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Spending Diaries, Women + Finances

Spending Diary: A Week in Orange County on a $57,000 Paralegal Salary

Crystal tracked her spending over the holidays (ekkk!) yet still managed to have a frugal, relaxing week. Beach runs, short workdays and time with family. What more can you ask for? Want to be part of the next Spending Diaries? Email me: taylor@thefreedomfrommoney.com (You can be anonymous!)

 

Name: Crystal Byrum

Age: 36

Occupation: Litigation Paralegal

Location: Orange County, CA

Annual Salary: $57,200 ($3,520 net a month)

Current monthly expenses: $2,266.15

 

A few of my financial goals for 2017 are:

  1. Max out my Roth IRA;
  2. Save 10% of my gross income in my employer’s 401(k); and
  3. Rebuild my emergency fund to $10,000.

 

Spending Diary for Sunday, December 18, 2016 to December 24, 2016

 

Sunday, December 18th

 

8:00 a.m.

Wake up. Sundays are the only days that I get to sleep in.

 

10:00 a.m.

Nick (the boyfriend) and I have breakfast at our favorite Jewish deli, Benjie’s. I buy a $30.00 gift certificate for my future father-in-law and his wife. ($30.00).

 

1:00 p.m.

Nick and I run errands. I buy Christmas gifts for my grams, dad and stepmom, and Nick’s stepsister and her boyfriend. ($63.88).

 

5:00 p.m.

Workout time! I do a new Zumba workout video I just got.

 

7:00 p.m.

I watch a documentary on Netflix called Minimalism.

 

9:00 p.m.

Lights out.

 

Monday, December 19th

 

5:45 a.m.

Wake up. I hate getting up early.

 

7:45 a.m.

Time for work. I send my niece and nephew $40 each for Christmas. ($80.00).

 

12:00 p.m.

Lunch time a/k/a quiet reading time in my car.

 

4:45 p.m.

Work time is done. Time for my daily phone call with Nick on my way home.

 

5:30 p.m.

I do another Zumba workout video.

 

6:30 p.m.

I watch TV and finish a book that I need to return to the library soon.

 

9:00 p.m.

Lights out.

 

Tuesday, December 20th

 

5:45 a.m.

Wake up.

 

7:45 a.m.

Time for work.

 

12:00 p.m.

Lunch/quiet reading time.

 

4:45 p.m.

Work time is done. Time for my daily phone call with Nick on my way home.

 

5:30 p.m.

I go for a run. I love the way I feel afterwards.

 

7:00 p.m.

I watch TV. There’s not much on.

 

9:00 p.m.

Lights out.

 

Wednesday, December 21st

 

5:15 a.m.

Wake up. I do my weight circuit workout. I’m proud of myself for working out this morning.

 

7:45 a.m.

Time for work.

 

10:30 a.m.

I do a one hour webinar on new changes to filing documents electronically with courts in California. I buy a sandwich from Lori’s Kitchen. ($6.00).

 

12:00 p.m.

Lunch/quiet reading time.

 

4:45 p.m.

Work time is done.

 

5:30 p.m.

Nick comes over and we go to dinner at a new restaurant in Huntington Beach. ($34.95). We get yogurt after dinner.

 

7:30 p.m.

Nick heads homes and I watch some TV before bed.

 

9:00 p.m.

Lights out.

 

Thursday, December 22nd

 

5:45 a.m.

Wake up.

 

7:45 a.m.

Time for work.

 

12:00 p.m.

Lunch/quiet reading time.

 

4:45 p.m.

Work time is done.

 

5:30 p.m.

I go for a run.

 

7:00 p.m.

Daily phone call with Nick.  After, I watch TV and do some reading.

 

9:00 p.m.

Lights out.

 

Friday, December 23rd

 

5:45 a.m.

Wake up. TGIF!

 

7:45 a.m.

Time for work. I hope we get off early.

 

12:00 p.m.

Lunch/quiet reading time.

