I made a big purchasing mistake earlier this year. I had a passing thought that I might try wearing makeup again, something I haven’t done since my 20s. A former schoolmate sells skincare products and cosmetics, so I called her up and invited her over for a demo. I ended up buying a complete package for $350. Gulp! Even those of you who know me only in blog-land will realize how uncharacteristic of me this is!
Within a week, I realized there was no chance I would go back to wearing makeup. I felt like it wasn’t “me” as well as being far too much bother. If I had hesitated, I would have realized that before the big cash layout! The skincare products are good but I found an equally good drugstore equivalent of my favourite in the kit.
I can see now that I liked the idea of indulging myself in products that were “just for me,” that took me outside my usual routine and made me feel pampered. In a world of manicures, pedicures, facials, massages and other spa services, I have always opted out. I probably won’t do a repeat. But I was left giving some thought to the question, “How much money do I spend that is just for me?” Not for the house, or for Rom and me as a couple, but strictly for my own personal use and enjoyment?
Rom and I have an expense-sharing system in which we each contribute half of household expenses. The house and car are paid for, so our list is: property tax, savings for major household repairs and maintenance, small household repairs and maintenance, household “stuff,” agreed-on furniture and appliances, home insurance, utilities (electricity, heat and water), Internet/landline and groceries. We also pay 50/50 into an entertainment fund every month which we use for concerts, plays, movies, festivals and meals out.
This is the first year we’ve shared a car, so I paid the insurance while Rom is buying the new snow tires! Rom takes the bus to work and his firm pays part of the monthly bus pass cost; he pays the rest. Since Rom rarely drives, I pay for gas for the car.
We have a special arrangement for funding vacations. We travel to see relatives twice a year. Rom pays for the trip to see his family in the UK; I pay for our trip to see Link in Toronto. You might think these costs would be uneven but we have managed to even them out! For example, airfares are higher to the UK but we have lodging costs in Toronto.
When it comes to groceries, we each like snack items the other doesn’t eat, and we count them all as groceries. If I buy premium coffee, which I am apt to do, I pay for it out-of-pocket. Likewise, Rom doesn’t drink alcohol, so I sometimes buy wine or cider to share with visitors. We informally alternate when going out to a coffee shop or out for ice cream, or “charge” it to the entertainment budget.
Rom and I have worked out which personal care items we can share, so my makeup splurge notwithstanding, we include them in the grocery bill.
We decided to count cat food and litter, bird seed, garden plants, Christmas trees, etc. as household expenses. I don’t buy any household décor, but I will sometimes add functional household “stuff” to the shared expenses, like bed sheets or a bath mat.
We have very few medical expenses. We each pay the non-insured part of our own dentist visits, glasses and prescriptions, but those costs are infrequent and/or small.
There are 3 categories we don’t share because of inequalities. One is gifts. Rom has no relatives in Nova Scotia, whereas all of mine are here. He sends gifts to his family for their special occasions, and I provide for mine. Another is family meals. My family gets together about once a month for holidays and birthdays. If we are invited to a restaurant meal with my family, I pay, otherwise it would eat up most of our entertainment budget. The last one is charity – I have chosen some charities that I personally support.
For our in-home entertainment, I pay for Apple Music and Rom pays for Netflix. We pay for our own cell phones and monthly plans. We both do pay-as-you-go for less than $20/month!
Now I finally get to my own personal spending, of the kind where we need no discussion on whether it’s a household expense.
We each pay for our own clothes. Rom has a minimalist wardrobe and might spend $200/year. I need separate wardrobes for work and home for 4 distinct seasons, and usually spend $1000-$1500/year. If I were honest I would say that $500 is for basic items and replacements, bought new. The rest is a premium for not choosing to shop at thrift stores, and for variety.
My next biggest expense is my gym membership. It’s been a year now and I go 4-5 times a week. I’ve also bought 2 swim suits this year, and I hope to soon replace my 12-year-old skates!
I usually end up buying one electronics item for myself each year – last year it was wireless headphones, and this year, a super-zoom digital camera. I know my next purchase will be a new cell phone since my 4-year-old Windows phone is just sad!
I mentioned I recently bought a coffee grinder that is for me alone since Rom doesn’t drink coffee.
