Over the years I’ve realized that budgeting is the hardest thing for most families to do each year. Soon, I’ll have a 21 Day Budget Cleanse® program that you can use to apply the secrets of short term dieting and exercise to how you handle getting the right budgeting habit sin your family no matter what your financial situation. Since most of our purchases are done in this electronic society through debit or credit card, we often couldn’t tell you what we spend if we had to be within a few dollars of the actual number. If you haven’t looked lately, here are six items that you are probably spending too much money on in your family budget.
- Car Payment- I like buying cars for cash, but I know not everyone is able to do this (unless you can get ridiculously low financing). Your mortgage payment shouldn’t be more than about 25% to 28% of your monthly income and all of your debt payments (including the car) shouldn’t be more than 36% to 40% of your total monthly gross income. So why is it that I still see people who have a lease payment for more than $1,000 a month when they can’t afford it?
- Appetizers- Since the table conversation may get thin when you take your family out to dinner, isn’t a good idea to order an appetizer? The appetizer is one of the biggest markup items at restaurants. Just ask Maggiano’s who charges a whopping $12.95 for some calamari. What is there a run on squid? Every once in a while it is nice to splurge on an appetizer especially if you are at one of the new restaurants in town, but it is an area today that families spend too much money on each year.
- Clothes- We all know that luxury has lost its luster and our children are grown up to be Generation Brand. With the Nike shoes, Vineyard Vines sweaters, and Tory Burch bracelets, we have become so conscious about the brands we were wearing. What happened to Toughskins and Garanimals? Now, those were some brands! We all need to replace and replenish a certain amount of clothes each year. Stopping at consignment shops or looking for clearance deals can save you some money, but this is one we definitely spend a ton of money on in our budgets.
- Coffee- The average American now spends $15 a week on coffee products. $15 a week. I know the temptation is there to get your coffee every day, but what would $15 in a Roth IRA mean over 20 years vs. $15 of coffee?
- Vacations- This for sure might get you agitated because you are saying, “C’mon Ted. We work hard for our money to splurge on family vacations.” I’ve got no problem with one really cool trip each year, but the problem is now families have raised their expectations so each new trip has to be better than the last trip. Not every vacation can be Ritz Carlton in the Cayman Islands.
- Gadgets- Yes, gadgets. We recently opened up one drawer in our house which holds the basket of power chargers to the unknown device. It’s kind of like our Tomb of the Unknown Solider. The only reason you have that many chargers is because you had (or have) that many devices. If you don’t use the cord for a year, you probably don’t need it anymore. Think twice before you buy that next gadgets.
One of our Private CFO’s, Van Pappas, wrote an article which is the bonus one you should read on the $40 underwear. Check it out on Your Smart Money Moves and try to spend less on these six items here in 2016.
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Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.