This post isn't mushy, introspective or flowery. It's raw data.
Starting January 1st of last year I began collecting my receipts. I didn't have a fancy tracking method or even an organized one at that. I just saved my receipts by putting them in a box on the floor, tucked away behind my desk. Gas receipts, food bills, Chuck E. Cheese, office/school supplies, etc. There were a few I didn't get, like the ones from my husband's spending (which is minimal) or from the occasional gas pump. But every. other. receipt... I kept.
December 31st I tabbed up these receipts which was the highlight of my New Year's Eve festivities. I was so happy to finally get rid of the box that was now overflowing and spilling it's contents onto my floor, until I started taking a good hard look at the preliminary numbers. My McDonald's spending alone was more than what I spent at Costco. How gross.
I divided the receipts into different categories; and it was then that I realized I should have perhaps *been* more organized about it, but oh well, too late now. There was no scientific rules or measures I had taken, I just kinda lumped them together into these groups.
Now before I share these results, I have to say a couple of things.
- The reason I kept these receipts was because I wanted to see where our money is going month in and month out. So many times during these 12 months I wanted to say forget it and get rid of all of these loose papers. But I didn't. I had played fast and loose with our finances years ago and wrangled them in, so I wanted to take it a step further and hold myself accountable.
- I didn't change my spending habits just because I wanted to tabulate everything at the end of the year. I spent as I normally would as to not skew the results.I just shoved the receipts in the box when I got home.
- I'm posting this so other people can see how quickly things add up. I was aware that I made a lot of *pit stops* but to the degree of which the totals speak of... is appalling. I bet those reading this spend just as foolishly as I have, if their honest with themselves.
- As many people know, I am an extreme couponer, so to say that I am frugal is an understatement. So these figures are actually pretty conservative.
- This explains where the extra 30 pounds I've gained came from. lol.
- The categories are:
Grocery (stores such as Safeway, Food4Less, Savemart, BevMo, the local fruit stand, etc), Gas, Costco, McDonald's, General Dining Out (including every other fast food joints like Starbucks and *real* restaurants), General Stores (including Target, Pier 1, Vans, Aaron Brothers, Pet Smart, Kohl's, JC Penny, Amazon, eBay, Staples, Home Depot, etc) and CVS/Walgreen's/Riteaid. The purchases from general stores such as Target would typically include grocery items, but there was no way I was gonna break down every receipt to separate the food from other items, so that's why it is the way it is.
- These totals include gift/holiday spending as well. But they do not include any totals for items I purchased on a gift card, EXCEPT for Starbucks. Lots of things I got for *free* using my mad skills as a couponer so those item totals weren't tabbed up.
- I used easily approximately $1,000 in gift cards (from promotions, my husband's incentive/bonuses from work, etc) to purchase even more stuff that wasn't included in these figures. My Starbucks giftcards totaled about $230.
- Yes, McDonald has it's own category. I would go there almost (at least) once a day to get a large Coke. Or frappe. Or both. We also would go there during the summer almost daily for ice cream cones for the boys, or on the weekends while being about the town.
- And lastly.. don't judge me unless you're willing to collect your own receipts for a year and do the same!
- $4,626.70 for General Stores
- $2,430.22 for General Dining Out
- $1,704.70 in Gasoline
- $1,684.77 for CVS/RiteAid/Walgreen's
- $1,399.93 at McDonald's!
- $855.27 for Grocery
- $758.28 for Costco