About this Site

Leslie Beslie is a personal blog of me, Leslie. I share articles and thoughts on where I live and things I like. This includes NYC, books, finances, running, music, cats, and drawing.

Other Projects: French Toast Brigade | Life & Spending 2016 Weekly Planner | College Football Daybreak Podcast

April 2015 Spending in NYC

april spending in nyc

Spring Wardrobe Update

Every spring I usually purchase some new outfits. This is my attempt to slowly build a high-quality wardrobe. The past two years I’ve purchased good jeans and nice dresses. I expected to spend about $400 on clothing this month so the amount I spent wasn’t completely unplanned. However, instead of going for outfits, I went back to basics.

While organizing some things, I decided to finally throw out all my old stretched out socks, underwear with holes in them, bras that I can no longer remember where they were purchased, and some really gross work out clothing. After all that pruning, I was left with barely a week’s worth of socks and underwear, and no sports bras.

So, I resupplied myself with all of the basics: new socks, undergarments, work out clothing, plus some basic cami’s and t-shirts. I also threw out ill-fitting sweaters but those won’t have to be replaced until next November.

April is also my annual purchase of summer shoes. I’m not sure if canvas shoes should last more than a year but mine don’t. So I purchased a new pair of those, plus black flats. I have a pair of slip-on sneakers from last year that I will try to get an extra year out of. Then I also bought a new pair of running shoes in preparation for the Brooklyn Half later this month.

It sounds like a lot but really is all things I needed. And I threw out all of my old clothes and shoes, so I’m not accumulating more stuff. These are all basic clothing items that I know I will wear regularly. For the “spend your money where you spend your time” rule, these purchases fit seem to fit in well. Since I don’t own a car, most of my transportation is on my feet so good shoes are really important. And the basic clothing items, obviously, will get use.

PS3 & Games Hand-Me-Down

A friend sold me his PS3 and collection of games for $100. I know the system is old but I don’t need the newest thing. The video games themselves are still great. Before this, I was playing a Nintendo Gamecube so the graphics are an upgrade to me. I don’t play a lot of multi-player, so losing some of those servers doesn’t matter much either.

I like the idea of having something else to do on my down time than reading. Story-driven video games really are like an interactive book. They are not serial stories, which I am not a fan of. So watching television isn’t interesting to me, but playing through a story in a game is. I keep my consoles for years. I bought my Gamecube a decade ago and still have it. So, I do plan on playing this for a long time and I do have the leisure time for it. Also, I like having something else to do with friends who either live far away or when near ones come over.

I’ve also played it a lot; so far it has passed the “spend your money where you spend your time” rule. I love stories; video games are stories. I love puzzles; video games are also puzzles. Besides, I would rather play a beautiful game on my large-screen tv than something on my teeny-screen smart phone anyway.

Much Needed Beach Vacation

Right at the end of the month, after a very stressful few days where Depression began getting the best of me, I decided to book a beach vacation for June. I don’t typically take vacations, and have never taken one by myself. But the idea of sitting on a beach for three-days, not even leaving the hotel grounds, just sounds wonderful.

The cheapest I could find was a Florida beach for 3 days in June for $700 hotel + airfare. I was looking for a beach that was specifically within the US and for under $1K. I am taking another, more active, vacation later in the year so this will be more of a relaxing budgeted venture.

I love beaches. Even the ones here in the city without palm trees. But a vacation on a beach where someone brings you drinks with umbrellas and you have zero responsibilities – that just sounds perfect. I love the sound of the ocean. And walking along the shore. Hopefully being alone means there won’t be any pressure to “do something.” As far as the “spend your money where…” rule, getting out of the city to a tropical beach is a vacation I know I will enjoy. Last summer I went to the non-tropical beaches here all but two weekends. It certainly is a place where I spend my time.

