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 Self-Care

Two weekends ago my husband and I were in recovery mode.  We had spent the first part of the week on vacation in Chicago, but our vacation was unexpectedly extended by a trip to the emergency room for our daughter.  Luckily, she stabilized quickly and she was released two days later.

However, there was a lot of stress associated with this event.  We were worried about our daughter.  We had lots of instructions regarding what medications she needed to take after she was discharged, and she also needed to be seen at home for follow-up care.  We didn’t have a place to stay; our hotel was sold out.  (Luckily the hospital let us stay there in an unused overflow area.)  It was uncertain how we would get home, because we canceled our flights and couldn’t re-book until we knew when she would be released.  We also had to find a new place for our dogs to be boarded and coordinate for my friend’s dad to transport them to the new location.  In addition to general life stress, there was also the worry of the large medical bill and the extra costs for having to extend our stay.

Even a couple days after she was discharged, when the weekend rolled around, we were still recovering from that stress.  My temper was short and I was frustrated.  On Saturday I told my husband that I needed to go for a run the next morning to clear my head.

I needed to take care of myself, so I could take care of the others who depend on me.

Running Away the Stress

I’ve been a runner for a long time.  There are many reasons why I do it:

  • Physical health – to keep my heart fit and to burn calories to keep my weight in a reasonable range
  • Goal achievement – that sense of accomplishment you get when training for and completing a race
  • Mental health  – to deal with anxiety, and to keep my mind sharp and focused
  • Emotional health – to manage stress, worry, and uncertainty.

That Sunday morning run did wonders for my emotional health.  Simply put, going for that run made me a much more pleasant person to be around.  I cleared my head of stressors and frustrations and came back a more patient mom and wife.

My Self-Care Bag of Tricks

Do you have a bag of tricks you can rely on when stress is mounting and nerves are fraying?  Here are some things I’ve learned over the years that work for me:

  • Exercise/Outdoors time:  I don’t always have the time or energy to run; a simple 10-minute walk around the neighborhood can do wonders.  Five minutes of stretching or yoga can help too when I’m short on time.
  • Sleep:  With a toddler and an old dog in our house, there have been a fair number of nights of disrupted sleep in the past 18 months.  It’s become shockingly apparent to me this year how much sleep impacts me.  When I have a night of poor sleep, the next day I am more anxious and less optimistic, and my ability to make complex decisions is slowed.  Being well-rested is a daily goal for me.
  • Nutrition:  Too much caffeine, sugar, or alcohol generally makes everything worse.  Healthy foods make me feel better.
  • Relationships:  Spending time with my spouse or catching up with friends gets me  out of my head and reminds me to enjoy life.

Financial Impacts

Those things I listed above?  There is very little incremental cost involved in incorporating them into my daily life.  Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive.  But it is important to figure out how to make it a priority – especially when dealing with a stressful life event.

How do you practice self-care?  Do you have any tips and tricks to share?

What is Your Money Personality – and How Did it Develop?

What is your money personality?

I recently came upon this quiz online and here are my results:


These results are accurate.  I’ve got a case of bag lady syndrome and have been like that pretty much since I started living on my own.  For anyone not familiar with the term, bag lady syndrome is a fear of ending up destitute.  I am confident in my financial decision making skills, but I still view money as a security blanket.  (More on this later…)

And while I don’t save as much as many in the FIRE community, I’ve always been an above-average saver.

The Other Personalities

According to The Money Couple, these are the other personalities:Capture2We all know people who fit this category, right?  People who love the finer things in life and live life to the fullest.  I also know people who give thoughtful gifts; it makes me think about the Five Love Languages, because receiving gifts is an important expression of love to some people.

Capture4Think about anyone you know who is an entrepreneur at heart.  This is definitely not me.  I am willing to take a normal amount of risk in the markets since I have a long time horizon, but I’m risk averse in daily life.

Capture3This is the closest match to my husband’s personality.  Money is relatively unimportant to him; it is simply a means to an end.

How did you develop your money personality?

  • Were you born with your money tendencies?
  • Was it influenced by the way your family taught you about money or your financial situation growing up?
  • Has it been impacted by your life events in adulthood?

Growing up, we always had plenty of food and a warm house, but we did not have much money.  My dad was a farmer and outcomes were often dependent on factors outside our control – Mother Nature and the agricultural markets.  I think this is a big factor that shaped my money personality; I didn’t want to have so little control over my own financial destiny.  Thus money became a security blanket to me.  I saw how hard my dad worked, yet all that hard work didn’t always translate into money in the bank.  I’ve made safe, traditional education and job choices in adulthood because of my risk aversion, and it’s also been a reason for my “save for a rainy day” mantra.

