Sunday, July 06, 2003

All about the Benjamins

I'm a fanatic about money management. I'm one of those people who keeps track of every penny the wife and I spend, and I manage it all in Microsoft Money (I use NetBank and credit cards that download automatically into Money, so the work is more about analysis than typing in receipt details). Also, I run everything I can through a credit card, so I have a lot of records about where we spend our money.

So with 2003 halfway done, I took a look this weekend at where our money has been going this year. Take out the regular bills and taxes, and here's the dozen places who get the most money from us:

1. Kroger - Before getting completely fed up with the Ghetto Kroger, it was our regular grocery store. Look for Ghetto K to slip down the ranking for the rest of the year.

2. Home Depot - Yeah, typical. Between the work done around our house and re-painting our rental condo (twice) this year, there's been a lot of trips to Big Orange on Ponce.

3. - What kind of modern, Internet-working couple would we be if we didn't shop at BezosMart? The bulk of the expense here so far in 2003 was the super-fly DVD recorder the wife got me for my birthday. Come Christmas time, will creep back up the Q4 list.

4. Chez Danielle - The wife's beauty salon. Hey, she's hot. How do you figure she stays that way?

5. Publix - Our new preferred neighborhood grocery is No. 5 with a bullet, having won our business away from Ghetto K. Publix is shooting for No. 1 by the end of the year.

6. - Although it sounds like a radical socialist movement, it's actually the loan for the new SUV. If we'd have bought a Nissan Murano instead of a Hyundai SantaFe, would be up the list.

7. QuikTrip - Since starting my new job in suburbia, I'm again filling up - with gas and 44-ounce fountain drinks - at my favorite convenience store. I've been a fan of QuikTrip since moving up to Atlanta (the only one I knew of at the time was on Chamblee-Tucker Road near where the ex and later my boy Tom were working), and I always seek them out when I need a fillup in the 'burbs. And now the Maxima drinks QT gas almost exclusively.

8. Shell Oil - The wife favors the Shell station on Moreland at McPherson. She says the Indian fellas who run the place are nice to her. One weekend we were there filling her car up. She was sitting in the passenger seat; I was pumping the gas. I see one of the little Indian guys come outside, and he gives a big smile and wave to the wife. I stopped letting her leave the house alone after that.

9. Walgreens - I tend to hit the CVS in Grant Park if I make a drugstore run from home, but I also hit a Walgreens by the office, and the wife is partial to the WGreen on North at Piedmont. Those tubes of toothpaste and bars of soap really add up.

10. JCrew - First sign of Yuppiedom to appear on the list (it gets worse at No. 12). Mostly clothes for the wife (they put more women's stuff on sale, especially online), but also plenty of stuff for myself.

11. PetsMart - Our big dog, Ruffin, eats about five pounds of food a day. The little dog, Dobie, is an absolute jackass unless you shut him up with rawhides. Thus, many, many trips to PetsMart.

12. Starbucks - Maybe I should feel guilty about this. And if the wife and I were drinking regular-old hot coffee at The Evil Empire instead of at Joe's or Aurora or something, I probably would. But our Starbucks addiction is all about Iced Chai and Iced Quad Lattes. Ordering iced coffee beverages at a small coffeeshop is like ordering country-fried steak at Ruth's Chris. Sure, they can make it, but it's not what they do well. The Iced Quad Latte at Starbucks is always going to be good, whether you buy it in Atlanta, New York, Charleston, Nashville, Savannah, New Orleans, Houston, Las Vegas or the Ft. Lauderdale airport (yes, I've had them in all those places).

And there's the Dirty Dozen. Pretty damn corporate, isn't it? Local places start to show up more in the second dozen. There's our former dog sitter Brian - an EAtl resident - at 14; Oxford Cleaners in L5P - not coincidentally located next to the Starbucks - at 16; The Flatiron at 21 and Six Feet Under at 24.

If I had a better system of cash accounting, Yard Guy would probably rank somewhere in the top 20. But he doesn't take Visa.


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