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Monday, March 4, 2019

Staring Down the February Spend

TOTAL FEBRUARY SPEND OUT OF POCKET: $3,159.25.

Now this is just my spending for the month of February by debit card, cash or check. Yes, I know it is very high. I want to look it in the eye. It doesn't include our mortgage, health insurance, car insurance, child care or family prescriptions, which add up to a lot.

Dan does grocery shopping, coffee drinking and gas-tank filling, too, with the card in his wallet. He does not spend frivolously, but is generous. [He booked our wedding anniversary overnight splurge in NYC; he even had the bus tickets, so I didn't list those here.]

I would love to get some feedback--where can you trim spending, or are you pretty frugal and sensible already?

Being a trend watcher and shopper at heart, there's a part of me that would like to tell you about luxury items I love that would quickly add up. I have not purchased the wants below. I'm listing them here in a feeble effort to justify how easily it would be to spend $2,800 on...nothing necessary, but everything beautiful.
  • Herm├Ęs Twilly silk scarf. $170.
  • Something from trendy Alice + Olivia brand, preferably a sweater, and I don't even know if the size L would fit me on top, $300+.
  • Sleek tights, bottoms and shapewear from Commando, $300+.
  • Trip to Bermuda, just because it's on my bucket list and I've never been. JetBlue says $102 one way today, so $250 round trip with fees, plus let's say $2,000 for 5 nights hotel, food/high tea [I hear everything is  pricey there] and shopping? $2,250.
DREAM TOTAL: $3,020.

BREAKING IT DOWN 
The 7 categories in green, below, add up to $2,805.68. I must have left some numbers dangling somewhere....for instance, a $50 co-pay at the dermatologist, but this gives me a good view. 
  • I see that beauty products and jewelry jack up the spend. No surprise there. [In February, I didn't buy shoes, and bought only one item of clothing.] The beauty salon category for March will be high, because I get my hair cut every three months and tomorrow is the day.
  • I see how Kings and Whole Foods are big-ticket places, though I have been good about getting what's on sale at Kings.  
  • I already know I spend a lot feeding Punch outside the home--as I mentioned, her ADHD meds suppress her appetite on schooldays, so she is often hungry when we are together in town, such as after her weekly therapy appointment. I like her to eat when she is hungry. Frequently, a friend of hers is with us. I can find a way to trim here, but....we are pressed for time, or I'm too tired to cook before 7 p.m. gymnastics, etc.
  • That Starbucks app is dangerous, the way they dangle rewards, etc. And I don't even like the coffee. I tend to get Punch food or drinks there.
  • I think I can trim all four bullets listed above. But I stand by my spends at Joyist, because everything is healthy and organic, tips are included in all prices, and after 9 punches on your card, your 10th item [anything on the menu] is free.
1. GROCERIES [SUBTOTALS BELOW], $732.09.
KINGS: $216.91.
SHOPRITE: $39.92.   
WHOLE FOODS: $346.02.
CVS, milk, cereal, dried fruit, nuts, etc.$129.24.

2. FOOD AND DRINK OUTSIDE THE HOME, OR DELIVERED 
[SUBTOTALS BELOW], $359.44.
STARBUCKS [APP]: $38.27.
DINING OUT, ME, INCLUDING JOYIST: $165.89.
COFFEE, IN ADDITION TO STARBUCKS: $73.94.
BAKERIES + SNACKS: $41.32.
PIZZA DELIVERY: $42.17.

3. PUNCHY [SUBTOTALS BELOW], $363.47.
GYMNASTICS AND SOCCER CLOTHING FOR PUNCH: $99.97.
FEEDING PUNCH + PALS [SOMETIMES W. ME + FIG] AWAY FROM HOME: $263.50.

4. BEAUTY/STYLE [SUBTOTALS BELOW], $588.23.
ACCESSORIES/JEWELRY: $178.05.
BEAUTY SALON FOR PUNCH + ME: $185.
HIGH-END BEAUTY PRODUCTS: $189.99.
CLOTHING/ME: $35.19.

5. DONATIONS [SUBTOTALS BELOW], $165.50.
CHARITABLE DONATIONS: $104.
SCHOOL FUNDRAISERS: $61.50.

6. CARDS & GIFTS [SUBTOTALS BELOW], $225.89.
GIFTS, mostly gift cards: $161.
HALLMARK CARDS: $64.89.

7. MISCELLANEOUS [SUBTOTALS BELOW], $371.06.
GASOLINE: $15.
CAR REPAIR/MAINTENANCE: $25.
PARKING FEES + TICKETS: $37.70.
BUS TO NYC/UBER IN TOWN: $34.93.
CANDLE: $19.19.
SUNDRIES: $101.65.
MAGAZINES: ABOUT $32. [Eating Well special issue; LIFE Mary Poppins special issue; small Taste of Home slow cooker magazine]
BOOKS: $80.
READING GLASSES/PEEPERS BRAND: $25.59.

