Show me the money!

I have a big date coming up with a very important, successful man.

Not a romantic date. I have a date with a financial planner. In preparation, I’ve been examining my spending. My monthly bills are listed. I have a year and a half of spending tracked on Mint (if you don’t use, sign up. I love it.) I’ve contacted HR about lowering my contribution to my 401(k), so I can start contributing 4 percent to my brand-new Roth IRA. I’ve done the homework. I’ve made some changes. I’m looking at making others. But, here are a few things I won’t give up. They’re worth the splurge.

1.Local produce. It costs a little more in both green & energy. You have to go to the farmers market on farmers market day at farmers market time. It’s not as convenient as stopping at Safeway after work. But when spinach, eggs or beef are recalled, you don’t have to check dates and throw out food. Yours is good. Local foods has less of an environmental impact & you can meet the people who grew your eats. It’s endlessly worth it.
2.Expensive jeans. I wear jeans about six days a week. I want jeans that look and feel good, not saggy & unflattering. I don’t spend $200+ on jeans, but I won’t buy the $30 ones at Target either. I’m thinking in the $80-$110 range.
3.Health. My employer offers two plan options. I opted for the more expensive one. I want to see the doctor I want to see – not the one the plan deems worthy. Yoga classes and therapy are also worthy of my dollars.
4.Travel. My family is in Minnesota & Virginia. I will pony up the $300-400 for plane tickets a couple times a year. Even on holidays. I also like to see new places. The money I spent on  trips to Chicago, London, Copenhagen and New York (not all in the same year) was well spent.
5.Lunch, dinner, cupcakes or drinks out with friends. Time with my friends is priceless to me. We’re reasonable. We don’t go to the Four Seasons for dinner every week, but if a friend asks me to join him or her for a drink, I’m going. Similarly, I like to take in a Mariners game or other sort of outing. I like to find discounts on Groupon & Living Social. Why pay full price?
6.Charitable contributions. I do not, will not give to the people with clipboards who ask me to “save the children” or “save the whales” on the sidewalk, but I have organizations I like to support. Some of my favorites are Red Cross, Toys for Tots and anything for sick or underprivileged children.

For the above, I am willing to go without:
1.Expensive home décor. My friend Betsy is a genius when it comes to making your pad first rate on a dime. She taught me the value of finding used furniture and making quick updates by sewing pillow covers.
2.Piles of stuff. I’d prefer to Netflix movies than to buy them; put my name on the list at the library rather than buy new books, etc. Less cost & less clutter.
3.A gym membership. This one was tough for me, but I can take a walk on my lunch break, run around the lake & do yoga videos at home to burn my calories. And I do! I actually lost more weight since I moved and left my gym membership behind.
4.A small home that I can easily afford and still put money in savings each month. Similarly, my car is 8 years old, paid off and just fine.
5.Expensive drinks. I’m happy with my $3 bottles of wine.
6.Pricey soaps, lotions & makeup. The drugstore stuff works just fine for me. I also consider manicures & spa services sometimes treats, not regular occurrences.

So tell me, what are you unwilling to compromise on? How do you balance that out?



A good budgeting tool

Financial calculators

Published by Candace

I’m a journalist, nutritionist, doting auntie, one-time bobsledder, and wannabe health nut (who loves chocolate and pizza too much to fully commit). I don't want you to think my life is perfect. It's not.

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