Finances

What I spent: April 2017

What I spent: April 2017 | RISING*SHINING

Tracking our spending assiduously, including my own personal allowance spending, continues to be so satisfying. I'm finding it easy in some ways to stick (pretty much) to my budget of $100 of personal allowance spending per month, but hard in other ways.

There are SO! MANY! things I want to buy during the month. By sharing my purchases at the end of the month I might make it look easy to stick to a personal allowance budget but please know that it is not without plenty of restraint!

I've noticed that I'm especially bombarded with "wants" scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest. No surprise but it does leave me thinking of ways to avoid triggering a "buy" impulse. I've shared my method of snapping a photo instead of making a purchase when I'm in a store. I now have collections on my phone for DECOR, CLOTHES, and PLANTS. Those seem to be the things where I'm most tempted to spend money. That helps but wanting to spend up to and beyond my monthly budget remains something I have to actively fight. I've started unsubscribing to brand Instagram feeds for that reason. Instead, I'll try to save a photo to Pinterest of something I like from the brand and then unsubscribe from the feed. 

What all this makes me thing of is how incredibly, and perhaps grossly, privileged I am. On the one hand I can fret that there are so many things that others have that I "can't have." On the other hand, I can think of how rich you have to be to have a budget of $100 per month to spend on whatever you want. I recognize how luxurious this is. But then when you surround yourself with others living the same luxurious life it's alarming how easy it is to feel that I don't have enough.

I try to practice gratitude regularly for all that I have, to get perspective on how wealthy we are and to look for fulfillment outside of material possessions. But I do want to be honest that there are plenty of things I'd love to buy and often wish that I could.   

What I spent in April:

$10.88 - vintage Girl Scout Handbook found while antiquing. I love finding old books on topics dear to me. I was a Girl Scout until my junior year in high school and have fond memories of earning badges and camping in the woods. I'm still friend with many of the girls from Troop 1039.

$16.71 - embroidery supplies to work on the embroidery pattern that I purchased in March. I started the project in Austin and spent a few hours over the week stitching on my parents beautiful screened-in back porch and looking at the Texas oak trees.

$3.99 - coffee at Starbucks for myself and one of Dash's preschool teachers. She mentioned she hadn't had time to have coffee that day and I said that no one who teaches preschoolers should be without coffee.

$12.62 - breakfast at the airport on my way to Austin.

$18.78 - breakfast tacos and coffee with a dear girl friend while home in Austin, my treat. We arrived for breakfast and stayed until they were starting to bring out fajitas for the lunch crowd around us. 

$5.41 - coffee + cookie treat during a work day which felt so luxurious. Technically I could not include this in my monthly spending because my dad always likes to slip me a $20 when I'm home so I used "dad dollar" cash. But to be conservative I'm counting it against my monthly spending.

$15.00 - mascara x 2 (because I'm trying to change my mascara more frequently instead of using the same one for more than a year) and cuticle clippers.

$31.68 - dinner at Postino to celebrate a girl friend's birthday. The best bruschetta.

$2.11 - again with the Starbucks! Small cup of coffee. In my defense, a colleague asked me to connect with someone they know for a networking/informational interview. 

Total spent: $117.18 out of $100 budgeted. 

 

In March $101.35 out of $100 budgeted

In February 2017: $78.57 of $100 budgeted

In January 2017: $126.25 of $150 budgeted


What I spent: March 2017

1704_whatspent

Although I'm a little behind on this update, staying accountable is helping me to stick to my monthly personal allowance budget. So, here's what I spent in March:

$6.46 - Trolls soundtrack for the boys. Sadly, they weren't as into this as I had hoped so it didn't feel like money well spent.

$9.65 - Treated a visiting friend to lunch at Uprooted Kitchen with the help of a gift card. 

$17.05 - Girls' night out with friends. Although I'm frustrated with myself because I realized after we had left that I was over-charged by about $5. I meant to call and rectify it but never did, which is my fault.

