My two top goals for this year are to pay off my best buy gift card and pay off my student loans. Working towards these goals requires me to stick to a pretty tight budget. However, there are some things I’m just not willing to cut out. I think it’s important to find a good balance when you’re working toward long term goals. Today, I’m going over the 7 things I won’t cut out of my budget to pay off debt!
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I am a huge animal lover. Currently, I own seven pets – two bunnies, four guinea pigs, and a dog! This means I spend quite a bit each month on pet supplies. This is definitely something that is non-negotiable for me. I have to take care of my animals, and I’m a strong believer that I should give my animals the best and healthiest life I possibly can. I don’t go overboard on buying things like treats and toys, but I do spend a little more on quality foods and making sure everybody is comfortable and happy.
This also includes contributing to a vet sinking fund each paycheck. I think it’s important to be prepared for when something unexpected happens, so I also choose to continue saving money for vet expenses. Pet expenses are a high priority to me and are not something I’m willing to cut!
I’m talking about health and car insurance here! Car insurance is required to have a vehicle, but I pay for coverage about the minimum required in my state since I drive so much for work. I could probably save quite a bit a year if I reduced everything to the minimum, but I like to be prepared in case something major was to ever happen. I drive at least 60 miles a day, so I don’t want to end up in a bad situation without a vehicle.
So, full disclosure – I don’t actually pay for my health insurance premiums. My employer covers my premiums 100%. I do have a high-deductible plan with an HSA, so when I say I won’t cut “health insurance” out of my budget, I’m talking about my HSA contribution. I contribute $50 from every paycheck into my HSA to cover my insurance deductible and routine copays and things like that. I really like the HSA setup, and I won’t cut that contribution out of my budget. Again, I like to be protected in case anything major happened.
My boyfriend and I currently pay for Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon music every month. We use all of these services regularly, so I feel that we are getting our money’s worth out of them. I had actually canceled Amazon music at one point and chose to add it back into the budget. I listen to music all day at work and during my commute, and it’s really nice to be able to choose what exactly I want to listen too for that long of a time period every day.
We are also talking about cutting cable sometime this year, and at that point will probably add in Hulu live. All of those streaming services combined will still provide us with significant savings on cable that we don’t even really use a whole bunch.
Utilities are definitely an area that we could probably cut back on. Mainly I’m talking about heating and cooling. My boyfriend and I both have the same mindset here – that we aren’t willing to be miserable in our own home. We don’t go crazy and set the heat up to 78 in the winter or anything, but we probably could do with setting it a few degrees lower. We do set it lower when we aren’t home, but since we have animals, I do have to make sure the temperature stays in a range that is comfortable and healthy for all of them.
A lot of people will probably disagree with me on this one! I am not willing to cut out my planner purchases and supplies. I am definitely a person who works off of goals and to-do lists. Currently, I run my life out of three separate planners – one for my business, one for work, and one for my budget. Yes, I could use a $5 planner from Target. But since I use these planners so dang much and they get so much wear and tear, I am absolutely willing to budget beautiful, high-quality planners into my budget.
I currently purchase all of my planners and supplies from Erin Condren. I love their products and since I only need to buy a planner once a year, I’m more than happy to pay extra for premium planners. Additional planner supplies and stickers are also not totally necessary (and I can at least make a lot of my stickers myself now that I have a Cricut!) but they help me stay motivated and organized. A budget is supposed to give you permission to spend, so I keep this in there!
During the year I’ve been working on budgeting and paying off debt so far, I’ve come to realize that I’m not willing to completely cut spending on experiences. I feel like the busier I get, the more I appreciate the time I get to spend with my friends and family. Because of this, I want to take advantage of the times I get to do things with them and create memories.
Usually what this looks like for me is going out to eat or picking up something to take over to a friend’s house. I’m also going to be in two weddings this year. These things can be expensive, but I’m not willing to turn these things down. Not only are they important for me, but it’s also important for my friends for me to be apart of these events. Finding a good balance between saying yes to everything and saying no to everything is really the key!
My boyfriend and I go have Sunday brunch at the same place with a buffet every single week. We’ve done it for over a year now. We get there right as it opens most weekends, and we even have a regular waitress at this point. This has really become the time that we talk about anything major going on, make decisions together, and talk about our plans. This is the only eating out that we won’t ever cut from the budget because we like having this time so much. We probably could save money each month by doing this at home instead, but it’s become a routine and we both enjoy it so much that it’s here to stay!
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