a proud moment

After almost 2 months of senseless spending and lack of frugality in my life, today I made a pre-payment for my mortgage (only $404, but better than nothing, is it not?). I saved this money by my humble daily savings in the last 2 months. I am feeling extremely happy, proud, and excited about this 🙂 

Sometimes planning is not good enough and one must take steps to move. This was an important step that I hope will help me come back to my frugal self.

I plan to pay another $6,600 till the end of December. This will mean that I will have paid an extra ~10K as pre-payment this year. Of course I still need to make these payments…. So before I get excited for no real reason, I must keep my eye on this prize and find the motivation that I so much needed to move even more forward 🙂

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frugal, waste-free, and simple-life style activities this week

I want to remember the activities that fulfill my interest in frugal, waste-free, and simple-life style this week; I am positive that they will help me see the brighter side in everything and motivate me to do more 🙂

 

Here is the list:

Frugal activities:

1. I messed up with my budget and frugal life-style big time lately. Nevertheless, I managed to walk to work one day (rather than using transportation) saving myself 10 bucks.

2. I did not over-spend on grocery. As a matter of fact, I have purchased much less than regular in order to eat what I already have in my fridge.

3. I used a coupon. Now, considering I am wasting more than 200 bucks a week nowadays I wonder why I have even cared finding or using this coupon. Every penny counts I guess…

Waste-free life:

1. I continued to bring my tote to stores in order to reduce the amount of plastic shopping bags in my home. There has been a considerable improvement in this and I am happy to say that I reduced the amount at least by 2/3 🙂

2. I ate the food in my fridge before they went bad. Some of them still did, though, which I resent…. Next time I will be better.

Simple/self-sustaining life:

1. I baked my own bread.

2. I made my own strained curds/cheese from kefir 🙂 I am straining another batch today. I want to try one from yogurt for a change of taste.

3. I did not unnecessarily made my day complicated by filling it in many different activities (only work).

4. I made sure to do other things than just work after 7pm everyday to give my mind a break and enjoy my life.

5. I did not socialize with anyone, which helped me keep my time and energy to myself (yes, this is one of the benefits of living alone 🙂 )

6. I cared for my yard and removed weeds to make sure they will not take over the yard (a preventive measure for a long-term simple life)

Decluttering and minimalist activities:

1. Nothing particular than regular, except that the unnecessary paper that were on my study table are now dumped. 

2. I bought no item (other than personal hygiene products and grocery) for home or myself this week.

I want to go back to my regular self

It is not good to work under stress and undertake too much.

It is not good to eat junk.

It is not good to drink so much soft drink per day.

It is not good to spend money on cab while I can take the bus or walk.

It is not good to feel like nothing I work on moving while they actually do.

I want to be fine again, like prior to 5 weeks ago when I was walking, eating healthy, visiting thrift stores, saving money, and feeling great about myself.

I really do.

I think it is time that I take a couple of days really off and slowly start doing what I used to enjoy; thrift stores will be a good start. Hopefully sometime soon.

when spending feels alright

I continue to spend way more than my weekly allowance with no shame.

I keep saying that my quality of life and mental relaxation are important, so I really do not care.

But I should because I actually love saving money and hate wasting money.

I also have upcoming trips when I will need every saved penny to be at work. It excites me to save money for them.

I know once I start having a lean spending scheme, like before, I will find myself ultra motivated to reduce my financial waste.

If only I could have such a day….

 

let me end this unfrugal spending scheme

I have made more expenses in the last three weeks than any other time since the new year. I possibly spent 3X of my regular allowance. This does not feel good. Most of the expenses are for junk stuff and cab rides while I was trying to keep my head over work and work issues. Throw in a social and hosting two dinners (one last weekend, one tomorrow) and you can get the idea.

I am determined to pay this mortgage off in the next 6 years. This means I am reducing the time into half. I must and can save more while I have a salary. This must be my priority.

From tomorrow on, I will be on shopping ban; no thrift store or other purchases till October, unless absolutely needed. I will not buy any furniture or clothes, either. Absolutely no cab rides!! I will have my hair done, though, since I am transitioning to gray now. The journey has started and will be completed. I do not expect socials either. At least I will not be inviting over anyone. Well, maybe a couple with lovely kids. We will see.

