It seems like we’ve seen our finances take a dive over the past several months. Things were going pretty well up through July. I’m a stickler for tracking things, and I love running reports and graphs of our finances (it’s the accountant in me). Anyway, steady progress was being made. Debt was being paid down, savings was holding steady, and spending was being held in check.
However, the past few months have pretty much reversed most of that progress. We’ve had one expense after another recently. In August it was $1,300 for a new washer and dryer. The same month we spent around $270 to paint our kitchen cabinets. In September we spent around $450 on vet visits for our dog. This includes the diagnosis of pannus plus treatment for an allergy he got at the park. In October we spent $450 for a weekend stay in Bloomington to watch my sister perform her senior recital. This adds up to nearly $2,500 in “extra” expenses.
In November, we’ll have some minor plumbing work that needs done. Our city is replacing all the water meters with a new model, and when the water guys came to replace our meter they told us ours isn’t installed correctly. Our meter is positioned vertically, and it needs to be positioned horizontally. There’s a part that needs installed to reposition the meter, and I looked into doing it myself. But the way that our pipes are situated in the utility room, it’s not something I’m going to be able to do. So, I’m calling around this week to get estimates on the cost. Hopefully it’s not too much, but I know anything to do with plumbing doesn’t come cheap.
The thing with most of these expenses is that the more I look at them, the more I’m convinced that they were necessary expenses.
We could have bought a cheaper washer and dryer set, but would it last as long? Would it have as long a warranty? Would it be as energy efficient? Sometimes it costs less in the long run to spend a little more upfront, and I think this was one of those times.
We didn’t have to paint our kitchen cabinets. However, this is something we’d been planning for a month or two in advance. We’d already started buying things for the project, and the project in itself really wasn’t that expensive.
We could have not taken our dog to the vet and let him go blind. But we weren’t about to do that. The $450 spent on his vet visits and medications is well within the realm of reasonable pet expenses that a responsible pet owner should be prepared to have.
We didn’t have to attend my sister’s senior recital. But family is important, and this was a big deal to my sister. And it wasn’t like we went wild and crazy with expenses. Hotels in a college town are expensive, and we did pick out one of the lower-priced hotels. (I did earn 5% cash back on the hotel stay, so that will in effect knock $15 off the cost). We could have eaten at McDonalds every meal rather than local sit-down restaurants. But this was the first and likely only time that I’ll visit my sister at college. I wanted to enjoy the trip.
You hear on the news that the “middle class” is being squeezed tighter and tighter, though they usually point to the cost of paying for college and medical care. At least for us, it’s neither of those things (at least not yet). Rather it’s all the other random things that come up and strain the monthly budget. I know things come in waves and tend to equal out in the end, so I’m not overly worried about things getting too out of hand. But I do think it’s time to re-evaluate our budget and build up more of a savings cushion to ride the waves better.