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What (if anything) do you buy other than food and paying bills?

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 

You probably buy food. You probably pay rent or a mortgage. You probably pay electric and maybe an additional amount for heating fuel. You probably buy basic toiletries like shampoo, toothpaste, soap. If you have pets you buy their food, and cat litter if you have felines. You may have a car payment, and probably fuel your car if you have one. You might pay for loans - student loans, credit card bill you're trying to get rid of. TV, internet, phone, cell. Insurance - health, auto, home.


OK, but what else? What do people spend their money on after the above? (I don't think the above is all necessities, but it does seem to cover the basics for the mainstream American lifestyle). I'm not looking for bills I might have forgotten - like trash pickup, maybe, or building up your savings account. But rather, what are the "optionals" that people frequently spend on?


Do you buy DVDs? CDs? Do you update your wardrobe frequently so you're always in fashion? Do you buy lamps and curtains, or furniture? Electronic gadgets? How much discrentionary income do you have, and what do you spend it on?

post #2 of 44

I'll play.  We moved this past summer- so a good deal of discretionary has been spent on paint/curtains/little repairs.  We also have a regular date night where we go out to eat.  That is a sanity keeper for us.  Occasionaly (like about 4x/year) I treat myself to a new bottle of nail polish or a cute target pair of earrings.  I buy clothes- but not so fashionable- just what we need.  Well except my new boots.  DH bought me a new pair of uggs since my old ones were falling apart.  Gosh- I sound like I spend a lot- but not really that much.  I did do a bunch of custom knitting this fall and used that money for my childrens Christmas gifts.  So fortunately I don't have to really budget anything for that.  Oh- I guess I spend money on yarn or fabric- but I really count that in the clothing category since the children really need mittens/hats and the new baby will need diapers and longies. 


no electronics, a couple of times/yr a new dvd off the clearance rack or $5 bin, no booze or wine, no music or books.  we are pretty content with the library and free entertainment- oh and no cable/satelite either. 

post #3 of 44

yarn and knitting needles, sometimes knitting/sewing books.




thrift store clothes and household items.

post #4 of 44



post #5 of 44

My discretionary income changes each month based on bills. This month I bought cheap fast food lunches twice for us because I was craving it. Normally with whatever extra we have that isn't for bills or savings I get some sort of food treat for us.

post #6 of 44

although we don't eat out nearly as much as other families, we do spend quite a bit in that category. (primarily at Chipotle. I think I spent more there last month than any other single purchase)





post #7 of 44

Children's clothing. 

post #8 of 44

Lets see - I buy fabric and yarn - more than I should, but I've been really good since the summer. I just bought some knitting needles because they were a size I didn't have and I couldn't borrow them.


This week - kinda discretionary - I bought: Footies pjs for school-aged daughter and some more pants for new born boy. Also bought a boppy cover and it makes me happy when I look at it. Bought a moby wrap earlier this season - again, I consider this pretty discretionary. I do buy clothes, but not a ton. I buy shoes when they are on-sale.


We just had the yard landscaped. Well - cut down from jungle status and a tree removed.) We need to plant it. That was a major discretionary expense, but the yard was unusable.


After that - more money on books than we should - book fairs, fundraisers and trip to Barnes and Noble.


And - events - $60 on live theater tickets for the 3 of us. DH has season football tickets (wish he did not!). And then just - food, eating out and snacks. We don't really buy music or any kind of games. I only buy make-up every few years and it's from the drug store. We're not long on electronic gadgets but DH did just buy a netbook. Neither of us have new cell phones or other PDAs. DVDs- maybe 2-3/year at Christmas. DD got new curtains last March when we bought a new washing machine (20 year old tank finally died - but actually only the cord). That's really it. The rest of house is set for curtains and decorations. Oh - I bought a chalk-board thing off a co-worker for $10. New in box - they had never put it up.

post #9 of 44

We eat out about once a week (either Sat night take out or out for Sat lunch usually). 


We spend a lot of money at our local ACE here lately, cause we moved 2 months ago into a 1950s house with lots of projects to do. 


I like to thrift for my house (see above...new house...new areas to decorate), for kids clothes, and my dh loves to thrift for clothes for himself. 