I get a hair cut every 1-2 months. Without hair colour or special products, it is $20 at the cheap place and $35 at the snazzy one – including sales tax!
This blog costs me $90/year to register the domain, keep my details private, and allow you not to see any ads.
I buy paper and colour ink for our printer at home. It is pricey and little-used. I may consider sending my personal print jobs to pick up at the library through their printer app; then I would only have to pay by the page.
My direct work costs are also low – very occasional lunches or coffees when I attend an offsite meeting, and contributions to gifts for co-workers.
I hardly ever buy books, magazines, CDs or DVDs any more. I can’t resist buying a few books on my UK trips, though– and now I have 6 waiting to be read!
The most mundane things I pay for are bank charges (which I have finally almost wiped out), an annual credit card fee that is worth it for the rewards, and postage.
In the past year, the most frivolous things I’ve bought are earrings, a watch, tea towels (travel souvenirs), and the Beatles Yellow Submarine LEGO set!
I have tried to put myself on an allowance for personal spending but I find it varies too much month-to-month and isn’t a big concern unless I go overboard on clothes or electronics.
What do you spend money on that is just for you – and not shared with anyone else? Do you have a personal spending allowance?
Ha! I fell into the makeup trap once – about 10 years ago. I really don’t know what I was thinking since I haven’t really worn makeup since high school. But I found this company that had makeup designed specifically for people with red hair, and I guess I just got excited. Most of it probably needs to be tossed by now… the only thing I occasionally use is the mascara, and I do have to say that it is the only mascara I’ve ever tried that doesn’t make me look like a complete clown. Still, definitely not worth the $300 that I dropped buying the whole package.
But really, I’m not sure how to exactly quantify what’s “just for me” and what isn’t – since I sorta consider my whole life “for me!” I did splurge recently though, and bought some new towels as a reward for finishing the floor in my bathroom. Not gonna open them until I finish the painting and tub surround though! And then, for one brief, shining, instant in time, I’ll actually have a bathroom that is neat, tidy, and color coordinated. I’m expecting that to last about 15 minutes! 🙂
It’s interesting, Cat, that you consider a household necessity a personal item! Maybe insofar as you may have perfectly serviceable ones and now want new colour-coordinated ones. It would feel like a splurge, though!
Oh – I’m feeling a bit of pending guilt reading this (I know that’s not the intended outcome though!) I buy Clinique foundation about 3 times a year at $50 ea. Hair colour with foils to do total grey cover at $180 × 4 per year. Clothes and shoes about the same as yours. Wine – probably 1 cheaper bottle per week – about $10. I buy take-away coffees more regularly than I’d like to admit (and other snack/junk treats.) I give money to relatives pretty often (often over $500.) Charities that I support… Eek! Have gotten off the spending track since I stopped blogging!! 😣
I have been there! My hair grows so fast. I had stepped up my hair colour appts from 4x/year to 6 then 12 then 13 (every 4 weeks) and still couldn’t keep up with the roots so that is why I don’t cover any more. Plus was concerned with potential health effects of that frequent. If we only had good coffee for sale in my building at work, I would buy it – but the coffee there is miserable! Therefore I justify buying premium coffee to make for myself. Money to relatives, wow, what a concept. I guess I don’t think of help-outs for Link in that way. No one in my extended family has asked. Glad not to be dealing with it. Enjoy your budget tracking break!
Turkish delight has a similar habit – not family but childhood friends. It’s not something I’m used to, but I find actually really sweet…
Agree – sweet!
Hmmm – good question. For me it is coffee out, massages, yoga class, a few books, haircuts, and clothing. Also the costs of membership in AAUW and taking OLLI classes. I wish there were more like a trip to Paris or something equally marvelous! We have always thrown all our money and expenses into the same pot so I had to really think about this.
I don’t have many expenses that are unshared, so I had to think about it, too. I even hesitate to use the word “expenses” because the word itself implies “essentials” to me! Yet getting a haircut or buying a new pair of work shoes are not really discretionary – only the amount spent.
Books, I read a lot, around 150 books a year. So that’s my big expense for me.
I would be interested to know if you keep all those books, pass them on, or buy for Kindle?
