Where I Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Where I Don't Sweat The Small Stuff

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. Grooming – We need stuff to look presentable. Haircuts mostly, but also make-up (for the wife of course).
  7. 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.
  8. 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?

About The Author

Edwin is a marketer, social media influencer and head writer here at I Am 1 Percent. He manages a large network of high quality finance blogs and social media accounts. You can connect with him via email here.

17 Comments

  1. Lance@MoneyLife&More

    I think you have your spending well under control for being a 1 percenter. As long as you spend less than you earn and ate accumulating wealth I am sure you’ll be fine.

    Reply
  2. Daisy

    I track my spending by putting everything on my credit card, paying it off, and exporting my statement to an excel spreadsheet where I group things.

    It’s definitely easier to not sweat the small stuff when the small stuff really is small to you; some of these things aren’t small things to many people.

    Reply
  3. White Coat Investor

    I agree that it’s the big stuff that matters- like how much you’re spending on housing and automobiles. You can buy an awful lot of lattes with the difference between a $300K house and a $1 Million house, especially when you add in the money to insure, finance, maintain, update, landscape, pay taxes on, and clean said $1 Million house.

    Reply
  4. Brandy

    I put everything on my credit card like Daisy, but I very rarely look at it. I just make sure I pay it off each month.

    Reply
  5. krantcents

    I track my spending constantly by checking my expenses every month. It reminds me to try to reduce my expenses all the time.

    Reply
  6. Jonathan

    We too have gotten to the point where we don’t sweat the small stuff. We save close to half of our income, and while we’re still in a mode where we want to save and invest as much as reasonably possible, the percentage of our income that ends up going to the “small stuff” we choose not to worry about is in the low single digits, and for us it’s worth it for the quality of life upgrade it gets us. Our small stuff list is pretty much the same as yours, though we do travel for vacation as well (but we don’t consider those “small”).

    Reply
  7. Mochi and Macarons

    I don’t need to sweat the small stuff, but I do.

    There is something comforting about listing expenses, knowing how much I spent in each category each month and so on.

    I could just spend without worrying (which I do to some extent), but I want to see a history of spending too, which is interesting for me. 🙂

    I like enjoying my money, because if I don’t now, who knows when I’ll be able to? Maybe things won’t work out and I’ll end up having missed out on a lot of great things even though I had the means.

    Reply
    1. Denise Gabbard

      I am not even close to being where you are at this point—and I have been attempting to track expenses to get a handle on our spending. (Though we know where the main leak is– our oldest son, who is going through a divorce and needs support.)

      However, I still believe we should make time and take some money to enjoy ourselves as well, for the same reasons you noted. My business is 100% online–writing, social media,and SEO—so I will be able to support us wherever we decide to semi-‘retire’ in a few years.

      Reply
  8. Tara

    I track our spending with the most anally organized spreadsheet known to man. I almost get a weird sense of enjoyment fiddling with it. That being said there are things that we save on that you don’t list yourselves as doing. We cut cable out, we now only use netflix and renting movies from the library. This works very well for us as prior my husband and myself were huge couch potatoes. Doing this has given us more free time, so it’s completely worth it for us plus we save about $80 a month from what we were spending. We also don’t have smartphones simply because we barely use the phones we have so there is no sense in paying for more features that we wouldn’t use. I keep track of EVERYTHING even stuff that I’m not willing to sacrifice on, namely our electric bill. I grew up with parents who wouldn’t turn the air conditioner on until it was August, in Kansas, which was like living on the surface of a very humid sun. I always swore I wouldn’t sacrifice that particular comfort when I “grew up” and I never have. We keep our air on about 75 and luckily our house is very well insulated so we don’t see insanely high bills. But I assure you as soon as the heat rears it’s ugly head our air comes on.

    Reply
  9. Edward Antrobus

    I’m bad at being okay with haircuts. They are just so expensive anymore! My last haircut cost double what I used to pay as a kid.

    Reply
  10. Adam Hathaway

    While I am not a 1% my situation is similar. We budget everything but I have no problem dipping into savings for the extra we spend on our groceries/medical/etc. dont live extravagant lifestyles and we rarely ever spend more than we make. The only instances where we do are for business funding or if we spend to much one pay period on killing off our one last piece of what I call bad debt(the car).

    Reply
  11. Michelle

    This is something that I definitely need to keep in mind. I’m always thinking about all of the little things, even necessities and this way of thinking is not needed.

    Reply
  12. jefferson

    it sounds like you certainly don’t live extravagantly, in spite of your 1% status.

    you don’t eat out a lot, don’t go crazy with groceries, etc.

    i am sure that this played a large role into how you got to where you are in the first place!

    Reply
    1. Adam Hathaway

      This falls in line with the way that Millionaire Next Door details the affluent so it makes perfect sense to me that this is true.

      Reply
  13. Financial Samurai

    I no longer sweat vacations. I used to skip the $50 Hope on Hope Off Bus, but now it’s ALL OUT baby! If I’m flying all the way to Rome, hell yeah I’m spending $50 to take me on a bus to see the city!

    It was fun walking everywhere though I gotta admit.

    Sam

    Reply
  14. Amy Turner

    You’re one of those lucky enough to gain complete control of their financial life. I still do things the weirdest way. I keep track of expenses, every bit of it, just so I get this unholy satisfaction at the end of the month to see if we spent money on budget. If not, I don’t go crazy about it, but it helps to know why you overspent.

    Reply
  15. Bob

    We don’t sweat the small stuff, but we do track it! We just lump the small stuff together and watch the overall number.

    So “Food” contains groceries, beverages, eating out, morning coffees, etc. “Household” has repairs, garden, subscriptions, tools,misc. etc. It is broken down in Quicken (so have the detail), but we focus more on the overall “Food” or “Household”. We also distinguish between Mandatory and Discretionary expenses. No sense getting in a twist over insurance or a fluctuating expense like utilities as long as the overall annual number is budgeted. We also carry a contingency and a “I forgot” in our annual budget. The biggest discretionary expense we have are vacations, so we plan, budget and monitor those carefully.

    Having tracked our expenses for years on Quicken and really knowing what we have spent (or are likely to spend) is the key to our budgeting.

    Reply

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