Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fun with spreadsheets part I: Budgeting based on satisfaction

After reading the Financial Minimalist's post about tracking finances not so much based on categories, but instead on how much energy it took to make that particular purchase (eg. the number of hours you had to slave away at your job to pay for that one thing) I decided to take a look at my purchases in a similar way. For me, things divided into three categories: real honest-to-gosh needs, things that were worth the money, and things that weren't. In the end I had a pretty short list of things that didn't give me satisfaction. You'll notice a pattern pretty quickly.

Diet soda at work  $2.00  eating out
Diet soda  $1.50  eating out
Pizza and chips  $5.00  eating out
Diet tea  $2.00  eating out
Diet soda  $2.00  eating out
Diet tea  $2.00  eating out
Kindle book$12.99 entertainment
Twinkies  $4.00  groceries

Well, well, well. Not surprising from a girl who's struggled with food issues most of her life. And oddly enough, not a single object on that list. It's not the stuff that's cluttering up my life and draining me financially. This month it wasn't a super huge drain, around $33*.

In spite of my attempts to cut down on diet soda because it can make me binge, I spent $10 on this fantastically harmful stuff in a bottle. It always makes me crave sugar, which explains the twinkies. My goal next month is to buy a six-pack of cans of diet soda and keep a couple at home and a couple at work. This is far less expensive than the bottles I've been getting at work. It will also mean that I will be consuming less diet soda/tea than this month because at work all that is available is 20 oz bottles. Cutting this stuff out completely won't work yet.

The pizza happened when I got caught away from home and office with no packed lunch and suddenly found myself ravenous. If I'd been prepared and carried food with me as I'm always supposed to, that wouldn't have happened. I don't think I wanted pizza and chips, it just happened to be the closest thing around. Not satisfying. Must remember to carry food with me at all times. Even if it's just cheese crackers and prunes.

The Kindle book was, yet again, my eating disorder talking. It's a book on "staying slim," but it actually was one of the most sane 'diet' books I've ever read, as it focused on weight maintenance. Still probably wasn't a good idea to read, and even still, I should've gotten it from the library. It was a little triggering, but in spite of all of this I haven't binged in 20 days!

Lesson learned -- my wasted money all seems to have something to do with feeding my eating disorder and falls into the "eating out" category. I've justified all of it by thinking, "oh, it's just one soda," or "oh, it's just $2." It all adds up. This is what I'll have to pay attention to this month.

*That "little" $33 trickle? If I kept up this habit for 10 years, I'd spend over $4,000 on stuff that wasn't satisfying.

1 comment:

  1. Have you read "Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin? Their system involves calculating how much you "really" make per hour (when you include all the time that you spend for work when you're not actually getting paid - like commuting, stressing about work, shopping for work clothes, working to pay for money for commuting and de-stressing, and work clothes, etc.)

    Then you track everything you spend and figure out how many hours of your life it really cost you and decide how you feel about it. It was a HUGE eye opener for me and totally changed many of my internal money battles.

    I've often wondered if I could somehow apply the same principle to food... like how much enjoyment did I really get out of those peanut butter cookies that I didn't really like but ate anyway. Not quite sure how to structure it, but it does make me think...

    Anyhow, I gave up all artificial sweeteners, protein bars and shakes, and any and all sweet tasting things that were supposedly "diet food" many years ago. The stuff just always backfired on me because it would get me into the whole craving sweets thing without ever really satisfying the craving.

    Now, I try to just eat lots and lots of fruit - and let myself have as much as I want... even if it's the ridiculously expensive stuff like strawberries or white peaches. And if I REALLY want something sweeter, I treat myself to the real thing. It's soooo much more satisfying, and it doesn't usually set me off onto one of those things where I kinda sorta got to have a treat, but not really so now I'm craving sweets even more than I was before...

    It generally works really well... except, of course, in cases like the terrible (and therefore unsatisfying) peanut butter cookies. But perhaps I shouldn't count them as the "real thing" since what I really wanted was a Dairy Queen Blizzard... shoulda just gone out and gotten the Blizzard.


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