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Big Spending Problems…


I was reading an article in the Sunday paper that talked about spending habits and how to save money. The article stated that most money is wasted on big ticket items and NOT the $4 Starbucks you buy every morning before work.


I hate to disagree with a professional financial advisor but…

He’s dead wrong (and is obviously invested in Starbucks).

At least when it comes to me anyway.

I don’t buy big items. I bought my dining room set for $75 off Craigslist five years ago. My couches are ten years old. My bed is a hand me down from my sister. How do I spend my money?

According to my online banking… I spend it in tidy $20 increments over… and over… and over again. My money doesn’t flood out, it trickles. The article recommended taking 24 hours to consider every purchase over $100. Good advice, but the last purchase I made over $100 was months ago. It’s not the $100 purchases that are killing me!

I feel like the article should have simply said, ‘Watch where the bulk of your money is going and try to find ways to save from there.’

My goal this month is to watch my ‘trickle’ problem. I’ve gotten to the point that I have to seriously consider every item I purchase AND if I wait long enough, will it go on sale? will the newspaper run a coupon?… or will I forget I even wanted it in the first place?

Is your problem a trickle? Or a flood?


  • Reply FrugalMe |

    I agree that we note when the flood occurs however sometimes it is the small leaks that get us into trouble. Consider the person who buys Starbucks coffee every day and sometimes more than once. For the month that person may spend up to $100 just on coffee. I am sure that you can get a great brand of java for less than that price. So paying attention to the little things can go a long way in helping a person save.

  • Reply Wojciech @ Fiscal Fizzle |

    I can identify with the article because for me, the problem was large impulse purchases, not the trickles of Starbucks. I don’t even drink coffee! 🙂

    But every situation is very personal and individual. While I totally agree with it, it completely fails to address your needs.

  • Reply Nancy |

    You are absolutely right! Our spending problem had nothing to do with big purchase items either….it’s the little things…..like not sticking to my list at the grocery store or the $1 coke at McDonalds. We took advantage of that deal every day and it adds up quickly..$1 x 2 cokes (my hubby and I) x 7 days =14 dollars a week. We could use that to pay our cable bill by the end of the month!

  • Reply SaveBuyLive |

    I ran some numbers once and discovered that lattes for a year or one big ticket item run about the same in terms of financial hemorrhage.

    To me, this just reinforces the importance of tracking my spending. Otherwise you’ll wind up in one of these two spending traps.

    Spending trap A: What’s a coffee a day? Nothing really, maybe a buck or two. I can afford it.

    Spending trap B: I’m don’t buy much else, so I can afford a new big screen tv / computer peripheral / deluxe speaker set / etc. every year.

  • Reply zeromoney |

    I would disagree with you. You clearly don’t have a big spending problem, the majority of people that I know that go into debt, it’s from frequent big purchases (new golf clubs, a new tv, a new car, new rims, new furniture etc etc)

  • Reply dogatemyfinances |

    “I don’t buy big items.” Sorry. I know practically nothing about your finances, and I still don’t buy this.

    You live in one of the most expensive cities possible. Show me your mortgage and your car balances and then I might agree with you.

    $20 here and there is nothing compared to a back-breaking car or house payment.

  • Reply akdescending |

    I usually only lurk here, but I’ll agree with this. Eating out is usually what gets me. I spent $63 last month at my favorite sushi restaurant. that wasn’t one sitting- I went 4 times. $15 here and there didn’t seem so bad at the time.

    as far as big ticket, dogatemyfinances, she’s not talking about mortgages and car payments, she’s talking about gas grills and flatscreens.

  • Reply Monkey Mama |

    I have to agree with the last comment. I know too many people worrying about their latte habit and ignoring their giant mortgages and endless car payments. I think mostly because those are “necessary.” Then people don’t really think them through.

    Of course, I see both sides. A small leak can sink a ship, for sure. It just takes longer.

    For us, we focus way more on keeping the big expenses down (bigger impact and far more rewarding with a lot less effort). But we try to seal up the small leaks too. I’d say both have their place.

  • Reply Tim |

    I think holding yourself back from buying a coffee is alittl too much- but at one point of our life we experienced that when it was the early stages of us digging out of debt…
    Its amazing how our life has changed…just being able to go out to eat, buy everything with cash- and not ever accumulating any debt…But now I do treat myself with a nice coffee on the way to work, why not..compared to the out of control financial decisions of others thats a joke!!

  • Reply Corporate Barbarian |

    Dropping an extra $10 here and there adds up. I find that I’m much more diligent when buying big-ticket items. I shop around and do lots of research. I don’t do the same thing with an impulse purchase, and these happen too frequently.

  • Reply Michelle |

    Good luck Beks – I know that my “trickle” factor is a huge part of my solution to pay off debt. The mortgage and car payment comments are very valid, but the little things can also add up to a very tidy credit card payment. Hang in there!

  • Reply Cat |

    You’re so right! I always walk into Wal Mart for $20 worth of diapers and walk out with $50 worth of stuff… and I can never figure out where it came from. And if you asked me 2 days later what I bought and how I was using it, I wouldn’t have a clue. I try not to spend, but it’s like I can’t help myself sometimes.

