When drafting your zero-based budget (you have one, right?) you most likely included discretionary items. These are the things you could cut out if push came to shove.
I know my budget isn’t as lean and mean as possible but believe including these extras, some might call them luxuries, help me follow the plan.
During the open-toe shoe months (April through November in California), spa pedicures are a mainstay in my budget. I figure it’s the price of being able to wear sandals to work.
Visits are stretched out to every six weeks and I patronize a shop where the rate is $21 plus tip. There are often coupons in the pennysaver but I like going the work of this shop and stopped trying new ones.
My posture on the computer is horrible resulting in neck and back pain at times. Massaging out the kinks and knots becomes a necessity at times but I try to nip it in the bud before then.
By taking advantage of daily deals (such as Groupon) it’s possible to save a significant amount of money. A hour long deep tissue massage probably averages about $75 but a recent daily deal resulted in me getting three massages for a total of $29. I tip on the regular price each visit.
Cell phones are a necessity for Mr. Boomer and I because we don’t have a land line at home. However, the Droid is pure luxury.
It’s $30 a month that I don’t have to spend although it does save me time. How? I’m able to catch up on my reader queue and emails from just about anywhere. It turns waiting (at the doctor’s office, etc.) into productive time.
Cooking is sometimes the last thing I want to do after a long day in the office or after a business trip. By including convenience foods in our menu planning we’re able to eat at home more often and not spend money dining out.
For example picking up a roasted chicken and prepared mashed potatoes at Costco means all we have to do is add a vegetable and we have a delicious, healthy meal with leftovers for less than $4 a person.
Every Sunday I get a latte at Starbucks. This is a reward for staying on track during the week by drinking home-brewed coffee and eating home-made lunches.
This $4 a week expense keeps me from feeling deprived because I know there’s a prize every seven days and ultimately saves much more money. If I ate lunch out each workday at $8 a pop that would be 10 times more money.
This is the largest discretionary item in our budget. Many people wouldn’t even consider spending money on vacation or travel while paying down debt. I think some sort of vacation is necessary at least once a year for several reasons.
One is that people need a chance to recharge and change their scenery. How boring is it to never get a week away from work or your home? I’ve never heard of people near the end of their life regretting that they traveled or vacationed too much. We’ve all heard of the reverse.
Having said that, we have changed our vacation plans to save money. When airfare to Hawaii practically doubled from San Diego this year we changed our vacation plans to a cruise that originated from here.
I hope you include at least one luxury in your budget. What is your discretionary item and why?
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