Friday, August 19, 2011

Fiscal Fridays: Making Choices

A big part of budgeting is making choices. Sometimes, those choices are obvious or easy (Oh, well, I guess I won't be blowing $120 on shoes this month). Other times, it comes down to the nitty-gritty, the things you really want that don't seem that bad because they're inexpensive. Like the bottle of wine I bought yesterday, because work was hellacious and it was Thursday and I still had $14 left for the week (sidenote: go me!).

In the long run, buying the wine wasn't that big of a deal. My favorite brand (Moscato D'Asti) is relatively inexpensive at about $14 a bottle. (In this case, I went a little cheaper because the store I was at didn't carry my brand.) I had a glass and felt much better about my stressful work day. Later last night, Matt and I went over to a friend's house to watch TV and generally just not be "that anti-social couple who only hangs out with each other and no one else." And on the way home, we stopped for another favorite treat of mine: McDonald's french fries dipped in ice cream.

Before you judge, let me just explain that it is the absolute perfect combination of salty and sweet, and crispy, and cold. It. Is. Fantastic. Don't knock it until you've tried it.

Anyway, I really, really enjoyed that treat. And it got me to comforted me as much as a glass of my favorite wine did, at about half the cost:
budgeting choices

So, as much as I looooove my moscato, I think I'm going to make a switch up to fast food. Because moscato is fizzy, you have to drink it all within a day or two of opening it, so I always end up buying more than I really "need." But McDonald's is single-serving, AND it's cheaper, so fiscally, it's a better option. (Maybe not for my thighs, but that's a whole other can of worms that I'm not even going to open.)

I hear you. You're thinking, Emma, it's just a few bucks here and there. How could that possibly matter? Well, when you're trying to get buy spending only $20 in frivolous things a week, every single dollar starts to look a whole lot bigger. My parents used to accuse me of "nickling and diming" myself to death. What they meant was, I fritter all my money away on little things, until I turn around and suddenly, nothing's left. I've done this my whole life, since I got my first job at 14, and it's a hard habit to break. But by making smarter choices, I can at least try to control the damage a bit better in the meantime.

And besides, this really isn't even just about the ice cream versus the wine. This is about making conscious choices about everything, every single day. Budgeting isn't easy; it's work. But the payoff is, if you'll pardon the pun, so sweet.

Have you had to make any annoying or inconvenient choices for the sake of your budget?


  1. Packing my lunch to work. Or rather NOT packing my lunch. A sandwich from home with some carrot sticks, or some yogurt and fresh fruit is MAYBE 2$ a meal. Going out to eat for lunch ~5-10$... (Depending on where we go.) I always tell myself 'Meh what difference does 5$ make?' About 100$ a month...
    I NEED to bring food from home more often and save my 'going out' money for the weekend meals with friends!

  2. You do have a good point. I hate buying meat at the grocery store unless it's on special. The price per serving is rarely worth it!

    But recently I've had to give up my fashion budget partly for my role as a bridesmaid in my friend's wedding this September. It's expensive to get the dress, have it tailored, buy the shoes, jewellery. On top of it, we're getting our hair and makeup done! SO expensive. I would much rather do hair and makeup myself, but I don't want to look like crap compared to the other bridesmaids. Choices are difficult sometimes...

  3. I've really come to understand the value of the things that I thought I needed vs. what I would be okay with. I completely understand where you're coming from and I think it's a great decision. You definitely won't feel cheated with a sweet treat. And because you saved money maybe you can use that towards a great bottle at the end of a certain period of time.

  4. SO glad I discovered your blog and this article! I am similar to you in the sense that I cut costs anywhere and EVERYWHERE I can. I try to keep my lunch to $5 but it's hard since I live and work in Downtown Chicago. And you are right, once you are on a budgeting plan every dollar looks bigger. I clip coupons, I wait for things to go on sale, I try to bring my lunch 2x a week. I can totally understand your justification on fries and a sundae vs. the moscato! Have you considered joining a wine club and buying in bulk? You could get a case and the avg price per bottle would be about $8.


Hello, awesome commenter! I love feedback and try to respond to all comments (especially ones with questions) if I can find an email or blog address.

Thaaaaaanks for reading!