On Wednesday, I wrote a brutally honest post about my financial situation as it stands today and I’ve been thrilled by the response! It is so gratifying to know that we’re all in the same boat – just trying to implement good financial habits into our lives, no matter where we stand with our salaries.
Today, I want to get into the nitty-gritty of my discretionary spending. This year, I’m trying to do a better job of tracking my expenses in all the different categories I use. I’ll be honest and say there have been weeks when I don’t look at my bank account once and when I do finally log on, it’s with a hand over my eyes. That’s not a good feeling, not one bit, and I want to stop that. I’m committed to checking in on a daily basis so I can make sure I know exactly where I stand with my money.
So, let’s dive into how I spend my money after my bills have been paid. I’m thankful to have enough discretionary spending to meet my needs, so I don’t feel as if I’m living paycheck-to-paycheck. I’ve separated these categories into where I spent the most money in Q1 to where I spent the least. But this is a pretty accurate depiction of how I spend my money:
I like to take two trips a year – one big trip with my mom (usually a cruise) and one smaller trip with my girlfriends. This year, I’m trying to tack on a third trip, so fingers crossed I can make it work!
In Q1, I spent $1,210 on travel, which is a staggeringly large number, but it includes my cruise deposit ($1,010) and the two shore excursions we booked ($200). I really prioritize this yearly cruise with my mom and it’s something I look forward to all year. I’m happy to spend the money on it because I know we’re going to have an awesome time and fully enjoy ourselves. And that’s what I want most from my life, both personally and financially.
Oh, this has always been my kryptonite when it comes to budgeting. I love eating out. If I could eat out every night, I probably would. I just do not care for cooking and I’ve stopped feeling bad about that. I’ve also stopped feeling bad about my love for eating out. I want to keep it in check, of course, but I’ve also realized that it’s something I truly enjoy and I should embrace it. So I have!
I have had to rein in some of my eating out behavior, mostly due to the fact that I’m trying to lose weight and most foods at restaurants are not very waistline-friendly. Of course, one can always find healthy options, but they are never as much fun as the unhealthy options and if I’m going to treat myself to a meal out, I don’t want to stick with chicken and steamed veggies. No thanks!
In Q1, I spent $585 on eating out. This includes social dinners, lunches out, pizza delivery, and all those trips to Publix for a sub (which happens at least a few times a week). This amounts to about $50 a week and yes, it’s definitely something I need to get a better handle on, I can admit. In Q2, I want to break down my eating out budget into different categories: eating alone, eating with Mom, and eating with friends. I’d like to see what the difference is there!
This category includes hair appointments, pedicures, massages, and eyebrow waxes. I get my hair colored every other month and cut every four months. I like to get a pedicure monthly, if I can, just because it makes my feet feel so good and the place I go isn’t very expensive ($25). I get my eyebrows waxed every other month, and I try to do one massage every quarter.
Generally, this is an area of my life where I spend a lot of money, more than most people. It’s a version of self-care for me, but I also have to be careful about my spending, which is why I didn’t do my usual pedicure in March and I skipped a massage this quarter.
In Q1, I spent $343 and the majority of that came from a really pricey hair appointment. Actually, $270 of it came from this one hair appointment and I’m still sick to my stomach about it. Apparently, balayage is really frickin expensive! I mean, the color does last much longer, but I didn’t love my color enough for the price, ha. Lesson learned! I also got two pedicures and an eyebrow wax to round out my beauty spending. All in all, a very pricey quarter one for beauty. Yikes.
Twice a month, I take a trip to Target to stock up on personal care items, makeup, and household items. In quarter one, I spent $230 on toiletries, so about $77 a month or $38 every visit. This is something I don’t really put in my budget – it’s part of my discretionary spending, but I also want to separate out the different types of toiletry items I have. For example, I don’t think I should include my makeup purchases in the same category as my household cleaners, you know?
In Q2, I’m going to itemize my purchases for this category so that I can get a better handle on how much money I’m spending and where I’m spending it. (For example, how much money do I spend on makeup in a given month?) I’d also like to get to a point where I’m only shopping for toiletries once a month, rather than twice a month. I think that might also cut down on how much I spend here, too!
Oh, dearest Amazon. I have a Prime membership and I’ve been contemplating canceling it for awhile now. I’m just really not using Prime to its fullest abilities. I spent $85 in Q1 on Amazon purchases, and only placed 8 orders over the entire quarter. It just seems silly to spend $14 a month on Prime when I’m barely using it.
Ooh, my newest kryptonite! I never used to spend money on books, but now I can’t stop, won’t stop. Okay, I’m not doing terrible here. I spent $125 in Q1, and this includes my $15 a month Book of the Month subscription. It’s something I try to keep in check, by only buying books through BOTM or using Thriftbooks.com, where I can get a beautiful paperback for less than $5. Oh! And I’m also susceptible to $2 ebook deals from BookBub, but I only purchase the ebook if it’s something on my Goodreads TBR, and I only allow myself two ebooks a week. Standards, I have them?
I know, I know. “Pay yourself first.” But I haven’t gotten there yet. Instead, I’m using this handy-dandy worksheet to save $1,000 this year, which will serve as my emergency fund. (Currently, my credit card is my “emergency” fund, oops.) I have $173 in my savings and I’m slowly building it up. Slow and steady.
My nephew turned three, I celebrated the birthday of a friend, and I put together a care package for another friend, so I spent $60 on gifts in Q1. I’m happy with this one and that I was able to put a smile on the faces of my loved ones.
So there you have it – how I’m spending my money these days! There are definitely areas of improvement, especially when it comes to eating out and beauty. But there are also a ton of categories that I’m not spending money in – like clothing, entertainment, happy hours, and stuff like that. It’s always a give and take. Do I wish I could throw more money at my savings and debts? Of course. But not at the cost of losing out on living a life that feels enjoyable to me.