How to Slap a Spending Problem Across The Face

I’m pretty proud of myself. I’ve saved lots of money over the years. I even recently wrote about how you can save $25,000 by 25. I love writing about personal finance because it holds me accountable just as I’m sure writing about fitness keeps those accountable for their own fitness.

/End bragging.

I do have a confession to make. I have many holes in my spending. I need to learn how to spend money wisely. I spend way too much money on food. I spend a small fortune on food. Instead of setting a pointless resolution I decided to fight back. In the month of November I tracked every penny that I spent on food. The results are depressing.

One of my goals in life is to always improve myself. I’m always researching new strategies to hack life. I’m looking for ways to:

  • Make more money.
  • Become a better person.
  • Train smarter.
  • And just get the most out of life.

What do I need to improve? My diet is something that I’ll always be working on. I have the training part down pretty good. I never EVER miss a workout and I’m always trying out new routines. My gym offers a variety of MMA-related and fitness classes. I’ve tried everything from kettlebell swings to BJJ with hardcores.

My eating sucks. I often eat junk food. I religiously eat out (get your mind out of the gutter).

Let’s look at how much money I spent on food in November.

  1. $71.65 at the grocery store. Loaded up for the month on my favorite foods (beans, egg whites, chicken, nuts, tuna, sardines, and veggies).
  2. Nothing.
  3. Nothing.
  4. $8.96 at grocery store. I always need something more.
  5. $16 on chicken burritos for my brother and I. I love chicken. Did I mention that?
  6. Nothing.
  7. $10.78, treated myself to pizza.
  8. $8 chicken burrito. Chicken!
  9. $8.54 on poutine. Got carried.
  10. $8 on groceries.
  11. Nothing!
  12. This was a travel day, went from Toronto to Buffalo to Austin. $4.80 at grocery store. $10.53 at Mighty Taco. $7 for a protein smoothie. $17.58 for pizza in Austin.
  13. $46.97 at burger joint (HopDoddy). Food for a bunch of us.
  14. $6.59 on tacos. $14.85 for Chinese food. $15.71 at grocery store (loaded up on egg whites).
  15. $8.28 on Thai food. $10.32 for dinner.
  16. Last day so we went for real Texas meat. $16.59 was spent here. Grabbed some food at the airport for $7.63. I definitely get way too hungry.
  17. $18.24 on groceries to cook food. I made chicken and broccoli for my family.
  18. Nothing.
  19. $10 at grocery store.
  20. $14.23 at grocery store on ingredients for my whole day’s worth of food.
  21. $20 for a huge meat platter.
  22. $12 on eating out.
  23. $14 on Korean food for a friend’s dinner. $12 on pulled pork poutine at the end of the night.
  24. $15 on nachos at a friend’s birthday party.
  25. $16 on burritos for my brother and I after working out pretty hard. Double chicken por favor.
  26. Nothing!
  27. $35 on Thai food for my girlfriend and I. $19.26 on groceries.
  28. $10.23 on Thai food. I love my chicken and broccoli!
  29. $20 on a large pizza for a little rendezvous at my place.
  30. $21 on Thai food for lunch. They cook the best chicken and broccoli combo out there.

How much money did I spend in total on food in November? $535.74.

For some of you this is not that much money. For many of you, that’s a huge sum of money to be spending on food. Keeping track of my spending was the first step to fixing this problem.

How can you slap a spending problem across the face? What’s the best strategy for those looking on how to stop spending money?

Track one to two problem areas with your spending.

We have to understand that there’s only so much cognitive energy that we have. We can’t just cut spending on EVERYTHING. It won’t work. You can’t cut out all junk food. You can’t become a master student over night.

You don’t believe me? Have you ever tried this?

When I got into this whole personal finance world I focused on one goal at a time. First I worked on saving money on the daily crap. Then I found the best financial tools to help me keep my money. Next I got into investing. Finally, I started earning more money. Now I’m just working on my problem areas.

The trick is to focus on one or two problem areas max. Where are you spending the majority of your income? Once you focus in on one area you can move on.

Watch what you do wrong.

I usually don’t recommend tracking the money you spend because it’s like counting calories. However, when working on your problem area, you have to be totally dedicated to find answers so that you can work on your progress. For the whole month of November I kept track of every single meal that I purchased.

I want you to watch what you’re doing wrong and understand why.

I spend too much money on food because I love to eat. I eat the same meals over and over again. I don’t sway far from chicken and broccoli. I need to build the habit to prepare more of my own meals. I also have to fight the urge to stop for food whenever I’m driving.

Create your action plan.

What’s your action plan going to be?

My action plan is simple. I plan on cooking more and loading up at the grocery store more frequently on my favorite foods so that I always have something ready to eat. Instead of relying on will power, I’m going to carry a bag of almonds with me so that I don’t get hungry.

You need a clear action plan that doesn’t revolve around will power.

That’s how you can spend less money. If you work on one problem at a time, you’ll totally optimize your spending in a matter of a few months. That’s more money saved to travel the world or pay off debt.

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Comments

  1. says

    Martin, that’s a little wild what you spent on food. In November we spent $313.10 at the grocery store, and $47.65 eating out. Although I should probably mention we have 5 members in our family. Yikes, eating out really blows up food expenditures quick!

    • says

      Well Derek, as you know, I like to get a little wild lol! Wow. You’re a pro at this. I definitely have a problem, hence why I’m working on it.

      The good news is that I eat very simple: chicken, broccoli, egg whites, beans, nuts, and pizza.

      Any tips?

  2. says

    Wow. I’d like to say I’m better at food spending. We spend about $200-$250 per month in groceries for the two of us. But some weeks from business or sheer laziness we will spend over $100 in dining out.

  3. says

    Dining out is a budget killer. My wife and I typically spend about $500 per month combined. If we dine out a few times, we’re close to $700. As soon as you stop eating out, you’ll save tons of cash…but this you know :)

    Mark

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