General Question

FLUTH3R's avatar

Help. Am I spending too much?

Asked by FLUTH3R (24points) May 29th, 2009

God damn I feel as if I do everything in my power to keep spending to a minimum (I buy value brand everything), but I still feel as if I am spending too much. I went over my balance over the last pay period and here is what I found.

$135.50 = dumb shit
“Dumb shit” is a category that includes things that you just have to do. Included in this are things like soap, my haircut, Mederma (I recently got a scar), going out, and fast food.

$90 = Doctor
$54 = phone
$52 = gas
$55 = weed
Ok some of you may say eliminate the weed, but to me weed is simply a social activity. This displaces money that would be spent in a bar, the movies, or some other place that non-smokers go to.

$300 – My truck that broke down

I don’t see how I can curb my spending anymore. I seem to get these big ticket items once a month or two. This month it was my truck, last month it was taxes, soon it will be insurance. These are things I feel I have to pay.

My phone. I have the cheapest thing you could get, a MetroPCS.

The weed, I buy the cheapest shit I can find and try to make as much of the money back as I can while enjoying it (if you know what I mean)

The doctor, well I have to pay that too. There is no other way about it. I hope to be able to cut this cost soon though.

The “dumb shit.” Well I feel I have to spend this too. These are just everyday happenings like “lets go to wendys.” or “lets go to the bar” (where I spend >15) Some of this “dumb shit” is legitimate. I had to get the Mederma, the protein powder, the milk, some food, and the haircut. I know I could cut this a little more. I would say 40% of it is “needed” and the other 60% is social.

I see a lot of people who are spending way more than me and I don’t understand how they can possibly do it. I am in college and make $9hr at about 30 hrs a week.

Am I budgeting wrong, or am I just not making enough money (life does cost money). My goal is to have a DECENT social life while still having my savings grow. Is my spending normal, low, or high compared to others?

This is a two week pay period btw

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57 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

This is a trick question, right? Anybody who spends that much money on drugs and complains about being poor just can’t be for real.

FLUTH3R's avatar

@YARNLADY. Are you joking? >$30 a week is NOT a lot for weed. People pay $30 for a half-eigth of good stuff (which is typically one or two blunts [smoke sessions). I make that last me an entire WEEK.

I am a college student. There are people who spend $50 a DAY on the shit on the regular. That is insane.

What should I do? Be a hermit lol.

This isin’t a bash pot thread, this is a thread about my budget. If it makes you feel better replace “weed” with “Rent movies, go to the movies, go fishing, and go to the bar.” This “weed” simply replaces those activitys which the money would be spent on anyway. Oppurtunity cost.

basp's avatar

Cut out the “let’s go to Wendy’s” and the “let’s go to the bar” and you will save money for more important things.

3or4monsters's avatar

When you are spending more than you earn, you HAVE GOT to make those sacrifices once and a while and stick to them. Absolute financial lock down. No eating out… no fast food, no expensive groceries, not until you make it through a tough patch. No more drugs. No drinking. No socializing. No hobbies that cost money. Nada. This is temporary. You will never build up the nest egg to make your way through those unexpected financial burdens unless you go through times of lockdown once and a while.

Believe me, I am there right now. I gave up weed, I don’t drink (except for what friends offer to buy for me). Every penny is going towards bills, and I have been trading back rubs for things I need (I used to be a massage therapist).

Sounds like you don’t want to make that sacrifice, though.

It IS temporary!

hug_of_war's avatar

Simply put, you want to have your cake and eat it too

Likeradar's avatar

Here’s the thing about kids who spend more money on weed than you do. They can afford it. You apparently can’t. Either you spend less on weed, or quit your complaining about money.

FLUTH3R's avatar


I feel you. So I guess I just stop going out all together. God damn I am lucky I don’t have a gf, I could never afford one right now lol.

Maybe for the weed I have got to FORCE myself to sell half the product and break even.

The wendys I have to stop.

Absolute financial lockdown.

What do I do about the other things like haircut, soap, gas, etc. These are things I feel you kind of need.

@Everyone else.

Is this really a lot of spending? I just don’t understand how I can see everyone else going out a LOT more than me, smoking a LOT more than me, and STILL be in good financial shape. They are having their cake and eating it too aren’t they???

jrpowell's avatar

You are in college. I wouldn’t worry about saving. Save when you get a better paying job. But it is nice to see that you are concerned about it.

