Financial

Trainer Edition with Tina Hang

As trainers, we always give our clients a weekly spending goal. This is supposed to be for everything that isn’t a fixed monthly expense. My fixed bills each month are rent, utilities, internet, and a Netflix family subscription. I do have a monthly Peloton subscription (just the workouts, as I don’t have the bike) but it’s reimbursed from my credit card for the rest of 2021. Annually, I also pay for renter’s insurance, 2 travel credit card fees, and professional license dues/fees. So my weekly spend goal is for things like groceries, takeout/delivery, bubble tea (I drink a lot of this), and all the other random stuff I buy.

I was a client first before I started working as a trainer at the gym, and I’ll be honest, I never paid much attention to the weekly spend goal I was given by my trainer. I automated my savings/investments and figured that if I could pay off the credit cards each month, it wasn’t a problem, and it wasn’t (for the most part). I still meet with my trainer every quarter and love it—one of the perks of working at the Financial Gym is that trainers can have their own trainer!  But once I started working with clients and espousing the benefits of the weekly spend goal, I’ve become hyper aware of my own, which is $200. My trainer will say it’s $185, but I’ve generously rounded myself up to $200. I have 401k and HSA contributions taken pre-tax out of my paycheck. Then, the majority of my savings each month from my take-home pay goes to my travel fund so that I can have a “luxurious” travel budget. It’s my non-negotiable, even though I haven’t been doing any for the past year. Still, I know that once it’s easier and safe, I’ll want to hit the ground running, so I never stopped saving for it. The rest of my paycheck goes to a variety of savings accounts for gifts, donations, medical bills, and annual expenses.

Sunday

I’m out walking around the neighborhood with my sister and a few friends. It’s somehow scorching hot and in the high 80s in May, so we stop to get one of my favorite things: water ice. I get passion fruit and rainbow. Typically the red in the rainbow flavor is cherry, but this was a fake tasting watermelon. Not a fan, but at least it was refreshing, and the passion fruit was delicious.  $5

We drop by a baby store so my friend can pick up a present. I see a set of reusable sea creature cards that kids can color in with a magic water pen. It’s perfect for my nephew so I get it. $22

I see a Travelzoo deal for 5 nights for 2 people in a fancy hotel in Mauritius, including daily breakfast, cocktails, and massages. I had been discussing going on a trip with my good friend and fellow trainer, Terri, so I send her this deal. We chat about it a little bit, mostly discussing whether we should go for the garden view room or upgrade to a deluxe ocean view room. I ultimately decide to buy it for $1,299, but this will come out of my travel fund. If we go, it will only cost $650 each! Not sure if we will actually end up going but it’s good through the end of 2022 and fully refundable so no harm if we don’t.

Monday

A no spend day for me! =)

Tuesday

I love a good deal and UberEats knows my weakness, so they send me a promo code for $12 off if you spend $20. I live with my sister and we are obsessed with this local Middle Eastern restaurant so we order chicken shawarma bowls, a side of falafel, and baba ganoush for dinner. It’s so much food and so cheap. $20 for my half, including tax/tip—and I can eat the rest for lunch tomorrow!

Wednesday

We signed up for a weekly local flower subscription from May to October (prepaid already for the season out of my April variable spend at $218 for my portion). We pick up a different flower each week in person and this week, we got 5 pink peonies! Last week, we got 2 peonies along with some crimson clovers but the peonies bloomed so fast, it felt like they exploded. We are determined to get them to bloom slowly the 2nd time around by keeping them in ice cold water.  I love this subscription so much and it’s always the highlight of each week. Probably the best purchase I’ll make all year.

UberEats sent my sister a promo code for $20 off if you spend $25. (Are we sensing a pattern here?) Sometimes I get in a rut with takeout and can’t think of anything we want to eat. I take this as a sign that we are ordering out too much. This is one of those nights, but luckily, we realize we haven’t had poke bowls in a while. I make my own bowl with rice, tuna, salmon, edamame, cucumber, scallion, kani salad, seaweed salad, sesame seeds, and classic shoyu sauce. $9 including tax/tip.

Thursday

Another no spend day! Heated up some frozen dumplings for lunch.

