Wisedebther Weekly Spending 1/28/18-2/3/18

January was gone in a flash ! Lucky for me this weekend was an EXTRA long one. My mom visited from Mass. and although she left this morning, I have the rest of the day off to play catch up, both with cleaning and my finances.

Compared to last week, this one was a heavy hitter in terms of spending. The beginning of the month signals rent due, plus with visitors I always tend to spend a little more on groceries to make sure we are stocked with both essentials + “fun” foods/drinks. The detailed numbers are below:

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Wisedebther Weekly Spending 1/21/18-1/29/18

Well well well.. back to Monday. I spent a good deal of the weekend playing catch up with some work-related stuff. Although it wasn’t the most recreational weekend in the books, I sure did save a lot of $$ as a result. I also have my mom in town for a long weekend, meaning I’ll have plenty of leisure time ahead. My weekly spending is below:

In terms of categories, my highest expense was household, which consisted of a Target run to pick up some cleaning/house supplies. In my debt pay off, I’ve learned to avoid stores like Target, Walmart, etc, because they are spending ‘sieves’ . Money flows out of my wallet a little too quickly in those parts….EVEN when I make a list. I find its easy to rationalize “I need X, Y, Z”, particularly when it relates to household stuff. Now, I realize this is personal and perhaps the same way other people may feel in a clothing store, but for me its one of my weakness areas. $61 seems like a good chunk of change (and it is !), but back in my debt ignorance phase, I would easily slide into the $100 range. Small, little baby steps…

Food expenses were low because I had done my shopping on Saturday of the previous week. And “Funtivities” consisted of 2 coffee dates–both work related. One was for a meeting and the other was a Saturday pick me up before diving back into report writing. Finally, Misc. was office supplies + postage fees.

An easy and simple week. Aside from tallying up my numbers I find there are other benefits to keeping track of spending on a weekly basis. Whenever I add up my numbers, I take a “deep dive” into my bank account statements. It serves as a reality check and keeps me honest. It also keeps me motivated to know where I will be in terms of cash flow once I’m debt free.

This leads quite seamlessly into my exciting decision. By March 1, 2018, I will be officially debt-free! Based on my calculated earnings, upcoming tax-return ( I still don’t know exact amount getting back), emotional comfort with where my emergency fund stands, I am ready to say ADIOS to my debt!

Thus, this next month I’ll be aiming to maintain/lower my expenses wherever possible. I envision using weekly spending for the next few months, particularly as I want to ensure I don’t have any unplanned spending spikes as I adjust to my debt free lifestyle. However, I’ll be frank, I don’t think daily/weekly calculations will continue to benefit me in the long-term. I want to find greater automation in my tracking. I’m not exactly sure what this will look like, maybe Personal Capital or something else. The jury is out on that one.

At any rate, I’m ready to get to watching some “Bachelor” drama. Wishing all a fruitful financial week ahead!

Debt-Free Diet Part II

Food, glorious food ! If you are just tuning in, Part 1 of my Debt Free Diet can be found here. That’s where I explain my horrendous and expensive journey to getting real with my food costs. Luckily, I saw the light and have vastly changed my expensive grocery shopping ways.

Cashew the cat enjoys the Debt free diet too!

Alright y’all, let me be honest though. The truth of the matter is, I’m a newbie in the life of a frugal food consumer, circa November 2017ish or so. And listen, I use the term frugal super lightly. Let’s just say, it’s frugal my way. The things that work for me, I’m definitely NOT preaching for others to follow. Nor, am I suggesting this is the cheapest or ‘best’ route. What I would “preach”, is that if you are in debt or otherwise hoping to reach other financial goals…food expenses are worth looking into! So, without further ado, these are the strategies our 2 person + Cashew the Cat household have used to considerably reduce our food costs:

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Debt Free Diet Part I

 

Food has been my Achille’s heel on my debt-free journey. Certain things have been easy for me to sacrifice, mainly clothes shopping + “going out” to restaurants /bars. But, ‘food shopping’…man that was the bill that was getting me good, until now that is ! What changed? Basically, it was a lot of trial and error.

Per usual, I’d like to back pedal to HOW I got here. It’s more about the journey than the end point, right? In fact, I realized in writing about this, I have a lot to say about food. Hence, I decided to break this post into two. One with my food buying history and Part II with my  current food budgeting solution.

