I recently got an email from Chase notifying me that my year end rollup is ready for review. They are nice enough to do this for you if you have a Chase card, yeah, they split out your yearly spending into categories like groceries, auto, shopping, medical, and the ever present miscellaneous. They even show you how those categories break out from month to month! Awesome! I switched from Chase to an Amazon card (still held by Chase so I still get this awesome benefit) mid-year last year so I only had 6 months of spending tracked, but lo and behold, they also still had my 2015 yearly roundup available to review as well. This is only my allowance card, so it was pretty eye opening seeing where I spent my money. Spoiler alert, I’m not rolling out all the charts and graphs, play sad trombone sound – bwah, bwah, bwah, bwaaaahhhh…. Okay, I’ll add some charts because they are pretty useful in analyzing spending. They did highlight to me, the fact that I still have a spending problem.
My Spending Problems Revealed
MY spending problem is that I like beer, I love music, I like eating at restaurants, and I like shopping (online or otherwise), yep, shopping is my weakness. I think it stems from growing up and always hearing “We can’t afford that” and then when I started to manage my own money I never told myself that. Literally… It’s why I was about $18k or so in credit card debt after college. I saw, “I can’t afford that” as “I’m failing at life” when in fact it’s the strongest statement you can make to not fail at life. If you’re strong enough to say “I can’t afford that” you’re even further ahead than you think you are. I didn’t learn that until way later in life. Even now reviewing these year-end statements, I see that I still haven’t learned that. Shopping is my go to comfort food of sorts. If I ate like I shop, whew, I’d be buying a lot larger sizes of clothes for sure!
I also love music, and OMG do I spend some money on music. I did find that joining Amazon Prime has saved me loads on actual music purchases. Yes, I don’t own those tunes, but when I get in the mood to hear something mellow like James Taylor, Paul Simon or Jim Croce – there are playlists for them, and I can “download” those artists to my library, at least as long as I’m a Prime member and I don’t have to buy them to hear them. Although, The Grateful Dead live albums are still UBER spendy, and the same with Phish. Dang live albums costing so much and being so good.
Shopping is fine if you’re not buying – right?
However, nowadays, I shop more than buy, but even that is a slippery slope. I catch myself looking online at things thinking, I could use a new pair of swim goggles, that last pair fits perfectly, but they’re a bit dark, maybe I need a clear pair. Do I need a clear pair? No, the dark ones work fine and maybe they’ll get me more used to not being able to see well so that open water swimming won’t freak me out. Do you know why I’m shopping to begin with – boredom.
I get bored at work sometimes (I’m not the only one right?) and that leads to checking gmail, PF blogs, etc… but usually in my email there are no less than 5 emails from companies telling me about their great deals. Mostly I click and review and delete, but occasionally I’ll go check them out. This can lead to unnecessary buying. I realized this and have started unsubscribing to any email that I see as a trigger for me to shop. Lowe’s, gone, Midwest Homebrew supplies, gone, Swim Outlet (I’ll miss your great deals but I know where you are online) gone, Amazon (yes we all know you exist), gone, well, you get the idea. I have just been cleaning up all of these triggers trying to reduce the amount of unnecessary temptation to go spend.
But why? It’s my allowance, can’t I spend it on anything I want? Yes, for the most part I can. With my donors choose donations coming out every month, my once a week or so lunch out coming out every month, beer (that can be a big one), clothes if I buy any, hobby supplies, video games (rare purchase recently), restaurants when Mrs. SSC and I go out on the now rare Friday off when we’re both free, and more it can add up pretty quickly. It’s easy to see why I am constantly running near empty in my allowance.
It’s Changing for 2017!
So, I’ve made a resolve to take my own advice and track my monthly spending. Sure I review my monthly statement to make sure they’re all my purchases and then I think, man I went out to eat a lot, or man I bought a lot of beer/music, or oh yeah, I did make those Amazon purchases of God knows what… Then I put it in the trash.
Not this year! It’s changing and it’s starting with me. Actually, that’s the only place it can start because I have autonomy over my allowance, haha! I plan to be more mindful of my allowance spending because that’s one area where I still play fast and loose with the rules. Not 2017 though. This year all this blogging advice finally trickles down to my personal wallet. I’ll keep you updated and let you know how things progress over the year and see if there is any difference. I’ve always maintained that I suck at personal finance, so we’ll see if this is true and if someone with almost 40 years of horrible spending habits can finally change them.
Do you have spending problems of your own? How do you deal with identifying your triggers or being more mindful with your spending?