I’ve learned a lot from tracking my spending money over these past few months and I thought I would start posting my weekly spending totals on Sundays. This week has been a good and bad week for spending:
I have spent under my $100 limit in the entertainment spending money category – including food & dining, entertainment, and cash withdrawal – this is a success.
I forgot about a payment coming out of the joint so the bank charged me a $4.50 fee to transfer money from my chequing to the joint account to cover the expense and then $5.00 overdrawn handling charge for the empty joint. Super fail.
I spent more on the blog than I planned on this week – translation, I did not have a plan to spend money the blog and did anyways. So, fail.
The $75.00 miscellaneous expense was not really an expense; it was an adjustment from the bank because I submitted an American cheque and they readjusted for exchange rates and re-deposited the altered amount.
Pet costs noted in the Quicken chart is for the pet insurance that we pay every month. We have a miniature daschund and they are prone to some pretty serious back problems (1 in 4) that can cost up to $5000 to fix. I love the animal so paying the $45 a month to avoid having to put her to sleep because we don’t have the money to get her surgery is completely worth it to me. This is a very individual choice, for sure, but I will always be a supporter for this kind of cost.
Here are some other things I learned from tracking my finances:
Spending Money: Reality check
When I first started out with recording all of my weekly spending money expenses, I figured the less money I spent, the better. What I found myself doing was second and triple-guessing every single purchase I wanted to make during the week and then tossing the system out the window. Now evaluating my decision-making processes for my spending money is a good idea, but doing it with no rules or guidelines is just crazy-making.
So now I have started with the idea of realities, what’s really important enough for me to want to keep because it brings me great joy and happiness or because it’s necessary?
One of the realities for my spending money is my morning coffee. I love my coffee and it really makes my morning to be able to stop at Tim Horton’s and get my classic ‘Large Double Double’. I’ve tried to make coffee at home, not drink coffee, and try different brands and it’s never the same. In the larger scheme of things, the $9.00 a week I spend on this habit is worthwhile because I really enjoy it.
Another reality for my spending money is to take left overs and/or bring a microwavable meal to work for lunches. I’ve tried making healthy and nutritious meals from scratch every night (salads, wraps, etc.) and I have found that I just don’t have the time. In between my family and friends; working full-time; and blogging, I am choosing to devote my time to these pursuits as opposed to trying to cram in one more thing I have to do in my day. If it’s not “grab and go”, it’s not coming. I appreciate all those people that can pack a fresh and nutritious lunch every day but that’s just not me, and that’s okay.
Another reality for my is that I have to set aside a certain amount of my spending money every week for eating out. I am an Outreach Worker which means I am constantly in my car, I can spend up to eight hours a day in my car: transporting clients, attending appointments, and doing recreational outings with them. Unfortunately, my organization does not reimburse for food purchases made when in the company of clients so I’m going to have to make some concessions. I can mitigate this to a certain degree by carrying travel-friendly foods like almonds, dried fruit, and other snack things but I will have to make allowances for “fast food”.
Wendy’s has a relatively decent list of more affordable and nutritious options on their lunch menu that I can just “grab and go”. So does Subway and Mucho Burrito. If I allot $20 a week towards to-buy lunches, I can grab up to three meals in a week of a six inch sub (Subway @ $6.50), salad (Wendy’s @ $6.50), or burrito (Mucho Burrito @$6.50) and supplement with my packed snacks. If I pack my lunch and am near a microwave or facility that offers what I need to make a lunch, that’s even better. Either way, I now have a realistic plan to deal with two of my most regular impulse spending areas.
Spending Money: Stretch that budget
So if I allot myself $100 spending money every week, that leaves me roughly $70 a week to do as I please with and there’s a lot of ways I can stretch this money. Some of the ways I choose to do this is through the Entertainment Book. I buy one every year and use it to get 2 for 1 entrees at restaurants; go bowling at 25% off; check out the museum at discount; and paint pottery for cheap. Most cities have one of these and if you are diligent about using the coupons, they are fully worth their weight in gold.
Groupon and Living Social are “deals a day” sites that get emailed to your account every day. Most people have heard of these sites and have looked over their offers at one point or another. I’ve only used these sites a couple of times because it does take some effort to go through their offers, read the fine print, and ensure it’s a fit for what I like to do – but I have found them to be a great option for supplementing what I do for entertainment. If you want to read more on how to stretch your entertainment budget, read more here.
Spending Money: Pace myself
I love my blog. I love technology, all of it: widgets, plug-ins, and WordPress whirligigs. Combine those things and you have someone who loves to make their site as efficient and automated as possible with the “extra features” offered in the “Pro” version of whatever application/plug in/widget I happen to be ogling at the moment. Now, in fairness, I have yet to make a purchase that I have regret. My goal has always been to establish a site that allows me to focus more on content and less on all the extra things (like pushes to Twitter and Facebook; SEO optimization; subscription mail outs; RSS feeds etc.). I just want it to do so I don’t have too.
The one thing I need to do is pace these purchases and ensure that it’s in proportion to the growth of my site. I can research what I’d like to include and put together a plan for a purchase timeline, this will give me time to grow my site, perhaps monetize it, and start to pace potential earning with spending. Most likely, that aim won’t happen anytime soon but definitely something to aim for!
How do you decide how you’re spending your money?
If you want more information on starting a budget, read the first article in my budget series here.
Canadian Budget Binder ‘Italian Panettone Bread and Butter Pudding‘ *Great recipe
Debt Perception ‘4 Month Review‘ *Inspiring update
Skinny Seahorse ‘Thursday Thoughts Edition Five” *Skinny Mermaid is in business
Making Sense of Cents ‘The $1 Trillion Student Loan Problem‘ *Informative, yet scary
Blonde on a Budget ‘Why I Shop the Perimeter‘ *Fresh take on grocery shopping