Money Diary: First week on the Zero Day Challenge

I enjoy reading Refinery 29’s Money Diary Series and Sherry’s A Week of Money posts at Save.Spend.Splurge, so I thought I could try doing the same for one week. If nothing else, It’ll will be fun to look back at on a later date to see if I’ve make my days closer to My Ideal Day.

Monthly Expenses

Housing Expenses: $750 rent (I share the 2 BD/2 BA mainfloor of a duplex with my Roommate)

Utilites: My share is around $75 for heating, electricity and water. Internet is $39.65.

Cellphone: $45.65

Netflix: $7.99

Others: $42 charitable donations, $9.95 for Identity theft and credit monitoring (yes I’m a bit paranoid).

Day 1:

4:30 a.m. Said goodbye to Mom. We agreed that she’d be better off taking the cab to the airport because of the extreme winter weather and road conditions.  This way she doesn’t have to worry about me driving home from the airport. Back to bed.

10 a.m. Spend the day reading and doing a few chores, getting myself ready for the work week. Ate leftovers from our Boston Pizza NYE lunch, yummy spicy perogy (or ?pierogi) pizza. Who would’ve guessed potato as pizza topping would be so delicious?

10 p.m. Asleep before 10:30 p.m.

Spend $0


Day 2:

6 a.m. – Hit Snooze until my second alarm at 6:20. Drag my butt out of bed. Zoom through my morning personal hygiene and skin care routine. Luckily makeup isn’t required in my line of work.

6: 45 a.m. – Finally out on the road. I have death grip on the wheel because of all the snow. I HATE winter driving.

6:55 a.m. – Made it to work alive. Start slaving away.

12:45 p.m. – Busy morning is gone in a blink of an eye.

Some appointment types get me behind schedule so easily. Only have 15 min lunch left. Scarf down my food. Thank god I packed lunch today.

1 p.m. – Back to work. Had a disagreement in the afternoon, so I end the work day feeling dejected.

4:30 p.m. – Wrap up the day and go home. Starving, ate some leftovers.

I alternate between Dan Ariely’s The Upside of Irrationality and my phone. I just got twitter in December. And the novelty hasn’t worn off yet.

My Roommate watches Anime on Netflix. Some Anime Logic is really F#$%ed up, and this is coming from an old Anime fan.

8 p.m. – Checking the local artisan ice-creamery’s website because I need to go pick up a Gift Card I bought online earlier.

Lo and behold. My favorite seasonal favor is back!!! I screech in delight. My roommate and I literally sprung up from the couch to get dressed to go out.

I’m bracing snowy roads at night. This is TRUE LOVE.

This is basically the Holy Grail s’more flavor. It’s described as “A graham cracker ice cream with chunks of Nutella and a generous amount of marshmallows.” When we arrived, I couldn’t resist getting a single scoop with freshly made waffle cone (they smell so heavenly). And I get to bring home a free pint of it thanks to the Gift Card purchase. $6.00

8:45 p.m. – Home again. Read more

Asleep before 10 p.m.

Spent: $6.00


Day 3

6:30 a.m. – Hear roommate getting ready. It’s my day off, Hooray! Flop back to bed.

8:30 a.m. – Wake up but stay in bed. Check phone. Friend A has messaged me during the night, she’s currently on vacation in China. Chat for a bit via messages.

10:00 a.m. – Finally get up. Put in a load of laundry. Let’s aim for some productivity!

Eat Costco waffle cookies for breakfast while reading blogs on laptop.

10:30 a.m. – Log into my brokerage account to buy ETFs with the money I transferred on Jan 1st. Also, update some spreadsheets on my asset allocation. My bonds are still way underweight despite today’s purchase. So I will need to keep adding for re-balancing.

I debate the merits of doing dividend-investment vs index and 100% stock vs balanced. I’ve never weathered a significant market downturn (started in 2013) and I don’t know how emotional I’d be in one. So I’m going to keep bonds in my portfolio until I’ve experienced a big bear market.

11:30 a.m. – Make lunch. Braised pork belly, yum. Throw all the ingredients into the Instant Pot. Read some of my Chinese novels online.

Make mushroom jalapeno stir-fry (Sounds like a weird combo? Because that’s what’s left in my fridge).

1:30 p.m. – At some point I move back to reading more blogs. I have missed a lot of posts these past few years, though I have been reading a few blogs more or less religiously.

3:15 p.m. – Turn on my Wii and pick a Zumba Core class.

Zoned out slightly during Zumba, going through some of the stuff I’ve read today. What did I quit in 2017? There was a toxic friendship I didn’t to mention in my Best & Worst of 2017 post. I had a close friend who really struggled with a toxic friendship this year as well. Hm, maybe I should write about it.

4:45 p.m. – Roommate is home and wants to go for dinner and get groceries. I persuade her to eat some yogurt and we’ll buy Rotisserie chicken instead of eating out.

5:15 p.m. – Leave for grocery shopping. We hit Superstore for miscellaneous staples, produce, milk, eggs, and ingredients for meatball spaghetti. At Costco we bought some ready-to-bake pastas for this Saturday’s get together, I wanted the Lobster seafood pasta and Roommate wanted Chicken Penne. We got both. The last stop is the local Asian mart for me to pick up some Asian vegetables, kimbap and chestnut bread was on end of the day sale. Score! (My share totals  $132.13)

7:15 p.m. – Home. I take over the job of dissecting the Costco Rotisserie Chicken after we put the groceries away.

