Why We Blew a Hole in Our Entertainment Budget this Month

DSCN2381I know, I know.  After my April rant about how we were going to buckle down on spending even more after realizing that our debt is an emergency, here we are completely blowing our May entertainment budget.  I swear to you: we are not idiots, or self-centered people who just can’t get control of our spending.

Instead, we learned a valuable lesson about value-based spending this month, and that’s what led to us trashing our entertainment budget this month.  We spent more on entertainment this month than we did in the previous 4 months combined.    Here’s why:

The beginning of the month, we got a call from relatives in a neighboring state, saying they’d be coming down to the cities for a visit.  We haven’t seen my mom’s cousin, Carol, in nearly 8 years.  We haven’t seen her youngest daughter in nearly 40 years.  So we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get together.  Problem was, no one in our family has a house big enough to hold 30 people anymore, so we chose to get together with our out-of-state relatives and extended family at a local restaurant.  Cost for me and the kids for dinner (Rick was working):  $38.79

Also in the beginning of the month, we got a call from dear friends who wanted Rick and I to join them out for dinner.  Now, the last time Rick and I went out to dinner was nearly a year ago, and that doesn’t even count, because a nice man named Miguel accidentally dropped his nametag in our salad, and so our dinner was on the house.  The last time we went out and actually paid for dinner?  I couldn’t tell you.  Two years ago, maybe, with these same good friends.  Anyway, to us, it was worth the spend.  Total cost:  $27.02

Our friends are leaving us. 🙁

Another thing that happened this month is that one of our BFF’s got a great job offer – several states away.  Although they don’t necessarily want to move, this opportunity is just too good to pass up, and they’re planning on being away for only 2 years or so.  That being said, we are super close with this family, and want to cherish the time we have left with them before they move.  So when Maddie and their oldest boys, who are two of her very closest friends, wanted to go see Ironman 3, we said “yes”.  Our BFF’s (who have been more than supportive of our journey to debt free – thank you for that) graciously had the tickets purchased for Maddie and I by the time we got there, so we just had to pay for snacks, which came to $16.00. 

Later in the month, the wife of our BFF family and another BFF we both cherish decided to go out for a long-overdue lunch before they move out of state.  Cost: $8.99

The other big purchase we made this month falls half under the category of entertainment and half under home improvements, both of which are definitely not necessities:  We put in a fire pit.  The reasons for putting in the fire pit now are two-fold: 1, in the country, it’s wise to have a fire pit for burning the various things that need to be disposed of, such as downed trees/branches, etc.  Our 7 1/2 acres are over half woods, and the strong winds out in the country leave a need to burn stuff on a regular basis.

The other reason for us choosing to put in a fire pit is because it’s basically free entertainment, and will give us a way to entertain not only ourselves, but family and friends as well, for 3 seasons out of the year, at no cost.  We originally planned to line the fire pit with paver bricks, which are relatively cheap, but Rick found a huge rock pile in the woods filled with small boulders that made the perfect lining for our fire pit.  We saved $100 by choosing this route instead of the brick paver route.  That being said, we decided to fill in the area surrounding the pit with river pebble, because the water pressure out here isn’t great, and the fire department is a good 10-15 minutes out, so we figured that having grass surround the pit wasn’t the greatest idea.  As usual, when planning for home improvements, we under-estimated, and the $50 we originally spent on river pebble wasn’t enough, so we had to go back and get more.  Total cost for the fire pit: $135 and S’mores ingredients to break it in with friends: $11.13, totaling $146.13

The other three outings were normally what we would’ve allowed in the budget: grab and go type of stuff, totaling $59.90, which is on the higher end of our acceptable limit for entertaining.

And then yesterday, I had a “we just need a break” day.  There’s been a lot of physical work here this month, along with a lot of emotional ups and downs regarding the debt payoff, and we were all a bit at the end of our ropes.  Cost for lunch from Walmart for the kids and I as we headed out to the beach? $17.22

Total on regular entertainment$ 167.92   Total with the fire pit?  $314.05

I guess the point is that when you are working to get out of debt, occasions are going to arise when you need to make a decision about spending that may not line up with your goals or budget.  A crossroads, so to speak.  And it’s important that when you approach that crossroads, that you do so not only with common sense, but with a bigger perspective than just your budget and your money goals.  Grayson at Debt RoundUp talked about this same thing this month.  There also seems to be a good bit of people that blew their budgets this month, judging from this post over at Club Thrifty and the comments that followed,  so this helped solidify in our minds, too, that blowing your budget happens.

It’s important, however, that blowing the budget doesn’t become a habit, because that is what leads people and families into a debt problem in the first place.  That being said, there are occasions, and only you can determine what those occasions are, when it’s worth it to spend them money.  Just make sure that those breaks from your budget are an occasion and not a habit.

 

29 comments

  1. It sounds like you had a ton of great moments with entertainment! It would be different if you blew it at the racetracks. But, cherishing time with good friends, saying goodbye, etc. – all of those things are worth a dinner out or two for sure!

