After a long hiatus of 7 years, I have decided to devote myself to tracking my expenses again for September with the newly updated application, Expense Manager. It is now made more robust with added features. It even included visually appealing graphs to show the allocation of my expenses to different categories and their percentages!
There is also this feature on Expenses Manager which I love the most – setting a monthly budget. You could even go one step further to set different budgets for different categories. It would also tell you how much money you are left with for the rest of the month so that you can do some planning for your future expenditures. Yummy!
Get it free on all iOS and Android devices.
I only tracked my expenses before when I was a student because I was basically surviving by myself then with my miserable part-time income. When I started working in 2013, I was suddenly faced with a significantly bigger influx of cash from my full-time job and didn’t really saw the need to track my expenses anymore.
Oh, how wrong was I.
Part of being financially literate is about managing money. How can I be blogging about my finances when I wasn’t even aware of what I was spending on every month? (Well okay, to be fair, I do know what I was spending on, just not to the exact dollar and cent.)
Therefore, to better fit my persona of Miss Niao, I started tracking my expenses again. The experience thus far is more enriching than 7 years ago, because my goals and expectations are now different as well. There were changes in the priority of my expenses. As a working adult, I have to eat out more often and start paying for some of the little (or big) stuff that happens around at home.
When September was finally over and I reviewed my monthly expenses for that month, something surprised me. I saw that there are a few days that I do not spend a single cent on anything. And when I say anything, it means that there was $0 out of my pocket. How many days to be exact?
9 out of 30 days.
That’s a good 30% of the entire time!
So how do I achieve a No-Spend day? Am I starving myself one-third of the time by not eating anything that day? Not quite the best method to lose weight either. Do I not go out at all on this day? Not really, and in fact, about 5 of those days are weekdays and I would have to go to work at least.
OK, I think I should further elaborate then, since you were interested to read up till this point. Let’s go through my day chronologically.
Breakfast is non-existent in my diet. I skip breakfast in the morning most of the time because my lunch time is quite early. So I just combine both meals together and get brunch. Now, before you go all baloney and start lecturing me about how breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I would have to put my foot forward and tell you that it’s really not necessary to eat three meals a day and it has been working fine for me. I used be crazy about breakfast but it didn’t help at all with my weight. The simple science is that most of the time, we humans are consuming much more calories than needed and it’s not going to matter when you are consuming them, be it in the morning or evening. So there, I don’t eat breakfast, and it has been helping me with my wallet’s health too. 🙂
Lunch comes. There are days when Mum does the cooking for dinner at home. More often than not, there’ll be leftovers, and I pack them to work the next day for lunch. It’s not nice to waste food and I get an excuse to not have to socialize with my colleagues. Win-win!
And the last meal of the day – dinner. Sometimes, there’s too much for lunch as the portion is too much. So I split it up into two portions and eat the second one close to dinner time. If I’m with BF, sometimes he pays for dinner and I’ll pay for the next one, so there is no record of expenditure when this happens.
Well what do I do on weekends of No Spend days then? I blog, read, and do my own cooking with ingredients already available in the kitchen. Fulfilling little stuff that needs no money and just a little bit of time on my hands. I could deal with that, and you definitely can too.
No additional temptations to buy anything unnecessary. Because if I do, I’ll feel like I’m not doing myself and my money justice. :p
To be fair, I am a small eater, so for someone who needs more calories, they would probably have to spend more inevitably. I also don’t calculate the daily unseen expenses like transportation and the stocked up groceries because they would be factored in to other days where expenditure would be way higher. Like, there’ll be a day where I’ll spend $100 because of a top-up in my EZ-link card. Or when I pay for a dinner for two. So I’ll only get a bigger picture of my entire expenses at the end of the month. But it’s nice to see that I can be spending at a minimal on other days, and it feels really good.
I highly encourage you to try tracking your expenses out. Just like any problem that you face in your life, being aware is always the first step to recovery, and it works with your money too. If you think it’s too much work and doesn’t make sense, just try it for one week and I promise you that you’ll see a huge difference. It’s always the little stuff that matters and get lost in your statements when you realize that you’re spending money that you really don’t need to.
And to make it even more challenging, try achieving as many No Spend days as you can! Make a guess how much I actually spent on food in September…
$250.86, including a $71.60 birthday lunch treat for my friend’s birthday.
How’s that for being frugal, eh? 🙂
Thanks for reading!
Miss Niao xoxo