It often comes to my attention that I have a really low spending threshold for just about everything, much to my significant other’s chagrin. He thinks I am absolutely silly for stressing out about the little things, and deep down, I agree with him, but can’t seem to shake the habit. That’s for another post, though!
When I say spending threshold, I mean what I am willing to spend on an item. I always have an amount that I am comfortable with spending for something in my head, and when that amount is off, I re-evaluate to see if I should still consider it, or step away. I know a lot of you probably use this tactic for big ticket items, but I have a horrible habit of doing this for everything. Am I alone in this?
I don’t buy things that aren’t on sale, unless they have an awesome regular price tag. This sometimes means going a week or two without our favorite meals. If we can make do with something else, we will. I would never refrain from buying anything if we were seriously running low on food, but that hasn’t happened yet. I prefer to clear out what we currently have before stocking up again, especially since our freezer is quite small.
My boyfriend thinks the price of food, within reason, is trivial to worry over. We need to eat, thus spending on groceries is an inevitable evil we have to face. I like to do whatever I can to reduce that amount, though. For the large majority of food items, I would say my spending threshold is between $2-$4. You can keep in mind that I don’t buy any sort of specialty food, though I would love to go organic in the future.
Some recent awesome deals we found the other night while shopping were: 3 for $5 on bags of spinach (we only got one), $0.99 for one 8 oz. package of cream cheese (for cheesecake, yum), 3 for $5 for coffee creamer (we got 2), 3 for $5 also on lettuce in a bag (purchased 1), $1.50 for baby carrots in a bag, $1 bag of frozen vegetables, $3.33 for a frozen pizza (Red Baron), and ice cream for $2.
Even if an item is on “sale”, if I’ve seen it priced less, I’ll probably wait for that sale instead. If it’s something non-essential like snacks, I definitely make sure I’m getting the most for my money. It’s like a game to me; a challenge to get the best prices at all times. My boyfriend would rather grab what we want and go, no thinking involved at all, but I can’t bring myself to do that.
I’m going to say I inherited this habit from my mom. Back in the days of penny pinching, she always made sure she got the best price on everything. To do this, you need to know the prices and trends of what you buy. This is why it’s important to me to not only track our spending, but to track the price of individual items we spend on. I can do this mentally after years of shopping with my mom and scouring the circulars. For the most part, we try to keep each trip to the grocery store under $60, and we shop about once a week.
I am the worst when it comes to eating out. I mentioned this in my breakfast post the other day, but sometimes I can’t bring myself to pay the price for something I can easily make at home, which is why we don’t go out to eat often at all. A lot of you brought up the time factor in regards to clean-up, which I can agree with, but I don’t feel like we’re currently in a position to put time ahead. We are in DIY-mode for the most part while we’re paying back our student loans.
As you can see from our budgets, we do go out to eat, but I always make sure there’s a special going on, or that we have a coupon. It sounds silly and I guess somewhat restricted to those of you who really enjoy dining out, but we haven’t had an issue with it.
For example, if we ever go to Applebees, we always order off the 2 for $20 menu. An appetizer and two entrees for that much is a good bargain to me. If we’re in the mood for pasta, we go somewhere local that has pasta night for $11 each. This includes a drink, soup/salad, entree and dessert along with coffee/tea. There’s another local pizza place that offers a large pie for $9 Sunday-Thursday. Going out to eat on a weekday helps, as well as getting a lunch portion when possible.
I do want to say that I don’t really value going out to eat, and can understand wanting to spend more on this activity if you’re a foodie or just enjoy the experience. I am trying to work on being a picky eater, but for now, simple food is better than something gourmet. For the most part, our bill never exceeds $30. I try to stick to plates $11 and under, and we rarely order an appetizer unless it is included.
I am happy to say that I barely purchased any clothing in 2013. Having moved in with R, we had to condense all of our stuff into one big closet and our two dressers. Yikes. I was quite used to having my dresser, two closets (one in the spare bedroom), and two plastic little containers with 3 drawers. Honestly, some of my hoodies that I had packed away last winter are still sitting in boxes because there’s simply no room for them.
I had determined that I had enough clothes and that I needed to wear what I had for a while. It was made difficult by the fact that my coworkers at my old job all dressed very nicely. It seemed as if they had a new outfit every week, and there were times I felt under-dressed. I just kept telling myself that as long as my bosses were fine with it, I had nothing to worry over.
I don’t think I’ll be buying many new clothes this year, either, as my current job is very lax and doesn’t really have a dress code. However, I will say that I am trying to adapt to spending a bit more on clothing. I’ve started to realize the value in having classic, well-made pieces that will last years.
I haven’t really ever had a problem with my clothes falling apart, though, and I mostly shop at J.C. Penney’s and Kohls. For the most part I like to stick between $10-$15 for tops, and $20-$25 for jeans. I’ve been trying to find a decent pair of boots I like for about $30. Aside from running shoes, I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than $50 on a pair of shoes. I suppose it helps that I’ve never really paid attention to fashion trends.
Lastly, I’ll touch on cosmetics, because I had a horrible addiction to buying new products back in 2012. After hearing it from my boyfriend numerous times while I was browsing the beauty aisles of Target, I decided he was right and that enough was enough. Seeing as my focus was slowly shifting to student loans, I started to lose interest in spending money, and thus, lost interest in buying things I didn’t quite need. As I stated in my other post, not watching YouTube reviews really helped cease any temptations.
Now I always try to buy only what I need when I run out. I have enough eyeshadow to last me forever, and while the new Naked 3 palette looks really pretty, I’m not going to bother. I use coupons when I can, and usually shop at Target or a drugstore to get the best deals. The only high-end products I’ve purchased are my eyeshadows, and I’m probably going to keep it that way for a bit.
I would say most drugstore brands run in the $10-$15 range, but I try to stick to $10 and under, unless it’s foundation. I’ve also been trying low-cost brands like E.L.F. and NYX that have excellent lines. It helps that coupons for cosmetics and beauty products are plenty in the paper.
Overall, I might be too cheap for my own good, and I am better at saying “no” to things than “yes.” I know a lot of people wish they had this issue, but I think both extremes deserve attention. It’s important for me to note that I don’t really feel deprived in life; it’s just a necessity right now as we get rid of our debt.
What is your spending threshold for your budget categories? Is there anything you wish you spent more or less on?