Monday, June 25, 2007

A Day in the Life

On Saturday, I was pleased to realize that I'd had a no-spend day. At least, sort of. I spent the morning doing household stuff, then went to the gym and strolled along the river in Manhattan all afternoon. I didn't spend a penny of cash, and I didn't use my credit card, as I brought water and snacks with me and had the rest of my meals at home, with groceries I'd already bought.
Of course, in some sense, it still wasn't a "free" day. Just because I didn't pay for certain things on Saturday doesn't mean they didn't cost me any money. So I tried to figure out the base cost of a day in my life.

Housing and utilities: a day's worth of living in my condo (including my mortgage, common charges, and property taxes) and using a little gas and electricity is probably about $60.00
Telephone basic service: about $1.00 a day
Gym membership: about $3.25
Newspaper/magazine subscriptions: about $1.33
Health and property insurance: about $3.32
Netflix: about $0.18
Internet access: about $0.66
Monthly unlimited Metrocard : about $2.50

That all comes to $72.24 as the cost of a day during which I "spent nothing."

Of course, there are a few things I didn't take into account:
Taxes: I covered property taxes above. Then there are income taxes, but since I didn't work on Saturday, I'm not going to count those. (I did the math anyway, and figured that it would come to about $65 a day.) But I also pay some taxes on interest and capital gains from my savings and investments. But I only have about $50,000 whose earnings are taxable, and this tends to be in lower-interest conservative investments. If I earned $2000 in interest and dividends, and that was taxed at 25%, that would be about $1.37 a day. That actually seems like kind of a lot-- I was about to dismiss it as being something that could only be "pennies a day!"
Food consumed that was already paid for: so far, my year-to-date spending on food/liquor averages out to about $19.44 a day. But I'd estimate what I actually consumed Saturday to be worth about $12 at most, of which about $5 was wine!
Clothes worn: year-to-date average is about $7.14 a day. But if I itemize the cost of the articles of clothing I actually wore on Saturday, it would be about $176, which includes an expensive hat. Other than a relatively new pair of shorts, I've worn all these clothes many times over the last few years, so their "real" daily cost would probably be under a dollar.
Music listened to: for some reason, I've been on a kick of listening to Bjork lately, and listened to Vespertine about 4 times this weekend, plus a few songs from other albums. I probably paid about $40 total for these albums, and have owned them for varying lengths of time. I forget exactly how much I played them on Saturday, but it probably works out to less than a dollar's worth.
Other "stuff" used-- this gets really hard to quantify. I slept in my bed, and sat on various other pieces of furniture. I used my computer, and my desk. I read a book, wrote in a notebook, cooked with pots and pans, used toilet paper, etc. etc. Since most of the furniture is quite recently purchased, the cost per day of use would still be quite high. Some of my pots and pans were gifts, so cost me nothing. I suppose I could do some kind of calculation to take my total spending over the past few years, subtract gifts and the other items already mentioned, subtract "experience" spending like travel, and figure some portion of the rest must be the cost of the stuff I currently possess and use, which I could then divide by some average number of days that I've owned it. I am finding that a rather daunting prospect, so I think I'll just let it remain an unknown for now!

So I guess the conclusion here is that it is just expensive to be me! Fortunately, if I calculate how much money I have coming in every day, counting salary, bonus, interest & dividends, but not my employer's contribution to my 401k, it's about $280, and if I succeed in meeting my budget for the year, somewhere between $40-50 a day will go into savings. Now that is a day well-spent!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love your website. You provide insightful information and great financial advice that comes from your own day to day living. I'm trying to do the same thing, spend a little as a I can in cash because I was completely out of control when it comes to spending. It's hard but it requires commitment & perseverance.