Don’t Skip These Budget Items

If you’re resolving to get your financial house in order, you might be looking at your budget and figuring out what could be cut.  Cutting can be good, but there are some things that seem expensive, but are too important to give up.

Maintenance, both car and house.

And clothes, lawnmowers, garden tools, cast iron skillets, refrigerators…pretty much anything can benefit from periodic care.  Have you ever heard the phrase, “a stitch in time saves nine?”  It means that if you mend a small hole in clothing now, you’ll save the time of mending a larger hole later.  This philosophy can be applied to so many things.  Keeping the proper air pressure in your tires will help your tires last longer.  (And improve your gas mileage.)  Cleaning the filter on your heating and air conditioning system will help it last longer.  (And improve it’s efficiency, lowering your utility bills.)  Are you seeing a theme here?


This one can be controversial, because there are arguments that it is cheaper to self-insure against some risks.  I think that a balanced approach is appropriate when it comes to insurance.

Take the simple example of the deductible on your auto insurance.  The lower the deductible, the more expensive the premiums.  If you don’t have 2 cents in your savings account, it is probably appropriate to have a lower deductible.  However, as soon as you are able, you should increase the deductible to the maximum amount available to you.  Then, if you reach the point at which you have enough emergency savings to pay the value of the car, consider giving up your collision coverage.  Now, state laws require that you maintain a certain level of coverage and I would never recommend that you violate the law.  However, think about the financial pros and cons of the deductible and types of coverage that you carry.  Keep the insurance that you need and give up the extras that you don’t need.

A similar thought process can be applied to other types of insurance, as well.  Life insurance is only needed to cover identifiable costs and you certainly don’t want to be worth more if you die!  Homeowner’s insurance should cover perils that you would claim and not cover things that you wouldn’t consider claiming.  For example, I have a pretty high threshold for “things I won’t claim.”  As a result, it does not make sense for my family to carry coverage on jewelry, computers, or other specialty items.  I’m not going to make a $700 claim if my computer gets stolen, so why would I carry the coverage?  If you aren’t covered by Tricare, look at your family situation and think carefully about your health coverage.  A bunch of small kids?  Yeah, the whole shebang might be the right insurance for you.  Two super-healthy 20-somethings?  Just major medical might be right for you.  I absolutely do not advocate going without any health insurance at all…I was involved in a bad accident in college and had it not been for my relatively cheap health insurance, I would still be paying the bills.

Decent Food

See, here’s the thing about food.  Yeah, ramen is cheap.  It’s just not that good for you, and not good for you is a recipe for expensive health issues in the long term.  There are plenty of ways to cut your budget without giving up nutrition, including using less or no meat, eating with the seasons, planning menus, etc.  The dollar menu and really cheap junk food might be good for your wallet today, but they are definitely not good for your body.  Use your brains to make appropriately priced, well-balanced meals and you’ll have a happy wallet and body.


No, fun doesn’t have to cost money, but sometimes a little money can help.  Make sure you keep fun money in your budget, even if it is just a RedBox movie for Friday night.  Living life in a financial straightjacket is a recipe for disaster.  Budget fun and help keep yourself motivated.

I’m sure y’all can think of things I’ve missed.  Please add them in the comments.  I love hearing about your budgets, the things that work and the things that don’t.  We’re all in this together!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • guest

    Don’t agree with the don’t insure your jewelry thing. Had a friend that lost the 1.5 carat center stone on her engagement ring…it’s appraised value…25k so unless you have 25k sitting around to replace your wedding set the extra 5 bucks a month is worth it. We also have insurance on some of the artwork in our house in case the movers ever loose it.

  • Lauren

    Guest- well a $25k stone is different from a $2k stone. I’d rather insure something outrageously expensive like that than insure my far cheaper wedding set that would be easier to replace. I wouldn’t insure my $400 laptop, but I would insure my husband’s $2000 laptop, simply because his is more expensive, runs very well, and is more ‘needed’ by the two of us than mine is. Insuring household objects like that is more on an individual evaluation than anything.

  • Janna

    Regarding insurance, I have a question to pose: Being the daughter of an Alzheimer’s patient, and being married to the son of an Alzheimer’s patient, wouldn’t long term care insurance be advisable? Unfortunately, my mother has none and does not qualify for medicaid. I am now her full time caregiver. I had to quit my job, quit school and was lucky enough to land a part-time job working from home. My husband refuses to even discuss this type of insurance and I am scared to death! I do not want our children to go through what I am having to deal with. He just can’t see the light. I would much rather sink an extra $50 a month into a care plan now than be at risk being a burden on my children. We are both in our mid to late 40’s. He’s deployed most of the time and doesn’t have to deal with it. Anyone have any thoughts?

    • KateKashman

      Janna, I think long term care insurance is very smart. You may not know that if your husband is on active duty, you are eligible for very inexpensive LTC insurance through the Federal Long Term Care insurance program. It is a pretty good program and it might just help your husband come around to seeing the importance.

      It is usually recommended that you wait until your 50s to purchase LTC insurance for the most financial benefit vs. cost, but your situation is different. It might be worth considering purchasing now. It is something that my husband and I also need to talk about!