Dude, I obsessively write down every transaction. I log it in my categorized monthly budget spending and my transaction log (these are grouped together in my spreadsheet), then I check it against my online bank statement. Until I stop living paycheck to paycheck (I.e. not in the foreseeable future), I can't imagine doing it any other way. I account for EVERY penny. I started doing this with my credit cards too and it's made the biggest difference in curbing my spending. There's nowhere to hide!
My dad was supposed to die before Christmas 2004 and ended up living another five months past that. Yes-- shopping for him was nearly impossible! My mom bought him functional items like you listed-- a warmer comforter, socks. I ended up buying him a George Strait greatest hits album that was just released because it was fun and something we both enjoyed. When we cleaned out his house after he died, I found the CD, still in the clear wrapping, never opened. But I took it back to college with me and listened to it, thinking of my dad. I guess I bought it for myself.
Congratulations, Meaghan! I always looked forward to reading your posts and I loved how I could tell it was you before even checking the byline. We love you!
I quit my job and moved to a town we hated for my spouses career, then finally moved and he's commuting so I can have a job. See-- balance?! I just long for the day when we can both be employed full time in the same place at the same time.
@Theestablishment Yep! I also log my forecasted/upcoming expenses item-by-item for the month to see exactly how much spending money (or um, grocery money) I have left. Sometimes that last trip to the grocery is a little lean because my stupid cell phone bill is withdrawn on the 28th of the month. It helps to curb my spending too because it's such a pain to have to record "$1.35 - bagel" :/
My spouse is on a 9-month pay schedule as a professor but makes a good chunk of money on freelance gigs. We had a trouble renting an apartment in August because we couldn't provide a paystub dated within the past 60 days (even though he had earned a good deal of income in that time). They let us move in anyway and we just turned it the next paystub he received in October. It still seemed stupid to me.
I'd say this is a problem across the board with doctoral degrees-- administrators demand that professors fill their programs to meet quotas in enrollment (many seem to erroneous believe that bigger is better, and having a graduate program-- even if you lack the resources to develop it-- is an unquestionable necessity and sign of success). When there are thousands of universities around the country all churning out graduates year after year, regardless of the desirability of their field, you're going to eventually hit a wall.
The only hiccup here is that most artists who would really benefit from deducting those expenses probably make so little income that they're already easily maxing out their tax refund without it. (Quoth the wife of a professional musician)
I literally just came from a job interview after three years at home with my kid, and I can say that the things I miss most about structured, "legitimate" work were the things I would do to reward myself for being at work. Things like getting myself a latte on a really important day or buying a fancy handbag to carry my stuff, or even just taking the long way to walk across the office because I needed a break during the day. Americans really do identify themselves by their jobs so I'm very excited to, as you say, have a job and be answered for and have my status in society understood and unquestioned.
I biked to work for a while (I only lived two miles from my office) but switched to the bus because it was easier on my wardrobe and appearance. Basically it was just far enough to look disheveled but not far enough to bother with the hassle of getting ready at work. I think for women, part of the reason can be boiled down to the "look" we expect from men vs women. Men (usually) have short hair and can wear pants and a polo shirt and they're good. Even if they bothered to wear biking gear (I never did), it would be quick and easy to change clothes. For me, if I did wear biking clothes that would allow me to change into a skirt or dress upon my arrival at the office, I still had to (re)do my hair and makeup and it became too tedious for me to want to bother. Plus my coworkers would see me doing my makeup in the bathroom and I didn't like that. I think European countries make cycling more of their lifestyle so the expectations are in place for what that does to your appearance.