Welcome to Money Diaries, a series where one of our readers shares a week inside the life of their bank account.
The concept of the Money Diary as an internet article is not new nor ours. I credit Refinery29 for introducing me to the concept and popularising them. I’ve seen other iterations of the money diary on other websites, but they’ve always invariably been from the perspective of someone living in the US or the UK. For a long time, I wanted to see a South African version with Rands and local context, and so we’re starting a new series on Nutreats that shares Money Diaries from people living here.
These money diaries will track a week’s worth of expenses along with lessons, explanations and often money tips. They’re fun to read, giving you a fly on the wall feeling. But more so open a conversation on money, spending and our habits and relationships with what Yuval Noah Harari calls “the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.”
My Relationship with money: Complicated and clingy at times but well-adjusted overall.
What did you learn after doing the money diary? I cannot resist a good sale so in order me to save money or spend less on stuff I don’t need, unsubscribing from newsletters is definitely a good strategy.
Mondays are my reconciliation days. As a professional number cruncher, it’s only natural for me to track my expenses meticulously. My entire life is planned in a spreadsheet and of course my finances are tracked to the cent in a tool that I built myself.
My trackers has a budget of all my monthly expenses and categories for each type of expense: Subscriptions, Cellphones, Entertainment, Restaurants, Home Expenses, Studies, Health and Medical among others. I export my bank statements from my Internet banking and allocate each line to a data validated category. I then compare my actuals to my budget with simple formulas and pivot tables.
The tracker helps me to see where my money is going, where I can cut back on any unnecessary spending, and where I can afford to splurge. There is nothing quite like looking at your bank account and thinking where the hell did my money go. My tracker keeps my mind at ease and my spending habits in check and I update it weekly.
"There is nothing quite like looking at your bank account and thinking where the hell did my money go"
This same sheet tracks my Retirements Annuity Performance, Discovery Vitality Paybacks and Savings account. It’s a full on view of my financial health and then some. Most of my debit orders and monthly expenses have been covered in the first week of the month so updating my tracker today gave me a good idea of what’s left over for the next few weeks, after putting away some savings of course (15% of my current gross, I am paying off my motorcycle and hope to increase this to 20% once fully paid by the end of the year). The best advice I’ve ever been given regarding finances is to pay off all your debt as soon as possible, avoid store accounts and a mortgage is the only debt worth having.
My first half marathon race is coming up and at the time of entering I felt that the R270 for a shirt was expensive. But this morning I felt that I wanted a memento to wear should I finish the race and reach my sub 2 goal so I went ahead and ordered one.
|Half Marathon Race Day Tee||R270|
|Total Spend for the day||R270|
It just so happens that I had a little bit extra to spend in my budget this month after last night’s tracking exercise. I used to spend extras like this on clothes but the start of 2018, after watching a documentary called “The True Cost”, I decided to unsubscribe from many retail newsletters and cut down drastically on my consumption of fast fashion. This act alone has saved me a lot of money. However, retail therapy is needed now and then, and my new found weakness is for anything health and fitness, especially snacks!
The email hits my promotions tab of my gmail. Faithful to Nature announced their birthday sale, and Wazoogles released their new “Snack Bombs“, temptation hits and my credit card is shining ready for that check out.
"I personally hate paying for delivery, so I end up adding enough goodies to my basket to avoid it."
Yes it is counterintuitive and I end up spending more than I should, but we don’t have to be as disciplined as our professional selves in our personal lives right? I end up adding essential oils that I’ve been wanting to buy for ages, an oil burner and my favourite Superlatte Chocolate Chaga blend.
PS Today is a work from home day which I am absolutely grateful for. This is a great cost saving on fuel, I avoid the temptation of buying lunch and I end up really focusing on getting shit done.
|Soil Peppermint Essential Oi||R58|
|Sing Fefur Peppermint Tea||R52|
|Superlatter Cosmic Choc Latte Blend||R159|
|Soil Lemon Essential Oil||R48|
|2 x Wazoogles Snack Bomb||R58|
|Indalo Black Ceramic Burner||R159|
|Total Spend for the day||R464|
Let me let you on a little secret. Loyalty points, discounts and cashbacks can add up significantly.
"It may require a small amount of effort on your part but when it amounts to over R500 per month, or a significant discount on an expensive purchase it is absolutely worth it."
Our household gets a cashback from our insurance for good driving habits, vouchers can be booked for grocery spend on Snap ‘n Save while Clicks and Body Shop accumulates and pays out every few months and then of course there’s Discovery Vitality.
