So, I've been tracking my spending per my monthly audit, which I wrote about earlier this month. I believe the key to progress and improvement is having a clear idea of the status quo. All of my attempts to 'better' an area of my life were weak or ill-fated until I started tracking the specific area I wished to improve.
Tracking, for me, means writing it down and then forgetting about it until the end. If I pay too close attention to the numbers while I'm measuring, it sort of infects the experiment. I need to just write it down, set it aside and go about my life as usual; otherwise, the results are skewed.
I know. I'm so scientific and legit.
Anyway, I tracked my spending for the month of November.
Before crunching numbers, I would have guessed I'd spent the most money this month on groceries and eating out.
Well, so, this morning I added it up. Then, I asked Google how the hell to make a pie chart in Excel. I mean, I could pretty much get a full-blown engineering degree now...what with this super professional pie chart:
You'd think it would go ahead and put the percentages in for me; alas, that's another Google search I don't have the mental bandwidth for.
Here's how it breaks down:
Groceries: 25% of spending (includes prescriptions, cleaning supplies, etc.)
Gas: 5% of spending (for my car only)
Fitness: 5% of spending (Jazzercise, workout videos, ballet lessons)
Grooming: 7% (hair color, cut, lip balm)
Gifts: 16% (birthday and Christmas)
Household Items: 18% (we moved into a new house, so there is a lot to do)
Kids Care: 10% (haircuts and new eye glasses)
Clothes: 8% (kids and adults)
Eating Out: 7% (Starbucks, meals, etc.)
I'm really surprised here. Household Items make up the 2nd largest expenditure next to food???
To be fair, I bought new sheets, bathroom supplies and lamps. It wasn't cheap, either. We finally live in our own home (after 14 years of renting), so I wanted to buy items I'd love for the long haul. Still. That's a big chunk of spending.
As I look at all of the details, I can definitely see some emotional/non-essential spending.
Clothes (I spent $262) could have been cut in half. There were some new jackets needed, as we no longer live in AZ. So, it wasn't all rabid spending. Still.
The household stuff will likely continue to play a role in spending, at least for a while. But looking at the numbers helped me simply see how much of a role it's playing.
I'm shocked we didn't spend more on eating out. I really thought we had a problem there. In total, I spent around $250, and that includes Starbucks runs and little snacks while on-the-go.
As I look at the breakdown, I can see room for improvement; although I realize the holidays are a tough time to get a realistic view of overall spending.
In general, though, I'm not too upset. When I look over the itemized list of my spending, I can see little tweaks and cuts, but most of what I purchased was thought-out, intentional and useful.
It really does feel good to have a clear picture. It's better than I thought, which makes it all feel less willy-nilly. So often, I'm afraid to track things because I don't want to know the results. There is this little land of bliss where things are fuzzy and hard numbers kind of detour to another part of town. But those hard numbers aren't as scary as I thought.
I'm going to keep tracking for a bit and look for a few months worth of spending to see averages, but I feel confident that if I need to spend less, I can. And I feel better knowing my purchases were, for the most part, intentional rather than thoughtless or emotional.
That's it for November. A new audit begins in a few days.
Happy Thursday! December is upon us.