I pick meat off the carcass to eat with some salad and the Kimbap from local Asian Mart. Yum.

8 p.m. – Mom calls, and I help her with her work (editing etc). I put a face mask on for more efficient time use. Turns out it’s kind of hard to talk normally with it on.

Read Blogs. And twitter.

10 p.m. – Go to bed with the full intention of sleeping. End up spending some more time on twitter.

11 p.m. – Pretty sure I fell asleep a little bit before 11 p.m.. Also note that before work days I have a harder time going to bed, because I don’t want the night to end and wake up to go to work. FIRE for the win.

Spent: $132.13


Day 4

6:20 a.m.  Morning routine.

6:55 a.m. The work day starts. Again a very busy day.

Met some grumpy people this morning. Difficult people always come in waves, stay calm and smile. Smile…

12:15 p.m. Thank god I brought lunch

1 p.m. Back to work.

So done with Today,  just a few hours more!

4:30 p.m. Clean up and go home.

Traffic +++, there was an accident on the highway. The normally 15 min commuted was 45 min today.

5:15 p.m. Chat with Roommate for a bit

Call mom. Start making tonight’s dinner and a Chinese Borscht type soup/stew for tomorrow/weekend.

6 p.m. Start the Instant Pot for Soup. Eat dinner, threw together a noodle soup with cabbage and leftover pork belly.

7:45 p.m. Mom calls again, chat about random stuff.

Then let twitter consume my life again.

9 p.m. Start working on this Money Diary Post.

10: 30 p.m. That was longer and took longer than I expected. Squeeze in 10 min yoga.

And pack up the totally forgotten soup in the Instant Pot. Oops.

11:15 p.m. Fall sleep sometime before midnight.

Spent: $0.00


Day 5:

6:20 a.m. Morning routine

7:00 a.m. Work day again.

Brought lunch again. The beef soup from yesterday with a thick slice of the chestnut bread.

My coworker told me about a great community recreation center with water slide, hot tub, lazy river, climbing wall and a indoor running track for around $16 for a day pass. I’m determined to check it out soon.

Power through the day. TGIF!

4:15 p.m. Leave for home. Had leftover chicken and soup for dinner.

6:00 p.m. Cleaned up around the house a bit to get ready for tomorrow’s get together. Looks like it will be a small group. I prefer small groups sometimes, because I find that I get to have deeper conversations in these settings.

7:30 p.m. Read a fantastically imaginative ongoing chinese story online. Asleep by 10 p.m.

Spent: $0


Day 6

7:30 a.m. Awake, so is Roommate. We have a long heart to heart conversation, about life and boys.

9:00 a.m. Breakfast is sweet sticky rice balls bought when my mother was here during Christmas.

Take Mom’s call.

11:00 a.m. Keep working on this post. Roommate make sausage and eggs. Brunch is the best!

1: 30 p.m. Read. Do some much needed shredding.

Vacuum and wipe down the kitchen for tonight.

3:30 p.m. A friend came over earlier so we can go to the mall before other guests arrive.

I return a pair of ruffle hem cropped trousers to Banana Republic (+$26.04). 

product photo

I’m looking for a pair of straight leg cropped pants to complete a specific look with my navy open back summer top. The BR pants are not exactly what I wanted still, so I decided to return it and keep looking.

5:30 p.m. Back in the house. Put the pastas into the oven to bake and cut up fruits for our fruit tray.

6:15 p.m. First guest arrives. We talk while snacking on chips and salsa.

The chicken Penne turned out to be better than the Seafood pasta. And it was a lot cheaper too, lesson learned for next time.

We play a couple of board games after dinner. One friend is a damn good liar. I’m impressed by that poker face! I, on the other hand, is a shitty liar. This somewhat worked  to my advantage as I just exaggerated my reactions and managed to win one round. Woohoo!

We end the night with playing Telestrations, which is like a drawing + words broken telephone. I laugh so hard that my belly hurt. Probably the best ab workout I’ve gotten recently.

11: 30 p.m. People start leaving. We clean up, and I’m asleep before midnight.

Saved: $26.04 (refund)


Day 7:

10 a.m.: wake up, had cereal for breakfast.

Spent most of the day in my pajamas. Finished two books I need to return to the library this week.

Image result for the upside of irrationality

I really enjoy Dan Ariely’s books. I find this particular one really hits home on online dating and empathy. Most concepts in the first half of this book I have read in his other works already.

Related image

A little too much ‘fluff’ content in the first few chapters, but the rest of the book is solid. Losing weight ultimately comes down to caloric deficit, just like reaching FI really comes down to your saving rate.

Get ready for another work day. Asleep before 11 p.m.

Spent: $0


Expense Summary for the Week:

Spent: $6 + $132.13 – $26.04 (refund)= $112.09 (all on food)

Zero Spend Days = 5 out of 7 

Looking at my week. I think I started my Zero Day Challenge off pretty well. I need to work on not wishing my time away, I basically count down to the next day off ALL THE TIME. No amount of telling myself to “Be more Present” seems to work.

In terms of money, food is obviously my weakness. Do you have a spending weak spot like me?