Page 1 of 11

What I Spend

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:24 am
by Scott 2
For the next 3 months, I'm going to log what I spend and make an effort to control costs.

Work is making me mad for various reasons, this is my new way of coping. My recent solution had been over consuming, and I would like to reign that in. The conflict with my values just bugs me too much.


1. I will calculate a roll up number for monthly expenses that are fixed, or close enough that I am not interested in optimizing further. This ranges from health insurance to internet.

2. If I manage to get someone else to pay for it, I'm counting the cost as zero. So if work buys me a meal, or I trade rewards points for a book, it's free to me.

3. If I consume resources I already have, they are free to me.
By extension, if I sell a material possession, it offsets spending.

4. Income earned at my profession or from my investments has no bearing on the score. I'll also ignore taxes and investments. This is a game of minutia.

5. I'll tally totals after the 15th day and last day of each month.

I've got what I think are some pretty good systems in place to offset costs. For instance work makes a contribution to my HSA that is greater than my employee portion of the health insurance premium. I see that as free health insurance from my employer.

However lately I've also been blowing crazy amounts of money on easy food, eating out, online shopping, and getting help from others.

Some of that will stay, my intent is to consume responsibly, more so than drive costs to an absolute minimum. So I'll still buy the happy eggs and give the housekeeper $100 during the holidays, etc.

On the other side, maybe I'll resist the urge to buy another $60 bottle of Scotch when I already have one in the cabinet, or skip the $8 double scoop waffle cone after already going out for pizza.

My home gym has been the most extreme instance of the indulgent spending. I dropped several grand on it this year and am largely out of stuff to buy, so scaling that way back shouldn't be too hard. However, I've been pretty creative at inventing needs. I bought a new flat bench, when I already had a flat bench, because I thought I'd like it better. I have a $200 device that counts my reps and tells me how fast they were... I don't even look like I lift.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:43 pm
by Scott 2
My monthly roll up number is $571, $6855 a year. This is what comes out of my pocket, to cover the expenses below.

Owning my house and car, splitting costs with my wife, and enjoying the perks of a white collar job, I get a lot for the money. These aren't changing, so I won't itemize:

Property Tax
Property Insurance
Auto Insurance
Car Registration
Health Insurance
Dental Insurance
Life Insurance
Disability Insurance
Cell Phone
Cat food and litter

Not entirely accurate, since my spouse actually kicks in an extra $500 a month, because I paid off the house. But that's to compensate for me the cost of capital, and is a little too close to investment income for my liking, so I'm leaving it out of the game. I debated whether $500 of imputed rent belongs in my monthly score, but nah, too complicated.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:43 am
by Scott 2
One of my coping strategies for working full time, is to put extra money into my hobbies. Often that money is spent months in advance, but I've decided to count it in the month it is consumed.

Motivated by my new log, I've adjusted the training I get from a local strongman, reducing the monthly cost for from $200 to $150. I do see that as an optional expense, so I'll itemize it each month.

I also committed to a yoga workshop with my wife in October. All inclusive, that's probably going to be about $500. She really wants to do it, and it's our anniversary, so I'm spending.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:03 am
by wood
How do you log the spending?

I use excel spreadsheet and credit card transaction statements. I find logging to be more useful than budgeting.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:20 am
by Scott 2
For the most part, I run everything through a credit card or checking and let Mint aggregate it for me.

Since I'll need more detail for this log, I've just been updating a text file on my phone with the additional intormation. Primarily that is when my wife and I split something, but run it through one credit card. Cash transactions are extremely rare for me.

I keep a budget, but I use it as a tool to design my financial flows and pick behavior patterns. Once or twice a year, I'll cross check it with my actual spending and update as appropriate. I do not use the budget numbers as hard limits on my spending at any time.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:19 am
by Scott 2
I decided to break down September, so I have a baseline of the "spend everything I can to make life better" behavior. I can export from Mint to CSV, so the numbers are pretty close. I did have to take a few guesses, and my transaction window might be a little off, due to the delay between running a transaction and it posting to the card.

It's a little embarrassing to make this public:

TOTAL - $2101
Fixed Recurring - $571
Eating Out - $230
Groceries - $310
Exercise - $581
Shopping - $409

Biggest costs:
1. Exercise - I bough some new toys for my home gym and paid the strongman $200 for training.

2. Shopping - I bought a bunch of random crap off amazon. Workstation ergonomics and more kitchen stuff was the bulk.

3. Groceries - Lots of convenience foods, though this number is honestly low, because I've been sick and trying to eat food I already have. I only spent $32 on groceries the last week of September. I bet earlier months were hitting close to $500. I've also been force feeding myself around 3700 calories a day in an effort to lift better. Those last calories are expensive, because they need to be delicious to retain motivation to eat them.

4. Eating Out - Two work travel days (breakfast, lunch dinner) were about $40 each. I also had a day where I got drunk, took an uber to the mall, ate until I was drunk full, then took an uber home. That was about $60. And a whole foods hot bar trip where I got whatever I wanted and spent another $30. In my head, I stop indulgently off for a drink "whenever I want" when out, that was a remarkably small contribution, maybe $10-$20.

1. Exercise - I've got strongman down to $150 a month. I don't expect any new gym toys. However, the yoga part of my anniversary with my wife will be $90, and I might buy some yoga classes.

2. Shopping - This may not get better. I expect to replace a 20 year old mattress. I am trying to spend home goods up to 100% quality and repair while the market is so bad for investing. There is a big deficit from my more frugal days. I've also got the $233 for a hotel, for my anniversary with my wife.

3. Groceries - I intend to limit my shopping to Aldi and Amazon. I've also given up on eating my way stronger for awhile, so I expect to be eating less. I still have some food stockpiled. So I expect this closer to $200. Some will depend on how much I adjust eating out.

4. Eating out - I am going to make some less expensive choices, but am not sure how much this will change. Packing food for work travel days would reduce it by a third, but that means breakfast, lunch and dinner - I am gone from 6:30am to 9pm. I'd need to bring about 2500 calories, and my diet is fruit / veggie / dairy heavy, so that means carrying my giant cooler around. I have done it many times, and it's a pain in the ass.

In summary, I'm starting from high expenses with lots of excuses. Let's see what happens.

Logistically, I'm only tallying things up once a month. Having done this once now, twice a month is too much.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 10:28 am
by Jason
Well, from an ERE vantage point, you, like me, are completely sucking ass. However, you, like me, are at least trying and/or having pangs of consciousness and/or want to at least dip your toe into this.

I'd say you have lifestyle creep but its really more like an atomic wedgie. You are spending 1 Full Jacob (1) on fucking exercise. I just had a nice walk with my wife and we take out yoga videos from the library and I still feel like a completely spoiled piece of shit around here.

Plus getting drunk and being chauffeured back and forth from a shopping mall. In all due respect, if you are a mobster's girlfriend being rewarded for a VIP room blowjob, I'd say Ok. Otherwise, that's a little head scratching.

But as you say, let's see what happens. And as they told me in NA, "Keep on coming back!!!"

(1) I can't get enough of this 1 Jacob thing. Thank you Felipe.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 11:30 am
by Scott 2
Haha, the drunk mall Uber was an inspired "I'm an adult!"' moment. I was on vacation and wanted my wife to drive, but she had to work.

Improvements from this point will be easy at first - I am rolling back an intentional choice to literally buy anything and everything I could think of to make life more awesome. I realized upon hitting FI last year, that if I over consumed, but continued working, I'd still come out way ahead.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 1:32 pm
by Jason
I didn't realize you were FI. Now I'm wondering why you didn't get a massage and go home with a bevy of retail chicks.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 3:20 pm
by Scott 2
Hah - "Hey honey, look what I found at the mall..."

I started the process of putting my gym membership on hold today. It's nice to have a reason to get out of the house on the weekend, but I won't go over there once the cold and snow hit. I think this will take effect around the end of November. I can use the hold up to three months, then restart for no extra charge, which means I'll avoid all the new year's resolution crowds.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Mon Oct 02, 2017 1:39 pm
by Scott 2
A couple small victories:

I opted to just attend my wife's yoga class instead of buying some. An individual class at my local studio is up to $22!

I actually bothered with an Amazon return, my first ever. This was really a spite return over a crappy product, but I'll get $30. It was every bit the pain I expected.

