Mindful Money: Breaking Down My Personal Spending

About once per quarter, I attempt to make Chad talk about money.  I show him our net worth, share how we’re doing according to projections, and ask him questions about what he’d like our priorities to be – e.g. if he wants to pay down the mortgage or try a Mega Backdoor Roth.  He doesn’t usually care, except for the net worth numbers.  Last year, I mentioned how much he had spent for his personal spending.  He did not believe me, and insisted I was just tracking the wrong things.

We don’t have allowances, but the numbers are tracked and I try to include them in our spending predictions.  And I was able to show Chad EXACTLY where his money was going.  (Golf, apparently, is an even more expensive hobby than yoga!)

Breaking down his spending was so much fun that I decided to break down my own.

personal_breakdown

The numbers were not necessarily shocking – I know I buy a lot of clothes, and I already know that yoga is an expensive hobby.  But as I broke the clothing category down further, I started to wonder if the spending was a reflection I liked.

But when I looked more closely at my spending on clothes, particularly on lower-quality fast fashion brands, I was a little troubled. I don’t consider myself a fast fashion consumer, constantly buying and purging based on the trends of the moment.  It’s just that whoever the fit model is at Old Navy  has the exact same body shape as me.  And Old Navy makes the work-appropriate-yet-comfortable-like-pajamas clothes of my dreams: Pixie pants and Ponte knit sheath dresses, pencil skirts, and blazers. (Their jeans + workout clothes are also pretty good). I keep the clothes for a long time. And they’re inexpensive, especially if I shop sales.  For someone whose body is still settling into a post-baby post-breastfeeding shape (final weight still TBD), this is a reasonably efficient way to shop.

Still, there are plenty of imperfect items buried in there, bought because of the price or because it filled a temporary need and not necessarily because of joy being sparked.  And the low price to me comes at a cost to others – environmental impacts and fair wages/working conditions.  It’s a lot to think about, especially when I also want to look cute (I will never be one of those people who doesn’t care about clothes).

Based on this budget breakdown, I did 2 things for 2019:

  • decreased my personal allowance (I do SO WELL with a prescriptive budget it’s not even funny), and
  • set up an event-based allowed shopping list: cute sightseeing clothes for our big anniversary trip , and dresses/shoes/accessories for 2 weddings we’re going to this year.

I already have plenty of work clothes (the aforementioned work-appropriate pajamas), and can’t remember the last time I had a “I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR” moment, at least on a weekday. Event-based shopping is not typically recommended, but for me it’s been a little bit more exciting than another cute work blouse. One of the weddings is Black Tie, and if I stop eating my office mate’s peanut butter pretzels, I just may be able to squeeze into a dress I already have (the last time I wore it, I met Bill Nye! It’s a lucky dress!).

I’ll never be as frugal and simple as others out there, but it’s fun to look at these numbers and make sure that they are reflective of what I value.  So far 2019 seems like a better reflection,  30% of it is taken up with a 90-minute hot stone massage I got on vacation, 30% on yoga, and overall lower dollar amounts.

How do you make sure your spending reflects your values – and what are those values? Share in the comments!

 

 

3 Responses

  1. I think our values do align with our spending mostly because most of our spending is on necessary stuff, and a small subsection of it is for fun stuff. That’s not the BEST reason in the world but good enough for me. XD

  2. […] I said in my last post, I took a hard look at my spending on clothes last year, particularly on lower-quality fashion brands. I mentioned that Old Navy fits me fairly well, and […]

  3. […] I am pretty anal about tracking myexpenses,” it’s also an opportunity for me to be mindful about our spending and how it […]

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