After seeing the authors interviewed about the Federal budget on the Bill Moyers Journal, I picked up, “Where Does the Money Go?” More on that after I finish reading it… The sub-title is “Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis.” As part of my 2007 tax planning, I discovered my own budget crisis, namely the spending habits of a drunken Congressman.

I don’t recall where I got this list, but I owe attribution to someone… As you scrimp for change to fill the Hummer, here are some areas to cut costs. Oh, here it is, It’s’s “Top 10 money drains:”

  1. Coffee – Quicken estimates about $150 for me in 2007.
  2. Cigarettes – Uh, no, but I did spend over $20 on a cigar down at Dad’s recently.
  3. Alcohol – $250.72 just at Kappy’s.
  4. Bottled water – None at home since I bought the PUR dispenser.
  5. Manicures – None on the toes either.
  6. Car washes – Only $29 last year and it’s kinda dirty…
  7. Weekday lunches out – $836.47 in the inexpensive company café.
  8. Vending machines snacks – $0
  9. Interest charges on credit cards – $273.82, but all that debt is so last year.
  10. Unused memberships – Saved $660 by canceling gym membership… Spent $672.50 on a used StairMaster that’s still being used.

Quicken calculates my top ten damage at a meager $1,560.01. Not bad, but if you add in my big number one with a bullet, things get crazy: $8,081.39 on “Dining” in 2007! Now that’s not “Groceries” ($7,415.92), it’s everything from the “Bagel Blace” ($1,230.09) to “Fenway Park” ($84.00) to “Some Mexican Place in Tampa” ($11.00). Now most of these included Kyle or Megan or both, but how can I bitch about the price of gasoline ($2,600.05) when I burned over $8K on food and drink? I also spent $1,645.00 on “electronic toys” like a new camera, camcorder and iPod.

The news isn’t all bad. I was able to retire all credit card debt in 2007, some of which dated back to the Tar Hut years. Eliminating that debt allowed me to re-fi down to a 15 year mortgage that I hope to pay off in less than 10.

So far in 2008, dining is down, but still on pace to exceed $5K for the year, and there have been no toy purchases, hence the recession. Sorry.