Budget Goals life

2023 Musings: Spending Habits

December 29, 2022

I am still deep into goal setting / reflection mode.

2 random things I want to work on this year:

1- Spending $ more intentionally.

I want to buy things with more thought / care than in the past. Instead of sort of just spending my allowance (yes – Josh and I give ourselves allowances via YNAB – money to spend entirely on ourselves, zero judgment allowed) on the fly, I actually want to think about priorities for this fund over the course of the year. I started by mapping out my first ~6m which was fun but also made me realize why I tend to overspend. (#overbuyer here)

One pricey thing I want to include this year is a running coach starting around March. I also want to enjoy semi-regular (monthly, if possible) massages and mani/pedis.

AND, all that said, every once in a while I need want to update my wardrobe a bit. And keep up with my favorite skincare products (though I am currently on a campaign to first use up everything I have!). I cannot have everything so it makes sense to be thoughtful and make sure I use what I do have.

I spend more on experiences/services than things — both personally and as a family — and that’s ok. In fact, I greatly prefer it that way! But it does mean I need to make the physical objects I own last or make do with a more limited wardrobe. There are some physical things on my list though . . .

January –> Nike Alphafly (got the OG on sale for <$200) + lingerie drawer refresh (it’s been way too long)

Nike had a 20% code so I went for it.

February –> some kind of going out dress/outfit + new On Clouds (for work – I wear them with scrubs and this has become my call + Friday uniform)

March –> work outfits (pants, 1-2 tops)

April –> summer T shirt refresh, running outfit

May –> sandals + shorts

June –> pajamas/loungewear

(Not on list: any new tech. My laptop still works and I have a functional iPhone 12 mini, AirPods, and an Apple Watch already. I am hoping all of the above will last ideally until 2025! I *will* order the occasional stationery to test out/review for BLP but I consider that a separate category! Books I will primarily use the library through I will pay for nonfiction that I want to take notes in.)

(PS: I recognize spending is all relative. I know my list seems outlandish to some, and minimalist to others. I read some blogs where the family budget is clearly >4x ours, and others where it is 1/4 or less. I honestly find both interesting/useful to read about. I also think it’s an odd dichotomy where influencers are constantly selling, yet no one really talks about how spending a little here + there truly adds up or what is attainable or realistic in any given context.)

2- Grocery rhythms

I previously was trying to generally do one big trip or delivery per week. But I actually think 2x/week might make more sense and actually *reduce* waste, because things are more likely to stay fresh and I can make the Friday trip about what we actually need to fill in gaps over the weekend. AND a monthly trip to Costco and/or Trader Joe’s is a good idea. I don’t need to go to those places all the time, but they are really helpful for certain staples.

One of my kids has also declared themselves pescatarian so this may change a bit about our shopping / meal planning habits. I do not want to go all the way in that direction myself but I’m fine with incorporating more vegetarian or fish/seafood-centered meals.

I still want to generally plan the week out in advance (often using PrepDish or one of my favorite cookbooks) but won’t attempt to get everything at once for the whole week. We will see how it goes!


  • Reply Suzanne December 29, 2022 at 12:55 pm

    I love these goals. I tend to be an of-the-moment spender too, but planning ahead for expenses is smart. Your thoughts about grocery shopping have me thinking. I wonder if two times a week would be better here, too. I do think it would eliminate food waste, which would be great. But then I would also have to go to the store twice which I haaaaate. Decisions, decisions!

  • Reply CBS December 29, 2022 at 1:17 pm

    Ooh those are cool shoes! I tend to avoid spending money until it’s desperate or I’m down to one raggedy pair of sneakers. I’m alright on work clothes after a 2021 spree (ordered 6 dresses and called it a day) but the casual clothes situation is pretty dire. I need a pair of jeans, and a few pair of leggings but I cycle a lot and tend to wear holes where I rest my shin, so I go cheap and cheerful for leggings.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 29, 2022 at 1:26 pm

      in theory, they help you run a bit faster and some say may help with some injury prevention. I’ve been dying to try them!

  • Reply Brooke December 29, 2022 at 1:32 pm

    I always have to remind myself that influencers often get their product for free – it’s advertising!

    I also want to be more intentional with my personal money. I can’t go to Go Wild in March because I don’t have enough saved up (well, and I balked at the cost for a weekend for myself, but I’m definitely having FOMO esp since my fav planner (besides you!) will be speaking). Trying to save up so I can do the in person planning session you were hinting at 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 29, 2022 at 2:30 pm

      If it makes you feel better, I’m not going to Go Wild either. Someday maybe I will!
      Hoping for a live BLPA retreat late fall 2023. Dates/locations TBD as I am still working on attaining a contract with a planner to help bring this into fruition! If anyone who does event planning for small retreats is reading this – please let me know!