Everything Else

The rest of the month was normal, considering. I bought a hamper for my apartment because I had been using mesh bags but that wasn’t nearly efficient enough. My total expenses for groceries + eating out + booze totaled $412. This is exactly my average for the combination. I spent $85 on books at MoCCA Fest this year and have no regrets about supporting indie artists. I’m still thinking of canceling Netflix. I may swap it out with a book service like Oyster or Scribd. Anyone familiar with these?

March Spending 2015

2015 March spending budgets in nyc

Income has been fairly consistent so far this year. Currently I am having a friend stay with me and am receiving a small amount of extra rent from them. All of this extra income is going directly into my savings, which I’m still trying to rebuild after last summer.

The largest expense this month was my cat Scarface’s bladder stone removal surgery. This was a planned expense. I charged the $950 total to my credit card for the rewards. Then will use my tax refund to pay it off in full for my next statement. An unexpected expense was clothing. I almost made it a full month without buying any clothes. Unfortunately, the zipper broke on a pair of jeans one day at work. So I had to make an emergency run to Century 21, near my work building, and purchased two pairs of jeans ($60 each) on my lunch break. This was my first time at the store and it really lived up to all the hype.

In March, I was very conscious of grocery, booze and eating out spending. All of those combined were $374 this month. Last month they were $377. Consistency! I am not limiting myself from eating out or going out to bars, but I am just staying a lot more conscious of it. I find that as long as I have groceries in the house, I tend not to eat out. And as long as I made dinner the night before, I can eat leftovers for lunch. So that solves two problems. And it’s been a long time since I ordered delivery. I’m fine with spending $400/month on this bulk category. Remember, this is just feeding myself.

I don’t often spend a lot of money on House items. Usually cleaning supplies fall under this category. But this month I bought a replacement cupcake carrier and a new towel rack. (It’s fancy and I love it). I also spent some money on gifts this month. I’m still on the fence about gifts for friends because, who needs more stuff? But I put thought into it and it was appreciated. Nothing overboard. And I am still sending birthday cards out to people I like. This was something I started last year and it has been well received. It’s also enjoyable for me because while putting the card together, I spend a few moments thinking about that person. And it feels nice to take that step back. I especially like the cards because it’s nice to reach out to someone without really feeling intrusive.

February Spending 2015

2015 February spending budgets in nyc


Income: Taxes

I received my taxes this month and they are being distributed between my cat’s upcoming surgery, my recent 36 hour trip to LA, and my savings account. I’m not particularly looking for steady side income but would like to maintain earning extra money at least once per quarter this year. I’m available for cat sitting in nyc. Or web analytics/seo optimization projects. Also, merit increases will be coming up at work soon so I’m being hopeful for that. Especially because my rent just increased in February (however, it will not increase again for two years).

hedwig on broadway john cameron mitchell

Spending: Going Out

I continued my hedonistic streak of going out with friends this month. It felt great to be social again. Although it seemed like I was fairly busy all month long, it turns out my booze and eating out spending were both less than $150 each. That actually works for me and is sustainable. It was great seeing friends so much and I would like to keep that up. Sometimes I get into hibernation mode and it’s not always a good thing.

I also spent some time this month getting out of the apartment but being alone. I saw two Broadway musicals and one major movie alone. It was quite nice. I didn’t want to be couped up in the apartment but also wanted the freedom to just spend the day how I wanted to. My entertainment spending was $150 this month, though most of that was for Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which I paid full price for.

Santa Monica Beach California

Santa Monica Beach

Vacation: 36 Hours in LA

There will be a full post on my overnight vacation to LA but here are the spending breakdowns:

  • Food: $95
  • Booze: $36
  • Flight: $297
  • Hotel (share): $50
  • Ferry to Catalina Island: $75
  • Car Service to/from JFK: $100

Total: $650

Sure, I could have saved a hundred bucks by taking the A train 2+ hours to JFK instead of a car service but, honestly, there was no way I was doing that to catch my 6a flight. I didn’t make any purchases at all on the trip; no souvenirs or gifts. The short trip helped in that way, we didn’t really have time to shop.

