The Last 10 Things They Bought: What I Learned From Peeking Into Other People’s Wallets
I don’t know which I enjoyed more, writing about the last 10 things I bought or reading what other people spent their hard-earned money on.
Actually, I do. It was the latter. As I peeked voyeuristically into the other brave Forbes contributors’ and guest blogger’s wallets, I noticed a startling trend.
I call it the “trend of shame.”
It started with the phrase, “I don’t normally …” and it was associated with a fast food purchase — a latte, fries, or a nugget of some kind. The shame part was easy to spot because I recognized it instantly. I had felt it when I wrote my own post!
Here is what I said about my fast food purchase, “I normally bring my lunch to work and my co-workers were shocked to see I was eating fast food.” I even went on to justify my purchase by saying how much I save each month by bringing my lunch.
But the fact is, I didn’t bring my lunch that day, and spent over $10 on fast food. But I wasn’t alone.
Here are a few others:
Eric Rosenberg had pizza. He, like me, mentioned that he that brings lunch to work most days and then shares, “I was craving pizza!”
With a low dollar amount of $4.25, thumbs up to Eric on keeping it reasonable as he succumbed to a craving.
Samantha Sharf, the Forbes reporter who invited us all to the challenge, shared in her last 10 things: “Most days I eat like an adult … Friday was not one of those days.” She admitted to picking up some chicken fingers with a side salad (and her other food choices looked delicious).
Michelle Song is a 30-year-old contributor living in Arlington, Virginia. I love how she starts with “I omitted all the purchases at my office cafeteria (because boring).” She wrote about her upcoming trip to Paris, which she feels is more exciting.
#5 on her list was an “unspeakable item from Wendy’s: $1.58.” Also under #5: “Vietnamese dinner, Shake Shack ice cream, Sodastream canister, tacos, overpriced black coffee.” She said she didn’t want to make the post about “the last 10 things I ingested.”
To most people, the plane ticket to Paris would be interesting, but to me, a financial planner noticing the fast food shame trend, I thought the grouping together of cafeteria items and then sneaking in other fast food items with the Wendy’s was very interesting!
Heather Shore, a 36-year-old fashion designer, entrepreneur, and single mom is a woman after my own heart. She starts right out with what she “normally” does and then cops to a large latte as her first purchase. And then there was another one at #8: “Fast food: $12.31.”
Financial wellness planner (and friend) Scott Spann had no problem sharing how “necessary” his bacon cheeseburger was ($12.16). He then links to the barbecue spot he loves so much so we can share in the delight by seeing the food. He justifies his purchase by saying that he works from home so he has to occasionally get out and get a burger!
There were no fast food items and no apologies from Forbes tax expert Kelly Erb, who gleefully spent $326 on groceries and measured her receipt for kicks. The receipt measured 33 inches, and it looks like she put those groceries to work feeding herself and her family, because fast food didn’t appear in her last 10 purchases.
Why should we worry about a $12 hamburger? In the big scheme of things, we probably shouldn’t.
What I noticed in the posts, however, gave me pause. I jokingly call it the “trend of shame,” because that’s how I felt about that item when I wrote my piece — I cringed as I wrote down that I’d purchased a fast food lunch.
One fast food lunch or meal out is no big deal. But there might be more frivolous purchases on our bank statements than we realize.
It might be useful to see just how many $12 hamburgers (or, in my case, chicken sandwiches), you are really buying.
It’s pretty simple to figure out. Go over your expenses from the past few months to see how much you are actually spending on “convenience” food. In my case, it looks like it’s about twice a month. That seems pretty reasonable to me.
A few years ago, I worked with a recent MBA graduate with a high salary and a high-stress position. He was spending an unreasonable amount for his budget — over $2,000 a month — on grabbing breakfast, lunch and dinner out.
I counseled him to stock up on oatmeal for breakfast and sandwich fixings for lunch. I encouraged him to purchase a crock pot and take a cooking class as well.
This way, he could reduce the number of meals he eats out without expending a lot of time and energy. We started with a goal of making at least one meal a day!
Despite my earlier joke, there is no shame in fast food.
There are days when we are busy, tired, and just plain hungry, when we want to grab something that is convenient.
Since you know this is going to happen, you should just build it into your budget. That way, you can enjoy your burger, chicken nuggets or pizza with abandon!
Thank you, contributors, for opening up your wallets so we could take a peek inside.
This article was written by Nancy Anderson from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.