Finding Money For New Expenses When the Income Stays the Same
Learning how to budget has been life changing for my family. Taking the time to really consider all of our expenses, both needs and wants, and then comparing those figures to our income, gives one a very realistic idea how to make careful financial decisions. As I have made reference to previously, we try to be prepared for when "Murphy comes to town."
The truth is however, that often "Murphy" should be more an expectation than a surprise. An emergency fund is a great way to be prepared for the unexpected (or the expected) but after working hard to get ours, Husband and I do not want to use this reserve unless we have no other option. With this in mind, I was considering how appliances in our day and age do not seem to last as long as they did in years gone by. Blessed to have been able to purchase a new stove and refrigerator six years ago when we moved into our present home, and with a washer now over ten years of age and a dryer purchased by my mother over 30 years ago, I knew it would only be a matter of time before appliance repair or replacement would be on our agenda.
Yet, honestly, at the present time, I am finding it challenging to be true to several of my budget categories. I do confess I have been known to walk out of the grocery store in the past year with some tears in my eyes as I seek to be diligent to shop with health in mind. The continuing rising costs of food can be discouraging and we all know the challenges of staying within our gas budgets, especially if you live in the large state of Texas! Right now our house budget is squeaking as we work on a few much desired and waited for improvements and even the thrift shops seem to be costing more!
With these facts in mind, I set out to find a way to be better prepared for appliance repair or replacement. As Youngest Son has just about completed his homeschool education, I was able to take the $20.00 per month I had been paying for his Spanish lessons and create our new appliance fund. Then when an opportunity came to reduce our internet costs from $50.00 per month to $38.00 per month, I put the overage into the appliance category as well. I soon realized though that the internet savings was needed to beef up another category impacted by rising costs so those monies were no longer an option. With some more thought I realized that since I like to consider my budget categories as allocations and not just amounts that are spent each month, I had a few categories which have a balance at the end of the month.
These balances now provide a means for me to find a few dollars each month for me to add to the $20.00 that had been Spanish lessons. By rounding off these balances to an even amount at the end of the month I am able to put a few more dollars here and there into my appliance fund. Slowly but surely this reserve has been growing. Of course as most often is the case, not too long after creating this new account, my dryer broke. The decision was made for the time being to not look to repair or replace our dryer as it is not really necessary and so I am hanging all of our clothes.
Yes, although I would not say a dryer is a priority, especially in hot Texas, there are seasons of my life, where being able to use the dryer is a great time saver and worth the extra electric. For now though I hang all of our clothes. Don't laugh, but part of my reasoning for not spending the money to repair or replace with a second hand machine is that I want to get this fund to such an amount that one replacement or repair will not wipe out the fund. So I wait and keep socking away our little bit here and little bit there and when the right dryer comes along or we decide to repair our "antique" one, our fund will not be left dry and empty.
I am still working on finding a way to be prepared for a new roof and air-conditioner which more than likely will be on the agenda in another five years or so, but I am so grateful to have found a way to be better prepared for when Murphy comes to town regarding my appliances.
How do you find a means for new budget categories?