Money Diaries: A Week of Spending

One of my favorite things about reading blogs is learning about the personal money stories of others.  So in that vein, I thought it might be fun to show a week-in-the-life of my spending.

Here’s everything I spent from last Monday through yesterday (Sunday).

In terms of our household finances, this look only includes what I spent and doesn’t include Mr. FIREDup’s personal spending.  However, we have a joint credit card that most household expenses go on, so this includes the vast majority of purchases for our family.

Without further ado, here we go!

Monday, 8/20

No spend day.  Drank free coffee at work, packed leftovers for lunch, and Mr. FIREDup made dinner at home.

Tuesday, 8/21

Coffee from cafe at work – $2.10  

Daycare – $280.00    (This is a killer to our budget right now with just one income, but I love our daycare.  The rate should go down a little early next year when our toddler moves up a room.  There is also the possibility of part-time care starting then, should Mr. FIREDup not be working a traditional full-time position at that time.)

I packed leftovers for lunch and we had dinner at home again.

Wednesday, 8/22

Amazon – $12.99   (A step stool for our toddler so she can reach the sink to wash her hands!)

Vending – $1.15   (I packed a sad lunch from home and bought some Cheetos from the vending machine to supplement.)

Thursday, 8/23

Annual life insurance premium – $389.24  (Mr. FIREDup and I both bought 20-year term policies this year.  NOTE: Don’t wait until you’re 40 to buy life insurance.  It’s stupid expensive.  I have more to write on the life insurance process in a future post.)

Coffee at work – $2.69  

Chipotle – 0.00  (Had lunch with a friend, but used a Chipotle gift card so there was no out of pocket cost.)

Beer at bar – 0.00  (Convinced a co-worker to leave work a little early and we hit up the local watering hole for a drink.  She picked up the tab, so I promised to pay next time.)

We had dinner at home.

Friday, 8/24

Gas bill – $29.70  (I got paid today, so paid this utility bill and a credit card.)

Coffee at work – $2.69  (This was a bad week for this habit.  It tends to go in waves.  Some weeks I don’t buy coffee at all; most weeks it’s once or less.  Some weeks are like this one and I buy way too often.  This habit tends to be correlated with my co-worker’s behavior.  It’s uncommon for me to go when she doesn’t.  A true reflection of how our behavior is influenced by others.)

Pizza dinner – $34.86  (Two side salads, a large pizza, and a beer that I shared with my husband.  We had enough leftovers for lunch on Saturday.)

Saturday, 8/25

Grocery store – $132.03  (A week of groceries.  Lots of needs and several wants, too.  This is a little higher than our average weekly spend, but not by much.)

We ate all our meals at home this day.

Sunday, 8/26

Coffee – 0.00  (Had morning coffee with a friend and used a gift card.)

Concretes at Culver’s – 5.23  (Had a BOGO coupon so we had this as an afternoon treat before a stop at the library to pick out new books for the toddler.)

We ate all our meals at home this day, too.

So there you have it!  A week of spending.  Anything in there surprise you?  Would you like to see this feature again?  Would love to see others share their diary, too!

The Importance of Having a Network (aka I Declined a Job Offer)

At the beginning of last month I had a bad week at work.  I was in a lull between projects and had time to overthink my career future (I’ve been overthinking my career future for a while now).  This overthinking resulted in me casually looking at jobs on LinkedIn.

And I found a job I was really interested in.  It was a fit with my skills and was with a really intriguing company.  I applied that weekend.

After two+ weeks with no word, I assumed they weren’t contacting me for an interview.  I was a little bit heartbroken, but work had picked up again and life was busy and I didn’t have much time to think about it.

Shortly thereafter, I got contacted for a phone screen.  Despite being sick that morning, I trudged through the quick screening call.  A few days later, I was called to come in for an interview with the hiring manager.  The interview went well and I had a good feeling that there was mutual interest.  It was time to do a little due diligence.

After discovering that an acquaintance from earlier in my life – one whose judgment I trust – knew the hiring manager, I reached out to to see if she had any feedback.

Let’s just say the feedback…wasn’t good.

It was sad to learn this, but I was thankful to get the intel.  Also, at the point where I reached out to my friend to get feedback, it didn’t really matter yet anyway.  I didn’t know if the interview would even lead anywhere.

But my intuition had told me my odds were good and I was right.  The recruiter contacted me with an offer.  After a brief phone call, she sent over an official offer letter along with benefits information.

After much deliberation, I concluded that the right choice was to decline the offer.  While there’s no guarantee that I would have a bad experience working for the hiring manager, I also know first-hand how challenging work can be when you work for a difficult manager.  Also, I’m not trying to escape a bad job situation; in fact, in many respects, I have a great work setup.  Combine that with the fact that Mr. FIREDup’s work situation is still in flux, and I just didn’t think I was at a point where taking this kind of risk made sense.

I still analyzed the offer details to get a feel for what an external company could offer in terms of pay, bonus, benefits, and time off.  The offer was comparable to my current package, but not better; the pay was slightly less (with some potential upside) and the PTO was a little less (which is probably going to be the same anywhere I go at this point).  Basic benefits were similar.  There are some amazing unique perks at my current company that I’d have to give up no matter where I would choose to work next.

