How Much Should I Be Spending?

It was the first Friday in August, and I was off to the semiannual sale at WeeTrade – the consignment sale of all consignment sales in WNC!  That week, I inventoried of all Emery’s winter clothes that have been handed down to her so I could create my shopping list for the day.  Yes, I’m such a nerd when it comes to all this.  However, I find it quite rewarding when I pick up jeans for $2-3 a pair, leggings for a $1 a pair, and shirts for $2-3.  Oh yeah, and I get winter coats for $10 or less.  I’ve compared these prices at Target and this is what I found – jeans $8-12 per pair, leggings $4.99 per pair, shirts for $5-8, and winter coats are often up to $25 each.  And the shoes!  Wow!  I can find shoes at WeeTrade for $10-12.  I was recently in a shoe store, and shoes in Emery’s size were $25-35.  That’s ridiculous – she will grow out of them in six months, and they turn black after one week at school anyway.  I have no issues with used clothing as she comes home each day from school covered in dirt from the playground.

Now, Nathan contends that I don’t really save money at WeeTrade because the less that I spend on each item, the more items I buy.  So, in his theory, I spend the same amount of money, but just get more clothes.  I don’t really see anything wrong with that, but I decided I would keep an eye on the number of items this time around.  I’m also staying away from toys because our house is too cluttered with toys right now.  So much so that we’ve gone to the rotation method.  We divided Emery’s toys into four bins, and we rotate them out every few weeks.  She doesn’t miss the toys in the hidden bins, and then thinks she has new toys when a bin reappears.

So, that week, WeeTrade led me back to budgeting.  How much money do I spend each year on clothing?  And that question led me to wonder how much people typically spend on clothing.  Are there parameters for healthy spending?  In my budgeting, I always look at how much we are spending versus our income.  However, it’s important to make sure you really are staying within healthy parameters while budgeting on a percentage basis.  Here are a few rules of thumb to consider:

  • The 50/30/20 method1: This method is the broadest method I’ve found.  It recommends that you spend 50% of your after-tax income on your needs.  Those include housing, groceries, utilities, health insurance, and automobiles (fixed expenses).  The next 30% is spent on wants, which include shopping, hobbies, and dining out (discretionary expenses).  The last 20% should be directed to savings in a retirement plan or emergency fund.
  • Dave Ramsey’s 11 budget categories2: This method is much more detailed, but the percentages include some ranges:  Giving (10%), Saving (10%), Food (10-15%), Utilities (5-10%), Housing Costs (25%), Transportation (10%), Health (5-10%), Insurance (10-25%), Recreation (5-10%), Personal Spending (5-10%), Miscellaneous (5-10%).

If you would like resources for budgeting or your spending plan, let us know.  We have spreadsheets you can use as well as online resources.


Source:  1), 2)


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