What happens when someone who’s “good at money” tracks their spending the old school way? With a pen and paper and not using an automated system like Mint?
Inspired by the Man Repeller and Refinery29 money diaries, I thought it’d be fun to see what happens when I track my spending for a weekend. Although I’m conscious about my overall spending, I’m at a point where I don’t feel the need to review purchases line by line. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for surprises.
Much to my husband’s dismay, we’re going to look at an apartment tonight that we have absolutely no intention of moving into. I’m always on the lookout for a deal. And now our landlord just announced that our rent would be increasing by 3% next year. I want to see what $2,650 would get us elsewhere, so I made an appointment to see an available apartment across the street.
This one has bedrooms facing the busy street and brown, tugged-up carpet in the hallways. But where I draw the line is the living room that doesn’t have any windows. Early on in life I discovered that I’m like a plant. I need sunlight to thrive!
We make a pitstop at the overpriced grocery store near our apartment, because there’s no dinner options at home. I pick up an Auntie Chun’s udon noodle soup bowl (used to coupon these all the time), and my husband gets a pre-made soup. $11.97
The second we step inside our apartment, my husband feels sad that there’s no dessert. He goes out again and 10 minutes later re-emerges with a $5.99 Ben and Jerry’s Tonight Dough pint. But only after complaining that his first choice (and my favorite), the artisan Van Leeuwen’s ice cream, has gone up a dollar in price and now costs $10.99 a pint 🙁
Instead of buying a bunch of furniture at once, I like to replace things casually when I find good pieces. I browse a pair of secondhand Crate & Barrel end tables on Furnishare for $214 (from $499), but removed them from the cart when I saw the $99 delivery fee. Considering it costs $24 to deliver a mirror from CB2, I’m over it fast.
We strategize about the birthday party we’re going to tomorrow night. My husband told me about it weeks ago, but I forgot about until now.
Now there’s the dilemma: should we bring a gift or not???
I tell him we shouldn’t go to the birthday party empty-handed since it’s a milestone birthday, and the venue is Dirty French, where they probably paid a decent amount of money to reserve a private room. With only a day to scramble for a gift, options are slim, but then I remember I never opened the free Diptyque candle I got last summer. Candles are always a safe bet for gifts, so problem solved. $0
My husband applied for the Chase Business Ink Preferred a while back, but got denied because of a mistake on the application. I remind him to try to sign up again, but he gets the dreaded ‘pending’ decision outcome, which is just a nicer way of letting you down. I start reading some threads about how to increase your chances of being approved for this card. It’s one of the last ways we can get Chase bonus points, and I’m timing that Cartier watch purchase with a new credit card app, so I can more easily make the minimum spend.
My husband mentions a new Netflix show he wants to watch called The Haunting of Hill House (fantastic trailer, btw). We watch it in our bed, because blankets are the 100% foolproof way to stay safe from ghosts and monsters. But streaming anything in our bedroom means buffering problems, because our wi-fi is weak. I’m about ready to give up, but then I remember my work phone can be used as a hot spot, so connect to that network instead. Works like a charm.
Friday Total: $17.97
Wake up to sounds of intense leaf blowing noises from across the street. Most buildings in my neighborhood are brownstones, but the one across the street is an old factory converted into lofts. Out of curiosity, I look up available listings in that building. Oh, I’m in luck: $1.8 million for a three bedroom. And it’s 100% perfect. In NYC, you have to spend an exorbitant amount of money to have an apartment with zero flaws. Briefly dream about buying that loft. Then realize we’d only be able to afford to live there, and not buy food or spend money on anything else really. That can work, right? But I save the building to my Streeteasy account, anyway. I’m a firm believer that you can make your own luck if you prepare better than 99% of people.
Two cups of coffee and avocado toast for breakfast.
My husband wants me to brag in the diary that he decluttered 12 pairs of pants, so here is your mention, Husband.
Husband goes out to buy the finishing touches for the birthday gift: a card and a gift card from McDonald’s as a joke. $19.90
He also picks up an avocado, an apple and raspberries, because he wants to make waffles tomorrow. $5.92
Then he dials up Spectrum (the cable company) to ask what’s up with the wi-fi, but the wait is too long to talk to a customer service person, so we’ll try again later.
Now we need a bag for the gift. I still have this Pierre Hermé one from 2015. I brought the bag back from Paris, because I thought it looked nice and might come in handy one day. Lo and behold, THREE YEARS LATER, this household clutter is coming to good use.