There was quite a bit of anguish in deliberating over this opportunity.  The company is SUPER interesting and would offer an environment different from the one I work in now.  And the job sounded like such a good fit with my skills and the unique mix of work experience I’ve gathered over the last several years.

Declining Gracefully

I can’t even recall the last time I declined a job offer, it’s been so long ago.  Here are a few takeaways I’d offer:

  • Call with your decline rather than sending an email.  Email might be okay, and it’s kind of the easy way out, especially for someone like me who can get thoughts out better in writing than verbally.  But calling is a more genuine way to connect.
  • Have a script.  Have a quick one or two sentence summary to explain why you are declining.  I wrote out my response and then ran through it in my head before I made the call.  And give a reason for the decline.  I obviously couldn’t give the pure truth for my decline in this case, but the reason I gave was also true:  I thought I was ready to leave my current company, but upon further reflection, the timing isn’t right.
  • Give a sincere thank you.  It was not a stretch for me to tell the recruiter that I genuinely appreciated the opportunity to interview for the position.  There was a lot of time and effort put into the screening and interviewing process, and I wanted to recognize that effort.
  • Give a timely response.  I didn’t take much time to deliberate.  I didn’t want to delay their hiring process as they likely had another candidate or two waiting in the pipeline.
  • Don’t burn bridges.  You never know when you might run into someone again further down the road in your career or personal life.  I live in a large metro area with many employers, and was interviewing at a company where I didn’t know anyone, yet I still had someone in my network who could provide first-hand experience working with the hiring manager.  If this were the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, my Bacon number would be 1.

There was some dread in making the phone call, but I did it, kept it short and sweet, and it went as well as it possibly could.  It felt like the door was left open to potential future opportunities as the company grows.

Closing Thoughts

I have zero regrets in applying and interviewing for this job.  It helped me clarify a few things:

  • I thought I was ready to leave my current employer, but this experience made it clear that it’s not quite the right time.  But…
  • It also seems likely that if my current position doesn’t grow or change, that the time to move on from what I’m doing now will be sooner rather than later.
  • Yes, I have marketable skills…but they’re a unique set of skills and experiences, so it will take time to find my next thing, whatever that ends up being.
  • It’s REALLY valuable to stay attuned to the market and keep job search skills fresh.  I would argue this is important for everyone, because even if you are in a great job at a great company, circumstances can change rapidly.

I thought about the pursuit of financial freedom several times throughout this process.  If we were further along in our financial freedom journey, it’s more likely that I would have taken the job.  For me, that’s the point of financial freedom – I wouldn’t be dependent on making a high salary, so I could selectively choose to do work that I find meaningful or rewarding or exciting.  On the flip side, since we haven’t reached our financial freedom goals yet, my current employment situation is a little more lucrative and will help us make progress towards those goals more rapidly.

What would you have done in this situation?   Would you have taken the risk, or stayed put?

All the Things we Regret with Money

Last week I listened to this episode of Paula Pant’s Afford Anything podcast.  She was interviewing Emma Pattee, who became a self-made millionaire by age 26.  Emma and Paula have both built real estate portfolios that provide enough cash flow to sustain their living expenses (the elusive “FI” of financial independence).

In this conversation Paula and Emma started talking about the psychological aspects of money.   They each shared stories on their path to FI where they had decided to not spend money on something and later regretted the emotional loss that went along with making that decision.

Listen to this truth bomb from Paula (slightly paraphrased):

“Both of us were motivated by the same thing…and for both of us, that was largely anxiety – we did it not because we wanted a big house with a fancy car, we did it because we were just anxious people who wanted the psychological security of a safety net in order to relieve some of that anxiety we felt.  That was our motivation…It’s funny, because being in a very emotionally unhealthy place led to a behavior that had a lot of positive reinforcement…There’s been a lot of external validation to just being a basket case.”

Does this conversation point strike a chord with others the way it does with me?  Perhaps it hit me so hard because I see myself in what Paula says.  My obsession with saving comes from a mindset of anxiety and fear of the unknown future, not from one of abundance and confidence.

Just as it is unhealthy to spend beyond your means, it can ALSO be emotionally unhealthy to become obsessed with squirreling money away!  And this is not something I often see addressed in the FI community.

Spending Regret and Satisfaction

I have definitely had times in the past where I regretted not spending money on something.  One example is that I did not study abroad during my graduate program like a couple of my friends did.  At the time I didn’t feel comfortable spending the money and instead took a well-paying internship.  This was fifteen years ago and any amount of money I would have spent on the education and travel would have long since been paid off by now.  The regret of not spending a few weeks in Italy, unencumbered by work or family obligations, still lingers.

There have also been times where I was stressed about spending money at the time but in retrospect have fond memories associated with that monetary outflow.  The first one that springs to mind is a big trip I took with my best friend five years ago.  We bought expensive handmade Turkish rugs in Istanbul and a split a case of wine in Tuscany.  My only regret is that I didn’t buy more wine!

Can you think of any instances where you wish you would have spent money instead of squirreling it away?  What is your motivation for saving for the future?

%d bloggers like this: