Is it summer? Is it being ultra-frugal for a while and then letting up? I don’t know, but one way or another, I know I’ve been spending a lot lately and I need to figure out what’s going on and rein it in. I just feel like I’ve been reaching for my credit card way too often the last couple of months.
Let’s start with some accounting.
In the last six months, here’s what I’ve bought (by month) in the non-essential type categories. I’m leaving out rent, my cash draw, car repairs, medical stuff, and the like; this is just the “stuff.”
Sistema lunch container, $6.33
Clothing (jeans and a skirt), $88
Kitchen (spatula), $9.24
Clothing (bra), 35.00
4 transactions, total of $157.24
Music (Sufjan Stevens CD), $13.06
Clothing (tshirt), $22.00
2 transactions, total of $35.06
Clothing (three dresses, sandals), $200
Sistema food storage containers, $42
3 transactions, total of $242
cookbooks (Amazon), $11.05
rice cooker, two books (one gift and one I wanted for work), and a paring knife (Amazon), $80.24
clothing (skirt, sweater, blouse), $175.91
4 transactions, total of $338.29
July, which is only half over!
Blueberries for freezing/canning, $50
Three CDs and a sieve (amazon), $39.41
canning gear and stockpot, $79.95
canning gear and a few misc things at grocery store, $44.12
clothing (two cardigans and a tank top), $60.24
skin care, makeup, etc (sephora), $90.00
6 transactions, total of $363.77
OK, yes, I think I have some reason to be concerned here.
I spent almost nothing on “stuff” during the first four months of the year. In May, I discovered zulily, but I’m very pleased with everything I bought then; I’ve been using all of it extensively and I really needed to refresh my work wardrobe with those dresses and sandals.
In June, I was clearly starting to slip. I’m not as pleased with the clothing I bought from zulily in my second order. The rice cooker is nice to have, but essential? No. I did want to buy a housewarming gift, but it ended up costing what I think is too much money. I should have been more cautious there.
July’s just been a mess. It’s mostly at least somewhat justifiable; the canning stuff and fruit is being well-used (I bought a stockpot that I’ve wanted for years, a silicone jar rack, and multiple boxes of jars); the CDs had been on my want list for several months, were for a long road trip, and I don’t regret them; the sieve isn’t really necessary, but is nice to have; the cardigans are replacements for two that I wear constantly at work and which are starting to wear out after two years of regular use. The only really questionable thing here is the Sephora order, which I feel a little bad about, but it’ll all get used. The point, however, is that the month is only half over and I’ve already spent more money on “stuff” than in any single other month this year. Look at January and March, in which one item each entered my house! Also, I’m concerned about the number of times I’ve used my credit card for purchases. 10 times in June and July, vs 11 times in the first five months of the year combined.
It’s not that any of this is so terrible, either individually or even collectively. It’s that it feels dangerous to me, like the way I used to be before I started budgeting, where I just bought things and paid my credit card off regularly. The good thing here is that I’ve really been keeping my eating out and general food expenses under much better control, so I’ve still been spending less overall. But I need to tighten up on the “stuff” spending. I think I’m going to institute a shopping ban for the rest of summer; I’ll still buy fruit and vegetables and, if necessary, more canning jars for preserving, so my expenses will stay higher, but I’m cutting out anything else — no more clothing, books, gifts, and general “stuff” until at least September and maybe longer.
Also, I’ve learned from this that before next summer I need to set up a savings line for produce. I’m clearly going to want to spend lots of $$ on fruit and vegetables for preservation over the summer and I don’t see anything wrong with that, but I can’t take it out of my general cash without causing a lot of problems. I think I’ll aim to save up $300 for produce and supplies (more jars, etc) before next July rolls around.