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3 items I won’t cut from my budget

Have you ever made a decision you knew would change your life? Maybe you’re not sure how you know, but you know. This is big. Life will never be the same.

A few years ago, my husband and I made one of those decisions. It was a simple one, yes, but the decision led us onto a path of intentional daily actions and a life of adventure.

The decision? Get out of debt. ASAP.

After years of struggling to make payments and living paycheck to paycheck, we were motivated to make the changes necessary to dig ourselves out of debt. So I began researching and implementing ways to reduce our spending.

We even made some radical changes to lower our budget and, while it was challenging, I knew as I mailed our final debt payment that all the hard work was worth it.

But there were a few budget items we just couldn’t get rid of, because they were too important to us to skip. Even though they weren’t bare necessities, we were willing to take longer to reach our goal so we could have the peace of mind they bring and the fulfillment of living in line with our values.

1. Giving

Several years ago, we decided to give at least 10% of our income to help others. By living simply, our goal is to give more. More time, more income, more love.

We currently split our giving among a few different charities each month, including our home church.

And then there’s the really fun giving, like surprising someone with a meal, a huge tip, or leaving friends some delicious micro-brews on their door step (you, too, can be a Beer Fairy).

3 things worth keeping in the budget (even when you're getting out of debt).
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2. Preventive Healthcare

Not long after our life-changing decision, I realized we were spending too much money trying to treat symptoms. As I learned more about natural health, I saw that we needed to go beyond treating symptoms and get to the root of the problem.

Since then, our family has created a healthier home using essential oils, real food, and certain supplements. We built the price of those items into our budget and as a result, we’ve saved so much money on healthcare, it’s ridiculous (our family of six spends the same amount each year as the average person).

3. Insurance

As the mom of four small kids with a husband in the emergency medical/fire services, this one is a high priority. I’ve always been more mindful of insurance than most, thanks to my mom who worked for an insurance agency as I was growing up (yes, I was that weird teen), but it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I put any thought into what types or how much coverage we needed.

After going through Financial Peace University, we checked out the insurance Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) page to make sure we were covering our bases with the types of insurance our family might need.

Through this resource, we were able to save money on insurance costs—a bonus in our race to get out of debt.

And we were pleased to see that in some areas we could even up coverage without paying more. There were certain policies that we knew needed more coverage, but we hadn’t pursued any changes because we thought it would be more expensive. Which just shows that you never know until you ask, even when it comes to insurance.

Our monthly amounts are minimal and give my husband and I the peace of mind that, should the worst happen, at least money won’t be a problem.

Worth every penny.

3 items worth keeping in the budget (even when you're getting out of debt)
Photo source

What items will always stay in your budget?

This post is sponsored by The Lampo Group’s ELP Program.

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  1. Erin

    I agree on keeping giving in the budget, I still support my two main charities each month and make sure I can buy friends a cup of coffee or tea now an then.

    The ‘weird’ thing I keep in my budget is tattoo’s (removal and coverups) and this is because it’s an important part of my mental well being to create the version of me that I want to be, and not be held back with visual reminders of a bad past.

    Thanks for the article!

  2. Steph

    Though we are trying to pay off our school loans, we definitely keep giving, insurance (I’m always shocked how many people are willing to go without!) and healthy eating in our budget.

    We also make sure to keep beauty in our lives; it doesn’t have to cost much, but without it we find ourselves much less willing to stay on track.

  3. Jenn @ A Simple Haven

    I’m intrigued by the essential oils stuff. I’ve dabbled in them a bit, but think I’ll be jumping in more seriously this winter with flu season coming and baby #3 on the way :). Any recommendations for someone getting started with those? Thanks!

    • S. Haley

      Hi Jenn,

      for essential oils, both DoTerra and YoungLiving produce oils that are completely pure.
      I recommend trying them both out to see which one you like best.

      Here’s their websites:

      Because these companies have higher quality EOs than the average brand, they are priced a bit higher, but the benefits usually far surpass that of lower quality oils. And of course, every company wants you
      to think they are the best 😉 so you really have to try out different ones and decide for yourself.

