This year, I embarked on an experiment, borrowing a page from frugal livers' books: record every penny you spend.
I planned to work less when I turned 60, and entering this transition, had only a hazy sense of exactly where my money went. I wanted to be more aware of what I consumed, especially for discretionary purchases, like clothes and accessories.
This year, I recorded the date, item, original price, and actual price for every personal expense, an illuminating activity.
My biggest expense so far: several thousand dollars to restyle a ring I had not worn for years. Absolutely worth it- I'm enjoying what sat in a box.
One of the smallest purchases: a vivid Indian cotton skirt picked up for $50 in a Buffalo boutique, bought because I hadn't packed enough for a trip. After my vacation, I went to Toronto's Little India and found this one, printed with peacock feathers and strewn with silver sequins, on sale for $20!
At about eight months in, my observations so far:
1. I'm still a sucker for 50%-75% sales. A number of summer-sale tops went unworn. Seven Day Hypothesis: If you're not wearing an item (bought in season) within one week, it's better off left in the store.
I bought a few off-season items in the spring; if I don't wear them regularly this fall, that's another faux pas.
2. Care counts: I wrecked the most expensive garment, an Italian silk jersey skirt, when I machine-washed it on delicate (not in a bag, the fatal error) rather than dry clean or handwash, as the tag specified. Cost per wear, astronomical. Lesson, priceless.
3. Dry cleaning was a big ignored expense. I'm no longer willing to reflexively incur this expense so am more interested in clothes I can maintain myself.
4. My look/buy ratio has shifted from 1:1 to 8:1.
In past years, my brain on shopping was conditioned to, "This is when I buy something." I had to re-program it to, "I am having fun looking." If there is something that interested me, left it to the next day, the allure usually vanishes. Sometimes I can't recall what it was.
5. I still love buying gifts. Can't wait till unsuspecting (and un-blog-reading) Birthday Girl Ruth opens the sweater with big blue fox cuffs that Mireille still had for sale at Thrill of the Find!
Many months, my gift purchases were the biggest category. I don't spend for the sake of buying a lavish gift but if it's right, wrap it up!
6. I want my good-cause giving to be higher and am working on that. Several GFs and I have altered our holiday gift exchanges so I will have more to donate.
Anyone else tracking spending? Notice any shifts?