 

2:30 p.m.

I get off work early! Yeah! I run some errands. I buy some last minute Christmas gifts for Nick’s mom and grandmother. ($53.60).

 

4:00 p.m.

Work out time. I do my weight circuit training.

 

6:00 p.m.

Friday night is laundry night. I relax and watch TV and do some reading.

 

9:30 p.m.

Lights out. I like to get up early on Saturday mornings to get gas and hit the grocery store before heading down to the beach to run.

 

Saturday, December 24th

 

6:00 a.m.

Wake up, get gas, and buy groceries. (Gas: $14.51 and groceries: $45.48 = $59.98).

 

7:00 a.m.

I hit the beach to run. I love doing my long runs early on Saturday mornings.

 

10:30 a.m.

I leave for Nick’s house for the weekend.

 

1:30 p.m.

I take a nap since I’ll be up late tonight.

 

5:00 p.m.

Christmas Eve dinner at Nick’s mom’s house.

 

10:00 p.m.

It’s time for the annual Christmas Eve get together at Uncle Alex’s house. I’ve been doing this for 20 years with my friend’s family.

 

1:30 a.m.

Bedtime finally!

 

Christmas Gifts: $227.48

Gas: $14.51

Groceries: $45.48

Eating Out: $46.95

Total Spending: $334.41

 

What I Learned:

This week was a little unusual in that I had to buy all my Christmas gifts which accounts for most of my spending this week. Normally, I don’t spend that much every week. One thing that helps control my spending is paying cash for things such as gas, groceries, eating out. etc. I’ve found that I spend less money paying for things with cash. Tracking my spending this week was helpful to show me what I spent my money on. Tracking my spending for a longer duration would be even more telling. I work to keep my expenses low so that I can save a good percentage of my income every month for things such as retirement.

Spending Diaries

Spending Diary: A Digital Marketer in San Diego Who is Saving Half

 

Spending Diaries is a new series on TFFM! To kick it off, I thought I would track my own spending for a week and see how it goes. It ended up being a fun experiment in mindfulness and a great reflection on my monetary values. Want to be part of the next Spending Diaries? Email me: taylor@thefreedomfrommoney.com (You can be anonymous!)

 

Monday

6:30AM

Wake up, journal with coffee. Get ready for the day. My sister picks me up so we can take her dog on a morning hike.

 

8:30AM

We stop at 7/11 on the way to my job so I can pick up some overpriced dish soap. We’re out and Alex (my fiancée!) won’t have time after a 12-hour work day. My sister also buys me a doughnut from the local shop—NOM NOM ($2.69)

 

11:00AM

Snacking at my desk all day and eating food I brought from home. (PB&J, artichoke frittata and fruit).

 

3:00PM

Lunchtime workout! I head to the gym on campus to do some running.

 

4:00PM

Back at my desk and ready for another snack.

 

5:15PM

Time to go home! I don’t own a car, so I’ve been taking Lyft to and from work. Not sure if it will be my long term solution, but it’s working for now. ($5.09)

 

5:45

Home! I read for a while, play with cat (*heart eyes emoji*) and relax after the workday. Leftover soup from the Crock Pot for dinner.

 

7:30PM

Alex is home! Time to hang out and catch up <3

 

10:00PM

Time for bed. (I literally need 8 hours a night. It’s insane.)

 

 

TUESDAY:

 

6:30AM

Up bright and early for a workout with my sister, but she texts me and says she’s not feeling well, so the workout is postponed. I don’t read the full text, but go back to bed for a bit.

 

7:00AM

Alex brings me coffee in bed <3

 

7:45AM

There are knocks on the door and I get up to answer. Opps. It’s my sister and she’s here to pick up a few things and take me to work. (Guess I should have read the whole text…) I get ready super fast and we leave in 20 minutes.

 

8:30AM

Back at work for another day!

 

11:00AM

Filming a video of a professor. I’m nervous but it turns out well!

