Runaway Spending: How I Lost My Grip on Our Finances

Although I’ve been trying to keep a firm grip on our finances, I feel like both Mr. Saver and I have let our spending get out of hand.

Just today we went to Kohl’s to get Mr. Saver some new summer clothes that would serve him well for our upcoming vacation to Las Vegas. We hadn’t gotten him new clothes for the season in about four years, and we rarely need to buy anything for him. I had a 30% coupon and most everything was on some sort of sale. Sounds great, right?

Wrong. Somehow, we blew $260 AFTER the Kohl’s 30% off coupon was applied. Just last month, I also updated my wardrobe (again, after a few years minus the purchase a new shirt or pants here and there) and spent $200 — but I got 3 times the amount of clothes, as most of it came from the clearance rack. About 1/3 of it was spent on new sneakers and dress shoes for Mr. Saver.

I suppose I shouldn’t say we “blew” the money, since we have clothes/shoes to show for our trouble. It’s just that I feel like we could have spent less. FULL DISCLOSURE: I was no slouch, either — I bought a new purse that will take me into the fall, some undergarments and two pairs of cheapo summer sandals, to the tune of $73 after the discount.

Where Did We Go Wrong?

The lure of the 30% off discount and the “sale” prices proved to distract me from keeping a better eye on our purchases. The sale prices are probably a fairer representation of the true retail cost of the items, especially since there’s almost ALWAYS a sale at Kohl’s.

Letting down my guard was the first mistake, and it’s a mistake I’ve been making often lately. It didn’t just start overnight — it’s been a slow, steady decline when it comes to loosening the purse strings. And it has to stop — now.

Other Instances of Recent Poor Financial Choices

Debit Card Overuse: Mr. Saver and I have been using our debit card indiscriminately. While neither of us carries much cash in our wallets, the debit card is always there, waiting. My medical condition has necessitated many $40 co-pays lately, something I can’t do much about right now.

Grocery Shopping Unpreparedness: I’ve also been spending more at the grocery store, as finding the best deals and coupons has taken a backseat to other, more pressing matters. I need to get back to my couponing.

Unused Gym Membership: I started all gung-ho on the gym thing — going 3-4 times a week. I even have the muscles to prove I was there. But lately, exercise hasn’t been possible, and I’m not sure if it will be in the near future. That being said, I’m “only” wasting $22 a month. Perhaps I should cancel my gym membership for now (there is no cancellation fee).

Beautification: On a whim, I went to a local nursery and dropped $65 on plants for our property, with another $15 spent on topsoil, mulch and 12 edging stones to make a planter ring around the Japanese maple in our front yard. While everything looks great  (after a 6-hour gardening-a-thon on Saturday), did I really need to spend that money?

Other than the spending listed above, I’ve not gone for a manicure or pedicure, I’m desperately in need of a haircut (when Mr. Saver says, “Wow, your hair is long — are you going to do something about it?” I know it’s bad).

I absolutely need to cut back on our spending, and it’s time to take a look at our expenditures in general. I’m not sure where we can cut, though. Our car loan is at 0% and the car insurance is very low for our area; we already have the lowest cell phone plan offered by our carrier; and we carefully monitor our utility usage (gas, electric, water). I know there’s no way in hell Mr. Saver will give up his TV package or his cigarette habit (cigs alone are $250 a month). We go out to eat maybe once a month. We don’t have hobbies that cost money, don’t go out to the movies or any other activities (but have a Netflix subscription for $15/month). We are lame.

32 comments to Runaway Spending: How I Lost My Grip on Our Finances

  • Barbara

    I felt the same way lately, like I am couponing but still spending a lot of money. So I have been sharpening my skills to get things like clothes only if they are 50 percent and above off, BUT before I go get ANYTHING I pull out of my closet what a piece I want to replace.

    • Nicole

      @Barbara: That’s a good trick — I go through my clothes twice a year (fall/spring) and weed out things I don’t wear before buying new items. And I donate the older clothes to charity.

  • Hey Rainydaysaver! I’m here from Yakezie:). Thanks for sharing your missteps; although it sounds like you had some pent-up consumer demands, especially since you haven’t bought clothes in awhile. So I don’t think you did all that badly; you just bought it all at once.

    • Nicole

      @Amanda: Hi, fellow Yakezian! It was probably buying them all at once and seeing that big number at the register that made me frown.

  • I hope you can come to terms with the garden spending – if it will make you happy when you see it and improve your home, it’s not a waste of money. (Unlike the cigarettes!!)

  • i do most of my summer shopping in the Fall and vice versa. i like to go to discount stores like Ross and get 3 or 4 items that might be last years styles and save upwards of 40 to 60%

  • It is soooo easy to spend like that at Kohls… they know what they are doing when they send out those % off coupons!! don’t feel too bad though – if Mr. Saver hasn’t had new clothes in 4 years, it sounds like he was due. You could feel worse, if you shopped liek that all the time! : )

  • Kohl’s got me in there this weekend as well with a 30% off coupon. We got three pairs of shoes (one for hubby), one dress, two pairs of work slacks and three blouses for $147.

    I don’t go clothes shopping often so tend to buy a lot when there.

  • If you think you won’t be able to use the gym membership for a while, I would definitely cancel it. Especially since there isn’t a hidden fee. As for your clothing, well you mentioned you hadn’t gone shopping in a while, so I think you did okay with the coupons and discount. You can’t beat yourself up too much over that one!