TCOY
  1. Hot bath.
  2. Walked around NYC, and enjoyed it, as always. [Was in town to meet Sis at NYU Langone; she had a mammo-related procedure. I pray all is well; I think it is.]
  3. Arranged to have Elaine get Punch off schoolbus so that I could be there for my Sis.
  4. Cuban coffee; that tasted good.
$ MONEY SPENT OUT OF POCKET


Wow, so glad I found this in NYC. It is 10 cents less on Amazon--$9.89--but
the shipping is $16.50!
  • Round trip bus from my corner to NYC, two tickets from ten-trip pack, $13.90.
  • Biggest rip-off. I think I paid $6.49 for a single slice of pizza w topping in the Port Authority! Captive audience waiting for Greyhounds, etc. I wanted to eat lunch before walking to East Side around 2 p.m. All I could think is, maybe they charge so much because their rent must be superhigh with that large space. $6.49.
  • Cuban coffee, $4.
  • Grand Central Market after I walked Sis to her train. I love that market. Murray's, big 24-oz bag granola, $9.99; 8-oz. jar Velvet Bees honey butter, $9.99; and blackberry jam parfait with plain yogurt, $5.99=$25.97. Eli Zabar Bread, 12-oz bag of 8 small brioche rolls, $7.50; and two raisin pecan rolls, $1.95 each=$11.40. Total, $37.37.
DAILY TOTAL: $61.76.
ONGOING MARCH TOTAL: $370.10.

6 comments:

  1. Feel helpless- just in a different place from you. Lifelong brownbagger, first by necessity and now for calorie and portion control. Really not helpful to you to say I am not tempted by the food/restaurant purchases!

    Just bought antique brass door stops and hinges for upstairs bedrooms, and orthotic insoles for Will, and a Star Wars t shirt me me, all online. Also not helpful to you who has to pass tempting store displays, and has child asking for treats!

    Sorry, Alice, but I wish you well, and know it is hard.
    Loz

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    1. Hi Liz. I appreciate your feedback. Thank you. Especially when we expose a lot, it feels good to get comments. Lifelong brown bagger, wow! I find you amazing. Do you have great containers and such? A cute neoprene lunch tote from Whole Foods? See where a shopper like me is going with this? You are not wasteful, I can tell. That is inspiring. oxox

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  2. Dang it, just left you a detailed comment and it got eaten. I love that you're tracking your spending. I already mentioned how I try to keep a lock on my Whole Foods spending. Food is important, and it can't be avoided. I think looking out for expensive versions of things is one way to trim bills. For example, the $10 bag of granola. It wouldn't last in my house, and it can be made cheaply, so that would be one easy way for me to say no. I try to chip away at spending in little ways like that.

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    1. Hi Eileen. Oh, no, so frustrating to write a long comment and lose it. I hate it when that happens. I still remember your Whole Foods tip; no bag, no cart, just salmon. Yeah, I guess I am a foodie with a spending urge. I love to try things. I appreciate your feedback, Eileen. Love, Alice

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  3. Ok, you ready? Corn is tricky, you know! I fall somewhere between the spectrum of you and Liz. Not as much a brown-bagger as I should be, but not as compelled by splurges as you are. Taking it from the top:

    1. Can you possibly organize your food shopping around one day a week? It feels like there is a lot of impromptu buying and, thus, off-the-cuff splurge spends.
    2. I say stick with Joyist as your treat. Stand by it proudly, but dump the Starbucks app and really limit the other out-of-home, non-Punchy spending on eating. Maybe take some of that wonderful cooking energy you have to prepare things that can be easily grabbed to ease up on some of this spending: several small Tupperwares of egg salad, combined with crackers or a half dozen hard boiled eggs to grab one or two. Make your own yogurt parfaits ready to grab. That kind of thing.
    3. I think limiting the out-of-house eating with Punchy is hard to reign in given your worries about her eating and the stresses of schlepping her here and there. I wouldn’t focus on this right away.
    4. This is where you can be tough with yourself. Keep the salon, dump the rest. Hard to knock it off? Pick one category—makeup or jewelry. One category to put an absolute spending freeze on. That means you don’t look at the stuff.
    5. Find one charity to support (maybe the school). Give one yearly gift and that’s it. No more nickel and dime donations—they just contribute to the sense of a loose purse.
    6. I am looking sternly at gifts and cards. You are such a wonderful writer and cook—write up a lovely note of appreciation on stationery, give a Tupperware of soup, or a favorite recipe. No one would want these little gifts if they knew the burden they cause your budget. Discuss limiting gifts between some friends and Sis. Make friends a cake instead. My siblings and I made a pact: no more gifts between us. We just do something fun all of us once or twice a year. And this year, F and I did not exchange Xmas gifts at all. Also, this year, I scoured my bookcases and picked out 5 sentimental books. I gave a favorite book of short children’s stories I loved from my maternal grandmother to my niece Amelia for her birthday and wrote her a note about why I loved it. I gave Maja an illustrated Island of the Blue Dolphin by a local artist; the Russian sea captain was modelled after her dearly departed Karl (who was a friend of the artist, too). I have other books at the ready for the rest of the girls when their birthdays come.
    7. Misc: Candles, sundries, magazines, books: all could go to further the cause.
    8. Maybe add a running total to your spending log? Challenge yourself to keep it to $2,500 this month?
    Not easy stuff, Alice, but brava for your honesty and your sustained efforts to keep it up! It’s inspiring.

