A little by little adds up to a lot

As readers of this blog are aware, since the beginning of the year, Dave has posted our monthly expense reports to chronicle our family’s expenses.

Similarly, now that we are in the month of August, Dave is busy tallying our expenses for the month of July so please watch out for his next post!

One thing that shocked me when I pulled my expense report, was how much I had exceeded for the month of July. Granted that the majority of the spending in most of the categories stayed relatively the same, there were a few others that had a few extra increases mainly due to certain once-off expenditures. Looking at them individually, they didn’t seem to add up to that much. However, when you combine them together, it became pretty significant.

Generally, I had exceeded my budget by about $500 in July. And I would account it to certain purchases such as the following:

  1. Red packet for mother’s birthday – $200.
  2. Mattress/pillow protectors – $100. I had gotten extra sets of mattress and pillow protectors this month. As minimalists, we had tried not to get extras of everything, just living with the essentials. However, there were occasions when Ally had fallen ill and threw up on our bed (will spare you the details here). I guess with a toddler, its always good to have spares around. Yes it might be one of those “just in case” scenarios but I thought it was necessary for our case.
  3. Intimates – $90. I had set myself a shopping ban for this year, and when I reviewed it 5 months later, I had managed to stick to it. However, I had to get some extra sets as the existing sets were getting a tag uncomfortable for me.
  4. Personal care items for Ally – $180. These included her vitamins, creams, a baby thermometer, etc. Just happened to run out of them and I needed to top up the items.

Total: $570

All in all, there was an extra spending of about $570. Did I expect it to be that much? To be honest, I did have an inclination that expenses for this month might be on the high end and that I might actually exceed, since the red packet money for my mother was already $200. I was also aware of a few extra expenditures this month, like the mattress protectors, vitamins etc. but they were separate purchases. However, when I finally managed to generate my expenditure report, it did surprise me a little that collectively, it was almost an extra $600 of expenses incurred.

These are mainly once-off purchases which I don’t forsee recurring in future months. Having said that, I think this reflects an important point about how sometimes we don’t see small purchases like this adding up. Ok, perhaps they aren’t really that small, since most of them hover at around $100 or more.

Ever had that experience when you enter that value dollar shop and start loading your shopping basket with items that are probably just around a dollar and when you start paying for them at the cashier, the final value exponentially jumped 20 times the original value of each item?

A little and little adds up pretty significantly.

And I guess that’s something that we should be mindful of. For our subconsciousness doesn’t recognise that, but when reality hits, it’s painful.

For the month of August, do I forsee any other extra expenditure? For now yes, for starters’, it is my father’s birthday month (so perhaps a family dinner or red packet will be given out), and there’s also a separate birthday gathering with a group of friends (which will probably come up to about $100 based on previous expenditure patterns).

But hopefully, I can still stick to my budget.

Maybe I am just been overly ambitious here.


  1. I really agree with you on this! Happens to me way too many times when I’m shopping at Daiso. *guilty* also online shopping on Taobao – since they are so cheap it’s easy to add frivolous items to cart! I also happen to chance upon your blog recently and I’m now an avid reader, just cos the stuff you guys share truly resonates with hubby and I. Keep up the sharing!


    1. Thanks, glad that you find that they resonate with you guys and appreciate the support.


  2. AdventureRich · · Reply

    I have had this happen before as well! The little items that seem necessary and insignificant creep up on me spending-wise… and we also have a toddler so I hear you on that too 🙂 I guess there has to be both a flexibility that there will be unexpected expenses that add up, but also a challenge to keep them as low as possible.

    ~Mrs. Adventure Rich


    1. Oh yes, and sometimes there’s those unexpected expenses that pops up now and then and it all adds up. We have been trying to keep expenses down but sometimes it’s really hard. Really kudos to all the others out there who manage to do it.


  3. Kate, I think it was a great idea for you to be completely honest about how much you have overspent. Most would lie to pretend they are doing better (a sadly common thing) but you are still on the right track!


    1. Thank you on for your kind words 🙂 It kind of annoys me whenever I realise that I didn’t keep to my budget or I know I will be breaking it but I guess what I try to do is to reflect on my spending patterns and ask myself if I have spent anything unnecessarily. I hope I am not “justifying” my spending too much if not it will just become excuses in the end!


      1. Sorry I’m so late to this post. I think it’s fine to be a bit frivolous with income to an extent. If you aren’t saving up for anything significant, then you can spend smaller amounts if it will be useful for you or otherwise just makes you happy. What’s the point otherwise? Just have to make sure you don’t pass your limit or “justify” it like you said!


      2. Sure agree that it’s fine to be frivolous and if you do see our expense report, we do have certain “frivolous” expenditures. I guess ultimately, the aim is to be aware of our spending and like the article states, sometimes a little by a little adds up to a lot. We just need to make sure that the “frivolous spends” doesn’t occur too often nor in huge amounts!


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