I know every month I change things up, but I’m learning that curbing unnecessary spending involves fighting a moving target. When I started spending breakdown for January, I had a problem buying random stuff online I don’t need. It turns out, when you address spending honestly and a pattern of frivolity stares right back in your face, it becomes pretty easy to cut out those types of charges. During my review of purchases the next month, I noticed that I tended to let purchases made on Amazon slide, because I mentally designated them as convenient and useful. I learned I needed to guard against laxness on this front.
So in March, with my online shopping and even buying from Amazon more under control, I looked at every unusual purchase I made. Good or bad, if they’re not in the realm of baseline spending (gas, groceries, and other consumables), I noted the purchase. Even having cast a broader net, I felt that my only truly unnecessary purchase was the one made at a convenience store in the airport.
That made me think though, I don’t just go to convenience stores in airports! Much to my detriment, a Wawa opened near me. Another big convenience store sinkhole for me happens en route to and from NY, where we often travel. I didn’t used to consider these unnecessary purchases, because we always buy drinks and food. Often the purchase constitutes a meal, so it’s easy to justify as necessary. But I know that by planning ahead, I can preempt these types of purchases. While traveling it would save me time on the road, money, and I can make healthier choices by preparing the food myself.
But let’s take a closer look at April first:
April 3 — $166.17 at The Container Store — so y’all remember how I was organizing my arts and crafts cabinets? I found containers that were the perfect size for the cabinets and created an easy filing system so I bought more.
April 5 — $15.67 at Refresh and Co. and $23.29 at Food Court — spent while traveling. I am still deciding what conveniences are worth a premium to me, and since I’m not a fan of rest area food offerings, I shouldn’t be paying that markup.
April 8 — $3.29 at Wawa — I bought an energy drink because I didn’t want to make coffee.
April 10 — $100 at Free Library of Philadelphia — This is my first time donating to them. The problem is I donated because they were offering a free tote bag. That was not a good reason, and even when giving to charity, I should scrutinize my motivations.
April 10 — $19.96 and $11.71 on Amazon.com — I bought reusable straws and Feeling Good: They New Mood Therapy by David Burns for my dad. The book came recommended by someone I admire who also suffers from depression, and I thought my dad might find it useful. I could’ve looked harder for these items in person at places I already go, but 1) I didn’t want to end up buying plastic straws in a pinch and 2) I don’t go to bookstores currently as I’m trying to read what I own.
April 13 — $7.02 at Wawa — energy drinks and snacks breakfast.
April 17 — $12.19 at Wawa — energy drinks and snacks dinner.
April 20 — $45 at MSG Merch — we took my dad to watch boxing. I bought a hoodie I didn’t like, because I was cold and didn’t bring one of my many, many sweaters that I do like.
April 20 — $25.00 and $39.52 on Amazon.com — these were presents for someone’s birthday.
April 22 — $33.16 at Z Market — rest area breakfast for three on the road with my dad.
April 24 — $5.13 at Wawa — energy drink and snacks breakfast.
To sum up, I spent $72.12 at rest stops, which I could have avoided by preparing my own drinks and snacks before trips. I spent $27.63 on 3 meals from a convenience store, whereas I could have eaten better for cheaper by planning ahead. I also spent $45 on clothes due to lack of foresight. These are the main areas I would like to tackle as well as continuing my vigilance against thoughtless online purchases. Overall though, I’m happy that developing the habit of honestly reviewing my purchases is making me a more careful and conscientious consumer.
Until next time, squirrel friends, happy Wednesday!