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Wow, It’s Really Hard To Save Money Here!

  November 20

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save moneyI have to give it to you, blog peeps. While I was sitting on an island the past two years, saving all my pennies, living the minimalist life, and telling all of you to spend less and live more, you were battling the monster that is living in the developed world.

You were right. It’s really, really hard to save money here, and I was all, “Oh you guys! Just cut your expenses! Or, make some more money! So simple!”

Ha, easy for me to say, right? I had no family gatherings at nice restaurants. No football games. No trips. No clothes (my God, the clothes!) Basically, when I lived in Grenada, my main expenses were food and rent.

Now I remember.

I remember how hard it is to stick to a budget in the U.S.A. I remember the temptation. I remember the ridiculous unexpected expenses that pop up.

Like Celine Dion so wisely said, it’s all coming back to me now.

Out Of Control Spending

I’ve been back maybe 3-ish weeks now, and this has been the highest spending month I’ve had all year. I’m not trying to spend a lot of money. In fact, I think I’ll still be able to save over half my income this month since I’m not paying rent and not buying much food (mooching off the parental units for a little bit!)

But seriously, why do so many things break here?

My miscellaneous category of my November budget is practically crying. Every time I enter in a new expense, it spits back a big negative number at me.  My budget is probably sitting there in my spreadsheet just laughing at me saying, “$100 for miscellaneous expenses!? HA! I will show YOU what’s miscellaneous about living the USA!”

Not only did I spend $220 towards the delivery of my babies (which is fine, but I didn’t know I’d be paying for it this early), but I also had the pleasure of buying 4 new tires! Oh yes! Why get just one when you can get all 4, amiright? $500 later, and I’m definitely looking forward to December 1, when the budget starts all a’fresh.

Still Adjusting

I think the best thing about living in Grenada was how simple everything was. There just weren’t a lot of random expenses that popped up. All I had to worry about was keeping my little cash envelopes full, and paying things on time. Here people use checks or credit cards more than they use cash. They eat more out than they stay in. They have so many more electronics, stores, blow out sales, candy, etc. etc. etc. There just so much more here, and my head is still spinning.

Luckily, November is shaping up to be a high income month, so the $500 tires didn’t even have to come out of an emergency fund, which is a nice change.

It just makes me nervous about what’s in store for next month…

What unexpected expenses have you had lately?

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51 responses to “Wow, It’s Really Hard To Save Money Here!

  1. Welcome to my world! Haha…ever since I quit my job it seems nearly impossible to save at the rate I was when I had my day job. I know the income is inconsistent, but I still make more than I did at my job, so what gives? Ahh, yes. All those little things you mentioned, eating out, new tires (been there, done that) and all that stuff, really adds up. I’m ready to hit reset on my budget come 2014!

  2. Cat – this is such a common problem! I sort of created my “Three Card System” to address this. One card discretionary, one card non-discretionary, and one little splurge gift card (capped at whatever value I put on at the beginning of the month). It is the closest thing to using cash without using cash because you are thinking every time you swipe. 🙂

  3. I enjoy reading your comparisons between Granada and the US, interesting parallels. Sometimes, it really is the little things that pop up that put your budget in the red. My biggest unexpected expense this month was getting my wisdom tooth pulled. I’m also due for new tires’s worse when it’s around the holidays, too!

  4. Oh this was a crazy expensive month for us (and we’re still only 2/3 done!).
    New tires
    Property taxes
    6 mos of car insurance
    $1000 in garage shelving…

    Not to mention we’re doing $2500 in pretax HSA contributions that will be pulled out of Mr PoP’s paycheck. So income is going to look pretty low.

  5. I can imagine the shell shock you’re met with! We are doing our best to keep expenses down, but the upcoming holidays are killing us, especially with our giving promises.

  6. Interesting how you say there’s more temptation here.I think it’s hard to save money, and you have to be conscious to save money every month. Money disappears so fast. Tires are expensive! Sucks.

  7. Ugh, we’re always getting hit with unexpected expenses. It was worse before we moved to Arizona, when my husband’s health problems were much worse. He gained a bunch of weight on steroids, so we had to buy new jeans (outlet mall but still). Of course, after a year down here, he’d lost the weight and needed new jeans again. Then there are incidentals: contact lenses, cancellation fees when we quit cable & the cost of Roku boxes, snafus when we switched home insurances, I didn’t save enough for taxes this quarter and had to borrow from savings. It seems to be dying down for now, but every time I think that things get crazy again.

  8. I was hit with a $215 bill I still need to figure out from the hospital when I went to the ER with a dislocated toe. My insurance covered everything so I don’t understand the mystery charge but I might still be liable for a portion of it so I have to find out the total. I wasn’t expecting anything so it’s not fun!

  9. I really hate this month my laptop was shut down unexpectedly and I need to brought it to the computer technician hoping the damaged was not really bad. It needs a cooling fan replacement and it costs me $150 all in all including the technician fee.

  10. I hear ya. I live in an expensive city too, which makes it even worse. Unexpected expenses come with kids. Right now my seven year old needs custom orthotics – $900 per shoe size. Hooray! (Not)

  11. And you know, the social life part is what really gets you. In Grenada, the weather is so nice that I’m sure you could go to the beach or do something like that with friends, but here.. it’s eating out, buying clothes.. yikes!

  12. I’m giggling at the thought of your budget spreadsheet scoffing away at this month’s miscellaneous expenditures!

    Recently I haven’t had that many unexpected expenses, thank goodness, but there was a period last year when I needed my brakes fixed (and I went to a new garage that whimsically suggested $1k in unnecessary extra repairs), a replacement laptop charger and a plane ticket home for the holidays. My budget spreadsheet shed a few tears over that month.