Friday

For weekday breakfasts, I always eat the same thing—oatmeal with raisins, bananas, and milk, not only because I like it but because it’s easy, cheap, and healthy.  For lunch this week I’ve been making my own salads at home so I decided to cook some noodles today.

We normally don’t order food during the week but we always do on Fridays to celebrate the end of the week. We try to eat healthily Monday to Thursday and gorge out on Fridays/the weekend. This week is no exception. I’ve been a huge BTS fan ever since my sister dragged me to a concert 2.5 years ago. I had never really listened to Kpop before that concert but I succumbed soon after. In conjunction with their new single, they partnered with McDonald’s to launch a BTS Meal, which is really just a chicken nugget meal combo. I very rarely eat McDonald’s anymore except when I’m traveling, but you know, gotta support the boys. $19 for 10 piece chicken nuggets, fries, Dr. Pepper, cajun and sweet chili dipping sauces, and of course, I had to get an Oreo McFlurry. There’s no sign of BTS anywhere on the branding except some Korean words on the dipping sauces. I had read this was a common complaint with fans in the US and expected this. They probably should have included photo cards though—fans would have gone wild.

Saturday

I’m a big tennis fan and follow the sport pretty closely, but I’m terrible at actually playing. With the goal to play more and get better this year, I finally got my tennis permit to play on the outdoor courts at any NYC park a few weeks ago with my sister. We were going to play on the (now free with the permit) outdoor courts with a friend in Flushing, but since it was pouring rain this morning, the friend booked court time at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center instead.  The only open time was 8AM (yikes, that’s early for me!). A Lyft from home to the tennis center was $22, $11 for my half. It was my first time here and I have to say it was pretty cool to be playing where the US Open is. I go to the US Open almost every year and it’s one of my favorite events to go to. Luckily there’s netting around each court so there is no risk of hitting a ball into someone else’s court. $68 per hour to play at 8AM / 3 people = $23 for me. 

After tennis, there’s a nearby restaurant that serves the typical Taiwanese breakfast but only on weekends. We get two orders of shaobing youtiao to share. This is essentially a long piece of fried dough enveloped by sesame flatbread. Youtiao translates to “oil stick” if that gives you any indication of what this tastes like. Carbs on carbs. I haven’t had this since I was in Taiwan 2 years ago so it’s very nostalgic for me. We also get soy milk (slightly sweetened), turnip buns, and rice rolls (rice wrapped around the aforementioned oil stick and pickled vegetables). Good thing we worked out beforehand! Breakfast is $23 for my portion.

We head to 2 different grocery stores to stock up on necessities. We get our normal haul, which is typically fresh vegetables (lettuce, bok choy, eggplant, cucumbers, radish), lots of fruit (clementines, grapes, blackberries, bananas, pink pineapple), asian rice cakes to stir fry, soup, and meats (shredded pork, duck).  $50 for my half. This is on par for my usual ~$200 to ~$250 monthly grocery spend. Last year, at the start of the pandemic, my monthly grocery bill was more like $350 to $400 in monthly groceries but a new affordable grocery store recently opened in our neighborhood and we’ve calmed down a little bit with the food shopping.

After hanging out for the afternoon, we took a Lyft home since the groceries were extra heavy and we were too lazy to take the subway  $24 in total, or $12 for me. I recently signed up for Google Pay and there was a 30% cash back offer on Lyft (max $5 back) that got automatically applied so I’m going to get $5 of this back. 

Total variable spend for the week $194

Trainer Thoughts:

No bubble tea this week, it’s a miracle. We normally only order takeout 1-2 times a week but UberEats really got us this week with the promo codes.  Most of my spending goes towards food, travel, and skincare but I am all stocked up on skincare and didn’t need anything this week. It’s important for me to have the flexibility to be able to indulge in the things that make me happy each week as long as it’s within the weekly goal. That way, when a good deal on a vacation pops up or my friends decide at the last minute to go somewhere, I know I have saved for it and don’t even think twice before saying yes. I don’t always stay under the weekly goal but if I do go over, I try to balance it out by spending less over the next week or two. 

Want to talk to someone about your own financial goals and spending? Get your own trainer by signing up for a warm-up call here.



Source
Trainer Edition with Tina Hang is written by The Financial Gym Team for financialgym.com

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