This guest post is by my friend Melanie Brooks. She’s a freelance writer and editor at Bangor Metro and had a personal finance revelation recently. I told her she should write it up as a guest post. Check out more of Melanie online at
Two more days until I have the internet again…Thanks to Mel for saving me a night sitting outside on stoop to mooch off someone’s internet!

Where does my money go? Good question…I had no idea.

I am a sleuth at saving money, usually. But with a recent move, a new job, and the holidays approaching I don’t seem to be able to make any headway. Is it my fault or do I need to cut back? Here’s how I found out – and how you can too.

For one month I wrote down everything I bought. From a $0.60 toll to the $80 facial I splurged on this past week. I kept a running tally in my little black moleskine notebook I carry with me at all times. You could do this by balancing your checkbook but I have no patience for such things. Plus, if you write it out like a list you can literally see the amount piling up.

My list looked something like this:

$30.23 – groceries
$8.14 – lunch with Jill
$9.11 – yarn
$117.05 – student loan
$31.75 – Target
$12.00 – Sea Dog Brewing Company

You get the picture.

At the end of the month – yesterday in fact – I tallied it all up. I ended up spending $112.00 more than I made this month. Oops. I was amazed at how much money I spent on food. Over $400 in groceries and going out to eat with friends. Too much! Note to self: plan more meals at home and shop for specific ingredients so I don’t overbuy. What I didn’t add to this list were the car repairs I had to put on my credit card this month. That is an expense that I don’t usually have, so I let it slide. I also didn’t include some Christmas presents, since they aren’t for me. Hey, it’s my game and I can make my own rules.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to put any moolah into my ING savings account – which gets a higher interest rate than my credit union. Damn! But now I know where I can cut back for next month – and believe me I will. Though I have to say, that facial was well worth it.

Our first in-person workshop in 2+ years is happening September 24!