Get my 5-day email funnel that generated $400,000 from a single launch

Want an email sales funnel that's already proven to work? Get the entire word-for-word email funnel that generated $400,000 from a single launch and apply it to your own business.

Yes! Send me the funnel now
Start Here: “The Ultimate Guide to Personal Finance”

The Money Diaries: The 30-something Scrooge member who’s starting to automate his finances

43 Comments- Get free updates of new posts here

3 0

Today is another post in the Money Diaries series, which is based off New York Magazine’s Sex Diaries. We’ve collected stories from real people about their spending habits over seven days, anonymized them, and posted them here.

iStock_000005494243XSmall

This week’s post is by a 36-year-old IT professional who describes himself as a “fledgling financial connoisseur.” He’s still working out the kinks to automating his finances and actively implementing my Scrooge Strategy tips. Read on to see how he’s doing — and notice how there’s a transition period between not managing your money and getting it fully automated.

* * *

Day 1
5:50 a.m.:
Wake up and check email. Notification that EZTag has automatically charged $40 to my check card. Also see email reminders for electric bill and gas bill (~$219 and ~$26), but they are both due in 2 weeks, well after my next paycheck. $40.
6:45 a.m.:
Arrive at work and eat breakfast – a granola bar and apple that I brought from home. Since I eat lunch out almost every day, I try to at least bring my breakfast.
11:40 a.m.:
The work crew wants to go to the local Thai buffet for lunch. $12 including tip.
3:50 p.m.: Get roped into going to a work social for a few drinks after work. $20 including tip.
6:40 p.m.: Fill the gas tank up on the way home from the work social. $31.08
6:50 p.m.: Check mail when I get home. Totally unexpected bill from the radiologist for $231.34. I’ll have to remember to phone my oncologist and/or insurance provider next week to find out why this portion wasn’t covered by my “100% plan” health insurance, especially since the procedure was “covered” by a copay. I expect the run around, but thankfully we have an emergency fund setup just for this type of thing.
7:45 p.m.: Make our grocery list for tomorrow. It’s decidedly thin, since we spent so much for 4th of July weekend. Net cash outlay for day 1: $103.08. Looking forward to the upcoming weekend, we usually spend less money than during the week.

Day 2
7:45 a.m.:
Arrive at work, get invited to breakfast. I had already eaten my apple and granola bar so passed on breakfast, but joined them and had a coffee instead. $1.86
10:40 a.m.:
Receive email that my company’s semi-annual employee discount stock distribution has been deposited to my stock account. +$4495.39 available for withdrawal once it clears. Need to discuss with my wife how we want to distribute the proceeds (typically we put 25% in savings, 50% towards debt, and reserve 25% for “guilt-free spending.” I really regret not contributing the maximum allowed for the full enrollment period.
11:30 a.m.:
Go to lunch at a local dive. Had a jalapeno/cheese chicken sandwhich. $10 including tip.
2:30 p.m.:
Login to ING to initiate a distribution from my Homeowners Association and Car Insurance subaccounts. Both are due by the end of the month. $61o and $450. Will fire off payments once it clears and I receive the invoice for my car insurance.
5:45 p.m.:
Go to the mall to exchange some drinking glasses that we bought a couple of weeks ago for a different color. End up getting +$3.65 cash back for the exchange.
5:55 p.m.:
Buy an espresso from Starbucks on the way out of the mall. $2
6:45 p.m.: Weekly grocery shopping trip. We shop at a different Kroger than normal this week since it was on the way home from the mall. End up seeing some friends and get asked out for dinner. Kroger was out of my wife’s favorite yogurt, I’ll have to remember to pick up some tomorrow. Somehow our “thin” grocery list still cost $68.26.
8 p.m.: Dinner with friends at a sushi bar/Chinese restaurant. $26 including tip. Net cash outlay for day 2: $104.47.

Day 3
8:25 a.m.:
Head to my parents to help them go grocery shopping. Stop at Starbucks for a coffee. $2
11:30 a.m.:
Go to Whole Foods for lunch and a few things. $28.61
12:45 p.m.: Wife goes to Sally Beauty Supply to pick up a few cosmetics. $14.38
4 p.m.: Head to Randalls to pick up produce and some ice cream. $22.36
7:15 p.m.: Go to Kroger to get the yogurt they were sold out of yesterday. $2
7:25 p.m.: Pick up an espresso on the way home. $2
10:22 p.m.: Read “Scrooge Strategy: Save hundreds by not spending money in the first place” email. Discuss with my wife. We cancel 4 online gaming subscriptions that we haven’t used in months, and decide to open an ING subaccount to save for a really nice espresso machine (and pertinent accessories) to satiate my espresso habit. Net result: $60/month extra go into savings instead of paying for something we don’t use, and in a few months we’ll have a nice espresso machine out of the deal. Awesome. Net cash outlay for day 3: $71.35.

