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Where does it go?

February 28th, 2006 at 08:46 pm

Looking at my Quicken records, it is becoming clear what I spend my extra money on. I still live below my means, but I had idly wondered where the money went, as I was still so low with groceries, cleaning supplies, etc., and my savings was growing but at a slower pace than I would like.

I already knew that travel and gifts and dining were a big piece. I spent an embarrassing amount last year. Even going to Europe cheap for 2 weeks is a good chunk of change. I still consider that money well spent-by the way, Budapest has incredible Turkish spas, and the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam actually made me cry. I enjoy dining out and traveling and giving gifts, and do not regret them, but the dollars were big time. I had a Europe trip and a Mexico trip, and didnít go into debt, but wow. Itís sad to think of losing the travel at a low wage, though I can see that dining and gifts given are a bit decadent.

But, there are money eaters I hadnít realized. I spent $300 in jewelry last year. Now, no single piece cost over $50, and most $15 to $25-I happen to prefer silver and semi-precious stones. I always buy a piece of jewelry when I travel-earrings from Oaxaca, a ring from Brugge, a couple amber necklaces from Krakow. I don't regret this either, but wow, that's $25 a month, nothing like I could do if on minimum wage.

Yesterday, I ordered 12 books on half.com for 33 bucks. That's a decent price, and I am a book junkie. But I spent $224 last year-19 a month, and that's even despite all the books I get at the "buck a bag" sale, which ends up being a penny to a nickel a book, depending how many books I can fit in the bag. No more Half.com on the challenge-ďbuck a bagĒ only.

And, Iím even realizing that sometimes savings might require spending. As you could see from some of my posts, my electric bill is awry. We are considering buying a new dryer if the PG&E rebate is good and we can get a good price. But what if my half is $100, or even $200? I canít fit that in the challenge, I couldnít do that without serious scraping at real minimum wage. I donít know if Iíll do it or not, but I certainly have been pondering every expenditure. Poverty can lead to more poverty: toilet paper by the roll or 4 pack can be much, much more than by the 24 pack.

Tomorrow I begin! I am excited. I will be more aware of where I get good value from spending (frankly, I know I will still travel), but in other areas I will be able to reduce spending at the same time that I have a greater appreciation for the value I get when I do spend in a luxury area.

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