Wednesday, June 29, 2016
My Expensive Frugal Lifestyle
I was chatting with a coworker a about out of work activities, mine, DH, and DD2's. This was the same day the final approval of our contract including our raises was announced as approved, plus some resources for increasing our own contribution to our retirement accounts, and reminder of the maximum and catch up option if over age 50. "Wow," she said abruptly after we were talking a while, "I guess you're not at risk of maxing out your accounts!" I could see from her perspective that it might seem like that. Roughly we all make in the same general salary range-some a bit more, other less depending on specific position and tenure. We make decent salaries, but not overwhelming. I didn't really think about our activities as being luxuries-they just are part of our spending priorities.
Every family and individual has to divide their earnings and conquer the must haves and then decide what to do with what is left over. For a really long time, I've been trying to contain costs on the must haves, an absolute necessity when we were starting our family. The must haves pretty much ate most of the income. Since then, we try and make conscientious decisions of what must haves in other family budgets are simply "not very often's" for us. We have a hefty list of expenses that many families do not have, but also spend little to nothing on items that are second nature to others. And yes, we are maxing out the official tax deferred, and after tax Roth opportunities, but know we could, maybe should, save more in just straight cash asset's. We are probably just adequately protected for life insurance, but one is also whole life, and say what you will about it, while it sucked up a lot of cash flow when we were young, because we left it alone, we have recouped and then some in cash value what we put into it, plus have increased our coverage.
Some, well most, of our expensive budget items follow DD#2, as they followed her siblings when they were home. DD#1 was by far the bargain child! (If she reads this, she will 100% back me as the truth) For DD#2 we have violin lessons, show choir, traveling soccer, and her school trips. For us, we have a newer car, wine club, and annual vacation. We love movie theaters and treating ourselves to popcorn, and I've already shared my habit for eating out and buying books. We give to our church and charities as a priority.
But my frugality kicks in to help defray the cost of these luxuries. I or DH always do our volunteer commitment and work fundraisers that help keep the activity fees down. We've restructured violin lessons and now DD takes duo lessons, for 45 minutes instead of 30, but for a 25% fee reduction than her solo ones were. More time, plus savings. My car also promotes DH's business, wine club doubles as a night out and gifts for family and friends. While we eat out more than I would like to admit, simple but delicious home cooking and baking keeps our overall food expenses down, and I'll use coupons or take advantage of gift card and points. My Keurig was a luxury, but wit the old coffee maker (really only about 6 years old), leaking, it's the hardest working appliance next to the refrigerator. I'm trying to curb my desire for a Nespresso machine, but it is on my wish list after the camera.
Clothing is where I save the most compared to what I think might be typical working woman budgets, because trends and high fashion are not important to me. I like comfortable, neat and classic pieces. (OK-maybe I look a bit frumpy, but I doubt a new closet would change my appearance drastically.) Vacations are a challenge for me to see how I can plan a budget with a balance of splurge and save in different areas, then try and come in under my set budget, but not compromising. As for charitable donations, not giving back when we've been blessed with so much just doesn't seem right for me, but we plan where and when, and do take advantage of the tax deduction.
Frugal Trenches does a series called How We Spend Our Money. the posts are well worth the read. I'm fascinated that 100 families will spend money 100 different ways and there is always something new to learn. While I'm not intending to teach anyone anything, I sure like learning how others stretch their budget, but also when they just simply say "no" to spending, or "yes" to a splurge. Sure, I wish theoretically I didn't feel a need to count the dollars and cents, but yet, there is something rewarding about knowing you could spend something on a luxury, and making the decision to just forgo. Now if the Nespresso ads would stop jumping into my Facebook feed, I would have better will power.