UNITED STATES—Whenever you buy something, you always get a receipt. For most people, they keep the receipt until they get home, than it’s tossed in the trash. I’m going to share something with you that many of you might think is bonkers crazy. For the past 12 months, I have KEPT every single receipt of any item (including food) that I purchased in the year 2017.

The purpose of this experiment as I’d like to call it was to really examine my spending habits and track where, when and how money I brought in was being spent. Man, was I delivered surprises galore when I took out white envelopes, labeled them with the stores that I frequently visited and tallied the damage. I make reasonable money, but I spent far too much money in 2017 on things that perhaps I didn’t need.

I can already say without a doubt, I will be revising my Christmas list next year to stay within a feasible budget and limit the gift giving to a single gift. In the past 4 weeks I easily spent $800-$900 on Christmas gifts! And guess what: I don’t have any kids! Yes, that is beyond crazy, and it was an eye-opener I really needed to see to grasp that I’m spending a bit too much, and I need to rein things in to save a bit more money.

In addition, I realized what my intuition had been saying for years: the cost of groceries/food is a deal breaker for most people. I tend to hit the grocery store at least once a week, but after looking at those receipts I was easily spending $100 to $150 a week, for 12 months. Do the math people that is over $5k a year. I know for a fact I’m not eating that much, so it makes we question the following: 1) What am I spending my money on 2) Where am I spending my money 3) Are there ways for me to save more money?

Yes, that is the goal of 2018, perhaps look at other stores to purchase groceries and perhaps adjust what I’m buying or find ways to save more money. There are always coupons and examining those circulars with a keen eye to ensure I’m not spending more than I should for certain items. On top of that I discovered I was the primary individual purchasing cleaning supplies and toiletry items in the household. I spend my money, while everyone else saved theirs. That is quite frustrating to say the least. Why? Just imagine if everyone chipped in, I’d have more money to utilize on other things, more money to pay off debt and save.

Of course the biggest surprise I realized is that I like clothing and shoes and I spend a feasible portion of my income on such items. Did I get items on sale? Yes, but at the same time things easily add up. If you spent $20 a week for 6 months that is easily $500. It makes you question did you really need that item or did you just want to buy something? Those are the questions that I’m being reminded of after this little experiment.

Oh, I plan to keep those envelopes with all those receipts and the BOLD, PERMANENT MARKER indicating the amount I spent at each store. Why? I want to remind myself of where my money is going so I can make the proper adjustment to readjust my spending habits and find ways to save more and more and more. Why? I want to be debt free and more importantly I want money stashed away for retirement.

Written By Kelsey Thomas