    • Laurie says:

      It was fun, David, and a one time deal, that’s for sure. But it was weird going back to our old habits for a bit. 🙂

  2. LifeorDebt says:

    I agree- one time deal! It sounds so much like what we’re going through as well. Life still has to be lived, friends and family still need to be made a priority; I think, even though you spent more than you wanted, they were still little “necessities” of life.

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, in a way, they were. Even looking back now, I don’t think we would’ve spent any less. The important part is that we don’t start repeating these types of spending decisions on a regular basis.

    • Laurie says:

      It was in this instance. Doing this every month is probably not such a good idea for someone in our situation, though. 🙂

  3. E.M. says:

    You might have gone over the budget, but you had good reasons for doing so. Spending time with family and friends can be priceless, especially when you don’t see them often. In your case, you created some nice memories and the fire pit will help to create more! You’re right in that as long as it’s not made into a habit, that it’s acceptable under the right circumstances.

    • Laurie says:

      Good to hear your perspective too, E.M. Sitting at that fire pit, already two or three times since we put it in, enjoying our family and friends, it sure felt worth every penny we spent on it. 🙂

  4. Matt Becker says:

    Absolutely true that we all go over our budgets form time to time. And I also agree that spending on time with people you love is really the best money you can spend. I said the same thing on Holly’s post, that I spent much more last weekend than normal because I was visiting college friends I rarely see. It was certainly more than our normal going out/entertainment spending, but I would do it again in a heartbeat because it was a rare chance to spend time with good friends. Like you said, as long as overspending doesn’t become a habit, the opportunity to use your money to create memories with loved ones is something we should all cherish.

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, Matt, I read the comments after Holly’s article, and blowing the budget did seem to be the norm last month for a lot of people, didn’t it? I think you’re right though: we both did intentional, value-based spending and so it was worth the money. 🙂

  5. Wait until you see the hole I blew in our home maintenance and pet category. That’s ok though because we have them set up as projected expenses which means the money is already saved to be used. So if we didn’t use our $8 entertainment budget one month if it’s a projected expense it gets saved in the PE account until we do use it. We build up a money stash for all the categories we label PE. Blowing the budget is easy, having the money to recoup is the hard part if one is not prepared. I’m happy we chose to save PE in our budget, it makes it all so much easier. I’m sure you will find a way… we all blow the budget.. just get back up and keep on going. Cheers

    • Laurie says:

      Mr. CBB, that’s a great idea, the PE account. Once the debt gets lower we will have to do that. Yes, we’ll just get up and start again. Although we have moments of “What have we done???” mostly we feel okay about this since it was a planned blowing of the budget. 🙂

  6. I think the fact that you realize you blew your budget and have reasons why shows that you have certainly changed from your spending too much days. We used to try and budget, then blow it, then give up and keep on spending. I realize now that it happens and you just do better the next month. I’m glad you got to spend time with friends and family. That is a really good reason to blow the budget in my opinion.

    • Laurie says:

      Kim, that is exactly how we were!! Multiple times we started a budget and it never lasted more than 2 weeks before we just gave up. I don’t know what finally made it click for us, but you’re right: it is nice to be in a place where blowing your budget is a rarity and not the norm. Yes, we did have a wonderful time every time we blew the budget. But now we’ll go back to looking for free or super cheap ways to have fun. 🙂

  7. You’re not alone, I blew through my grocery budget this month (bf has been eating like a king lol). I’m usually afraid of fire and don’t even like matches or lighters, but my parents have a fire pit and I really like it when they have big bonfires. They live in the country too. We usually buy marshmellows and hotdogs and make a night of it (free entertainment, or close to it, once it’s installed). A good “investment”, I’d say!

  8. Sometimes things just come up and you have to spend money on them. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You know that you won’t make it a habit. We’ve been in the same situation and sometimes you just have to spend a little extra money and go over your budget.

  9. CashRebel says:

    I’ve blown my entertainment budget many times before. It really just matters that you have the dedication to stick to your budget in the future. It’s all about the macro trends, not the micro. Good luck next month.

  10. I agree. It doesn’t have to be so often. But I also don’t deprive myself of spending in order to be with friends and families that we value. When things like this happen, I make sure to get back on track the following month.

  11. Sounds like all of those expenses are totally justifiable. The bonfire pit will be well worth the money you spent on it. I love sitting outside during the summer around a bonfire with millions of starts in the sky.

  12. This is just something that happens now and then, and it seems to be that you guys spend the money in a good way, it´s not like you had a shopping spree or anything. Just by being so aware of blowing the budget, means how important it is for you to follow it, which means that this will never become a habit. Sometimes you just have to treat yourself!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, NG. Yeah, I think we’re ok with it, and are both certain that it will NOT become a habit. (Stay tuned for the June recap to find out for sure. 🙂 )

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