So it turns out that my old Mint.com account was plugging away for the last six months, without my supervision. At Fel’s suggestion, I logged in, and properly categorized all of my expenses for the last three months. There was an outlier, in that I bought a car (and am getting ready to sell my other car next week), but I am going to tell you guys something completely and totally ridiculous:
Last month, I spent $908 dollars eating out, and the trend maps directly onto my tabletop gaming schedule. Throughout the week I have some pretty forgivable coffee shop expenditures, but Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays, and the last few game days? I’m hemorrhaging. I shared this with my buddy Carl, who I tell basically like, everything all the time, and he said probably the wisest, most grounding thing that I think everyone needs to hear (I did):
I encourage you to make changes that will benefit you. But that also tracks with what every other white collar person spends. So, yes, do great things and make tweaks. But don’t think you are worse than anyone else in that regard.
$900 is about 30% of my net income (remember, %xof=is YAY MATH I CAN DO). My general response to horror at my own behavior is to share it with others, because hey there humans: YOU ARE NOT ALONE and maybe neither am I.
I guess the good news is severalfold:
- I expected that to be the biggest leak, and my suspicions as to why were correct. This means that I am, in fact, paying attention and have pretty good instincts for where my money goes, and why.
- That’s a lot of money. Like, a lot. This means that even small improvements will have a big benefit, and that is awesome.
- This is a preventable expenditure. It’s not like Rent or Electricity which are sort of inelastic budgetary line items. You need food to live and function, but it doesn’t have to come at restaurant prices. If I get smart about packing lunches (or dinners on nights I’m going to be out of the house), and try to meet friends at their homes instead of “out”, I can make a big difference.
- My friends and loved ones are totally on my team, in all things. That means they’re not going to be bitching and moaning if I’m like, “How about tea at your place instead of wine at the bar?” or “Can we make dinner together instead of going out?”
- There are stopgaps I can execute to plan around my own laziness re: packing lunch (or dinner) and how it’s the worst. I can make trail mix and carry some in my purse. Fruit: portable snack. Shakes and smoothies are easy, cheap, delicious, and travel well (especially since I have a Ninja Pro that comes with single serving cups.
- Being on the paleo/ancestral template makes a lot of dining out simply not worth it. Pizza doesn’t tempt me. I’m immune to Sandwiches. When I want good food for under $10 a meal, I know I can make more satisfying stuff myself than anything your average restaurant can throw at me.
- I like cooking, and truly — I’m boss at it. I just have to make it a priority in my schedule. That might mean dropping one or two tabletop games so that I have routine evenings that are devoted to making food ahead, packing it in pretty containers, and bringing it along with me the next day.
- Bentos are sorta sexy, right?
- As Felicity mentioned today, Stuff I make is bound to be healthier and more nutritious than anything I get out.
So there’s all that. PLUS: Life skill acquisition. Building new and better habits. Maybe feeling like I’ve ‘earned’ a little more of the title, “Adult”.
In other exciting news, I just pitched an “It Happened to Me — I was a suicide intervention counselor” series to xoJane.com
My writing on that subject here has gotten a lot of unexpected support, and I have a lot to write about in that particular orbit. Maybe it will develop into a Thing I Do!