Before jumping into this post, I feel like I should include a disclaimer that, historically, I am not great with money. Living on my own in college has made that quite clear. So the goal of this activity and blog post is to track my spending for the week and use that as a base for budgeting my general expenses.
I chose to track my spending for a week in September. It started off pretty well, managing not to spend any money on Sunday or Monday. On Tuesday, my parents transferred my grocery allowance; however, I still had some food from last week so I decided to hold off on my weekly trip to Trader Joe’s until Thursday. Because my apartment was out of coffee, I stopped for coffee on the way to my first class ($3). After a stressful day, I decided to treat myself to sushi and an Insomnia cookie that night as well ($15). I ended up with a total of $18 spent-- not awful, but not great.
Wednesdays are busy, so I grabbed another $3 coffee before class. Besides this coffee, my only other spending was at Walgreens. Usually I get a little carried away in Walgreens, but that day I stuck to my list and spent $43 on toiletries. Today’s total was $46.
Thursday comes around, and still, no coffee at home. I live with five girls so we blow through Nespresso pods fairly quickly. This meant another $3 on coffee (I’m a big coffee drinker). Later, I went to the bookstore for my Gender & Women’s Studies textbooks. I also ended up grabbing a pair of pants for the upcoming gameday, which came out to $44. Then, I decided it was time to hit Trader Joe’s ($64). On the way home, my friends and I decided it was another treat yourself day and stopped for chocolate bananas on the way home ($3). Thursday’s total was a whopping $111.
Friday and Saturdays were huge wins: I got paid and limited my spending to one coffee in the morning each morning ($6).
Looking back on the week, there are a few glaring patterns: coffee and treating myself to small things here and there.
Usually, we stick to *recyclable* Nespresso pods, but this week we kept forgetting to reorder them. With Nespresso pods, each coffee comes out to roughly 70 cents, which definitely beats $3 per day. Another goal is to avoid small random purchases, like desert and gameday pants. My biggest purchase was Trader Joe’s, but in relation to other grocery stores, Trader Joe’s is a money move for college students. Ultimately, going back and adding up all my individual purchases helped me see that the little things really do add up.
Sophia Westover is a senior at University of Wisconsin - Madison. She is currently working on BA in Journalism with an emphasis on Strategic Communication and a minor in Gender and Women's Studies.