days that I used to buy a lunch, Jimmy John’s was most often my take-out of choice, and a Turkey Tom sandwich with cheese costs $6.22. That’s not even including a drink and chips, though I usually opt out of them anyway. But if I were to go to JJ’s once a week, I could spend up to $25. And let's not even mention the cost in calories!
4 - Brand-name food items. Groceries add up. We all know this. So if I can get something for less because it’s a generic brand, I’m going to buy it. What I really need to start doing is buying my produce from a market instead of Jewel, especially in the summer when we’re buying more fruit. But convenience has, thus far, won out.
5 - Clothing. This is on the list more so because, in the past, I have had a tendency to splurge on something because it was cute or on sale or because “I deserve it after the week I’ve had.” But the truth is, if I’m not replacing something I’ve given to the Friendship Center, or if it’s not a bridesmaid’s dress, I don’t need it. I have gotten much better at this over the years, but I still have moments when I struggle with wanting an item of clothing as opposed to actually needing it.
6 - A quick meal on the way home. We were on track with this for a while, thanks to the Menus by the Month blog, but the unpredictability of summer has made it difficult to keep up with that. The result? Ordering pizza, heading out to Chipotle, or stopping at the store to pick up a few things on the way home from work, none of which is cost-effective. As we head into fall, which will bring with it MBA classes for David and work on the church newsletter for me, it will be more important than ever to create our monthly menus, shop accordingly, and stick to them.
This isn’t to say we’ll never splurge or that we’ll deny ourselves anything and everything we like. After all, David and I very much enjoy our monthly date nights and count them as a priority. But I would rather put the money I’ve been spending on the above items toward our house fund. I’ve even found myself saying, “If I don’t [go to Starbucks] [buy that album] [get that dress], that money can go toward a house” lately.
It’s working so far . . .