$44.27 - a Blurb photo book of our wedding, which I fiiiiianally made all these years later and gave to Chris for our anniversary! This would have been more expensive but Blurb had a 40% off promotion, which was part of my motivation to finally do this. It feels so good to check that off my list, and to have a beautiful keepsake of our wedding. 

$4.70 - new nail polish color and $5 off because I had Walgreens points to use

$2.11 - cup of coffee at Starbucks while on a work day

$15 - an embroidery pattern from Sarah K. Benning. She released a pattern I had been thinking of for months so I decided to buy it. It's my first time to embroider and I'm having so much fun! 

$2.11 - cup of coffee at Starbucks while at work. As I write this the second time I'm annoyed at how expensive a cup of coffee seems. Wasn't it $1.65 just yesterday? Back in my day...

Total spent: $101.35 out of $100 budgeted. First month over budget! But at least not by much. 

In February 2017: $78.57 of $100 budgeted

In January 2017: $126.25 of $150 budgeted

 

 


What I spent: February 2017

What I spent in February 2017 | RISING*SHINING

After Chris and I both did a great job in January of staying within our personal allowance budgets we decreased our budgets. Chris decreased his from $150 to $80 and we decreased mine from $150 to $100. Note that we also have a joint personal allowance budget each month of $150 which covers any date nights plus babysitting and family outings including eating out.

In February I continued my new habit of tracking every purchase in Mint and making sure it was appropriately categorized. I'm even going to far to split transactions if needed and allocate to different budgets. 

I used to track things in Mint in waves. I'd be really into it for a while but fall out of the habit. Cleaning up all our Mint budgets and making sure we have the right budgets set at the right amounts has helped get me back into the tracking habit. And I'm sticking with it in a way I never have. The more Chris and I track our spending the more we are sticking to our budgets, which is so satisfying, and reinforcing the tracking behavior.

Personal allowance spending for February 2017:

$5 - one box of Thin Mints, which because I'm a moderator I will make last all year! I know this is ridiculous but I stash them in my drawer at work. I'll eat a sleeve when I finish my crazy report season in August and another sometime this fall.

$18 - two-year renewal of Sunset Magazine

$2.96 - coffee at Starbucks while I worked and killed some time before volunteering at preschool.

$3.50 - a protein shake as part of Chris's Valentine's gift

$2.96  - coffee at Liberty Market by myself when we had run out of coffee. I just sat for 10 minutes with no book or phone. Such a minor-seeming thing but I remember it being so calming.

$7.34 - breakfast with book club gals at a favorite spot

$10 - a get well gift for a friend

$11.50 - tsoynami date to treat my amazing co-worker who is moving to Boston. Sad face.

$17.31 - happy hour + snacks with my book club

Total spent: $78.57 of $100 budgeted

+ + +

In January 2017: $126.25 of $150 budgeted

 


What I spent: January 2017

Jan2017_final

In December, Chris and I had our annual goals and budget meeting. We reviewed our budget (kept in an Excel spreadsheet) and made sure each category of spending aligned correctly with a budget in Mint. We made a few changes and did some general tidying to our budget - it was so satisfying!

So January felt like a "fresh" start to our budget (always appealing) plus Chris and I made a goal of spending very little of our personal allowance money. As a result I've been tracking every dollar we/I spend in Mint - and I have been loving it.

We are each budgeted $150/month of personal allowance money. It's what we use if we buy coffee or a meal out or want to buy anything beyond groceries and what we need to have around the house. Even though $150 seems like a lot to me we both find ourselves over-spending most months. While at the same time neither of us feels like we are extravagant spenders! 

By tracking every dollar we spent this month we have both stayed well within our personal allowance budgets. PLUS we've stayed within other budgets like groceries, household services (lawn care, cleaners, other things that come up) and for home supplies (lightbulbs, etc. plus disposable diapers and wipes).

Our month of "no extra spending" was a failure in that we did each spend personal allowance money. But it was a huge success in that neither of us over-spent and it feels like we're establishing new habits of tracking every dollar. Something that helped me stay within my personal allowance budget was making sure that I reimbursed myself for things like gifts and business expenses (for my podcasts). We have separate savings accounts for those and I always mean to rectify the spending but often think, "Oh it'll work out." And what works out is that I overspend my personal allowance. No more!

