The results were rather surprising. To start, my methodology was to sum up all my credit card expenses (as its my primary form of payment) over the past 9 month since living by myself by categories, then average the total.
Compared to an random estimate from the beginning of the year, I spent less on food (both groceries and eating out) but more on clothing, entertainment, and personal care items (like those skincare hauls...). Especially personal care, since it's easy to forget a lot of the expenses in this category, such as laundry detergent, toothpaste, etc. Also it's expensive setting up a new place "orz The good news is that, even with a safety factor, I can afford my current lifestyle on close to minimum wage!
I'm proud that I've reduced the quantity of my clothing acquisition, which consist of the following over the entire year:
- Uniqlo: back up cardigan, heattech leggings, something else I'm forgetting
- Jcrew: purple cords, not the greatest buy but still useful since its winter half the year
- Gloves (gift)
- Baggu small pouch
- LOFT: black dress pants, grey tank top, linen tee, skirt
- Sam Edelman Trina sandals
- Talula black blazer
- Printed scarf (gift)
- MEC rain jacket
- Everlane cardcase, sleeveless silk blouse
- Black ankle boots
- Thrifted cardigan
- Talula dress and gloves
Food-wise, I'm satisfied with how often I cook. Not eating out frequently makes an incredible difference in spendings. An addition benefit of cooking is a great destressor / break from studying. The following strategies has worked well for me:
- roast meat (1, 2), seriously. cheap, very little active cooking time, last a long time.
- noodles / pasta for when you can't be bothered.
- Metro has really good deals on meat sometimes. One time chicken breasts were $2.99/lb. Also buy the value packs, meat last a long time in the freezer.
- Farmers markets are not as expensive as I thought (or maybe it's more true that grocery stores has both expensive and crappy produce), especially for fruits in season. There is also a huuuge gap in how much better they taste (N=2, fruits and honey).
- Snacks are a giant money sink.
- Coffee / bubble tea are a even greater money sink. I vow to never buy them again, aside from social situations. But really all the money I saved from this plus not drinking goes straight into funding my tea purchases.
- Living downtown places you in proximity of way too many great restaurants. I've limited myself to only eating out for social situations and never because I don't have food.