I took a pass through the home gym and posted some stuff on Craiglist. Not sure what I'll clear, but probably at least $100. It's also around 150lbs of stuff I don't need, no longer in my space.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:13 pm
by Scott 2
On vacation this week. A couple more small ones:

I spent my lazy afternoon with a scotch, followed by some snacks and Netflix, instead of heading off to the mall while my wife was working.

I made banana bread instead of throwing away the old bananas.

I sold the first of my 3 Craigslist postings for full asking price.

On the not frugal side, the new bed was a thousand bucks, and I'm guessing is going to result in another $500 of room upgrades. I did at least wait until Costco put it on sale for $200 off.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:53 am
by Scott 2
More tactics:

Got a new furnace in February, the vendor was insisting I needed a clean and check within the first year to keep my warranty valid. I escalated and got the requirement waived until next fall.

My 3ds is full. Instead of upgrading the memory card, I figured out the whole delete/redownload thing, discovered some games I thought were lost forever, and got the space I needed.

On the less frugal side, I dropped $18 on the pizza buffet and a drink, but only after making homemade pizza the night before did not satisfy my want.

I'll also be dropping $25 on a new game to play while I listen to my training courses for work. I have other half finished games, so this is especially indulgent, but I want a mindless 2d platformer. I have 20 more hours of courses to get through, and completing them impacts my bonus.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:25 pm
by El Duderino
Scott 2 wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:53 am
I want a mindless 2d platformer.
Cuphead looks amazing and it's $20. Might be a little more difficult than you'd like though.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:29 am
by Scott 2
I'm almost exclusively a portable gamer, due to the time I already spend at a computer and screen for work. Missing out on the cool console/pc stuff is one of the things I dislike about working in IT. There's a physical limit to my screen time tolerance.

Resisting the allure of the switch is especially hard because of this. It looks awesome for me, but I try to game a few years behind the curve. Much cheaper, and the second hardware revision is usually the one I actually want.

I picked up shovel knight for the 3ds and am enjoying it.

In more tactics;

I convinced my parents to give Aldi another try, and I went with them to help navigate the good vs bad. I see them a few times a month, so getting them shopping the same as me adds to the social support system for spending carefully.

My wife and I made a date of using coupons - pizza and cake for two, for $16. Certainly staying home would be cheaper, but a relatively inexpensive time out.

I eat a lot of pizza.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:06 am
by dagiffy
Jason wrote:
Sat Sep 30, 2017 10:28 am
You are spending 1 Full Jacob (1) on fucking exercise.
What is a Full Jacob? Is that what he spends on living in one year? Which I think is $7000?

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:19 am
by Jason
Yes, Exactly.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:47 am
by dagiffy
That is both hilarious and useful.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:33 pm
by Scott 2
After a couple ghostings and a no show, sold another of my Craigslist items for $60. I've got one thing left, unreliable buyers have me reluctant to bother with posting more in the future. The buyers that did show have been happy to get a good price, which does make me feel a little better. It is nice to get things out of the house. I can achieve both of those by gifting or donating though.

I projected out spending for the month so far. Groceries are doing well, should land right around $200. It's easy while I have food from prior months stocked. I am trying to land my weekly shop right at 35, leaving a little buffer for the random stops. Got some bad peaches, a good reminder that cheap fruit must also be in season.

Eating out is on track to match last month, largely due to an indulgent week of vacation. Now that I'm back to work, I'll stick to home food, knowing I've got a couple meals out around my anniversary.

The new bed is slow to arrive, so associated room upgrades will bleed into next month. Sheets were only $34, so I think my initial guess of another $500 in costs was high.

Re: What I Spend

Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:19 pm
by Scott 2
Crazy work week, the upside of which, was no time to buy things I don't need off the internet.

An interesting change, was my reluctance to just spend $30 and order some pizza while time was tight. That could be a whole week's worth of groceries! Amusingly, when I'm spending $100 a week on groceries, another $30 for some pizza seems reasonable.

On my third day of doing nothing but eating and working, I was very aware of the disparity between my meal of eggs and rice and the effort I was putting into my job. I believe it gets better after this weekend, but I definitely had a "The king can suck it, I'm already living on lentils" moment.

Did a survey for a $10 gift card while waiting for something to happen at work. Renewed my remaining Craigslist posting. Very little time for other frugal actions, unless you count going hungry because I'm too busy to cook.