  13. Yes it seems like every month there is something. Welcome back! lol! This month I had to throw some unexpected money at my annual credit card fee. Stuff like that just pops up all the time. I might have to move to Grenada myself!

  14. Uggh, I know what you mean! It seems like big random expenses all hit at the same time! My husband’s computer AND mine are both starting to give up on life — and we both need them for work! I think I can eke a few more months out of mine, but that may be all…!

  15. I am sure you’ll get back on track fast enough – it’s like a culture shock probably right now and you have to do some adjusting. I do believe that it’s natural though and should be pretty fun (minus the things breaking and you having to replace them). But one thing is true: the more stuff you have, the bigger the chances for something to break and require money to be replaced/repaired.

  16. Tires are a BUDGET KILLER! I hate how expensive they are despite the fact they are needed and obviously are important. I can’t imagine going through the adjustment you are with the move from Grenada to the US. It sure is fun to hear about it, though!

    1. Yeah I thought they weren’t too bad a $101 a tire. I’ve paid more for tires before. At the same time, I thought they looked fine but apparently they were not!!

  17. I can see how this is a difficult adjustment for you. I think it will take some getting used to. That’s the challenge of living in a country with great abundance. We have so many things available to us that it makes choices difficult. Not that I’m complaining though…

  18. It is definitely harder to save here when you’re bombarded by all the STUFF you can buy! Especially when everyone else buys into consumer culture – it can be seriously difficult to not feel bad or not feel left out when you’re trying to avoid those sorts of purchases and stick to your budget.

    And I hear you on the car expenses.. I just took my car in for an oil change yesterday, only to have them come back and tell me the system that helps control the engine temperature is acting wonky, needs to be replaced, and will cost me $650. UGH. I guess that’s the trade-off I have to make: I live in a low-cost-of-living area, but I HAVE to have a car to live where I do. And cars need maintenance!

  19. Cat, you just hit the nail on the head. I have this issue every month. Just when I think I will be able to come out ahead and have money to save, something always comes up. I have delayed the renewal on my car in order to set funds aside to deal with the “check engine light” issue. Then I will probably have to deal with the late fees for not renewing on time. Now we have Christmas coming up. I realize I warned my kids far in advance to keep their Christmas wish list small, but I am seriously considering inserting “Santa Certified Gift Certificates” in their stocking, redeemable after Christmas. I don’t want to hit the red before December starts and borrowing on a credit card just to “save on a discounted price” seems counterproductive. Yes, all these temptations arrive in the mail and the deluge of “discount offers” via email make it very difficult. BUT, I’m determined not to play catch up NO MATTER WHAT! I would prefer to continue living slim and dealing with all the miscellaneous expenses that arrive each month for doctor visits, car problems, our children’s school functions, etc. There’s no way around it. But I remain confident, we (my husband and I) are doing the best we can to stay within our means and provide a good example of exercising restraint. I wish you and all your readers a peaceful holiday without the stress of worrying about Christmas shopping, gift giving, etc. When so many people are dealing with the aftermath of tornadoes, floods, NO HOME, keeping their families together, etc., I know I AM TRULY BLESSED to have my life intact.

  20. Maybe location, location, and location are the three most important things in personal finance, too. Sometimes I feel like living frugally in Arizona is like playing Oregon Trail as the Doctor. Yeah, you end up doing well and you don’t lose any children to dysentary, but sheesh, how hard could that be?

    Welcome back to the states though, and to the land of discretionary spending.

  21. Oh, it’s always something! This month we’ve had all kinds of things crop up. We’re also a lot closer to some amazing restaurants since we moved…so our grocery budget has edged up slightly.

  22. With how often unexpected expenses come up, it’s amazing that I still have not come to expect their monthly arrivals. This month was car work. It’s amazing how much something so seemingly insignificant can cost!

  23. This month has been rough for us too. Had to buy a vacuum, some electronics that needed to be replaced, and we need to renew my bf’s car insurance. Unfortunately, this month has been low with side hustling, but will pick up in December. It feels like every month there is something!

  24. We’re living in a big city in my country and don’t feel the urge to spend. We’ve set ourselves some priorities and just ignore the things we don’t need. It’s not that difficult to stick to a budget, but it’s clearly harder than when you lived in a smaller / less consumerist area 🙂

  25. The most unexpected expenses for me have been vet bills. I have an elderly cat that is having some issues that are starting to average out to about $200 bucks a month, and that doesn’t include his expensive food. The other day I was venting to my husband that I was ready to put him down. So we took him to the vet and lo and behold his blood work looked really good. The vet literally said, “Oh, he has the blood work of a 3-year old.” Crap! I can’t justify putting him down now (I love my cat, but he’s a lot of work). I’m guessing that in other countries, people let their pets go naturally.

  26. Welcome home? Goodness…just wait until the babies are here. It is so hard to resist all the sweet little baby things….but I just let others spend money. My dad was having so much fun buying for his granddaughters. At one point I had to gently tell Dad that I would have to change my daughter’s clothes three times a day for her to wear all the clothes he bought before she grew out of them. He got the message. He started buying her stuffed animals instead.

  27. I’m not sure what exactly happened, but our November gas and grocery budget is NOT pretty!! You’re right – it is easy to get off track here! I do think it’s cool that you’re putting cash toward the babes’ delivery already – smart move!

  28. Too right! When I lived in the centre of a city my expenditure just shot up! It’s far too easy to splash out when you are caught in the marketing trap of restaurants and bars! The further away you live from the buzz the less you feel you need to spend money!
    Sorry to hear about your tyres! I fear I may need to replace my gearbox soon, why do things have to break?!

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