As I was sitting in the library, eating a veggie burger and sipping a Mocha Java from Brody Cafe while shopping for clothes online, it occurred to me that I should at least make an effort to keep track of my spending. I check my bank account balance constantly, and I make sure to put a chunk of every paycheck into savings, but part of being a Responsible Adult means budgeting my money wisely. So I analyzed all my recent transactions to see if I need to making any changes to my current spending habits. Here are some notable things I found:
-Food/coffee from Brody Cafe. Brody Cafe is by far the most common place I spent money this semester. I come to the library multiple times a week, and the food is good, convenient, and inexpensive, but it adds up quickly. Treating myself once or twice a week is fine, but I can easily start bringing snacks from home and making my own coffee.
-Bike pump from Race Pace Bicycles. I ride my bike to work twice a week, so I definitely needed one of these. The salesman convinced me to buy a more expensive model, though, which probably wasn’t necessary.
-Sony headphones from Amazon. I listen to music/podcasts/audiobooks constantly, so upgrading from flimsy earphones to decent-quality headphones was a major life improvement. I use these every day so the purchase was 100% worth it.
-Black ankle boots from DSW. While I would have preferred to try these on in a store first rather than buying them online, these are sturdy, well-fitting, fashionable boots. I’m wearing them right now, and I imagine I’ll get a ton of wear out of them this winter.
-Nalgene water bottle from Amazon. This is probably the fifth Nalgene I’ve owned in the past three years. I drink a lot of water so I need to have a water bottle with me at all times, and Nalgenes are my favorite since they’re big, sturdy, and easy to clean, but somehow I can’t seem to go more than a few months without losing one. Luckily they’re not that expensive, but the fact that I’m constantly buying new ones should come as a warning to be more careful.
-My Netflix subscription. This falls under the “treat yourself” rather than “necessary expense” category, but for me, movie nights and binge sessions will always be worth spending money on.
-Groceries from Whole Foods. My reasoning here is that if I made the trek to the Inner Harbor for healthy, good-quality food, I would spend less on takeout/Brody Cafe. Plus going grocery shopping at Whole Foods is an extremely calming experience for some reason.
-Household items like detergent, shampoo, and toothpaste from CVS. These things are necessary purchases, obviously, but it’s always a good reminder to buy the cheaper versions of products when possible and make them last as long as I can.
-Leggings and sweaters from various online stores. Temperatures have plunged in Baltimore all of a sudden, so my fall/winter wardrobe could use an upgrade. I don’t necessarily need new clothes, but it’s the end of a really stressful week, I’ve been buying fewer croissants than usual lately, and just thinking about slipping on a brand new wool sweater instantly improves my mood, so I feel confident hitting the checkout button.
My takeaway from all this: stop buying things just because it’s convenient/I feel like it, be careful with the things I own so I don’t have to replace them as often, and making bigger purchases is fine as long as I have enough money and I’m not doing it impulsively. Spending money is unavoidable, especially if you live in a city and want to have a social life, but it’s easy to avoid the “broke college student” stereotype if you stay mindful and make smart decisions.