Scarface Cat

Scarface Cat

Looking Ahead

Well, I’ve seen every Broadway play I had a major interest in so I won’t be doing that spree again soon. I will begin limiting my social activities but only to find a balance between going out and not feeling guilty about going out. Or really focusing on only happy hours to wane that guilty feeling I get when it comes to spending money on myself, sometimes. I’m hopeful that I will get some sort of a raise this year and am not sure what I will do with that yet. Either increase my 401K percentage or increase the amount of my monthly automatic savings deposit. Although, realistically, I will have to start feeding my cats prescription cat food for a little while and at $40/case, that is another expense I need to budget for.

January Spending 2015

2015 January spending budgets in nyc

Income: Cat Sitting

This year I’d like to make some attempts to earn extra income once per quarter. I successfully did this in January by cat sitting over the holidays. I love cats and don’t consider changing litter boxes & filling up food bowls to be much of a chore. Checking in on a cat every day for a little bit each time is definitely worth the couple extra hundred dollars I make from it. Ideally, I’d like to continue doing this as it’s not time consuming and, well, I love cats.

Spending: Cat Health

Unfortunately, my little cat, Scarface, is having some urinary problems at the moment. I spent about $350 at the vet in January for some lab tests & x-rays to discover he has a bladder stone. This will cost upwards of $500-$1K to have it taken care of. Then additional costs throughout the rest of his life, since he’s only 3-years old. These were unexpected, but the future costs I will be able to budget for.

Spending: Food & Booze

At the end of last year, I killed it in not eating out or spending money on booze. Well, those glory days are over because I am definitely back on the wagon. Now, I’m not going crazy or anything, but I am definitely feeling more social. Plus, I don’t like being cooped up in my apartment as much in the winter time. So this month I reached out to friends for drinks, explored the city and enjoyed some meals myself, and just generally was out and about more often. Just being out all day means added costs for eating out. I am okay with the $160 grocery spending but would like to keep eating out & booze costs closer to $100 if possible.

Spending: Miscellaneous

Some other costs this month included renewing my Amazon Prime membership (categorized under entertainment). Also, I signed up for the Brooklyn Half (categorized under Health). I made a decision at the end of last year to sign up for less races this year because of the costs. This Half was $85, which is fine. I may sign up for another spring Half as well, that’s also in this price range. Mainly, I will not be doing $40 10K’s and no 5K’s this year, unless it’s super super cheap. I do love the motivation of races but, really, I just don’t want to put my money there this year.

Looking Ahead

For February, I am expecting more cat health costs, which will hopefully be offset by receiving my tax refund. There will likely not be any additional income (unless someone would like to buy my Kryptonite bike chain?).

Yearly Financial Spending, Progress, and Setbacks

yearly financial spending as percentage of my income YOY 2010-2014

The chart above is a year-over-year comparison of my spending as a percentage of my total income. In 2010 & 2011, I lived in NJ with roommates and commuted to NYC for work. In 2013-2014, I lived on my own in a 1br in Brooklyn.

Looking at just 2014 v 2013, I’m pretty happy with how the spending came out. This year I spent a little bit more on groceries and entertainment. The latter category includes a new laptop purchase which was definitely needed. I’ve spent a bit more on gifts and my cats this year, but neither total too much. Rent looks like a lot, at 39%, but transportation is less than 5%, so I still say it evens out.

Progress & Setbacks

Sometimes it feels like I’m a long ways off from financial independence. But if I take a step back, I can see that I have made a considerable amount of financial progress just this year alone.

  • Credit Score: Increased over 100 points
  • Networth: Just $1,000 away from being in the positive
  • Credit Card Debt: Zero. Haven’t held a balance on my CC at all this year
  • Student Loan: This is 50% paid off
  • 401K: Growing steadily

Of course there were some setbacks. One major setback, in particular. My emergency savings is still dismal after using all of it for a true family emergency earlier in the year. Rebuilding this will be a focus of 2015, especially since I know how important it is.

