I love getting a new special something, be it a pair of sandals, a nightstand, a sweater – you name it. But along with the warm fuzzy feeling of getting that perfect pair of [insert your choice item here], comes the associated price tag. We live in a culture where “more is definitely better” and we all constantly want “more.” All this “more” really adds up, though, and if you have limited finances like we all do, spending can quickly escalate.
So after the holidays, when I definitely felt like I had spent quite a bit of money on holiday gifts, etc. I buckled down and decided to create a budget for myself. N thinks I’m crazy since we have never been able to stick to a budget since we are generally way over or way under on any given month due to how busy our lives are (buying flights for a family of 4 is never fun), but I wanted to get a handle and to know how much I was truly spending.
In full disclosure, I do buy a lot, but I also return a lot (read, buy my size, one size down and one size up of everything I buy in case my size is too big/small). This makes it challenging to gauge how much I’ve actually spent or kept. So when I recorded how much I spent (and didn’t return) in November, December and the first week of January, it was in actual fact lower than I feared! But also, since I made my budget I’ve spent a ridiculous amount on the amazing January sales (hello, J.Crew). But of course a lot of it will be going back.
I know there are different apps and tools out there to help budget, but I’m stick with a Google Doc spreadsheet. This method works because I always have my phone with me and can jot down expenditures. I am not looking to record every $5 I spent, but just the bigger items, which definitely add up. This method has also been immensely helpful as I track my returns, which I do fastidiously (if I’m not going to keep the goods, I certainly would like to get my money back). I record the date I receive online orders so I know when the date by which any return must be made, and when I do the return, I always mark down the date I sent the return and the tracking number (I’ve learned from experience). Especially after the holidays, I had a lot of returns to track and these practices were invaluable.
I’m really fortunate in the sense that N has pretty much nothing to say about my spending – he actually encourages me to get whatever I want. But I’m not comfortable with that given that there are so many expenses in our lives ranging from our mortgage to kids to helping out extended family. I would never want to feel like my children or family had to go without because I’ve spent too much shopping. This sounds extreme, but I believe it is all about balance. And I’m a huge sale shopper since I love luxury goods but detest the accompanying cost.