Saturday, January 19, 2013

Diagnosis: Affluenza January 11-17th

I think I've finally figured out a format for this. As usual, I started the week with $250, $30 of which went into a brokerage account for me to invest. That left $220. I then got paid for some contract work ($100) and sold an old gift card I didn't plan to use to a friend for $80 which brought my total income to $400. I also had $184.25 left in my checking account from the four weeks since I started to use this money plan.

Here's what happened to that $584.25 this week. Our ski trip plus the computer repair took an incredible bite out of my budget and what I'd saved so far.

Purchases in green are purchases that I consider reasonable. Purchases in orange are purchases that I should've thought more about or prepared for but didn't. It would be good to avoid these purchases until I have more money saved. The purchases in red are purchases that I should be skipping until I have $600 in savings. I've picked $600 as a result of looking at previous months' spending. I noticed that I have a habit of making about a $300-$400 purchase on something unnecessary or unexpected every month. This month was probably the most unexpected and totaled $600, so that seems a good amount to aim for.

Anything with an asterisk is an object. So this week I acquired two things, well, I suppose four things. I plan on working to keep that number low. Four objects a week is 200 objects a year! And since we've got 1200 square feet to work with, that could be a problem! So let's go look at a "bad" week:

I can't legitimately expect anyone to read
this chicken scratch, can I?
Starting bank balance: $584.25
  • Weekly budget: $220
  • Extra income: $100 from contract work
  • Extra income: $80 from selling an old gift card

  • Mac repair: $290
  • Physical therapy: $ 35
  • Guitar lesson: $45
  • *Ski boots: $230
  • *Ski poles: $50
  • Lunch with friend: $30
  • Star Trek Kindle book (stop laughing!) $8
  • Two iTunes songs: $3
Total expenses: $691.00
$291 over budget
Bank balance: $-106.75

I should probably avoid iTunes and amazon for a while.  That's going to be a hard habit to break, but at least it's not expensive. Okay, just one book and one song next week. I'll try to get down to zero after that. For just a little while. Lunch with my friend Bret is does make me wince, but at least it's only once a month and friends are more important than money. We "treat" each other to lunch every other Friday, meaning we each only end up paying once a month. I may want to suggest a less expensive locale in the future. 

For the next couple weeks I'll have three regular expenses: $70 of physical therapy a week and weekly $45 guitar lessons. That leaves $100 each week. I'll need to be careful so I can pay back the Chief Engineer for my ski boots in the next two weeks. I was doing well for a while, especially the first two weeks. Time to hunker down a little more. 

In terms of our family spending, we've made another change: This month I don't get to look at our household finances except on the last day of the month.  The Chief Engineer and I temporarily changed passwords on our accounts to ones that only he knows. Why? Because I have a nasty, OCD-habit of checking our bank accounts and our credit card sometimes several times a day. It's a little (or a lot!) ridiculous. If I can't stress about my eating disorder, I stress about money instead. With food, when I angst over it I end up eating more. Maybe if I angst over the bigger picture of our family finances I end up spending more than if I just leave them alone.

In spite of the ski trip it feels like we've spent less money this month. I've spent more evenings consciously trying to do things that don't involve shopping, spending money, or planning to spend money in any way. I don't spend a lot of time spending money but I do spend a lot of time planning to spend money. I'm trying to distract myself and see if it makes a difference. Instead of planning to buy stuff, I've done some quilting, caught up on much of the Law and Order and Start Trek episodes that I missed while I was in college, read lots of free online fiction, and for the first time in over a decade I finally sat down and started writing some fiction of my own. It felt really, really silly good.

I'm quite a bit happier than I was when I was angsting about our money. Hopefully I'll eventually be able to wean myself of recording everything I spend out of my own bank account.

See you all for Dx: Affluenza next Saturday!


  1. This is a great idea! I should really keep an account like this too. I've been working the past few years to clear my credit card debt, fingers crossed it should happen in the next month then I can start saving again! There'll always be something unexpected every month but the ski stuff sounds like a good investment as you enjoy it so much. Good luck with it all! :-)

    1. Thank you! It sounds like you've been making great progress yourself. If you have any suggestions or would like to write a guest post, let me know!

  2. I fear I've been a spending machine this month. For me it all boils down to two major categories: cats and biking. I've spent a bunch of money on vet bills, medication and supplements for my ailing kitty, but most of it will be reimbursed by insurance, and the rest is money I wouldn't hesitate to spend because I love him so.

    And since he's been doing better I've been back on the bike, which means I've realized how woefully inadequate my winter biking clothes are! So I've dropped several hundred bucks on wool socks, balaclavas, winter bike gloves, warm base layers, winter jerseys, and I'm still drooling over a warm winter biking jacket. Truth be told, I could easily drop a grand on bike clothes - and discovering that I can find them for a fraction of their regular cost at the thrift store is a mixed blessing (OK - I won't buy bike shorts used, that's too gross even for me) but my closet is quickly filling up with "essentials" that I didn't even know existed a few months ago. I also end up getting more than I really need because they're there and geez... how can I turn down a $75 jersey for $4?

    I guess I just have to call it a learning experience, and when I figure out what is gonna work for me I'll get rid of everything that doesn't cut it... really, truly I will! Ug.

    1. Glad the kitty is doing better. There's not much point to life without friends like our pets, and the people we love too.

      Oh, I am absolutely the same way about cycling stuff! Fortunately it's way too cold to ride here right now. If we're ever in the same town we need to ride together!

  3. I'm not sure I'd be putting the ski equipment in as orange - it sounds like you'll use it and it will bring a lot of happiness into your life. But as for the rest of it, sounds like a great idea. It sounds like you are setting up good habits.
    Christine the Stage 1 Hoarder (who needs to get back to decluttering instead of catapulting birds at pigs)

    1. Thanks! Like anything else, I'm realizing the habits will take a while to develop. Good luck with your goals as well!


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