I really wish I had something to actually evaluate in this step. We have a virtually non-existent entertainment budget. We have $10 a month for Dates, which doesn’t pay for much. Usually if we want a real dinner date we can only go out 3 or 4 times a year, if that, barring any gifts cards we receive throughout the year. We do consider our internet access a form of entertainment however, since it provides access to websites like Hulu.com which allow us to watch favorite TV shows without paying for cable. In the future, I would like to be able to have an Entertainment and Hobby budget. I enjoy knitting, but rarely have the money to invest in yarn. Usually, if I do buy it, I have to have a specific project in mind that will be a clothing item for my daughter or a gift for someone, and the money comes from one of those two budget categories. I used to take dance classes which I really enjoyed and miss very much. It provided me with a creative outlet and physical fitness opportunity. My husband is a computer gamer and programmer. But to his credit, he hasn’t bought himself a new game in quite some time. He also makes good use of the library for programming books, rather than buying them. I know he would like to have many of these books for reference and would probably get more than his money’s worth from them. But there is no money to buy them out right, so he makes do with the library copies.
I think Trent was right to point out that cutting back too steeply on your entertainment can be emotionally difficult. It hasn’t been easy for us. But it’s as simple as not having the money. As much as I enjoy my hobbies and entertainment, it’s hard to justify buying a new season of a TV show or a novel I’ve been dying to read when we have medical bills and student loans to pay. Entertainment may be important to my mental health, but paying for entertainment isn’t worth the cost to my savings account.
Categories: 31 Day Financial Challenge, budget, Finance
Tags: 31 days, books, budget, computer games, Dates, debt, entertainment, expenses, Finances, hobbies, Hulu.com, income, knitting, library, money, programming, The Simple Dollar, TV shows
I started reading Baby Blues when I was in college. I’m not exactly sure how it started, but I remember my excitement when I discovered I could read the archived comics all the way back to 1996! But I appreciate it even more now that I’m a mom. Even though I only have one child so far, I see reflections of my own family and childhood in these characters. (I also have a slightly nerdy red headed father, dark, curly haired mother with strong opinions and a dramatic red-headed sister, though she isn’t the first born). But what struck me most as a new mom was how many Baby Blues cartoons feature breastfeeding. Not just showing it, but it is the main point and or punch line of many daily strips. While I know other comics have touched on this subject on occasion (For Better or For Worse comes to mind), I have been particularly pleased to see Baby Blues feature it so prominently. The Baby Blues website even made a point of posting collections of nursing posts during National Breastfeeding Week. While I have discovered, unfortunately, that their tag search function is not that reliable (apparently some people just randomly tag strips for the fun of it), if you’re looking for a good breastfeeding laugh I suggest running a few breastfeeding and nursing related searches of the Baby Blues archives. I particularly enjoyed Friday’s featured comic.
In my particular situation, this step was almost pointless. So much so that I’m not even going to devote a whole blog post to this topic. We use a local credit union and ING. Our credit union has no ATM feeds and has an agreement that we can use PNC ATMs anywhere. No fees. End of story.
Categories: 31 Day Financial Challenge, budget, Finance
Tags: 31 days, Bank fees, budget, credit union, Finances, income, ING, money, PNC, The Simple Dollar
Monthly services are the kind of small expenditures that add up quickly. That being said, we also have very few of them. The only addition services we pay for aside from utilities are Phone, DSL Internet access, and cell phone. When I look at my budget I make sure I look at how much any one category or service costs for the whole year. For instance, we pay an additional $7 a month to have call waiting on our phone line. That’s $84 a year. I go back and forth about whether I think it is worth the $84 a year. I feel similarly about our cell phone. We can hardly get a cell signal in our house. We pretty much have to sit on the front porch to use the cell phone. Not a fun prospect in the winter. So when most of our friends were getting rid of their house phones, we dropped our cell phone package and opted for Net10 instead for $16 a month. That is by far the cheapest cell phone bill of anyone I know. That being said, it is still $192 a year for something we hardly use. We mostly like to have it for when we travel or as a safety precaution when I’m out with the baby by myself. But we have often considered getting rid of the cell phones altogether. But every time we do, something happens where we end up needing it. We also don’t pay for a phone long distance plan. Since we do have a house phone, we have a combination phone/DSL package. Trent is right that internet access is not a necessity. But it can be a potential source of income. If we ever faced a job loss or similar finance emergency, the DSL would go, without a doubt, along with the cell phone and the call waiting.
Categories: 31 Day Financial Challenge, Finance
Tags: 31 days, budget, call waiting, cell phone, DSL, Finances, house phone, income, internet access, money, Monthly services, Net10, The Simple Dollar