When I was in college I was poor as hell too. But I still went out.

edit :: grammar.

YARNLADY's avatar

@FLUTH3R Unless you edited it, I see $55 for ‘weed’, not $30, and as a non-user, it seems like nonsense to me. P.S. I’ve been to a hairdresser once in the past 15 years. Otherwise, I cut my hair myself.

rhector63's avatar

shop at walmart for your esentials itll save you money

cyn's avatar

just don’t get a haircut!

Myndecho's avatar

Is this in a week?
I normally spend 0 every week, I just don’t need to spend anything, I go out and drink for free, get to places for free, get free things.
If I can do it you can, apart from a few of these things.

crisw's avatar

You haven’t exactly revealed your entire budget, so it’s difficult to help. Sounds like you’re bringing in about $270 a week before taxes. What’s your take home pay? Rent? Tuition? Is that $135.50 for “dumb shit” per month? Week?

More info will help us hep you.

cak's avatar

I’m sitting here laughing because of your “things you have to do” (Wendy’s) Ok, so when I was in college, I didn’t do weed, I did drink, some – but really cheap and only when I could afford it. I hung out w/ friends, we played cards or had really cheap parties and had a great time. I rarely ate out, I just couldn’t afford it…Ramen was my friend. I hate the stuff now.

If you are serious, you will cut down on some of the spending, and yes, weed is an extra, there is no way to justify it as a necessity. Carpool, if necessary, walk to more places.

Mederma – where is the scar? Is it that bad? Are you a guy – some scars work on guys! The doc – don’t you have health services at school – do they have a sliding scale fee.

I’m just cracking up that you have $55 in weed and can’t see that there is a huge cost that can be cut, right there.

Oh, just because a few of us are pointing out that it can be cut, isn’t bashing weed. I don’t really care. I just don’t want to hear someone bitch about being poor when they can spend $55 in weed. Poor is when I had to ration 1 piece of ham, an apple and 3 pieces of bread, between my daughter and I for several days. She ate, I didn’t. That’s poor.

Stop spending on the extras, save a bit then plan on what you want to spend money on. Welcome to life.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

If you need to get your expenses under control, and need to start saving, you have two choices: Cut non-essential spending like socialization, or get a second job. Weed, wendy’s, beer, movies, cable tv, etc. are “nice to have” expenses. Transportation, means of communication, roof over head, basic groceries, medical expenses are need to have items.

FLUTH3R's avatar

@Yarnlady. Read this is a two week pay period. That averages to >$27.50 per week. This is also assuming “worst case scenario” in which I buy the low-grade marijuana at standard market price and consume ALL of it (I buy in bulk to cut cost, economies of large scale production…). I am typically able to recoup some of the cost but $5—$10 here and there usually ends up being re-allocated to the “dumb shit” category. I must stop this though.

I just feel this hobby is cheaper than most hobbies (what other hobbysocial activity averages >$30 per week).

This topic is not about how drugs are bad or selling drugs or anything like that. Lets stay on the topic.

Are you implying that to save money I must have NO social life at all?? I am in college, I feel I should atleast be able to do some things. I AM concerned about my money. I try to limit going out as best as I can. I really hope that money-concious people are not doomed to sit in the house all day

EDIT EDIT: In response to others.

Hmm that is true. Food wise I will try a complete financial lock down. I will limit myself to $25/wk in food. No wendys at all.

The weed stays at $55 per two weeks, but I will try to recoup all of that. (Even in imperfect conditions, with current market rates I should be able to double (or break even if half is smoked)). I actually just made $20 of it back right now. The problem is this money will most likely go to the dumb shit category. I must FORCE myself to redeposit the money.

The mederma well it was one time. I got a nasty scar on my face. It was bad to the point where it should have been stiched. My cost cutting efforts made me not want to pay the co-pay for the doctor.

The $90 doctor prob be cut to $45. I do have medical insurance (which I generously thank my parents for), but the copays eat me.

The truck, well I do all my own work which cuts cost in itself, but parts were $300. I have to do it. My car is stalling out, it is not just a cosmetic issue.

I guess I just HAVE to cut cost even more.

YARNLADY's avatar

I am one of the most frugal people I know, I do not smoke anything, I buy all my clothes at thrift shops on store close outs, I use coupons, or buy generic food, which ever is cheapest, except what I can grow.

