How do you spend your money? Part 1

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Money. We all have it, and we all spend it. But how much we have and how much we spend varies for everyone. We wanted to see what that looks like in a typical week, so we asked some brave volunteers to track their spending. 

Our first installment of How Do You Spend Your Money? features Mel—a creative professional in her early 30s living in Halifax. Take it away, Mel!

I like to think I’m fairly good with my money, so this challenge is an interesting way to confirm that thought! I have a weekly budget that I try really hard to stick to—every Friday I start off with a set amount of money for groceries, fun, entertainment, and misc. stuff like cat food, bus tickets, and other household related things. Once it’s gone, I’m out of money until the next week. In theory, this should be a great system. But in practice once I run out of cash, I often break out the plastic which is not the most financially responsible thing to do.

Day 1: Monday
Daily Total: $1.65

I decided I’d treat myself to a cup of licorice mint tea as a way to kick the week off. However, being an early riser, when I went to the café, it was closed.

I was successful, however, in spending a whopping $1.65 on a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie later in the day.

Day 2: Tuesday
Daily Total: $77

Drug store stuff: $39.83
Art supplies: $28.94
Groceries: $8.23

I don’t really wear a ton of make-up, but I do usually wear mascara every day. My tube was getting a little crusty so I figured it was time for a new one. I also stocked up on some vitamins, lip balm and a lip gloss. The lip gloss was totally a want purchase, not a need purchase, but here we are.

I have started doing paper quilling—it involves rolling tiny strips of paper with a tool that you can then shape into other things. I find it very relaxing. Once I roll the paper, I attach it to canvas to create art. I have a big project on the go that’s ready to be glued so I had to pick up some canvas at the art store.

Since it was a rainy, dreary day I wanted to make something warm and hearty for dinner. I decided on making butter chicken, but with chickpeas and veggies instead of actual chicken. I picked up some naan bread and a sweet potato to round out the recipe as well as a bag of SmartFood to snack on while cooking. 

Day 3: Wednesday
Daily total: $1.60

Today was a pretty busy day, I had leftovers for lunch and a surprise cookie from a coworker so I didn’t buy any food. I did however buy a pack of gum which set me back a whole $1.60. Which, is a lot for just a regular pack of gum but whatever. 

Day 4: Thursday
Daily Total: $13.63

Lunch: $8.63
Yoga: $5

I usually start the week off well prepared in the food department. I try to cook something big on Sunday night to get me through the first few lunches of the week. Some weeks—ok, most of them—by the time Thursday/Friday roll around meal prep has fallen by the wayside so I end up buying lunch. I opted to get out of my office building and stretch my legs and go to a little sandwich shop down the street. I purchased a delicious wrap and got to take in a little lunchtime sun. 

Summer in Halifax can be pretty fleeting, so any chance I have to enjoy the great outdoors I usually try to seize, so I went to an outdoor yoga class in the evening. I have a monthly yoga membership, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to be outside. Plus, can you really put a price on finding your zen?

Day 5: Friday
Daily total: $46.15

Breakfast: $7.80
Lunch: $4.45
Dinner: $21.40
Wine: $12.50

Today I fully fell off the meal prep wagon and ended up buying breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Not the most fiscally responsible thing, but a girl’s gotta eat.

Since it was a busy week I treated myself to a pastry and a tea from my favourite bakery. It’s a little pricey but totally worth it. Their bread, desserts, pastries, everything is the stuff dreams are made of. 

For lunch, I was in a bit of a hurry, so I had a cinnamon raison bagel with butter and some fruit from the café in the bottom of my office building. 

After work, I met some friends for a drink at a new cider brewery. Halifax is going through a bit of a micro-brew boom right now which means there are lots of delicious places to check out. I decided to try a sampler of four different ciders and an order of frites as a snack.

Then, we went to a different place for another drink. I had a delicious glass of Spanish wine and then we called it a night at a very reasonable and early hour. 

Daily total: $57

Market haul: $40
Pizza: $17 (including tip)

One of my favourite Saturday morning activities is to get up early and hit up my local farmers’ market. I was in and out in under 10 minutes and left with: a dozen eggs, one bunch of carrots, a head of broccoli, a bag of new potatoes, a bag of organic salad greens, one box of strawberries, one box of tomatoes, snap peas, an apple turnover, and two basil plants. 

I opted for a night in to catch up on some sleep, Netflix, and general lazing about. Despite having a fridge full of delicious fresh veggies, I ordered a pizza. I regret nothing.

Daily total: $48.48

Beach entry/parking: $10
Bottle of water: $2.50
Groceries: $35.98

Today, I woke up, ate some leftover pizza and hitched a ride with some friends to the beach. 

We went to a private beach, which means there was an entry fee. Because my friend drove and bought me some chips I offered to pay. At first, I was on the fence about paying to go to the beach—we live in Nova Scotia! There are plenty of beaches! But after spending the day lounging on pristine sand, with clear water gently lapping the shore I’ve been converted.

At the end of the day I was parched, so I shelled out for a bottle of water. I hate buying bottled water, but me and my sunburn needed to be quenched.

In the evening, I picked up a few more groceries for the week ahead with the hopes my meal prep skills will be better than they were last week. 

Grand total for the week: $245.51

Final thoughts: At the beginning of the week if I were to estimate my weekly spend, I would put it at about $150 maximum. This was a little eye opening. I spend a lot of my money on food—both at the grocery store and from eating meals out. That’s one area I can definitely improve on.