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    1. Hi Kim. I copied + pasted your comments here so I could reply one by one. Thank you for your thoughtful response. Love, Alice
      Ok, you ready? Corn is tricky, you know!
      *Yes corn surely can be tricky! ;)
      1. Can you possibly organize your food shopping around 1 day a wk? It feels like there is a lot of impromptu buying and, thus, off-the-cuff splurge spends.
      *I was thinking the same thing. Today I talked to my friend/and wonderful health coach, Rachael, and she gave me ideas for recipes to make for the week and I'm going to do a big shop and get it all. You are so right. Too many trips to the grocery store. I remember Martha Stewart writing once that her daughter was just like her, a newlywed [I think?] buying groceries day by day as needed for dinner, like someone in a Parisian market might...bread, fruit, etc.
      2. I say stick with Joyist as your treat. Stand by it proudly, but dump the Starbucks app and really limit the other out-of-home, non-Punchy spending on eating.
      *I'm digging in with dinners. And the quick chicken cutlets piccata I made tonite w Rach's recipe was ample, with enough for lunch leftovers. That should help. Making excellent dinners and having healthy leftovers. I can eat dinner before we leave at 630 once a wk for gymnastics.
      3. I think limiting the out-of-house eating with Punchy is hard to reign in given your worries about her eating and the stresses of schlepping her here and there. I wouldn’t focus on this right away.
      *Agreed, but want to find a way to not spend so much......especially when feeding Punch and a pal...
      4. This is where you can be tough. Keep the salon, dump the rest. Hard to knock it off? Pick 1 category—makeup or jewelry. 1 category to put an absolute spending freeze on. That means you don’t look at the stuff.
      *Another excellent idea. The thing wmakeup is that you don't need it often. It lasts. Perfume/fragrance is definitely an impulse beauty buy, like jewelry. I plan to contemplate and strategize this one.
      5. Find one charity to support (maybe the school). Give one yearly gift and that’s it. No more nickel and dime donations—they just contribute to the sense of a loose purse.
      *Not sure I can do that. Two FB friends [people I love] posted on their bdays that they would like donations to noble causes.....so I did that....
      6. I am looking sternly at gifts and cards. You are such a wonderful writer and cook—write up a lovely note of appreciation on stationery, give a Tupperware of soup, or a favorite recipe. No one would want these little gifts if they knew the burden they cause your budget.....Make friends a cake instead. This year, I scoured my bookcases and picked out 5 sentimental books. I gave a favorite book of short children’s stories I loved from my maternal grandmother to my niece Amelia for her birthday and wrote her a note about why I loved it. I gave Maja an illustrated Island of the Blue Dolphin by a local artist; the Russian sea captain was modelled after her dearly departed Karl (who was a friend of the artist, too). I have other books at the ready for the rest of the girls when their birthdays come.
      *I adore your book idea. Love it! but wasn't
      it hard to part w a book you loved from your maternal grandma? You are a better Marie Kondo [sp] than I am. "It's only stuff," my very neat Sis says. but for me, it's more. And while I baked cookies and other sweets in days past, trying to avoid that now. They did indeed make handy gifts. Trying to move to bread, cheese wafers etc.
      7. Misc: Candles, sundries, magazines, books: all could go to further the cause.
      *I think you are right but then I think--we are all only here on earth a short while...shouldn't I make life more beautiful for me and my family with candles?
      8. Maybe add a running total to your spending log? Challenge yourself to keep it to $2,500 this month?
      *Excellent...I think I will start that now...
      Not easy stuff, Alice, but brava for your honesty and your sustained efforts to keep it up! It’s inspiring.
      ****Thank you, Kim xoxoxo

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