I got a budget! I made it up and it is: $20/wk food, $20/wk books or clothes or anything. Rent and tuition are not on it because those numbers are set, and I don't need to carry envelopes to remind me of them. There is this budget system where you put your money in an envelope for each category and that is your budget. You can write on it what you bought, but I just buy what is on my list of food I am out of (a "Shopping List", if you will)* and from the other category I buy things that catch my eye and cost less than I have in my envelope, so I don't write it down.
I noticed despite making noodles, chicken soup, pizza and bread from scratch, I am consistently caught at school without enough food- I spend 8-14 hours out of the house, so I really should be carrying lunch -and- dinner. So I had been spending money eating out, even though I can make most things more deliciously, with the exception of Mexican and Chinese food.
Whenever I get a new hobby (tennis this spring is going to be even better than budgeting!) I like to research it instead of figuring it out by trial and error, so I have been going to budget websites. I can tell I'm wired differently than some of the people on there. The craft and cooking and vacation ideas sound wonderful (I need to find someone to carpool to Niagara Falls with!) but the haggling and writing letters of complaint sound terrible. I go thrifting all the time, but the way the articles say the clothes are "just as good" as new, name brand clothing is really unappealing. I shop at thrift stores because it is almost free, and I get things that are totally wearable or wearable but they are going to become something fancy! Like in the BNL song, if I had money to spend I'd just buy more thrifted clothes. Also this, for Nick.
Another thing that seems strange is hoarding change for other purchases. It seems sneaky. I think in olden times women had to manage money like that, so the money for gifts and such came from nowhere and not the budget. Nowadays it really seems like a time sink. The idea is to stay under budget by using lots of coupons, and then whatever you save goes into a jar, and do the same with change. One person said she writes her checks a little over and gets change to put in the jar. But it's nto money from nowhere, it is money you already had, and why not make your budgeted amounts lower and have a category for "things I want"?
*Sorry, I just got done with final papers so elaborating is the name of the game.