15 Lessons Money Diarists Learned After Tracking Their Spending


Every Monday, we purchase a deeper dive into the Money Diaries community. We started by rounding up some of our favorite comments. Later, we asked perfect of you whom you like (or don’t like) to talk to approximately money. nowadays, we’re sharing lessons that past diarists maintain learned after tracking their spending.

While we aren’t able to publish everyMoney Diary that gets submitted — which means that not perfect of the following What I Learned submissions reach from published diaries — we effect hope that the exercise of keeping such a journal is helpful. Here’s what a handful of diarists and Money Diaries community members maintain to say approximately the experience.

One of our highest-earning Money Diarists, a 34-year-ragged executive director working in finance in Los Angeles, wrote approximately seeing her family’s spending in a recent light.

“I learned a lot from my Money Diary. I know I execute a lot of money, but I had a secret pride that we don’t spend like we effect. Well, that is not precisely factual. The amount of money we spent eating was absurd. I realize that I don’t even search for at prices when I proceed to a restaurant. $180 for sushi on a Tuesday? reach on. That is crazy. We could’ve easily had a grand sushi dinner out in L.A. for half that price.

“I deem some small changes and cooking a puny more could aid us save even more money. That is always tough with two working parents, a toddler, and a kid on the way. I still relish going out, but I realize we stay up being wasteful, too. I deem I may preserve up the diary so we can be more mindful of how we spend.”

This diarist, a 30-year-ragged manager in Chicago, IL, reflected on writing a Money Diary in the midst of a difficult personal time — and how it helped her see the suited in her life.

“I’m currently going through [the] breakup of a long-term relationship. There are many times throughout the day I don’t feel grand approximately myself or my situation. Doing this diary helped me realize I maintain so much to be grateful for, and that I maintain accomplished a lot financially, professionally, and personally in my 30 years.

“… And the fact that I mainly spend money on food :)”

One of our World Teachers’ Day Money Diarists, a 26-year-ragged piece-time library assistant and piece-time assistant preschool teacher in Portland, OR, said she wished she spent more money on enjoyable pursuits.

“I learned so much by tracking my spending for a week. As suited as I am with saving money and staying out of debt, I spend much more than I realize on things I don’t need, like food and coffee. I wish I spent more on entertainment simply because I sometimes feel like a recluse due to the amount of work I maintain, and assign on myself.

“Moving has also been a crazy experience. I thought that moving from California to Oregon would crop my costs, but it hasn’t. Certain things are cheaper in Oregon, but others are more expensive. I execute less money too, because back in California, I was higher up in the library food chain.

“Overall, Portland has a much simpler and calmer vibe, and I moved here for my sanity. I am determined to find my money in order so I can live the life I want. And the best way to effect that is to stay motivated by reading self-improvement and financial health books, staying positive, and working tough.”

Back in March, one of our diarists, a finance VP in recent York City, drummed up a lot of conversation after readers learned of her high income and spending habits. Here’s what she had to say:

“I had no conception [my diary] was going to cause such a shit storm. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised; most of the comments were very nice.

“I learned a LOT. I am the kind of person who (oddly, [considering] my line of commerce, trade) wants to avoid really tallying up what I’m doing. I always review my credit card charges and I deem I’m pretty responsible for the most piece. I [tend to] spend frugally day-to-day, but will save up and be tickled to spend on something like a vacation or a recent handbag. I care a lot more approximately the large-ticket items than buying coffee every day. (BTW, I went back and ordered that sofa from ABC domestic! It cost just under $2,000, but I expect to preserve it for at least five years. I am a trader; I like to invest.)”

“One space where I could definitely be saving is grocery stores! I tend to proceed every two or three weeks because, honestly I just detest doing it. Then, when I proceed, I wander around aimlessly and pick out random things. I relish cooking, but there’s only so many vegetables you can eat as a single person in a week before they proceed wicked and you maintain to throw them out! I deem I will work on either going more often or making a list.

“With regards to the comments on my charity spending, I spend approximately $3,000 a year on various charities. The form asked for monthly expenses, not yearly ones, so I was just following directions. I had no conception that’s what people would focus on, particularly considering I spend fairly a bit on causes that matter to me. Also, taxes are nuts! Something like 30 percent to 40 percent of my headline income goes to taxes. particularly in Manhattan, you find dinged three time — federal, state and city. I work on commission, so it’s tough to budget. But I’m not complaining, I am in a high-income bracket — so I maintain very high tax rates.