There is just me so all expenses are mine. I’m still getting used to the whole “being on a fixed pension” so I’ve tried to work out costs for the next year (when bridging pension ends but OAS kicks in – going to be even tighter) and then see where I stand. Pensions come in at the end of the month so I pay the rent and all utilities, insurance costs & transit pass immediately. I have a couple of outstanding debts which also get paid immediately. After that I take out grocery & laundry money – and my spending allowance and that’s it!
I used to spend about $1500/yr for clothing but won’t be spending that much over the next year. The only things that I will NEED over the next six months are a couple of bras and another pair of walking shoes.
I get my hair cut and coloured about every 10 weeks – and it is expensive but it’s something that really makes me feel good and I’m hopeless at doing it myself so it stays – for now.
I no longer do pedicures or manicures on a regular basis – might be a once a year treat. But I do have my toes & feet looked after by a Foot Care Nurse at my GP’s practice for $25 every 8 weeks. I can then come home and paint them myself.
My major makeup expense is my foundation. I have rosacea and a number of allergies so have to be careful what I buy. I use a fairly expensive French foundation – but one bottle lasts a whole year. I balance that out by buying Rimmel eye pencils & shadow and Maybelline mascara – all during sales. I find that I don’t react to any of these products while expensive ones from Chanel or Estee Lauder etc. have all caused allergic reactions.
I have found a number of No Cost or Low Cost events to go to in Toronto, use my transit pass and off I go. I buy the Mirvish theatre pkg. (7 shows for $200) with a number of friends each year. We buy the cheapest option so sit in “the Gods” but we see and hear everything just fine. I also buy a yearly Art Gallery pass (with guest privileges) and I’m thinking of buying myself a yearly pass for the Royal Ontario Museum so that covers a lot of entertainment for the year. FYI – I just saw the new Guillermo Del Toro “Monsters” exhibit at the AGO and it’s amazing – plus the Vikings exhibit starts at the ROM on November 8th so if you are coming to see Link soon then you might want to consider getting tickets.
Books (real ones) are my weakness – I’d be willing to eat PB & J sandwiches for a week in order to purchase a book that I really wanted. I do pass along a few – and I have started using the library more – but books will always be an addiction. I’m also going to the BoutcherCon conference next week – a 4 day event with a ton of mystery writers coming for panels, Q&A’s plus lots more events – some of my favourite authors are coming so I’m counting the days!
Bouchercon sounds exciting – do you think you’ll get to see Louise Penny? That price for the Mirvish shows is excellent! We haven’t decided on entertainment yet for Toronto but I think Rom would like the Del Toro exhibit. If you might be downtown at the end of the month, maybe we could meet for coffee? Please email me at anexactinglife AT gmail!
Expenses that are just mine include hair color ($130 at the salon 3-4 times a year plus $5-7 a month in between the pro visits), chiropractor visits (which include massage)-hard to quantify the cost since insurance covers some these are a necessity these days! Plus the typical clothing, makeup, movies, candles, plants and beer. 🙂 I don’t have an allowance, but if one month my extra spending is high then I rein it in for the next month or so.
Thanks for sharing how you and Rom split expenses. I find couple’s finances fascinating. The boyfriend and I keep them separate as well. We’re not married, obviously, but have lived together for almost 11 years. We rotate paying for dinner and groceries and split other bills.
I have a lifetime supply of candles. I used to live near a Yankee Candle shop, and then my sister started selling Party-Lite. I still check out the new scents from Yankee Candle every year, though!
I know it’s not universal, but I do find with a lot of couples who pool their money, they have a harder time with personal spending. One or the other is “bad” and overspends which impacts the household expenses, etc. – unless they have “allowances.”
Even as students before we married we pooled our student grants in a joint account at the local Co-op bank and have never had separate accounts in all fourty odd years we have been together.
At times I have earned more than my OH and then he has earned more than me like the period when I looked after the children and we managed on one wage. I have always taken care of the finances and feel I have done a reasonably good job even when funds were tight.
I have always spent more on face creams and clothes for myself but I never mind if my OH wants a power tool or a better camera than mine. Luckily with my hair colour I don’t have the expense of colouring.
We have one joint account that takes both our earnings and then a set amount each month is put into another joint account to cover the bills. We also have a further standing order go into another account for clothes. This way we can never over spend on clothes and there is always enough money to cover the bills and any sudden maintenance throughout the year.
