I know it might seem like it’s always “Riana” this and “Riana” that, but she’s really helping me kick myself in the butt lately. I’m impressed by her almost two years of hardly buying anything. What she calls the Slow Years. I’m almost enticed by the extremity of it. But. There’s always a but.
I did my own Slow Years (without a name or stated challenge) some ten years back. Lived one summer on, I kid you not, beans, rice, bread, oatmeal and, the big splurge, raisins. Period. Washed our hair in the river, and used moss for TP (works great actually). Sometimes I miss those days. My life had gotten progressively less “Slow” since. But even still, before moving to New Orleans, I had never lived (as an adult anyway) in a town of more than 3,000 people. Never lived where there is much worth buying. And I have to say, I am enjoying the urban pleasures of walking to the bakery for a croissant of a Sunday morning, taking a late night trip to the gourmet ice cream parlor, seeing live, good and even famous music at big thumping festivals. I am not at a time in life where I am willing to give up these new found pleasures.
Still and yet, I’d like to regain a little of the lost ground. If for no other reason than that we’re a family of four living in a student’s budget! But also certainly because I believe that the less money we spend, the less we are contributing to a big fucked up system I don’t want to feed. And ok, I enjoy thrift.
So, I figured rather than making any particular challenge for myself, I’d just make an effort to be more deliberate about spending. To really think about the money I spend rather than letting it just fall out of my pockets. To force myself to come to terms with my spending, I am keeping track of every single purchase. And to create real accountability, I’m sharing it with any of y’all interested (or voyeristic) enough in home economy to read it.
There is (always) one giant caveat here. This is only money I spent or at least saw spent and was able to record. I don’t think I’ve any chance of getting Hubby to keep his receipts. And although I buy virtually all of the groceries and household stuff, he smokes roll-yer-owns and (ok, here goes my big admission) drinks energy drinks. Not daily, but probably 3 times/week, and those puppies are expensive! Also he gets lunch out once or twice a week, and doesn’t bat any eyelashes about buying books and expensive chocolate. Although I hate to think it, it’s likely he spends as much out-of-pocket as I do in a month.
Having got that out of the way, here they are, the monthly money suckers!
- groceries $454
- eating out, including coffee and little stuff $107
- thrift store clothes and household $130
- new stuff (books, household) $118
- entertainment (movies out, netflix, parking, etc) $80
- gas $32
- new bike $414
total out-of-pocket (not counting bike): $921
- rent $1175
- phones $110
- internet $48
- water/trash $45
- recycling $15
- gas/electric $100
total bills: $1,493
If Hubby did indeed spend as much out of pocket as me, this would add up to $42,000/year, and that’s not counting big purchases, medical expenses, travel, etc, etc, etc…. Looking at our spending always makes me wonder how on earth an “average” American family can make it anymore. I might consider our lifestyle somewhat decadent, but in the American scheme of things, we live like paupers. I almost never buy new clothes, or new anything for that matter. Never buy jewelry, shoes, purses, make-up or any other lady potions. I’ve never in my life been shopping for shopping’s sake.
But I guess the answer is that your “average” American family doesn’t make it anymore. They owe $9,000 to their credit card companies. But who am I to talk? we’re racking up debt right now faster than you can spell Mississippi.
Anyway. My point is. How can this all work?