August 23, 2011

Do you feel deprived living on a budget?

With all of our talk about the Tightwad Gazette and with many people doing what I am doing -- cutting back, how do you not let yourself feel deprived? 

Deprivation for one person means something to another person.  I have always felt that within a budget you must somehow find some "fun" or "entertainment" money.  Everyone should be able to spend a little money on themselves.  The problem is figuring out what that amount is.  When we started our journey to live on one income, Netflix was our entertainment and that was our "fun" money.  We have more wiggle room in our budget and I use my "fun" money to purchase whatever I feel like buying for me. 

The amount that I set aside each month for me is $50.  I can save it or spend it guilt free.  We have worked into that amount as I didn't have that much extra per month when I lost my job 2 years ago.  $50 a month is the perfect amount for me.  It is plenty enough for me to buy some Kindle books or to buy a few dvd's or whatever I want.  It is also a perfect amount for me to save or save half and spend half.  $50 is my reward for sticking to a budget and by doing so actually having $50 to spend on myself.

The point is that when you have a little money to spend on whatever you want to spend it on, you tend to stay on budget.  This is why I am totally against a strictly stringent budget only if necessary.  Many people go gung ho and just cut back everything and live on an extremely strict budget.  Then after a few days or week or maybe even two, they fall off the wagon and spend recklessly again.  It's just like going on an extremely restrictive food diet over night.  You will set yourself up for failure. 

At one point years ago I had only $5 per pay period that I could spend on anything I wanted to or I could save it.  When everything else in our finances was out of control, I at least could have control over what I did with that $5.  It was mine to spend recklessly on myself if I wanted.  Many times I would just put it in a tin on the counter in my kitchen and leave it there.  But, it was there for me whenever I wanted to use it. 

Do you feel (or have you ever felt) deprived financially and how do you deal with it?   


Debs said...

My husband and I have personal bank accounts and every week a small amount we call 'allowance' is transferred into both our accounts. He tends to save his up to satisfy his gadget cravings (he doesn't buy loads of stuff, but, for example, he chose to spend some inheritence money from his grandad on buying an i-pad).

I, on the other hand, tend to use my money to sometimes treat myself and Sophia (my toddler) to lunch at the supermarket cafe, or sometimes I spend it on extras that the grocery money wouldn't stretch to.

We both enjoy this system and the freedom it gives us. Menard is also good at telling me off when i use my money to do something like repay my mum for the payment she made when my car was serviced - he told me that needs to come out of the household money and not my personal money. So I think we have a good balance.

Anonymous said...

I can loan out a Kindle from my library for free. I get to use it for 21 days at a time. I also loan out DVD's from my library, copy them to my computer hard drive and then burn my own CD's. I can then listen to them any time I want to, either at home, in my car or on my iPod. Don't have an iPod? That $50 bucks can get you a nice one.

I wouldn't be 'wasting' $50 bucks a month, for that is the amount that I put away in my bank account each month. I'd rather invest in myself and my own personal freedom. Each fifty bucks gets me closer to my dream.

No, I wouldn't be piddling it away on nonsense, regardless of how I try to justify it to my brain (and my audience).

Anonymous said...

The idea of feeling deprived somehow implies that I have a right to spend money on nonessential items. Those days are long gone! Would I like to be able to buy a pair of shoes? You bet! Would I like to get an ice cream at Rite Aide? Oh, YES! Would I like to buy my grandchildren a treat? Sigh. Of course. But what will I have to compromise, what will I have to lose in order to do that? Is it worth it?

My income is between $1100 and $1200 a month before taxes. I have decided to rejoice over the months that there is any money at all left over. Summers are hard, with the air conditioning using so much electricity and the water needed for the garden. All I can control is my consumption, so I try to get creative. I save water from the shower or from the kitchen (such as canning) to water the beds. I don't have cable, of course, or my own cell phone (I borrow one), I keep my gasoline to $5 a week. I am trying to live as our families lived in the Depression, not just to get by at this time, but in practice or what is coming.

My number one priority right now is to make sure I have the ability to survive what lies ahead. I have been blessed by God when He whispered in my ear in 2009, "Start preparing for what is to come." I am SO grateful that He continued to whisper until I listened. Because every dime I spent then, before it got so bad, is a dollar now, and who knows what value there will be in it tomorrow.

So yes, I could say I feel deprived, but it is worth it when I think about what's coming.

saving for travel said...

I find I can keep to a tight budget by having little 'treats' e.g. real coffee or a fish and chips takeaway.

We both have £100 per month. But for me this also pays for gifts so money then gets so tight in 'busy' months. I think I need to readjust gift money by maybe not including it in my allowance and cutting my money. At least we save separately for Christmas.

You comparison of dieting with extreme non-spending is just what I was saying on a blog the other day.

We obviously speak the same language.

Great blog. Look forward to reading more!

Rosalyn Price English said...

Excellent entry, thanks for sharing and being so transparent!
Rosalyn at

Martha said...


In the United States it is illegal to copy dvd's/c.d.'s. I would rather spend a little money and be honest.

Debs said...

@ Martha, lovely response to anonymous! I had the same reaction, but possibly not go graciously.

Anonymous said...

Deprived, no. Empowered, yes. I look at a budget as the plan my faily has made for our lives. We chose how much to spend and how much to save. It is not punishment nor some plan that was dictated to us but what we decided. Staying within that budget (plan) is just my contribution to the overall meeting of our goals. And, budgets are not always set in stone - they are the guideline. If something happens and the spending goes over, it is not usually fatal!

~Carla~ said...

I never feel deprived no..., with food on the table & a roof over my head it would be foolish to feel deprived. I do sometimes wish we had more $$ to go around so I could buy what we need when we need it, but that's not how it works for us. And that's ok, I know we're still abundantly blessed!

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with Carla.
I dont think I have ever felt deprived for things.........only time, for myself.
I am grateful to live in a rich country where I have the freedom to do as I please.I have access food,clean water,healthcare,saftey
and freedom. To feel deprived in such wealth doesn t seem right.