Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Budgeting Priorities

A few months ago, I started a separate account with my credit union (costs me nothing, love my credit union) that was going to be for a vacation. At first, I'd hoped to take the girls to Hawaii this holiday season, but I soon realized there was no way there would be enough in mere months. Then I thought maybe next holiday season, but then a new shiny object caught my eye. A laptop.

Our PC is 8 years old. In computer years, I think it would qualify for social security. While I've tried to be patient with it, patience has always been tough for me. And as the girls have gotten older, they want to play games and such on it. The hours of maintenance are now outweighing the hours of regular use. Enough is enough. So I took that vacation money and invested it in something that will last at least longer than a week on the beach (even in computer years).

One of the reasons I was happy to stay at home instead of travel is the thought of the actual travel process anyway. As fabulous as our NYC trip was, it was bookended by the hours not just in the air, but in the airport, waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Worth it? Of course.

But when there's only so much in the budget, when the credit card is put away and used only for genuine necessities (like my recent 120k mile car service that cost several hundred dollars), there's only so much left over for large expenses. I would rather use that $$ towards things that enhance our daily life.

When I was younger, I used to be all about experiences; fabulous memories. Now, of course, my memory is practically non-existent so I suppose that's part of what's changed my priorities. Still, I think it's more of an adjustment rather than a change of heart.

I still love going to the theatre, but I limit those experiences to what's available on Goldstar. I love getting together with friends, but we go to places with more reasonable prices or during Happy Hour so that the experiences are about being together rather than being at the "right" place. One of the girls' favorite places to go is Griffith Park, a free destination to all (with free parking, too!).

This school year, I'm no longer going to spend my evenings making lunches, but making room in the budget to allow the girls to buy.  Because we'll be spending more time driving and less time at home, I want to spend more of that time actually with the girls instead of in the kitchen. Riley's charter school is already committed to providing healthy lunches, and Sylvia will have options - and as a high schooler now, it's going to be her responsibility at lunch time to make the right choices. I know Sylvia won't always do so, but we have to start somewhere. Sylvia and I have also discussed splitting the lunch cost so that she will use some of her earnings to buy it, which also gives her some ownership. I'll be coming home more for lunch to make up the difference - and to enjoy a little time at home alone.

I want to make everyday life as enjoyable as possible for me and the girls. It's a priority every day.


Missy June said...

I've been working out many budget things recently...doing my best to stay debt free. I have a small emergency/savings fund, but have had to pull some from it for back to school needs.

Our computer was ANCIENT, too about 8-9 years old like yours! Last week a friend gave me her "old" 2007 Gateway which I appreciate so much. It zooms like a dream to me!

Are you enjoying your break - it really sounds like it!

Kelly Miller said...

Living in the moment and being as present with your children as you can will create those experiences for them. (And my kid makes his own lunches -- best decision ever.)

Pippi said...

I'm trying to take advantage of the three $2 days this season at the Children's Museum for the boys. And our discounted trip to the amusement park, since we don't have the money for Hunter's party, is another example. When you can't do what you want to, it's time to look at what you can do. :)