There are so many purchases that we make regularly that we often don’t have a line item for in our monthly budgets. Things that occur every few months or bi-annually can be especially tough surprises if we haven’t budgeted for them. Sure it would be great to set aside the money I know I will need the next time both cars need an oil change, but sometimes emergencies come up and you have emergency vet bills, a broken microwave, and a broken cell phone all in the same week. Then I wonder how I will pay for that oil change, haircut, or new pair of black pumps for work. And sometimes what we budgeted for a budget line item (especially groceries and gas but yes, sometimes the cable and phone bill) is much higher than we had planned.
That’s when I have to stop and remember a simple fact: If I don’t have the money, I don’t have the money. If the money I was planning on spending on that haircut has to be spent on a vet bill, then so be it. It can be tempting to dip into that dwindling savings account or swipe that good old American Express to pay for something, but isn’t there another way?
If you can’t afford it now, don’t buy it now. I know, I know, why delay satisfaction when I can just swipe a credit card? I’ll have the money in the future, the next paycheck, or next month’s budget, so I can just pay myself back and make that deposit back into savings or pay back the credit card before the bill comes. But how often do I actually do that? Once it’s swiped, it’s out of my head.
So how can I accept that I can’t pay for something that I had planned on purchasing? Well, first, I ask myself if it is a need or is it a want. When I am honest with myself, anything that doesn’t shelter me, transport me, feed me, or take care of my health is a want….well maybe my cellphone is a need too. Then, I ask myself if I can do without it until I actually have the money in hand and am not borrowing from next month’s budget or charging it on the credit card. Borrowing from next month’s budget sounds ok, but if you do it enough you will find that you quickly run out of money that next month and have to borrow from the following month too.
Here are some tips for delaying those purchases when you just don’t have the money.
Yes, your ends are dry and splitting and no, you don’t have money for a cut now. Instead, try going to a beauty school rather than a regularly-priced salon to get those tresses tamed. Also try a deep conditioner, wearing topknots or buns, or just try some new hairstyles to keep it looking fresh until the money comes in.
Are you getting an oil change every 3,000 miles still? Sure, we all remember that Jiffy Lube jingle, but most cars built since 2005 (and some even earlier) can go 6,000 miles between oil changes. Don’t know if your car can? Check the owner’s manual and check the oil indicator light in your dash. Until it’s at 15% or lower, you’re good to go. And if you actually need that oil change but can’t afford it? Look for coupons online to bring the price down or drive as little as possible. Take your significant other’s car to run your errands or ask your friend to swing by and pick you up before girl’s night rather than meeting her there. Maybe even carpool to work with a nearby colleague.
Great Deals at Drugstores
But it’s free with register rewards! This is my favorite kind of toothpaste and it’s only $.50 (after the Target gift card I get with purchase)! We all love deals, otherwise we wouldn’t be Krazy Coupon Ladies. But let’s get real. You probably have tons of toothpaste in your stockpile right now. And if you need that money for something else, like perishable veggies or milk, don’t spend it on adding to your stockpile. It may be a great deal and it’s sad to miss it, but great deals are cyclical and it will come again. The same rule applies to the sale rack at Marshalls. Step away. You can get another skirt when you can actually afford it.
Scuffed HeelsWe all have that trusty pair of black pumps that we wear to work every day (and everywhere) and it has seen better days. One day, you look down and realize how scuffed the toe is, the seam is starting to rip, and the heel is almost totally worn off. Is it time to head to the mall for some nice, new, “professional-looking” shoes. Stand in your truth (or your scuffed heels rather). If you can’t afford a new pair of heels, even if there’s a big sale, wait until you can. Get some Kiwi shoe polish and buff out the scuffs. Take those pumps to a cobbler (yes, they are still around) and they can repair the worn heel and ripping seam for just a few bucks, allowing you to get another few month’s of wear out of them. And really, no one is looking that closely at your shoes anyway.