Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Spending analysis

After yesterday's post I started thinking about where I spend and where I don't.

Cable - $13.20 for basic cable and that's it. Other than that I have Netflix (just switched from 3-at-a-time to 2-at-a-time because I wasn’t renting that much) which is all the extra TV I need.

Cell phone - I have a 500 anytime minutes + unlimited mobile-to-mobile free plan for $39.99. I used to have 1000 minutes but I realized I was coming in under 500 pretty regularly so I called and switched a long time ago.

Coffee - Don't drink much and when I do I make my own at home. On the other hand I do end up running down to Starbucks to pick up a biscotti or danish to go with my coffee.

Gas - I use regular. Six years ago when I went to lease my first car the car salesman told me that regular unleaded worked just as well as premium and not to buy premium. I have used regular ever since.

Exercise - Free gym membership through my employer + free 24-hr fitness at home (in the form of exercise tapes, free weights and an exercise bike). Only spend about $2-300 a year on shoes and gym clothes and the occasional aerobic or kickboxing class.

Food - Turns out, I spend a lot on food. Until I started tracking I didn't know just how bad it was. I easily spend $500-600 a month which is crazy. Mostly I think I pay for convenience (lots of takeout) and my sweet tooth. I did the math - I spend $900 a year on ice cream and frappuccinos alone.

Books, CDs, DVDs - I have a compulsive buying habit when it comes to books, CDs and DVDs. I buy everything! $100-200 a month.

Gadgets - I am not a gadget-fiend. Other than the occasional iPod, digital camera and palm I don't spend much on this except for headphones. For some reason I have a ton of headphones.

Home stuff - I am an engineer. I spent 4 years studying design and bent over drawing boards. When I see an Eames Eiffel chair, I don’t just see a chair. I see art, I see a masterpiece, a triumph of design and architecture. I also buy a lot of paintings, sometimes from new local artists who may or may not become famous someday. I like flower vases and nice sheets. Next to food this is probably where I spend the most.

Clothes, shoes, handbags - This is another area where I spend but probably not as much as people think. I mix designer jeans with Old Navy tees freely so overall it's not that bad. eBay is great for shoes. I bought a pair of brand new Ferragamo pumps($200+ retail) for $9.99. Beats buying Nine West or Payless for the same price. Where I do spend is bags. I love Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton and Coach bags. LV and Coach both come with lifetime warranties though so when you think of how many bags an average woman goes through in her lifetime it's not that bad. Total: around $2-3k/year.

Hair, skin, makeup - My haircut costs $35-50 which isn't too bad but I have poor sales resistance when it comes to bubble baths and soaps and scrubs and shampoos and such. No idea how much I spend overall but I'd imagine quite a bit.

Concerts/movies/going out - Another budget buster. I love concerts, I like going to the movies and I like nice restaurants. No idea how much I spend overall.

Travel/vacation - I love to travel but I think I still spend less on vacation than I do on food! I have a yearly cap of 3-4k. What I don't do that I should be doing is shop for deals when I make my travel arrangements.

Transportation - Seattle has a great public transportation system which I don't utilize. Instead I zip around in a car that gives me 14 miles per gallon. I love driving though so I don't think I would be quite as happy riding a bus.

Rent - My rent isn’t that high for Seattle. I could probably do a little better but I love living downtown and I have the most breathtaking view of the city framed against the mountains. It's something out of the movies. That view is my therapy.

I think I do pretty well in some ways and not in others which is what I expected. My food cost should go down as I have started bringing lunch from home at least 3 days a week and my home cost should hold steady because I don't plan on buying a lot of new stuff right now until I have moved into my new house or condo. Plus, if i keep paying with cash maybe people will give me enough change to supplement my income! :)


At 8/10/2005 4:02 PM, Blogger Flexo said...

Good analysis! It's amazing how you don't realize how much you (not you, specifically -- the general you) spend until you start tracking it...

At 8/10/2005 5:38 PM, Blogger mmb said...

So true. I wonder how many people who regularly overspend actually know that they are doing that. I didn't realize (and this goes both ways--I didn't realize where I was doing well either) how much I was wasting in some areas until recently.


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