  • Reply Kev |

    I rarely make big item purchases, but I have to watch my budget closely or I will nickel and dime myself to death.

    Big item purchases sink into my head, where as the small ones usually don’t. I spent a whopping 375.00 smack-a-roos on a new lawn mower this weekend. I love the mower, but damn near threw-up on the the girl who rang it up. I was like “Oh my god! I can’t believe I’m spending this much money! I have to make this thing last forever and ever and ever!” So, I currently own an awesome lawn-mower that I don’t want to get dirty.

    Yet… I can easily spend that same amount or more over the course of a couple of months on well.. crap. Dining out, books, movies, the delicious Pepsi vending machine that calls to me through out the day, going out with friends, stuff for the house, and so on and so on. I usually don’t think anything of those kinds of purchases, even though they are just as bad for me financially.

  • Reply Hannah |

    For me personally it’s been the little things that pull me under. For my ex-husband it was the big things. Combined, we were death on budget!

  • Reply Beks |

    dogatemyfinances – Sorry, I didn’t clarify. Yes, the article was talking about non-necessity big spending – TV’s, etc. But I agree with you, San Diego is a very expensive city and moving would help me a lot – but I’m stuck for now.

    At least I know I’m not the only one who goes to Target for a bag of tea and spends $40. I wish I could wear a shock collar for stupid purchases!

  • Reply Canadian Kate |

    I discovered I do both. I joined the Compact (don’t buy anything new) and cut my spending by over 15% in the first year. If you had told me I had a spending problem I would have disagreed, saying I had a great handle on wants vs needs. But apparently I didn’t.

    Now, since any purchase of a thing breaks the pact I made with myself, I really consider every expenditure.

    Since I can’t buy new, I have no need to even enter stores which also goes a long way to saving me money. I even spent less money on gas my first year on the Compact even though gas prices almost doubled that year. I live rurally and there are two grocery stores close by or I can drive over twice as far and go to the city. Now that I don’t go shopping I only go to the closer grocery stores, even if they cost a little bit more. And they are only groceries, not ‘everything’ stores so that reduces another temptation.

    To help you keep better control this month, switch to cash. I lose the 1% I get back on my credit card but it is worth it because it really does slow down my spending.

    (I’m completely debt free and have always lived within my means but that doesn’t make the excessive spending, either by flood or trickle any more acceptable. That money can go towards an earlier retirement, more travel or charity.)

  • Reply Christine (moneyfunk) |

    So it should say, “The article recommended taking 24 hours to consider every purchase over $20.” 😉

  • Reply Mrs. Moderntightwad |

    If it weren’t for Target my bank account would be (somewhat) flush. I’m amazed at what I impulse buy! Last week I bought a swimsuit spur of the moment because it’s really hot here in Vegas. I felt so bad when I realized I came in for laundry detergent and spent $50. At least my husband reminded me that I hadn’t bought a swimsuit in four years. Then I started whining about how if I planned my purchases better I could buy on clearance more, and he gave me the look…..I still swear that bullseye is trained on my wallet.

  • Reply Reigning Money |

    I used to think my problem was the trickle of fast food meals and coffee, but after really being on a budget this past month, that’s actually not what it is. For me, it does seem to be the big ticket items that had put me in the hole I’m in. My items aren’t cars or tvs but rather vacations, weekend trips, and nice dinners…oh, and clothes. Maybe by denying myself those small things I feel I can afford those larger purchases which just causes more harm in the long run.

  • Reply Lynn |

    It’s the big ticket impulse buys that get me. Most recently, a new bike for my bootie. Hopefully, it will pay off in better health!

  • Reply Carol |

    I agree with you – the trickle is what got me into trouble. I’m a recovering yard sale, rummage sale, thrifting junkie. Ten dollars here and there, and there, and there….. Not to mention McD’s dollar menu. I justified my spending because I wasn’t spending very much.
    After a few car repairs this winter, I realized I needed to put a lock on my coin purse and get a nest egg built up. So far, I’m paying down the last of my debt and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Reply mom |

    Well Becks, all of my girls, and there are four of you, have never been big ticket item spenders. Have you ever noticed that? In fact, every one of you are the biggest tightwads I know, yet you all have this constant trickle going on. What I have observed with each of you is listed among the many comments that you have received thus far. It’s rather funny. You are the Target shopper that comes out with more than you bargained for. Elizabeth is the garage sale junkie… big time. (Supposedly to save money.) Nicole justifies any or all money spent in regards to fitness and health. (And oh how she loves those cd’s and the latest books out there!) And Paula’s problem is her big heart that wants to cheer others up. None of you spend a lot at one sitting, so to speak, but oh how it adds up. And how do you think I know? Hmmmmm what’s that saying? Something about the apple not falling far from the tree? Love you girl, mom

  • Reply Nicole |

    Lately it’s been a flood but I hope to get it back to a trickle ASAP. Turns out dentists are money vampires!!!

So, what do you think ?