You have already spent a ton of money today

Have you ever had a day where you just felt like spending some money? Maybe you have some “extra” money burning a hole in your wallet or you just feel like you deserve to treat yourself to “a little something.” While you definitely do deserve to treat yourself, the fact of the matter is that spending money on unplanned, unneeded items on a whim is a sure-fire way to break your budget. Lucky for you, I know a fact that is sure to burst your balloon: You’ve already spent a ton of money today.

Next time you feel the urge to splurge, take the time to figure out how much money today has already cost you. Maybe you haven’t done the slap-the-credit-card-on-the-counter kind of spending, but believe me, you’ve doled out your fair share.

To figure out how much exactly how much you’ve spent today, I invite you to do the math. Figure out what it costs you to live a day of your life. For example, divide your monthly home or rent payment by the number of days in the month to approximate what it costs to live in your home for a day. Then, do the same for all of your other expenses. Here’s a quick list of expenses you incur (though not necessarily pay for) daily to consider:

  • Mortgage or rent
  • Food (at home and away)
  • Clothing (plus the cost of cleaning your clothing)
  • Insurance costs (medical, dental, life, auto, home)
  • Transportation costs (car payment, registration fees, gas)
  • Utilities (phone, Internet, cable, gas, electric, etc.)
  • Cleaning supplies and personal items
  • Donations and gifts
  • Childcare or school expenses
  • Recreation/hobbies/lessons
  • Medicine and/or vitamins
  • Taxes

For me, the realization that—without buying anything—I’ve spent hundreds of dollars just to live through the day was a real eye-opener. How about you? Are you surprised at how much you’ve spent today? (And this doesn’t even take into consideration outstanding unsecured debts!) Does thinking about your expenses in this way change the way you feel about spending?

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

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  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

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  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.