Inspired by Yuppie Millenial’s post. [link updated to refinery 29]
Grocery shopping: $176.56
Cream sodas and donuts for the kids (we went because I wanted a donut, but when I got there they were out of the kind I like so I didn’t get anything): $10.50
DH ordered a replacement door handle for my car since he broke one at the donut shop: $12.97
By dinner time I was really starting to feel under the weather, so DH picked up ramen from the new from-scratch ramen place in town (they make their own noodles! no msg! so good): $39.80
DH decided to try a new Mexican place with the kids. It was meh. (I stayed home and slept.): $34.06
DC1’s after school care for the next month (paid early via credit card): $115
DH ordered replacement earphones for himself out of his allowance: $31.88
DH put gas in the car: $15.55
DH also bought a ton of stuff for work that he’s getting reimbursed for, so I’m not going to count it. Our garage is gradually turning into a workshop. But that’s a trade-off for telecommuting.
DH decided to get burgers for lunch and brought one to my office: $20.30
Replacement booster seat for the carseat that was in the accident (DC2 is big enough for this particular booster and refused the super expensive convertible one that I wanted to buy because zie didn’t like the cowmooflage, thus forcing me to look at other brands and saving us ~200): $53.01
Paid violin teacher online (usually this is $80, but she’s taking a week off): $60
So is this a typical week? Hard to say. Usually we eat out as a family 2x/week and DH goes out for coffee or for lunch in order to get out of the house during the week. Usually he doesn’t bring me any and pays for it out of his allowance. Most weeks we spend ~$200 for groceries, but some weeks we spend more because we go into the city or we skip entirely because we’re too busy or need to eat the pantry down some. Also this misses most of our major first of the month expenses like daycare, mortgage, and so on, though I guess I did pay for after school and violin a bit early.
Does anything surprise me? I guess how many small purchases got made? DH tends to buy things right away when he thinks we need them, but I tend to buy things in lumps. His frequent buying of small things is definitely a function of having amazon prime.
But an interesting snapshot.
Have you ever tracked your spending? Why or why not? How in detail did you go? Did you learn anything?
October 24, 2016 at 5:39 am
Just an FYI, I took down my post. R29 finally got back about running my original draft.
I’m with your husband on ordering things right away (for me, it’s bad memory + Amazon Prime). Also impressed by how little you eat out across the family!
October 24, 2016 at 6:47 am
Thanks for the heads up! Do you have a link to that site you linked to that has lots of people’s weekly spending?
How little we eat out isn’t that impressive given what a hassle it is with kids and how there aren’t many good options locally (and we have to drive to pick up lunch). We ate out a lot more in Paradise.
October 24, 2016 at 7:09 am
October 24, 2016 at 8:40 am
October 24, 2016 at 5:39 am
I love tracking spending but haven’t had time/energy to do so for quite awhile. I definitely did so when on a limited income: straight out of college and through grad school.
This week would be a bad week to track. I splurged on some things for me (mostly needed but also a fun dress) and spent WAY more than I normally do. But considering that my normal monthly clothes spending on me is in the neighborhood of $0, I think this is okay even tho I will not enjoy the CC bill.
October 24, 2016 at 6:49 am
I tend to batch up clothes shopping too.
October 25, 2016 at 8:46 pm
That is the only way I clothes shop.
October 24, 2016 at 6:18 am
We track our spending fairly closely but not as diligently as we used to. At this point, I’ve moved out miscellaneous category up from $200 per month to $500 per month. That’s money we spend on food overages, forgotten birthday gifts, misc. travel expenses that I don’t have the mental capacity to plan for anymore.
October 24, 2016 at 6:49 am
It’s amazing how predictable these unpredictable expenses can be.
October 24, 2016 at 6:57 am
I’ve been tracking my spending for over two years, and in the beginning it was really shocking. I was spending a huge amount of money buying lunches at work and eating out, among other things. I still spend a lot on eating out (it’s consistently my #1 line budget after vacation), but I am now much more intentional about it. Also, since I finished training and started working a year ago, I also have the income to support my habit.
