We all know that living frugally is hard work and it looks different to all of us. That’s actually good because when it comes to money, we all have different priorities. In its simplest form, that is exactly what a budget is. A budget allows us to tell our money where to go. We all make these choices. I thought it would be interesting to share some things I choose to spend money on.
Within our budget, we have to make choices about what we will and will not spend money on. I know that when we think of budgets, we often think only of what we are not spending money on. It’s such a negative way to look at our money so let’s flip that around. Here are some little and big things I choose to spend money on.
Before I start, remember that we all have choices on how to spend our money. You have to choose what is right for you and your family. Just because these are the choices we make, does not mean you have to (or should) make the same choices.
I wrote about this a couple years ago but I thought it was time to update this list now that I have two children. I realized that many of my choices have stayed the same while a couple of things have changed. These are just a couple of the things on which my husband and I choose to spend our money right now.
1. Name Brand Chocolate Chips
It may sound funny to start my list with this one but I’m completely serious! I will buy almost anything generic but I will not skimp on my chocolate chips. I can tell when cheap chocolate chips are used in baking. I still watch for sales and use coupons, but I won’t sacrifice my Tollhouse (or Ghiradelli’s or Herhey’s) chocolate chips!
2. Family Pictures
I love taking pictures but what good are pictures if you don’t print them off to enjoy? When we were married, I started creating 8×8 Shutterfly books for each special vacation we took. When the kids were born, I started creating a yearly photo album as well. I can always get the vacation books for free (here’s how), thanks to so many amazing Shutterfly deals.
When it comes to our yearly books, I still watch for sales and use gift cards but I pay for our photo books. I just spent $60 for a 74 page 2016 album at Shutterfly. I couldn’t print our pictures for that price, plus I now have them neatly bound with journaling. And should anything every happen to my photo album, they are saved online at Shutterfly so I can always reorder another one! I’ve also started paying for Chatbooks because they automatically print my Instagram pictures as mini photo albums of our daily life. (You can read more about Chatbooks and get a free book of your own here!)
I also pay to have professional pictures taken of the kids at least once a year. We often use the deals at Portrait Innovations or JC Penney, but I know the kids are growing so fast that I want to remember these years. I will always spend money on our pictures.
I love to read! I don’t collect shoes but I do collect books. I try to only fill my shelves with quality literature that I want to reread. I want my children to be surrounded by books so they learns the value a good book. Nathan has shelves full of board books, thanks to my frugal book buying habits. I watch yard sales for books, shop at Half Price Books, and my teacher husband and I both shop at Scholastic for good deals. I also review books to get my own books for free. That has been such a great opportunity for me as a book lover! Of course, we visit the library once or twice a week too.
4. Teacher Supplies
My husband is starting his 16th year of teaching in the fall, and I taught for 11 years before staying home. Between the two of us, we have taught preschool and kindergarten, 3rd and 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade. As you can imagine, we’ve accumulated quite a few teacher supplies. We still continue invest in quality teaching materials. For example, Andy is always looking for good historical movies and books to use when he teaches American History. I have built quite the collection of early childhood manipulatives, which Nathan and Emma can now use at home. Trust me on this. Teachers invest a lot in their classrooms!
5. Filing Our Taxes
Growing up, our parents filed their own taxes. When I was single, I filed my own taxes. Since we were married, we have paid an accountant to do our taxes and I plan to continue! You see, as Lutheran school teachers, we are classified as self-employed Ministers of Religion by the IRS so our taxes can be a bit complicated. I love that I only have to spend two or three hours getting things together for our accountant – who specializes in this self-employment area – and she does the rest. Besides, it is worth the money to see how she can move things around to save us money on our taxes.
We have always loved traveling. I grew up in a family who drove every summer on a vacation somewhere. My husband didn’t travel as much growing up but still loves to explore our great country. We stay with friends and family when we can. We drive everywhere and we save gas rebates to help pay for gas. We collect change throughout the year to help pay for the “fun” experiences. Andy and I look forward to our summer vacations all year. We hope that our children will always enjoy the memories we are creating as we travel together!
7. Season Colts Tickets
I know many people have questioned how and why my husband continues to be a season ticket holder when we are living on one income. I questioned it at first, too. The answer is two-fold. First, my husband loves the Colts and this is his main hobby. Andy sacrifices a lot for our family so this is his treat. Second, we prioritize to make it happen. My husband even sells glow sticks over the 4th of July, and resells group tickets to make enough money to purchase his tickets. A small amount of the ticket money comes out of our budget, but the rest he earns and sets aside to watch his Colts play.
We believe in giving our time, treasures and talents, in thanksgiving for the many blessings that God has given us. There was a time when we weren’t giving as much financially as we wanted to, but we have recommitted to giving a full 10 percent of our income as our first-fruit offerings. Yes, we give before we invest and save, knowing that all we have is a gift from God.
Those are a couple ways my husband and I choose to spend our money. What’s on your list?