Certain expenses seem to exist in an untouchable sphere. They sneak under the labels of "necessity" and "fixed cost"—even when we adamantly reduce our spending everywhere else.
For me, yoga is one of these spending blind spots. But after realizing I spent more than $500 on yoga classes and workout gear in just under 4 weeks, I wasn't feeling too zen about it. Could that be right? I recalculated a few times just to be sure, because it seems like such an unreasonable amount. But, then again, that's why a blind spot is a blind spot.
So, how do you deal with these problems? Like with any financial issue, you want to figure out how you reached that point—and what you can do to fix it.
How Yoga Became My Best Worst Spending Offense
Because yoga is exercise, I classify it in my budget as a "health" expense instead of "leisure." The former is a necessity; the latter isn't.
So, when I go over budget, I don't cut costs by trimming from my health expenses as rapidly as I do with other activities. It also means I'm less critical of its price tag. Can you really put a price on your health? Apparently, you can—and for me it comes in over $150 per month.
In your budget, take a hard look at your different expenses to see what you've categorized as "fixed" versus "discretionary." Is takeout really a necessity? Do you need that new outfit, considering your work wardrobe is complete? Your blind spot may be tricking you.
An Expanding Blind Spot
If you're not busting your budget, are these blind spots such a bad thing? Well, not necessarily.
It's good to know your blind spots, because their associated costs have a way of expanding and accumulating. For me, something like yoga pants or a mat seems small right now. However, by the end of the month or year, what seemed like a series of insignificant purchases could have bought something substantial (or made a huge student loan payment!).
In that case, yoga becomes a particularly bad vice. I feel I should know better than to count clothes and accessories as an "investment in my well-being." But how can you distinguish wants from needs when you participate in an activity that toes the line between health and leisure? Ultimately, that's why some of these blind spots may not be so bad—if moderated accordingly.
Finding Balance: On The Mat And In My Bank Account
Once I realized I had dumped $500 into sun salutations, yoga wasn't in my blind spot anymore. I immediately changed my perspective and implemented a rewards system to ensure I get the most for my money; you can do this as well for your blind spot.
My plan? For every class I attend, I put $2 in a savings jar for future purchases. The more often I go, the more money I accumulate for new workout gear. Since this is rewarding positive behavior (exercise), the spending system finds the right balance between restraint and guilt-free indulgence, while fulfilling its purpose: keeping my body and mind healthy.