Monday, September 3, 2007

Common Cents

After reading this article on MSN, I realized that most of my suspicions about American culture were true: we like keeping up with the Joneses (even if that means debt), we harbor feelings of inadequacy if we aren't rich, and we're constantly comparing ourselves.

I felt compelled to check out my spending habits. Lucky for me, my bank categorizes my expenses (I don't have a credit card, so all my money is there.) I got to take a gander of how much I spent in July and August on things, and an average of the two. Some things I was happy to see, others, not so much.

My retail expenses tallied up higher than I would have liked. My goal is to cut that down by $50 or $75 dollars. Also, my monthly average of charitable giving is $1. A DOLLAR! I'd like to up this number, even to $15 a month. There are a lot of organizations I support, so maybe I'll pick a new one each month and give them a little contribution.

The good news is that I'm saving and investing well above what I thought I was. I hope to up the average by about $50 as well. So less retail now, more fun stuff in the future!

The other good news is that since I've stopped eating out so much, I've dropped my expenses in restaurants from $100 to $20 over the course of one month. This is something I'm happy with. I feel like I've been eating well at home, and the few extra bucks put toward better ingredients has really paid off!

As a person who earns less than $30,000 a year, I used to cringe when I found out I qualified for a lot of low-income housing. I always insist that I live very comfortably. And I do. I still get buy myself a special coffee or new pair of shoes. I eat salmon and drink wine on a weekly basis. I live on a lake. But I've also learned to take pleasure in life's little (and often free) pleasures. For example, Kendall and I took his parent's dog for a walk Saturday evening, and explored the beautiful new public park that just opened. The night was lovely, and the walk was romantic, not to mention healthier than sitting in a movie theater for 2 hours.

So that's my little spending report. Happy Saving!

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