 

12:00PM

Lunch time.  Artichoke frittata that I made on Sunday.

 

2:00PM

Meetings

 

5:20PM

Work is done! Time to work out on campus before I head to a meeting for the Trevor Project.

 

6:00PM

My run is done. Catch an Uber to the meeting and learn about getting involved. ($8.67)

 

6:30PM

The meetings starts (and there’s free wine, crackers and cheese—score!) It’s awesome, the cause is close to my heart and I’m excited to get involved.

 

8:30PM

Alex (aka the best partner in the entire world) comes to pick me up from the meeting after a 13 hour day at work <3

 

9:00PM

I’m full from the free snacks, but I whip up some tacos for Alex to say thanks for the ride.

 

10:30PM

After some hanging out and catching up, it’s my bedtime.

 

 

WEDNESDAY

 

6:30AM

Up and getting ready for the day with some coffee and journaling, the usual.

 

7:00AM

Leave for a walk with my sister and the cutest dog in the world.

 

8:30AM

Dropped off at work courtesy of my sis.

 

10:30AM

Breakfast (and lunch?!) I make the rookie mistake of eating my food before 11AM. #crying Veggies and PB&J.

 

12:00PM

Meetings, work, article writing. Take our interns out to coffee since it’s the last meeting of the year before they have winter break, but my boss insists on paying.

 

5:00PM

Workday is over! Grab a Lyft to the grocery store to pick up a few things to make my sister a Crock Pot full of chicken & dumplings for after her surgery tomorrow + some beer for Alex and ingredients for Spanish rice—vegetarian version for Alex and meat for me. (Lyft $4.36 + $15.00 for my half of the groceries = $19.36)

 

6:00PM

Done with shopping! Get a Lyft home ($3.22)

 

6:30PM

Get the Crock Pot going and start making rice while I do a quick arm and ab workout at home.

 

7:00PM

More cooking, some cleaning

 

8:00PM

Alex is home! Time to eat and relax.

 

10:30PM
It’s my ridiculously early bedtime.

 

THURSDAY

 

7:30AM

Slept in too late to work out before work. (This haunts me for the rest of the day cause I don’t have another time to do it.)

 

9:00AM

My sister picks me up and we head to her doctor’s appointment. (My boss very kindly let me come in a little late so I could go with her.)

 

10:30AM

Everything goes well and she’s done! She drops me off at work on her way home and I leave her with the Crock Pot chicken and dumplings I made the night before.

 

12:00PM

Time to work. Mainly emails and prep work today. I take a 10-minute break to book flight tickets I had on hold and just like that, we are officially going to London in spring! ($550 for my flight—but this comes from my “London” fund, not my monthly budget)

 

5:30PM

The day goes by super fast! I grab a Lyft to my sister’s house to check in on her and hang out for a bit. The Lyft driver and I talk about his marathon running experience and I’m pretty sure he has convinced me to sign up for one in summer—ekkk! ($6.67)

 

6:30PM

After watching some Real Housewives and walking the dog with my sister, I head home via Lyft for ($3.13)

 

7:00PM

Blogging Mastermind call! (Aka: 4 of us hop on Skype and talk about blogs and life)

 

8:30PM

Time for a late dinner of leftover Spanish rice.

 

10:30PM

Alex is working the late shift and I’m asleep before Alex comes home 🙁

 

 

FRIDAY

 

7:00AM

Late-ish morning with coffee and journaling

 

8:30AM

Grab a Lyft to the office ($5.57)

 

10:30AM

I eat more leftover Spanish rice for breakfast (Is it possible to eat too much Spanish rice?!)

 

11:30AM

Busy day at work—meetings, emails and edits.

 

3:30PM

Time for a lunchtime workout at the on campus gym!

 

5:30PM

It’s the weekendddddddddd. Grab a Lyft to my sister’s place to check in on her and hang out for a little bit. ($0 because I got a promo for $5 off 20 rides)

 

7:00PM

Time to head home. Grab another Lyft for $0.