Yearly Spending Breakdowns

Yearly Spending Over $1,000:

  • Rent 39%
  • Entertainment 9%
  • Therapy 8%
  • Student Loan 8%
  • Groceries 5%
  • Eating Out 4%
  • Health Beauty 4%
  • MTA 3%
  • Cats 3%
  • Clothing 2%

Yearly Spending Under $1,000:

  • Gifts 2%
  • Booze 2%
  • House 2%
  • Internet 2%
  • Electricity 1%
  • Travel 1%
  • Cell Phone 1%
  • Gas 1%
  • Spotify 0%

Yearly Spending Under $100:

  • Netflix 0%
  • Laundry 0%

November Monthly Expenses in NYC 2014

November Monthly Spending for a 1BR in Brooklyn

November Monthly Spending for a 1BR in Brooklyn

My current rent is a little over $1,400 for 1br apartment in not the hip part of Brooklyn. Since it is a rent stabilized apartment, my rent will increase in February when I renew my lease. Although I still haven’t decided if I want to renew for 1 or 2 years. As the lease term affects the percent of increase.

I did keep a list of what I considered entertainment throughout the month. These expenses included tickets to see Patton Oswalt next month, Magic cards and accessories, and a new printer plus accessories. Eating out and alcohol expenses are broken out separately.

There are zero health-related expenses this month which is a significant decrease from the several past months. I am sticking to not signing up for any more races this year. For next year, I have three I’m looking at but am putting a budget on this. Something like no more than $300 in race fees for all of 2015. The motivation is great, but as long as I have a routine, I don’t need to pay $40 to run a 10K. Also, many half marathons are getting mighty expensive and I prefer to run them than the shorter distances.

Combined Food + Groceries:

  • Jan: $336
  • Feb: $339
  • Mar: $393
  • Apr: $298
  • May: $366
  • Jun: $362
  • Jul: $353
  • Aug: n/a
  • Sep: $260
  • Oct: $255
  • Nov: $248

This month was consistent with the rest of the fall as both these expenses are declining. Although $250 for combined eating out and booze spending is probably my limit. This is certainly better than spending almost $400 on this in the beginning of the year! I am trying to keep up the momentum of cooking at home by making sure I grocery shop once a week and trying out new recipes. This month was slightly different as I spent more eating out but less on groceries than last month.

October Monthly Expenses in NYC 2014

living expenses in nyc october 2014

October 2014 Expenses and Average Monthly Spending in NYC

October 2014 Average Monthly Expenses in NYC

Rent in my building went up this month after the landlord did some infrastructure improvements. Since I live in a rent stabilized building, he had to special request this increase from the city. Then all of us residents had to sign and approve it. Unfortunately, this means my rent will increase again when I sign my lease in February. I am now paying a little over $1,400 to live in a 1BR in nowhere Brooklyn.

On the plus-side, this was a bonus-paycheck month, since I get paid bi-weekly. That paycheck went fully into my emergency savings. It is exactly what I needed to get building that back up again.

I got a little carried away with entertainment this month. I bought a FitBit One at the end of the month. And some MTG cards to put together a new EDH deck I’ve been thinking about for a while. These purchases were both close to $80. I also went to three Alkaline Trio shows in one week. I bought the tickets at almost face value off of craigslist. The tickets themselves totaled a little over $100. All of my booze costs this month, a whole $30, were just because of those shows.

Health costs this month are solely from running races in the nyc area. I’m doing more 10K’s than 5K’s now but these still cost between $30-$40. I have been using it as motivation for myself. And socialization with friends. But the costs are adding up. I am hopefully at a point where I don’t need races to motivate me to run. I have made the decision to not sign up for any other races this year. Most of the NYC races are in parks. As shutting down roads is too costly. They don’t shut down the park either. So paying $40 to literally run in a park that others are literally running in for free next to you is something I just can’t justify anymore.

