Where is All the Money?
At the end of the month is a terrible time to find out you’re out of money. Then we say things like “we ran out of money before we ran out of month.” So where is all of your money going? It doesn’t disappear, money doesn’t do that. Money only does what you tell it to do (the opposite of my children/wife). So where does your money go?
If you’re like me, most of your money goes to paying bills. Around 35-45% of your income is probably going toward a mortgage or rent payment. That sucks, but there’s not much you can do about it unless you want to sell your house or move into something smaller. Auto Loans, utilities, and other services like cell phones and cable fall into this grouping as well. Bills are (hopefully) your biggest recurring expense.
How do you make cuts in your monthly bills? Can you? What have you tried? Help us figure it out- comment below.
Hey, we gotta eat, right? Food is our energy source. I spend a lot of money on food. I enjoy a nice steak and an ice cold Coors Light every now and then… mostly now. However, the biggest expense is the grocery bill. My wife and I spend anywhere from $80 to $120 per week on groceries. We eat kind of healthy, so that’s a little more expensive. And we have 2 little kids that can’t eat everything we eat, so that’s a little more expensive as well. We haven’t really gotten into couponing yet. I think there is some money to be had there.
Going out to eat is the second largest weekly food expense for me. For my wife and me to get 15 wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, a basket of potato skins, and a side of fries for my toddler we’re in for $30. I know what you’re thinking- Jeff, there are cheaper places to eat. I agree with you, but McDonalds is disgusting… I’m paying for quality. I’ll propose a new idea- rather than looking at what you spend on going out to eat, look at your frequency. We used to get “BDubs” at least once per week. Now that we’re trying to cut back, we get it about once per month. That’s a 75% reduction in our ‘out to eat’ spending bill.
Where do you shop for groceries? What do you spend? Could you cut if you had to? For how long?
Have you tried couponing? What do you typically save?
Fun should be free; sometimes it is. Usually it’s not. I like going to sporting events, usually to see the Cincinnati Bengals. Tickets are around $75 per person. I also like playing video games from time to time. They are anywhere from $50 - $70. I enjoy playing volleyball with my wife. It’s usually $50 for a session of 6-10 weeks. I like watching movies- I typically rent them from Red Box or Amazon so I’m spending $1 - $5 there. I like to play flag football too- it’s free. I like to watch football on TV- it’s not free, but I already paid for it in the ‘bills’ section… so it’s not ‘free’ but it’s ‘covered.’
Fun is awesome. That’s why they call it fun. If it weren’t awesome they’d call it Team-Building, or Hard Work, or Marriage, or some other terrible name. I’m kidding- marriage is fun… at times.
Here’s a list of free activities from thesimpledollar.com that you might like:
100 Things to do During a Money-free Weekend
I read through it- there are 102… I found a few that seemed like they could be fun. Especially #17: Teach Yourself to Knit.
Ok- look, after readying 100 things to do during a money-free weekend I’ve determined that fun isn’t really free. We have to spend money if we want to have fun consistently. I can only ‘Practice Origami’ for so long.
What do you do for fun? What does it cost? Do you have any free activities that are better than those 100?
Dude, stop laughing- this is serious. There are people who are actually saving for retirement. Some people are putting money into a 401k. Some are using an IRA or a Roth-IRA. There are people using Annuities and CDs. There are even people that are out there hitting the markets and trading Index Funds on their own with eTrade, Ameritrade, Scottrade, and my personal favorite Motif Investing.Motif gives you an opportunity to build your own mutual funds/index funds.
A “MOTIF” is a basket of up to 30 stocks or ETFs that are weighed to reflect an investment theme. For example, I built a motif called “Social Media” (see it here). In this fund, I’ve got 31% in Facebook, 14.8% in Match.com, 20% in Netflix, 8% in Apple, just to name a few. And in total it cost me $9.95 to purchase those stocks. It’s not a lot of money, but I’ve made 2% on my investment since October. That’s better than inflation at least…
You can build a fund that has 1 stock or 30 stocks (or 30 ETFs even). And you can trade them with as little as $400 for a fee of $4.95 per trade. OR- you can buy motifs that were built by someone else. Overall, it’s a pretty good system. They’ve got opportunities to roll over your IRA or 401k into their plans as well. I highly encourage you to check it out.
So, where is your money? Honestly, you probably aren’t doing too much with it, right? You’re hitting 3-4 of these buckets in the month then wondering where it all went. So the main point that I want to drive home today is FREQUENCY. Can you change your frequency? Can you limit the frequency in which you watch TV? And when you’re not watching it unplug it. That will slightly reduce your electric bill. Can you change the frequency of changing clothes? You’ll have less laundry to wash and reduce your water and heating bills. Can you change the frequency of grocery shopping? You reduce your spending at the store and you’ll reduce the fuel usage; double whammy.
Changing the frequency of the things you do will help you keep some money through the end of the month.
What are you going to do? Do you have bills you struggle with? Do you have tips and tricks to reduce your grocery bill? Do you have ways of planning for retirement outside of motif? Hit me up on twitter @jeffleonard12 or comment right here.