      Hope that helps!

      • Jenn @ A Simple Haven

        Thanks! I had heard that about YL oils, will check out both! 🙂

  4. Alicia G

    Love these! I would add Saving For Retirement as well.

    Also, Books I Can’t Find At The Library. 😉

  5. Val

    I agree with all your points, Nina. However, retirement is huge! At least for our family. 🙂

  6. Martha

    Giving, saving, & land-line phone. For some reason I felt more comfortable keeping our land line in case of emergencies. Earlier this year when we became licensed foster parents, learned we are required to have a land line. Glad I never disconnected.

  7. Practical Mama

    The same here. Organic and healthy food cost is one of our major expense item. I consider it “preventative care”. I’d rather pay the grocery than a hospital bill.

  8. Melissa

    I, too, see quality food as preventative, so a large part of our budget goes towards that. My friends all shop at discount stores, with the argument they are saving so much money, but buying local, organic and free range will never be cut out of the priorities.

  9. Laura

    Totally agree! For our family, homeschool expenses are a must. I try to be as frugal as possible without compromising on the resources I feel are best for each child’s learning needs. Giving is hugely important to us, as well!

  10. Kamil

    Cultural enrichment has always been a priority for our family. We make sure there is room in our budget every month for extra curricular and cultural activities for our son and ourselves. These experiences — whether learning to play an instrument, train in a sport, visit museums, attend a musical performance or hike in a national park — help us grow intellectually and emotionally, and, most important, to stay close as a family. To pay for these experiences, we find ways to economize in other areas of our budget, such as limiting car usage/commuting costs, living in a smaller house and minimizing extracurricular socializing at restaurants, etc.

  11. Christa

    Yes to all! Right now we are the ones so thankful we paid for a great insurance policy. On the 19th, while we were a couple hours away, out house burned. It’s surreal. You never see it happening to you. Good policies are worth it!

  12. Krystal

    Preventative Health Care: Yoga, healthy food, occasional bodywork. Our families are wickedly unhealthy, we’ve seen what can happen. It’s the only body you’ve got!

  13. Liisa R

    Traveling to see family and hosting friends when they come through are big priorities for us, as well as organic, high-quality food and supplements. I also have chronic illness so chiro/massage are (unfortunate) necessities. Sadly it is not the fun, relaxing kind of massage but is usually quite painful so no need to be jealous. 😉 Giving. Not as much as we’d like, but it is something.

  14. Amber

    For my family, deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables straight from a farmers co-op each week is important to us. Whilst more expensive than the wilted stuff from local supermarkets, it is so worth it for fresh, seasonal stuff to maintain family health and immune system. I also would never drop our weekly housekeeper from our budget. As we both work, it gives me sanity and enables me to spend quality time with the kids on weekends and feel ever-ready for entertaining friends.

  15. Shannon @ GrowingSlower

    I was excited as soon as I saw the title to this post because I wrote one similar about the one category I felt shouldn’t be cut from a budget, but it wasn’t nearly as noble as your giving or as practical as insurance and healthcare. 🙂 We too were trying to dig ourselves debt as quickly as humanly possible, but I found that it was really impractical to completely cut our eating out budget to zero. We cook almost completely from scratch and rarely eat out, but it still seemed that there was always some soft of social occasion that centered around food that would pop up, so we compromised by leaving in a small amount in the budget, so we didn’t have to completely cut ourselves off from society while we got out of debt, haha. We still did it though! $22k in less than 9 months!

    • Nina

      That’s awesome, Shannon! We kept “fun money” in our budget for eating out, though it was a very small amount. It was great for making us get creative when we did eat out, though. 🙂

  16. Priya

    Agree with all three! Retirement is another big goal for us.

  17. Laura

    We only have mortgage debt but as a homeschooling family, we aim not to waste precious resources. Quality food, giving, bodywork such as therapeutic massage are priorities along with paying off our house. Trying to shift our perspective to be willing to spend a little more on better quality, but fewer material items.

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