On the one hand, I feel victorious since I was able to bring in extra money this month and not spend out of my regular paycheck in all of these categories. I also think it was really good for me to track how much I spent throughout the month-it is eye opening to see how much I spend (and in a month where I was thinking about it too...I can't imagine what the total must have been over the summer, when I sort of went crazy with the spending). I would not have predicted that this is the amount I spend in a month on top of necessities. It encouraged me to continue to keep track of my expenses (on a spreadsheet, not on a blog. I am thinking this string got a little boring).
Also, it was nice to see how much extra money I was able to bring in this month. My foray into selling on Amazon was a success. I got rid of lots of extra stuff in my house, and brought in some money. Normally I would have either left it there forever or donated it to the Salvation Army. While donations are a good thing (that's still how I get rid of clothes), by making a little bit of extra effort I was able to bring in an extra sixty bucks this month. I am also glad I have been recycling. I know that's not a lot of money, but it's good for the environment and good for my wallet. Every little bit helps and I plan to keep that up all year.
Honestly, the amount spent on social eating and bars doesn't really bother me too much. I know I could eat out less and spend less at bars, but those are social outings. I don't clothes shop anymore (not until my credit cards are paid off at least), but it is important to me to be able to socialize with friends. And believe it or not, I actually did say not to some things this month. So, while those are my highest numbers, they are acceptable to me. It just tells me that I need to sacrifice in other areas to stay in my monthly budget.
However, the convenience food category has got to go. I categorized convenience food as any time I ate out alone. First of all, most of these choices were unhealthy (fast food, pizza, etc.) I don't need to be going anywhere with a drive-thru. Second, if I am trying to live on a budget, I need to cut out unnecessary expenses, and not being in to mood to cook or eat at home does not constitute necessary. I also sometimes ended up eating out alone because I did not plan well, and was out and about without food.
So, in closing. From now on I will...
*track the amount I spend each month by categories.
*make a goal to keep convenience food spending under $10/month.
*keep recycling (I am aiming to make an extra $100 this year)
*keep selling items on Amazon (also aiming for an extra $100 this year)k
Thanks to those of you who read this marathon thread and who commented on it. The accountability was really helpful, and I do better with a rambling narrative than a spreadsheet with formulas. I will now return to blogging like a (semi-)normal person. :)