Over the summer, I reduced my therapy appointments to every other week. Financially, this was a great decision. Spending only $200 on that a month helps a lot. Health-wise, I seem to be doing well with the new schedule, too. This makes me feel pretty good about things.

I’m trying not to worry too much about saving money with the cats. I have started giving them mainly wet food. It’s not a raw food diet or anything. But cat food cans are certainly more expensive than a giant bag of dry food. But the little one has sensitive teeth and is prone to UTI’s. So I want to keep them as healthy as I can.

Booze + Eating Out
I’ll talk more about my food costs below. I wanted to highlight just how little I spent in booze and eating out this month. I spent $28 in booze. And spent $26 eating out. The eating out costs are exclusively my $5 bagel breakfast sandwich I buy every Friday. That’s it.

How Much Money Do I Save by Eating at Home?

I don’t normally break down expenses like this. But I’m continuously intrigued by my food spending this year. Before July, I had some extra money and was dating someone. This meant, eating out or getting delivery for dinner, a lot. More importantly, that meant not having leftovers for lunch. So I would frequently eat out for lunch and dinner. At the very least, I was consistent each month.

After August, I used my savings for an emergency so finances were extra tight. I also was out of that relationship. When I’m only feeding myself, I can be much less picky. I never order delivery for just myself. I never eat out by myself. This means, I was doing a lot more cooking at home. And cooking at home means leftovers. Leftovers means I don’t have to buy lunch out every day. That is the real cost savings.

Combined Food + Groceries:

  • Jan: $336
  • Feb: $339
  • Mar: $393
  • Apr: $298
  • May: $366
  • Jun: $362
  • Jul: $353
  • Aug: n/a
  • Sep: $260
  • Oct: $255

I traveled for most of August so I’m excluding those costs as it is an outlier anyway.

September and October grocery costs are also including a dinner party I hosted for several people. I’m able to do afford hosting things like this now that I’m spending so much less money on eating out.

Cooking meals at home that give me leftovers to eat for lunch the next day is saving me about $100/month.

September Monthly Spending in NYC 2014

September 2014 Expenses - Living in NYC

September 2014 Expenses and Average Monthly Spending in NYC

Using An Emergency Fund for an Emergency

This was an interesting month financially because I’m still recovering from all my emergency spending in August. I put all of my August travel expenses on my credit card and wasn’t exactly sure if I’d be able to cover it all. Thankfully, I did. After completely wiping out my savings accounts, I was able to pay my full credit card balance. After all, that’s what emergency funds are for.

I really did not want to carry any credit card debt. Even though it meant skipping a student loan payment and having less than $500 to my name leftover. My immediate priority is to build that back up. And hope no other emergencies pop-up in the meantime. It is completely fortunate that I was sole beneficiary of my dad’s bank account. It wasn’t much but was certainly more than I was expecting (just short of a thousand). While that certainly is conflicting information from what he told me. I am absolutely grateful nonetheless. That is enough to give me a cushion and a good start to build back up my savings.

September Living Expenses in NYC

Because this month was so tight, I put my old frugal hat back on. I’m always conscious of how I spend my money but this month I had to go back to some old cheap habits. The first thing I did was to really focus on eating at home. I didn’t go overboard only living on lentils and beans. But I did completely avoid buying lunch out save for one day at the end of the month. I also focused a lot on spending time with friends. But invited them over instead of meeting at a bar. This is something I always say I’m going to do and this month I actually did.

This is also a result of being single again. Where I spend waaay less money than when I’m in a relationship. This month I barely drank booze, rarely ate out, and really just enjoyed my time at home. Plus, football Saturdays make for cheap days. I make myself nachos and sit on the couch all day. Oh yeah, sometime I get up and jump when there’s a touchdown. Those have been the best days.