Day 4
Took our little doggie to the dogpark, but otherwise stayed home. Cooked all our meals at home. No cash expenses today, yay! Net cash outlay for day 4: $0.

Day 5
7:30 a.m.:
Breakfast courtesy of work – new team moved to our floor (they closed down another office location and merged the two) so they had a catered continental breakfast. $0
11:45 a.m.: Lunch crew met a former colleague at Berryhill Baja Grill for fish tacos and seafood burritos. Lunch comped as a business meeting. $0
4:55 p.m.: Filled up the gas tank again. $30.06
7:45 p.m.: Mowers finally show up to mow/trim/weed the lawn. They’ll charge me tomorrow for their services tonight. Net cash outlay for day 5: $30.06

Day 6
7:45 a.m.:
Regular breakfast at work (apple & granola bar). $0
9:15 a.m.:
Receive lawn services invoice & receipt via email. $35.36 after taxes.
11:30 a.m.:
Kung pao shrimp at local Chinese restaurant. $8 including tip.
2:00 p.m.:
Pay July car payment. $322
2:05 p.m.: Tomorrow is payday so I pay extra on the credit card bill – 3x monthly minimum. $100
4:45 p.m.: Meet my brother at Buffalo Wild Wings for a few drinks after work. $22 including tip.
8:45 p.m.: Wife and I go to the local butcher to stock up on pork baby back ribs & pork tenderloin which is on sale. Get 4 racks of ribs (and a few other things), and a rain check on the pork tenderloin. $51.78 total.
9:07 p.m.: Login to checking account and see that my ING withdrawal has cleared. +$1060. Will pay homeowners association tomorrow. Still waiting on semi-annual insurance invoice so I can pay that… Net cash outlay for day 6: $539.14

Day 7
5:00 a.m.:
Woke up early. Breakfast at home, and fix lunch to take to work.
6:25 a.m.: Arrive at work. It’s Payday! Login to my bank account, credit accounts, savings accounts, etc to make sure my “automatic savings plan” and “automatic payments” all cleared. Net cash result to checking after 401k, savings, discount stock plan, credit card payments, mid-month mortgage payment, etc = +$1858.20.
11:00 a.m.: Lunch is catered due to an event on my floor, so my lunch sits in the fridge. Free lunch = rule.
10:00 a.m.: Receive email from Scrooge Strategy that my credit card was declined. Update billing info to reflect new card as the previous one expired. $8
12:30 p.m.: Pop over to the Godiva store at the Galleria to pick up some chocolates as a surprise for my wife. $15.70
2 p.m.: Remember to call about the medical bill I received last week. Turns out it’s legit. Because the new “medical plan fiscal year” just started, I haven’t yet cleared my deductible for out of network services. I’ll have to pull out the $231.34 from my emergency fund for this unexpected expense, and also setup an “Unexpected Medical Expenses” subaccount on ING for this type of thing.
6 p.m.: Try to login to homeowners association website to pay HOA bill, but it’s down for maintenance. Will try again tomorrow. Net cash income for day 7: +$1834.50

In Sum
Net income for the week was $986.40 to checking (stock deposit notwithstanding). However there are still a lot of outstanding bills (gas, electricity, cell phone, cable/internet) that need to be paid, plus living expenses for the next 2.5 weeks until next payday. Thoughts about this experience:

  • Damn, I eat out a lot. Stark contrast to my previous job when I only ate out maybe once a month because I couldn’t afford it…
  • Damn, I pay to drink a lot of espresso/coffee! After reading Scrooge Strategy and deciding to cancel a few unused subscriptions, it really was a no-brainer what to save for. Hah!
  • This experiment made me realize that while my finances are fairly automated, there is still room for improvement. Still, being the fledgling financial connoisseur that I am, I still like a lot of hands on especially when it comes to paying for non-credit card bills. There have been too many instances where the bill doesn’t match the services rendered for me to trust automatically paying them. Plus, by manually paying them, it forces me to realize and accept said services on a monthly basis – and to feel the financial impact first hand.
  • Also realized that we are living paycheck to paycheck – even though we have enough income/money in the bank not to. We’ll have to discuss this and see if we need to realign our financial strategy. Reading my diary comments like “but they are both due in 2 weeks, well after my next paycheck” make me realize that either we aren’t saving enough or aren’t proactive enough in paying bills (or both.)
  • Poignant comment my wife made when we were discussing our ING accounts a couple of nights ago (when we setup the espresso subaccount): “We have $350 saved for that dresser already? Why didn’t we start this years ago? We should do this for ALL major purchases!”
  • Reviewing my money diary for the past week really has made me realize just how much I’ve changed due to I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Thanks, Ramit.