“I deem I maintain a healthy relationship with debt, which is something I’ve learned from reading a lot of these Money Diaries. Credit scores are SO essential! I was really lucky to preserve parents who made me find a credit card when I was in middle school (!!) and pay it down. I’ve had a credit score for nearly 15 years! I maintain friends who just got a credit card final year.

“There were a few comments approximately privilege that, honestly, I expected. I went to public school until I went to a top-notch university; it was private and crazy expensive. But my parents grew up very poor and maintain managed to effect some incredible things. This will probably execute me sound even more frivolous (I already got nailed for spending $100 on a single candle!), but my parents knew the kind of lifestyle I wanted to live from a young age. They’ve been very open in telling me, Hey, whether you want that $5 million townhouse, you’re going to need to execute a lot of money. Here are the career paths you can purchase. They really pushed me into finance because they knew this was the career path I’d need to purchase to execute the kind of money I want.

“I deem this is a message that gets lost on a lot of people. whether you want to proceed be a humanitarian or work for a nonprofit, that’s grand — but it comes with a different financial picture. For me, this was more essential. I am fully aware that my job is loathed by some, but it’s the choice I made to live the kind of lifestyle I want. I’ve also been lucky to preserve parents who understood how much they could aid. I’ll confess that I originally wanted to be a doctor! This would maintain also, eventually, yielded the kind of income I’d need to live the life I want, but my parents sat me down and said, ‘search for: We can’t pay for medical school. How long and how much debt effect you want to be in?’ It’s perfect approximately payoffs.

“I am really glad I wrote this because I’ve never actually itemized the things I’ve done. And I am tickled, overall, with the responses I’ve gotten. I hope that women — or people — reading this got something out of it as well.”

Another diarist, a 28-year-ragged marketing manager in Vancouver, BC, Canada, makes $58,500. She expressed confidence in her ability to relish life in the short-term, but also voiced some longer-term concerns after tracking her expenses.

“I can afford to live fairly comfortably in what’s known as the city with the highest cost of living here in Canada. That said, [because of] a comfortable lifestyle and frequent travels, I haven’t been able to assign as much money absent for a house, or a wedding, or a rainy day. I want to be able to shed light on the common issue that’s facing a lot of the working lesson, course here in Vancouver, and that is the balance and struggle of enjoying your life while building your future.

“Filling out the Money Diary was a huge eye opener because you don’t realize that even the simplest items are a luxury. It was also a pretty heavy spending week for me; I generally,normally don’t spend that much on execute-up or clothes. This week showed me that it’s not only the larger shopping totals that are a detriment to your savings, but it’s also the paying for everyone’s film and not getting paid back. It’s the unnecessary dessert after dinner. It’s the coffee for two every morning. This was a very helpful exercise to shed light on the changes I need to execute for the future.”

One diarist, a 29-year-ragged executive assistant in recent York City making $112,000 used her Money Diary to find places to crop back.

“I wanted to preserve my own [Money Diary] because I know I spend WAY too much on food and drink, and ‘treat’ myself on clothing more often than not. Both maintain led to tremendous amounts of credit card debt. In the past year, I was laid off before landing a recent [job] with a major raise. With that [money], I am paying off said cards while trying to save as much as possible. I also realize that I don’t donate to charity (time or money) nearly as much as I would like to, so I arrangement to increase that as well.”

One diarist, a 29-year-ragged school counselor in Richmond, Virginia, said that she learned to be less afraid of money.

“I realized that I detest spending money and I’m constantly trying to stay on a budget that doesn’t exist in reality. I need to stop being afraid to spend money on myself. That’s not precisely the moral I thought I’d find out of this week, but self-actualization is suited, too.”

Another diarist, a 27-year-ragged office manager in Bellingham, Washington, wrote approximately learning what to prioritize as she and her husband start raising children. This diarist works in the field of biotechnology and makes $44,000; her husband’s salary is $55,000. Here’s what she had to say:

“After submitting my Money Diary and looking back at perfect my notes, I noticed that I maintain been spending a lot more [money] than daily now that my husband and I are preparing for kids to enter our domestic. Some of it was in preparation — whether it be toys, furniture, or equipment — but we also spent a lot of afternoons and evenings out. Unexpected purchases are bound to happen when you expand your family, particularly in our case, with regard to adoption. Not only are there agency fees, but we will also maintain lawyer fees in the future.

“Moving forward, particularly when we are settled with kids, it will be essential to remember that saving is so essential. Something I’m still trying to memorize is that you may not always need the most extravagant items. I want to execute certain we maintain healthy savings while still providing a fun and exciting life for our puny family. I deem the key to perfect of this is to find the right balance for you and those you share your life with.”

