January makes three months that I’ve consistently tracked my expenses. I relaxed for awhile and wasn’t tracking as religiously as I had been for most of last year. This is mostly due to having a good “feel” for where the money is going and knowing that I’m not spending large sums in any one area. I don’t follow a budget, for me there is an intuitive sense of where my money is going. The only revelation over the three months has been my spending on food, which continues to run higher than I would like and January was no exception.
So, what’s the point of sharing these updates? Mostly to give me a way of keeping track of things that I’m working on. There’s been a slow “revolution” of sorts in the way I relate to money, questioning the very notion of the idea of money being the only means to attain the things I need and want. It’s not a common view that I take and not one you simply pick up one day and decide it will fit your life. It’s part of a broader philosophy of living, with money being a very small part of that philosophy, that I have slowly developed over the last few years and it’s continuing to evolve.
By tracking my spending I can see where my money goes based on the lifestyle I’ve consciously chosen to live. From there it’s all about questioning the true value each dollar spent brings, as well as questioning whether there are other ways of acquiring things without solely relying on money. Since food represents the biggest area of improvement for me, lets use it as an example. Currently I purchase my food from the grocer and when I run out of items I make a return trip. I can obviously cut items out, use coupons and various others methods of curbing costs, but the one thing I will never be able to cut out is the markup. Every item we purchase includes not only the cost of the material itself, but all of the overhead that needs covered to bring the item to market. On top of those expenses there is a profit that needs to be made. Companies want to make money, to support organic growth, fund acquisitions and pay dividends. If you are in the habit of purchasing processed foods, you also get to pay a tax on the items you eat. All of these expenses are paid by the consumer for the privilege of feeding oneself. Something seems off…
Now imagine this scenario. What If I started to grow my own foods? What if I learned to preserve those foods? I can’t say for sure, but I believe that insourcing most of my food needs would go a long way to reducing those expenditures. This is one of my main focuses this year; growing and preserving more of the food I need and perhaps brewing my first batch of beer. We’ve been conditioned to believe there are only certain ways of doing things in our lives and are options are limited to what is offered. I believe that it’s our limited imagination and our self-imposed dependency on the “system” that is the real cause of our acceptance of means that don’t serve our ends. On to the numbers…
The main difference here is that I dropped my cell phone plan through Republic Wireless. I was using Republic for about two years after reading the review that Mr. Money Mustache wrote. Overall I was happy with the service, but then the phone just started acting up. It would shutdown, freeze up, the screen wouldn’t register my touch, and host of other things. I’m not attached to my cell phone and it was an easy choice to drop the service rather than shelling out a few hundred dollars for another that’s going to last less than two years. No thank you. I have a work cell and can use Google Voice for a personal number.
Internet went up because I added Netflix to the regular $14.99 internet service.
Starting in Feb. my health insurance plan will kick in and I will start making the payments for it. I had considered not listing it here, but Dividend Mantra made a case in my last spending post as to why I should count it in my monthly spending and I have to agree that he is right.
As you can see in the chart above, my spending can be broken down in to five main categories this month and once again food makes up the biggest expense. The Stoic loves to eat! What can I say? Food includes eating out, groceries, and alcohol. I do want to reduce the spending in this category for February and I’m going to make a greater effort to lower it going forward. How my gardening efforts and preserving turn out will play a big role. It should be interesting to see what can be achieved. One thing is for certain, I have plenty of room for improvement in the food department.