OMG we are spending SO MUCH MONEY

Mint keeps emailing to tell me that we’ve had an unusual amount of spending in various categories.  Usually we spend far less on these categories, Mint says.

I’m not even talking about the required increased expenses, like daycare costs doubling or our rent being 2x our mortgage.  I’m talking about the optional things that all those early retirement blogs would say we’re horrible people for doing and a few career women blogs would say we should do more of.

Turns out DC1 is a chatterbox when not in regular organized activities, so instead of having hir home all summer keeping hirself entertained with homework books, video games, novels, and the like, we quickly realized that ze will have to have some organized activities once we get to Paradise because we won’t have built-in playdates to take any of the edge off, at least not until school starts.

And the organized activities available through the park district in paradise look SO COOL.  Unfortunately the prices also add up.  $700 later, DC1 is enrolled in two week-long half day camps (engineering/minecraft/legos) and 2 week-long full day camps (traditional crafts + swimming + games + field trips etc.).  Also swimming for the rest of the summer at an additional $55/week for 30 min each morning.  There’s a lot of weeks left that ze will still be at home alone with DH and I’m not sure what we’re going to do about that.  The park district daycamps that still have spots for the remaining weeks are $300/week (10am-4pm) which we just cannot justify spending.  The YMCA also has some daycamps that are $250/week (7:30am-6pm), and we don’t know if they still have slots or not.  If DH goes crazy we’ll investigate those.  Or maybe DC1 will find neighborhood kids to play with, though I’m not really sure how one does that in these hyper-vigilant parenting days.

At some point I also said “screw it” on moving expenses.  We ended up not driving any of our stuff to Paradise except what will fit in a car or on the airplane.  For $1K we got a couple of big pieces of furniture that we needed (beds + mattresses) and a bunch of stuff we don’t really need, or a higher quality of stuff than we really need (like a wooden table with leaves and wood chairs rather than a folding card table with folding chairs) from a family moving away from paradise.  Then we needed to get a uhaul to pick it all up and I figured, why not get the 2br size instead of the studio.  And yes, we need dollies.  And hey, instead of getting day laborers who are potentially illegal immigrants at $15/hr, let’s spend $200 on a couple of people from a uhaul-connected moving company.  That way I won’t have a  Zoe Baird moment if the president wants to appoint me to government office decades from now.  So I dunno, is $1500 less than what we’d be paying buying cheap stuff new (with potentially free or cheaper delivery), browsing craigslist, and waiting for hand-outs from people wanting to empty out their garages?  Probably not.  But we saved some time.

We also ended up not bringing our piano, even though it’s digital, because it won’t fit in the car with all the electronics DH needs to bring in the car for work.  We might end up getting one free from a friend wanting to empty her garage, but we’ll still have to pay piano movers and probably a tuner.  We can rent one locally for ~$400 for the year including shipping.  Or we could buy a cheaper one from amazon for the year.  We’ll see what happens.

We’re also going to have to store my car for half the year (our tenants are allowing me to keep it in the garage until January, but then they’re planning on purchasing a second car and ours isn’t nice enough for them to rent).  That’s $400, though I could spend $250 on a parking permit at the university, but then I’d have to be vigilant about getting someone to move it the few occasions that the lot has to be emptied of cars.  The bluebook value is $3.5K, and logically I should just sell the car and buy a new one when we get back, but that’s a hassle and I’m attached to my car.

Then there’s all these after school programs at a few hundred dollars a pop (most of which I didn’t value at cost when DC1 was getting them for free in private school!) and we might pay for bussing at $800/year (which is a complicated subject– the school is 20 min away and the bus stop is 10 min away but closer to DC2’s daycare so DH’s drop-off/pick-up commute would be cut in half).

I’m also planning to spend a lot of $ eating out.  And I’ve got all these local vacations planned.  And fun activities for the weekends that will not all be free.

I keep going back and forth between “OMG we’re spending so much” and “screw it.”  I think, as is evidenced by not paying for the $300/week daycamp, that we’re hitting a happy medium that won’t leave us having to dip into our secondary emergency fund (the one in the stock market), but I’m not so sure that there will be money leftover from the trip to allow a kitchen remodel when we get back.  We will see!

Still, it’s hard to see the numbers in earmarked savings going down so rapidly.  Hopefully that pace will slow once we’re actually settled.

Have you been in a situation where you spend a lot more than you’re used to?  How do you feel when you spend a lot of money–Do you feel terrible, do you hit “screw it” and let the floodgates open, or are you super-rational about it?

30 Responses to “OMG we are spending SO MUCH MONEY”

  1. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    #2 does mostly “screw it” with some moments of panic scattered here and there. But mostly balance. If possible.

  2. Zenmoo Says:

    When we moved to our version of paradise for our version of a sabbatical, I had in my head that I’d be ok with coming out of the year $20k down (because family time & experiences were not going to happen again but we’d come back to an income bump). I felt SICK at the thought – but as I unexpectedly got a job and the exchange rate worked for us, we actually came out ahead a bit.

  3. Engineer Cents (@engineercents) Says:

    I’ve been spending a lot more lately than usual because of home renovations. I would just say “screw it” but I am now walking the line between having-spent-a-lot-of-money-but-can-recover-from-that state and possibly, gasp, debt. I’ll pretty much 100% stay in the former camp, but no way can I just throw my hands up and be chill about all the spending.

    As long as you guys are in good enough financial shape (which you seem to be), I wouldn’t worry too much about the uptick. Hopefully DC1 will just learn how to entertain hirself on the off weeks.

  4. hollyatclubthrifty Says:

    Moving is expensive period. It always costs more than anyone thinks it will!

  5. Leigh Says:

    I definitely don’t hit “screw it”, but I do think about things a bit less than usual at a certain point. I think my portion of our NZ trip was about $500-1,000 over budget and I didn’t really care. We had an amazing trip and that’s all that matters.

    I feel like the first half of this year has been super spendy, but it’s mostly all been big things. I go back and forth on feeling terrible about it and being okay with it. For example, we went to a friend’s wedding that was far away and the total cost of the trip for the two of us was about $3k, which just seems insane to me. But we had a nice time and I’m glad we can afford to support our friends by attending their weddings. Or all the furniture buying we’ve both been doing this year. We’re putting off buying some more kitchen things because this year has felt spendy for both of us, sigh :/

  6. Rented life Says:

    I go back and forth. I always hate spending more money but sometimes it’s worth saving the time or hassle and I say screw it, but usually I just hate it.

  7. Ana Says:

    I’m trying to get more into the “screw it” than the “feel terrible” camp, because there isn’t much to do about it after the fact—and a lot of fun and memorable things DO cost money, despite what the early retirement blogs say. Its way cheaper to not go on vacation and to eat at home for every meal…but then you never go on vacation and have to eat at home for every meal… The super-rational part of me does subconsciously try to save where we can, so I never quite “let the floodgates open” though
    You guys are doing so well financially that you should definitely say “screw it”.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I think the ERE blogs tend to be pretty big on travel though. It’s an odd dichotomy, but I think it gets back to the idea that you should only spend on little things or you should only spend on big things. I guess those hard and fast rules make it easier to make decisions, but I’m fairly sure they don’t optimize happiness, diminishing marginal utility being what it is.

      It’s a bit crazy how quickly the money can flow out, like thousands of dollars at a time. I’m sure this outflow will settle down once we’re moved and settled. But man!

      • Leigh Says:

        I’ve definitely found that ERE blogs are big on DIY and pay for experiences and career talks are big on outsourcing so you can concentrate on your job. That balance is really complicated and I end up trying to do the DIY things that let me destress and outsource/satisfice the things that don’t. Moving though, I will throw money at that any day. For example, we’ve been spending a decent chunk on furniture and painting because that was cheaper than selling my condo and moving.

      • Rosa Says:

        that’s what savings is for, right?

        I have become more and more “screw it, it’s for spending” but that’s because we *have* the money. Earmarked savings is earmarked to be spent! It’s not retirement savings or rainy day savings, it’s “money we saved up to spend on stuff.” So we should spend it and not panic over the amount in the account going down.

        That said, summer is crazy expensive. But not spending the afternoon thinking “OH MY GOD WHY ARE YOU STILL TALKING TO ME” is priceless and will pay off big time in the future of your (and DH’s) relationship with the child. Individually scheduled social/activity time with my kid is not ridiculously expensive (though I have been saying “screw it” and doing things that are not cheap) but it is bankrupting my time bank, basically. Nothing else is being accomplished around here because we spend so much time socializing. But otherwise we fight all afternoon.

  8. middle_class Says:

    I can’t let the floodgates open. It’s just too easy to spend hundreds, even thousands, on random needs/wants!

  9. Leah Says:

    If the “Screw it” is for just this one year, I think that’s less of a worry than falling into the trap continuously. The biggest issue, money wise, is the rent part for running through your savings. Having taught at some city summer day camps like that, I think you’ll find it pleasantly exhausting and ultimately worth the money. We had many parents who literally used us as daycare (cheaper than daycare for that age!), so I had the same kids over and over all summer. It was really fun.

    I think things will settle down once school starts. The kids will be much more busy. Too bad DC2 isn’t a touch older and could go to K. I would say not to spend $800 on bussing unless the time is an opportunity cost for DH. Factor in potentially needing to wait for the bus (maybe? is there a safe place to wait alone?), and that might eat up the time savings from not driving.

    Re: the piano, can you struggle by on a cheap keyboard for a year? You can probably pick one up less expensively than a piano. Alternatively, unis often have practice rooms — if this is for you, maybe you can do your practicing on a mental break each day at work.

    Exciting that you get to live large this year!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I would assume it’s a safe place to wait for the bus since it’s at the elementary school that’s closest geographically to us.

      DC1 is too far along to do cheap keyboards. $400 would be inexpensive compared to taking hir to the university each day (given bus fee and time).

  10. Linda Says:

    I’ve been through that experience this year because of my move. I’ve mostly finished with the moving costs now, although I will have another chunk of money due soon for the furniture I ordered. (It was time to replace the 15-year old Ikea couch and loveseat, and I wanted something nicer.)

    I’ll have to make some changes to my budget, though, since I’ll soon be paying half the monthly costs for mom daycare (thank goodness sister can take on half the costs!). I think I’ll tighten my food costs since I do spend quite a bit on eating out at good restaurants and buying more expensive groceries; that will be the easiest thing to adjust.

  11. Debbie M Says:

    My FEELINGS are uncomfortable, but if I logically approve, my ACTIONS say screw it.

    This is happening to me right now. I’m trying to eat more politely (less poisoning of the earth and farmworkers, less animal abuse, etc.). Last year my grocery budget was $100/month. This year I’m allowing myself $200/month–I may or may not need quite that much. My frugal self occasionally freaks that something costs so much more than what I used to pay. My rational self reminds me that I am no longer willing to cut all those corners and that NOT cutting those corners means that my food inflation is really about the same as other inflation, not crazy at all. (Tomatoes were $0.88/pound in the early 1980s. It really is okay to pay way more than that in 2015.)

    My feelings are valuable and remind me not to get ridiculous and, for example, start telling myself I can spend part of my excess budget on foods that don’t fit my goals (Trader Joe’s macaroni and cheese with no fiber, I’m talking to you–you are just an occasional treat). But I do not want my feelings to have the final say in my actions.

    Hang in there!

    • anandar Says:

      I like the idea of paying attention to feelings and then deliberately weighing them against other factors. When I am in circumstances where I’m wanting to spend a lot more than usual, being in good touch with my less-comfortable feelings (in combination with keeping a close eye on my bank/credit card accounts and knowing the spread between our expected average spending and our maximum monthly spending) is helpful for me in knowing when to put on the brakes. I almost always reach a point where the anxiety/shame/fear outweighs the pleasures I’m deriving from my “screw it” spending habits and that point usually comes before whatever I’ve decided my maximum possible allowable spending is.

  12. chacha1 Says:

    RIOTOUS LIVING. Within moderation. :-)

    We have gone through phases of spending a whole lot of money, probably excessive amounts of money given that we are not set to retire yet and DH is 56.

    Most of the time we are very rational and moderate, because we always have in mind the high fixed expenses here in “Paradise.” (not MY paradise … grumble grumble) But there do occasionally come those times when spending a little too much gets written off as therapy. It’s stressful living in the big city, it’s stressful working more than full time, it’s stressful having family who are a problem. We could be spending money on a psychologist, instead we spend it on winetasting dinners.