When I was a student, paid for by me (also very frugal) parents, I took a job to pay for some incidental, like chipping in for the pizza and such, but my social life has never suffered for any of this.

If you require drugs to have a social life, I can be of no assistance to you.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

You budget your social life, and don’t go over it. Do free stuff.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

And if you’re driving your friends around, stop it.

cak's avatar

@FLUTH3R – Have you looked for cheap social options? Being broke doesn’t equal a boring life. I promise you, it doesn’t. You just have to be a bit more creative.

Jeruba's avatar

@FLUTH3R, a single two-week pay period is too small a sample. Do you pay $54 for your phone every two weeks?—meaning >$108 per month? Same question about doctor, gas, etc.

If you are in college and are working 30 hours a week, you are definitely putting in a good effort, and for that you’re entitled to have a little fun with what you earn. I assume that your basic living expenses and tuition are covered?—by parents?

It would be easier to look for ways of cutting and to see the overall picture if you could put your expenses (and your net pay) on a monthly basis and choose a pretty typical month. Then maybe we could make some useful comparisons.

dynamicduo's avatar

You’re not budgeting it wrong, you’re just simply sustaining a lifestyle which leaves you with no spending money.

I’m not lecturing you on spending on drugs cause I know I spend way too much money on weed too (more than you do). I’m trying to cut back a bit to increase my savings. I own a car as well, I include car insurance of $120 a month in addition to my gas costs.

Yes, pretty much if you don’t make a lot of money, you don’t have a lot of choices where to save it. Instead of spending money out, try having a potluck and BYOB house party, that keeps the costs down. Or stop going out for takeout food so often. I have a haircut once a year although I’ll bump that up to half yearly, once a month is an expense I don’t want to have. I also have a phone contract that costs me $25 every two months, a much better deal than your plan is (Canadian funds of course). Then again, my doctor costs are negligible thanks to our health care system and my high level of health.

Oh, your friends who are spending down mad money? They’re also racking up huge amounts of debt. I hate debt. I hate it so much. It’s like shackles on my freedom. Thus I highly value not being in debt, as such I am fine with not going out drinking at a bar (all throughout my 4 years in university I went out drinking with friends maybe 5 times, the rest were house parties).

All it is is a game of numbers. Keep track of those numbers and you will guaranteed save money.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@FLUTH3R, I have a suggestion that I hope you will find helpful. I suggest trying to utilize and follow a program like Dave Ramsey’s Envelope Budgeting for a month, and see how you do. Create an entertainment budget and lump eating out and weed money together, and when that’s gone, you’re done. His financial planning advice is excellent.

Myndecho's avatar

I have been looking at this website today it should help

Supacase's avatar

There are a lot of free hobbies. People have also been known to just hang out with their friends for the company; drinking and/or drugs don’t have to be part of it.

You only have to really scrimp and save until you get your head back above water. You should be fine after that. Doctors and Mederma aren’t monthly expenses. Wendy’s, weed and haircuts can be cut for a few weeks without significant damage to your social life.

FLUTH3R's avatar

Edited my most recent post!!

@Jeruba. The phone is $54 every month, but I paid it this pay period. Doctor is $90 per two weeks. School is covered by my scholarship. My rent is covered by my parents and I thank god for that.

I do not like to ask my parents for money. The only thing I want them (well not even them, it was my grandparents money) to pay is the rent. Everything else I want to pay myself.

What hurts me the most I feel is these “random taxes”
Things like the truck
Mothers day (you HAVE to buy a gift)
Paying my $300 income tax
Paying $200 to a guy I hit in the parking lot a few months ago (lucky I paid him cash. In increase in insurance premiums would hurt me more in the long run)

I feel you about the small sample.

I have worn a fade all my life, ever since I was a little-un. My hair gets cut now every 1.5–2months. Realistically it should be cut every month. My hair grows extermly fast and looks VERY bad….. Sacrifices though.

JW, do most college students even have a positive bank account? Most of the ones that I know have a negative credit card debt. Credit is evil to me, I do not use it

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@FLUTH3R, you have to look at your budget for a whole month. You really need to figure this out now, because if you don’t, having more money after you graduate is just going to mean you will be living beyond your means on a bigger scale. The random stuff is not really random. It’s unplanned because you let impulsive stuff get in the way. You budget for income tax payments, you create an emergency fund to cover surprises. A mother’s day present when you have no money isn’t needed. Spending the day hanging out with your mom is just as nice; doing something she wants you to do counts as a gift.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

So let’s look at your income and expenses based upon a month- two pay periods. Not what you spent this month, but what’s consistent. Start with this FOR A MONTH:

Car Insurance:
Medical: (Do you go to the doctor on a regular basis?)