After rent, entertainment spending was a lot this month. Because $200 of that was for a new cell phone. I switched to Republic Wireless. This means my cell phone bill will be $10/mo, for unlimited talk+text, no data. But I had to buy a new phone, a Moto X. I already regret switching because not being able to use shortcodes is killing me. But for $10, you get what you pay for. Other entertainment expenses include two tickets to each Say Anything show when they play in NYC in December. I also did a small shopping trip for a few fall/winter essentials like a light jacket and scarf.

Focusing on Home Cooking & Meal Planning To Save Money

Because of my heavy focus on cooking at home this month, my food spending was considerably less than usual. I spent $200 on groceries and $50 eating out. $50! $50! $50! What! That’s the first time I’ve even made it under $150 in eating out this year! What has really helped keep me motivated on cooking is meal planning via google calendar. And grocery shopping more often (despite still having anxieties over it).

Let’s take a look at my super consistent food spending (groceries + eating out) this year:

  • Jan: $336
  • Feb: $339
  • Mar: $393
  • Apr: $298
  • May: $366
  • Jun: $362
  • Jul: $353
  • Aug: n/a
  • Sep: $260

To keep from going crazy, I treat myself to Bagel Fridays. Which means I grab a bagel+egg+cheese sandwich on my way to work for $5. The rest of the week I eat breakfast at home. Knowing I’m going to have that bagel on Friday keeps me from being lazy the rest of the week.

A big hurdle for me when it comes to cooking is finding recipes. I’ve recently given up on website collections and blogs for lack of variety. But a friend suggested borrowing cook books from the library and that has been a game changer! I’ve already went through two books, writing down recipes that I hadn’t heard of before. It’s much easier than wading through thousands of identical recipes and skewed reviews. It also means I can read niche cook books that I would never buy. For example, focusing on one cuisine.

September Goals & Habits

Over the summer I’ve successfully created some solid habits by using a Daily Habit/Goal Tracking Spreadsheet. I now floss daily, wash dishes before going to bed, call/reach out to a friend/family once a week, and follow a meal plan. Those are regular tasks.

I have long-term goals such as making my friends feel special. And continuing to be financially responsible. And showing others/strangers patience.

Making Friends Feel Special
I have numerous friend’s birthdays in October and I plan to remember each one. I already have birthday cards addressed and/or sent out. And (small) gifts planned. This has been something I’m really focusing on this year. Birthdays are such a personal event. And a perfect opportunity to really make a friend feel special. Something as cheap and little as receiving a birthday card in the mail makes everyone smile!

Continuing Financial Responsibility
I plan to maintain this by making sure I make a student loan payment in September, even if it’s not the double payment I would like. I will also add some funds to my emergency savings.

Showing Strangers Patience
As for patience, I am really making huge strides in not getting angry with people on the subway. It takes a lot of energy and is still hard to sustain all day. But even if I let one subway-rage incident go, I call that an accomplishment. I’m not proud of this, but an incident that happened earlier in the year really made me realize I need to calm down.

I was standing on a very crowded morning subway, when a woman stood up before the subway stopped and tried to push through me, to get to the door, even though we were still moving. Even though I, too, was also getting off at the next stop. Well, I was cranky and frustrated. So I stepped on the back of the woman’s heel. Twice. The second time she turned around, gave me a dirty look, and called me an idiot. I didn’t say I was sorry.

Unfortunately, we were transferring to the same train. By this time, I was already over it and just wanted to continue my commute. Well, she wasn’t. I ran up the stairs next to her, ignoring her, but she reached over and wailed me in the back with her purse. I didn’t react, I kind of deserved it.

But geez! Were two grown women really harassing each other just because it was 7a and the subway was crowded? I felt ridiculous and immature. Instead of that entire embarrassing and stressful scenario I could have done two things. I could have reminded myself that I can’t control other people’s behaviors. And remind myself that I don’t know other people’s challenges. Surely that woman had more stressful things happening in her life than to deal with some cranky person on the subway. I sure do!

