If an extra expense cropped up, how would your budget fare? Would you cut back? Would you hustle harder? There are challenges to both. If your budget is already fairly bare bones, there may not be any remaining notches to tighten the belt. If your work week is already jam packed, carving out extra hours to hustle can be daunting, especially if you’re already side hustling. If your salary is fixed on a schedule, a raise is out of the question. So what would be your plan of attack to deal with an extra monthly expense?Why do I ask? Our taxes are going up. And they’re not just inching up. They are skyrocketing to the tune of 15%. Because our property value has increased and because I am exceptionally talented at jinxing myself. Truly, we knew this day was coming, but we honestly thought it would be more gradual. A cursory glance at the estimate–remember we won’t actually see the bill until next year–leads me to believe we’ll need to set aside an additional $100-$150 a month. That pushes our yearly payment from around $7300 a year to just shy of $8500. Gulp.
After the initial moment of panic that was followed by an angsty tweet, I started making a mental list of the ways in which we could deal with this additional expense. To soothe my soul, I thought I’d share what I’ve come up with so far and pick your brain for more suggestions. We could tackle this extra expense in two different ways: reduce our spending or ramp up our income.
- Use less air conditioning and heat.
- Water less & take shorter showers.
- Be extra vigilant about what stays lit and plugged in.
- Scale back on grocery store treats like ice cream and beer.
- Slash away at the few remaining cable channels.
- Downgrade our Internet speed.
- Cut back on gift giving, charitable and otherwise.
- Price out insurance again.
- Figure out a solution to our hefty cell phone bills.
- Reduce our monthly discretionary spending/fun money budget.
The problem with relying on reduced expenses to cover an extra $100 every month is that our budget is already pretty tight. I’m not saying I won’t
try to be more aware of which lights get left on harp loudly from the top of the stairs, but when your grocery budget is $200, laying off the one or two cartons of ice cream we buy each month isn’t going to amount to much. Besides a cranky husband. The easiest area to target is discretionary spending. While we do take doctor copays, prescription copays, and other necessities out of that $300 each month, that spending also covers my twice yearly highlights, Mr. P’s computer game something or other that I don’t understand, and other luxuries. Do I think I could get $100 by whittling away at my spending? Yes. Am I willing to allow it to be the only way I cover an added expense? Absolutely not.
- Ask for a raise.
- Work extra hours.
- Pick up another side hustle.
- Sell clutter.
- Resell deeply discounted purchases or flip curbside treasures.
As two teachers, we are at the mercy of our salary schedules. The only ways in which we earn raises are to work more years and acquire more degrees. But that’s not to say I couldn’t increase my hourly rates for tutoring. We could both pick up more work at school; in fact, that’s how we funded our IRAs last year. Mr. P is also toying around with the idea of doing some painting and landscaping for our neighbors. As always, I’m on a perpetual quest to sell my clutter, and I even sold two pairs of boots for a small profit on Poshmark because I wanted to see if I could make the sales before I made a trip to return them to the mall. There’s plenty of potential ways to make up the cost of our new monthly expense. Just as I could make up the money by doing a combination of expense reductions, a blend of this list would probably be the best way to ensure a steady stream of extra income.
While I don’t know that I’ll ever come across a magic bullet of sorts that allows me to make an exact extra $100 by doing exactly one thing, I do know for certain what I am unwilling to do for the sake of $100. I refuse to divert money from our extra mortgage payments or our Roth IRAs. I’m not keen on taking any money away from our savings account, even if it ends up being used for home repairs, travel, or our taxable investment account. As far as cutting back on gifts, I will go down kicking and screaming before I reduce my charitable giving. Your birthday present, dear reader, might get a bit smaller, though. No matter how this shakes out, I am overwhelmed with relief knowing that I do have the resources, the ability, and the privilege to make this pan out. Somehow.
So Tell Me…How would you handle an added monthly expense? Would your plan of attack be different at $50? $100? $500?