I also think some of it is just our inherent personality.  I am the firstborn and have the traditional firstborn traits.  I’m conscientious, cautious, controlling, and achievement oriented (yep I love setting goals!).  As far as I know, my younger brother is good with money, but he’s not a crazy finance nerd like me.

Ongoing life events impact our money personality, too.  There was a period of almost three years at the end of my first marriage where I was the only breadwinner.  (Did I mention this was during the last economic meltdown?)

This series of events could have led to financial ruin for a lot of people.  While I did have a rebuilding period after my divorce, I did not have to start from scratch.  I had been saving for a rainy day – that day came, and it lasted nearly 3 years.  I was thankful that I had developed the ability to live below my means and that I had a healthy emergency fund stashed away.  This experience simply reinforced my belief that MONEY = SECURITY and FREEDOM.

Would you change your money personality?

Overall I’m pretty satisfied with being a saver and security seeker.  I sleep well at night without worrying about money.  But in an ideal world, I would take a little more risk, have more fun in the moment, and stress a little less about life in general. 

As our daughter grows older, we will teach her to live frugally and save.  But I also hope that she will take calculated risks and enjoy her life to the absolute fullest.

What is your money personality?  How do you think it developed, and would you change it?

How my Community Keeps me Motivated

Nearly 5 years ago my friends J and L and I started a group called the COA.

What is the COA, you may ask?  Let’s step in the time travel machine and go back to 2013…


One morning, J was driving to work listening to Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.  The section in which Rubin discussed her resolution to “ASK FOR HELP” by forming a writers’ strategy group and in which she shared the idea of forming a goals group or a Community of Aspirants mirrored many of the discussions J and her friends had over email and in person.

J and her friends, JP and L had sporadically done “monthly challenges” and often discussed goals and strategies to achieve those goals. Also, they just liked hanging out together and didn’t have enough regular occasion to get together for coffee, brunch, and catching up. As soon as she got to work, J emailed JP and L and they set a coffee date for that Sunday morning.

Over lattes, their Community of Aspirants–COA for short– was born.


Though L moved several states away last year, the COA is still going strong!  We are now doing our monthly touch base meetings via phone.

Some of the recurring themes of our goals over the years have included fitness/health, career, “adultiness” (this includes things like clearing clutter and being a better person generally) and finances.

I’m excited to announce that J and L have agreed to talk money here on the FIREd up blog!  Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more.  And if you’d like to become a part of the virtual conversation, let me know.  We’d love to have you!

Do you have your own COA?  What community helps keep you on track with your financial (and non-financial) goals?


Are you an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel? Take the quiz to find out!

I’m currently reading Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits–to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life.  Many of the principles in her book can translate to the world of personal finance.  Today I’m writing specifically about her Four Tendencies framework.

The idea behind this framework (which is also the subject of her latest book) is that we all face two sets of expectations:  outer and inner.  Outer expectations are those placed on us by others, such as family, friends, bosses, and society in general.  An example would be a due date for a big work project.  Inner expectations are those we place on ourselves, such as setting a New Year’s resolution.

How she describes the framework in her own words:

Depending on a person’s response to outer and inner expectations, that person falls into one of four distinct types:

Upholders respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations

Questioners question all expectations; they meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified, so in effect they respond only to inner expectations

Obligers respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations

Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike

If you want to know your tendency, she has a quick quiz you can take on her site.

I am an Upholder with Questioner tendencies.  If I commit to something, I don’t have problems sticking to it.  Most of the time I’m a rule follower, but sometimes I question external expectations if they don’t make sense.

Some observations on this framework and it’s intersection with personal financial habits:

  • FIRE folks are impressively goal oriented; I would guess that most do not have a hard time meeting inner expectations, or if they do, they have figured this out about themselves and created hacks to make themselves accountable.
  • I envision the most hardy FIRE people – the Mustachians – as Questioners.  They challenge societal expectations.  You don’t have to work until you’re 65 (or even 55!)!  Of course you can save 70% of your income!  (or maybe they are Rebels?)
  • According to Gretchen’s survey results, Obliger is the most frequent tendency.  External accountability helps obligers meet goals.  Just as an obliger might benefit from hiring a personal trainer to form an exercise habit or joining Weight Watchers to lose weight, an obliger seems like a good candidate to work with a financial planner who will help keep him/her accountable to financial goals.  Alternatively, sharing goals publicly (such as on a blog) or with a trusted friend could also serve as a way to provide accountability.  Or perhaps the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Challenge might create the sense of community that would inspire an obliger?

What is your tendency?  How does it impact your financial habits?

%d bloggers like this: