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.
This weekend’s theme: Amazon Rampages, Perrier Pop Ups, and understanding Zombie Rote Mode
When my husband and I first moved in together, we thought it would be cute to pretend it was a business merger and give ourselves “job titles” based on what we’re good at. One of my job titles is “VP of Supply Chain Planning”. Basically, that means household supplies like toilet paper and paper towels need to be rolling at all times. And let me tell you, I’m killing it at this job. There has never been a single instance where we’ve ever run out of any household supply. Pro-tip: It’s time to buy new supplies once something is ⅔ empty; don’t wait until it’s on its last leg.
So tonight I rummage around the house doing inventory and realize we’ve got to re-up on quite a lot. It’s time to go on what I like to call, an “Amazon Rampage”. An “Amazon Rampage” is when I go hog-wild on every single household item we could ever need, as if it were an apocalypse and our last opportunity to hoard supplies before the world ends. And now that our landlord gave us storage in the basement (a total luxury here, really!), buying in bulk is easier than ever.
Today I order 24 Bounty paper towels rolls, 24 Charmin Ultra Strong toilet paper rolls, 2 40-lb bags of Feline Pine cat litter, and 1 box of Ziploc storage quart bags. $117.56
My husband is now asking me where the sunscreen is, which makes me realize almost all our bottles are empty. I place a second Amazon order for 4 bottles of sunscreen. $29.22
Friday Total: $146.78
Everybody says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, it isn’t for me. I know, blasphemy! I never buy it at work, either. It’s just not that important to me, so if there is no breakfast food around the house, or for free at work, I don’t eat it, period. I actually can’t have coffee and food at the same time, because coffee fills me up! So today is nothing new: I wake up and drink coffee first thing. Then an hour later I eat a bowl of Cheerios.
I plan on working on the blog for most of today, so to avoid feeling like a total shut in, I go for a 3-mile run in the park. In 85 degree weather.
When I get back to the house I check the fridge for lunch. I warm up a leftover tart from the previous night’s dinner, grab a string cheese (because I’m an 8-year-old), and a peach my husband got from his latest farmer’s market haul.
A pair of bananas on the counter are looking sad, only one day away from fruit flies central. It breaks my heart to waste food. We have a lot of baking staples, so I ask my husband: hey, should we use them up and make banana muffins? He’s on board with my plan. He usually grabs breakfast out during the week, so I figured he could just eat these instead to save money.
And ugh, I go take a shower and realize I need to place yet a THIRD online order of the weekend. Oh my god, I’m falling down on the job here. So, I’ve discovered Amazon really sucks in inventory and pricing for certain things, like cling wrap and shampoo. The prices for those things seem too expensive, so first I cross-checked the Rite Aid weekly sales flyer. Nothing I need is on sale. Then I start Googling to compare prices. I found a Pantene bundle of shampoo and conditioner for $5.99 at Target, and they have the cling wrap for a decent price, too. Target, it is! In addition to the shampoo and cling wrap, I also order Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap refills, charcoal face sponges, Dove body soap, Kleenex tissue boxes and to-go packs, and Puffs Plus Lotion Softpacks. $55.43
Damn, over $200 at Amazon and Target? There goes our monthly household supplies budget.
Husband does a grocery run from the fancy-pants market close by. He buys a half-dozen eggs, chorizo sausage, shredded parmesan cheese, and two limes. $18.96
For dinner he makes swiss chard pesto penne with chorizo. (BTW, his household title is Chief Domestic Officer, which includes most food prep). We have wine in the fridge, but I’d rather save it for another time when I’m actually stressed out.
Saturday Total: $74.39
The breakfast muffins are now obliterated. Because we only had two bananas, we had to halve the recipe. The muffins turned out to be about the third the size of a regular muffin so the obvious thing to do was to eat two or three at a time. So much for my plan to save on breakfasts during the week.
For breakfast I had the last of the muffins plus a kiwi. Oh, and the usual coffee, too.
Earlier in the week, I was checking out Spoiled NYC for stuff to do this weekend and came across a Perrier Pop-Up in Soho. Its offerings: a ball pit, Big Gay Ice Cream, tote bags designed by you, and unlimited Perrier. I’m so in, solely because of the ball pit situation (remember I said I’m an 8-year-old?).