The theme for lunch is ‘Things You Have Laying Around in the House,’ so my husband makes me a rice bowl with an egg, a handful of mushrooms and gochujang sauce. It’s surprisingly delicious! $0.56 (for the mushrooms)
I finish de-pilling my Proenza Schouler wool jacket. In the last money diary I mentioned being curious about The Real Real’s consigning process, and I’ve finally narrowed down everything I am going to try to list with them. They’re sending me a box now, and I’m really excited to see how this compares to doing all the work myself.
Time to get ready for the party! My makeup’s on, hair is done, and my outfit is laid out on the bed. As I start getting changed, I hear my husband yelp out in pain.
He says he must have rolled on his knee wrong, because he heard a pop, and now his kneecap seems like it’s NO LONGER ATTACHED. He used to be an avid runner, but had to stop, because of knee injuries.
Now he’s hobbling around, experiencing random shots of pain as he walks or moves.
Should we stay home or should we go?
Stay home, obviously. But he feels obligated to go.
I tell him that if we are going we better Uber it there, money be damned, and we should ask for a chair for him to sit in. He feels guilty about skipping the party, but I think possibly getting hurt at someone’s birthday party is way worse.
He texts a picture of the gift bag to the birthday girl, so there’s evidence that we’re not faking an injury.
We were going to eat at the party, so we’re left without a food plan for the night. Mexican from Seamless, it is. I order a burrito bowl, but only eat half and save the rest for tomorrow. $30.05
With makeup and hair done, and clad in sweatpants, I watch a few more episodes of The Haunting of Hill House.
Saturday Total: $56.43
My husband’s waffle plan was a fail, so there’s no breakfast food in the house. I double up on coffee and decide to wait to eat until lunch.
My husband can’t wait that long, so he gets himself a bagel. $1.20
I gotta get the laundry in the machines before the neighbors start to monopolize them for the day. I hang dry the bamboo reusable cloths that we use for cleaning. We’re trying to use fewer paper products, and I’m happy to see my husband using the cloths.
I’ve been researching my Cartier watch purchase, and I ask my husband for his opinion. I found a used one for $2,100, but a new one costs $2,800. Secondhand or new? It’s a 25% difference, and not the 40% discount I had been expecting. For that price difference, he thinks I should just buy the new one. I’m still thinking about it…
I’m reviewing Mint transactions and announce that so far we’ve spent $4,550 this month, which is low for us. I tell my husband that we have two choices: we can either try to keep it a low-spend month or totally splash out. Knowing that our spending is low just makes me want to not buy stuff, so I can continue the trend. To see if we can do it. That watch can wait until next month…and also for when I get a new credit card.
Husband calls the cable company again, and our wi-fi download speed in the bedroom is a paltry 5 Mbps, versus the 200 Mbps we actually pay for. We pay $65 a month for this crap Internet! Husband tries to get them to lower the monthly price, but they don’t bite, which is disappointing.
Time to take matters into our own hands. We spend an hour moving cables around so the router is positioned closer to our room. Then I inquire about Optimum’s Internet, which costs $45 per month. It’s not about the money. It’s the principle. My husband has been a Spectrum customer for 8 years, and they can’t even lower the monthly at all?
Maybe I should apply for the Chase Ink Business Preferred card myself. I’m like the Terminator when it comes to this credit card. I WILL find a way to get it. To prepare, I ask Chase to reduce my $48k credit lines down to $30k. My hope is that they’ll be more likely to approve me if my credit limit isn’t so high.
Optimum e-mails me back and says that they actually don’t serve our building. So much for trying to get back at Spectrum. We’re currently stuck paying $65 per month for bad Internet, unless we cancel and sign up again.
We’re going to a wedding in London next August, so I look up travel hacking options. We can get business-class roundtrip tickets for 63k Japan Airlines points, which is only a couple thousand more than an economy flight on United. For that price, why not? Plus, we can add a few more stopovers (Lisbon, the Dolomites?) for basically free. I initiate the points transfer.
Yay, Past Me: I remember I have the leftover burrito bowl for lunch, but I still can’t finish it all.
I need my weekly lunch supplies, so I buy groceries at Trader Joe’s, plus a few extra things my husband requests. $52.79
Annoyingly, Trader Joe’s had no red onions, and their milk goes bad quickly, so I stop at another grocery store for those two things. $4.06
Dinner is burgers topped with leftover gochujang sauce, garlic fries and cucumber slices.
Sunday Total: $58.05
Weekend Total: $132.45
Do you always bring a gift to birthday parties?
How much are you paying for Internet?
Should I buy the watch used, or new?
And lastly, who else is watching The Haunting of Hill House and kind of scared to wash up at night?
Feature Image: Unsplash