Mostly, though, it's bakery treats (once a month or so), fast food (once a week, usually snacks, not a full meal), and thrifting/yard sales.

post #10 of 44

clothes, books, magazines, board games, household decorations/items (all these are sought out at thrift stores first)


entertainment expenses, such as eating out, going to the movies, sporting events, day trips (orchard picking, ice skating, etc), netflix and napster subscriptions (we just bumped to two napster subs; one for dh and two of the boys' - they each have mp3 players used daily, and the account limit is 3 devices) and a new one for me to use on my smartphone (whose expense would probably fall into this category as well.  a cell phone is a necessity for me, but my fancy gadget smartphone is a luxury!)


hobbies; for me that's yarn (though that's also a business expense, since virtually all yarn I actually purchase is for design work)  for DH, that's athletic gear (he's currently training for a triathalon)


kids' activities, such as sports, school events, piano lessons, church trips


family vacation and short-term mission trip (both once a year, budgeted for all year and paid in cash)


gosh, that looks like a lot.  Honestly, we're not big spenders, lol! (obviously, not all of these things are purchased every month; that's more of a yearly overview) we have a low mortgage, have two cars that are paid off, DH's tudent loans paid off (and mine almost paid off but no in deferment b/c I'm back in school) and have scrimped and saved and budgeted for years to get to this point where we are financially comfortable.  we don't use credit cards; everything is budgeted/planned and paid for in cash.

post #11 of 44

i feel like a trip to the goodwill is a shopping splurge! :) i notice that if we have leftover change it goes to used books. toys, clothes for our dd. sometimes i splurge and buy some yarn for knitting. 

post #12 of 44

Well we don't really have much discretionary income. We really shouldn't have any and put the little money we have at the end of the month into savings.


Dh's income pretty much covers our necessities (although I don't think we had pet food budgeted here, should've though). I keep a couple of children part time for that discretionary income. But much of it is still spent on necessities such as children's clothing, shoes, occasionally bedding, one summer trip, holiday money... None of this is really consistent month to month.


The one thing we really don't have to spend monthly that we choose to is alcohol. I've tried limiting dh to $20 bucks a month, but it pretty much falls at $30.


I'm trying to get back to a yoga class once a week, but I don't think I can budget more than twice a month at this point.

post #13 of 44

Recreation is where we probably do the most discretionary spending.  Ski passes for me and DD.  Ice skates for both kids (and me, but that was a one-time purchase), and paying to go a rink about once a week.  Bikes and rollerblades for the kids, new tires for my hand-me-down bike.  Swimming lessons.  Gas for traveling.  Campground fees.  Some time in the near future, I'd like to buy a bigger tent, sleeping bags for the kids, and a new backpack for me.  I need to look into riding lessons for DD and see if we can manage to afford them.  I'm thinking about archery equipment, too.  And maybe setting up a slackline in our woods.


I have a vegetable garden, so I buy seeds, tomato cages, etc.  I also sometimes buy perennials for the flower beds.  I could spend way, way more money on plants and gardening equipment if we had it to spare.


We buy a lot of books, but almost all at yard sales, thrift stores, or library book sales, so it's not a big expense.  We pick up random fun or useful things at yard sales as we see them - a metal detector, kids' games, a balance board, a fishing pole, a $10 computer.  We occasionally eat out somewhere cheap, or pick up snacks at a convenience store.  We buy the kids nets to catch frogs and insects, and containers to keep insects and other small critters in.


We don't have a mortgage or car payments, which helps.

post #14 of 44

Clothing pretty much all comes from thrift store other than good shoes that are purchased new 95% of the time.

Most books come from thrift store or ordered on Half.com and supplemented with library as well as our own personal library.


Eat out - maybe 2 times a month - used to be more, but moved in Feb 2010 and now it's a 15 minute drive to closest restaurant, so most of the time we just eat at home.


We buy tools, garden seeds, misc supplies for projects (paint, fabric, small tools, nuts bolts, etc) as needed.


We do make larger purchases time to time, this year we bought a new laptop, new digital camera, used ATV and a used truck camper.


Also spent money on new tires for the truck, new brakes, and a trip to visit family some 1200 miles away.


On a normal monthly basis, we don't have these larger expenses, but *could* afford to do so monthly.


