An Enormous Trader Joe’s Haul and Other September 2019 Expenses

The leaves are beginning to turn—little bright flags waggling in the wind. Most people love the fall; it’s a time of just enough chill to don a jacket and sweater and get a little cozy. Not me.

Winter Is Coming (But Enjoy Autumn Anyway)

I have always disliked the fall because it meant winter was coming, and with it biting cold. However, now that we’re on the east coast I’m determined to enjoy this season. It helps that all of our utilities are covered which means we can keep our place as warm as it needs to be (don’t worry Mom, I’ll still put on a sweater).

Starting the Month in D.C.

The month kicked off in Washington D.C. where I went to FinCon, a conference “where money & media meet.” It was my first time in D.C. so I loved getting to explore the city and I especially loved meeting other bloggers.

I loved the summer weather and amazing architecture in D.C.

Taking Advantage of Local Events

When I returned home, we found several local events to go to.

We sat in the grass watching hundreds of hot air balloons take to the sky.


We watched planes take off from the local landing strip.


and, not a “local event” but certainly worth noting, I grabbed a cinnamon bun and coffee on the way to kick off my Sunday.


Luckily for us, activities around town are mostly free, so I think I did okay this month in terms of spending. Let’s dig into this month’s spending to see how I fared.

September Spending Report

Note: These are expenses for just me.

ItemAmountMechanic’s Musings
Groceries$300While I usually only spend $108 per month on groceries, this month I blame Trader Joe’s. There isn’t one in our town, so when I flew into Albany I stopped by Trader Joe’s. The total bill was $259 (so $130 for my half), and now our fridge and freezer are stocked with goodies for months to come. Hopefully, we will see a decrease in grocery bills coming up. To be continued…
FinCon Ticket$200I bought a ticket for next year
Travel$162This includes a weekend Airbnb booked for when we go to Vermont in the autumn, and Lyfts around D.C. when I was at FinCon.
Restaurants$129I went out to eat while in D.C. and took Mr. Mechanic out for a farm-to-table dinner for his birthday. That dinner counted for about half of the overall total.
Gifts$104I bought Mr. Mechanic a bass for his birthday. It was originally $200, it was selling for $120, and I haggled it down to $90. I also got him a heating pad for his shoulders.
Personal Care$68We live within walking distance of a huge gym, equipped with pools, weight rooms, classes, everything! Yet we haven’t been a single time since we moved here. My strategy to get us to start going is a punch card: $50 for 7 visits. Then we can look into a membership which is a bigger commitment.

I also realized that my hair doesn’t dry overnight like in Portland, so I went ahead and bought a mini hairdryer.

Touristing$25Mr. Mechanic’s folks are in town so we visited a few museums
Fuel$7I think this is only possible because I filled up the tank before the start of this month and we’ve only needed to fill it once. Still seems weirdly low.



Yikes! This is an extremely high spending month, especially now that our rent is half what it used to be. I would have expected our spending to go down accordingly. The huge grocery run coupled with high spending for Mr. Mechanic’s birthday did me in this month.

How were your September expenses?

What local events do you go to in the fall?

Do you think a $300 grocery run is over the top?

Share in the comments below!

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    1. I know right?! It might not have been the “cheapest” if we were going to the gym often, but it seems like the best way to get us started. Then if we prove we will actually go, then we can invest a bit more.

  1. Those leaves wagging in the wind saying..”you spent too much in Trader Joes!” Just kidding it makes me realize the value of all those items stocked and ready in the pantry. Spices alone cost a small fortune. I think I could live off stocked foods for a month or more if I had too, not that I would particularly care to be challenged to spend nothing on food in a month on food, as I enjoy fresh items too much.
    Anyway, I bet its nice in a way to start over.

    1. Yes I think we could similarly live for a long time off of our freezer foods now. Hopefully we take advantage of the value and eat through it. Unfortunately when we moved we threw a lot of stuff away, so I hope we don’t do that again.

  2. I LOVE the balloon pictures. There’s a new movie out, The Aeronauts, which is just so-so but takes place in a hot air balloon in the late 1800’s and the cinematography is beautiful.
    Funny about Trader Joe’s as we have several in NYC and love it. I think their frozen and non-perishable items are great so you probably will have a lot of good groceries for months to come.
    We recently did a month in Costa Rica and the low amount we spent (about a quarter compared to NYC and we didn’t budget) definitely makes me think hard about the geo-arbitrage option.

    1. I definitely would like to try out geo-arbitrage eventually! It’s always nice when you don’t even need to budget but you’re already spending way less.

      The balloons were very picturesque! I recommend going if there’s ever a launch near you.

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