October 24, 2016 at 6:08 pm
October 24, 2016 at 7:39 am
I might have to try this, though I suspect a single week wouldn’t be very accurate. I’m usually an ‘underbuyer’ in Gretchen Rubin’s parlance. In practical terms what this means is I end up batch spending on things that I think many others would have replaced a while back and more gradually… right now I have a long list of basic seasonal needs, like new shoes for LG (holes in toes), winter boots, etc. I’ll probably deal with them in one week of furious online shopping…
October 24, 2016 at 8:40 am
I batch spend too. I don’t think that makes me an underbuyer though, just an efficient buyer. So much judgment from Gretchen Rubin.
October 24, 2016 at 9:18 am
I’ve been tracking my spending for nine years. I added a Balanced Money Formula to my spreadsheet and so far this month I’m at 64% needs, 16% wants, and 20% savings…the savings won’t last unless I stop getting takeout for lunch at work.
I squirrel away stuff in my Amazon shopping cart and then weed out the more frivolous things before ordering a few at a time. I’m trying to keep it below $100/month.
Today I learned about cowmooflage.
October 24, 2016 at 9:19 am
October 24, 2016 at 1:59 pm
I’ve not been as good on tracking spending in the past two years but it’s super-useful as a reality-check. The first time I tracked spending, I realized that tracking prices on staples would really help us save lots & I still do that to this day. Now when I see the grocery store’s “everyday” price of 5.99 for a case of soda or asking 9.99 for 12 rolls of toilet paper, I laugh and walk past, knowing that I’ve got a small stockpile at home and that I can watch for the next time prices drop down to a sales price I’ll be willing to pay.
I need to give tracking a whirl again, just to remind myself of spending where we want money to go, not where it ends up getting spent as stress or convenience inspires. I know we’re spending more at the grocery store over the past several months as we’ve taken to eating out a lot less frequently, so that’s redistributed our food budget and hopefully reduced it somewhat. I need to track and see if that’s actually so, especially given that I’m getting home at six at the earliest, often well after seven, and have occasionally given into the temptation of take-home food options.
October 24, 2016 at 2:20 pm
I still do that kind of stockpile for our regular items. Dh doesn’t though and he’s been doing the bulk of our shopping lately.
October 24, 2016 at 2:16 pm
The last time I did this, I was surprised that I actually spent money almost every single day.
October 24, 2016 at 2:17 pm
I used to batch up all the monthly bills and pay them once a month after I got paid, but now we have enough float that I don’t have to do that anymore. Still, it’s mostly my husband making little purchases. I don’t have much opportunity to spend since there’s not really anything at work or on my commute. I buy stuff on the weekends!
October 24, 2016 at 7:35 pm
I know! Even when it feels like you’re mostly buying nothing, the small amounts of time when you’re actually buying something add up. Especially when you have things billed automatically, you haven’t left the house all day and yet you’ve paid a phone bill or something!
October 24, 2016 at 7:34 pm
I accidentally read “Have you ever fracked your spending?” Heh. Then I tried to make up an interpretation of that question. Have I ever injected dirty money deep into the ground in order to get easy money, even now that I know that this is bad for the ground water and atmosphere, not to mention causing earthquakes? Okay, no, that is not one of my weaknesses!
I used to track money periodically whenever I couldn’t figure out where my money was disappearing to. I found out that when you track things, laziness and embarrassment can work in your favor (I’m not writing down that I bought a pack of gum!). And I have indeed figured out where my money was going–different places at different times such as lots of little purchases, too much restaurant spending, not enough payment of rent by my roommate (an income problem rather than a spending problem).
Now I track all the time. My favorite reason now is comparing my spending to that of personal finance bloggers when they publish their annual spending. Last year, as a result of evaluating surprising differences in spending, I did things like get a Republic Wireless phone and raise the deductible on my homeowner’s insurance (I had never known that was possible–it’s not possible for flood insurance).
I go into pretty excruciating detail–I’ve turned into one of those spreadsheet people. I actually list every single item, not just “groceries.” And then for every item, I list a category. I’m not good enough with my spreadsheet to make dropdown menus for myself (is that a thing?) to select a category, but I put a list of my pre-decided categories at my top to remind myself what they are. Then on another page I sum up my spending in both broad categories (like food, utilities) and fine categories (like protein, produce, natural gas, electricity). This summary page actually helps me see if I’ve remembered to pay all my bills at the end of the month. And it’s just interesting to watch trends. Like how much am I spending on “empty calories” (yes, chocolate chips are a staple at my house).