Aside from daily living, we send a large portion to savings each month, as we are saving up to buy land. Sure we could afford to have cable TV and a new car, but we try and save as much as possible instead.

post #15 of 44

Toys for dd, clothes for dd and myself, we eat out at least once a week, craft things for dd, nights out with the girls.. I put a misc section in my budget, eat out, gym, out, babysitter, etc. So I know how much I have in each section to work with.

post #16 of 44


-Eating out/ take away

-New clothing, but often at charity shops :D

-I think I'm going to get a new DSLR soon. I saw that Target has the Canon Rebel on sale on black friday AND it comes with telephoto lens.

-Books. I bought 4 books this weekend :/ But usually not nearly that many, and almost always second hand books.

-I spend $15 a month on music. That gets me like 3 albums, through an online service.

-We buy "fancy" food that certainly isn't groceries. Things like local herb olive oil, or fun wine, things like that.
-Stuff for my kiddo

-Coffee dates with friends


We very rarely buy DVDs, I think two in the past year or so. Rarely buy CDs. We have pay-as-you-go mobile service and maybe spend £15 every two months. I do have satellite service, I would get rid of it, but my husband likes it.

Our discretionary income is enough that I never have to worry about not having enough in the account to pay for something. We owe no money, but that's about to change, we're planning on buying our first home. Getting a bit nervous about it actually, who am I going to call when the shower is leaking into the dining room?!

post #17 of 44

~travel - either weekend getaways or longer

~house reno / fixing / decorating - paint, replacement windows, rugs, gardening


~smaller items; lunches out (i work out of home), eyebrow waxing, children's clothes, magazines, yoga (did this pre-baby, trying to get back into it), shoes/boots for moi.


~developing photos; mounting photos,


~movie tickets, performances


~in the winter: downhill skiing, a few times; indoor skateboard park


About 50% of my income goes to mortgage, food, bills, gas, insurance, etc., including a minimal amount for savings; 25% of my income goes to savings and the other 25% is discretionary / savings for renovations, travel etc. (student loans paid off, car paid off, etc). This is not always used; what is not spent goes to savings

Edited by SunRise - 11/25/10 at 4:45am
post #18 of 44

We actually have a lot of discretionary income at the moment because we have no debt (no mortgage, car loans, cc).  We're spending it on buying a rental property and since we aren't likely to have a renter until May-ish, that's where most of that monthly extra will go.  :)  Unless we find a relocation short-term renter (which is possible, I'm just not banking on it).  But that's more investing than "discretionary spending"--right?


We have built into the budget things that others might find discretionary--mostly kids activities.  But we homeschool, so I don't find that to be discretionary.  I curbed my book-buying issues long ago and make great use of the library & paperbackswap.com.  We eat breakfast out once every 2 weeks and that's totally discretionary, but it's the cheapest meal to eat out.


I've been wearing the same clothes for years.  Thankfully, I have clothing in 3 sizes for both me and dh because we go up and down in weight.  We wear "classic" type clothes, so we don't look dreadful.


Otherwise, I guess Christmas gifts are discretionary.  Again, we don't get nuts with it.  Partially because that's not really what we want it to be about for our kids.

post #19 of 44

i had to think about this for a minute. we buy candles...off brand candles, they aren't that costly, but we love the smell-especially during the holidays. i buy henna for my hair once every couple months, an occassional magazine, sometimes a dvd (something we will watch over and over...latest was ratatouille). we also get beer or wine once a week. i think that's it! if i see something i really love i will buy it. latest was an etsy find-a necklace for 50$, but that was a Christmas gift i chose for myself. i'm currently trying to lose weight and don't buy many clothes.

post #20 of 44

Adult and children's clothes. Cosmetics. Home furnishings, though we don't go wild with that, tend to buy good quality that lasts a long time. DH buys computer equipment, but that is work related.


Theatre tickets, movie tickets, museum memberships. We rarely eat out because we prefer our own cooking, but have the odd brunch out now and again. Occational car rental because we don't own a car.


Biggest spending is on travel. My family lives on one continent, DH's on another, and we are on a third continent. So that takes up most vacation time, and a lot of money, but I think it is worth it both for the bond with our families and the experience of other cultures for our kids.

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