How Much Money Do You Spend Per Day?

According to yesterday’s (2/20/2017) Gallup polls, the average dollar amount Americans report spending or charging on a daily basis (not counting the purchase of a home, motor vehicle, or normal household bills) is $101.

What do you think of that? That number blew me away, primarily because I don’t make nearly enough money to spend that kind of money. I realize though that the number probably reflects people who have children and other dependents.

I used to try to live in about $30 a day. Which seems like a lot of money, but in actuality, isn’t at all. If you want to go out to dinner with friends, you may be spending $50 or above for drinks and dinner. Before I let go of the $30 per day thing, the $30 balanced out in my mind – because some nights I’d stay in and cook, and be spending only $10 a day, and then other nights I’d use the leftover money to pay for the dinners and nights out. But then I started spending more nights out and treating myself to self-care things like massages and the occasional self-help book on Amazon and I couldn’t keep myself within that $30 per day rule. And then I’d feel bad about myself.

So, I try not to think about how much money I’m spending each day. That’s probably not the best approach, but for now, it’s the best thing for my mental health. I try to be conservative obviously but I don’t want to be limited everyday to a strict amount.

Do you count how much money you spend every day? Laura, my fellow blogger and bestie, told me she uses an app to track her spending everyday. But it seems like too much work for me at the moment, even though she’s assured me it’s easy to use.

If you’re interested in seeing more data of how the average American spends their money and their overall job satisfaction, I highly recommend the Gallup site:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/112723/Gallup-Daily-US-Consumer-Spending.aspx

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Budgeting in Your 30’s When You Hate Budgeting

For all the writing I do about finance and money goals, I really hate to budget. I just can’t stand it.

Perhaps this is because I’m already a big saver, so when I want something, I usually REALLY want it, and not much is going to stand in my way. I hate not listening to my own written budget, but I wouldn’t listen if I really wanted something badly, so I feel like I’d probably go over budget lot of the time, and then I’d kick myself. Ok, so this is actually a self-control issue. :/

I walked around forever with budget hatred burning a hole in the pit of my stomach until recently, when I read an article and realized I’d been kind of following an unofficial budget strategy all along. I googled the info in that article and came upon even more articles that outlined alternative budgeting strategies. Turns out, I naturally follow a common budget strategy called the 80/20 budget, though my version is actually a 70/30 budget.

The 80/20 budget is basically the simplest and least detailed way to budget ever. And I love it, because the details of budgeting make me nuts. Here’s how it works: when you get a paycheck, 20 percent goes to savings. The rest is fair game to divide between needs and wants. That’s it.

This is kind of amazing if you’re never sure how much you’re going to spend in any given month- no matter what, you’ll still be saving. I do a 70/30 budget, or actually a 70/10/10/10 budget, which is only slightly different than the 80/20. The way it works is:

  1. I get a paycheck
  2. I put 10 percent in my retirement account immediately
  3. I put 10 percent in my savings account immediately
  4. I put 10 percent towards my student loan immediately (this is always in addition to the minimum monthly fee I pay)
  5. Then the other 70 percent is divided as best I can among EVERYTHING else without making a budget.
  6. Within the 70 percent, my NEEDS include: Rent, utilities, and student loan minimums (definite needs), as well as food, metrocards (transit), laundry money, and toiletries.
  7. Also within the 70 percent are WANTS including: eating out and or/drinking with friends, food and coffee and green juice splurges, new shoes or clothes, tickets to theater, subscriptions to Spotify and Hulu.

Don’t get me wrong- it’s probably best to actually budget everything out little by little with a food budget, a clothing budget, and an eating out with friends budget. But I’ve never done this, and I don’t know if I’d stick to it if I did. So I think it’s better to at least have SOME sort of budget! And with the 80/20 (or 70/30, or even 60/40) budget, you’re at least still saving. If you don’t have students loans, I’d recommend putting at least 10-15 percent of your paycheck immediately into your retirement account, and then 10-15 percent immediately into a savings account.

What’s funny about taking a certain percentage out of your paycheck right away and paying down a debt and/or putting it into savings is how little you notice that the money is gone. It’s a strange phenomenon! Try it if you don’t believe me. Take 10 percent out of your paycheck immediately each month and put it into savings…you probably won’t even miss it! And if you do, you can always take it back. I wouldn’t recommend it…but the whole point is that your savings account belongs to you! 🙂

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The Joyful Paradox of Saving and Spending In Your Thirties

Today, I was at the airport, sitting next to a woman who was having an extremely loud phone conversation. She had a strong Irish accent and was discussing hotels with her friend/relative on the other end of the line.

“But is it a 4 and a half star?” she exclaimed,  “I don’t want to be in another one of those low category hotels like before.” Her companion apparently told her something disagreeable…not about stars, but about price. “It’s $1500 now? Last time it was $1000. It’s going up!”

It’s possible that this woman was referencing a total cost of stay for a weeklong trip. Who knows? But in my head I thought she was referencing a daily rate.

And hotels really can run into the thousands for daily rates! They can actually get much pricier, especially when suites are involved! Those kinds of crazy high hotel prices don’t even require that great a stretch of the imagination! A friend of mine works at a hotel and she’s seen rooms multiple times that price.

How dare hotels charge those kinds of wild rates? That’s easy- because people will pay them.

Cost is relative. The woman on the phone at the airport seemed okay paying $1000 as long as the hotel was 4.5 stars or higher. Since the hotel had gone up to $1500, the woman was put off, but she didn’t seem totally averse to the new exorbitant price..because she cared more about the quality of the hotel than about the price.

And so it is with saving and spending…and a lot of life. Pick your battles.

There’s a great quote from the CEO and founder of the amazing home website, Apartment Therapy, Maxwell Ryan: ‘Save more than you spend in a way that keeps you happy and comfortable. You can be comfortable or uncomfortable on any level.’

Yesssss!! Even if you made 500K a year and furnished your Park Avenue mansion with the finest handmade furniture imported direct from Italy, you can easily find a way to want more and more… and still be uncomfortable. And if you made 30K a year and live with 4 roommates in a house in the far out suburbs with no car, you can still find ways to be extremely comfortable (well, you can try your darndest). The key to spending/saving comfort takes both knowing yourself and carefully planning.

As you go through life, you become more familiar with your wants and needs. What’s important enough to you that you’ll budget more money to get it? What can you forsake in order to save? Can you live without staying in a 4.5 star hotel? Are you more into spending most of your budget on dinners with friends? Do you want to shop only organic? Is living in the most popular, convenient (and expensive) neighborhood important to you? Do you value fancy cars? Once again- pick your battles. And sometimes it helps to throw money at problems you’d rather not deal with…

In planning your budget, and saving money, it really helps to know the difference between what you care about, and what you only think you care about. In this way, you won’t be a miserable wreck while saving. Don’t deny yourself your absolute very favorite things! Just find the things you can live without and go without them for awhile as you save. You can do it!

Yep, this is a real underwater hotel in  Pemba Island, Zanzibar. It's called the Manta Resort. And for a cool $1,500 a night, it can be yours!

Yep, this is a real underwater hotel in Pemba Island, Zanzibar. It’s called the Manta Resort. And for a cool $1,500 a night, it can be yours!

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