Over the past few months I've edged toward abandoning my laissez-faire attitude toward personal finance. For the past few years I've basically been operating under the conditions where I have enough disposable income to do most fun things I want, but live in an area where the prospect of buying a place without a second income involved is more or less impossible (and frankly damn hard even when you have someone else helping!). So if I have money to do something in my checking account at this very moment, yay, let's do it! That was literally my only attempt at budgeting. While it's been going all right I suppose, I realized that in the near future I'm going to want to contribute to the down payment on a house. In order to actually save money, I'm going to have to change my approach.
I remembered my friend using online budgeting software a few months ago so I pinged her today to ask what she used. I started my account at mint.com this evening and plugged in most of my accounts, and fiddled with it. Looking at the trends chart, from Feb-now, the largest money-sink in my life is, naturally, the roof over my head. Nothing much you can do about that one. My second largest money-sink is the car. Thank God I just made my final car payment so my expenditure in that category will be vastly reduced despite gas prices.
The final significant category that I've decided to focus on reducing is on Personal Care. This consists of the trainer, the monthly fees for the climbing gym, and bi-monthly visits to a (pricey!) salon to turn my blond hair dark brown. I've decided to ditch the trainer--I feel that I've made a lot of progress and the amazingness of my ass after past year should be motivation to go to the gym myself and do the occasional set of squats and lunges. If I need some help for special occasions in the future, I can add this back into the mix, but for the mean time I'm going to rely on my internal motivation for a while and see how that goes. I'm not going to resort to cutting back on the hair stuff yet, I'd have to be desperate for cash to do that. ;)