I’ve been thinking about hidden costs lately when I came across this post in the forums from princessperky
As I knelt down to change my newest additions diaper, I realized I should turn on the light already. And I thought how the little things about winter that make it more expensive. It isn’t just the high heating bill. It is rock salt, and extra lights, and outdoor lights, and much more. More hot water for much needed showers (and it costs more to get hot). More electricity for all the seasonal baking (or was that to keep the kitchen warm?) More laundry due to more layers to keep warm.
All sorts of little things that one at a time don’t mean much alone, but do make for a lot of extra money all added up. I keep the house pretty cold and luck out living in a relatively mild winter state, so I honestly think that the ‘nickle and dime’ stuff for winter is about the same amount as the heating bill!
Then I thought about my new washer, Friday night my washer died in the middle of spinning out a load of whites. Ever wring out a load of socks for a family of 5? Really makes you appreciate the luxury of a washing machine! We found out the repair would be about $300 for parts, for a couple more hundred we could get a new one. I was thinking how glad I am we have an emergency fund and can just go buy the machine. I thought $500 out of the check book, no big deal. But then the nickle and dime issues of replacing a washer started cropping up. Extra use of the dryer for the emergency load of darks so DH has something to wear to work, extra loads to get the towels used to sop up all the yucky water that fell out when switching washers. (not to mention the disposal fee for the old one, and delivery fee for the new one…….) Now the nickle and dime stuff didn’t add up to the cost of the washer, but it sure is a big chunk of my grocery bill.
Speaking of my grocery bill, this is Thanksgiving week. We are hosting, which means we HAVE to have the good stuff, chocolate for fudge, pumpkin for pie and bread. Whipping cream for same. Cranberries for sauce, corn to feed 12. All the works. Nothing to expensive by itself, but it all adds up to the most expensive two months of the year, without figuring in Christmas gifts!
I also thought about how the ‘nickle and dime’ stuff is ignored in most financial advice articles or books. Some people ignore it because a nickle here and a dime there takes a looooong time to pay off a $8000 credit card bill. Which is a point, doing 5 new small frugal things makes one feel wrung dry, same as 5 large things, but the large ones make a bigger dent and therefor have a bigger reward. But I keep noticing I have no big things left, so I have to nickle and dime my way out of this debt!
While it’s a slightly different angle to what I’d been thinking about, they compliment each other. I had good friends visit earlier this month and they stayed for about 10 days. The reason that I began thinking about hidden costs is because we got our water bill which was higher than usual. At first I couldn’t figure out why, and then it dawned on me – four people taking showers, brushing teeth, washing clothes and dishes uses a lot more water than just 2 people. I’m assuming that our gas and electric bills will also see these increases when they arrive.
This isn’t a problem as I came in much under the budget I anticipated with them being here, but I wonder why I never considered these when I was actually putting the estimated budget together? They fall in the “hidden cost” category which are often difficult to see as they aren’t obvious.
Princessperky also points out a lot of the hidden costs of winter. Having to turn on the lights earlier (thus using more energy) and other things of that nature are hidden costs that we rarely think about. While not all of them can be eliminated, realizing that they do exist allows you to better plan your budget and gives the opportunity to try to reduce them. When you don’t even consider them, this is much more difficult to do.