The only purchases acceptable are:

  • baking items (I will need bread flour and whole wheat flour soon)
  • veggies and fruits
  • milk and yogurt
  • eggs and occasional meat products
  • personal hygiene products

I also am going to do another pantry challenge and focus on consuming the food I already have before filling my pantry, freezer, and fridge again. That will be exciting and I am really looking forward to this.

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planning retirement

I want to quit this job, but logically retiring from this job is the best.

I am looking at another 11 years, I have decided this evening. I can retire in 8 years but the pension is not good enough and the mortgage will be just paid. I need cash in addition to these.

So, my plan is to pay off the mortgage in the next 7 years and then save the mortgage payments I now make as cash. I will in the mean time continue to do my investments (RRSP, TFSA). These should give me some peace of mind. I hope I will not have a significant life event that requires a lot of cash. This plan is dependent on such an assumption.

I currently pay around 15K/year to mortgage. This year I started to make extra payments, totaling around 5K a year. I will make an effort to increase this a little bit more. No more fooling around with stress and making extra expenses, like I have done in the last 3-4 weeks. It is time that I return back to my wonderful budget I started in the new year.

I will make my life work here. I will make my work work here. There is so much I can do and perform. Maybe not what I want to do, but I will focus on what I can do. One year at a time. In two year comes a major promotion that I want to get. That means the next two years I am appliying for projects and forming better collaborations. My aim should be to prepare 4 projects/year.

I decided to become lean in terms of my work schedule and I will be removing myself from one of the committees I am a member of. I also will focus on work during the day and will not think about other stuff. Work is important and I am getting tired. My energy and efforts and time should be better protected.

I will also relax and trust more. Myself, universe, that something great will come. I hope I am not mistaken about this.

My pension 11 years later will not be huge, but just enough. That is good enough for me. I can always start a side kick and get occasional extra income.

I can handle 11 years. It is a definite time period. It has been 9 years that I have moved here. Time flies, but hopefully not so fast till then; I would like to enjoy my life, find my life’s purpose, and feel better about myself and life until then.

The moral of the story is that money is important. It does not matter how young or senior you are, you will need it. Keep it as much as you can while you have it.

 

 

weekly budget check

I have not posted in this category lately mostly because I have been spending a lot of money lately.

I am saddened somehow (but not fully) by the fact that I over-spent my weekly allowance ($120) in the last two weeks for the first time since the new year. The total for two weeks is around $400….In addition, I have had my hair done for over 200 bucks and made some expenses for a social gathering. I am not sorry for the social’s expenses, somehow pissed about the hair dresser’s fee but I am ready to forget this for now, and it is my own careless expenses that bother me most.

I made these expenses to feel better about myself the last two weeks, which was a rough time. They helped at that time, but it is time that I go back to my regular responsible, waste-free, and frugal self. Noting this here gives me hope and determinism to do this transition. I hope I will not fail in this.

Next week I am officially off and will keep working at home (my “work staycations” are becoming an interesting yet effective habit now…). But I am going to host friends this and the next weekend at home. I am looking forward to these events because I have seen nothing but support and friendship from most of the invitees. The expenses I will make for these dinner parties should not exceed 100 bucks each with some luck.

On the good side, within the last two weeks I have saved $70 from some expenses I was supposed to do, but did not. Also, my “fun funds” accumulation are around $1,230 as of today. These funds are critical for the short Europe visit I will make in October. I am so looking forward to this trip, which will give me some time to focus on my own enjoyment and relaxation. And it could not be possible without the fun funds 🙂 As a reminder, fun funds are those money that I saved from my weekly allowance since the new year. This is at least a successful product of my overall spending and saving adventure 🙂

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resourcefulness and reducing waste

You know I love being resourceful, self-sustaining, and reducing waste.

I am not 100% in any of these, but I do try; nowadays better than before. 

