Help Me with Accountability, Week 1

So, I’m feeling a lot of emotions about putting this out there, for a number of reasons. Today was a really bad day, and I’m already emotionally spent, which makes writing about this even harder. But I know I won’t have time tomorrow and I made a promise to myself, and all of you, so I’m going to put it out there, for better or worse.

I do want to preface this week’s spending by explaining that this was my one week of the summer to be productive. My daughter was still in full time childcare and I had more time this week to GET THINGS DONE than I will any week coming up. Knowing this, I did most/all of the purchasing for my backyard project this week. You may remember when I announced my spending freeze that I was still green lighting some work in the backyard because I haven’t been down there, let alone spent any money on it, in almost two years. It really needed a little work, and I’m allowing myself to spend $400 back there to get some of the work done. I spent a good portion of that $400 this week.

Also, my father is leaving for a three week trip to Europe on Monday and he is my go-to bike person, so if I had waited on bike stuff I wouldn’t have had him around to help me with it until well into July.

As the above paragraph suggests, I did decide to move forward with the bike. After obsessively researching ways to get around with two kids on two (or more) wheels, I decided a cargo bike would be ideal. (I don’t feel comfortable with a trailer on city streets–they are too wide to tow in traffic.) Then I obsessively researched cargo bikes and realized I could never afford one. I was able to compromise when I found a seat that can accommodate a child over 5 years old on a rack on the back of a bike and a seat that can hold a child up to 33lbs for the front of a bike. My family already has a hybrid bike that would work well enough so I just needed to get the seats. The seat big enough for a child my daughter’s age and size was hard to find and I knew I’d never find it used (I could only find one company in all of California that even carries it) so I bought that new for $280 all told. I found a brand-new-still-in-the-box front seat “used” on Craigslist for $100 (about $75) less than I would have paid retail (the two other used front seaters listed were already sold by the time I emailed).

The bike project so far has cost me $380. I will probably also need to get a double kickstand installed and I can’t seem to find my daughter’s old helmet anywhere for my son to use, so a little more money will be spent, but I’m going to look for the helmet used (or see if a friend has one to give/lend me) and the kickstand won’t be much. I think all told it will be just a little over $400.

My plan is to get comfortable riding the bike and see if my kids are into it. If we all love it I might think about upgrading in a year, when my son outgrows the front seat and we’ll need a whole new set up (which will probably require a new bike). I think $400 is a reasonable amount to spend on trying this (especially after looking at so many cargo bikes going for $2,500-$6,500 dollars) and I can always sell the seats used when we move on from this configuration to make back some of what I spent.

As for the yard, I’m putting down landscaping fabric on one side and then covering it with pebbles that my parents are giving me (I’ll be scooping them out of their side yard, filling bags with them, and bringing them to my house) then planting a few succulents from a failed gardening project at work in that space. (People kept stealing plants from a cool vertical garden I made out of my old art tubs so I finally stopped replanting them–the few that remained got pretty big so I’ll be moving them to my backyard.) I also realized that I just can’t keep up with weeding of the big square in the middle of my yard (plus we can’t water anything right now anyway) so I bought more flagstones to place around the seven big stones I placed two years ago. I’m not going to plant any ground cover between them this year–both to save money and water–so it will be pretty ugly until next year when I can invest more in the project, but at least there won’t be as much soil available for ALL THE WEEDS to grow in.

So, as you look over my spending please keep in mind that this week contains some financial investments I’m making in my life and home over the summer, and is not representative of my spending moving forward. I think next week will be a much better indicator of where my money will be going over the next seven weeks. (And yes, I know I need to work on not eating out so much. Baby steps.)

