So every year I attempt to start tracking my spending on self-created monthly budget and itemized purchase spreadsheets.

The goal is to create the budget at the start of the year, and each month, and stick to it (or at least not go in the red in my spending each month).

My other goals are to start saving up for non-monthly expenses such as car tags, car oil/maintenance work, birthdays and holidays, upcoming trips, and big-ticket items (i.e. anything that costs more than $100). And paying off debt.

As boring as it may be to you, dear readers, I also have decided to try to be accountable to you regarding this goal.

I am happy to report that although I went $82 over budget on groceries, $6 over on dining out and spent $75 more than expected on libations (for a party I held), I was $51 under budget for the month.  Moreover, I was able to curb my veracious clothes spending habit this month, having put less than $20 towards clothes for myself, including thermal items for the inauguration.

If I am able to follow my budget so rigorously, I should be out of debt in less than five years, not including student loans.

I am also glad that my state income tax refund came through last night. I will need it this month to pay for updating the registration stickers on my car. I’m still debating how to spend my federal tax refund. I will probably divide it between paying off credit card debt and my non-monthly expenses savings account.