And now, for a trip down memory lane…

Back when I was single, circa 2011-2013, I was able to keep my food bills SO low, like $30-60(?) per week low, with the occasional spike or dip. One big meal, like a stew or chili, could feed me for days. I brought cheap, bag lunches to work such as PB & J with a fruit, or yogurt , nuts, & crackers. Looking back towards those days, it was not the most fulfilling part of my life, neither professional nor personal. Yet, damn I could learn a thing or 2 from my former self !

The inception of grad. school in 2013 coincided with the beginning of my courtship. Some may say this was perfect timing, or others absolutely horrible timing. Whatever it was, it happened! And like that, my food bills slowly crept up. Honestly, it probably wasn’t even that slow. I was mainly consumed with the following and not necessarily in this order: 1. not failing out of school, 2. adjusting to my new city, Miami, and 3. being in a new relationship <3.

Thus, my spending, particularly as it relates to food was not a priority. Not only did my weekly food shopping expenses go up, but so did my outside of the house food expenses. I was buying more food to feed a man + making more meals per week to feed said man. During our first few years of  dating, he always paid for our meals/drinks/treats outside of the house (90%) and I picked up more of the grocery costs (70%). By the way, these percentages are total educated guesses ! I was also going to Starbucks on the reg and buying salad lunches as “needed” ($5-8). I did occasionally bring my lunc (it came and went in spurts), but if I haven’t been clear enough already, food budget was NOT my priority !

To add some more fuel to the spending fire, my weekly shopping trips were haphazard. Nothing for dinner? No problem ! I would stop by one of my neighborhood’s 2 pricey grocery stores and drop anywhere from $20-30 on a ‘few’ items. Sure, I would make lists every week, but they were so disorganized and not always well thought out. Meanwhile, my partner was eating out for lunch EVERY day…yup every day. He doesn’t do this anymore, by the way.

Finally, add in dining out for coffee and/or dinner at Least 1 X per week. We lived in a fun city, we were young, we were tired, and the WORST — We deserved it. The excuses and the $$ were flowing…

Unfortunately, I can’t access my credit card statements from back in those days. Am I not trying hard enough? Not sure, don’t care! I know it was bad and I sure learned from it!

Now, to present-“ish” day. 2017 was my first full year in Tampa. The area I reside in currently is nothing like my former Miami neighborhood. We live much further from the majority of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops aside from those located in our little suburb. Unknowingly, we moved to the “baby raising” part of town without having any babies of our own, as of yet.  We immediately slowed down on our eating out expenses. To be candid, it was forced more than an active decision.

Food shopping expenses, however, did not slow down. For example, in Winter 2017 I enrolled in Hello Fresh for approximately 4-5 weeks. Bye, $300! Additionally, my haphazard shopping trips although decreasing in frequency, still prevailed. My partner would comment at times, “you are spending too much. Or, we don’t use all that we buy.” Mostly, I would bark back too stubborn and proud to listen.

I was still filled with excuses, and they sounded something like this: We need to eat healthy, We are ‘saving’ more than going out to eat, and the very familiar– We deserve it. Every time I left the register at the check out line, I would get a pang in my stomach. How in the world did I spend so much?

Here are some food expense numbers, directly from my Mint app:

-October 2017: $815

-November 2017: $455

-December 2017:$305

-January (up through January 18th): $236

Seriously, what the hell was October? Looking back at the receipts it was a few crazy high expensive weekly trips, with some  of those ‘rando’ trips for a few items spurted in. This was also one of our trickiest months as a household–Post Hurricane-Irma, Maria, Partner working at a commission based job). I was doing our household a HUGE disservice by not having my food budget/spending together !

Nevertheless, I had my “wake up call” in realizing that I was severely hindering my debt-pay off through spending so much on freaking Food! In the next post, I’ll outline what I *think* has been our “Magic Bullet” in reducing food expenses. Stay tuned …

 

Wisedebther Weekly Spending 12.11.17-12.17.17

Wisedebther Weekly Spending is back!! I falsely reported
earlier this week that my last weekly spending report was around Thanksgiving… it was in fact the first week of November. Funny how the mind plays tricks on ya.

Anyway, I’m a bit distracted over here because I just put a bid on eBay for a wedding dress that costs, wait for it… $86!!!!!! I can’t even believe it myself. It’s long, lace on top, but not too fancy either (I’m planning to elope). If all pans out AND the dress fits, I’ll be sure to report more!

