I confess I haven't done all that much with a formal budget; truly analyzing my spending habits was enough of an eye-opener. It didn't take any expertise to find my major money leak, and it was at the supermarket. Poor planning, buying ingredients for things I never got around to making, impulse buying...I was guilty of all of it. I have made an effort to be a more aware and organized shopper, and as of today, halfway through the month, I'm on track to spend over 1/3 less than I did last month. I haven't sacrificed much, either. I'm just being more organized and planning meals more often. It works.
Remember I said I had a lot of ingredients in the pantry and had already forgotten why I bought them? I found the intended recipe for the soy curls and made it yesterday! It's the Carolina Barbeque in Vegan Slow Cooking for Two or Just for You: More than 100 Delicious One-Pot Meals for Your 1.5-Quart/Litre Slow Cooker. It's fabulous!
It's definitely a tangy, vinegar-based barbeque, my favorite kind, and the soy curls not only resemble shredded meat, they have the texture of tender meat that has been simmered all day. My only very minor issue was that the sauce never thickened, which made it exceptionally messy to eat. Next time I make it (and that will be very soon, because YUM!) I will thicken the sauce with a bit of cornstarch before serving, so it holds together a bit better on the bun.
So I've dropped the DVR to cut the cable bill, cut back on my data plan on my cell phone, canceled a couple of services I tried and didn't like (Oysterbooks.com and Hulu+), and though the month isn't over, I appear to be on track to have a few bucks left over at the end of the month.
Citimortgage still hasn't refunded my escrow balance on the loan I refinanced, but that is money that will go directly into savings when it finally appears. The refinance was what, 3 weeks ago? I got a letter from them saying they would refund the balance sitting in my escrow account "within 30 days." You just know it's going to show up on Day 29.