I am about to kick my financial self in the rear. Despite having made a neat and brilliantly-designed spreadsheet marking my budget for the transition between full-time employment and freelancing work, I have blown it big. Sure, part of it was the furnace ($484 for a new control panel, vital right before Arctic Blast 2008!), part of it was the family's need for dental work ($965 and counting), but a lot of it is the nickels and the dimes. Or, more realistically, the $2.75's and the $1.95's.

It's all in the pastries.

My budget is slayed, not due to the "Latte Factor" (a.k.a. the "Starbucks Factor," spending $4+ each day for pricey coffee beverages), but due to the extraneous purchases when I get my often-daily coffee. If any of my three boys accompanies me to the coffee shop when I buy 16 ounces of coffee for $1.75 plus tip, I end up turning an under-$3 budget item (or around $40 a month, as I don't go every day) into about $10; three times a week and I've suddenly tripled my monthly expenses. And from there, it's a slippery slope to getting my local coffee shop's fabulous pizza a few times a month ($22 with tip), and maybe a lunch here or there...

So one of my financial resolutions for the new year is to do a better job of removing the pastry expense from my budget. This can be accomplished by baking at night for the next morning's breakfast (especially if I'm sending my husband for coffee; he loves to make breakfast easy by swiping the debit card); leaving the kids at home when I go; and brewing at home whenever possible. I think I can save about $60-75 a month, or as much as $900 a year, if I make good. What are your financial resolutions?

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