My May expense tracking was a success. Make that an eighty percent success. Only eighty because there were some purchases that I know I failed to record. Anyway, it was a good exercise for me to do because for the most part, I am a pretty nonchalant spender. It’s not really a good way to be, but that’s been my pattern. I have to say that just knowing I was going to write everything down helped me to at least be more aware of spending – especially when it wasn’t necessary.I mentioned earlier that in this experiment I was not going to track fixed expenses such as our mortgage, utilities, insurance or other such items. In addition, I did not track items such as fuel, cell phone bills, and childcare costs as I don’t truly consider those items discretionary.
The tracking I did do included items like food, gifts, and money spent on fun activities. I am sharing here with you the percentage of spending I did (as a portion of total spending that I tracked). I’m not surprised that I really do put my money where my mouth is ;)
Food – 53%
Household Items (anything from light bulbs to plants) – 7%Personal (Make-up/Toothpaste/gym) – 6%
Gifts – 8%
Savings – 14%Charity – 2%
Of course, this was just ONE month out of the year, and it’s not sufficient to say it’s completely indicative of months in the past or the future. (Although I do know that food spending will always remain quite high). For me, spending money on good food is not even truly discretionary. I’m sure I could spend less in quantity (and maybe less variety), although I could not skimp on buying quality fresh produce, meats, breads, etc. To me – life is too short to eat crappy food. AND it's always worth it to pay a little extra for ethically raised meats and poultry.
Anyway, if you are ever wondering “where is my money going?” this is a pretty good exercise to do. It’s amazing to me how easy it is to spend money. Almost every day I am opening my wallet to buy something – even if it’s just a morning coffee. It’s not like I need to completely re-haul how I spend money, but it is nice at least to feel more aware, and therefore, a little more in control.
What do you guys spend YOUR money on?