Spending Diary Vol. 1

“Money is a great servant but a bad master.”
― Francis Bacon

Well, this was a more expensive week than initially anticipated as we had friends in town who we had not seen in years, but I also incurred no or low costs by working from home for a couple of days which is good news. If nothing else this proves how expensive food and going out is in this city! I bought one item for the house, mostly because our apartment is cold during the day (we keep the temperature low to save on utilities), and used points programs to get some toiletries. Kinda. We did a grocery shop the day before this challenge started with a meal plan which meant that all meals that were not for the purposes of entertaining were made and eaten at home, and we did another meal plan for next week so we can compensate for some indulgences this week by not eating out at all.

ETA: I’m including recurring costs like membership fees in my tracking because I think it will be interesting to see how some of them stack up, plus I think it’s more honest. There are a lot of day-to-day costs of city living which are both interesting and a bit scary to acknowledge.

What, if any, were you indulgences this week, kittens? Drinks with friends? An Amazon order? Post-Christmas sales? Let me know!

Brunch with friends split bill: 41.00
Blanket for our living room: 75.00

Gym membership (not technically paid today, but a monthly ongoing expense): 20.00
Quick grocery run: 9.00

Nada! Worked from home.

Toiletries from Boots: Free! I used accumulated points from previous purchases. However my order may have gotten lost with the Royal Mail so this might be a bit of a wash…

Waitrose grocery order: 66.00
Quick groceries for that day: 7.00

Night out with friends: 110.00

Travel card renewal (a weekly expense): 32.00
Borough market cheese, meat, and bread: 18.00
Dinner with friends: 45.00
Dessert with friends: 14.00
Total: 437.00

9 thoughts on “Spending Diary Vol. 1”

  1. Wow. That feels like a lot of money! Is that in dollars or pounds?

    As someone who knows you, I think eating out is where the vast majority of your discretionary income is going — as it is with us as well.

    We’re now having to be really frugal (ugh) to clear debt.

    But my big splurge this week, and it was a biggie — $110 return train fare from NYC to see a museum show in Philly (plus $21 trainfare r/t to NYC from home), plus $2.75 subway (between NYC railroad stations) then $7 cab to museum and $7 back plus $20 admission plus $25 lunch and $15 dinner…total for one day’s outing — $200 +. That’s very unusual for me, but all I’ve done for weeks is work, stay home or go to the gym and I was losing my marbles with boredom and cabin fever. It’s a teeny fraction of what I will make this year (even if it’s a lousy year again) and I really need to get out, talk to interesting strangers and get fresh ideas, all of which happened yesterday.

    I did spend $25 last Sunday to attend a marathon poetry reading in NYC and about another $25 for lunch beforehand with a friend; I drove into NYC so the toll was $2.75 and gas maybe $10? Free street parking — score!

    Living in the boring burbs means my “entertainment” options are very limited (w/o spending $18 trainfare into Manhattan) — movies, coffee or lunch with friends.

    I’m OK (not happy but will do it) not buying stuff beyond the basics, but having to stay in and never ever go/eat out/be social? Not an option.

    1. It is a lot for one week, but this is not at all typical, we’ve essentially blown all our “fun” money for a month in a week, even though I don’t really regret it. We don’t often get friends in town. It’s been interesting to document spending, because I’ve been thinking all week, “What will people’s reactions be? How embarrassing will the experiment be in the long run? What will I be self conscious of, or alternatively willing to defend?” What’s going to be interesting is documenting the recurring payments–a monthly gym membership this week, an annual renewal payment to keep a professional website registered for a year the next. Not cheap! One of the days that was the inspiration for this project was one where between a dentist appointment (not entirely free even with the NHS), dry cleaning, a weekly travel card, and groceries, I dropped over 100 GBP in a single day. It’s amazing how quickly money can go on the BASICS.

      1. Oh yeah! Any time I step foot into NYC it’s costing me — to start — $18 (train in) plus $5.50 for one r/t subway fare. Then maybe some food or drink. Jose and I both need to see the dentist (that’ll be at least $300 each) and this fall got whacked $700 in car repairs, but we cannot survive here without one. I needed new eyeglasses (4 years!) and exam — all in, another $700. Good lord. We both live in expensive places, missy! And (let’s be honest) we like style and panache too.

  2. Eating out in London is definitely pricey! But it’s worth it to be able to spend time catching up with friends. 🙂

    I resisted indulging in post-Christmas sales this week, although I am tempted to buy a Fitbit (or similar) fitness tracker. I have mixed feelings about that though, partly because I’m unsure whether I’m just buying into the fitness tracker trend or whether it will actually be useful to me. I also really need a new laptop as mine is old and temperamental.

    As you mentioned, it’s not just indulgences that cost money. The basics don’t come cheap either — I’m due for routine appointments with the dentist and hygienist, and my car needs servicing next month. That will eat up a chunk of money (and fingers crossed for no car repairs on top of the regular maintenance cost!)

    1. A lot of relating to your comment! I got a Fitbit as a present for Christmas, but I deliberately asked for a less expensive version as I didn’t need all the bells and whistles, and I’d deliberated getting one for several months because I wanted to be sure I’d use it. Thus far I like it a lot. It works for me because I’m achievement driven and self competitive so tracking things like exercise, steps per day, and water consumption sync with how I tend to view fitness. But I also know a lot of people who’ve used theirs for a month and never touched it again. It’s an oddly personal purchase.

      Jeff’s Christmas present was a new laptop which was relatively pricey, but he has been using the same computer for at least five years and it had a lot of problems in the end. But he was willing to put up for with it for a year longer than he wanted and wait for a really good sale before making the purchase.

      And I do not miss owning a car at all…the upkeep was extraordinary!

      Like I mentioned in an earlier comment, one of the genesis moments for this project was dropping over 100.00 in a single day on things like going to the dentist, buying food, and picking up dry cleaning. It’s incredible how quickly basic costs add up!

      1. Does your tracker include a heart rate monitor? I’m not fussed about having lots of extras, but I would like a heart rate tracker to measure non-step based activities like spinning and Pilates. I like the design of the Fitbit Flex but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t include a heart rate monitor.

      2. Mine doesn’t track heart but it does track sleep (which is a bit more personally useful as that’s something I struggle with). The larger fitbits that tracked heart rate were a bit too big for me but that particular feature wasn’t important enough for me to really shop around to other brands or models. I’m sure there are sleeker choices out there but mine was the best trade off for price and what I wanted to monitor.

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