Before I leave the house, I inhale my lunch because I don’t want to get hungry while I’m out and end up dropping money on mediocre food. Luckily, I forgot to bring one of my homemade lunches earlier in the week, so it’s still hanging out in the fridge. This lunch is always a production to make: quinoa, edamame, arugula, grape tomatoes, eggs, avocado, and chicken nuggets.
I meet my friends in Soho in the afternoon. After we got the ball pit out of our systems, we get some Perrier drinks and try the birthday cake flavored ice cream. I’m wondering why the universe has deprived me of birthday cake ice cream until now. It’s freaking delicious. I pass on the tote bags; they’re super cute, but I’ve got a million totes at home. No need to bring more clutter into the house just because it’s free, right? They also had a vending machine where everyone got a fun surprise: I got a watermelon blow-up drink cozy. Really cute but kinda useless.
Since they’re just a block over, we stop by a couple shops: Derek Lam, Rag & Bone and then A.P.C. At A.P.C. there are a pair of flatforms I’ve been eyeing online and I need to investigate them in person. Shoes retail for $425. I take a pic of them on my feet because sometimes I trick myself into just imagining something looks good. But pics don’t lie. Pic tells me they look good, so yes! But the shoes are a little loose on my feet, so I still need to sleep on it.
I’ve got blog stuff to do so I head home on the subway. But it’s Sunday and the panic is starting to settle in: shit, it’s my last chance to get lunch supplies for the week, or else I’m gonna have to buy food out. I make a pitstop at Trader Joe’s.
Since it’s almost 5pm, I decide to stray from the usual meal plan. Here’s why: I’ve discovered that the best time for me to make my meals for the week is when I’m in “Zombie Rote Mode”. “Zombie Rote Mode” (ZRM) is a period of time when you’re most susceptible to completing boring, repetitive tasks, like meal prepping. For me, ZRM happens right after I wake up on the weekends, before I’ve had a chance to start my day. And that’s when I have the best chance of actually following through on meal prepping. So, I know that at 5pm today on a Sunday there is no way in hell I’ll be putting together my usual lunch, which involves cooking four things, then assembling seven separate items into five different Tupperwares. Nope, I’ve gotta set myself up for success; I need something easier than that right now. I get two salad kits and plan to throw in a few chicken nuggets from the freezer to make the meals more substantial. I also get some bananas and pita chips to round out the whole lunch.
In the freezer aisle, I discover an absolute travesty. THE MOCHI IS GONE. My beloved mochi, the green tea one, was $3.99 here. The same box cost twice as much anywhere else in the city, so Trader Joe’s was my go-to source. I ask a nearby worker what’s the deal. He says he thinks they’re discontinued, probably because Trader Joe’s is going to come out with their own mochi. I settle on something new–Trader Joe’s key lime pie for $5.99. Our favorite key lime pie is Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies in Red Hook. However, it’s definitely expensive, like, $17.99 expensive. I’m hoping the 10-inch pie for $12 less will be a decent substitute. $15.92
My husband had to drop someone off outside of the city today, so I’m on my own for dinner. I look around in the cabinets and find a pack of Neoguri ramen. It’s my favorite ramen because you don’t have to add anything to it; it’s already packed with flavor. I stock up on these in Chinatown for these exact times: when I’m feeling too lazy to put something together. Who cares if it’s 85 degrees and not soup weather? Not me.
After I have a slice of the Trader Joe’s key lime pie for dessert, and it’s more than edible. Husband approves, too. I’ll definitely be picking it up in the future, now that the mochi is gone.
Sunday Total: $15.92
Weekend Total: $237.09
The amount we spend on household supplies continues to bug me. Our monthly budget is $75, which we always max out. And now we’re over budget because the vacuum cleaner broke last month and it cost $140 to fix it. Or maybe I never budgeted for it realistically in the first place. When I first moved in with my husband I didn’t account for the furniture and other necessary set-up costs. Did this introduce a fatal flaw into my budget? Overlooking non-recurring spends like vacuum cleaner repairs, a houseplant, or a new laundry hamper? I wonder if this set us off onto a bad path of having an unrealistic budget and then getting annoyed by “overspending” so regularly.
No spend on eating out, clothes, entertainment, or exercise!