Today is the second post in the Everyday Dollar Diaries series. In this series, I collect personal journals from real people who have tracked their normal spending habits over seven days, and then publish them here anonymously.
One of the first steps I took to save $1 million by age 35 was becoming aware of how I spent my money. If you ever wonder, “Where does it all go?” then I challenge you to keep your own spending diary for seven days. You’ll be surprised at what you might find.
The Australian tech freelancer
A 31-year-old single female from Australia. She has no debt and makes $80,000 contracting. Her biggest expenses are $939 a month for rent, $550 a year for renters insurance, $950 for annual health insurance, and quarterly $750 tax payments. She adheres to a strict budget, and while she’s happy to be debt free, and consistently reach her savings goals, she’s worried she won’t be able to afford a house in the exploding Australian housing market.
I freelance on the side, so I have a quarterly tax payment…$721.00
Coffee (not a frequent expense but a treat)…$3.71
Cough syrup (I’m coming down with a cold)…$10.26
I needed to top up my public transport pass, because I’ve been sick and using it more instead of walking to work…$15.78
Dinner out with a friend…$20.51
Face wash & deodorant…$11.60
Bulk soy milk, beans, tomatoes & nuts (this will last me 4 to 6 weeks)…$59.25
Fresh fruit & vegetables…$17.12
Fast & Furious 7 at the IMAX cinema (a rare treat)…$19.72
Total weekly spending: $1,817.95
The discreet six-figure musician
A 30-year-old married male from Canada. He has no debt and makes $100,000. His biggest expenses are $2,100 a month for rent, $400 a month eating out, and $5,000 a year on new music equipment. His business is finally taking off, and this is the first year he hasn’t worried about money, also allowing him to save 25 percent of his income. Although he’s happy to spend a week at a $15 a night hostel, he’s also comfortable dropping $300 for an afternoon at the spa.
I spent the day with family, and only ate leftovers…$0.00
I got sick with food poisoning…$0.00
I bought new shoes and insoles…$101.69
Rehearsal space rental…$75.00
A snack and drink…$3.75
Dinner out (I picked up the tab)…$142.61
Breakfast out (I picked up the tab)…$43.60
Total weekly spending: $485.19
The single mom in debt
A 42-year-old single female from Texas with one child. She has $95,000 in debt between credit cards, a mortgage, a car, and a bathroom remodel, and makes $70,000 a year. Her biggest expenses are a $700 monthly mortgage payment, a $500 monthly payment towards her remodel, and $345 a month for her car loan. She has always been afraid of debt because she watched her mother overspend when she was growing up, but finds herself in a continuous cycle of it.
Weekly babysitting & daycare…$100.00
Monthly piano lessons…$50.00
Summer camp registration…$79.00
One session of adult counseling…$20.00
Credit card payment…$412.80
Lunch at Jimmy John’s…$11.75
Dinner at Pizza Hut…$20.50
I bought a book from Amazon…$4.00
Monthly child counseling…$80.00
A book from Amazon…$11.90
Painting supplies from Lowe’s…$83.30
Total weekly spending: $1,083.83
The penny-pinching student
A 25-year-old single male from Estonia. He has no debt, but while attending school isn’t able to work, and is burning through his savings. His biggest expenses are $235 a month for his dorm, $60 a month on transportation, and $275 every three months to fly home. While getting his master’s degree abroad in Germany, he’s systematically cut every expense, and now considers himself frugal to the extreme. He doesn’t plan to take out any student loans.
Lunch at school…$3.20
Lunch at school…$4.26
Lunch at school…$3.24
Lunch at school…$3.80
Lunch at school $2.34
Movie at the cinema…$9.53
Total weekly spending: $81.40
Now it’s your turn to track a week of spending. Download this cheat sheet to make it super easy.