I’m Pooling Your Wisdom And Experience Again!

Thanks to everyone for chiming in on the Cost of Beauty entry! I think the general notions is “wants” v/s “needs” and every person’s hair and skin has different needs and my poor husband needs to be prepared for some of that. The conversation also included talk of budgeting and I thought I’d add more to that part of the discussion because BUDGET TALK IS SO EXCITING. Also? Because it was so interesting to hear how everyone handles cost of beauty, I thought maybe I could see how you handle budgeting Cost Of The Non-Emergency Emergency. Its a great idea to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your utilities, checking out energy saving sites should help keep costs down.

First of all? YNAB is our savior. We tried so many different budgeting tools but You Need A Budget (YNAB) is the one that really fit our needs. Donnie took over our budget 2-3 years ago (I’m not detailed enough to be good at budgeting) and we’re still getting a handle on what we spend in what categories. Now – regarding whether or not we need a “beauty” line item, we kinda haven’t decided yet. Nikki may decide to get her hair cut as a birthday gift – and “gifts” are a line item. And that brings me too a budget problem I thought I’d get your feedback on.

How does everyone “plan” for non-emergency emergencies? We budget several different forms of savings – “emergency” and “retirement” and “college” and “vehicle” (when we stopped having a car payment we put that into a “vehicle” savings item) and then just a general “savings”. SO, it’s not like we’re living paycheck to paycheck, we’re very fortunate to be able to budget like we do. (I am very fortunate that Donnie budgets. My budgets were never that detailed which is why he took over. My general budgets caused us problems.)

THAT SAID…this year everyone we know is either pregnant or getting married. We have bought more wedding and baby gifts this year than we did in the 5 years prior. Plus, one of the weddings is a family wedding so there are other expenses – like clothing – that are not typically budgeted. Not to mention it’s one of those fancy weddings like the ones at this Ayrshire Wedding Venue. How do you guys budget for stuff like that? We do have a “miscellaneous” category but that only gets $50 a month and usually that’s where the random twice-a-year cost goes – like haircuts. Or bullet journals. Or iPhone covers. It’s not really enough of a buffer to cover things like 14 pregnant friends, a millions weddings, and 3 suits and 2 dresses.

Just to give you an idea of how detailed our budget is: You guys mentioned “sports” fees might end up being where Wes cost more than Nikki but right now we have a “kid’s sports” line item and the one thing he gets that she doesn’t is Basketball. So, this year we gave her 1 art camp and 1 musical theatre workshop out of that budget to balance that out. But that shows you the detail we budget to – sports fees are there. We have “race registrations fees” there which includes ALL of our race fees. I’ve bypassed on a few races this year so I can use some of that $ to get a pass to our local state park for trail running. We had “coaching” as a line item but we’re ditching that to balance some other stuff now that Donnie’s Ironman coaching is done. So, we’re detailed in our budget, is my point.

But how detailed do YOU get in order to prepare for the things you can’t prepare for? Non-emergency things. We have “emergency” savings for the true unplanned emergency, but what about the unplanned non-emergency? How do you plan financially for that?

Maybe there’s just a random extra savings category: The non-emergency emergency savings. Like, $50 a month to cover the weird surge of pregnant friends or events (because funerals would do this too) that force your entire family to need dress clothes. We only budget $100 a month for clothing and since I’m an hourly independent contractor employee, some months we take from that to balance out a short paycheck from sick kids. So we can’t really count on a “build up” of clothing money because $1200 divided by 4.5 (E really doesn’t use much of the clothing budget anymore) doesn’t go very far to just keep us in Clothes That Fit Year Round. So any event that requires new clothing is going to not be included in the “clothing” budget.

How do you guys plan financially for Non-Emergency Emergencies? Is your “miscellaneous” bucket bigger and does it just accumulate until you need it? I’ve heard of some people using stick on fever indicators to monitor their kid’s fever when they aren’t feeling well, apparently, their kids love the design of the stickers. How much do you put it in monthly to give you a big enough buffer for a surge in weddings and births?

Another thing that used to zap our gifts and/or miscellaneous line item: Kid’s birthday parties. Like – OTHER kids. I’ve stopped letting my kids go to classmate parties because if I let them go to every party, and bring a gift every time, we would be going to at LEAST 15 parties a year. That’s at LEAST $300 in presents. And that’s a big chunk of the “gifts” budget that normally goes to family/kids. So we only let the kids go to parties of their actual FRIENDS (not just classmates) or we have periodically gone to the party where We’re Pretty Sure No One Else Will Go because I hate the idea of that.

SO! Give me your budget wisdom!!!! It know it’s a process and we’re still “new” to doing it “right” so if you’ve been doing it for “right” longer – help us out!

7 thoughts on “I’m Pooling Your Wisdom And Experience Again!”

  1. Those little unexpected things come out of the general savings pot of money. We try to keep about $500 of money just hanging around for random stuff like that or what we call “want fulfillment emergencies”. If out tv broke (we have three boys, it’s already happened) we can buy a new one, or we come across a good deal on something cool for the house. It’s also helpful when we need to take a sudden trip to help family, which happened three times in 3 months last year. It wasn’t really enough for the funerals we had two years ago, but that involved $900 tickets for four people so you know, YMMV.

