Budgeting in 2013

A few of my New Year’s resolutions for 2013 are budget-focused: going out to eat only once a month (that’s 12 restaurant visits per year) and not buying a single new item of clothing all year long (unless gifted or purchased with a gift card given to me).

We’re only a week into 2013, and I’ve already been tempted to break these resolutions. It’s really hard when socialization and friendship and fun is often associated with meals. That’s how American culture works, as well as pretty much any other culture on earth.

Eat at home for less

Eating ay home can be delicious AND cheap!

So far I’ve done a pretty good job of avoiding the spending trap that is going out to eat. I brought my lunch to Panera to meet a friend from college, and I invited my friends from an old job over to eat homemade pizza and chat at our house.

And though we’ve both been tired and hungry, Sean and I have managed to cook something up when we really just wanted to go out to a nearby burrito place and chow down on some bean burritos and salsa! Instead, we’ve been trying to recreate our favorite restaurant meals at home–quesadillas, everything salads, fun pastas, etc.

Two Bean Sloppy Joe

Remember the ever-messy two-bean sloppy Joe?

I use an app called Mint (which is free!) to track finances, and I’ve been looking back over what I’ve spent money on in 2012. My savings have definitely dwindled as I purchased a new car (Doc Holliday is totally worth it, though) and blew it out on Christmas gifts. I am dedicated, though, to getting myself together financially in 2013.

I think part of my problem is that I’m always used to things “just working out.” Even when I was in college and on a really tight scholarship budget (think $250 a month), I always managed to balance the books by the end of the month.

Mitten Head

Mitten Head says, “Please don’t skimp on kitty noms!”

Once I graduated college, moving in with Sean and sharing bills definitely helped, and I was able to pay off my (meager, I know) college loan in just a few months. Sean is definitely better with money than I am. He always manages to save for multiple things at a time–house fund, fun savings, unexpected bills and repairs–and always has enough. I feel like I’m always scrambling at the last minute to rearrange finances to cover my butt. That’s never a good feeling.

This year, I’m really going to try to use the Mint app to focus on saving as much as I can and minimize unnecessary spending. Looking through last year, I spent over $5000 on groceries/eating out. $5000! That could have been a vacation!

Here’s to an awesome vacation in 2014 sponsored entirely by 2013 resolutions!

What issues do you have with budgeting? Have you tried any apps or programs that have really helped you?

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