I Tracked My Spending for a Week: Turns Out I’m Bad at Money

Figure out where the heck all your spending is going.

I’m not sure which is more expensive: being a full-time student or being a full-time 20-year-old female. Between my textbooks, my over-indulgence in hair products, take-out food and $14 sangria drinks, my wallet is running a tad dry.

Since my two part-time jobs fail to support my current lifestyle, I have come up with two reasonable solutions. I could become a millionaire by the time I’m 21 by finding an entry-level job with a six-digit salary, or I could stop spending my paycheques on daily burritos and clothes I don’t need.

As the current economy isn’t exactly a millennial’s saving grace, I’ll probably resort to the latter.

I decided to track my spending habits over the course of one week to help visualize where I spend most of my money, and to see if there are certain areas of my life where I could be saving.

Day 1: Monday

Coffee  – $4.00

Lunch $21.12

Total: $25.12

For breakfast, I grabbed a cream-cheese bagel and dark roast coffee that I could have made at home, so naturally, I didn’t. For lunch, I spent $21 dollars on a savoury crepe and–much to my surprise–it wasn’t actually made with gold.

Day 2: Tuesday

Union Station – $30.00

Bagel – $3.00

Coffee – $2.36

Lunch out – $20.00

Total: $55.36

My Tuesday finances usually look the same. It begins by loading my public transit card with enough money to support a week’s worth of train rides, followed by an avoidable, but regular trip to the bagel shop once I get to Union Station. I treat myself to a coffee and justify it by saying things like, “ it isn’t even that expensive unless you get the fancy drinks.”

Day 3: Wednesday

Clothes – $22.59

I purchased a black bathing suit to compliment the six other black bathing suits I have hibernating at the back of my sock drawer. But this one’s a one-piece, it’s what all the kids are wearing these days.

Day 4: Thursday

Coffee: $4.00

Credit card payment: $50.00

Total: $54.00

Again, I grabbed another cream-cheese bagel for breakfast that I thought nobody would actually find out about. *Stares blankly while she reflects upon recent decisions* I also noticed that my credit card bill was looking a little high so I fed it $50 and told myself that I was being responsible.

Day 5: Friday

Bagel: $3.00

Wine: $13.00

Total: $16.00

My life summed up in two simple purchases.

Day 6: Saturday

Coffee: $3.68

Hair supplies: $22.45

Clothes: $47

Total: $73.13

I decided to just skip breakfast this day. Since I get paid on Fridays, I decided to splurge on ‘do it at home’ hair dying supplies and something at my forever favourite clothing store. I don’t even remember what the clothing purchase was, but for $47 it was probably a really nice shoelace or something.

Day 7: Sunday

All I spent was a day bathing in the summer sun, soaking in the hot UV rays and the fact that I have limited self-discipline when it comes to managing my earnings.

In total…

In total I spent approximately $62 on food, $70 on clothes, $22 on cosmetics, $30 (or more) on transportation and $13 on liquid courage.

What did I learn?

Maybe that I spend most of my money on unnecessary purchases like clothing, and cosmetics; And if I want to avoid both debt and diabetes I should probably stop spending so much on take-out food. With better time-management skills I could save that $62 by preparing meals at home for a fraction of the cost.

After realizing that I am bad at money, I checked out Vincent Atallah and Adam Vassallo’s company website Don’t Freak Out because they deal with financial literacy (in simple terms, I was freaking out and hoped they could throw some ‘shoulds’ at me in regards to being better at this whole “being an adult” thing).

You know when you go to a store and see a new shirt and you think to yourself, “If I don’t have this scarf right NOW, I will die?” According to Vince and Adam, putting clothing on hold and “sleeping on it” helps prevent such emotional and impulse purchasing.

They also suggested making pots of coffee instead of buying the pods or buying coffee at a coffee shop because not only is it better for the wallet, but also the environment (every penny helps).

My goals for the future? Eat better. Spend better. Plan better. For other financial tips, visit Don’t Freak Out.

Thinking twice about your spending habits?

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Samantha Moss

Samantha Moss

Sam is SLN's resident Fashion editor and blogger. She also finds time to be a full-time student at McMaster University. Somehow.