  • Reply omdg December 29, 2022 at 2:11 pm

    The price of Theory pants came down from $300+ to $215 this week so I bought a pair in black. I (ahem) have outgrown my old pants and currently only have one pair that fits. I am not sure fitting into my old pants again is a reasonable or even plausibly achievable goal, so… I bought another pair in my “new” size. I also bought some new winter work clothes (3 Uniqlo dresses and a skirt), a new Patagonia fleece, and some new Sorel boots this Fall. I hadn’t bought new work clothes in like FOREVER. It was time, even though I hate spending the $$.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 29, 2022 at 2:22 pm

      side note: Uniqlo is awesome. I should always remember to check them first for certain things!

  • Reply Sherri December 29, 2022 at 3:45 pm

    Ha! I first read ~6m to mean ~6million and really did think you had a serious spending problem 😂

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 29, 2022 at 4:17 pm

      Hahahahahhaha 6 million would buy a lot of alphaflys 🤣

      • Reply Chelsea December 29, 2022 at 8:15 pm

        I think it would be really cute to do a post about what you would do if your allowance was $1 million per month. I feel like you’d get a List of 100 Dreams vibe going on at some point after you made it through all the obvious stuff.

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 30, 2022 at 5:57 am

          Or even $10K/month!!!

  • Reply AM December 29, 2022 at 4:58 pm

    I’m looking for a running coach too (Chicago marathon 10/8!) . Let me know if you have any hints on the search. Thanks

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 30, 2022 at 5:59 am

      Anna – I’m going with this company at Chelsea’s rec!

      • Reply Kate W. December 30, 2022 at 3:56 pm

        Those coaches are awesome and would be my go-to! Many of my running friends here in central Ohio have had great success with them, through thick and thin!

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 30, 2022 at 4:06 pm

          that is so awesome to hear. I am going to start after my half (which will be a ‘fitness gauge / starting point’ of sorts. I can’t wait!

  • Reply Katie December 29, 2022 at 7:11 pm

    I’ve debated the 2x/week grocery thing too! Feels less overwhelming and I feel like there are certain things that always spoil.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns December 29, 2022 at 7:42 pm

    I love hearing about people’s spending habits. I wish people were more open about it. But I know that is hard to do. I only share %s when I share my annual spending recap post but tend to get pretty thoughtful comments.

    We are definitely under-buyers in general. And for groceries we’ve always had more of a just in time inventory system, which was awful during the early stages of the pandemic since we didn’t have much in our pantry! It’s fine when supply chains are working well, but has its downsides!

    I am debating getting an Apple Watch in 2023. I’ve always had a Fitbit which is fine but I love apple products so I am sure I would love it. I am a slow adopter of tech, though!

    We also prefer to spend money on experiences, too, and love that our kids have received memberships to the zoo and children’s museum. And we prioritize travel although have decided not to take a family trip to FL this spring. We fear the 2yo would be very challenging on the flight since he has zero interest in screens. So instead the 4.5yo and I are going to visit my sister and niece in Tucson and then I am hoping to meet a friend in the Calgary area for some hiking! That will be my first girls trip since having kids!!

    • Reply Kat December 29, 2022 at 8:36 pm

      If you’re interested, check out https://www.reddit.com/r/MoneyDiariesACTIVE/ – a week of spending and finances from all kinds of women

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 30, 2022 at 5:56 am

      Totally reasonable decision NOT to spend out on travel when you know the kids’ ages would make it . . unfun! Your Tucson and Calgary plans sound lovely. Also hoping for a girls trip this year! And I will look forward to your $ recap 🙂

  • Reply N December 29, 2022 at 7:51 pm

    I get a monthly massage done at my house and it is self care at its finest! It helps me physically and it’s also a great planned mental break.

    • Reply Marcia @ OrganisingQueen January 16, 2023 at 9:12 am

      I have an industry colleague who schedules a weekly massage therapist to come to her house and give all 4 of them massages. This is so decadent and so good all at the same time. #spendinggoals

  • Reply Elisabeth December 29, 2022 at 8:53 pm

    I love posts like this. I find the whole topic of money management fascinating.
    We don’t formally budget, but DO track all our expenditures and are very much under-buyers in almost all categories. I have a hard time spending money even when I need items!

    We also tend to prioritize experiences over stuff.

    One of the big distinguishing characteristics about my/my husbands spending habits – over many of our peers (I think?) – is how much we source second-hand. Many of our electronics, 90% of our clothes/footwear, every single vehicle ever. I grew up with very little money and a lot of the money-saving tendencies my parents were forced to adopt, I’ve willingly kept as a part of my own financial strategy.