The main thing I learn is how much I really spend on average so that it’s easier to decide how much to budget for different things, especially variable things like car maintenance. And I used to err in the direction of spending too much on silly things I don’t care about that much, then I swung to occasionally regretting not having spent money (I wished I had paid to go to the top of the Arc d’Triomphe after I saw my friend’s pictures), but now I err about equally in both directions, fortunately not very often.
I also keep track both of my actual spending and what I call my lifestyle spending. The former is what it sounds like and includes something I call “spending from savings.” The latter replaces actual spending on variable categories with budgeted amounts. For example, most of the time I spend $0 on property taxes but then every year a day comes where I spend $6K from my savings. Neither actual amount is typical, so that’s why I like to also realize that my lifestyle cost involves $500/month for property taxes, regardless of what I happen to actually spend in a given month. I graph both lines. Oh did I mention? Graphs are great!
October 25, 2016 at 5:54 am
When I was saving for big trips (which I haven’t taken in awhile), I would often say to myself “save $20 now for the big splurges later.” That’s how I spent $6k+ in 4 months while studying abroad in Europe. I did go to the top of the Arc d’Triomphe, and I went up the Eiffel Tower, twice! But I hardly bought anything in Europe, and I got most of my food at grocery stores, and all lodging expenses when not traveling were in my tuition, so I think it evened out.
I’m a big proponent of keeping daily expenses low so that I can be guilt-free about the big, awesome, “you just get one chance” kinds of things. It was much easier when I was single, I will say.
October 26, 2016 at 5:18 pm
Nice! And foreign grocery stores are fun. Especially in France, where the cheese prices are kind of the opposite of the U.S. Why yes, I would like bread and cheese again!
October 25, 2016 at 1:30 pm
I have learned that 2016 has been very expensive though joyful (marriage! new couch and living room furniture we both picked!) and that even though my husband doesn’t budget per se, he doesn’t like a lot of expensive things happening at once and he does have some amount he would prefer to stay under for different spending categories, even if it isn’t known until he gets close to it or goes over. He is, however, understanding when things come up that we can’t always stick to his preference of the expensive things not happening in the same month. We made a new goal to get our annual spending back under my husband’s base salary after taxes and maxing his 401(k) in 2017. Neither of us is comfortable with spending more than that in reality – we really do feel like we should be able to live a good life on that figure. One figure I definitely want to keep track of next year is how much we each spend out of personal accounts vs joint accounts. I think it will prove quite interesting.
October 25, 2016 at 6:14 pm
October 25, 2016 at 8:42 pm
Never tracked in that detail. I tried just keeping track of food and target for a few weeks to get a better idea but when I did husband went a little nuts putting things in the food column. He would put in eating out (which I budget separately) and the probiotics and food items from target. It messes up my system and I never went back. Want to though because I feel like we’ve been letting some cash slip by lately and I’m not sure where.
October 26, 2016 at 11:37 am
I can’t get over that aftercare charge. We pay…a lot more. I tend to cluster-shop too…I buy NOTHING for months and then buy everything I have needed and put off buying (online). My husband buys immediately as he thinks of it, too. I like my way, because over time, some of the “needs” turn out not to be so necessary when I realize I can do without or find a work around.
October 26, 2016 at 11:40 am
Yeah, this is nothing compared to last year. Reverse sticker shock coming back from paradise. Everything is so much less expensive.
October 27, 2016 at 3:09 pm
Our insurance covered replacement carseats after we were rearended in June. They wanted to give us a prorated amount based on when we bought them but I argued that was risking their safety since I couldn’t buy the new ones with that amount and they gave me full replacement value. Just FYI.
October 27, 2016 at 3:13 pm
Yeah, they gave us the full replacement value too. Liberty Mutual has always been really good about not nickel and dime-ing us. I had been planning on using the full amount, but then DC2 balked at cowmooflage so zie got to upgrade to a much cheaper booster instead.