Readers Confess: You’ll Never Believe What I Spent Yesterday


what i spent yesterdayIt’s a question that we all ask ourselves at some point: Where did the money go?

The daily business of living can add up, which is why one of the best things that we can do for our finances is to track spending—down to the last dollar.

Whether you use a notebook, a spreadsheet or a free app, knowing exactly where your money is flowing is the first step toward fixing problems, recognizing weak spots and celebrating the things that we’re doing right.

So we challenged four people to jot down every dollar that they spent in a full day, and report back with their results.

Inquiring minds want to know: How does your daily spending measure up?

spending diary 3

Steven, 39, Private Equity Executive Managing Director, New York, NY

Wine: $304.14. I needed to restock my collection for entertaining, so I took the opportunity to explore lots of new wines.

Ticket to the Semifinals of the Oliver Metro NY Open: $21.49. I got to support a worthwhile charity, StreetSquash, and watch one of my favorite players win one of the best matches I’ve seen all season … the gods are good.

Squash Tournament Registration: $130.00. I’ve been playing squash for six years, and it’s starting to add up. Really, I need to stop playing so much.

Lunch: $18.00. I try to eat lunch every day—today it was sushi.

Dinner at Po: $75.00. I also like dinner, especially if it tastes good.

Cabs to and from Dinner: $42.00.

Groceries: $238.73. My wife and I split the grocery shopping duties, and we make a trip or order from Fresh Direct about once a week. My kids (there are two) need to stop growing …

Kindle Book: $10.33. I bought “Glow: A Novel,” by Jessica Maria Tuccelli. I’ll let you know how it is!

Replacement Glass and Ceramic Pitchers for my Country House: $93.96. Who doesn’t need another glass pitcher?

Microwave for the Country House: $150.55.

New Furniture for the Country House: $4,740.77. We bought our country house in Woodstock, NY, in 2005, and we’ve been adding to it ever since. Apparently, marriage is a constant flux of furniture.

Total: $5,814.64. I’m not at all surprised by what I spent today. Delis, as opposed to restaurants, are typical go-to lunch spots for me and my wife, and I almost always eat out or order in for dinner. Although we don’t keep a budget, we’re fairly regimented about our finances, and agree on our spending priorities.

RELATED: The 50/20/30 Rule: Your Ultimate Budget Guideline

  • CrankyFranky

    as a lifetime frugalist with the satisfying result of enough money to retire anytime I like now – these numbers to me are great examples for people who say – I can’t be bothered tracking my spending – that’s too boring – but how come I’ve got no money !?

    Failure to consciously track your spending is likely to result in a failure to have enough money to retire – jus’ sayin’ …

  • Clementina

    This article could have benefited from some age and income diversity.

    • simplyliving

      I completely agree, Clementina. I’d like to see what a person who makes under $50k annually spends in a day– someone who say, HAS to stick to a budget. For instance, today, I will spend nothing. Tomorrow, I may spend $15 on a salad to make for dinner when a friend comes over, because I can’t really afford to go out.

  • linda katz

    I totally agree with Clemintina and simplyliving. While I suppose there are days when we all blow a huge wad, I’d like to know how many of us underemployed spend money especially if we are naively/stupidly buying expensive health insurance. How do values tie into what these people spend and is this how they live regularly (except for the woman buying volunteer gifts/food)? and do they have money saved for retirement? Credit card debt?

  • Marissa Thomas

    Gosh, if I spent $228.76 in a “low” spending day, a $2 parking charge would be the least of my worries!
    I would feel sick to my stomach to spend that much in one day. And broke! lol
    I’d like to see what my peers get away with.

  • 32 in SF

    Agree, would like to a greater age and income diversity as well as an example of a non-retiree that isn’t self employed whom would have less business related expenses.

  • Amanda

    My dad always says “pay as you go, never owe.” I keep this in mind every time there is a big purchase to be made. If I can’t pay cash, then I don’t buy it. That doesn’t mean I don’t have debt, I do, but it makes me think about the future payments and if I want to continue paying for something long after the newness wears off.

  • shwana7

    I like to play a little game with myself called… how many days in a row can I go without spending any money. (Bills and gas to work don’t count.) Granted I’m single and have no children, but it’s shown me how unnecessary a lot of my purchases really are. It also causes me to think plan ahead instead of buying things out of convenience.

  • momof2

    The article doesn’t include the cost it took you to drive to work, the light bulbs in your home, nor the water in your toilet. Talk to me when you have to budget for power, water clothing & food. I am a single mom with two children, under $50K gross, and have a 4 year college business degree. I am not considered poverty yet I struggle daily. “Boo,” to
    Sarah Odell for writing such an article. No, I can not believe you spent $5k in a day- I can’t imagine that much in my annual budget let alone daily!

  • Tania

    Wow! Thank you for posting this because I now realize I’ve been way too hard on myself for my daily spending habits. I’m actually downright thrifty compared to some of these folks ;-)
    I usually feel I can learn something for anyone, they don’t need to be ‘just like me’ but I really don’t understand the point of this post. Nothing agains these folks but what was the intended take away?

  • debra sapp

    i spent 13.00 at caseys and 10.00 for laundry soap