Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Old habits die hard...

Yes, it is once again that time of the month that I dread: divulging my spending habits to the world.

Unfortunately, this month I did not make a chart to divulge everything. I simply did not keep all of the receipts. For next month, I have cleared out a folder in my filing drawer just for receipts which I can review and confirm with my bank statements as well as then identify my purchases for all of you lovely people. :)

This month's total? $205.22


I really fell of the bandwagon this month! I spent $72.28 of that on going out to restaurants and roughly $130 on groceries. Of course, there were other things that I did not track as I did not keep the receipts. I know I spent some extra on dining out with cash that wasn't included.

My struggles lie in maintaining a social life and eating out. Most certainly there were times that it was not a social event and it was my own fault. Namely, one day I ordered take out food at the Chinese restaurant next door from work as I forgot my lunch.

My friend, Jason, and I went out to brunch one day. I owed him some money anyways (he borrowed me one night so I could once again, spend unwisely on food at a basketball game he got free tickets to and so generously invited me! Thanks Jas!) so I bought his brunch. I cannot deny that I did enjoy this dining out for brunch. The restaurant, Hazel's, was one that I hadn't been to ever and they had an AMAZING "Hippie Cake" - a pancake that had granola in it. Once again I'm torn between how to maintain social contact and live on a budget. Hazel's was very reasonably priced and had I not splurged on all of the other outings during the month, I would not be feeling so guilty about this very pleasant outing.

Another problem that I have encountered is that, with the new dodgeball team, I pay $4 a week to play. After each game, we all go out to a small Mexican restaurant down the street, El Paraiso, and I usually have only one beer which during happy hour is only $2.00. It's really great to me to be able to go out and make new friends. Lately however, I've been questioning, should I give up my newly acquired happy hour habit? I do believe there is one other person who goes and usually does not get beer. Can I go and just enjoy the company, some water and the free chips rather than buying a beer each time? I have plenty of beer I can drink at home, for much cheaper! It is not so much about beer for me. I could go without the beer. It is the sheer socialization involved in going out. Maybe tomorrow, I will try and leave my happy hour habit behind and only enjoy the company.

I've devised a new experiment with shopping as well. What I am currently doing, clearly isn't working. So, I not have... "The ALDI Experiment". I've decided to begin shopping primarily at ALDI. It is a store that has some very interesting concepts with regards to grocery markets and how they eliminate costs for consumers. I would like to try to use this all month. Of course, I may spend some extra money on meat items that I would like to buy organic and local, however other than that, I would like to see what I can do with the ALDI Experiment. I've heard that you can have some amazing savings with this store. I hope to see that next month! I went to shop there today as I needed some items. Unfortunately, they were closed when I got there. I had to go to another grocery store but I tried to pick as little as necessary to make it through to tomorrow so that I can shop at ALDI. I'm looking forward to this new experiment in budgeting!

Contemplating my spending habits this month, I wondered how I can ensure that I change this for the next month. I've been continuing to listen to "The New Frugality" by Chris Farrell. In part of the book, he discusses using motivational tools to ensure that you fulfill your goals. One of these is by committing to a goal by way of saying that if you don't accomplish the goal, you will have to do something you dread. I began thinking of organizations that I knew I would hate to donate to. I asked for some help from my friends and this is what I came up with: My Anti-Donation Campaign. Yes people, I cannot think of anything worse (though I'm sure there may be).

I am setting my spending goal for going out to restaurants for $25.00 for this month. This does not include coffee. Remember, I have allowed myself 2 coffees out per month and thanks to my lovely big brother and sis-in-law, I have a gift card to Caribou Coffee that should last me about 2 months! I also have a travel mug I purchased from there now so it will give me 50 cents off per drink too! :)

If I spend more than $25.00 on dining out this month, I will be forced to donate to Sarah Palin's Political Action Committee. I will make a donation of $25 should I not fulfill my goal! Wish me luck! That should be enough incentive, wouldn't you think?

Do you have any "Anti-Donation Campaigns" or bets that you make with friends in order to fulfill your goals? What are they?

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