As a young woman at the age of 23, soon to be 24, I have decided to begin life as an adult. By this, I don’t mean living on my own, having a full-time job, paying for all of my bills on my own (for the most part, anyway), making sure I eat enough fairly nutritious food to keep breathing, and drinking enough beer to make up for all of you 21+ year-old fools that don’t drink enough on your own. I particularly excel at that last one, but who am I to judge my own drinking abilities?!
Jokes aside, what I do mean is that as of yesterday, August 24, 2016, I have decided to start tracking every single penny (and yen) that comes in and goes out of my life. While doing my daily scroll through my Facebook news feed, in midst of watching more hilariously stupid videos, super adorable puppy videos, and tear-jerking, pull-at-your-heartstrings types of videos than one person probably should in a day, I came across an article by Business Insider that motivated me to start tracking my spending.
In this article, the author tracked every single penny that came in and went out of his life for six years. 6 YEARS!!! And by doing this, he learnt a lot of things, as expected, like where most of his spending occurs, how living with roommates didn’t actually save him more than when he lived alone, among other things. (I’ll link the article at the end of this post, if you want to check it out.) At the end of the article, he provided a download to the excel spreadsheet that he’s been using for six years, as well as a link to a video tutorial on how to use it effectively.
My super kind parents were worried I wouldn’t be able to live on my current salary, so I came to Japan with quite a bit of money, thanks to them. Because of this, I was able to save every yen of my income for the first four months or so. And as a result, I haven’t had to worry about not having enough money to live comfortably in Japan. If I were to estimate how much I spend, I’d honestly say I probably spend more than I make, because of the cushion I started off with. But now, I feel it’s a good time to start thinking about the future and my life after Japan. If I keep up my current spending habits, I’ll definitely be going back to Hawaii as a broke girl.
So, as I was laying in bed, wasting a super hot and humid, but beautiful, Wednesday afternoon in my nicely cooled air-conditioned apartment, staring at my phone, when I should have been doing an assignment for work, I decided to get off my lazy ass to start evaluating my spending. I grabbed my wallet full of receipts, my bank book (yeah, Japan still uses bank books), downloaded the spreadsheet, and watched the tutorial as I filled it in.
Since I only started it yesterday, this won’t include the two pairs of adidas NMDs I purchased last week, or the flight to Okinawa I booked two days ago. Or all the other times I went shopping in the past two weeks. Whoops. Oh well. I needed a solid count on the cash I have, so my starting point will be the cash I had in my wallet as of yesterday morning (because I had the receipts of everything I bought during the day, so I could calculate the starting amount) and the balance listed in my bank book. I’m fairly certain my bank book is up-to-date. Let’s hope.
Here’s where things get a little tricky for me. I still use my American credit card for any online purchases I make and my kind mother then pays my credit card bill for me, using money from my savings account back home. I’ll be honest, at this current point in time, I have no clue how much money is in my savings account. And as for the purchases I make using my credit card, I never see the bill, so I never feel like I’m losing money from it. It’s almost like they don’t count because I’m not using any income that I’m earning right now on them. Bad way to think about it, I know. So, I’ve asked my mother to send me the info I need to add those figures into my fancy spreadsheet. That way, I can have a complete understanding of my spending habits.
I set up my spreadsheet with very specific categories, so I can pinpoint exactly where I can cut back, and on an ALT’s salary, your girl can definitely cut back a bit. For example, nights out eating and drinking will be “restaurants/bars,” prepared food that I buy to take home will be “food,” and anything from the market will be “groceries.” And the same goes for when I go shopping. I have categories for clothes, shoes, makeup, etc.
Most of my spending will occur at restaurants/bars during nights out with friends. A few drinks (or more than a few) and dinner can quickly add up.
Makeup will be my next biggest expense. Good shit ain’t cheap! With foundation at almost ¥6,000 a bottle, concealer at about ¥3,500, and with the amount of cake I wear, it eats up quite a bit of my spending money. Side note: the mark-up in Japan on some designer makeup brands is quite ridiculous.
I’ll get so annoyed with logging everything in my spreadsheet and remembering what I spent when I don’t get a receipt that I’ll think more about every purchase I make, just because I don’t want to have to log it. This would be a good thing, though.
I spend way too much money on shit I don’t need, like clothes I’ll only wear once or not at all. I was recently cleaning and found 4 items of clothing with the tags still on it! No receipt and it was from months ago, so I had no luck trying to return/exchange them.
Things I hope to learn/accomplish:
The obvious one, where the bulk of my money is going and how I can start saving. While I currently have an idea on where I spend the most, it’ll be nice to actually see the numbers.
Priorities. I’m hoping to figure out what I deem important enough to splurge on, whether it be clothes, makeup, or booze. Can’t splurge on them all!
My first goal with this is a month, because some expenses are monthly, so anything less wouldn’t give me a thorough understanding. But, I’m hoping to do this as long as I can.
For the first month, I’ll try to do weekly updates on any exciting insights I discover and maybe, just any thoughts I have on this little project of mine. Wish me luck, guys!
Here’s the link of the article: http://www.businessinsider.com/what-i-learned-from-tracking-all-my-spending-for-six-months-2016-8?utm_content=buffer55bf3
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