Here’s the latest installment in “What I Bought,” my monthly series where I’ll describe what I bought last month. This won’t include any essentials like gas or groceries, just what I spent my discretionary income on.
- Fabric to make zipper pouches: $28. I took a sewing class a few months ago and want to practice making some pouches before I forget what a zipper foot is.
- Membership to a local Sherlock Holmes club: $20. Yes, I’m a nerd. Sue me.
- Season 2 of “ER” from Goodwill: $4. My friend Jess and I love to go to Goodwill on the first Saturday of every month, when everything in the store is 50% off. That’s how I snagged this pristine copy for only $4. 90s George Clooney is the best.
- Snacks at the movie theater: $7. I still had an old Groupon to a local movie theater so I splurged on an ice cream sundae.
- One float in a sensory deprivation tank: $25. Floating is great for my anxiety and I got 50% for my first two floats.
- New zipper for my leather boots: $40. I am a firm believer in fixing things you can instead of throwing them out. Growing up we always took our worn heels and shoes to a cobbler (my parents know a surprising amount of cobblers) so when the zipper broke on my only pair of leather boots, I decided to get them fixed instead of buying a new pair for more than double the price. I also got some heels fixed as well.
- Gemstone earrings: $27. Now that I’m discovering what kind of style I like, I’m trying to buy more classic pieces that will look good with a bunch of outfits. I hate spending so much money on jewelry, but I always end up throwing away cheap earrings from Forever 21 after six months. These are a better investment, even in discretionary income, and are from a local jeweler I know.
- Eating out while on a trip to Dayton: $50. I have a good friend in Dayton that I’ve been meaning to visit for a while now. I set aside some Christmas money for the trip so it didn’t come out of my regular discretionary fund.
- Dooney & Burke purse: $16. My friend Melanie from Dayton lives on the same street as a Goodwill. Did I mention how much I love thrifting? I spotted this amazing leather satchel from Dooney & Burke and decided to snag it. It somehow manages to hold my giant wallet, Moleskine notebook and Nero Wolfe detective novel.
- Four out-of-print Nero Wolfe books: $19. I love detective books. Growing up I would read the stories of Sherlock Holmes and Edgar Allen Poe’s Dupin. But one of my favorites is Nero Wolfe. He’s little known today, but he was huge in the 60s and even had a TV show based on the novels made in the 2000s. The author, Rex Stout, wrote 73 Nero Wolfe stories and while you can find many in your local bookstore, there are some that are out-of-print. A few years ago my dad and I decided to take stock of what books we did have and try to collect all of the ones that we were missing. I keep the spreadsheet we made in my wallet so in case I run into a used bookstore, I know which ones I’m missing. I found five out-of-print books while on my trip to Dayton and paid less than $5 each.
- Pancakes at a local dinner: $6.
- “Stripes” on the Xbox: $3. I usually try to get DVDs from the library, but the copy I borrowed kept skipping.
- Various trips to fast food restaurants and eating out: $30
Total spent: $275
The biggest difference between my entertainment budget now and back when I was still paying off loans is that now I have more room to spend. If I want to split a pitcher of sangria on a Sunday night with a friend, I can. But sometimes I wonder if I’m spending more because I can.
Before, I used to really think about every purchase. I would eat waffles in the car on the way to a movie, so I wouldn’t have to pay $6 for nachos. Now I’ll forget to do that and get $10 worth of food. Now that I don’t have to be so frugal, I’m not.
I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, that I’m letting myself go a little bit. I worry that the things I’m spending discretionary money on aren’t things I really value. Buying food at a movie theater is a convenience purchase. It’s not made out of real desire or true necessity. It’s made because I didn’t plan ahead.
Maybe I sound as anal as I did a few months ago. But I do think that there’s a slippery slope when it comes to finances. The more I eat out, the more I want to eat out. The more I run to CVS for a candy bar, the less I want to eat the granola bar that’s in my desk.
The problem is is that I’m around temptation more often. I spend more time at places like malls and movie theaters where I can buy lunch for $8 if I want to. And one of the keys to limiting your spending is just removing yourself from opportunities where you can do so.
I wouldn’t mind spending that money if it were on something else I loved, like a boxset of “The Golden Girls” or some new sewing supplies. My issue is what I spend my money on, not how much it is. Sometimes I forget that even if I’m within my budget, I might not be within my own guidelines.
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