How to give yourself a heart attack by looking at where your money goes

DeeDee Adelaide
I’ve been toying with the idea of a spending fast after reading a book called The Spender’s Guide To Debt Free Living. Debt isn’t really an issue for me, but I’m definitely a spender, and if anything happened to my income my savings would be cactus in a few months. I’m one of those people who feels compelled to spend anything leftover after I’ve paid all my expenses and put money away in various other saving/Christmas club/emergency accounts and whatnot. I’m also one of those people who will convince myself that I desperately need to have some random thing I didn’t know existed 24 hours earlier. 

So with that in mind, I have been keeping track of everything I spend from Jan 1 to now. I didn’t make any changes to my spending patterns; I just wanted to keep track of my normal day to day spending. Then I added up the various categories (groceries and food, alcohol, books, gifts, etc). The one that shocked me the most was the groceries and food category. It was too hard to separate this into actual groceries, lunches, coffees and so on so I bundled it all together, along with food delivery like Uber Eats, and small purchases like snacks from vending machines etc. 

In January my total expenditure in this area was $1215.31, and in February it was $863.92. 

On the plus side, this has really spurred me to plan and start a hardcore spending fast from March 1. 

On the minus side, WHAT THE FUCK. I don’t eat any more than the average person but I do have a tendency to pop in and out of supermarkets and go to the farmers market and buy a bunch of stuff that just looks nice. Even so, that seems like a crazy amount of money for a household with one full time adult and one adult who comes over for a free feed several times a week. 

Are you a spender or a saver? Have you ever tracked what you spend? Were you surprised by the results? 
ken halebazjenster
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Comments

  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    I wouldn't call myself a spender, no. It usually bothers me to spend money. (Thanks, mom!) But I have been budgeting with YNAB the past year and tomorrow I'll run a report, give you my average spending for food in a month in 2019. I don't think it will be too far from yours...
    DeebazjensterFlukes
  • Definitely a spender. I do some automatic deposits to a savings account along with employee retirement stuff but otherwise I kind of live beyond my means without ever actually breaking the bank. So I break even, but I know I'm wasting money.

    I end up looking at and categorizing my expenses a couple of times a year and am always surprised how much I should have leftover after rent, bills, etc. The rest of my expense basically falls into the categories of food, booze, entertainment, and shit I probably don't need but feels good to buy (a lot of G.A.S.). Outside of entertainment which I think is a completely reasonable expense to keep me happy (like concerts, movies, nights out with friends, etc.), there is a lot of waste.

    Food is one I have a hard time with. I really like to cook, but I've taken on a new role at my job where I work a lot longer and am more stressed than I've been used too. I just don't have time to cook, and I waste a lot on groceries spoiling cause I don't have the time or emotional energy to spend an hour cooking after a long day. Without more discipline, take-out/deliver/eating out might end up being cheaper than spending hundreds at the grocery store that more or may not get used. Though even if that's true it's a lot harder to eat healthy that way.

    How are you going about tracking things? I feel I'm good at looking at the data and recognizing the problems. Getting an ongoing trend and executing on it is where I lose patience/willpower.
    Dee
  • CretanBullCretanBull Toronto
    edited February 28
    I'm a spender.  I keep telling myself that I'm allowed to be because I live beneath my means (eg I take public transit when I could buy a car, I live in a condo when I could afford a house etc).  But the reality is that I'm not really living beneath my means because I spend a ton of money on stupid crap that I don't really need - I own 5 guitars, I bought a 6th, I own 2 amps, I bought a 3rd.  I've got a $3000 computer and I'm not using it for anything that a $500 computer couldn't do.  I can't log into Amazon without buying something.

    At the end of the day, I'm ok financially but I've never tracked my spending...and I think the main reason why is because I'd be embarrassed to see how much money I waste.

  • DeeDee Adelaide
    @johnnytruant I want to try to be more organised with cooking - prep ahead dinners, take my breakfast and lunch to work, that sort of thing. Of course, that means I’ve spent half the afternoon looking at nice lunchboxes and Weck jars online... always an excuse to buy something! 

