After accidentally riding the rollercoaster that is a personal essay meant to espouse the benefits of saving money by bringing my own lunch to work for a week during the holy, annual festival of unleavened food (Passover), a couple of you asked that we begin publishing “money diaries” on Man Repeller to chronicle how we spend our money for the duration of a week. Under the guise of this diary, we would also announce a goal (like, for example, spend: less on food, more on experience; less on clothes, more on helping others; less on everything, more on nothing, etc).
I nominated myself to go first and surmised that instead of beginning with a goal, I’d track where most of my money was being spent in the first few days and then come up with one accordingly.
I started my diary on Thursday of last week (a shame, really, given that I was the victim of a $60 Uber ride from Chelsea into Nolita the previous day during a bout of torrential downpour) and here’s what it looked like through Sunday:
It became immediately evident that most of my funds are being allocated towards entertaining that is related to nourishment, but also that the dramatically expensive Friday was an exception because of fertility drugs (don’t get me started on co-pays), the groceries purchased for four people as opposed to two (and then I had to cook them), and the treating a prospective new employee to breakfast (I fed her paleo cashew cream! She better accept that offer, am I right?), which presents a small, but important point worth acknowledging — these expenses are spread across two credit cards linked to two separate bank accounts: my personal and my business.
The goal as of Sunday evening, June 12, 2016 looked as follows: Pay for only one meal daily, and give yourself a high five if you can expense it. Do not exceed spending more than $50 per weekday.
Survey says, I managed to hit my target of paying for only one meal daily, but that I consistently exceeded the $50-per-day goal in part because of expenses I’ve been putting off, like going to the grocery store (if there’s nothing in the fridge, technically, I can’t cook), and picking up clothes from the tailor (what was I thinking when I resolved to shorten a sequined gown, anyway?).
Frankly, I’m not sure what I hoped to get out of keeping a money diary — if nothing else, I imagined it would help categorize where I’m spending the most amount of money so that when the credit card bill comes at the end of the month (read: when I muster up the bravery to look at it online), I’m not just like !?!?!@>!>@#$@>.
I realized that I miss cash because it is sure-fire way to stick to a budget and it is not a myth to insinuate that you can save a shitload of money by deciding not to eat out. There are other ways to take breaks from the work day, like going for a walk around the block or stopping into a magazine shop to browse the offering. Maybe you’ll even meditate.
Oh! And so you know, I did not buy the nightgown.