Being more aware of my reactions and calming myself down is a lot of work but I am showing progress. This is something I work on every day. Oh, the glamorous life of living in nyc.

August Monthly Spending in NYC 2014

Fixed & Variable living expenses in NYC 2014

Fixed & Variable living expenses in NYC Budget 2014

Family Emergency

In August, I had to last-minute fly out to Wyoming for a family emergency. I stayed there for seven days with my sister. We shared a motel room and rental car. The entire trip cost me $2,765. Most of that was for the airfare.

My sister is ten years older than me, married, and financially stable. Fortunately, she was able to cover most of the motel and rental car. She also paid for all of the funeral/cremation expenses, which totaled just over $3,000. I paid for a day of the motel and rental car. Any miscellaneous items we bought while out there. And all of our meals. I am extremely grateful that my sister was able to take on the financial responsibilities she did. I was able to use my emergency fund for my expenses. But I could not have paid for everything myself.

I’m including any groceries, eating out, misc items that I bought while on the trip as part of those expenses. For this month’s budget, all related expenses are combined. This makes my “eating out” category look very small. But that is because I spent a week away.

August Monthly Spending in NYC

As far as the rest of the month’s spending goes, it went very well. I may just be able to cover the unplanned expenses but it will be very close. So I am trying to really curb my spending until I’m certain. I really don’t want to have to carry a balance on the CC. I’m being a lot more conscious about not eating out. You can see I spent more on groceries than usual. Hopefully, I can get back in the habit of cooking and this will save me some money for now.

I will not be making a student loan payment for the next two months. I’m fortunate that I have some leeway with that. But the only way I can pay off my CC is by skipping the loan payment for a little bit. The set-back is really unfortunate. But necessary. Because I will want to put money back into my Emergency Fund as soon as I can. I now know that every little bit helps.

After getting out of a relationship last month, it’s apparent that I spend considerably less money when single. Especially in the categories of eating out and booze. I know some people are the opposite. For now, I want to take advantage of this lifestyle and do my best to save what I can. Cooking meals the past few weeks has really curbed my need to buy lunch. At $8/lunch, that adds up.

July Spending & August Goals 2014

I’m going to expand the spending recaps to include some of the goals/tasks I’ve been working on. I’ve been keeping them to myself because it’s personal and I don’t need the blog to stay accountable. But I like providing a living example of a productivity process that has been working for me.

July living expenses in nyc - All expenses over $100 in Brooklyn

July living expenses in nyc – All expenses over $100

July living expenses in nyc - All expenses less than $100 in Brooklyn

July living expenses in nyc – All expenses less than $100

July Living Expenses in NYC

Well I went through a break-up this month so…. the bad news is I re-decorated my living room. The good news is, in general, I spend a lot less money when single. So hopefully this will even out in the coming months.

Now that my life is more stable, I reduced my monthly therapy appointments which will save me $190/month. This was also because I have used all my FSA funds for the year. Those reimbursements were very helpful. So I’ll just cut the costs directly instead.

The house & cat expenses are related to my living room make-over. I replaced an old cat tree with a nice (though pricey) standing scratching post. Plus, long shelves hung above the couch. And a few wall decorations like a clock & photo frames. I bought a bunch of prints when I moved into this apartment three years ago and never hung them up. I love the new look and it feels like a good “fresh start” for me. It also really makes my apartment feel more comfortable. Which is good because I imagine I’ll be hanging out here more often.

Let’s take a look at my super consistent food spending (groceries + eating out) this year:

  • Jan: $336
  • Feb: $339
  • Mar: $393
  • Apr: $298
  • May: $366
  • June: $362
  • July: $353

I’m very proud of that food spending. Sure, I’d like to have more months like April but clearly my eating habits are what they are. I’m aiming to cook more at home this month, so I’m interested to see how that affects my food spending.

