How Do You Spend Your Money?

September 21, 2017

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In our latest installment of How Do You Spend Your Money? we met Alex—a married dad in his mid-30s who works in armored transport. Take it away, Alex!

Overall, I think I’m fairly responsible with my money. Maybe not financial planner level responsible, but I spend less than I earn. My wife and I both work to cover the bills and to put a little away into our savings. Once these expenses are taken care of, there’s usually a surplus from my pay cheque. I try and break this surplus down into a daily allowance of “free money” for spending each day. My free money doesn’t amount to a lot and it doesn’t account for things like gas or groceries, but it’s enough to grab a coffee or a treat and not have to worry about it in the long run.

Day 1: Monday

Daily Total: $31.75

Ah Monday mornings! My shifts tend to start early (as early as 4 a.m. some days) and this morning was no exception, so I started out by getting coffee and a breakfast wrap to go. I’ve been trying to cut back on my caffeine lately and was hoping to get through the day without buying coffee, but with a 6 a.m. drive to Pictou and back, this just wasn’t happening.

After getting back to Halifax from Pictou, I got a service call in Moncton, so got a panini and ended up eating on the road. On my way home I popped by the drug store to pick up cold medicine and cough drops for my wife, who was fighting off a cold.

Day 2: Tuesday

Daily Total: $29.04

Today wasn’t too bad. I started the day by spending a whole $3.04 for coffee and a cinnamon bun. Considering I packed a healthy lunch at home—carrot sticks, crackers, and an apple—I held up pretty well.

On the way home from work, I stopped by the liquor store to grab wine to go with dinner.

Day 3: Wednesday

Daily Total: -$55.00

Today was my day off. So how did I make money rather than spend it? It started late last week when our 25-year-old washing machine decided to bite the dust. Given the noises the washing machine was making, this wasn’t altogether unexpected, but it wasn’t exactly cheap to replace. While we have a small emergency fund, we also had a few things in storage that we decided to sell to help offset the cost of a new washer. The last of these items was an air conditioner, which I sold for $140.

Later in the day, I went to the hardware store to buy new washer hoses and taps to replace the old rusty ones in preparation for our new washer and dryer, along with a lightbulb to replace the one that burned out in our fridge. The total for this was $56.

To round out the day, I picked up dinner out for the family.

Day 4: Thursday

Daily Total: $16.82

I found a coupon for a free coffee in my car on the way to work, so I stopped in and spent $1.49 for a cinnamon roll to go with this. I was again on the road unexpectedly at supper time and spent $15.33 on take-out.

Day 5: Friday

Daily Total: $65.17

I kicked off today by spending $2.99 for coffee and a donut because shifts that start at 4 a.m. are wrong and mornings are terrible.  While I usually try to pack my lunch, today didn’t work out so well and I found myself picking up a sub in Oromocto to eat on the road.  My partner and I debated over whether this was really lunch or second breakfast.  Later in the afternoon, I grabbed a frozen chocolate smoothie and a snack for $3.25.

I wrapped up the day by filling up my car for $42 on my way home and $7.60 on fast food.

Day 6: Saturday

Daily Total: $47.45

After getting called into work unexpectedly to fix a broken ATM, I spent $6.45 for a slice of pizza and a pop for lunch.  

My son’s birthday is coming up and each year my wife makes him a homemade birthday cake. On my way home from work my wife called and asked me to stop by the grocery store, where I bought $26 of baking ingredients she needed. I also ordered a late-night pizza for $15, so we could snack while she decorated the birthday cake, which took until sometime after midnight.

Day 7: Sunday

Daily Total: $84.12

I woke up sneezing, so I started the day by heading to the pharmacy for $15 worth of over-the-counter allergy medication. Long story short, my wife loves cats and I’m allergic to them, so we have two cats and I take allergy medication. Relationships are all about compromise. 

We decided to spend the day out to celebrate my son’s birthday. We picked up coffee and breakfast out for $12.12 and headed over to the Discovery Centre, because my son is obsessed with all things science. Admission for two adults and one child was $46, but was well worth it and we all had a lot of fun.

Weekly Total: $219.35

Final Thoughts:

Looking back at the week, there isn’t really anything here that surprised me. I think I could probably stand to plan ahead for long work days–packing a bigger lunch and bringing my morning coffee to work in a travel mug. 

That being said, the odd coffee and a cinnamon bun aren’t really the worst thing and I think it’s important to set aside a little extra in the budget for the unexpected.