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Very Little Money Wasted on Stuff

On Monday I tried to estimate just how much money I spend on stuff each month. As soon as I finished writing that post I pulled out my financial journals and started running reports to see how close my estimate came to the actual number.

Here is a breakdown of our discretionary expenses in order of dollars spent:

  • Charity
  • Tickets (college basketball and football)
  • Clothing and Household Supplies
  • Entertainment
  • Gifts
  • Travel
  • Hobbies (photography, cooking, etc)
  • Books

Charity is certainly not stuff, so that category was immediately removed from the list. Tickets are less about stuff and more about the experience so I didn’t count them in the equation either. Similarly the majority of entertainment and travel related expenses were more experience related and less about things, so I removed them from the list. And although the category of ‘gifts’ might include stuff, it’s stuff for other people, not stuff for me, so I’m not including that either.

That left me with clothing and household supplies, hobbies and books. A year’s worth of clothing, hobbies and household supplies tallied roughly $2250. A year’s worth of books cost me $91.50. I’ve been borrowing, swapping and purchasing used books since January. I was surprised by just how small the number actually was, the prior year I spent more than ten times that amount! Broken down on a monthly basis it seems I spend roughly $195 on stuff each month.

Of course, as I said in my post on Monday the definition of stuff is certainly subject to debate. If you count experiences in your definition of stuff than I’m way over the $195 mark.

To get a true picture of our expenses it would probably make more sense to run my reports over a series of years, rather than the past eleven months. After all, in the last five years my husband has spent thousands of dollars on camera equipment. He currently owns the latest and greatest cameras and lenses and doesn’t see the need to purchase new equipment anytime soon, but surely those expenses should be averaged over time.

Regardless of all of that, I’m still happy to see that we’re spending less and less these days on objects and things and more and more on long lasting experiences that we’ll never forget.