* * *

Note from Ramit:

This is a pretty good example of someone who’s starting to pay attention to his finances. Notice the transition period between “not paying attention” and “automating finances” — it requires more attention for a few weeks, which is a big enough barrier that most people don’t do this for their entire lives. But if you do it, you don’t have to worry about the day-to-day logistics for the rest of your life.

To be featured anonymously in a future Money Diary, click here.

3 0

Related Articles

Untitled design (6)

How to pay off student loans without thinking about it

Student loans are a big kick in the face that the real world has arrived. The average graduate has $28,...

Read More
stretching

The 4 keys to finding ambition

We’re told we should just be happy with what we have… but there’s a difference between being happy ...

Read More

43 Comments

3 0
 

Leave a Reply

43 Comments on "The Money Diaries: The 30-something Scrooge member who’s starting to automate his finances"

Notify of
avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest
Mark C. Webster
6 years 9 months ago

Your tip about looking at monthly subscriptions makes a real difference. After taking a hard look at what I watch on TV, I decided to try canceling my cable. I saved over $80 a month, which is now part of my “entertainment” budget, and haven’t missed it at all.

cukamunger
cukamunger
6 years 9 months ago

Wow, this sounds a lot like my situation. We are starting to automate our finances, but I keep wanting to pay off what we can as soon as the paychecks come in and not wait for the automated deductions. Baby steps though, I have our bank automatically send payments that we used to write a check for every month (mortgage & cars). That helps a lot and saves the cost of the supplies!

Honey
Honey
6 years 9 months ago

I am waiting to automate until my consumer debt has been paid off. Right now, I have a couple of bills that are paid automatically – and I worry more about those than I do about the ones that I have to go in and pay manually.

JoeK
JoeK
6 years 9 months ago
You live in the Houston area. Housing costs are super low there so that’s good. You do a good job with automatically investing some of your paycheck and automating a lot of your regular bills. And I like the sub-accounts at ING. However, dude, your food costs are KILLING you. I saw over $170 spent this week on grocery-related food alone (grocery stores + butcher). Check out day 2 and day 3, look how many times you visit the grocery store. Your coffee addiction is not bad. You like coffee. If you feel the same way about food, then by… Read more »
Stephen
6 years 9 months ago

Really enjoy this series. It’s great to see people realize how much less stressful personal finance can be once we get it together. Being able to buy an espresso machine without any guilt because you’ve prioritized and saved for it is much more rewarding than sticking it on a credit card.

Thanks.

Dave
Dave
6 years 9 months ago

I should really do one of these even if it’s just for myself. I only recently signed up for Mint and looking at my past spending makes me seriously consider buying a gun and a single bullet sometimes (Currently trying to fix 4 or 5 years of bad spending and 0 savings). I’m only 22 so I’ve got that whole “long haul” thing to look forward to, but it’s maddening now that I didn’t learn about this stuff sooner.

Rosa
Rosa
6 years 9 months ago

Hm, this may be a really stupid comment but is $103.08 for a monthly electricity bill normal for the area/size home this person lives in? I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $40 for an electricity bill, though of course I don’t live in a house.

2dogcasa
6 years 9 months ago

I really enjoy these entries. I liked his reflection a lot, too, because it’s showing the process working on his brain. Makes me want to sign up for Scrooge Strategies, too bad my account is in the red right now.

kenyantykoon
6 years 9 months ago

i have read alot about doing something like this to take better control of my spending but i dont know why i have been procrastinating it. i think it was because i never saw anyone do it. thats the end of that excuse. so i will either do it or look for another :). seems really helpful

joruva
joruva
6 years 9 months ago
I understand why you eat out with your new job. You’re getting semi-regular free lunches, and when you do bring your lunch it has to sit a day in the fridge….yum. It’s pretty easy to rationalize large lunch expenses when other lunches are free. I got around this mentality by thinking of the money wasted when I didn’t eat my lunch, as well as the health benefits of eating my own lunch instead of greasy restaurant food. You can gradually increase the brown-bag lunches until you’ve hit 3 or 4 times a week. You can also try eating something bigger… Read more »
Lesli e
Lesli e
6 months 16 days ago

http://MoneyandTask.com/?refid=48327 sign up today to make some extra cash.

