The day of reckoning is here. I sorted through my receipts and tallied my discretionary expenditures during my month-long cash-only experiment. The tally below does not include fixed bills like rent. (New to my forward-thinking budgeting system? It takes 15 minutes to set up.)
Overall, more than a third of my discretionary spending – 35 percent – is unaccounted for because I forgot to ask for a receipt. That means a picture of my spending provided below is woefully incomplete. This is also why some of my category totals, like meals out, seem low.
A number of seemingly random items sucked up my dollars – like bike repairs and gear in preparation for a triathlon May 1. I say seemingly random because unusual expenses like these pop up every month without fail. This is the main reason I created a forward-thinking budgeting system.
My totals for each spending category include tax.
Meals out, including coffee: $21.12
Drugstore items: $43.10
Bicycling gear and repairs: $169.38, including $100 to ship bike across the country and back
Business supplies: $15.86
Ski trip: $95
House and garden: $45.52
TOTAL accounted for spending for April: $643.77
TOTAL ATM withdrawals: $1,000
Cash left in my pocket: $11 (to last me until Saturday)
Total unaccounted spending: $345.23
Total rebates and gift cards earned: $29.69
Percent of spending unaccounted for: 35 percent!
My month-long cash-only experiment has taught me a lot about money. I dipped into savings only once, and that was to cover a $533 emergency mattress purchase. I’m telling you it really was an emergency! Grocery shopping takes longer because, with a finite supply of cash in my pocket, I add up the cost of each item I put into my cart so that I have enough money at check out.