    I feel your pain on the smokes. My husband switched over to cigars a few years back to save money on cigarettes. Now the cigars are just about as expensive! I wish he would stop but I don’t think that’s happening anytime soon. cough, cough, hack, hack! Good luck on your end!

  • I think not too shabby, except for the cigs… my grandfather died from lung cancer from those, your hubby should really think about stopping now while he’s relatively young. I saw the pain my grandfather was in, and it’s not a good way to go!

    • Nicole

      @Money Reasons: I really do wish he would quit for health reasons — the money aspect is secondary.

  • I applaud your honesty!

    In my estimation, we all go through those “less than perfect” slumps for each goal that we are working towards achieving. The key here is recognizing it, and making those slumps shorter each time!

    Don’t beat yourself up about it, go back to your budget, and continue your accountability with your “family” here at your blog! (which is great, btw…I’ve just recently found it!)

    Thanks for this post! It should make us all look at our daily expenditures!

  • It looks like all of us are spending too much on “unnecessary” things, which creep up on us all the time. I know that my wife and I could cut out a bit of our own spending, but as long as there is no dire necessity we don’t have much incentive to do so. Should we really cut out these frivolous expenses entirely or should we enjoy life a little bit, too – as long as we don’t break the bank? My vote is for enjoyment. I don’t see the point in deprivation just to have a few more shekels in the bank.

    • Nicole

      @CTreit: I agree that if you can afford it, it’s worth the enjoyment you get out of it. I also want to build up our savings account some more, so I suppose I’m being hard on myself because of that.

  • Now I feel guilty. You feel bad about spending money on clothes, copays, lack of coupons, and a little on gardening. We waste way more than that on a regular basis and I’m just trying to reign in stupid expenses like too much fast food.

    Hubby and I don’t shop for clothes often, but he recently needed a suit for his grandmother’s funeral…a suit turned into a suit, 2 dress shirts, new nice shoes, and 2 ties for $370. I went shopping last year for some vacation outfits and ended up spending $300…I’m consciously staying away from Kohl’s this weekend since we are going on another cruise in a few weeks and I keep repeating “wear the same things you did last year” to myself…

    Oh, we spent $2000 on a 7 day cruise…there’s a big ouchy.

    In the gardening arena, I’m paying $35 to have someone else add 5 bags of black mulch to my tiny flower beds to make them “pop”…I just couldn’t be bothered…that’s lazy with a capital “L”.

    My husband has also recently spent $100 extra dollars in fast food in the last 3 weeks since school was ending and that meant he had no meal plan and decided to get lazy.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t be so hard on yourself. 🙂

    PS I’m sorry your hubby won’t give up cigarettes…that sucks on levels beyond fiscal…hope he’s one of the lucky ones down the road for your sake! Hugs!

    • Nicole

      @BITFS: We’ll be spending about that much on our 5-day trip to Vegas (less if I can help it), so that’s pretty ‘ouchy,’ too. We all tend to splurge, but hopefully we get some enjoyment out of it.

  • You mentioned your car insurance was low…are you with NJM? If not, check them out…I guarantee they’ll be cheaper than other carriers.

    • Nicole

      @Mike: Oh yes, I’m with NJM — that’s how I know there’s really no use in looking elsewhere for cheaper insurance!

  • For the gym membership, many will allow you to place them “on hold” for a reduced fee ($5/mo). If you do have plans on going back, that may make more sense than cancelling, starting over, and paying enrollment fees.

    With regards to topsoil – don’t pay! *Hopefully* you local parks department already has its own, giant compost where you can pick it up for free!

    • Nicole

      @FinEngr: I’ll have to check, but I think the “on hold” rate is only $15 (paying $22 now), but that’s would still save $7/month. I’m really not a gym person, so I’m surprised I even joined — my co-workers inspired me (for a little while, anyway).

  • Re: the gardening supplies, yes, that was probably money well-spent. I have such a hard time shelling out for mulch and perennials even though I know full well the benefits/cost per use will far outlast the one-time expense!

  • I feel your pain! Un-used membership usage is a total NO NO in my family… we went this past Sat and Sunday to ‘catch up” if you will and spend 4 hours each day swimming and playing tennis.

    I’ve spent a ton of money these past 4 months and it’s starting to annoy this shizam out of me too. Every month there is SOMETHING!

    This week will be a $1,800 garden landscape project I’ve been meaning to do. Ugh.

    Got to rediscipline ourselves!!!



    • Nicole

      @Sam: We really need to lay out some more $$ for home improvement projects, too (still updating our home that we bought last year), so I definitely want to cut out some of the extraneous expenses.

  • We’ve all been there Nicole, well I know I have!

    It’s funny I posted on this morning {diet, not money}, I think as long as we recommit, all will be well. 🙂

  • Red

    Cigarettes, ew. What a nasty habit! When I budgeted for my grandparents, it shocked me to see that they were spending $350 a month on cigarettes. You would think seeing the numbers in black and white would encourage even the most addicted users to quit. Good luck on cutting out extraneous expenses!

    • Nicole

      @Red: I know, that budget item kills me. I tell Mr. Saver how much we spend on his cigs, but to no avail. He’ll have to quit when he’s ready. I hope your grandparents are doing better with their finances — so great of you to help them out.

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