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Before we entered into the 1 percent territory, we would closely watch our spending. We would be careful on how much we spent on groceries, we would sacrifice our comfort to reduce utility bills, we would eat in as much as we could, and would not travel much. I even got to the point where I would think twice before I ordered a drink at dinner or I would order chicken when I really wanted steak. Over time, this level of scrutiny took away from our enjoyment of life. Now, I’m not chastising anyone who currently does this. Everyone is in a different situation and it may make sense for someone (particularly someone in debt) to track their spending.
When we first got married, we had decent incomes, with growth prospects. Nowadays, we find it far more prudent to enjoy life and to focus a lot of that money-saving energy to growing our incomes by performing better at work. Don’t get me wrong, we still track our spending, but we don’t splurge. We own 2 smartphones that cost a penny each, we don’t own an iPad or any tablet, we own 1 flat screen television, and we haven’t flown on a plane as a family in years. We don’t live extravagant lives by any stretch of the imagination, but we stopped tracking our utility bills, grocery bills, gas bills, etc because they’re necessities and because we don’t splurge on these items.
The Small Stuff List
- Groceries – we buy what we need and consume what we buy with minimal waste (at least we try to). I don’t bother with worrying about the grocery bill
- Utilities – we installed a programmable thermostat, but won’t sacrifice our family’s comfort to save a few bucks. We manage energy as best as we can.
- Gas – we have to travel to work with no reasonable public transportation option. I haven’t look at gas prices in years since there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.
- Dining out – we don’t dine out often, but like to enjoy taking the family out to each every now and then. We probably dine out 2 times a month and order-in 5-6 times a month
- Entertainment – we haven’t seen a movie in years so the most we do for entertainment is pay for our cable bill plus a few $1.00 movies from Redbox. We also go on small trips to Sesame Place and other kid friendly areas, but since we don’t do it very often, it’s not worth tracking
- Grooming – we need stuff to look presentable. Haircuts mostly, but also make-up (for the wife of course).
- Medical – our children need to see their pediatrician as well as specialists. There is no way we would sacrifice medical care for ourselves or our children so we don’t track this spend.
- Taxes – what can I say? It is what it is. We take appropriate steps to reduce our tax liability, but when bill time comes, we pay it and forget it.
Everything else including cell phone bills, cable TV, insurance, mortgage, etc. are all fixed costs so they’re budgeted with no surprises. Everyone’s situation is different, but if you’re making a decent income and you’re not splurging on the small stuff, then pay the bills and forget it about it.
How do you track your spending?