For the month of February I attempted to keep a spending diary and food/exercise journal for every day of activity. That means I would mark down anything I bought, everything I ate, and whether or not I purposely exercised that day. I didn’t keep a perfect record – I missed a few days. But here are some highlights:
Amount spent on eating out: $182
Amount spent on groceries: $153
Amount spent drinking $82
Days I purposely worked out: 4 out of 28
Days I drank alcohol: 21 out of 28
While this was overall a depressing experiment, it did enlighten me on some topics. For example, whenever I exercise I also subconsciously decide to consume more sugar, fat or empty alcoholic calories. One 2 hour hike prompted me to inhale a small tub of ice cream. Another day I took credit for a “long hard walk” which, apparently, ended in happy hour with me drinking 3 margaritas and downing a bag of chips with vat of salsa. But the days I did nothing but sit around? Those were the days I rewarded myself with salad greens and homemade tomato sauces. Presumably because I had more time on my hands to devise new culinary delights, without those “long hard walks” sucking minutes out of my day.
I need to cut back on money spent eating out and on alcohol. According to February I’m spending $20/week on alcohol which isn’t too bad actually, I can’t imagine that’s accurate. However I’d like to bring it down to around $50, which would be a difficult compromise because it requires me to cut back on my drinking routine, which is one of my main quality of life indicators.
At some point or another we all need to cut some corners to save a few bucks. I do fairly well on a modest budget, and have no debt beyond a few thousand in student loans. What motivates me is pure paranoia. When I’m toothless and arthritic and crazy with dementia, I want the checks to be rolling in, and if you think Uncle Sam is going to be writing them, you crazy. No, I’m fully aware that I am responsible for underwriting my retirement in 50 years and if I’m going to be a feckin’ millionaire I gotta start now. But how can I with all these competing priorities? Pad Kee Mao? Margaritas? Zappos.com? The temptations are killing me.
That’s why I put Eudora in charge. As you can see from the above photo, she has absolutely no compassion and no sense of humor. It is the one area of life where such qualities may actually yield genuine long-term success.