I cut out an old t-shirt and will use the pieces to clean my bath tub. I was not gonna use this t-shirt, it was not in good enough shape to be donated, and I could not let it fill the landfill just yet (horrible, I know… ). So, why not to use it as a cleaning cloth? Of note, it will still go back to landfill after I use it, which makes my heart tightened somehow. When are we going to have bio-degradable clothes?

I have a large amount of plastic shopping bags. I made the decision to rather use a canvas purse during shopping. The last few weeks that is what I have been doing and it is going well. My aim is to keep doing this until I have something like 20 of them left. I re-use these bags as garbage bin liner, so not getting new ones after that will not be feasible, but still at least I will be able to make use of what I already have and save the companies and earth some plastic bags. Feeling good, however little that can be.

One thing I am missing is composting. I have been meaning to do this the last 9 years, but honestly I cannot think about it during winter (when we get a lot of snow and me going in to back yard is usually prevented by the snow at the back door). I thought today that perhaps I can do that only during spring-fall when weather is permissive. That sounds good to me and I will be checking on internet to see what practical options I do have. 

 

 

 

weekly budget check

It is a great day my friends; I made a lump sum payment today that I have been saving money for since the new year! I am so happy that I could make it, that I could save money, and that I did not need to use the line of credit to pay it off. I am quite proud of myself! 🙂

This means my chequing account is back to a level that I must keep an eye on and make sure that it increases every time I get my pay cheque. My plan is to keep going like this till December and then make a lump sum pre-payment to mortgage. I am hoping this will be around 4K or something. It is such a pleasure and joy to be able to have such an effective budget, reduced spending, great savings, and ability to feel abundant and not poor(!). I am so happy with these right now.

As per my weekly budget check; in short I have had regular expenses (such as for grocery), bought two blouses from the thrift store, and purchased some medications within the last week, but my expenses were still within my limits and all work out really well.

I have $1,320 accumulated in my fun funds, which I plan to use for a short vacation sometime in October (yay!).

During summer months my salary increases because I guess the CPP payments are done till then and that means there are more money left in my pay cheque. This is a pretty nice sum for me, which always excite me. Together with that extra money, my aim is to save at least $650 from my biweekly salary till December. This money is what I want to use primarily for my pre-payment in December.

This being said, I put a pre-payment order today for next week in the amount of $350. I saved this money in the last 4 weeks by lucky encounters (such as expenses at socials that I did not have to pay for others), having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, savings from discounts etc. This is the highest amount (other than my tax return) that I put in as a pre-payment this year – this excites me 🙂

I am excited. I am happy. I am proud. I have a budget that works wonders for me, financial aims that excite me and I keep working towards, a simple life-style that makes me happy, relaxed, and abundant, and a great job that pays me good enough so that I can do all the savings, necessary expenses, mortgage payments, and investments for my future.

I  am very grateful.

🙂

end of long weekend and thoughts on thrifting

The 3rd and the last day of the long weekend. It was so welcome and so refreshing – I am grateful for this long weekend.

Notable activities include the trips to the thrift stores and getting two blouses, a little and lovely decorative porcelain shoe, and some sewing thread 🙂 needless to say, they are all loved and the prices are incredibly good.

This being said, at one of the trips I have noticed the fiancee of a colleague of mine at another cashier. I did not know what to do first. I thought “this is what I always wondered – how would I take it to be known that I shop at thrift stores? I tried to convince myself that shopping at thrift stores is not only good for me, but for the thrift stores/charities, people work there, people benefiting from the charities, and the environment. Yet, I could not manage to not feel “cheap” and thus I left the cashier after 2-3 minutes and went around the store again to give this individual time to pay and leave the store so that the chances of them seeing me and them spreading the word to my colleagues first and then to others would reduce. I hope I could achieve this…

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It turns out interestingly that I am ashamed with shopping or being seen at thrift stores. That is very strange. It is also strange that I found shopping at thrift stores synonymous with “being cheap”. I should stop doing that, but….I cannot help it 😦

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I read in a blog yesterday that the lady explained using thrift stores and purchasing second hand items actually quite similar to staying at hotels and using their bed sheets, coffee mugs, and anything else they do offer you. Goodness know what happened in those hotel rooms and around those items…… That was the best explanation of why the second hand clothing or items are not worse than many other things we do at life. I even told my best friend about this and she too agreed. 