Vas
6 years 9 months ago

Good luck to the guy keeping this diary. I think he will be in a much better position in future by keeping tabs like he is although it’s such a tedious and time consuming process to follow that I cant see myself following it for too long.

Lance
Lance
6 years 9 months ago
I just wanted to reply to the comment “Also realized that we are living paycheck to paycheck – even though we have enough income/money in the bank not to”. I live paycheck to paycheck on purpose. I put as much money into savings/401k as possible which helps to keep me on track with my budget. I have found that if I have excessive money in my checking account I have a tendency to spend it. I can still buy what I want with the money I save but I specifically save for that item over the course of time (ING… Read more »
Lesli e
Lesli e
6 months 16 days ago
Rachel
Rachel
6 years 9 months ago
Rosa, In the South and SW, electric bills are killer in the summer. I’m in central AZ in a 750sf duplex and my bill hit $200 this summer. My parents always top 300. I’m obsessed with unplugging and turning off everything I can, but when the outdoor temp stays in the 90s overnight and is well over 100 all day for up to four months, you can kiss a low electric bill goodbye. But when winter comes and my friends in New England are complaining about there high heating gas costs, I am looking at maybe $30 a month for… Read more »
Oleg Mokhov
6 years 9 months ago

Hey Ramit,

Frugality + automation = financial freedom and abundance.

As this Money Diary demonstrates, by ruthlessly cutting out what’s not important and putting the newly-freed resources into what is important (ie. being frugal), you get financial maximization.

You have the freedom to spend on what you really want without having to worry about if you can afford it, and the automated personal finance system means you have the time to enjoy it.

Looking forward to the next Money Diary,
Oleg

Scott
Scott
6 years 9 months ago

My problem lies with the automation process itself. If I were to automate my house payment that would cost an extra $10 per month, automate electric payment $5, Water $5, gas $5. Instead of wasting $25 on unnecessary fees because the utilities companies are too cheap to let me automate, I just pay the bills when they come in.

Another problem is with the ING, I’d love to do subaccounts, but ING generally doesn’t pay as high an interest rate as my savings, I have a spreadsheet that I keep, but it gets a little cumbersome.

Lesli e
Lesli e
6 months 16 days ago
Moneymonk
6 years 9 months ago

Something tells me this guy lives in Houston, key words =Randall’s, Kroger and Galleria, LOL

Anywho…

“Net cash result to checking after 401k, savings, discount stock plan, credit card payments, mid-month mortgage payment, etc = +$1858.20.”

Nice! Not sure where his problem lies

He is paying the mortgage, credit cards and socking money away to 401k and savings and still have a chunk left over.

Enjoy your money, eat out, have a little fun.

He also has sub accts for miscellanous spending, such as HOA and ins. Nice~

Gen Y Investor
6 years 9 months ago
This guy seems to be doing a good job with his financial situation. He does seem to spend a lot on lunches and food, but everyone has their areas where they like to splurge. As for the automation debate… I can see the benefits of automating aspects of ones finances; however in my case I feel like it would make me too lazy. I like looking at my bills and accounts before I pay them and or move money around to make sure everything is up to snuff. If everything is automated and there’s an error it would be annoying… Read more »
Angela
Angela
6 years 9 months ago

@Ramit- What pops in your head when people say they like looking at their bills and automating would make them lazy?

Credit Card Chaser
6 years 9 months ago

“As for the automation debate… I can see the benefits of automating aspects of ones finances; however in my case I feel like it would make me too lazy.”

@ Gen Y Investor

What?! 🙂

When you start automating your finances then it simply means that you can use your time to do other more worthwhile things instead of rote manual entry managing bills… it doesn’t mean that you must instead use that time to lay around on the coach all day and be lazy… 🙂

Concojones
Concojones
6 years 9 months ago
@Gen Y Investor: I automate anything that can be automated, but I still check the activity in my account once a month. So, is automation making me lazy? I’d rather say that managing my finances is costing me less time. @the diarist: I recommend getting some idea of what you spend in different categories per month, extrapolate per year, and then decide whether you’re OK with what you see (*). Maybe you’ll decide to shift the grand for TV subscription towards entertainment/travel, as one of the previous posters did. (*) This only takes a few minutes each month if your… Read more »
Gen Y Investor
6 years 9 months ago

I have nothing against automation. It’s just I’d rather review everything and catch potential problems with bills and accounts before I send my money to a giant company. It’s not fun dealing with large companies and trying to get credited for a mistake they make. To me it’s worth 30 seconds of my time to review the bill and ensure its accurate before paying it.

