Strange title for a blog post, right? It comes from a graphic that Joshua Becker shared on Facebook last year, and again not that long ago. That's the daily spend amount that it takes to waste (or save) $10,000 in a year. Let that sink in for a minute.

Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

Now, I'm sure some of you would argue that you don't have $27.40 to throw away on miscellaneous spending every day, and I get that. I don't typically spend that in a day either, but also keep in mind that number is an average. So let's take a look at a few of the ways that this can add up, and I'll use our family as an example.
  • If we take our family of seven for take-out Japanese it costs us around $75. Let's say I do that once a month—that's $900 a year
  • If you've got kids in sports, like we do, the monthly fees can quickly add up. Let's say you spend $400 a month on lessons and gear for two or more kids—that's $4,800 a year.
  • You know I like my Starbucks stops. They're like a mini-vacation in a cup on stressful days. But at an average of $5 a pop, estimating a conservative four times a month, buying for only one person—that's $240 a year.
  • The kids have done really well at school, so that calls for a celebration and a stop by our local pay-by-the-ounce ice cream shop. Cha-ching! Since we don't usually take the Hubs as he's at work, and I limit the kids to three toppings each, we can typically get out of there for around $25-30. But if we go 5-6 times a year—that's $180 a year.
You can probably see where I'm going with this. Before you know it, you're well over half-way to that $10k point, and that's not counting the stops to pick up something you "need" at TJ Maxx, or the sale you hit on clothes for the kids at Old Navy, or Christmas or any of the birthday gifts required by all those classroom invitations (a definitely bonus of homeschooling - no more class parties!). You and I might not spend $27.40 a day, but I bet if we stopped and begin counting up all the big and little expenditures, we'd be surprised at how quickly they add up, just like my examples above.

Compared to many, I would consider myself a frugal person. For over two decades, I've packed lunch for the Hubs, we've cut each others hair (and now our kids), made coffee at home (most days), shopped sales and used coupons, saved and repurposed. We don't pay for cable or Netflix, we almost never go to movies - even before COVID, and we don't take vacations. If you asked some of the kids, they'd say we're downright Scroogy! 

But the fact of the matter is, when my 1099 arrived last year from my largest client, I was shocked to see the amount and spent some time wondering where it all went last year. Yes, we were paying for private school at the time, so that took a large chunk, and yes, we paid cash for a vehicle that then needed a lot of TLC (read: parts) to get it up to speed. But despite these, and other big expenditures that happened, as I thought back over the year, I knew that my $27.40 days were definitely involved

So in the midst of this "no spend" month, I'm calling myself out for it. It's time to tighten the belt, not just this month, but every month. And when splurges do happenand they willthat $27.40 needs to be in cash. Not only is this more painful for me, but it's a good visual for the kids, who often have a difficult time grasping the concept that when a card comes out, so does money. The habit of splurging has definitely shown itself already, as I've had kids light up and say, "Oh, can we get 5 Guys for dinn..." and then remember, "oh, no. It's February." Maybe if they saw me whipping out four $20 bills each time we stopped for a "quick bite" it might impact them more than a square of plastic. It's something I'm considering...for March. 😉

What about YOU? Cash or card?
What makes up your $5, $15, or $27.40 splurges?

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