Despite being raised to mind my manners, I’ve come to accept that I’m hugely nosy — especially when it comes to money. In most cases, I draw the line at asking people how much money they make, but I’m always interested in talking about how they budget, what they spend, and how they save and/or invest. Seeing someone’s monthly spending breakdown not only satisfies my nosiness — it also actively helps me understand money better. Hearing individual stories illustrates money’s flexibility, and that there’s no “right” way to spend or save. Everyone is out there just doing their best with what they’ve got, and it’s nice to see so many TFDers rocking their financial strategies.
Of course, it also makes me wonder what my financial choices look like from the outside. What might people assume about me if they looked at my bank account or credit card statement? Even more interesting, what lessons could I learn about myself from taking my credit card spending numbers, combining them, categorizing them, and laying them out differently than I’m used to seeing them? In the interest of satisfying other Nosy Nellies out there — and seeing if I can gain any insights into my own spending habits — let’s take a look at my credit card spending for the year thus far. Here’s everything I charged to my credit card from January 1st to March 15th, 2019.
I grocery shop once a week, always with a planned list of meals and ingredients. Not only does this reduce my spend, but it also cuts back on food waste. I find myself weirdly happy to see a mostly-empty fridge at the end of the week.
While we’re on the subject, can we talk about grocery pickup? I tried HEB Curbside for the first time last year and was immediately in love. I make my list and shop online the night before, schedule a pickup, then swing by the store on the way home from work. There are so many great things about this:
- I haven’t been inside an HEB in months, and it’s like heaven. No crowds, no one hawking free samples, no gross smells from the fish counter.
- The site prioritizes store brands over name brands, which means a lower bill. And I’m still able to get my favorite name-brand stuff if I really want it.
- Somehow it’s so much easier to price-compare. I save a few bucks each week this way.
- The temptation impulse shop is much lower. I’ve got my list, I search for the thing, and add it to my cart. No more having to walk past the stand of on-sale cupcakes to get to the produce.
Do they charge a $4.95 “personal shopper” fee? Yes. Is it worth it? Abso-friggin-lutely!
As recently as this time last year, I would have considered grocery pickup too much of a “luxury.” I knew it was a great service for all kinds of people, but for some reason, I thought my doing it would mean I was lazy. But screw that. I’ve got things to do, and if I can outsource even a small portion of my task list to someone, I’m going to do it. And now I love it and can’t stop recommending it to everyone.
I don’t go out of town much, and when I do, it’s often to visit family with a spare room. So this is unusual spending for me. But it falls into the category of “100% worth it.”
This covered two nights at a clean, safe hotel just across the highway from a multi-day event I attended in February. It was only about 90 miles from where I live, but the event started at 9:30 AM both days and I definitely was not in the mood to get up early enough to leave my house at 7 AM. Booking a hotel meant I could sleep in and enjoy the event more. Plus as a major introvert, I had a ball laying around in the evening, eating takeout, and watching dumb television.
I live in Texas, where getting almost anywhere without a car isn’t feasible. I generally fill up about once a week, sometimes more depending on how much driving I’ve been doing. We’re a one-car family, so my husband pays for some fill-ups as well.
I wish this was a more exciting purchase, like painting a wall or buying a ridiculous amount of tiny succulents, but alas: it was the exterminator’s quarterly visit. We split this cost with our roommates, so in the end, I only actually spent a little over $54.
Another unusual category for me. I’m not a clothes horse, but my sports bra was on its last legs. I also finally got sick of feeling guilty about not wearing a cute but painful pair of black flats, so I blitzed through the shoe store looking for some that were actually comfortable. This total would have been about $25 cheaper, but I let my husband talk me into buying some incredibly tall (and super cool) wedges that I must now spend the rest of my life finding outfits to wear with.
Ugh, these are the bane of my existence. I didn’t actually spend $100 — the toll tag system loaded my account with this much. As soon as it detects that I have less than $10 on my account, it auto-adds $20.
I tried managing this manually for a few months, but found that even more annoying. I was constantly checking the balance, afraid that I’d have insufficient funds when I went through a toll and get charged more because of it. Texas toll companies are all kinds of shady, and I hate that auto-renewals are the only manageable option.
I renewed my domain and hosting for the year.
Took my husband on a date night to see Mary Poppins Returns. We saw several movies in January, but used gift cards to pay for most of the tickets and food. This amount wasn’t covered by those gifts, so I paid with my credit card.
Food deliveries: $22.40
(This is different from our eating out spend, something I’ve given up having total control over.)
Two lunch deliveries to my office and one dinner delivery to my house. Normally, I cook enough every night to have leftovers for lunch the next day, but it’s been a crazy few months. Sometimes by the time I get home I’m too drained to do anything productive, including cook. I don’t want to get in the habit of ordering lunch every day (that stuff adds up so fast), but sometimes I just can’t say no to a biryani.
The dinner delivery was on a Friday night when my husband was out of town, I was stressed, and I just needed to eat my feelings.
So what can I glean from looking at my statements?
- I could probably be more judicious with my toll tag. Taking a different route home from work would save me about $4.70 a week, or over $200 a year.
- I’m not spending beyond my means. I’m able to pay off my credit card every month.
- I’m not spending money on things I’m not using. Even the unusual categories are things that bring me incredible joy and fulfillment, and I don’t regret them.
Nothing surprising, but certainly interesting. It’s reassured me that I’m spending appropriately, and given me something to keep an eye on. Along with tracking your net worth, exercises like this can be invaluable in making sure that you’re on track to meet your financial goals.
Image via Unsplash