As our income has gone up we’ve allowed some lifestyle inflation to creep into our budget. It’s fine to indulge a guilty pleasure or to spend more on something you really enjoy, as long as it’s within reason. Here are some areas I’ve identified as potential budget busters:
We don’t watch a lot of television but we’re not ready to cut the cord yet either. Specialty channels like HBO and AMC have some of the best programs on TV. And as a die-hard NFL fan, I splurge for Sunday Ticket each fall so I can watch all the games.
Last year we spent about $90 per month on cable, so this year I took a look at our service and programming with Bell and scaled down to the basic package. We added HBO for two months in the spring to get our Game of Thrones fix, and I kept the football package.
This year we’ll pay about $65 per month. I was interested to hear that the feds want to force cable providers to unbundle channels and provide pick and pay services. Hopefully that change can save us even more.
I love to shop at Costco because of the low prices per unit and great quality of products, but we spend $350 to $400 per month at the wholesale club and our grocery bill is going through the roof. In an uncontrolled experiment last month, we skipped the Costco trip in favour of a few extra trips to Safeway. The result – we spent $150 less on our grocery bill last month.
We’ve also started buying more organic fruits and vegetables and have considered becoming a member of a community supported agriculture group through a local grower to get fresh vegetables every week. It’s expensive, though. A full share, which feeds a family of 4-5 people, costs $700 for approximately 16 weeks of deliveries.
Related: Organic Food Gardening
We like to keep a clean house, but two young kids and three pets can quickly turn our home into a disaster. Last year we brought in a house cleaner to tackle the bathrooms and do a thorough cleaning of the floors. The service costs $70 every two weeks, but saves us hours of cleaning. We value the free time so we’ve justified the cost for now. It gives us more time to spend together, to relax, and to work on our small business.
Our oldest child is getting into more activities and the costs are adding up. So far there’s pre-school, ballet, and piano lessons.
Pre-school costs $140 per month to go for two-and-a-half hours, three days a week. It’s a private run school, so a lot of the fundraising falls on the parents. Ballet is relatively inexpensive; 26 weeks of classes cost just $210, but when you add up the cost of clothes, concerts, and DVD’s it can get pricey. Piano lessons set us back $75 per month, plus the $400 digital piano we bought from Costco so she can practice at home.
Our youngest is only 16-months old but we’d like to start her in gymnastics in the New Year just for something to do. As our kids get older we’ll be spending even more on these types of activities.
Even though our finances are in decent shape today, we still keep a close eye on our spending so we can spot a money leak before it turns into a flood. These expenses have the potential to bust our budget if we’re not careful, but for now we’ve decided to live with them.
What guilty pleasure or indulgence have you allowed into your budget?