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My Spending Categories

I spend a lot of money because I’m not frugal by nature. But now I spend a lot more money on others. Not that I’m some fucking Buddha, just that i don’t have any more spending needs – spending on more shit doesn’t make me happier.

The less shit I own, the less I want, the happier I am. Who would have known. Up until 2012 I kept spending more money in search of happiness. I grew up thinking that you always have to save for the next big expenditure.

My overhead these days is rather low since I’m living the retired lifestyle. Any money left over I spend responsibly within my community. My spending supports local industries though there is no easy formula to know when your spending is good for the economy and when it’s just wasteful.

I decided to list and track everything that I spend on. This helps me analyze my spending and figure out how I can optimize it better. The idea to write this post came about when I was walking by a barbershop and that got me debating whether I should continue to cut my own hair or pay someone else for that service.

I wrote a previous post last year addressing my discretionary spending. This is a category I always try to work on. I don’t want to be wasteful with my money.



I own my condo but still have monthly HOA dues and annual property taxes.

I can fix anything in my condo. Most recently some plumbing work on my faucet and the toilet. Since it’s a small place, it’s very easy to maintain, and the main cost savings is on labor.

In Portland have a badass rebuild center where I can get everything used, from wood floors to appliances to windows. Whatever else I need I source from thrift stores or friends.

Every time I consider buying a single family home with some land, I start thinking about all the work involved to maintain the property. Sure, I could farm it out to someone else. But that would mean that I would have to work to earn that money to hire that help.


I still cook most of my meals. Last night I cooked some beans and a stirfry.

I dine out on occasion but it’s tough finding affordable healthy options. That said, Portland is a great city for healthy options so it’s not that hard.

These days I don’t mind paying for friends. If I have the money, I’ll pay for my party. The money I earn these days isn’t necessary income, it’s mostly disposable income.


I don’t have any car related spending since I don’t own a car. My folding Brompton bicycle and my legs are my main modes of transportation.

I don’t even spend any money on repairing flat tires – I have solid tires on the Brompton which got rid of the constant expense of repairing inner tubes.

I rarely will take Uber. When I do, the cost is under $10. The rest of the time I might rent a bicycle if I’m out and about or I might take public transportation.

Cell Phone

Up until a few weeks ago I had a cell phone plan with Ting, averaging $20/month. But I gave that up and now have a cell phone without a cell plan. It hasn’t changed my lifestyle one bit.

I stopped doing telemedicine a few month ago so I don’t have a need for an active cell plan. But I still have a cell phone number where I can receive and make calls for free.


When I socialize with friends I’ll have a beer or a glass of wine. My favorite cocktail is a tequila greyhound but I’ve cut back on alcohol a lot. Now that I’m older it hits me way harder than before.

I used to go through 2-3 bottles of wine a week and now I don’t buy any alcohol for the house.


Traditional vacation, as in, short-term travel doesn’t interest me at all. I can’t imagine doing the tourist thing for like 10 days and then rush back home. I tried it, didn’t like it.

I’ve been working on getting my residency in Spain which in theory should have been really easy: move there for 1-2 years and get residency. But the whole bullshit with the medical board has made that a nightmare, forcing me to fly back and forth to Spain every 3 months.


I love reading books but they can get rather expensive, even used books. I still buy some books and have saved a ton of money with my Kindle and with Audible.

I’ve wanted a Kindle for 4 years. I finally got one because I learned that this particular model is fully repairable if the battery dies or the screen messes up. I am comfortable repairing electronics so buying a used Kindle made sense.


I enjoy making money and I enjoy learning new things. Books are a great way to learn but it’s a very slow way of absorbing knowledge. I learn the best from online courses.

Spending $50-$2,000 for a course is totally worth it. Especially when that course can save me money, save me time, or earn me money.


I spend a lot of money on coffee, definitely more than alcohol. I have my favorite coffee shops which I frequent, Coffee Time and World Cup Coffee, and I like to tip generously.

I started my generous tipping experiment 3 years ago and still do it. I still feel that it’s a good practice though I’m starting to have some doubts.

I buy organic coffee, when available, and I use my Vietnamese drip dingy or my Bialetti percolator or a stainless steel French Press.


I have an $80/month gym membership at a local rock climbing gym, Planet Granite – really nice gym with yoga and a sauna.