Apart from the fact that Discovery’s app is probably one of the most inconsistent functioning apps I’ve ever experienced, the program in itself is a great motivator to keep moving to meet my weekly health goal. A goal met = a play on the board for points with which you can buy vouchers. This year alone I’ve bought spa, book, Dis-chem and gadget vouchers with my Vitality Points. Wednesday mornings we play the board with a little too much enthusiasm and land up with the usual disappointment of 25 points each.
We had to run a few errands after work in preparation for our weekend away to the beach so we stop at Kauai for dinner, Dischem for cold and flu medication (and snacks!) and buy a few supplies for the weekend.
|Kauai – Dinner & Drinks for 2 including tip||R210|
|Dischem – Corenza C & Youthful Living Snacks||R176|
|Pick ‘n Pay – Meat, veggies, wine and snacks for the weekend||R742|
|Total Spend for the day||R1 128|
It’s that awkward time of the week when my energy dips while I slog lazily behind my desk looking for more important things to do other than studying. Naturally I ended up on my favourite local activewear website, Mermaids & Unicorns. They’ve been releasing the most beautiful designs from their latest range every few weeks and I covet a total of 3 items. But sanity prevails and I add it to my wishlist to potentially include in my budget over the next few months.
"I get a phone call that they had to replace the air filter on my scooter and it cost a bit more than I budgeted but I do have a savings account for just this purpose."
I also had to take my 300cc scooter in for a service as it reached 6000km. I get a phone call that they had to replace the air filter on my scooter and it cost a bit more than I budgeted (my services are usually under R1000) but I do have a savings account for just this purpose and I will most likely cut back on other expenses. I catch an uber from the office to the service garage and also have to fuel up my scooter to get home.
|Avoided the temptation of M&U purchases||-R1450 (jokes won’t include this in the total)|
|Scooter Fill Up with Fuel||R168|
|Total Spend for the day||R1 796|
We had to fill up with fuel for the weekend away. We have one car between the 2 of us as we both commute on motorcycles.
"There is no use for more cars as one would only take up space and gather dust."
Even though most people associate motorcycles with danger and high risk, it’s been a life changer for me, not only saving money but also saving me time on my daily commute. The car still has half a tank of fuel as the weather the last few weeks has been great and I’ve been using my scooter on weekends too so it costs a little less than I anticipated.
While driving and scrolling my Facebook feed, a suggested event for real life Cluedo pops up and I am intrigued. It’s a world wide event hosted by CluedUpp Games and I’ve always loved a good board game so I reach out to my closest friends to see if they are keen for some nerdy fun. We reach a quick consensus on our whatsapp group and I booked the tickets.
|Car Fill up||R370|
|CluedUpp Game: Cape Town Detective Day||R120|
|Total Spend for the day||R590|
I started my day with a good amount of stretching, homemade breakfast and a walk on the beach. A few hours of studying followed by reading while hubby cooks us a homemade dinner. We eat homemade meals most days of the week with the exception of maybe 2 meals a week out.
"The habit of cooking at home is a great cost saving mechanism."
This habit of cooking at home is a great cost saving mechanism, an opportunity for quality time with family and saves the waistline too.
|Total Spend for the day||R0|
As we head back home, myself and hubby discuss our meal plan for the week which includes a variety of easy to make, healthy meals and I make a shopping list. We usually shop once a week at Pick n Pay as this is also linked to our Discovery Vitality and we get 25% back on any healthy food items purchased.
"Planning our meals helps us to eat healthy and stay within our food budget for the month."
We pop by for a late lunch at Green Restaurant which is on the Entertainer app – if you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s an annual subscription based app costing about R500 per year where you get a host of Buy 1 Get 1 Free vouchers at restaurants, spas and attractions. It’s an absolute game changer for any household wanting entertainment while maintaining an effective budget. We both have a main meal and a drink each.
Our shopping this week is simple without expensive items like coffee, wine and meat. It’s mostly fresh ingredients and a few kitchen cleaning aids. We hardly have any items from the aisles within the store as we also aim to eat mostly fresh, whole and unprocessed foods during the week.
We walk past the Cinnabon on our way out of Canal Walk, and I give into temptation by getting us 6 mini Cinnabon bites to share. Because when sharing, calories don’t count right?!
|Lunch at Greens Restaurant||R270|
|Pick n Pay weekly Groceries shop||R776|
|Total Spend for the day||R1 085|
Total Spend for the Week
To share your money diary email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Money Diary