To my horror, last month’s credit card statement produced an usually high total. This prompted me to do a tedious line-by-line reading of what I charged each day. The slip up was a combination of a more lax attitude since the summer was coming to an end, and I was tempted by more YOLO spending than usual. I normally skim my credit card statements to make sure everything looks okay, but this month I felt like it was my financial duty to take a hard look at mistakes I might have made. Needless to say, there were more than a few. Here are the five most embarrassing ones that I’m still kicking myself over. Take a look.
1. MTA Subway car top up: $20
I am notorious for needing to shuffle through at least five MTA subway cards before I find the one with enough money on it to swipe myself through the turnstile. I have no idea how I managed to accrue no less than five MetroCards, but there it is. Each of them have a little bit of money on it, and I’ll usually be able to find one that has enough to get me on the subway. However, I was hurrying out the door the other day and forgot the pouch I keep all the cards in (along with other various odds and ends). This meant that when I finally got to the station I had to buy YET ANOTHER MTA CARD. I truly wanted to kick myself because I was so angry at the prospect of having to purchase another one of these. But, I had no time to run back to my place, so I had to bite the bullet and spend the $20. (I only buy cards in increments of $20 since I burn through them faster than I realize.)
This is, hands down, the easiest thing to keep from happening again. Since that fateful day, I’ve used up all the remaining balances on each of those superfluous MetroCards and slipped my go-to MTA card into my phone case. This way, I’m sure to ALWAYS have it on me — I’ll never flounder around for a pity swipe from one of my friends or buy another card.
2. Essie nail polish + base coat: $18
The other night, I was sitting at home trying to work but couldn’t focus because my nail polish was so badly chipped — my hands generally looked a mess. I went into my bathroom toiletry bag to find my nail strengthening polish (which I use to keep my nails from breaking), but couldn’t find it. Not being able to find something exactly when I need it usually doesn’t bother me this much, but I think I was just looking for something to procrastinate with so I didn’t have to finish the thing I was working on. I headed out to the store to pick up a replacement bottle — for a cool $9 — and was also tempted by a lovely light-pink neutral Essie polish that I just ~had to have~. The idea of an at-home manicure (further delaying my work, lel) was just what I needed. When I got back home and went to grab my nail polish remover and cotton balls, what do you think I found? The base coat I had been looking for previously. I had put it away in a random spot, and didn’t look hard enough before I went out to buy another. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
For me, being disorganized (to whatever extent) is usually the cause of roughly 90% of my unnecessary spending. Whether it’s being careless and damaging something, misplacing something, forgetting something, etc, it has a sneaky way of costing me more money than I realize. As a result of making this silly mistake, I repurposed an old change purse into a bag to house all of my nail polishes, nail care products, nail clippers, emery boards, etc. Now, everything I need is stored in one place where I can find everything exactly when I need it. No more frivolous spending!
3. Buying a dinner out that was 100% due to laziness: $25
A few weeks back, I went out karaoking with a group of friends in Midtown. However, since we all live Uptown, the plan was to meet at a bar for a drink and then head over to the subway outside. What was originally planned to be a quick drink to get us all socially lubed up — to scream into a microphone in a room with hot pinks lights — turned into a $30 affair. There was no reason for me to order dinner, but I did anyway. I could have easily taken just 10 minutes at home before leaving to make myself a quick homemade egg burrito (my go-to quick meal staple), but I didn’t. Instead I bought dinner out when I really should have been saving my spending money for karaoke (the place offered a pretty sweet deal, but still).
Having dinner at home before going out for drinks was something I always did in college when I was on a very tight budget, but have since ceased doing entirely. Grabbing drinks with friends usually involves some kind of food order or shared nibbles which usually runs me an extra $20. Normally, if I’m hungry and it’s the dinner hour I don’t mind as much. However, when I’m not even meeting friends for drinks until 8pm, there’s no excuse not to eat something at home before heading out to catch up with them. This is something I’m going to be much more conscious of now and will hopefully nip a little bit of that extra spending in the bud.
4. Two Ubers to work: $16
Normally, when I head to work at TFD HQ, my “start time” is pretty flexible since we all work at home regularly. However, on the few occasions I need to be there at a specific time, I’m inevitably running a few minutes behind. This means that in some instances I find myself hailing an Uber instead of taking the 20 minutes to walk there, and avoid being REALLY late. This has happened to me twice in the last two weeks, and even though the Uber trips only cost six to eight dollars, it’s so painful to swipe and hit “request car.” It’s a completely avoidable expense if I do a little planning ahead, and it’s not a service I should be funneling money into.
I’ve created a little morning routine for myself that keeps me on track even if I’m working from home. To avoid frantically running around in the AM because I haven’t allotted myself enough time, I take care of what I can the evening before. I clean out the espresso pot and leave it on the stove so it’s ready to be filled, I’ll set out my clothes so I know exactly when I’m wearing, and I’ll pack up anything I plan to eat for lunch so I’m not doing anything last minute. This not only helps ensure that I get to where I’m going on time, but it also makes me feel infinitely less stressed out before the work day starts. I used to also try and squeeze additional work in during my mornings, and still do when I need to, but I’m trying to get most of what I can done a day ahead so I’m never rushing. This little bit of prep work makes it easy to save money on in-a-hurry transportation.
5. iTunes movie rental: $8
LOL at this silly mistake — it’s a perfect example of how I tend to spend more money when I’m not being careful. So, a few weekends back I was at my parents house and had caught (what I now know to be 7/8 of) a movie that was playing on HBO. I don’t have a fancy channel package at my apartment, so there was no way to finish it up when I got back home unless I rented it. I went into iTunes, purchased the movie rental, and discovered to my dismay that there were like, 15 minutes left of the movie. (Of course, I only discovered this afterwards once I already paid.) I wanted to kick myself for spending $8 on such a stupid thing, especially when the movie wasn’t even that good to begin with.
Now, I’m going to at least check online to see if I can watch the movie for free somewhere or check to see if it’s available on Amazon Prime Video or Netflix first, which I have subscriptions to. These kinds of pointless expenses that don’t even provide me with an iota of joy seem the most painful to admit, but doing so will only make me more accountable to my future self.
I know that coming clean with my embarrassing financial mistakes will only help me get better — it forces me to work on fixing underlying issues rather than ignoring them and allowing the same things to happen again and again.
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