|View of the snowy courtyard from inside Nymphenburg Palace, December 2010. Travel is a high priority for me, so in my budget, it is worth saving for, planning thoughtfully, and spending on.|
To gain greater control over your finances, decide carefully and thoughtfully what the most important expenditures for you are, and work towards eliminating the rest. How I allot my discretionary expenditures is something I've been working on increasingly in the last several months-- aiming towards prioritizing better and fine-tuning my budget.
In contrast with my previous post, these are things I've decided are worth spending my money on:
-world travel (on a small budget)
-visiting/staying in touch with family and friends
-better quality/ healthier food
-additional/unplanned giving to a cause that's important to me
-occasional treats like wine or champagne and high-quality, real chocolate
-memorable events or experiences-- celebrating a meal out on a special occasion, going to a concert, a hiking or skiing trip, visiting a museum or historical site, etc.
Everyone's priorities are personal, so pick and choose carefully which expenditures are MOST important to you, and prioritize accordingly. My intention is to have more money left to direct towards these important things through budgeting more thoughtfully and deliberately, and developing the self-control to not let what I earn slip through my fingers (or, perish the thought, escalate into consumer debt.)
The things I choose to spend discretionary money on are, of course, a secondary priority. My monthly income is first allotted towards:
1. Contributing to a supplemental retirement fund (in my case, a 457b plan for state employees)
2. Transferring a pre-determined amount of money automatically into savings to build up a savings fund
3. Paying down debt
-Right now, my first priority is what remains of my only private student loan, which has a relatively high interest rate.
-Second priority, which I will focus on in my budget in two months, will be my car loan.
4. Setting money aside to pay for class tuition and books, so that I can pay for these upcoming expenses in cash rather than on credit.
5. Any planned giving
I'm a fan of Compassion International and Save the Children as well as a few other local/national organizations, but any charity/cause you choose to support should be checked out first to verify that most of your contribution is going towards what they claim to be supporting. Guidestar and Charity Navigator provide resources for this.
What, to you, is worth spending discretionary money on?