Watching the cash flow ...
I often remind people that being debt-free and putting money into savings isn't the entire story when it comes to financial freedom. If we're not careful we can obligate ourselves to all sorts of recurring monthly payments that hurt our cash flow and give us no freedom to adjust how we're spending our money. Some examples are (keep in mind, I have a teenager):
~ allowance for the child/ren
~ clothing allowance for the child/ren
~ school lunch (no, she doesn't 'brown bag it' because it isn't really an option where she attends school)
~ school tuition
~ lessons: music, dance, gymnastics, etc. In the case of music lessons, we also had to "rent" an instrument for two years.
~ monthly dues / clubs (scouts, for instance, and we belong to a club that means once a month we are going out to eat because that is how the club gets together.)
~ subscription services: Netflix, software, contribution pledges / tithe pledge, etc.
~ Expanded utilities: electricity, gas, telephone, cell phone - service and phone purchase, internet, cable, satellite, garbage, sewer, water, etc.
~ Insurance and warranties: life, house, auto, cell phone warranty, home repair warranty, pet insurance, etc
~ Recurring shipments: automatic renewal of prescriptions, vitamin or toiletries on auto-ship, etc. These programs are getting so popular now!
~ Other: mortgage, rent, storage unit rent, furniture / appliance rental, on-line game access, and tons more I'm sure I'm forgetting.
I noticed the last time I went to buy a software package like Microsoft Office, I couldn't just buy the software. They wanted me to subscribe to a monthly service that included "free updates". The trend only continues. It seems every time I turn around we are encouraged to not buy an item out-right to to pay for it monthly. If we're not careful these recurring monthly obligations, while not debt, become worse than debt because they can easily out-strip our monthly net income.
Have you noticed a slow creep of recurring expenses against your monthly cash flow?