November Money Diary: The Dollar Vote

Ivan here.

November has come and gone, taking most our daylight with it. These days it gets dark out around four thirty in the afternoon. It’s harder to get out of bed in the morning, as the temperature drops and my biological clock slows down to a crawl. Winter has arrived. An election is over. Donald Trump is now our President Elect. 

Speaking of the vote, you know what’s a better representation of our values as a nation? How we spend our time and where we spend our dollars. A cast ballot every four years is only an expression of what we think we believe. How we spend our hours and dollars is who we actually are. 

Republican or Democrat, show me a random sample size of how you spend your money, and I can tell you just how full of shit you are. In the spirit of self reflection, let’s examine our own spending habits. We’ll show you how we spent our week on Thanksgiving. This year, both our families were still abroad in Asia and we only had each other for company. 

A Thanksgiving Week in the Life of Ivan & Jennie

Day 1

7 a.m.: Thanksgiving Day. Already bought groceries for the week ($65). Wake up and walk to the coffee shop for some writing and conversation. Our usual place is closed so we head to Starbucks ($7) 
12:00 p.m.: Grab some al pastor tacos from our favorite taco truck for lunch. ($11) 
6:30 p.m.: Make dinner at home, then head over to the New Beverly Cinema for a special Thanksgiving screening of Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch in 35mm ($16) 

Day 2

7 a.m.: Ivan writes at a local coffee shop. Jennie stays home catching up on her NPR podcasts and sketches on her graphic design tablet ($3)
12:00 p.m.: We meet up at the bus stop and take the hour long bus ride to downtown LA ($3.50)
1:30 p.m.: Walk around Grand Central Market and the Bradbury Building. Ivan sells some books at The Last Bookstore. Spends a couple of hours picking out new books mostly with store credit ($12.50)

Day 3

Saturday. Spend all day at home making ribs, eating Costco pumpkin pie with ice cream and catching up on our shows (we like Westworld and Atlanta) $0 

Day 4

7 a.m.: Ivan writes ($3) 
12 p.m.: Ramen for lunch at Santouka ($17) followed by more lazing about and home cooking for the rest of the day

Day 5

7 a.m.: Monday. Back to work. Morning coffee together ($6).
1 p.m.: Jennie grabs a breakfast sandwich from Eggslut with co-workers near Venice Beach ($7)

Day 6

7 a.m.: Ivan writes ($3). Jennie picks up some bagels for breakfast and lunch ($7)
5 p.m.: Tuesday is movie date night. We picked Arrival. Normally we go to Cinemark on Tuesdays for the $6 discount. Side note: we have a rule where we'll never (ever) spend money on sequels or reboots ($12)

Day 7

7 a.m.: Ivan writes at a local coffee shop ($3)
12 p.m.: Jennie lunches ($7)
6 p.m.: Perfectly mediocre chicken pho at Mama Hong’s in Westwood; we still haven’t found that perfect bowl of chicken pho in Los Angeles yet but Jennie mentioned the beef pho was good ($24)

Total: $142 per week (+$65 worth in groceries)

So What Have We Learned? 

For starters, our finances show that we’re not exactly social butterflies. Or to quote Woody Allen, “we’re not antisocial, we’re just not social.” But the bigger problem might be that our lifestyle is way too insular and centered around personal enjoyment. We have zero connection to our community or the world at large. And how can we claim to be upset about the election results when we haven’t contributed a single hour or dollar to a cause or charity we care about? There is an obvious disconnect between what we believe and what we’re willing to do about it.

Something needs to change. Which is why by the end of next month, Jennie and I will be coming up with a shortlist of causes or charities that we value most, and will be committing either our time or money into supporting them.