    For tracking I literally just wrote everything down in the notes app on my phone. That way I did it as I spent and didn’t forget anything. (I tried adding a screenshot but that photo thing still isn’t working on the forum.) 
    johnnytruant
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    @CretanBull I’m a bit similar - I haven’t really worried about it because all my bills get paid on time, I do put some money away (nowhere near as much as I probably could), and I have little debt. But when I really sit and think about how much I’ve pissed away on things I didn’t need over the years I feel a bit mad at myself. 
    CretanBullblacksunrise7
  • Dee said:
    @CretanBull I’m a bit similar - I haven’t really worried about it because all my bills get paid on time, I do put some money away (nowhere near as much as I probably could), and I have little debt. But when I really sit and think about how much I’ve pissed away on things I didn’t need over the years I feel a bit mad at myself. 
    Do you ever go through the mental routine of justifying your purchases to yourself?  I do this all the time, and even when I do it I deep down know that I'm lying to myself.  With the example of guitars I mentioned above...I told myself that I could buy a 6th because the new one that I wanted was similar to one that I already had, so I thought that I could justify buying the new one by telling myself that I'd sell the old one.  Of course, now I have both and I'm too attached to the old one to actually sell it.
    DeeFlukes
  • Dee said:

    In January my total expenditure in this area was $1215.31, and in February it was $863.92. 

    On the plus side, this has really spurred me to plan and start a hardcore spending fast from March 1. 


    Sounds like you've already done pretty well! 

    I have the same issue with groceries and food.  Kind of impulsive, don't look for bargains, etc.  Most other material stuff I don't buy much, new clothes and whatever else.  I've been traveling more than I can responsibly afford the last few years.  But I'm mostly pretty negligent about digital subscriptions and the like.  Sign up for something that I rarely use and then don't cancel it for like a year.
    Dee
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    @CretanBull “I need Weck jars so I can make cute little chia puddings and yoghurt pots to take for lunch. The 570 current plastic containers I already have won’t do because at this moment I have decided that plastic is poison and I absolutely must have glass. This will also allow me to save money by bringing my breakfast, and I will be healthier by eating home made food. Therefore this is a genuine need and I must buy them right now.” 

    You mean like that, lol?
    CretanBullFlukes
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    @ken hale This morning I was going through my credit card statements and I noticed an Apple deduction of $1.49 that’s been coming out. No idea what it’s for, nothing showing on my phone so I have to look it up on iTunes when I get home. 
  • Dee said:
    @CretanBull “I need Weck jars so I can make cute little chia puddings and yoghurt pots to take for lunch. The 570 current plastic containers I already have won’t do because at this moment I have decided that plastic is poison and I absolutely must have glass. This will also allow me to save money by bringing my breakfast, and I will be healthier by eating home made food. Therefore this is a genuine need and I must buy them right now.” 

    You mean like that, lol?
    I read that like I was reading my own thoughts haha!
    Dee
  • Apple's the worst for that because they don't really identify the subscription on your statement.  I swear every month I'm like "14.99 on itunes for WHAT?" and it's my HBO account.
    Dee
  • I’m a spender.

    alcohol is expensive I’m Singapore and it tends to make me a very pleasant person who then buys too much shit on amazon for the kids or build out my book library
    Deeken hale
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    @Hatorian Ah, nothing like wine shopping! 
    Hatorian
  • FlukesFlukes Calgary, Canada
    edited February 28
    JaimieT said:
    I wouldn't call myself a spender, no. It usually bothers me to spend money. (Thanks, mom!) But I have been budgeting with YNAB the past year and tomorrow I'll run a report, give you my average spending for food in a month in 2019. I don't think it will be too far from yours...
    We're YNABers here too. About two and a half years now. I think I wrote something about it on these forums a while back. I wouldn't say it's totally removed finances as a stressor in our lives, but it's made a significant difference. We definitely tend to be spenders. We should really be making more progress on allocating extra money into future months, but it almost never happens. All the same, the age of our money does grow because our savings is growing.
    JaimieTDee
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    edited February 28
    This is just me. If I added another person in, even for at-home meals, I don't know what would happen.

    Red is the grocery store food and work lunches (eaten out). Yellow is other dining -- probably the odd evening meal eaten out and weekends.

    The 2nd half of the year I started shopping at Whole Foods and it's interesting to see it did fatten up a bit.


    Dee
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    Flukes said:
    JaimieT said:
    I wouldn't call myself a spender, no. It usually bothers me to spend money. (Thanks, mom!) But I have been budgeting with YNAB the past year and tomorrow I'll run a report, give you my average spending for food in a month in 2019. I don't think it will be too far from yours...
    We're YNABers here too. About two and a half years now. I think I wrote something about it on these forums a while back. I wouldn't say it's totally removed finances as a stressor in our lives, but it's made a significant difference. We definitely tend to be spenders. We should really be making more progress on allocating extra money into future months, but it almost never happens. All the same, the age of our money does grow because our savings is growing.

    You might have been the person that turned me on to this. If so, thanks. I worry about money 5% as much as I used to, and I was able to build up a 6-ish month emergency fund in 1 year.

    Yeah, I never fill in future months. It's too much busywork. I just throw money into the emergency fund, and I have other savings envelopes too (a car, a mattress, a cell phone, etc).
    Flukes
  • Food is a crazy expensive expenditure now. I think once everyone saw people would spend premuim money at Whole Foods everyone else slowly jacked up their prices.

    Eating healthy is even more expensive. 

    To top it off you should take my 70+ mother shopping. She is angry stuff isn't the same price as the 70's and claims every store is trying to RIP her off.

    Dee
  • FreddyFreddy Denton, Texas
    edited February 28
    Spend all you can and save the rest! That's what I say!

    Seriously though, I've been everything from a bean counting penny pincher to a free wheeling degenerate (think Ziggy from The Wire). The one thing that has stayed consistent is I am meticulous when it comes to my fixed monthly nut. Anything that is a constant expense is monitored and changed as much as possible in order to maximize efficiency. Little things like always shopping around for cheaper car insurance, cell phone plans, internet, etc. I also do things like overpay on my car payment (back when I had one; I pay cars and any other interest bearing debt off as quickly as possible) and pay any monthly bills in annual/semi-annual chunks if it saves money. Case in point: most Americans can save at least 2 car insurance payments a year just by paying every 6 months instead of monthly. Nothing crazy, but that's a couple of decent used cars over the course of a lifetime. That being said, as an adult I have never actually had a real, on paper budget. I just keep my bills low, so if I ever need to tighten my belt, the only thing I have to cut out is the extras. Oh, the extras.... Let's talk about The Extras. That's the dark side of my spending. 500 bucks on 3 shots of Louis XIII on a random Thursday night? Sure, it's been a good month. "Hey Freddy! We're going to the strip club! You coming!?" "Fuck yes, I'm drunk and having fun, but could always have more fun. Scoop me up!" Tripping at the end of an unnamed charity stream and they're only 1600 dollars short. "Ahhh, fuck it. I paid my credit card off all the way down last month. What's the point of credit if you're not using it." (Best 1600 bucks I ever spent, by the way). Oh yeah, and clothes. Fuck, I am the worst when it comes to clothes. Out of all the unnecessary expenditures I have, clothes are right behind bar tabs and golf related expenses. All that being said, I have a blast most days, love the way I look, and being a highly functioning, well put together ne'er-do-well does occasionally translate into professional relationships.

    Dee
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    JaimieT said:
    This is just me. If I added another person in, even for at-home meals, I don't know what would happen.

    Red is the grocery store food and work lunches (eaten out). Yellow is other dining -- probably the odd evening meal eaten out and weekends.

    The 2nd half of the year I started shopping at Whole Foods and it's interesting to see it did fatten up a bit.


    That seems high given that I’m under the impression that American food is way cheaper than ours. Maybe it’s not, though? I know most meat is, but maybe other things are on par. How much would you pay for, say, an avocado or a loaf of bread? 
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    edited February 28
    Dee said:
    JaimieT said:
    This is just me. If I added another person in, even for at-home meals, I don't know what would happen.

    Red is the grocery store food and work lunches (eaten out). Yellow is other dining -- probably the odd evening meal eaten out and weekends.

    The 2nd half of the year I started shopping at Whole Foods and it's interesting to see it did fatten up a bit.


    That seems high given that I’m under the impression that American food is way cheaper than ours. Maybe it’s not, though? I know most meat is, but maybe other things are on par. How much would you pay for, say, an avocado or a loaf of bread? 

    It's about $4 for a loaf of bread. I pay about $6 for my Whole Foods loaf of bread, lol. Milk is about $3-4 a gallon. I have no idea what an avocado is, because I'm allergic (I know, tragic).

    I also live in a costlier part of the country. Not Atlanta, but the suburb I'm in. It's not like living in Seattle or NYC, but it's higher than average.

    I'd say most of the expenses is the work lunches. Here's the graph with just grocery store (red) and dining out (yellow).


  • DeeDee Adelaide
    @JaimieT Wow, it does make a difference with the lunches taken out. 

    Today I learned your bread costs around the same as ours but your milk is super cheap. 
    JaimieT
  • FreddyFreddy Denton, Texas
    JaimieT said:
    Dee said:
    JaimieT said:
    This is just me. If I added another person in, even for at-home meals, I don't know what would happen.

    Red is the grocery store food and work lunches (eaten out). Yellow is other dining -- probably the odd evening meal eaten out and weekends.

    The 2nd half of the year I started shopping at Whole Foods and it's interesting to see it did fatten up a bit.


    That seems high given that I’m under the impression that American food is way cheaper than ours. Maybe it’s not, though? I know most meat is, but maybe other things are on par. How much would you pay for, say, an avocado or a loaf of bread? 

    It's about $4 for a loaf of bread. I pay about $6 for my Whole Foods loaf of bread, lol. Milk is about $3-4 a gallon. I have no idea what an avocado is, because I'm allergic (I know, tragic).

    I also live in a costlier part of the country. Not Atlanta, but the suburb I'm in. It's not like living in Seattle or NYC, but it's higher than average.

    I'd say most of the expenses is the work lunches. Here's the graph with just grocery store (red) and dining out (yellow).


    Alpharetta?
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    @Freddy Yeah.
    Freddy
  • CretanBullCretanBull Toronto
    edited February 29
    A loaf of bread (like jus a loaf of Wondrebread) here costs about $2.50, and milk is about the same price...we pay about $4 for 4liters, which is just slightly more than 1 gallon.
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    A loaf of bread (like jus a loaf of Wondrebread) here costs about $2.50, and milk is about the same price...we pay about $4 for 4liters, which is just slightly more than 1 gallon.

    I think you can get those prices at Walmart here. I never know what store supposed you're supposed to cite with this.  :p
  • The biggest difference between australia and the US is the vending machine coke. It’s 3-4bucks in AU and .90 cents in US. It’s really a 300-400% increase. 
    JaimieTDee
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    Atlanta is the home of Coke!
    ken hale
  • JaimieT said:
    Atlanta is the home of Coke!
    Haha. It’s crazy to think but it’s true. You go to a 7/11 and a coke costs you 3.50. 
  • CretanBullCretanBull Toronto
    edited February 29
    JaimieT said:
    A loaf of bread (like jus a loaf of Wondrebread) here costs about $2.50, and milk is about the same price...we pay about $4 for 4liters, which is just slightly more than 1 gallon.

    I think you can get those prices at Walmart here. I never know what store supposed you're supposed to cite with this.  :p
    I shop at a store called Loblaws because it's the closest to me (I also worked there for 12 years when I was younger!).. It's a higher-end grocery store - nowhere near Wallmart.  The company owns three chains of stores, each to appeal to different types of shoppers..."No Frills" is their budget chain, "Real Canadian SuperStore" is their middle of the road chain and "Loblaws" is their high-end chain.  I haven't grocery shopped in America for ages so I can't accurately compare Loblaws to anything in particular...it's above places like Wegmans...it might be similar-ish to Trader Joe's but the stores are much bigger and carry way more product lines.
    JaimieT
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    JaimieT said:
    A loaf of bread (like jus a loaf of Wondrebread) here costs about $2.50, and milk is about the same price...we pay about $4 for 4liters, which is just slightly more than 1 gallon.

    I think you can get those prices at Walmart here. I never know what store supposed you're supposed to cite with this.  :p
    I shop at a store called Loblaws because it's the closest to me (I also worked there for 12 years when I was younger!).. It's a higher-end grocery store - nowhere near Wallmart.  The company owns three chains of stories, each to appeal to different types of shoppers..."No Frills" is their budget chain, "Real Canadian SuperStore" is their middle of the road chain and "Loblaws" is their high-end chain.  I haven't grocery shopped in America for ages so I can't accurately compare Loblaws to anything in particular...it's above places like Wegmans...it might be similar-ish to Trader Joe's but the stores are much bigger and carry way more product lines.

    !????!!!! Bob Loblaw's Lah......... ah, I can't do it. But it was exciting.

    Yeah, then you're much less expensive.
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