A hundred bucks, two ways

Ain't nuthin goin' on but the rent, as the song says.

With finances getting tighter, I've been trying to curb my impulse spending by carrying cash and spending that rather than buying everything with my debit card. And it's working. I now realize how nauseatingly easy it is to blow through $100.

So I thought, just for fun, let's look at two ways to blow a Benjamin, shall we? First we'll fritter it away on frivolities -- those little luxuries we do not need. And then let's blow it on necessities, the things we must spend it on, such as bills, food, and shoes for the kids.
First, the frivolous. Let's say I just got an unexpected check in the mail. It's been known to happen in my free-lance world; some extra payment for syndication, or a small royalty check out of the blue. Yeah, sure I'll do the responsible thing and put most of it away. But I always like to treat myself a little, too, since it's my money and I earned it. Let's take $100 of that money and spend it on me, me, me!

No, it won't buy me a new Kate Spade bag or even a cut and color from the fabulous Ted. But it will buy plenty of small pleasures. To wit:

Pedicure - $20 -- I'll go for the "spa" treatment because a foot massage is always worth it.

Iced blended mocha - $3.50 - the perfect drink to sip while getting your pedicure.

Yoga class
- $15. Ahhhh. Yoga makes everything OK. And now my feet are pink and pretty.

Cute necklace at the yoga shop
-- $20. It'll go with everything!

Picnic supplies for free concert in the park with kids that evening
-- bottle of Two-Buck Chuck ($2) a baguette ($2) stinky cheese ($4), nectarines ($3), sparkling apple cider for the kiddies ($3).

Hey! I've actually got some change left over from my lovely day! Maybe I'll rent the kids some videos. Maybe I'll order us a pizza tomorrow.

But now back to business. Next I spend my $100 windfall on the Necessary. Nothing frivolous about these expenses, and $100 goes even less far when it's money that needs to be spent. A Benji doesn't cover my health insurance premium, nor my phone bill. In most months my utilities run more than $100 (and I do not have air conditioning). It is a small fraction of my rent. No, these are the more immediate necessities of everyday life:

Fill-up -- even though I don't commute, I do live in Southern California, where a lot of driving is required to get anywhere. And I have two kids, who attend two different summer camps. Do the math, which, as of this writing, is a cool $60 to fill my tank. Every week. Except that by next week, it will likely cost more.

Groceries - Bread, eggs, milk, yogurt, cereal, pasta, vegetables and fruit. Everything at the grocery store has gone up in price, but let's be tight and round down to $20, shall we? Let's say I have coupons. Regardless, I do have children, and they need to eat. Add $5 if I buy coffee beans for myself so I don't have to spend $2 every day on a cup of coffee.

Sundries - Whoops. Ran out of laundry detergent, toilet paper, shampoo and toothpaste. That's a trip to Target, which will easily yank the rest of my remaining $15 (and then some) out of my wallet. These are items that are necessary to run a household with children, plain and simple. You try telling a second-grader that there's no more toilet paper...

The good news is I understand that clothing prices are down these days. Regardless, I'll have to wait until the next windfall to buy my kids' summer shoes to replace their worn-out school-year shoes, and replace their swimsuits, which they've grown out of, with new ones. They will also need haircuts and new school uniforms before school starts next year, all of which will add up to more than $100. I don't consider these things frivolities. Call me middle class.

Hmmm. Blowing the $100 on myself was a lot more fun. And it seemed to go a lot farther.

So tell us at WalletPop -- how quickly can you spend $100 these days?
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