Monday, August 4, 2008

More on the money, the tricky misc budget

The misc part of the budget is really the trickiest in my opinion. Because misc expenses are the ones that I feel are more unexpected. For us, misc is anything that isn't a bill or regular payment, gas or car related, food, or for entertainment purposes. So our misc budget covers a really broad range.
Some examples of items under the misc budget that we recently bought or will perhaps be buying in the near future:
*Toilet Paper
*Drain clog remover
*Weed and feed for the lawn
*A ladder
*Repairs to any part of the house
...and so on....

You can see a really wide range of expenses here, going anywhere from $1 to $1000 and up. So this is going to be a really tricky area to regulate.

First the good news, within the past year, we have done a great deal of replacing/fixing items in the house. We have a new water heater, a recently unclogged sewer line, an A/C that checked out fine when we replaced the furnace, and newer appliances that are covered under warranty. I am knocking on some major wood here, but as far as MAJOR expenses, we should be pretty good for the rest of August at least.

In addition, I have been reading up on more natural/greener cleaners and I just want to give everyone a little tip about using more all natural products. GOING GREEN IS CHEAPER. At least in the general sense. I spend today reading up on cleaning methods using vinegar, baking soda, borax, lemon juice, etc. all of those products cost a fraction of traditional cleaning methods, and it feels great (well at least to me) to do a little part to help the environment! So once all my old stuff is used up, I will be using some of the above mentioned products. Also, while I am waiting for my shampoo to run out I am looking into alternatives for washing my hair. I know that there are other methods out there, and even if some of them are too crazy to consider, it can't help to look into them.

Now onto the bad news....we have several larger expenses that I didn't consider when figuring out how much to allocate for August. First, my contacts. I am in desperate need to go the eye doctor and get new contacts. While I wear mine much longer than I am supposed too, it is still an expense to even get a few. I think I am just going to have to suck this up though, since I need to be able to see! Next, is a new ladder. We had a great, old, beat up 8 ft ladder that was stolen. We didn't really have a place to put the ladder so we had it behind the shed in the back yard and someone took it. (I won't get into how much it freaks me out that we had no clue when someone was in our yard or what else they tried to get.) The one I have my eye on is about $100. It folds up so it could be stored securely and it could be used for many other projects inside the house, where as our old one was too tall to do anything inside the house.

So now I have to put myself through a large questioning before I can justify making this purchase. Do we really need a ladder? Yes, because our gutters need to be cleaned out and reattached to the house within the next few weeks and using a ladder cannot be avoided. It is important to keep up with this maintenance in order to avoid bigger problems later. Would we use the ladder again? Yes, we will have other needs in the house that will require a ladder, but they would be weeks or months away. Is it realistic that we could borrow a ladder? Well we could borrow one from our parents, but they would have to bring it in their truck and it probably wouldn't be worth the gas money. We can ask our neighbor to borrow their ladder, but we need to eventually buy one of our own for projects that will take more than a couple hours.

You may think I am totally insane for having this conversation with myself, but Nathan and I have both bought wayyy to many things not fully thinking about if we really needed them. So now before we purchase almost anything I am going to put myself through this 3rd degree even though it may seem a little drastic. But I bet if you look around your house today you will find at least three items that if you had thought about more before you bought them, you wouldn't of and you would have been just fine.

Another drastic measure we are taking is more Target. Yes, you read that right. Please, remember to breathe in and out as I am sure you just made a huge gasp and now may be are struggling for air. Or maybe you burst out laughing when Nathan did when I made this statement to him. After the laughing subsided the conversation went like this,
N: "But where are we going to get all the stuff we normally buy from there?"
Me: "Well, like what stuff honey?"
N: "Um, shampoo, toothpaste....clothes."
Me: "We just bought toothpaste and we can get any of that other personal care stuff same brand and everything at Family Dollar. And when I was making the budget for August you told me you were pretty set on clothes. Anything else?"
N: "No, I guess not." (sad look)

Don't get me wrong, I love Target. I love being able to buy so many cute things under one roof. But Target is dangerous. How many times have you walked into Target planning on getting just a few things and then somehow end up with an $80 receipt and a cart full of stuff? It happens to me all the time. Now Nathan and I will be going to stores where impulse buying is not quite as easy because you don't have nearly as many options. We can get all of our personal care items at Family Dollar, which just happens to be two doors down from where we get groceries.

Now I am not crazy enough to think I will never walk into another Target again. I am sure I will. But for now, I am just going to avoid it and I think the budget will thank me.

Next up is the post about the food budget. I am thinking it is going to be a looooonnnng post, so be prepared.


Anonymous said...

A lot of your "misc" stuff needs to go into a "toiletries" heading. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, deoderant, body wash, face wash, laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels, makeup...all of that falls under the toiletries heading in our house. And I budget $50/month.

And I understand your need to avoid Target. I can never take Chad with me. I have the willpower to avoid all the unfathomably cute stuff, but Chad does not. At all. And he swears he's the cheap one - HA!

beth said...

Where did you find all the "recipes" for the natural home cleaners? I want to try some of that stuff. Do they work well?

N. said...

I am loving these posts...
And, you have some great ideas that I really need to do as well (avoid shopping)!
And, I actually have been using 'natural' beauty projects for awhile now. Not to be green (added bonus), but just bc we don't need all the chemicals and crap that comes in name brand shampoo, soap, make-up, etc. And it's definitely cheaper than when I used to buy hair products at a beauty supply, make-up from a dept. store, etc.
Final And, my hair, face, skin, everything is better now that I use natural products.

Kelly said...

No Target is a good idea. I would have to extend mine to Walmart. Not because I find impossibly cute things there but because I feel like everytime I go there to buy groceries, I end up buying other random things that I could probably do without.

You've inspired me to try grocery shopping at a store that sells ONLY groceries and then go to Family Dollar (or something similar) for my other purchases. That way, I'm not tempted because obviously I will need to grocery shop way more often than shop for toiletries and paper goods.

Mary said...

I admire you for giving up Target. I couldn't do it. I get all my toiletries there. And it's at least $100 every time. You think, "wait, I just thought I needed soap!"

Amanda, Mandy, Manda, Tomato said...

I have a few suggestions for your misc budget.

*toothpaste - watch the circulars and buy the two for sales
*toilet paper - same thing as toothpaste or maybe Costco if you decide to go that route (DH jokingly tells me to steal TP from work)
*Contacts - I'm no help here. I really don't know a frugal way with these guys. I guess if you wanted to be *really* frugal you could start wearing glasses all the time.
*Drain clog remover - we had probs with hair clogging the drain in our tub so I bought a little plastic thing to stick in the drain that catches all the hair for less than $2. That has saved us at least $40 in the last year.
*Clothes - For casual clothes, shop thrift stores. It's the cheap and green thing to do.
*Weed & Feed - look into organic things you can do?
*A ladder - try craigslist or the freecycle network

Good luck!