Refinery29 – my online publication of choice, before they turned a little extreme for my taste – has a rubric that I love to follow called Money Diaries. In it, women from the United States and beyond narrate their daily lives for a week, and the corresponding expenses that come with being alive. It’s one of my favorite series to read online and it’s always fun to see what people skimp and splurge on. Of course, the modest lifestyle of a 20-something girl from Kosovo can’t always compare to American six-figure earners, but I still wanted to give it a try.
From October 1st, to October 7th, I tracked all my expenses and all my lessons learned. I used my to do app, Todoist, to track my expenses. It’s not the best choice, as I essentially would log in my purchases as tasks, but it was the easiest app to use for me as it already syncs to my computer. Here’s how it went:
The Expense Diary 📝💸💰
Thursday, October 1st
12:00 pm – I decided to start this expense logging journey during a work week when I happened to be at the office. To manage COVID-19, our work is doing the one-week-at-home and one-week-at-the-office set up. Being at the office means one thing: lunch with colleagues! On this day we went for chicken wraps. I did not order coffee, as this day I was trying to cut back. 3.00 Euro
12:45 pm – Before lunch is over, I remember that I need to stock up on vitamins. A colleague joins me to the pharmacy and I buy four packs, for myself, my brother and parents. I make a mental note that vitamins are hella expensive! 25.80 Euro
5:00pm – I have dinner at home, courtesy of my mom and dad’s labor and groceries. As you’ll see, this is a pattern and one that really makes a difference in my budget.
6:00 pm – Later in the evening, I have a friend visit me at home. I can’t just serve her a glass of water. I go out for some quick groceries, including cake and drinks. At this point, I am rethinking this expense tracking experiment because it feels like I’m already spending too much. As you’ll see, however, it evens out during the rest of the week! 7.50 Euro
Daily Total: 36.3 Euro
Friday, October 2nd
12:00 pm – I’m at work again today and make lunch plans with a friend, who just started a new job. We go for a sandwich in the sun, which happens to be my only expense for the day. I don’t order a drink because as I discovered yesterday, money doesn’t grow on trees. 2.80 Euro
5:00 pm – I meet up with my boyfriend for dinner and a movie, and tell him about my experiment of tracking expenses. He contributes to the cause by paying for dinner, and I quickly make a mental note to not tell other people about my tracking, so as not to skew the results too much.
Daily Total: 2.80 Euro
Saturday, October 3rd
10:00 am – I have breakfast at home, before joining my family for a trip to the furniture store for some much needed woven baskets to help organize my clutter. Whoever invented container stores is a genius. You buy more stuff, and you buy more woven baskets to organize said stuff (instead of just buying less stuff, and not needing woven baskets!). Anyways, turns out the baskets were on sale, by a bit. We get a few more things for home and I pay the largest expense for this entire week. Since it’s a one time thing, I don’t fret too much about it. 66.52 Euro
11:00 am – Since we’re out, we decide to hit the grocery store too. 19.60 Euro
12:00 pm – The weather is really nice, and the four of us decide to sit for coffee in the sun. We chat about work, life and the like and I decide to treat everyone. 5.00 Euro
2:00 pm – Lunch, and then later dinner, is made at home with said groceries.
Daily Total: 91.12 Euro
Sunday, October 4th
10:00 am – I have breakfast at home again, for free, and start thinking real hard about how expensive life really is. Did I really need those woven baskets? Sigh.
11:00 am – Emily in Paris comes on Netflix and – in an effort to stay home and be conscious of my spending – I decide to start watching it. It’s very pleasant and I accidentally binge the whole season. At least it’s free! So are my meals at home.
5:00 pm – Some friends calls me to say they’re out near by. I join for a quick glass of wine, which I realize is just as expensive as my lunch most days. Alcohol is not worth it. 2.80 Euro
6:00 pm – I have a friend over again, but this time around, I have cake and drinks from my groceries from yesterday. We chat, eat and have fun.
Daily Total: 2.80 Euro
Monday, October 5th
8:00 am – This week I work from home, and expect my expenses to go down significantly. I have a coffee from my Nespresso machine and since the capsules are already paid for, I don’t include it in my expenses. Oh, I also decide to start drinking coffee again this week.
12:00 pm – Lunch at home. This week is already much better than the last.
5:00 pm – Dinner at home again. My mom and I go out for a walk after.
7:00 pm – We sit down to watch Three Identical Strangers and Enola Holmes, with some pop corn we had lying around. Netflix technically isn’t free, but again, since it was already paid for, I don’t include it in my expenses. I end my first day at 0.00 spending, and prove my hypothesis right. Staying home = saving!
Daily Total: 0.00 Euro
Tuesday, October 5th
12:00 pm – I have lunch home, but decide to meet up with some colleagues for coffee out. We have a great time, and one of them generously treats everyone.
6:00 pm – After dinner home, I go to visit the local board game bar that just reopened after a 7-month hiatus. I play a game for free and call it a night. My second streak of zero-expense days. I like this already!
Daily Total: 0.00 Euro
Wednesday, October 6th
7:00 am – Considering how this week started, I’m quite happy with the turn of events and the evened out expenses. I meet up with a friend who’s a new mom for early morning coffee. This is the earliest I’ve had coffee in forever. She generously treats me.
12:00 pm – Since I’m back on my coffee grind, after a home-cooked lunch, I hit up another friend and we go for a second coffee. Again, she generously treats me too. I notice a pattern of generous people helping me with my expenses and make a mental note to treat everyone back the next time I meet them.
5:00 pm – Dinner is at home, and this concludes both my week of tracking expenses and my third consecutive day of zero spending.
Daily Total: 0.00 Euro
The Insights 👩🔬📊🧠
I spent a total of 133.02 Euro during the week, while eating most meals at home, being treated to coffee left and right, and being mindful of my expenses.
That’s still a lot! Here’s some insights:
- I spent 10% of my expenses on eating and drinking out (13.60 Euro). This would have been higher if I hadn’t been so generously treated to coffee so many times during the week. 🥰👩🏻🤝👩🏻☕
- I spent 20% of my expenses on getting groceries (27.10 Euro). However, this would have been much much higher if I was solely responsible for my groceries, and if I had not held back on all my impulses. Thank you mom and dad for subsidizing my food! Love you! 🥰👨👩👧👦🛒
- I spent another 20% of my expenses on vitamins (25.80 Euro). Thanks COVID-19! 😷💊🍋
- I spent half of my money on a miscellaneous one-time expense that maybe I did not need (66.52 Euro). Sure, I can write it off as a one-time expense, but really, thinking back, I’ve had countless one-time expenses in my life, most of which I can never even remember. The storage baskets I got are super cute and I will definitely use them. But it’s worth reflecting on whether I could’ve just stored my clothes without baskets as well. You know, the way we did for all of humanity’s existence. 🧺😫💔
- As suspected, the week I worked from home, I had three consecutive zero-expense days. Working from home has a lot of benefits – and budget-friendliness is just one of them! 🏠💻💸
Weekly Total: 133.02 Euro
Weekly Total without Vitamins and Baskets: 40.70 Euro
Have you ever tracked your expenses? What was that like? What insights did you get? For me, I learned to mind my impulsive one-time purchases, and to really be grateful for family and friends I can leech off of. Seriously guys, thank you. I owe you all coffee. ☕💖
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