5 things I’ve learned after 8 months of tracking pennies

I bought YNAB last year in October and November 2010 was the first month I tracked every single penny coming through the NBN household. What have I learned so far?

First, I spend nearly three times as much on clothing and shoes as what I thought and budgeted for.  From October 2010 to date I’ve spent about $925.57 on clothing, underwear and shoes. I think that by most standards that’s not that bad of a number for a 25 year old girl, but… My goal for the year was about $300-350. I don’t buy cheap shoes or cheap underwear (actually, I can’t buy cheap underwear) so I’m not sure how realistic my goal ever was.

*sigh* If only?

Second, I spend about ten times as much on blow money as I planned. Though I have weeks where I have little or no discretionary spending that falls into this category, there are also times that I blow the budget. June has been especially bad. I now know where my money goes though, which is a good thing. So far the $4,323.90 spent on Blow Money from October 2010 to date includes a new bicycle, Christmas gifts, a camping trip, a kayak and accessories, a return ticket to Europe, many many nights out with the girls, books, gadgets, two theatre visits, haircuts and a few household items. I’m definitely good at getting value for my dollars but It’s important that I really keep an eye on this category. It’s important do do the things you want, but you can’t have everything you want.

Third, I spend much LESS on groceries than I thought before YNAB, but MORE on restaurant visits. This was surprising

Fourth, My barebones budget – the minimum required to survive –  to have a roof over my head, a full belly, heating and meeting my minimum debt payments, is actually less than I thought. That’s a good thing, I always like to keep this in account because there is always the possibility of losing my job.

And fifth, the reality of interest has hit home. I tweeted last week that “I started paying attention to the interest that’s added to my mortgage, shouldn’t have done that #depressing’ and RevancheGS from A Gai Shan Life replied that maybe I shouldn’t do that without icecream. So true! I hate paying interest, ugh. I can’t believe I ever carried creditcard debt… it’s so hard to get ahead when you pay fees and interest and every dang corner!

Published by Renée

I write about my life, travel and my financial up and downs on my blog, Nickel By Nickel, while contradicting myself daily. ;)

12 thoughts on “5 things I’ve learned after 8 months of tracking pennies

  1. I love when you are doing the closing paperwork for a house and you see how much your house will cost you with all the interest. And by love, I mean peeling your jaw off the floor in total disbelief.

    It is really good to know where your money is going. I use Microsoft Money, I now it is completely outdated, but it works. I like being able to see where our money is going.


    1. I told my sister to actually READ the mortgage before signing it, I did read mine but… yeah I guess I took a while to really catch on? lol. It’s so frustrating to throw an extra 100 on and see the first $30 go to interest. Like you I like to see where my money is going.


  2. I found out quite a few revealing things when I first started tracking my spending as well – Like you, I often spent much more on eating out than I had thought. I was able to curb this habit pretty heavily after I Realized how much I was spending, though it wasnt easy.
    it also seems like with your blow money, you got into a new hobby or something that is basically free once you have the required equipment (bike riding/kayaking) and the only costs are time and your initial investment. Now that you’ve gotten those two things, do you think your blow money will go down, as you could be spending time you were shopping out on the lake (or river)?


    1. Yes I think it will definitely go down, especially once September rolls around! Well, I’ll be sure to make it go down because the number is too high right now. I bought the bike and the kayak and all the stuff with it in about a two week time period… but they were worth the investment and I’ve been getting a lot of fun out of them. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

      I don’t spend much time shopping-for-fun. I did replace about 75% of my wardrobe this year, a third of it I spent last weekend picking up new business attire but still… I’d like to see that number go down too, now I just need to ‘maintain’ my clothes and add the occasional piece. I’m going to try my best!

      Eye opening experience, tracking pennies!


  3. I’m just getting back to using YNAB and tracking everything. I think after this month, i’ll get a bucket of ice cream and look at the real numbers…


  4. Yeah, I hear ya with the fun money. My partner and I have a hard time telling each other “no” when we want to “blow” money on something. So we came up with a new rule that has been working great!

    If one of us wants something that isn’t in the budget than we have to find out a way to make that extra money before we can spend it. It helps keep us on track and personally it helps me determine what I really want.


  5. I really enjoyed this post. It’s great that you’re tracking your spending so diligently and also that you’re assessing your budget and spending.

    Don’tcha just love having a kayak though? I’ve always thought that mine is well worth every penny I spent on it.


  6. I’ve been tracking since last August, and have been meaning to look back at our expenditures to date. That’s always good for a bit of motivation to spend a little less.

    It’s also eye opening to see that your base expenditures are lower than you thought. The same happened for us when we broke it down too. It’s just all those darn dinners out, fast foods, and fun money that adds up.


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