These spending diaries help keep me aware of my outlays, but they’re also a peek into/update on my life for those who care.
For those who are new, here’s how my spending works. I have a set amount of money to spend each week. As I charge things to the credit card (I charge everything to maximize rewards), I transfer money out of primary checking into secondary checking. Once the money runs out, I make a payment to the card and transfer in more funds.
It’s a little confusing, but it allows me to get the maximum rewards without sticker shock at the end of the month.
Thursday: The start of a new financial week!
The bimonthly shipment of peanut butter got charged to my account ($23.39). I get six jars at a time, but I’m going to have to rethink that after this shipment. That’s because my cholesterol is too high and the peanut butter is one of the only high-fat items I eat (other than 1/3 of a Caramello bar for dessert).
Mom suggested I go down to one serving of peanut butter a day and add in one additional protein bar. Which may be how I proceed though it’ll raise my food bill, which is already higher than I’d like.
I had some things to pick up at Walgreens. Except that CVS emailed me a 40% off coupon, so I toddled over there instead. At checkout, some Extrabux and a coupon printed out, so I went back and got some Cetaphil since I’m running low on my facial cleanser. All in all, I spent $25.10 and saved savings got $15.27. Yowza!
One of the guys I’m seeing used to be a plumber; and he came out to help me with a problem in the guest house shower (leaky handles). It turned out to be an easy fix. The stem valves just needed tightening. Even so, he saved me the $120 my plumber would’ve charged for the trip/diagnosis, so I tried to take him out to dinner as a thank you. He demurred and said it was nothing really. He just wanted to relax and watch a movie, so I didn’t spend anything after all.
Total spent: $63.76
Friday: I worked and worked out. I couldn’t settle down enough to do much work on the blog, though I did read a couple of articles online that I bookmarked for future posts.
I had a date in the evening. We were going to the First Friday art walk, which is really more of a giant street fair on, you guessed it, the first Friday of each month. This guy just graduated and is still looking for a job, so I figured the fact that it was free made it a good activity.
I went to the park ‘n ride and took the light rail down to avoid the heinous parking/driving situation downtown. Since I have a disability, I ride for $1 as long as I keep my Medicare card on me for proof.
I arrived downtown and we began to wander, but unfortunately the crowds got to my date. So we wandered over to a bar and ordered a couple of drinks instead. I paid $23 after tip for my two drinks. Then I had the drunken munchies, so I decided it was a good idea to walk up to McDonald’s (0.9 miles away) in 102-degree heat. We made it, and the fries ($2.92) were worth it. But it was still a dumb idea, especially in jeans. I walked to the light rail (0.5 miles) and took it home for another $1.
Total spent: $27.92
Saturday: I went to bed late, so I was able to sleep in til 9 a.m. which was glorious. I threw in a load of laundry, so I put $2.50 into the Washer/Dryer fund.
I filled out and mailed my Medicare premium. I dropped that off in the mail, then had to return the items to Home Depot that we ended up not using since the stem valve didn’t need replacing. (I didn’t count the spending on Thursday since I would be returning the items.) I decided to keep the wrench, so the end total was $12.99.
I had to drop off a shirt for dry cleaning. I never dry clean my clothes, but unfortunately I spilled eye shadow on a shirt, which happens to be off-white. So I couldn’t bleach it. Applying some detergent directly to the stain with a Q-tip and letting it sit for 15 minutes did nothing. It’s one of my favorite shirts, so $3.25 is worth it to try and save it. But I’m skeptical they’ll get it out. Here’s hoping I’m wrong.
There was a surcharge for using a credit card, so I paid out of my walking around funds.
I picked up some food for game night ($13.56), but game night got cancelled shortly thereafter. Two of the five people coming were sick and had to bow out. I returned everything but the strawberries, making the cost $1.50. While I was back there, I spent $11.81 on some beer (I don’t drink it, but I keep it around to offer to guests) and a couple of limes (so I can make Moscow mules if I so choose).
Since I now had my night free, I invited over the ex-plumber. We ended up getting takeout, and I paid since he’d paid last time. The total was $18.68.
Total spent: $50.73 ($47.48 out of weekly funds)
Sunday: The button came off of my only pair of shorts. I have no thread or needles. I borrowed a needle from a friend, but I needed a very specific color since the shorts are a dark, almost green khaki color. So I bought a spool from Michael’s for $2.11. I saved $1.05 with a coupon, so that went into saved savings.
I’m nearly out of my gummy fiber supplements, so I ordered more from Amazon for $21.08. Hopefully, they don’t melt in the heat en route to me. It’s happened before.
I also ordered a motion-sensor light socket. It screws into a regular light socket, turning any fixture into a motion-sensing one. This is for the back porch, so the tenant can see to do laundry without having to ask me to turn on the back light, which is the current process. The total was $21.20 after tax.
I had to get gas on the way to pick up the thread I’d ordered. (Man, my life is exciting.) I spent $28.56 and saved $0.20 per gallon with my Fry’s VIP card, so $2.20 went into saved savings.
At night I discovered that the antibiotics I took last week had a side effect and had to go get something from the drugstore to deal with that ($23.05).
Also that night I started having UTI symptoms again. I took some UTI pain relief meds I had, but apparently they were old and didn’t do much. So I had to go get more (at 1 a.m. when I woke up uncomfortable, whee). That was $10.49 and I got $3.99 M&Ms because I was in a bad mood and wanted to be soothed by chocolate.
Ugh, this ended as a terrible and pricey day!
Total spent: $114.63
Monday: An even worse day. I woke up an hour late because my iPad (my alarm clock) had died due to a low battery. I then found 70 emails in the queue but had to call my doctor to get an appointment asap because I was terrified by the fact that the antibiotics hadn’t taken care of the UTI the first time around. Remember, I’ve gone septic in the past.
I got a 10 a.m. appointment which meant I didn’t get entirely caught up on emails before I left — and I hate leaving anything pending, even though I know my boss would understand. I also discovered the antibiotic’s side effect was still there (and worse) so I had to ask for a prescription to deal with that too.
Except that the doctor forgot to write that one out, and I didn’t notice until I was at CVS. Cue a 20-minute hold time to tell the doctor’s office to call in the prescription. Then, having barely been (finally) caught up on emails, I had to run back out to get the second prescription. Ugh.
The antibiotics were $26.48 and the second prescription was $13.14.
Funds were dwindling fast, but I was in an understandably bad mood. So I got takeout ($9.34 — it went up a little recently). I can’t keep soothing myself with food, but this was a seriously bad day. Also, I was extra hungry for some reason and could tell that two servings of peanut butter over four hours wasn’t going to cut it.
The takeout lasted me until about 8 p.m. at which point I was hungry and still not in the mood for a frozen meal. So I went and got hummus and strawberries from the grocery store ($7.49).
Total spent: $56.45
Tuesday: Finally, a no-spend day! Which I needed because I was down to $13.74 in weekly funds. Whee.
I worked, worked out, then had the ex-plumber over for a movie. We were chatting when the guest house tenant texted to let me know the toilet had become pretty wobbly. I mentioned this to the guy, who promptly went over and tightened the toilet bolts. I’d have done it myself, but it was pretty sweet of him to do for me.
He ordered some pizza, which was quite good. (There’s a local chain that’s got some tasty specialty pizzas.) And he took off around 8:30 p.m. I went to bed not long thereafter because I’m old and boring and also love my sleep.
Total spent: $0 (finally!)
Wednesday: One of the guys I’m seeing was supposed to bring over lunch, at which point I’d take a break and chat with him for a while. Emphasis on “supposed to.”
He didn’t answer my texts about what time he’d be coming over and never showed. He works a very early shift, so my guess is that he took a nap that went on too long. But given that I went to the trouble of getting showered and dressed in real clothes not workout gear for him, I’m less than amused.
After work, I ran out and got my shirt from the dry cleaners. One of the spots is still just barely there, but it’s hard to see unless you know what you’re looking for, so I’m going to try to make it work because I really like that shirt.
While I was out, I was hungry for something other than a frozen meal. I fear I may be maxed out on Healthy Choice at present — or at least just hungrier than 300 calories will alleviate — so I may have to switch things up in my diet. So I once again got takeout. (In my defense, I’m still significantly under the amount I budgeted for eating out this month because we haven’t been doing trivia much lately due to scheduling conflicts.)
I still came in under the financial wire in my bank account. But just barely.
Total spent: $9.34
Total spent for the week: $332.17 ($328.92 out of weekly funds)
The total spend for the week was over the weekly amount I allow myself ($280) because I had funds leftover from the previous week. So I guess in a sense I blew the budget while still staying within it? (Just barely within it, but all of the money I had did last the full week.)
In the end, of that very large amount only $65.28 was for frivolous stuff. The rest was a confluence of necessary spending that simply added up. So I don’t feel too bad. Though the $65.28 could obviously have been lower.
After almost three months of spending diaries, I think I’ve decided how to deal with my finances. I’m going to have a hybrid budget of both weekly and monthly. As one reader pointed out, my expenses vary a lot week to week, so going merely by a weekly budget is problematic. And a monthly budget gives me a bigger picture view of my spending.
But at the same time, I like breaking down spending into shorter periods of time than a full month. It’s easier to track and it ensures I make regular payments on my credit card to keep the balance down.
Still, I think I need overall monthly goals/caps on each budget category to help keep myself in line and, ideally, trimming costs. So it’ll be a blend of short-term and long-term spending planning: weekly spend limits and monthly goals/caps.