Sooo spending this week. I’ll just cut right to the chase. Here it is:

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Wisdebther Weekly Spending 10/08/17-10/14/17

I can’t believe October is already half-over. I’ve had the luxury of time this month to really focus on where the hell my $$ is going. I’m about a month into my weekly tracking and figured that sharing it here in a short and sweet summary would be just another way to hold me accountable.

My categories are mostly self-explanatory, aside from “Funtivity”. This is the word Juan and I use to describe any outside activity/spending that is “fun” based. “Funtivity” runs a gamut including coffee shop, drinks/dinner out, a concert, beach day, or basically any other recreational FUN only activity. Although I also consider exercise to be fun (well, sometimes), I put that in its own Health and Wellness category. That said, I arbitrarily chose these categories and am aware that it may not be quite as obvious to the outside observer. I feel a bit naked sharing this, but that’s probably a good thing, right? Ok , deep breath here we go…

Spending re-cap: Clearly, the spending was high this week (AKA cash flow in the Neg). But, after factoring out that extra loan payment, which also allowed me to say bye bye to a whole Loan, my spending was $241.33. The food category is deceivingly low, since I spent quite a lot the week prior, >$100. This was because I had a guest in town and always try to make sure the house is well-stocked with snacks and drinks! In terms of my household expenses ($81.46), that was actually a trip mixed in with a few self-maintenance items (e.g. face wash, toothpaste, body wash). However, I lost the Walmart receipt and I’m trying not to let perfect be the enemy of good ;0).

Unless I hit the lottery, my spending this October has me in the Red. Yet, I don’t feel too down about it. I’m feeling closer and closer to the finish line of debt free and that feeling has got me amped and ready to go! If I can get this budget thing down pat before my debt is gone-zo, I’ll feel ready to conquer the world! Ok, in reality, just my personal finances if I’m lucky…

Until next time, Wisedebther to live better! xo

Debt Organization Part II

Back in July, I committed to a number(ish): $7000-8000. This is the range I decided would be feasible for me to pay off before the curtain closes on 2017. And so far, so good…

I have paid off $4,508 since the summer. This means I have less than $4K to go to reach the highest point of my goal. I have eliminated 4 loans in their entirety since 2017 began and ONLY have 3 loans left [All $4-5K]. In total, I have $13,455.61 before being officially debt free! Woo hoo!

Saying the goal ($7,000-8,000) is the easy part. To my surprise, the other easy part is paying the loan. I find it oddly satisfying to see that number dwindling away, bit by bit. Anyone else feel the same? Now the HARD part has been actually tracking my cash flow…

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Summer 2017: It’s a wrap!

 

Now that it is officially Fall, I figured I better jump my butt into gear and tie up all my Summer loose ends.  First up, personal life, followed by $$$$$! Disclaimer, this post is a ‘hodge podge’ of sorts and much heavier on the personal stuff than money.

Personal Life: 

August was a high point of the summer. There was 2 weddings + Vacation!

The first August wedding took me near my hometown and alma mater up in the Boston area. I took off Thursday and Friday in order to have ample time to visit with family and childhood friends. On Friday, my mom threw a casual get together with our close family friends and their “kids”. “Kids” because they are definitely not children anymore. In fact, one of my friends is expecting her first baby this upcoming winter. I’m so excited for my friend and her husband <3!! The rest of the weekend was a whirlwind of fun. We saved some $$ by bunking with one of my college buddies in the hotel and off we went to seriously one of the most beautiful weddings. The weather was iffy with clouds and a few sprinkles, and I kid you not that after their first kiss… the sky opened! How romantic! We danced and drank the night way and less than 24 hours later we were back in Tampa.

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Summer wardrobe + Student debt

The clock is ticking. The unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day, is almost upon us. The Type-A, planning type that I am means that I’m revving up for the season to come. Personally, this equates to a few upcoming work trips, but more importantly THREE weddings of college friends + ONE bachelorette. It’s going to be a great summer!

My clothing spending has been slim since 2017 began. I invested in a new pair of running sneakers and a pair of workout pants in January, and a replacement black cardigan in February (a wardrobe staple!!). Aside from those few things, I spent nothing! Part of this has to do with the fact that I recently started a job where I work from home. I have the luxury of rolling out of bed and wearing whatever I want.  But, to be honest it usually feels good to change into something somewhat civilized. I don’t know what it is, but it just gets my mind in the game for work mode. “Civilized” for me is nothing fancy, a t-shirt, jeans, casual dress, some sandals, etc. Regardless, I’m totally winning in the work wardrobe department.

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