Lupin's avatar

Welcome to life. Car accidents, insurance, breakdowns, windows leaking, foods, house payments, kids, illness, food…

I give you credit for figuring this out early in life. So many of your peers are spending themselves into holes from which they will never recover. Stay away from the credit cards. They will suck you dry.

chyna's avatar

Can you trade others for things you need? For example, do you know of a hair dresser or a person going to school that can cut your hair for free in exchange for you changing their oil in their car? There’s lot’s of bartering you can do if you put your mind to it.

FLUTH3R's avatar

Income: ~30hrs * $9 per hr * 4 – ~20% taxes = ~$780
Car Insurance: $110 (deffered for two more months though).
Phone: $54
Medical: Usually none, but recently $45 * 4 (this normally would be allocated to the bank). Will cut to $45*2 against medical advice.
Gas: $40 per week (work far away).

Remaining $276. This assumes PERFECT conditions in which I do not go out at all, do not eat at all, have no accidents or fuck ups, and pay no additional taxes to life. I do not have much to work with

@chyna. I do try to do odd jobs for people as much as I can. Run “stuff” to others for a profit, fix cars, sell other peoples stuff online for a cut. As for the cars most of these rich kids like to get taxed by the “professionals.”

A lot of this “cash money” never gets redeposited. That is one problem I have. I feel like a loser going to the bank to deposit a measley $20 lol.

Ivan's avatar

Why do you have to blow $55 on drugs to have a social life? Can’t you just go hang with your friends?

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Okay, you have $780 coming in
$110 a month car insurance, leaves $670. Phone @$54 leaves $616. Gas $160 leaves $456. Medical estimated $90 leaves $366.
Bank $200 for emergencies, which leaves you $166 a month, or $40 a week for eating out and socialization. If you spend $25 on food, then you have $15 a week for other stuff.

I’d have to say you need to give up the weed.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Emergencies = pay taxes, car repairs, hitting the guy, a ticket.

Jeruba's avatar

@FLUTH3R, I think the trick you’re missing right now is anticipating expenses and setting aside funds for those. That has the effect of spreading them out over a period of time. There are several good systems for this; the envelopes method is one. But the point is not just to pay your current bills and then spend what you have left but to know what your expenses are going to be and then plan for them.

You can add a category called “contingencies,” and that’s where you stick, say, $50 per paycheck for unexpected things like having the truck break down. The truck’s breaking down was unexpected, but the fact that something will come up is not.

You are being very responsible to take care of your own insurance, doctor bills, etc., and not go to your parents with your hand out every time something comes up. Now you just need to work on anticipating and planning using the information you have so you won’t keep getting caught short. You can work it out so you still have some play money. There may still have to be some tough choices (should you be driving a smaller car? should you look for a job closer by? should you rent a video instead of going to the movies?), but you will be more in control.

tinyfaery's avatar

Ur in college. Unless you can’t pay for the necessities spend whatever on whatever. I’m not that frugal and I don’t make that much money, but I have enough to live and have fun, and save.

Be young. Have fun. You have plenty of time to worry about money. Hell, the world as we know it might not exist in 10 years.

I have never understood planning for a future that might never come.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

You might want to check with your parents to see if they have an FSA or HSA account. If they do, since you’re a dependent, they might be willing to reimburse you the copays from the FSA or HSA.

FLUTH3R's avatar

@PandoraBoxx The original estimation using medical at 90*4 left me 276. $166 per month is enough to eatsocialize, but not $76 a month lol.

I guess I have to cut out the doctor to bring it back to $166 according to your plan. Doctor = cut.

The weed will NOT go, but I will manage to smoke for free using the method I posted earlier.

Good budget Pandora. Thanks.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Didn’t you say that you usually don’t go to the doctor on a regular basis? or do you get allergy shots every week?

FLUTH3R's avatar

@PandoraBoxx Normally don’t but something came up and I have to go for a few months. This is temporary.