We know exactly how much we each earn and spend – no secrets – but oddly enough most items we buy are joint decisions and in fact if we mention we would like to buy something for ourselves we find we encourage each other to buy it especially if one of us feels it is a bit on the expensive side- like an expensive face cream. It works for us but I know this is unusual.
It’s wonderful that your system works for you with no conflict! It sounds like the key is: you encourage each other to treat yourselves within your means and don’t begrudge each other’s purchases. Nice!
I think that is a brilliant summary!
Sounds similar to me and my husband… when we got together 11 years ago, we had separate accounts, but he transfered all his money into my account, when we bought our first house (before we got married). Since then we had the idea of keeping also personal accounts for “private spending” but we never actually used them. Now we moved and therefore also switched our bank and all accounts are canceled and we have only one left for both of us. I am also mainly the manager of our money. My husband brings home more money, since I am working part time, to have time to look after the kids. We tell each other when we are buying something that exceeds a certain amount, though this amount was never actually set, it’s more like a gut feeling, say I want to buy a winter jacket, I tell him about it, but not to get his approval, more to inform him, that we have 150 Euro less in the bank when I am done. We never deny each other something, no matter how silly it might seem to the other, as long as we have enough money in the bank to cover our regular expenses. I have always wondered how others are managing it, with all those different accounts and moving money back and forth. My own parents had separate accounts and one would e.g. pay the rent, the other all insurances and fill up the envelop for the groceries, etc. My mom is doing the same with her current partner, they sit down every week and start calculation to even things out. In my relationship, money was never really a problem. We somehow have the same understanding about spending and therefore it was never an issue.
Hi Tina – it is good to know that for some people this way of money management can work – I think it is perhaps more unusual this way and that the normal is by far to have separate accounts and somehow decide who is paying for which bills. I remember Munich quite well I am sure I have some old photos when I went there in about 1968/9!
Hi Vivien – yes, if that is the unusual way, then I am thankful that it is working so well for us. We do have our problems in our marriage, but money was never one of them.
Hi Tina, it’s great that you two are on the same page and you intuitively work within your budget. I have a higher savings rate than Rom (being the higher earner) and there are future goals I am personally funding based on that. Otherwise we both spend what we like as long as the bills are paid and savings are met.
Single now, so I spend whatever I want. But I did when I was coupled too cause we have a strong system for shared expenses (one thing we totally agreed on was money!).
I spend on: clothes ($1-2k per annum), hair colouring (well twice so far, but now I’ve started), pedicures, manicures and waxing as I can be bothered, fake tans for special events (not even every wedding), take out coffees 6 days a week (to me, that’s almost a normal expense…). I occasionally go through periods of buying flowers for the house. Probably once or twice a year I ‘stock’ up on wine, a dozen or so bottles. I eat out way more than I could/should
Things I tie myself in knots about buying: decorator items, bottles of wine out (somehow, I’m ok with singular glasses of wine, or cocktails, but a bottle gives me sticker shock!).
Things I categorically don’t buy: books, CDs, DVDs etc, candles, nail polish
Margie reminded me – this year’s goal was to ‘do’ more culture, but has seen myself ‘allow’ myself to spend on tickets when I might otherwise have not acted due to costs.
Make up is weird – I bought ‘replacement’ foundation FOUR years ago, but the bottle it’s replacing is STILL going strong (and had it since probably 2004). I refuse to throw out something that’s both usable and not causing a bad reaction.
I have never bought flowers for the house – it’s a nice thought, but even when I bring flowers from outdoors, the cats knock them over and/or chew on them. I am a big fan of spending on culture and entertainment!
Mr S and I spend whatever we want and, stupidly/ignorantly/unwisely don’t budget. So we don’t set a personal “allowance”. When we had little money, I coloured my own hair and had cheap trims. Now I get it down regularly. As to makeup, without foundation, I look a mix of pasty and red, and my eyes look like naked pig eyes. I buy a mix of cheap and expensive makeup. I also have my eyebrows dyed and shaped about four times a year. Then there’s my French lessons, theatre subscription, clothes. I spend a lot. But know I could cut back if money was tight.
That’s exactly it – it’s not how much we spend or on what, but whether we live within our means and are able to meet our longer-term goals.