Spending Diary Week 1: Fresh Start in the New Year


I spent the few days before New Years Eve and New Years Eve in Alabama visiting my godparents. On Monday, I drove home and needed to fill up. I still have half a tank left and half of my budget left. I’m going to try walking for most of the month but it is not appealing in below zero temps.

While on the road, I used my Starbucks gold stars for a free breakfast sandwich for lunch and a giftcard my godmother gave me for christmas to get my drink for free!

When I got home I needed groceries. I spent $31 on groceries-mostly things for salads for the week plus eggs and half and half for coffee. And then I spent another $5 on a kitchen utensil set and $5 on a 20 piece tupperware set. I should be able to get by with what I have now.

Total: $64.98



Mr. Beach Life and I ran a whole bunch of errands together. I still need a whole bunch of things for the house but I am trying to seek out deals and use gift cards where possible.

First, I returned a back seat hammock for the dogs to Petsmart. I bought it before I left for my trip, but then I went next door to Bed Bath and Beyond and found one for half the price, and was able to use coupons for it, plus I had a bit of a gift card left over from buying a wedding present last fall. I also ordered a couple of litter boxes and some cat food to be picked up at the store. Both were necessities for the new house $27.25

Then we went to Sam’s Club where I had a $100 gift card from Swagbucks burning a hole in my pocket. I got:


*mouth wash

*laundry detergent

*trash bags

*kitty litter


*a rotisserie chicken

And only paid $5.05 for the overage. The toothpaste and trash bags should last me a year. The rest should last me a couple months (except the chicken, of course.) I want to get to a point where I can start buying staples in bulk with my Swagbucks gift cards, but I still need some household cleaners. Next month I plan to get toilet paper, paper towels and dishwasher tabs.

Then we went to Menards. I bought a kitchen trash can for $1.50 after using some rebates earned from 11% days.

Next up was Target for a hair dryer. I left mine in in the Airbnb space and even though I rarely use one, I needed it for the window insulation kits I forgot to buy at Menards. Total spent after $5 gift card: $8.15

And thennnn, Mr. Beach Life and I went out for dinner. And I spent all of my eating out budget for the month and then some. Womp Womp. $37.98

Total: $79.93



No spend! Hooray!

I spent the evening doing mystery shops I swore I would never do again. They had a bonus on them and required no purchase so I took them. And then I remembered why I hated them.



I had a dentist appointment in the morning and paid $20 from HSA for the flouride treatment. I’m not counting that as spending though, because of the HSA.

I spent $3.12 mailing a book at the post office.

I had a pizza delivery mystery shop that I spent $16.76 on. I’ll only be reimbursed for $12.76, though, because they only reimburse $1 for tip. I always tip $5.

Mr. Beach Life rented a car for his holiday travels to visit family and put it on my credit card (with my permission). The charge posted on Thursday-$390.94. He will write me a check for that amount before it is due. I’m not going to include it in my totals, but I am putting it out there for transparency.


Total Spending $19.88

Reimbursements: $12.76



Big fail today.

I had a mystery shop to a fast casual burger place. It’s one I have done a million times before. I was given a bonus so I invited Mr. Beach Life to dinner. He accepted. We go, we eat, I get all the info I need, everything is great. Then I go home to input the report and see that I was required to purchase a milkshake. Clearly, I didn’t read my instructions. 

Womp womp.

Luckily I was able to reschedule the shop so I could do it again. But I won’t be reimbursed for that night’s meal. Total: $18.46.

I also bought a bottle of wine for $6.41

Total: $24.87


Week 1 Total: $189.66

Week 1 Reimbursables: $12.76

No Spend Days: 1


The first week of the year went well especially considering I moved into a new place and have to replace a lot of items and food that I would normally have. Eating out is (and probably always will be) my achilles heel, but I am working on it.


I tried my best to create a reasonable budget for the month, but already there are things I haven’t considered. The dogs need haircuts pretty badly. With the rainy weather we had this morning they came back inside legs soaked. And they need a nail trimming. I’ve been giving them baths at home but they haven’t had a haircut since August, so it’s time. That’ll be close to $100 but it is what it is.


I really need a working vacuum now that I’ve put rugs down. The vacuum I have sucks everything up but then it blows it out the back of it instead of going into the container. I’m not done DIY-ing the fix yet. (I mentioned on Twitter and maybe here that the suction quit and when I took the hose apart I found one of my socks!)


I would love, love, love to get a Roomba, but those suckers are expensive! Scouring Amazon I came up with the ECOVACS DEEBOT N79 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner with Strong Suction that has good reviews and looks like a contender for a cheaper purchase. $239 is pretty reasonable, and probably what I paid for the vacuum I have the doesn’t work, but I just don’t have the money right now. I’m hoping in the next 2-3 months I can squeeze it into the budget. Does anyone have any Roomba alternative recommendations? I’d like to keep it under $300. My house has zero carpet, just area rugs I put down.


2 Responses

  1. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    I love love love that you used so many gift cards, especially to stock up on essentials for the year! I would have been tempted to spend it all on wine. 😉

    Omg I got myself a Roomba for Christmas and it was THE BEST gift I’ve ever gotten myself. Seriously. I almost got the Ecovac, but preferred the Roomba since it’s US-based and I could get parts easily. I was looking at a mopping Ecovac, but then realized the disposable pads would cost me about $30 a month for replacements. So now I just use my Roomba (I think I paid $250 for it?) and then mop once a week.

    • Jax-This post may contain affiliate links

      I’m not going to lie, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if I could find room on the gift card for wine. And I am surprised you don’t consider wine an essential! Ha!

      Only $250 for a Roomba? I am going to have to go back and read your post about it more carefully. I thought they were $600+ which is why I was looking at the Ecovac!

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