    (All that said, I am very aware that being “frugal by choice” is a luxury. I read an article once that stated: “it’s expensive to be poor.” For example, those without a solid medical/dental plan, end up spending more than those who could afford to pay for it all out of pocket. Those who can’t afford a reliable car, end up spending a lot of unexpected money on repairs, etc.. So I am frugal by *choice* and recognize the enormous privilege that represents).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 30, 2022 at 5:58 am

      My sister is queen of secondhand! Thrift shops, resale markets, facebook marketplace and beyond. She is truly skilled at finding amazing things and giving them a second life for a fraction of the original cost.

  • Reply Coco December 29, 2022 at 10:29 pm

    I feel torn between spending quality products that would last for a long time and won’t go out of fashion vs having more varieties of clothing. Overall I don’t spend much on clothing except for workout clothes that tend to be used a lot and need to be replaced from time to time. Skincare I’m minimal as I realize the less the better for my skin. When I was not allowed to put anything on my face for 2 weeks after my eye surgery my face was the cleanest. Travel is definitely the place I spend the most and feel zero regret about it. And finally groceries is something I also feel good to spend about, more real good, less packaged food would be my pal in 2023. And definitely getting my personal running coach for my next marathon, Chicago. 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 30, 2022 at 5:59 am

      Wow – literally nothing on your face as a skincare tip – I guess that is the ultimate in frugality!!!

      • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns December 30, 2022 at 9:14 am

        I’ve had the same experience with not wearing make up! I did not wear make up during the pandemic and my skin never looked better! Prior to that, I had horrible acne at times. I used really clean beauty products and my foundation was a very light weight tinted moisturizer – and it still caused blemishes when I started to use it again when I returned to the office last March. So now I just wear eye make up. Although my under eye circle are absolutely horrible so I need to figure something out so I don’t look tired!! I am sure I would benefit from more oils and creams and retinol, etc but it overwhelms me. So I just use a charcoal bar to wash my face in the shower and then some beauty counter products at night for acne prone skin. And I of course always wear sunscreen !!

  • Reply Lou January 3, 2023 at 7:19 am

    Interested to know if you love your Apple Watch, Sarah… I have an iPhone 12 mini too and really like the ‘pocketability’ of it, and also it’s too small to scroll on really so makes me consciously get the laptop out, which then is a cognitive ‘do I really want to do this scrolling?’ moment. I had a friend’s iPhone SE briefly but it felt a bit like ‘another thing’ – I loved the idea of the watch for my sports, and podcasts, and to replace the phone a bit. But the battery life was terrible and it barely lasted the day… what’s your experience been?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 3, 2023 at 8:21 am

      I actually really do love it. I love the workout app, the metrics, and certain little things I can do without opening my phone (even activating Duo the security app at work is super helpful). i have the Series 7. No issues with battery (oddly the device that has battery issues IS my iPhone 12 mini!)

      • Reply Lou Mitchell January 4, 2023 at 1:44 pm

        Thanks! Food for thought… might start saving up (and will probably go for a refurbished 7). Ah, battery life… my work laptop is the worst, it’s sometimes 10 hours and sometimes 2. Just gone over to EPIC for work here in my corner of the UK and I could really do with reliable / predictable behaviour!!

  • Reply Audrey January 3, 2023 at 8:19 am

    Interesting blog especially since we are trying to limit monthly purchases to only groceries, restaurants and gasoline purchases this month. I am already making a list of purchases for February 1. I am curious to see how I feel about that list on February 1. Will I still need or want the item? I do not have an apple watch but plan to purchase one in August after I finish a 52 wellness program. I do like rewarding myself after big events. ie completing a marathon, my fitness challenge etc. I also buy groceries 2 x week mostly because of produce. When shopping weekly, we either over bought produce or under bought. I buy all of my groceries weekly and do a second trip to buy extra produce and a few extra items. . I do make a weekly menu. I have also planned and budgeted for a quarterly deep clean of my car!

  • Reply Irena January 3, 2023 at 4:43 pm

    This is an interesting idea of creating monthly lists for shopping! I usually do most of our wardrobe shopping about twice a year because I use capsule wardrobe and don’t care much about shopping, and also because:
    1) I can time my shopping around the biggest sales, for example, buy all summer items for myself and kids around July 4th sale, and the winter items around Christmas time; 2) if you buy many items from the same store (Tahari, for example for business casual), they will give you a larger discount. So, if i am doing it, i will get a dress, a pair of pants, suit, tops, etc. all from one store.
    This strategy also gives me enough time (about a year) to shop second-hand websites (i use ThredUP), so then i can say to myself: I really tried for about a year to buy a nice Cashmere cardigan in my size from Thredup, but i could not find it, so i will get a new one.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 4, 2023 at 5:18 am

      oh very interesting!

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