  13. Virginia Says:

    Between the ages of 21 and 35 I was very frugal and saved a lot of money. Then at age 35, my husband and I had a baby and I told myself that it would be a lot of work but if I had a problem that money could solve, I would throw money at the problem. This mindset has helped me through some of the challenges of being a new parent. I didn’t let myself worry about the cost of daycare. While traveling for work I forgot a part of my breastpump and instead of beating myself up, I just bought another one. I bought convenient food instead of making cheap meals. When my weight was fluctuating, I just bought new clothes instead of shopping for bargains or trying to make old clothes fit. This has made my life so much easier and thanks to the fact that I have already established good spending patterns, my net worth has increased by 30% in the last 18 months since I had my baby. Now that I’ve learned to loosen the purse strings some, I think I am going to stick with it unless I see some big reason to change (like a career change or a new house).

  14. J Liedl Says:

    I can judge precisely when it goes from “I got this, I got this, I got this” to “OMG, OMG,OMG, why are you deserting me, all my savings”. It happens in a summer when an elderly dog requires medical testing and medications and more testing, when three out of the four humans in the household need new glasses (one of them two pairs) and the fourth really wants to update theirs as well, when you’re replacing a bunch of windows and you also need to reparge the house and when you’re eyeing your upcoming annual insurance bill and then you’re wondering if that original-to-the-house dishwasher is on its last legs. . . .

    Summers are super-stressful with the lower income and usually that’s when we also do all of the home renovation. Even though I save up throughout the rest of the year, it stresses me out to be feeding the money pit all summer long. Especially now that we spend school years feeding the money pit that is Eldest’s undergraduate university down south. Eep! Now that I think of it, the daycare/summer camp to university tuition/housing isn’t a far leap. At least I earn a lot more than when the girls were little (see savings, money to throw at problems).

  15. Revanche Says:

    Mostly I swing wildly from one extreme to the other so I’m comfortable in the knowledge that generally the wild spending will be offset by the usual periods of no spending at all.
    In the first six months of this year, I spent none of my allowance except for charity, then spent 3 months’ worth of allowance on 3 big things for myself in just about one go.
    The nice thing about this feast or famine style is I just enjoy the somewhat inevitable spending periods and not waste it with freakouts now that I know that it’ll naturally balance out over time.

    Of course when it comes to the really big spending (four figures and up) it takes a little more effort to be Zen about it.

  16. Sisyphus Says:

    Moving always sucks and ends up being more expensive than you expect. Also, is your paradise near my paradise? It is very expensive, true dat.

  17. Sandyl FirstgenAmerican Says:

    Well, I’m going through that right now with housing. I went from being totally debt free to spending all my disposable income on repairs again. I track the spending, I set an upper spec limit on how much I should spend, and then I guess I said to myself, that I am trading an extra 5 years of working in exchange for having an in law apartment for mom and mother in law, being in a better school district and a better community with upside potential if we ever sell. As long as my work is fulfilling, I’m okay with taking that risk and making that tradeoff.

    I do wish I had more cash the year I lived in the UK. I was a poor college student and didn’t really take in as many sights as I would have if I had more money. I think there are some unique experiences that you should take advantage of while you are in your new locale and allocating some dough to that is a good thing. It’s not like you’re all of a sudden going to turn into Sally Spendypants.

    Sometimes I do throw money at problems. If I think back, it was usually related to moving type activities. Big life changes are hard to do without spending. We also donated a lot more stuff recently vs selling it when my mom moved in with us. The volume of stuff was just too large to pick away at and I needed some sense of normalcy when consolidating down to one house from 2…and would rather give stuff away then move it, store it, just to sell it again. I was just tired of moving at that point. I can be really frugal, but there is also a time to spend as well.

  18. MutantSupermodel Says:

    Summer is always when my spending goes through the roof and everything goes crazy. I don’t have anyone to really leave the kids with during Summer so we have to do Summer Camps and they’re just not really super affordable no matter where we go. All three of my kids have birthdays in the summer. And this year is EXTRA crazy because I’m paying for a lawyer. I am very much in a screw it mindset but I’m not going nuts buying whatever I damn well please. It’s going to take me some time to recover from the craziness but whatever. Such is life.

    P.S. Sell the car. If you have a CarMax anywhere near you, they have the easiest program in the world for buying cars and my experience has been that they’ve been fair. Another option is have someone sell it for you and they keep a commission or something like that. A car sitting in a garage forever is not good for it at all, especially if it’s older so the chances of you paying to store it and then getting rid of it anyways are pretty high. And it might have problems by then.


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