  2. Regarding presents for kids’ birthday parties — you are a generous gift giver! I spend so much less than that, per kid — maybe around $5. When the Scholastic catalog comes home with my child, I stock up on the $1 books (I get 10-20 of them). And whenever I see a coupon for Play-Doh, I buy them (and they’re cheap without the coupon, too). So that’s what I give out as presents — a book and Play-Doh. That seems like plenty, in my opinion.

  3. I love budget talk so I’ll be checking in later to see other people’s answers. My budget is less detailed than yours I think? Which means that my “everything else” line item is a lot bigger than yours. For the most part, that’s where those unexpected expenses go. If I have unexpected expenses in a given month, that means that everything else that would normally have come out of that budget (clothes, home supplies, dining out etc.) gets nixed for the month, or if that’s impossible for some reason, I have to dip into my general savings fund, or cut down on my misc. expenses the next month or two.

  4. I give the kids a $15 budget as that seems to be about the average of what people spend around here. While your comment makes me feel a little self-conscience, I don’t think that’s too much considering a lot of the places around here cost $10-$15 a head for each kid at the party. (Like, the kids gym or trampoline place.)

    I’m not at all an “outrageous” spender on anything. The kids get $1 for a tooth and we budget $100 for their birthdays and we don’t give them parties at those expensive places, so I in general I don’t think I’m an overspender.

  5. I use the Financial peace University allocated spending form. Its fairly detailed. For certain items I put the $$ in a savings account, with earmarks. Things like clothing, car repairs,home, car insurance, yearly payments, dental (no dental insurance) are all categorized. I keep a running total. Some of these funds get behind,but by the end of the year they should all be at 0. The budget is not always the same each month. Gifts is one of those that can change. As for the surge of babies, start buying one at a time. If the wedding is formal and inside, dress clothes are necessary. If its outside , you probably have something that will work. For kids clothes, go the consignment or thrift store route. That may also work for the adults. Another trick I discovered when my daughter was young. Small children’s boutiques do not have much storage. At the end of the season, they sell clothing at basement prices. A couple months ago, I bought 5 boys printed t’s, a well made cute toddler girl outfit and an adorable little girls Christmas outfit that had a dirty sleeve ($80 outfit for $15) for $45 at a small shop.I do have a line item for hair- I don’t always fill that in. There a few other tricks. When utility bills are low in Fall and Spring, use that spare $$ for gifts, etc. I have $200 in the budget for utilities every month. As far as funeral clothing, that is getting a bit less formal. It has been that way in NY for a while. For my Grams funeral in 2000 I wore a dress with a flowered border that I knew she would like. Your emergency fund should be 3 to 6 months of living expenses (necessities) If its more than that already, you can adjust some other areas

  6. For non-emergency happy occasions, we have a line item in our budget called “Celebrations.” I try to put $25-$50 a month in. If we know a wedding or something is coming, we’ll put in more in the preceding months. This has turned out to be a great category because it allows you to celebrate without taking funds from another category. (I use YNAB too – can’t you tell?).

    I also divided my YNAB spreadsheet into Everyday Expenses, Lifestyle Expenses and Yearly Expenses. Everyday are fixed – mortgage, cell phone, internet, electricity. Even if the amount isn’t fixed – like electricity – I’ll budget what I spent the previous month plus up or down some depending on what the weather was etc. Fixed in my YNAB land means “Dude you have to pay these no matter what.”

    Lifestyle Expenses are things in a month but are more variable – fuel, clothes, restaurants. I made sure I put something in each category every month but the amount changes. I put in $25 a month in Clothes during the summer because I didn’t need much but I wanted to start fall with more than zero. Now that it is Fall, I’ve increased the amount (I know I need new shoes, a jacket, etc). The key here is that you put something here every month but it varies depending on what you have now and what you have coming up. This is where I do a lot of split transactions. Like I wanted to donate some money to a gofundme campaign, so I took money from “household goods”, “restaurants” and “celebrations.” Split transactions really help me because it causes me to think – do I want to donate money more than I want to go out to eat one night? It helps me not spend money by default.

    The last category are for those yearly things like car taxes, amazon prime where I divide the amount my 12 and put in that amount every month (though I have been known to take some from taxes for late night ice cream runs).

    This year I started with a “home improvements” category and a “replacements” category and they both have worked well.

    See, I’m such a YNAB geek! I want to compare categories. 🙂

  7. I love budget talk too, but since I got married and my husband makes more money than I used to, which was still more than sufficient, we are (knock on wood) sort of in a windfall period and our savings keep growing and we’ve gotten kind of lazy about where everything gets spent. I feel like it’s a horrible first-world problem to be talking about, but it is what it is. When I was on top of budgeting I also had a celebration category and any time I got an engagement announcement or save-the-date, I started bumping up that category by a few bucks because I knew eventually a present or plane ticket would need to come out of there. I also used to have a beauty category but eventually gave up on it and took that kind of stuff out of either miscellaneous or celebration anyway, because sometimes I’d get my hair cut or a manicure before a wedding anyway.

Leave a Reply