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?