Also this month, my electricity bill was a mere $10 extra than usual. This has been a very pleasant summer weather-wise. Let’s hope August stays this mild and my air conditioner rarely has to be used. There was also a lot of gift buying this month. I had a baby shower, a friend’s birthday, and a 1 year-old’s birthday. Small gifts all around but it added up quickly.

August Monthly Goals & Weekly Tasks

Tracking weekly tasks directly related to monthly goals and long-term values

Tracking weekly tasks directly related to monthly goals and long-term values

Value – Financial Stability

Goals: Continue increasing net worth, paying off student loan, using CC responsibly
Weekly Tasks: None

While there aren’t any weekly tasks, I have stayed on track for this goal throughout the year. Although I have been tempted to change my payments, I have continued doubling my student loan payment this month. And I have been paying off my CC balance at the end of each month.

Value – Physical Health & Fitness

Goals: Have a consistent routine running 4 times a week, Eat healthy
Weekly Tasks: Run 3 times a week, Eat 1 fruit/vegetable a day 4 times a week

Although I have been running a long time, it has never been consistent. Which really means very slow progress. Ideally, it is recommended to run four times a week if you want to see real improvements. This is what I am aiming for long-term. However, it is too much of a jump for me to try to do now. So for this month, I will track my runs with a goal of three runs a week. This consistency will hopefully turn into a habit.

Like most everyone, I would like to “eat better”. This is also tied into my running performance and my health in general. Keeping track of how often I eat fruits & vegetables is a really easy way to quantify “healthy eating.” Eating at least one a day, will put me on the right path for this. A long-term plan would be to increase that. This also keeps me aware of what I have eaten throughout the day. I’ve been working on this one for the past month but want to stay focused on it for a few more weeks. It also really ties into my goal of buying more groceries, to ensure I always have vegetables at home.

Value – Respect & Appreciate Personal Relationships

Goals: Make my friends feel special, Exhibit patience to everyone
Weekly Tasks: None

From March of this year, I have been trying to stay on top of my friend’s birthdays. By either sending birthday cards in the mail. Or taking an extra second to send an email and/or text to wish them a happy birthday. Since I don’t use Facebook, I have had to put in an effort to keep track of my friend’s birthdays. I know it’s a little thing. But it is something I can do to show my friends I am thinking of them. Especially if they live far away.

Patience is something I have been trying to work on this year. But it is very difficult. I have improved in my patience with strangers (like, on the subway). But tend to get more impatient with friends or loved ones sometimes. This is disrespectful and not how I intentionally want to treat people I care about. I will continue to try to be conscious of when I do lose my patience. And aware of what surroundings trigger this. Then I can work on strategies to keep myself calmer on a day-to-day basis. This also falls under my value of Mental Health below.

Value – Mental Health & Surroundings

Goals: Don’t let apartment messiness get out of control, Stay calmer
Weekly Tasks: Don’t leave dishes in the sink overnight 3 times a week, Buy groceries 2 times a week

Cleaning is not fun for me at all. But, this is my apartment and I am responsible for it. While I don’t really care about cleanliness per se. Seeing the apartment dirty or cluttered really stresses me out. I am trying to frame cleaning as a mental health issue for me. I hate seeing a sink full of dirty dishes more than I hate actually doing them. I’ve been able to recognize that my mood is noticeably improved when the kitchen is cleaned up. This is also directly related to my physical health because when the kitchen is clean, I am more apt to cook. And when I am cooking, that means I am less likely to order (unhealthy, expensive) food out.

Since grocery shopping stresses me out, I only do it once a week. If that. But vegetables just last me a few days. So by mid-week, I am out of food and back to eating lunch out and having popcorn for dinner. While I don’t like going to the store, I want to get into the habit of going more often. This is all related. The more groceries in the house, the more likely it is I’ll cook. So hopefully with a clean kitchen & stocked fridge, I will eat at home more, which means healthier meals at a lower cost.