I’ve been reading a series of financial diaries of people of different means, living in different places, and not only do I find it interesting but I think it can be useful for self reflection. Even though our family uses a budget it can be tricky to keep track of cash spent, so for a random week in February I decided to write down every penny we spent, and why. (And I still probably forgot something!) If this kind of thing is boring to you, feel free to skip. 🙂
First of all, income: I’m a substitute teacher and make between $1600-2500 each month, depending on circumstances (I sometimes have to miss work for job interviews, medical appointments, etc.) Dan is mainly a stay-at-home dad but also does freelance graphic design work and can add either nothing or $100+. Obviously our income is super variable and both Dan and I are looking for more dependable jobs, but this is what life is like in the meantime. Oh, and we have two little hungry mouths to feed as well. (Seriously, they eat SO MUCH.)
Sunday 4/10: We used our season passes to visit Six Flags Discovery Kingdom – the passes were Christmas presents and the park is less than 10 minutes from our house, so it’s super convenient. However, since the park doesn’t allow you to bring in food and the parking lot is a LONG way from the entrance, we always end up spending money on food. We are allowed to bring in kid snacks, but this time I accidentally brought juice boxes and security confiscated my straws, so I had to buy a cup for the kids to drink from. After we got home I saw an email from Shutterfly offering free photo magnets if you pay shipping, and I love photo magnets (as my fridge can attest to), so I ordered some.
- Theme park food: $40 (2 people, no drinks – we purchased cups with free refills on our first visit this season)
- Souvenir cup: $6 (and the straw got destroyed in the dishwasher afterward…boo cheaply made products purchased out of necessity)
- Shutterfly: $4
Monday 4/11: Today was a typical day for our family – I worked while Dan stayed home with the boys. After I got home Dan did some laundry (in our apartment complex, which can get pricy but at least it’s conveniently located) and I ordered two ‘big brother’ books for the boys on Amazon (The New Baby for Rowen and The Big Sibling Book for Damien), plus a daddy-and-me canvas project I had purchased for Damien way back when and never gotten around to getting one for Rowen – until I realized they were discontinuing it. (I guess I should have bought one for the new baby too…)
- Laundry: $10
- Amazon: $28
Tuesday 4/12: Dan had a job interview so I stayed home today. This has been a recurring problem for us – we’re both actively looking for work, but an interview necessitates a day off work for me, and as a sub, when I don’t work I don’t get paid. That said, it is nice that I am able to take days off whenever needed. After the interview we all went to the park and to Starbucks afterward for family treats.
- Starbucks – $9 (it would have been more but I had a few dollars on a gift card.)
Wednesday, 4/13: I started a three day sub position at a middle school as a sixth grade math teacher. I forgot my water bottle and bought one from the teacher workroom. Today was also the day that the sub scheduling app I use autorenewed for the month. I forgot to bring a lunch as well so on the way home I picked up Taco Bell. Once at home Damien wanted to make cookies but we were out of chocolate chips, so Dan ran to the store to get some.
- Water: $1.50
- Taco Bell: $6.66
- SubstituteAlert: $5
- Chocolate chips: $4
Thursday, 4/14: Day two in my sub placement. Bought another water bottle (where is mine??) and picked up iced coffee after school after a long, difficult day.
- Water: $1.50
- Dutch Bros: $4.00
Friday, 4/15: The final day in this sub placement, and it was another challenging one (which involved a fistfight over a pair of shoes. FUN.) I bought iced tea on the way home to cheer myself up. Once at home, both my parents and grandparents happened to be nearby, so we all went out to dinner together (which was fun and free for my family!) After dinner my parents watched the kids so Dan and I could do some much-needed grocery shopping together, which NEVER happens.
- Starbucks: $3.00
- Groceries: $105 (from Walmart Neighborhood Market, which is less than a mile from our house and therefore where we always end up when we’re out of food and energy simultaneously.)
Saturday, 4/16: Dan scheduled another interview out of town on Monday, and since his mom lives near there (at the moment; she’s actually in the process of moving) and because I had to take Monday off work anyway, we decided to make a family trip out of it.
While we were packing to leave, Dan noticed that one of our pets – our boy rabbit, Leo – wasn’t doing well. He hadn’t been eating well all week but while we were getting ready to go he seemed to have a seizure that left him paralyzed. While we knew he was getting up there in bunny years (at age 7+), we had no idea his health would literally fail in a matter of hours. Dan took him to the emergency vet and we made the decision to put him to sleep. It was really awful and even harder to explain to the boys, especially Damien. (This is the first pet we’ve had to put to sleep since we’ve had kids, and that definitely made it harder, though it would have been rough anyway.
Even though we were all feeling horrible we decided to go along with our trip plans, and left around 4pm. With the pet drama both Dan and I forgot to eat lunch, so we picked up Del Taco on the way and later stopped for milkshakes so Damien could use the restroom.
- Emergency vet bills: $90
- Del Taco: $12
- Carl’s Jr: $14
Weekly Total: $344 (I rounded the change)
Thoughts: I feel like that’s a lot more money than we normally spend in a week, but I don’t normally keep this close track so maybe I’m wrong. Obviously there were a few unusual expenses (vet bills, we don’t go to Six Flags every weekend, etc) but I also noticed once I ‘treated’ myself once it was way too easy to do it again. I also need to keep track of my water bottle… 🙂 If we spent this much weekly we wouldn’t be able to pay rent and other bills, so it’s good for me to keep track and make sure that doesn’t happen.