I Kept a Money Diary for One Week - Here's What I Spent
Lately I have been obsessed with Refinery29's Money Diary Series. If you have never read any of the posts before (and if that's the case - you need to remedy this pronto!) it is a one week diary of what women spend in a week. The diaries are by women from all over the world (from Ohio to Tokyo) in different fields and with different salaries. I'm obsessed. It gives great insight into how others save, spend, and navigate their finances. It's fascinating and I'm more than a little obsessed with it. So in a nod to that series I decided to keep my own money diary for a week and post it here. I have not included as much detail about my line of work, my salary, etc. because I feel that would be a tad invasive (and the money diarists on Refinery29 have the luxury of being anonymous). But, I did keep a log and diary of my spending habits for an entire week. And lord...seeing how much money you do or don't spend - and what you spend it on - is eye-opening.
Monday. This week will be insanely busy at work from Wednesday to Friday so I am treasuring the quiet of the next two days. I pack both my breakfast and lunch, which I am proud of, since I rarely bring food from home because I get bored with food easily. I bring oatmeal, berries and a clementine for breakfast and an Amy's organic frozen pasta meal for lunch.
After lunch I am feeling a bit sluggish and decide to grab a drink from the coffee bar in my building. I get a small chai with almond milk ($3.35)
Total spent - $3.35
Bring breakfast and lunch again. I am on the fence about a purchase I want to make. Pat McGrath has released three new limited edition eyeshadow palettes and I really want all three of them. But they are $55 each. I add them to my cart on the Sephora website, but don't checkout. It's Ulta 21 Days of Beauty and the Persona Identity palette will be on sale this week. So, for now, I opt not to spend a small fortune on the Pat McGrath palettes.
I discover that I have $10 in food rewards and $5 in coffee bar rewards from the restaurant/coffee bar in my building. I decide to save my frozen meal (sorry Amy) for another day and treat myself to a free lunch. I grab asparagus, roasted kale, mashed potatoes and two small pieces of chicken which costs me $5 deducted from my rewards (so free!).
Total spent - $0
Today is going to be crazy. Our office is having a lunch catered for employees so I don't worry about lunch (my Amy's frozen meal is still in the freezer at work if I need it). I bring my breakfast - oatmeal again with a clementine. I skip on stopping at the coffee bar and instead grab one of my favorite teas from my desk stash and drink that.
The eye shadow palette (in case you haven't figured it out by now, I have a slight eye shadow palette addiction) that I want from Ulta is on sale today! Yay! I added it to my cart the day before because I am crazy like that. I then spend the next 30 minutes adding and removing items from my cart. There are a few other things I would like and want to hit the free shipping over $50 threshold. But I stop myself and decide to just get the basics I need (a new makeup sponge, a new powder brush and hypoallergenic lash glue) plus my wish list item. I use the $3.50 off $15 coupon on Ulta's site and my total with shipping - (ugh I hate paying for shipping) is $39.53. Which is much better than the $50+ I originally had in my cart! I checkout through Ebates since they offer 4% cashback on Ulta purchases.
Total spent - $39.53
Another crazy day. It's Double Star day at Starbuck's so I take advantage and order a tall vanilla latte with almond milk. I still have money on my app from the last time I reloaded so I pay nothing out of pocket. Winning! Lunch is being catered in again today so I don't have to worry about bringing or buying lunch. I bring my usual oatmeal and clementine but mix it up and bring a sliced apple with almond butter as well. I'm kind of over the oatmeal this morning so I just eat the apples and almond butter. It's a coworkers birthday and someone has brought in my favorite chocolate cake from Corner Bakery. I have a small slice. I promptly wish I'd asked for a larger slice.
Lunch is by an amazing diner here in Chicago that was named as having the best burgers in the country. After running around, I have lost my appetite -this happens often to me! I opt to save my burger for dinner and munch on salad and a few fries instead. I also drink a can of Dr. Pepper because it's my go-go juice when I have a ton of work to do and need a little extra pep in my step. I avoid drinking soda (other than Ginger Ale that is) most of the time so I don't feel too guilty about it.
When I get home we reheat my burger from the lunch and OMG - it is AMAZING. I can see why they were named the best in the country.
I get an email from Ulta stating my package has shipped!
Total spent - $0
Friday. Finally. But today will be the longest day of them all. I have to stay late to work on a project. Womp, womp.
I opt not to bring anything for breakfast or lunch. I still have rewards for the restaurant in my building so I use those to grab a large chai latte w/almond milk and a cup of overnight oats with dates, coconut milk, cashews and hemp seeds. So delicious.
After a particularly stressful morning, I peruse the Forever 21 website. They are having a BOGO sale. I recognize that I often shop when I am feeling stressed or down and after adding a few items into my cart, I close the tab and don't buy anything. Have to start breaking out of bad habits.
Didn't bring lunch again. So I decide to walk over to Noddles & Company. I grab my favorite pasta dish, the Steak Stroganoff. At the last minute I add cheesy garlic bread to my order. My total comes to $12.27. Gotta love downtown Chicago prices.
Daily Total - $12.27
It's Saturday and I sleep in and make breakfast at home. I have my annual eye exam today. Though I have vision insurance I almost always wind up spending over $100 because my exam for contacts is $60 and my co-pay for my eyeglass exam has gone up to $20 this year. My insurance covers $130 worth of contacts so I always max that out and then pay any difference out of pocket. I'm seeing a new eye doctor as well - I hate having to see new doctors, but he turns out to be quite nice and very funny. My total for the visit after paying shipping to have my contacts shipped to me (they don't carry them in store) is $103. Which is actually under my $120 budget for the exam. Winning!
I decide to use the left over cash and treat myself to Popeyes, I grab two 2 piece meals for me and my Mom which comes to $11.27.
Total - $116.27
Sunday is my hibernation day. I use the day to get ready for the coming work week and also to just relax and zone out. Spend the day playing with the cats, napping, doing my nails and watching YouTube makeup tutorials. Oh - and I wash my makeup brushes.
Total spent - $0
Weekly Total - $171.42
This was a lot of fun to do! One of the things I have always known and that this diary kind of highlights is how much I spend on food during the week. This particular week wasn't so bad since my company had catering quite a few days. But generally I buy my lunch most days of the week. The same for breakfast. I get bored easily with food and often decided only a half hour before my lunch what I'm in the mood for. I need to be more disciplined about eating food I bring from home. It also highlights how much I love a good coupon code, discount and reward program - which I'm quite proud of.
Have you kept a money diary before? And if so, what are the areas you need improvement on with your spending? Let me know in the comments!