 

7:30PM

Alex is home!! Time for wine, leftovers and quality time.

 

11:30PM

Finally time for sleep.

 

 

SATURDAY

 

9:00AM

It’s a super late morning, but I slept SO well and I’m not even mad about it. Journaling and coffee while Alex sleeps for a bit more.

 

11:00AM

We pick up my sister and head to the outdoor mall for some returns, Christmas shopping and the Bath and Bodyworks sale. Alex buys us a few candles and they do some other shopping too. ($0 for me)

 

1:00PM

Back at home and it’s time for the dreaded monthly Costco shop (I LOVE Costco, but spending so much money at one time makes me sweat).

 

2:00PM

After a long shop that included most of the groceries for the month, alcohol for Alex’s birthday and LOTS of Christmas alcohol, we’re faced with the damage. ($150 each)

 

3:00PM

In preparation for Alex’s birthday and a homemade dinner for a friend tomorrow night, I have more grocery shopping to do. It’s mainly things I don’t want in bulk. First stop is Ralph’s ($20) and then Trader Joe’s ($5).

 

4:00PM

Finally home! We whip up some tacos for dinner and relax for a bit before heading out to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch downtown!

 

7:00PM

Grab a Lyft downtown because parking is impossible and super expensive. ($5.00 with the promo and it’s my treat)

 

8:00PM

Alex buys us drinks before the show and we settle in to our amazing seats (that we already paid for)!

 

10:30PM

The show is over! It was really good and we talk about it the whole way home in the Lyft. ($11.00 because of surge prices and my treat again)

 

12:00AM

Time for sleep!

 

 

SUNDAY

 

7:00AM

I wake up earlier than I meant to so I read for a bit while I have my morning coffee.

 

8:00AM

I start making the Crock Pot curry for tonight’s dinner. (Can you tell I love my Crock Pot? lol) I also start cleaning and getting ready.
10:00AM

Alex leaves for church, but I stay home today cause one of my best friends is in town!

 

11:00AM

My best friend and her boyfriend stop by before the football game (she surprised him with tickets—aww) They bring Champagne and OJ and we have mimosas while we catch up.

 

12:30PM

Alex is home! We all hang for a bit before I drop them off at the stadium.

 

1:30PM

Alex and I leave for a local play that we’re seeing with a group of friends from my work. It’s soooooo good. Apparently this was the weekend of good theatre.
4:00PM

We rush home cause one of my favorite friends from college is here! She’s spending the night with us and we’re doing a night in (hence the Crock Pot curry). We open a giant bottle of Costco wine and come up with a bizarre yet wonderful theme for the night—Clue (why? I have no idea lol) We play the board game before dinner. Afterwards, we feast on curry, rice and naan bread. Now it’s time for the Clue movie and cookie dough.

 

11:00PM

After lots of talking, laughing and another round of board games, we all call it a night.

 

TOTAL SPENT: $792.27

Transportation: $52.71

Groceries: $192.69

Travel: $550.00

 

What I Learned:

Most of my purchases align with my core values: family and friends. There isn’t anything more important to me, so it was nice to see that my spending (especially the big things like the flight to London and food) were to spend time with the people I love. Having said that, I definitely wish I made more money.

I feel like I’m at a place where my spending is pretty low and my saving rate is pretty high and the only real change I can make at this point is to earn more.

It’s not an impossible task, but I want to do so in a sustainable way that still allows me to have a great work/life balance and spend time with the people I love, doing things I love (cooking, working out, morning walks, etc).

Before doing the spending diary, I knew that I ~wanted~ to earn more, but I didn’t realize that my hesitation about pursuing it was that I don’t want to give up too much of my time. But now that I’m conscious of what I want—a side job that is fairly enjoyable and not too time intensive—I think I’ll finally be able to start working towards it.

I also learned that I like cooking, a lot!

 

 

Have you ever done a spending diary?

Want to do one for TFFM?! You can be anonymous!