Catching title, eh? Let me back up a little bit before I get into the meaty things I want to write about. I am living a pretty minimalistic lifestyle. I don’t own a lot of stuff and like it like that. I moved out of my parent’s house when I was 17 years old to join police academy and earned my own money ever since. It happened once that I maxed out my bank account since Euro 50 pocket money versus Euro 1000 salary a month at police academy gave me the feeling that I rule the world and can buy whatever I feel like. Wrong! My parents helped me out and I felt pretty embarrassed. Needless to say, money problems like this never happened to me again.
Also, to my detriment, I have been solely responsible for my finances since about that age. I had my own apartment when I was 21. And a motorcycle. And a car. I traveled. I spent money. I would say, I kept this little ship afloat pretty well throughout the years. When I moved to the U.S. I learned what IRS fraud is. Also what a 1099 or a 401K is. Or bankruptcy. I learned what dead-beat dad means. Let’s just say, I met a lot of different people. Some who thought it is okay to have $19 in the savings account by the end of the month. Like every month. All these things were tiny lectures in life I paid attention to. I learned. I thought I am prepared for whatever comes my way.
Needless to say, things don’t always run that smoothly. Recently, one payment after the other arrived and when I thought I see the light at the end of the tunnel, another huge payment and deadline appeared out of nowhere. I realized that I needed to start paying more attention to my money and what I spend it on. Step 1: I downloaded a budget plan to document every little thing I spend money on for one week. A friend at university told me the other day, “this totally worked for me. You see everything nicely outlined in front of you and can then track down where your money goes and where you have been pissing money away. Then you can start making changes and like put whatever you saved in a …. what is this called… savings account, I think!”
Okay, I am going to do this. It cannot be that hard, right? Since I am a minimalist and whatnot. The agreement I had with myself was to 1) not to alter my spending habits throughout the week and 2) not to lie about any spendings. Easy. In a nutshell:
Write down every little thing I spend throughout the day.
Save the receipts to write down exactly what I purchased at the grocery store. I cannot write “Farm Boy $150” (this became to annoying!)
Try not to suffer endless depression writing all this stuff down (so annoying when a $180 phone bill arrives out of nowhere. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT I CANNOT LISTEN TO MY VOICEMAIL FOR FREE WHEN MY GRANDMOTHER FROM GERMANY CALLS TO SAY Hi BUT I WAS TO BUSY WRITING DOWN MY SPENDINGS NOT PICKING UP THE PHONE!)
By day 2 I messed up my list already since I forgot to write down a Kindersurprise egg for my son —-> $2.25! Really? IT IS A TINY EGG OUT OF CHOCOLATE WITH A STUPID USELESS TOY IN IT!
I then randomly wrote things down because honestly, this all got a little embarrassing
This is how my list looked:
Staples $45 for pens, pencil, crayons and stuff for my son
Starbucks $4.80 (damn you, grande latte! At least I did not get the egg-white spinach flatbread thing!)
Phone bill $180! (damn you, BELL!)
Gas for car $80! (damn oil companies)
Sushi Restaurant with my friend (free, he paid!) 😀
University tuition $2500 (this is only one of several payments! Shouldn’t education be free or at least not THAT expensive? If I would be president I would make some serious changes and make the U.S. “grate” again! Grate what? Cheese? I am not funny, someone told me! )
Starbucks $ 4.80 (you know for what!)
Dollar Store $20: air pump, bottle cleaning brush, tiny shovel and broom which makes a total of $4, right? Four things= $4? Life is not fair!
Dinner: Pho $35 (but really awesome company!)
Loblaws: Grocery shopping for about one week $135 (see how listing everything becomes annoying)
Bookstore(s): 1! book $8.99 …. okay, two but they are used. 3! I rest my case.
Beach: Fries and ice cream for Joel $10 (wtf)
Amazon: Nora Ephron Documentary $9
$0: got creative and just cooked whatever I found in the fridge. Then spent the afternoon outside exploring
Starbucks: $4.80 ( I swear, this stuff adds up. Also, in the summer semester, it was $4.60!)
Liquor store: $20 bottle of Sake and wine. So good. And, it is the weekend after all
BookBazaar: $10 book (c’mooooon, it is my passion!) “Necessity is the mother of invention”
Flower store: $15 plant that is indestructible (according to salesperson). Venus fly trap died!
Pharmacy: $5.99 Advil (happy pills for a crazy headache! It is not your fault Sake…. wine is for Judith!)
Black Squirrel Bookstore: $4.60 for a latte to go
Grocery store: $35 (milk, cheese: why is the cheese so damn expensive here?, broccoli, Kindersurprise, Chocolate for Judith, ingredients to make a chocolate cake from scratch. Screw you, Betty Crocker!)
$0 Joel and I spent the day outside on experiences and just with ourselves at the beach/park/playground and brought our picnic
Let’s stop here for the week, eh. Looking at this list and eyeballing it, it is kind of depressing. Also, keeping track of every little thing is so exhausting. My brother would have calculated the amount I spent in this week in a second in his head. I don’t even bother taking out my calculator since by just looking at this list it is clear that I spent approximately five billion dollars in one single week. All for stuff that I don’t really need. And what’s with the lattes? It is just ridiculous. Also, no rent paid yet since it is not time yet. Shaking my head. Looking at my fridge I realize that this damn thing is almost empty again. My son is in some sort of growth spurt and eats me poor. Seriously, no joke. He eats more than I sometimes. My mom would say now, “Well, you have no food in your fridge but you have books, a plant that is about to die soon, coffee and alcohol!”
Despite the fact that I am depressed about my spending habits looking at this list, I am fully aware that it is the beginning of October with another three weeks left to shame myself while money is flowing out of my bank account. On the flip side, I am not that bad, right? Didn’t even buy clothing or purses. I actually sold a purse! I don’t need all this stuff. Giving our time, our precious time, to things that give us nothing in return but temporary satisfaction is not worth it to me. Balance is key and moderation is my friend. Sometimes.