I may have just joined a cult. Reducing the discretionary spend – September 2020 results

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have seen or responded to this tweet that I posted late last month.

After checking out the replies and also quizzing personal friends via Facebook, all of whom said they use theirs a lot/all the time, I decided to splurge and bought myself one. After announcing on Facebook that it had arrived and I’d made my first meal with it, I got comments like ‘welcome to the tribe’ and ‘welcome to the cult’. I’m looking forward to making food with less additives and preservatives from now on, as well as cooking things that I wouldn’t normally bother with due to the amount of time they take, and hopefully saving some money on food over time. There seem to be heaps of Facebook and Instagram accounts dedicated to using the ‘Thermie’ as well as the official recipe community so there’s no shortage of recipes, hints and tips.

However, that has quite blown out the budget for September! I’m was trying to decide whether it is really a ‘discretionary’ spend item though, given that it’s a household appliance and should get plenty of use. If I’d bought a new frying pan or cooking pot, I’d class it as household rather than discretionary spending, so I’m inclined to regard it the same way. Not that that changes the overall result…

Looking at my reconfigured budget spreadsheet for this financial year, I’ve confirmed that it’s a bit harder to determine what items are really discretionary, unlike last year where I had a specific category for it. I did project this would make this exercise a bit more work in my July post, though, so it’s not as though I didn’t expect it. One thing I’ve done from the start, though, is to class non-essential food items that I buy from the supermarket as discretionary, and this does contribute to the discretionary figure being higher than it otherwise might because I never really budgeted a figure for these within either the staple foods line item or the discretionary foods line item (although if I included it in staples, that figure would then be higher, so six of one, half a dozen of the other in a way). This year’s challenge has made me realise that I do actually use the supermarket purchasing as a bit of a way to fool myself in the moment that I’m not really buying ‘takeaway’ foods, but realistically that’s exactly what is happening, and the discretionary foods line item definitely shows this up. So my options are to either 1) increase the budgeted figure for this or 2) get tougher with myself about buying treats. Seeing as option 2 is the only one that fits in with this year’s challenge, I’m going to have to work on this much harder.

Speaking of reconfiguring the budget, one thing I’ve just done is to just have a ‘bucket’ total for items that I buy on an ad-hoc basis instead of an ‘average per month’ figure – primarily, clothing/shoes/accessories, entertainment, donations and health & wellness costs. When I buy something in these categories, the amount I actually spent gets deducted from the annual total and added into the month in which it was spent. It seemed silly to regard myself as being under/over budget for items like this on a ‘by month’ basis when they’re not a regular spend or a fixed cost, so using a bucket system for these kinds of items makes more sense to me.

As far as the rest of the budget goes, this month is actually pretty good. Car expenses are still way down due to me working from home most of the time, and the general/miscellaneous category was over budget by a fairly small amount which was almost doubly offset by the car category. I’ve also managed not to buy any alcohol in August and September, so that’s also good. As tempting as it can be, I’ve committed myself to working my way through what is already on hand instead of buying more, except where I’m actually out of something altogether. I did splash out on doing a ‘gin school’ afternoon with friends, though 😀 ! My personal blend (a spice-based one) is actually not too bad even if I do say so myself.

Overall, had I not bought the Thermomix I would still have been over budget by nearly $300, and it’s definitely the discretionary foods line item that’s causing the issue. I did get takeaway meals a few times this month due to either not having been organised enough to make sure I had something defrosted for cooking or because I wasn’t in the mood to cook. So I really need to recommit to this year’s challenge, which is proving rather more difficult than I anticipated.

2 thoughts on “I may have just joined a cult. Reducing the discretionary spend – September 2020 results

  1. Congratulations!
    I have 2 thermomixes and I use them all the time. I bought my first one in DEC 2012, so we’ve been clean eating for a long time here.
    In fact, my second son said to me, “I didn’t realise how clean we eat, but since staying at Izzy’s place… her Mum’s a good cook but I feel bloated after I’ve been there a while.”
    Thermobexta for vegetarian meals and Skinnymixers for everything else.
    Have fun!


    1. Thanks Frogdancer! I’d heard of Skinnymixers but not Thermobexta – I’m keen to introduce some vegetarian meals into my diet to reduce my carbon footprint, so I’ll check that one out too. I’ve already been put on to the TM6 & TM5 Hints, Tips and Recipes group by a friend. I think I’m going to have plenty of recipe ideas to keep me cooking for months to come.


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