Slowly learning to Budget

Hi everyone! I have had a fairly good week I hope you all are well? The good news was that at work was supposed to be the worst week of the year, but it turned out to be just fine and I even left at 18:30 to go out for that Valentine’s Day meal as promised. Things have not been so ideal when it comes to saving money this week though…

First off, I wasted an uncharacteristically large amount of food. As I wrote in my weekly menu plan, I threw out an embarrassing amount of beautiful and organic food because I was not organised enough to freeze it. I ate out for lunch pointlessly – on Friday I ate out twice because I met some friends who were in town for lunch, which was lovely, but it kind of meant I ate two dinners.

Also uncharacteristically, between this week and last week I have bought quite a few items of work clothing – a thrifted black wool short jacket, a handbag-sized olive green umbrella, a new grey tshirt and I even splashed out on a new necklace! This is the strangest, because I don’t normally even wear jewelry.

And…drumroll please… for our holiday to Canada in May:
Spending: I bought our flights to Canada in May :) So we are definitely going! To fly with one stopover in Amsterdam was going to cost us €2000 for both of us return. However, we managed to bring this down by having one extra stop over each way. It does add 5 hours onto the journey, but brings the combined total down to €1400. I wasn’t keen on the 5 hours in between, but my boyfriend, who is a natural saver, put it to me that the amount of money we could save with taking an extra stopover is basically the car hire for the 3 weeks.

I also applied for the ESTA visa waiver we need to transit the USA (approx. €20) and still to buy is the car hire, which I plan to do during the week through the KLM airline webpage as it seems to save us around 50€. Using the same logic as my boyfriend, this equates to one night’s accommodation!

Saving: We went to the library to get some travel guides (also a DVD) and plan our route rather than buying them. My library membership expires next month and as it is a whopping €66 to renew the adult ticket with the full online access, I will not be renewing. This time last year I was unemployed so got it reduced to €13. I think we will also need to invest in some footwear for our trip, but apart from accommodation  petrol money, and the usual food and entertainment – we’re all set and looking forward!

So, all that spending has made me think about saving! I logged onto my (free) budgeting software, EEBA, to get an overview of how I was doing this month, and I noticed a part I had never seen before, which is for irregular expenses. As I had to buy a gift for a friend’s child it got me started thinking about how much I spend on gifts for other people.

Irregular expenses budget
Irregular expenses budget

I worked out that I have 13 gifts in a year to buy (9 birthdays, mothers day x2 and fathers day and our anniversary), and wrote down who and in what month so as I am more organised and not overspending on one particular person. Last year I spent around €500 on gifts at Christmas alone. Now that I have this information, I know I can get a better handle on these kinds of expenses. I like this software because it shows me at the touch of a button how my budget actually looks.

Not wanting to come across as a scrooge, but I think when I see the amount I spend on gifts for others a month, I did find it kind of shocking! I just buy what I think the other person would like :) This month alone I have spent, for 3 people – €90. As much as I love these people, if I do this for just birthday gifts for 9 people, this would cost €270. Do you have a budget for gifts? I was thinking of making more art as non-birthday gifts (perhaps putting them in frames). There is so much expectation with gifts, (or is this just my family???).



  1. I am shocked to learn your library system charges you an annual amount. Here our libraries are free to everyone so I just assumed everyone who had libraries nearby had free access to them. I am really bad at assuming others have the same access to amenities I have.

    As for gifts I try to stick to the following: Birthdays for grand children less than $20, birthdays for my adult children and their wives no more than $10. Halloween, Valentines day, Easter I spend no more than $5 each on the grand children and nothing on anyone else. Christmas I try to limit the adults to $20 each and the grand children I spend $40. By setting these limits I have convinced my children to impose limits on how much they spend on me as well which keeps them from blowing their budgets on Christmas. I’ve imposed a no spending on me for every holiday except Christmas, they insist they will not arrive for Christmas without a small gift, but this is okay as it’s the only time of the year they do spend money on me.

  2. I’m trying to have more self-control over these kinds. It’s really hard! I find food and gifts to be the hardest two areas to reign in to some kind of budget.

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