Scott
Scott
6 years 9 months ago
It depends on what interest rates are at, summer 2007 I was at 6.25%, I believe ING was around 5%, now I’m at 1.5% ING is at 1.3%, not as big of a difference anymore, but might not be worth the hassle of changing. Honestly, not automating isn’t that cumbersome, it takes me 5 minutes to fire off a check to any given place, big expenses like mortgage I almost prefer non-automated since if I have a really bad month, I might not have the $ in my account, especially now since my wife went back to school and we’re… Read more »
Jason
Jason
6 years 9 months ago

Cable is a big one. I just called and had them lower my bill to the “new special promo” they are offering to new subscribers. I kept the same service, just saved $50 mo.!!

Jill
Jill
6 years 9 months ago

Scott, my online checking (free with direct deposit) lets me set up automatic monthly payments at the credit union’s end rather than going through a mortgage or utility company’s site to automate payments at some extra cost.

And, after dealing with the country’s most incompetent post office outside metro Chicago, I also love knowing that my payments actually are getting to the electric company and such in a timely electronic manner.

prufock
prufock
6 years 9 months ago
I like these diaries, but this one sort of sounds like a plant. Yes, we should all read the Scrooge Strategy and cancel our unused subscriptions! We’ll save a fortune! Well, except for those of us who aren’t foolish enough to HAVE 4 unused online gaming subscriptions. It’s this part of IWTYTBR that I can’t connect with, maybe because I’ve pretty much always been conscious of where my money is going. Having recurring charges that you aren’t getting any use out of just seems irresponsible to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I have my irresponsible moments too. Other… Read more »
Sara
Sara
6 years 9 months ago
I’m confused by his statement in the bulleted section where he says they are living paycheck to paycheck. Above that when he receives his paycheck he says: “Net cash result to checking after 401k, savings, discount stock plan, credit card payments, mid-month mortgage payment, etc = +$1858.20.” If he is putting money into savings (not to mention having money to invest in stock plans and retirement accounts), he’s not living paycheck-to-paycheck. He also says he “typically” puts 25% in savings from windfalls, like the almost-$5K he receives from the employee stock plan. Can the OP explain this? Also, while he… Read more »
Neil Nehrer
6 years 9 months ago
Does anyone know anything about a regulation preventing more than six withdrawals a month from you savings account? I received an email today from ING stating “Based on recent activity in your Orange Savings Account™, we want to remind you that you cannot make more than six withdrawals from your account each month. This is a federal regulation that all banks are required to follow for savings accounts like this one, so if this type of activity occurs more than three times in any 12-month period, we will have to close your account.” How am I supposed to automate my… Read more »
prufock
prufock
6 years 9 months ago

Don’t worry, I wasn’t making an accusation 🙂 I can believe this is the real deal, and he sounds like a good student.

Neil Nehrer
6 years 9 months ago

Thanks for your reply Ramit, it does completely suck. I might have over-reacted but when I saw that email I could have strangled the nearest government employee :-). Thanks for the great site.

Buppie
Buppie
6 years 9 months ago
I think it would be helpful if people posted their state or metro area – just to give readers a sense for the cost of living and what’s normal. I think automation can be great, but I prefer to do it on the bank side and not on the side of the company where the bill is going. Many of them require that you make any changes 1-2 weeks in advance and for those juggling debt (student loans, mortgages, credit cards, etc.) making those changes in advance even if it’s to increase your payment is annoying and the bank route… Read more »
Arkad
Arkad
6 years 9 months ago

This is a great day in the life take on running personal finances. Now that I’ve advanced a few levels by going back to steady work (after bouncing from ad hoc and tenuous set ups since December(!)), I’m more conscious of the way I spend and make money. It’s inspiring to see others improving their lives through finances. Onward!

Chris bautista
6 years 9 months ago

How about a money diaries entry from someone outside the US?

Would really love to see how people around the world try to work out their finances.

Cheers!

nick
nick
6 years 9 months ago

Am living in Paris, so could potentially do an international money diary entry. Imagine it would be similar to someone living in NYC. All my bills are automated although personal checks are still quite common in France. Have not found any French blogs on personal finances, so I assume they’re not as interested in such things. Lots of food and wine blogs though…

Joes Money
6 years 8 months ago

Loved the read. Thanks!

wpDiscuz