That said, there are some things that are important to me, and that I'm willing to spend money on even though they might be beyond what most would consider necessities. In the interest of full disclosure, here are some of those things:
- Groceries - I do what I can to keep our grocery cost low, shopping seasonally and planning meals around sales when possible. That said, I also enjoy cooking and eating well, and I value my nutrition. Most of my grocery spending happens in the produce department and the baking aisle, where I find many of the supplies to make healthy meals from scratch for my boyfriend and I. In addition to "normal" cooking, I make all of our bread and almond butter, I keep a freezer stocked with soup and other frozen meals, and I am constantly looking into other ways to introduce fewer processed foods into our diets, even if it means spending a bit more.
- Netflix and HuluPlus - we don't have cable, but we have both of these relatively inexpensive subscription services. And frankly, I think that's okay. I rarely spend money on entertainment, but having a huge variety of shows and movies available on demand makes a major difference in my quality of life. Worth the >$20/month in my opinion.
- Shoes and clothes - not in the sense that I have a lot or enjoy shopping, actually quite the opposite. I maintain a relatively small wardrobe and I don't shop often, but when I do, I try to focus on quality. I buy items that I think will last and that I will enjoy for years to come, even if they are more expensive than some alternatives that would keep me just as clothed.
- Occasional travel - my family is spread out all over the country, and my boyfriend's family lives in California. This means that seeing either of our families almost always involves a plane, train or bus. Neither of us would be willing to give up the expenses associated with seeing them at least twice a year, although we try to do it cheaply. We're also planning a real vacation for next summer to Montreal. We'll do it on a budget, but it's certainly not a necessity.
I know that none of these are necessary expenses, or at least not to the degree that I spend my money on them. Right now, I'm comfortable with what I spend in each of these areas, and that's good because I'd really rather not adjust in any of these areas. That said, knowing that these are areas where I could cut back also means that in leaner times, I know the first places to look for extra money in my budget.