I’m considering signing up for another nearby gym, LA Fitness, only because I want to play more racquetball. A buddy of mine is getting into it and he’s pretty good – this would cost me another $30/month.

Medical Licensure

I spend money every couple of years to maintain my medical licenses in CA, WA, and OR. I anticipate cancelling my OR medical license as soon as that’s a possibility.

I also spend a tiny amount to remain board certified with NBPAS. I no longer pay for CME’s and no longer pay for ABMS board certification.


I don’t do birthday or holiday gifts – I stopped about 15 years ago and it’s been a great decision. But I buy random gifts for people. It’s more spontaneous and feels more genuine to me.

I like supporting local businesses so I’ll buy a book of 5 movie passes at Cinema21 or a gift card for a nearby pizza joint out and give it out to friends.

Health Insurance

I have health insurance in Spain. I pay 55 euros a month for that. I can’t bring myself to spend $300/month for crappier healthcare in the US. In fact, I will pay a tax penalty for 2018.

I could purchase short-term health insurance but for now I am comfortable relying on my Spanish health insurance.


I do some traditional donating like to Wikimedia or other favorite groups. But I also lend money out on Kiva which is a potent way to vote with your money.

I’m slowly building a community of friends here in Portland and have donated much larger sums to a few startups and local businesses. I’m not sure how far I will take this yet, so far it’s been a pleasant experience.

I used to donate my time as well by seeing patients with Medical Teams International and Project Outside In. But after my medical board drama I realized that my clinical services weren’t welcome in Oregon – I’m no sucka, sucka!

Media Stuff

I pay hosting fees for the blog and hosting fees for my podcast. But I make the money back on the products I sell on this blog so that’s a wash.

I pay $10/month to remove ads from YouTube and $15/month for Audible. These are my only ongoing subscriptions.

I don’t have Netflix or Amazon subscriptions. With free movies from the library I don’t see any need for these.



4 replies on “My Spending Categories”

Can you go further into your tipping experiment for coffee?

Also, go further into your health insurance in Spain?

For example, you’re riding your bicycle and get smashed by a car. How does your Spain health insurance help you for the catastrophic plus follow ups?

A few years ago I started tipping the service industry at much higher rates especially if I frequented a place or sat at a coffee shop for a while. So if I buy a cup of coffee for 2.50 then I’ll tip $5. I used to tip even more but after a while it’s a problem for the business owner because they will have to pay a transaction fee on that amount. I don’t carry cash so the $5 seems pretty fair.

But after some reading about poverty (or perceived poverty) in the US and after my own experiences with the medical board, I’m a little more calloused. I still believe that those who are younger and especially women who go into the service industry can work really hard for a very low income. They don’t get adequate financial education so they can get fucked financially.

But more money isn’t a solution. For now I’ll continue this experiment until I can replace it with something better. This is why my coffee budget is somewhere in the $300/month range when I post my monthly budgets.

As for health insurance in Spain – I pay 55 euro a month to get health insurance in Spain so that I am fully covered there. To answer your question, what would you do if you got into a catastrophic car crash in the US? If you got paralyzed or had a severe intracranial bleed or had major rhabdo from crush injuries, you’re fucked whether you have insurance or not.

If you’re referring to health insurance coverage. In the US we have laws which require the hospital to stabilize people even if they don’t have insurance. Anything beyond that is managed on a case by case basis. Even if you have insurance, you can still be left with thousands of dollars of bills because the insurance company can refuse the bills. Just because your trauma surgeon and orthopedist thought the whole pelvis had to be rebuilt, doesn’t mean your insurance will agree.

As for such a black swan event – it’s possible but unlikely. I can’t prep for every end-stage scenario. The more likely scenario is a moderate trauma case where I end up in the hospital and might need trauma surgery. I’m comfortable negotiating that bill down to whatever I think is fair and signing myself out when needed and take the rest of my care over to either Spain or Mexico or Thailand or all the other major medical tourist destination who will arrange for your transport and take over the care.

I pay about $50/month for hosting fees. I pay maybe $50/year for the domain registration. I pay another $5/month for my G-suite for email. That’s all I can think of. With my podcast and everything else I have going on online, I don’t pay more than $100/month.

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