Things I Choose to Spend Money On

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!

I love my name brand chocolate chips, especially Nestle's!

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.

3. Books

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.

We love our books - even my son with all his board books!

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.

6. Vacations

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!

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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.

8. Offerings

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?

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18 Comments

  1. I love how different people choose to save for different things. We spend money on tech. We own well over 20 apple devices. My husband is a total techie, and he’s drawn us into his sphere. We don’t spend a lot on other things, but that’s sort of our “Colts tickets” 🙂

    1. And that is why we both love our budgets! 🙂 I think people give budgets a bad name, not realizing it allows us to allocate our money where we choose. Love that tech things are your “thing.” I know who to go to if I ever venture into the Apple world!

  2. I love these kinds of posts! It is so fun to get a glimpse into someone else’s budgeting priorities. Our family has decided to spend money on trips to the grandparents (both sets live a thousand miles away), education, and good tea.

    1. Trips to grandparents are SO important. We’re thankful that one set of grandparents lives in town, because the other set is 1300 miles away. I love your list, too, Sarah!

  3. It’s true, you do have to decide what you want to spend your money on so you can keep things positive! I love that you have name brand chocolate chips at the top of your list. I bet you spend less than store brand because you coupon and watch for sales, right? We also like to spend our money on vacations, but we always do whatever we can to save on them. My husband would love season tickets to his favorite soccer teams’ games, but they are all in Argentina or Europe, so that’s kind of out of the question at this point in our lives! Maybe one day!

    1. Exactly, Charlee. Coupons and sales are how I afford my name brand chocolate chips! 🙂 And having just returned from a family vacation, we do the same. We save and budget for the vacation, but still go! My brother just fulfilled his lifelong dream of attending the World Cup in Brasil last year, so maybe your husband will someday be able to return to Argentina for season soccer games…or travel to Europe to watch some futbol!

  4. Oh I love this post idea! I’m going to have to write down what we spend on our money on, but the chocolate chip had me chuckling a bit because I didn’t realize I do that too! (I must have had a bad batch with generic and then just automatically did that). Yep, we also use a CPA for our yearly tax filings. It’s been especially helpful as we had a business, moved to another state, had a baby…it’s nice that someone can take care of it for us!

    1. That was what made me realize how valuable a CPA is – the year we were married, filed in two states, and bought a house. That money has been well spent! I’m glad you relate to the chocolate chips, too. Chocolate is too important to tamper with! 🙂

  5. Great post, Kristen! I worked as an independent contract social worker for a while and the taxes were a bear… so I totally understand #5. I’m spoiled with a CPA father in that area.. but I love that you shared this list. It’s nice for us frugal people to be able to say “yes” to some things, as much as I feel like I say “no, I don’t need to spend money on that”. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Allison! It’s a different mindset to think of “saying yes” but I think it’s important that we do choose to do so. And good point about yes’s and no’s! I’m glad your CPA Dad helps you out with your taxes. Handy, indeed! 🙂

  6. I had to laugh at your vacation picture. My parents live about 20 minutes from the Iowa 80 Truck Stop–I drove past it all the time while attending college! We have a budget line specifically for coffee and the past several years our anniversary gift has related to coffee. We love a good cup of joe! 🙂

    1. Ha! That’s too funny, Katrina! We passed by last year driving to Nebraska. My husband made sure we got a picture for Nathan’s first time there. I love practical gifts. Enjoy your budgeted coffee! 🙂

  7. Thank you for sharing. A budget is there to help you live with in your means but also to allow you to prioritize your purchases. Our family has always highly prioritized sports and music lessons for our children. We know when we aquire furniture or a new piece of technology we will have it for a long time. We don’t upgrade very often. We know what is important to spend money on, and what we don’t need to spend on. Our budget reflects our priorities.

  8. I love the positive perspective that a budget is what we do spend our money on rather than what we can’t! Yes, being a teacher means spending some of your paycheck on your classroom! When I cleaned out my classroom last year, I got rid of so much stuff, but one of the things I kept were all of my books! I just can’t part with them after investing so much time and money collecting them, and I hope to use them when I teach again. I agree about giving offering. Even when it seems like we don’t have enough to give, but we still obey God and give, He blesses!

    1. Thanks, Emily! Only another teacher can understand the investments we make. I’ve pared down a lot but likeep you, I have kept most of my books. Our boys need them until we return to teaching! 🙂

  9. We spend a lot of our money and time on sports. My son is a swimmer and the cost of the club, gear, and traveling is high. I think it is really worth the money for him to stay healthy.

    1. Sports do add up, Julie, but so can anything! If you make swimming a priority for your son,then you make it work budget wise. Thanks for chiming in, like always!

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