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How I’m Turning A Month Of Extreme Spending Into A Month Of (Hopefully) Saving

Makes no sense, right? Right. It truly doesn’t make sense. But in a desperate attempt to take some financial control over life as it moves more quickly than I ever expected it to, I am going to take my TFD-penny-pinching-persona to the next level and be as hyperaware about my money situation as possible. Here’s why:

Over the next 30 or so days, I will be spending the most money I pretty much ever have in my life (minus school payments, which were made slowly, on a payment plan, with help and even a small loan, and minus my car, for which I paid half and financed the rest, making it feel a tiny bit more manageable).

In fact, the month of spending has already started. Here’s what I have so far:

A week ago today, my boyfriend Drew and I adopted a puppy – a French bulldog named Gaston – who has quickly become the literal love of my life, but also is already proving to be hella expensive to care for. (I dropped hundreds in the first week alone on supplies and his new puppy checkup at the vet, and will spend more in early June on his next round of vaccines.)

We also happen to be moving on Memorial Day weekend, which is soon as heck and stressing me out to even think about because our apartment is just barely a quarter of the way packed. (We are both so busy right now, we may need to enlist some paid help.)

Our puppy pick-up date happened to be two weeks earlier than our move-in date, so since our current apartment is puppy-unfriendly, I’ve packed a duffel bag (and about seven DSW bags, judge me) full of clothes and moved into my parents’ house for two weeks to care for our smol pupper while the apartment continues to get packed and ready to move.

The moving itself is going to be expensive: the initial move-in costs should be about $2500, and that’s not even counting the things we’ll need to get as soon as we move in, because a lot of our current belongings are literal trash and need to be thrown out during the move due to the fact that they are probably health risks, or simply won’t fit into our new space. (I will be attempting to put a lot of these purchases off for a bit, and live with “good enough” for a while, but there are some expenses we just won’t be able to avoid.)

Pair the costs of moving with the fact that I’m living out of a duffel bag for the next two weeks, and the expense start to add up even more. I don’t want to take advantage of my parents for being kind enough to let my puppy and I crash for a goddamn fortnight, so I’m obviously buying groceries and pitching in where I can so I don’t mooch off of them. However, the stress of not really having my own space and the fact that I’m not really sure how to grocery shop and prep/cook meals right now as my life in scattered pieces (paired with the fact that Drew is still living in our apartment and working his regular hours) means that I’ve been meeting Drew and buying food out more often than not.

So, here’s what we have so far: Puppies are expensive. Moving is expensive. New furniture/home things are expensive. Being unable to grocery shop/meal prep properly and relying on takeout is expensive. The costs added up a lot more quickly than I expected.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I sort of needed a kick in the ass to start paying more attention to my money.

I picked up more nannying work as I saw graduation approaching, and Drew and I both have been feeling like we’re in pretty good financial shape. We also have the excellent privilege of being in a relationship where one can pick up the financial slack when the other needs a lift, and we can combine our earnings to be a lot more powerful than they would be if we were each living on our own. That sort of comfort is exactly the thing that has made me a little less “edgy” about money, and perhaps would have become the thing that led to my financial downfall if I continued down this path of trusting the comfort so much that I don’t pay close enough attention.

But being so comfortable that you forget about goals, or even about paying real attention to your money, is not good.

Starting today, I’ve decided to try writing down every single thing I spend money on, at least for the next few weeks. I’ve never done this before, but considering the fact that I’m trying to food journal every day, it seems like it will be easy enough for me to “money-journal” too.

The thought is that journaling my spending – even the necessary, important, planned, budgeted-for, totally-okay spending – will help keep me aware of where my money is going, and remind me that it has much more important places to be this month than Starbucks. Money mindfulness is something I always struggle with — I’m always either paying too much attention, or not enough – but this practice, although new for me, seems like it could be key in changing the way I think about money, and making it a more mindful practice than a blurry, stressful one that I simply forget about when things aren’t in the toilet.

I’m not exactly sure how this will go for me – I’ve heard a lot of people have success with it before, but I’ve always steered clear just because I never felt like it would work quite right with my lifestyle and personality. (I am forgetful, I sometimes like to ignore things that don’t make me feel good, and I like to beat myself up for mistakes rather than rise to the occasion and fix them, so it seemed like this practice could be more damaging than anything.) However, I do think I’m at the point where my life – and my money – are such chaotic things that I really need to be making sure I’m paying attention to what is going on, rather than just checking my bank account once a week to make sure everything is cool.

In any case, I’ll update in a few weeks on how it is going – wish me luck!

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at!

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  • laura

    Ugh – moving is SO expensive, and sucks so much. It makes me want to stay in my current shitty-ish apartment forever. Can I ask what’s included in the $2500 moving costs you mentioned – does that include stuff like the security deposit?

    • Mary Parisi

      the $2500 is the security deposit and all that junk. wehhhh 🙁 It is SO expensive to move, I can’t wait until it is over!

  • Ana

    Moving cost… I can relate. I moved to a new place for a new job. That meant 1400€ security deposit, 300€ for a bed/couch, about 200€ for lamps and paint, 200€ for a bike for my daily commute. And of course everything has to be paid before the first paycheck from the new job.
    Once again, this shows how important it is to save some money. Without savings, I would have had to take the first (unattractive) job offer instead of being able to travel around for several job interviews.

  • Summer

    Moving is the literal WORST. This is one of my favorite recent pieces of yours, Mary. You’re showing a lot of self-awareness and being realistic as hell as about the challenges of the several life-changing endeavors happening all at once. Also, more instagrams of your pupper please.

    :y r u so smol:

    • Mary Parisi

      more pupper pictures: can do

  • Rebecca Ann

    I’m also moving over Memorial weekend, and also very stressed about it! This weekend is a bust, because I’m attending a convention from Friday – Sunday, so I don’t get to use that time to pack. Lease signing is next Wednesday (!!! How is that so soon??) and I’ve got the moving truck scheduled for Saturday morning. I’m hoping to be super-productive and proactive from Wed-Fri, and move the boxes and small things, so only the big stuff is left for Saturday. But who knows how that will go, since I also have to, you know, go to work, too. Anyway, good luck with your expense tracking and the move and the pupper!!!

    • Mary Parisi

      Thank you! Good luck to you, hopefully we all get out of this alive!

  • Ellie Hamilton

    Security deposit, rent at two places (almost ALWAYS ugh fml), moving truck cost, RANDOM MOVING NEEDS (misc food, tape, boxes, replacing shit you packed and have not found during unpacking)… it’s so shitty! What is with the food situation surrounding moving?! (AND VACATION can i just say.) Like, you dont wanna buy more food close to the move and then have an overflowing pantry and especially fridge/freezer, so you’re eating out then, then the moving days you’re eating out, then after you move your’e too tired to cook/all your cooking crap is buried in boxes. I always swear to myself I will clearly label my cooking stuff, have a grocery list, and just DO THE THING but apparently it is rocket science. hah

  • Court E. Thompson

    I have so many questions! How did you decide this was a good financial time to get a puppy? How did you decide what kind? How did you research breeders? How does this fit into your overall new joint-living budget? I’d love to read a piece about it! Pets are a huge financial decision! (And French bulldogs are so cute!!)