I have a positive bank account, but just a diminishing one. This doctor is what is hurting me. All that money used to be straight bank money. All these “taxes” are not paid with credit. Luckly I built up my bank account earlier so that I could pay the truck, the income tax, and the guy who I hit in the parking lot. I am just worried about my bank account dimishing as I am down to $200 + ~$450(just a guess) payday today! + $190 in car parts I need to exchange.

I seem to always make it over a grand and then lose it to life taxes. Assuming perfect conditons I would be far far away from outspending myself (No doctors + no accidents and such).

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t see food in your budget.

$20 is not a trivial amount to save. I used to have a special place where I stashed an extra $20 every chance I got. In fact, I would make it a point to take $20 off the top when I got paid. This was a one-way stash: money went in, but then I treated it like it wasn’t there and NEVER spent it. One day I looked, and I had $2200 in there. Enough to handle a medium-sized emergency.

In fact I was able on short notice to lend $400 to a friend who was in trouble (and who DID pay it back quickly).

Don’t keep it in your pocket. Rate of evaporation from pockets is pretty high. Keep it in an air-tight container and don’t look at it.

tinyfaery's avatar

Health insurance is a must. Should end up saving you $ in the long run.

YARNLADY's avatar

@tinyfaery Health insurance is a must? which tinyfaery is that? Didn’t you just say; “I have never understood planning for a future that might never come”.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@FLUTH3R, that’s why I used the 45×2 figure. When you do a budget, you’re figuring out your monthly average, and you allocate for that. If you plan on 2 doctor’s visits a month, or 24 visits a year, and say you have 4 months of 4 visits, 2 months of 2 visits, and 6 months of no visits, then you’ve gone 18 times, but have allocated money for 24, meaning you have the money for the unused 6 visits that can go into your emergency fund.

crisw's avatar

Um…if the choice is health insurance or weed, take the health insurance.

tinyfaery's avatar

Getting sick is 100% going to happen. No if’s, and’s or but’s about that.

YARNLADY's avatar

@tinyfaery ok, I’ll buy that.

Lupin's avatar

Make sure you’re still getting your school work done. You want to get grades good enough to get a decent job so you don’t have to live like a student for the rest of your life.

skfinkel's avatar

Two things I would cut out: eating out at fast food places that do not give you the nourishment you need—rather buy lots of vegies and fruits and make your own heatlhy food for cheaper.

And, like those above, I would cut out the weed. Certainly dramatically reduce the amount you smoke. And when you do, you might find that you have more energy for lots of things, including being creative about your social life, your school work, your world.

Supacase's avatar

So… you’re willing to give up a month’s worth of medical care but not a month’s worth of weed?

basp's avatar

Giving up the little extras when you can’t afford it is just a part of life.
We hardly ever eat out, maybe once in six months, but that doesn’t mean we lack a social life. We just do things we can afford.

elijah's avatar

I assume you don’t go to a salon for a haircut, probably a chain like supercuts or something. What’s that cost like $8? With tip say $10. That’s $10 on a six minute haircut. You can buy clippers for $30 and cut your own hair. You can even charge your buddies $5 for a buzz and there’s a profit. It takes no skill as long as you use a guard. I would suggest growing it out but then you would have to spend money on hair products.

Darwin's avatar

If you have to go to a fast food joint in order to hang out with your friends, then either order nothing but a glass of water (price: $0) or stick to the dollar menu.

And when I was in college you could hang out for free in the Student Union, swim or work out at the school gym for free, play pool for free at the Catholic student Union, get free fried chicken on Wednesday nights at the Baptist Student Center, get free bagel and lox at Hillel House on Sunday mornings and get free fancy appetizers at openings at the campus art museum. Plus there were free jazz concerts in the music school auditorium, almost free plays at the Drama Department, and free rock concerts at the student union about once a month or so. You have to learn to look for free stuff.

And I, too, suggest giving up the weed as an unnecessary expense.

YARNLADY's avatar

I wonder if you can’t get your health care at the college, and save on the doctor expense? When my son was in college, it was included in the student fees.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@YARNLADY, it doesn’t work like that any more. At most schools you have to pay for your student health coverage. There might not be a copay, depending on the school, but the plan is usually about $700 a year.

basp's avatar

$700 a year for health insurance! That’s a bargin!

hug_of_war's avatar

My school requires health insurance, so you either have to pay extra for their plan or already be covered under a parent’s (or spouse’s) plan

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