This diarist from May, a multimedia senior manager in recent York City making roughly $75,500 per year, reflected on her work to pay down debt while still enjoying life:

“I’ve been tracking my spending for approximately six months, [a period in which] I realized I needed to consolidate my $16,500 credit card debt. Through a lack of financial oversight and acumen, serious illness, and high/compounding interest rates, I racked up a severe amount of debt in a short period of time (approximately 4 years). I realized I maintain to be much more prudent approximately credit and pay my balance in full each month — whether I ever exhaust credit again. For now, and the foreseeable future, I’ve been credit-free.

“The main thing I learned while tracking my expenses is that despite increased budgeting and awareness, I still am an impulse-spender, particularly when it comes to things like groceries, gifts and non-fundamental personal items like records. I deem I need to be more aware of that and employ more self-discipline to stay on track, while also allowing for a fun purchase here and there.”

Another diarist, a 27-year-ragged office manager in Garden City, Kansas, wrote approximately how it feels to execute $12,000 per year.

“While doing my Money Diary, I felt really awkward approximately how puny I made; my poverty and art degree provide plenty of fodder for internet trolls. I know it’s my fault for getting a useless degree, so thanks. It is tough to write a diary approximately what I spend when I don’t maintain much money to spend — and definitely not on anything exciting.

There are many circumstances that led to me returning domestic and taking a piece-time job. I had to constantly remind myself that this is a temporary pit stop in my life. I often feel guilty spending money on anything that isn’t gas, bills, or food, and that’s something I want to work on. Nobody should beat themselves up over spending $4 on a water bottle.

“I already maintain nearly a year’s worth of my earning in savings, so I know I can’t save much more without making more. On the luminous side, the diary kept me motivated. I am working on my résumé for a full-time position where I can live with my boyfriend and not maintain to commute.”

This diarist, a 28-year-ragged higher-education coordinator in the Metro Detroit Area making $45,000 per year wrote approximately how her schedule impacts her finances. She realized that operating within time crunches results in her spending more than she and her husband would like to.

“My husband and I maintain known that we spend a lot on food, but we both like cooking and eating out. This was a week where my schedule allowed me to be domestic every evening, so I tried to cook at domestic more, and didn’t proceed to Starbucks as often as I typically would for breakfast.

“Tracking made me recognize how puny of our income is going towards saving and investing, so we will be setting up IRAs ASAP. We are also not doing a suited job of managing our mornings. Neither of us likes to wake up earlier than we maintain to. However, hanging onto our ragged habits while managing our son in the morning presents time management issues that lead us to overspend out of convenience.”

One recent diarist, a project manager in Seattle, Washington, realized that she’s doing better in some areas than she realized.

“I learned that I don’t spend as much on food as I thought I did, [but] I found I was spending way too much on coffee and transportation. I’m okay with paying over 50 percent of my income toward my living expenses, but I could definitely buy coffee out less and exhaust [fewer] car shares (which I’ve reach to rely on).”

One diarist, a 30-year-ragged public health advisor in Washington, D.C. making $77,490 per year said she learned to pull back her spending on other people.

“I learned that I spend a lot of money in service of other people (buying coffee/tea, hosting parties, donating to fundraisers, buying from friend’s small businesses), and that I rationalize some of the beauty and clothing spending that I effect, saying that I ‘need’ everything.”

One of our intern diarists, a junior fellow working in Washington, D.C. making $15 per hour this summer, said the experience showed her ways to improve what she is already doing.

“I learned a grand deal writing a Money Diary,” she wrote. “I am normally really conscious of my spending, but writing everything down made me realize just where my money is going. It was a valuable experience and showed me that although I deem I am a frugal spender, there are still ways to crop down on costs, such as watching what I spend on the weekends, as well as during the week.”

One Money Diaries submitter, a 28-year-ragged marketing specialist making $55,000 in Portland Maine, said that she sometimes uses her thriftiness on eating out as an excuse to proceed perfect out at the supermarket.

“I learned that I should just direct-deposit my paycheck to Trader Joe’s. Kidding aside, I realized that I’m very careful with my spending aside from food and drinks, and I execute a large effort not to eat out or order takeout, which really helps me stay on track. That said, I also realized that I sometimes exhaust the fact that I cook up to 95 percent of my meals to justify a sometimes-bloated grocery budget. Give and purchase, I guess.”



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