I like reading personal finance blogs and I like the concept of No Spend Days, those days when you make an effort to buy nothing. Trying to achieve a run of No Spend Days helps me keep discretionary spending down – fewer take-out coffees and snacks, fewer trips to the grocery store for just one or two items, more grouping of errands instead of scattering them throughout the week. But we know we are “spending without spending” because of all the bill paying that goes on behind the scenes. I may not buy a muffin today, and I may put off a trip to the post office until I have other errands to do, so I feel like I’m spending nothing. In reality, I know that my lifestyle is costing me plenty, every single day.
Regular readers of this blog will know that Rom and I are a dual income couple with no kids at home any more, no mortgage and no debt. The amount of money at our disposal these days seems vast compared to any earlier time in our lives! Ah, the perks of being in mid-to-late career mode. We both have many years of employment ahead, but are saving at a high rate in case either of us has to leave work unexpectedly.
So how much money is trickling away every day when I don’t consciously spend a cent? The answer is $163 ! Yes, one hundred sixty-three dollars.
I took all of my annual costs, broke them down into monthly costs, and then broke them further into daily costs. Here is what I am paying every single day to afford my life.
$13,000 a year or $1083/month or $36.11/day
$12,000 a year or $1000 a month or $33.33 a day. And that is with no mortgage or rent!
- Big maintenance projects such as painting, heating systems, doors and windows or roof: $3600/year or $10/day
- Small maintenance such as repairing the furnace or replacing a faucet: $800/year or $2.22 /day
- Property tax: $2273/year or $6.31/day
- Home insurance: $1312/year or $3.64/day
- Electricity and heat: $2064/year or $5.73/day
- Water: $804/year or $2.23/day
- Appliances and electronics (mostly replacements): $300/year or $0.83/day
- Yard, garden and bird feeders: $275/year or $0.76/day
- Miscellaneous household (everything from light bulbs to Christmas trees): $575/year or $1.60/day
$6600/year or $550/month or $18.33/day
This includes real food for making meals, snacks, cleaning supplies, paper goods, personal care items, cat food and litter, and a Costco membership.
$6300/year or $525/month or $17.50/day
This covers our annual trips to Sussex, UK and Toronto, Canada to visit relatives. The past two years we have added extra trips and the costs have been higher.
$4800/year or $400/month or $13.33/day
We have an adult child who currently needs support. No excuses or apologies provided.
$3100/year or $258.33/month or $8.61/day
Because I enjoy it. Includes birthdays, Christmas and all occasions.
$3000/year, $250/month or $8.33/day
Includes clothes, gym membership, hair cuts, health and dental care (very minimal costs), cell phone and work expenses.
- Out of the house entertainment:
$2744/year, $229/month or $7.63/day
Includes concerts, movies, plays, museums, festivals, dining out and coffee shop visits.
- At home entertainment:
$1918/year, $160/month or $5.33/day
Includes Internet and land line, books and magazines, music streaming service and (minor) blog expenses. No cable TV.
$2538/year, $211.50/month or $7.06/day
Just for my car, not Rom’s. No car payments. Includes insurance, maintenance, gas, bridge tolls, parking (insignificant), license and registration.
$2400/year, $200/month or $6.67/day
and finally Miscellaneous
$348/year, $29/month or $0.97/day
Includes odds-n-ends like bank charges, postage, printer ink and cash that is unaccounted for.
Whew! After all that, I feel like I could finance a small country. Ha ha! It helps me to know these figures because it gives me actual data for work/life balance. If I wanted to live on less income, which expenses could I give up? Does it cost more to own a house or to rent? What will the budget look like when I am drawing down savings instead of adding to them? What shift will I make when it’s time for new car payments again? If I had to decrease charity, gifts or entertainment, which would it be?
I could be glib and say that after this “background” outflow of cash every day, No Spend Days are pointless. Not true, though. I’ve set my budget priorities and it’s important to me to fund them, and not let my income trickle away on categories that are unimportant to me.
Do you try to have No Spend Days? Do you know how much you spend each year on your house or car or kids?