6/13/2015 Tax on Consignment Purchase (for birthday present $1.29
6/13/2015 Piroshki’s for lunch (son and I) $10.50
6/13/2015 Dinner with Chelsey $47.30
6/14/2015 Laughing Squid (old website hosting–NEED TO CANCEL!) $12.00
6/14/2015 Groceries (Trader Joes) $186.93
6/14/2015 Office Max (Ink for printer, page protectors) $81.51
6/15/2015 Big Kid Bike Seat (New) $281.84
6/15/2015 Gas $50.00
6/15/2015 Landscaping Fabric, pins, yard waste bags $40.76
6/16/2015 Flagstones for yard $238.05
6/16/2015 Sand for the sandbox (my mom gave me) $34.87
6/16/2015 Honey (promised PB+honey sandwiches) $4.65
6/16/2015 Pretzels at park $7.00
6/16/2015 PCIT appointment $150.00
6/17/2015 Baby Bike Seat (Used on Craigslist) $100.00
6/17/2015 20 tickets at Pixieland + 12 tokens + 2 pretzles $35.72
6/17/2015 Bay Bridge toll $5.00
6/17/2015 Inside Out Tickets on Fandango (for 3 people) $31.00
6/18/2015 BART to and from downtown $3.60
6/18/2015 Contribution to pizza dinner with friends $10.00
6/18/2015 Bus to dinner with friends $2.25
6/19/2015 Sandwiches for lunch with mom and sister (+ tip) $20.00
6/19/2015 Mandatory swim cap at daughter’s first swim lesson $8.16
6/19/2015 Rice Crispy Treat reward at first swim lesson $1.00


    1. Total it’s $1363.40. Taking out the yard and bike projects it’s $667.91, which is A LOT. The grocery bill was high and that therapy appointment was super expensive. Even without those though I’m still at $330, which is a lot for one week. I’ll be curious to see what the next few weeks look like.

  1. Applaud your honesty and detail.
    Shall be interested in how the bike experiment turns out.
    Good luck this week!

    1. Thank you. I shall also be interested to see how the bike experiment turns out. I will keep you all posted. 😉

  2. I spent the first few months this year tracking my expenses down to the penny. It was… I’m not sure if there’s a word for the feeling it induced, honestly. It made me panicky and kind of sick feeling (not to spend the money, but to write it down). But after a few months of watching what I was spending on, I came to terms with it. I still spend more than I’d like, but I don’t feel nearly as guilty after I realized I spend most of my “allowance” on food and treats for the kids (my allowance is $100 per bi-weekly paycheck).

    1. Writing down my purchases has made me feel similarly panicky and kind of sick. I HATE it. I feel like that is because I really HAVE to be doing it. I keep telling myself if I don’t want to do it, it means I have to. Later, when I don’t care about doing it anymore, that is when it will be okay to stop. 😉

  3. I find that I have a lot of expenses similar to the mandatory swim cap you bought–not frivolous, actually needed, but not necessarily contemplated. And the little or amazon charges for these things add up.

    I’m not much help here but good job tracking everything!

    1. Yeah, the swim cap is a great symbol of so much of what I get. Sure she doesn’t NEED swim lessons, but it’s not safe for her not to get them. And this place requires she wear a swim cap so… It encapsulates so much of our spending.

  4. I think the most helpful part of tracking is seeing how little things and unexpected things add up so much. I got an email from my budgeting program yesterday that told me I spent $3000 this week and my stomach plummeted. But the amount that I call “frivolous” was negligible. I had a huge unexpected car repair, my husband moved up his trip to see his grandmother who is not expected to live much longer, and almost everything else was small and planned – groceries, some bricks for our landscaping project, cheapie invitations to my daughter’s birthday party, etc. It’s hard to limit expenses that I don’t feel bad about!

    1. I absolutely agree. I also find it’s hard to limit expenses that I don’t feel bad about. But that is definitely where I need to start going with, I’m pretty sure.

  5. Good for you for tracking expenses. My main problem, need vs want. This is what’s currently going on in our lives. Do we really need to go see a movie? Do we need to buy this particular brand of food item? Can this home project be done in stages (daughter’s remodel of her room)…all things to carefully, but not guilt yourself into.

    I’m curious, how much does this all add up to and does this include any savings/cushion? Only reason why I’m asking – I’m trying ever so desperately to incorporate a cushion into our checking but I’m failing.

    Looks good!

    1. All this adds up to $1363.40. I doubt this particular week includes savings. The purpose of tracking my spending is not specifically to create savings but more to hold myself accountable for not buying clothes, books or toys. I also just want to see where my money is going so I can identify some areas where I can make better choices. Ultimately I do want to create a savings goal and work toward putting a certain amount away, but I think that won’t happen until the fall at least. Maybe not even until next year. I want to take this slow and really have a lot of information before I make big changes. I think that is what I need to do for them to actually stick for the first time in my life.

  6. This was super interesting. I’ll try to get my shit together to start participating in this as well. It’s a great idea. I’m curious to see how your spending habits will evolve as the summer goes along!

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