Discretionary Vs. Mandatory Spending

When making a budget, be sure to identify Discretionary and Mandatory expenses. Mandatory expenses are things like health insurance and rent that you cannot afford to do without. Discretionary expenses are things that aren't crucial to you or your families existence like a NetFlix subscription or eating out. When times get rough financially or when you want to save money for something, you can start by eliminating discretionary expenses from your monthly budget.



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By Realist (Guest Post)
September 22, 20080 found this helpful

If people have inadequate financial planning so they fall into tough times; they already have a problem differentiating between necessity and non-necessity or discretionary. The fact that you list rent instead of mortgage shows you haven't made good long or short range financial planning and that's why you're in a bad position.

It would be better if people in such a position took a look at all their expenses to decide what they really can do without. NOTHING to be left off the chopping block. For at least one week write down every penny you spend in a notebook and eetail what the expense is for. It's the only real way to get a grip on your finances.


You must plan on how to get ahead but that will never happen if your plan includes throwing money away on rent all your life. Focus on ridding yourself of the larger wastes before focusing on small wastes like a movie rental.

You need to figure out based on your salary how much a month your can afford on a mortgage and this will determine the price range you can look into. It will also tell you what you need to save for your downpayment. This is your PRIORITY.

Then do whatever you have to do to save that money. Maybe you can't afford your ideal house but can purchase something smaller or in a different location while you continue to save for your dream place.

Many people buy vehicles they simply can not afford. Do you really need 2 cars while saving? It might make a stay at home parent feel more important but 2 vehicles are NOT a necessity if you aren't on solid financial ground.


You do not need brand new vehicles either. How crazy is it to slowly pay down a $25k vehicle that isn't worth the money you owe on it when you could be paying down a mortgage on property that will appreciate?

Then focus on the small wastes of money that add up like takeout food, eating out, buying lunch at work or coffee in the morning. One person can blow a good $100 a week there without even blinking.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
April 20, 20150 found this helpful

As nice as it is to own your own home. I have met a lot of people who had no heat during the winter months. They just coould not afford it. Had leaks in the roof after natural disaster took over and a host of other things life had to offer. There is nothing wrong with renting if you can't afford to live in a house.


Who wants a cold house in zero degree weather? Well I know a few people who had no other choice. It's hard to save anything and with jobs cutting hours laying people off what other options are out there other then sleeping on the beach for free.

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