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to share how I spent my personal allowance money this month. Perhaps it will be a recurring monthly feature. It's certainly a good way to stay accountable to my budget!

Personal allowance spending in January 2017: 

$24.33 - 2017 Nikki McClure calendar for my office

$17.32 - brunch out with a dear friend in Tucson. This charge is a little annoying because we actually went out at the end of December so it should have been a December expense but it didn't hit until January. 

$10 - Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art to see Push Comes to Shove: Women and Power (amazing)

$7.20 - coffee and gelato post-museum with a feisty friend

$3.76 - hot tea at book club. Normally I'd get a beer and I definitely could have bought nothing...but I didn't.

$6.27 - Phoenix Women's March small registration donation + online service fee.

$39.97 - printing my Women's March poster and having it mounted on foam board at Office Max 

$10.78 - beer and a slice of pizza at book club happy hour

$7.20 - iced cold brew + delicious blondie during a Girl Next Door Podcast work session

Total spent: $126.25/$150

Even though I ended up spending more than I thought I would I feel good about it! My Women's March poster was a bit of an unexpected expense and the most expensive thing I bought. Totally worth it. I'm saving the ~$24 "left over" in my personal savings account for a rainy day.

I'm interested to see if I can remain on budget for my personal allowance going forward. One-hundred and fifty dollars can go alarmingly fast, all the more reason to track every dollar.


Home style Photo Streams to collect ideas and save money

Collect home ideas + save money | RISING*SHINING

I love making our home cozy and functional. It's essentially a project I'm always working on. And finally, after eight years, I'm starting to feel confident in how I want to decorate and style our home. I have a lot of ideas about the yard, too. But all these ideas often lead me to want things for the house, which can quickly translate to spending money.

This year, Chris and I have an aggressive savings goal of $20,000. We chatted our our 2017 budget and savings goals in a recent Matrimoney episode if you'd like all the details. Our savings goal is possible but it requires sticking to our budget. Lots of spending for this and that around the house won't help us get there. 

Even though I can't spend a lot I still love collecting ideas for our house and yard. It helps me learn how to get the look I want, or to figure out a cheaper solution than buying new. Sometimes just capturing an idea and sitting on it lets me let go of the desire to change something or get something new entirely; I realize that what we've got is just fine.

Pinterest is great for collecting ideas, and I love to use it, but it doesn't help me when I'm browsing Target, an antique store or a plant nursery. Me at all of these places: "I want EVERYthing!"

So I figured out something to help: take a picture!

Collect home ideas + save money | RISING*SHINING

Apparently I'm REALLY into giant pinecones. So if you're looking for a gift for me...

I had this idea while using iPhone Photo Stream, the shared photo album option in your Photos app if you're rocking an iPhone. If not, a shared Google Photos album is the same idea. And you know I love organizing photos with Google Photos

I already use Photo Streams for sharing pictures of the boys with friends and family, and for sharing podcast photos with Erica. I realized that I could create home style Photo Stream albums that were just for me, and that they would be a great way to "park" things that I want to buy. It's a similar idea to Pinterest except with my own photos.

So I created two home style Photo Streams for myself: DECOR and PLANTS. Essentially it's for inside the house and for our yard. I'm happy to report that these are helping me so much!

Collect home ideas + save money | RISING*SHINING Collect home ideas + save money | RISING*SHINING

Now I take photos to avoid buying impulsively or when I see something that inspires me. Recently I've been leafing through old issues of Sunset magazine to get ideas for our yard. When I see something I like I just snap a photo and add it to the PLANTS album. And when I visited a friend in Tucson we walked around a cute neighborhood and I snapped lots of pictures of desert-scaled yards.

Taking a photo is strangely satisfying and removes the back and forth worrying over "should I get this?" Now the answer is, "Not right now."

The impulse to buy is so crazy. In the moment acquiring something new feels so important. But for me, making the decision not to buy and walking away without spending extra money is much more satisfying.