My best friend and I agree on a number of things; she like myself would not buy pants/shorts/pajamas, undies/socks/foot wear/shoes and anything else that might have a risk of risking hygiene. But we both are okay with shirts/jackets/blouses, purses, kitchen items, books, sewing notions, fabric, stationary items, and decorative stuff that can be cleaned/sterilized pretty easily. 

For me visits to thrift stores is a nice and exciting activity during the weekends. I happen to love old stuff and I like saving money – so it is a win-win situation. I read some inspiring blogs that find really unique and valuable items, like metallic vases and items, which I would like too. I wish I had discovered thrifting long time ago, but there is always a start 🙂 I know I need to work on this feeling of “being cheap” by being there and shopping there. Maybe I will never get over it, maybe I will over time – who knows? – but I am not giving up on this exciting activity yet.

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semi-annual budget check

Now that almost 6 months have passed, I wanted to have a look at what I had budgeted and what I had spent.  Main numbers for variable expenses (i.e. not including the bills, mortgage etc.) are as follows:

1. I spend around $66/week for groceries, occasional cab and eating out. 

2. I so far have not over-spent my weekly allowance that covers the expenses listed above ($120/week budgeted)

3. However, I spent $232 for cab so far – the majority of the time I could take the bus or walk. That bothers me, but I must let go.

4. My “other”expenses including socials, treats, donations, gifts, medication/other health related expenses, personal care (such as hair cut), hobby/sewing notions, clothes, and cleaning product purchases constitute a higher amount than my “weekly allowance” expenses: a total of $2,281 or $88/week (averaged) so far. I have budgeted a total of $6,500 for this year. 

5. My total expenses per week (weekly allowance and “other” expenses together) come to a total of $154/week (on the average)

6. I also save by following the discounts, using coupons/loyalty card points, etc. This amounts to $1,899 so far – $73/week  (which is an amazing amount, by the way) 

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So some categories are doing awesome, others need some more careful thinking, but overall these are very good numbers.

This year’s budget has been really good and I have been doing really awesome – so let’s go get that ice cream!

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complete frugality

Is it possible for me to be frugal 100% of the time?

I have been thinking about this since yesterday. You know I take the cab sometime and then usually (not always – sometimes I like pampering myself) I resent it the rest of the day.

It is one of these activities that works against my frugal and effective budgeting activities; a ride to office costs around 10 buck – considering how much effort I put to save 10 bucks each week, it is understandable that taking the cab is quite counter-intuitive and counter-productive for me. 

I thought about it and I know there are three other areas in my expenses that are against my frugal life-style;

  • social treats to cheap friends/colleagues (these are the ones that would let me pay for everything, rather than putting their hands in their purses!),
  • gifting (new year gifts, kids, house-warmer gifts, etc.), and,
  • social treats/donations that I must do because of my work place seniority. 

Some of these I can handle better I guess.

First thing first, those friends/colleagues who take advantage of my generosity: obviously I am pissed off by them! Next time I can try to be assertive with them!

Gifting: when I bought my sewing machine I thought I could sew gifts, but now I can see that this is not gonna happen anytime soon. So, I better start shopping for the new year gifts while there are sales. There will be other gifts that I will have to get along the way, like a birthday gift I probably will need in two days  – these I guess can be purchased when they are needed. I am afraid I have nothing additional to do about these expenses.

And social treats/donations that I must do at work: This is also an area of expense that I can hardly limit…. We have annual contributions for recognizing some of the employees’ work with us, which is perfectly fine and I am happy to do these (they so well deserve these). I am often asked to donate to causes that we all care, which I am again very happy to contribute to. And I usually take my team out for lunch several times a year, which is also great because we usually do that to celebrate a significant achievement or a life-event such as a wedding. It is also a great team-building activity. So other than choosing affordable places for lunch, I cannot see much of a thing to change here, either.

Alright. And the rest of my expenses seem to okay (not including the trips I pay to visit my family).

When I look for an opportunity to see whether I can further reduce my spending, I see that this may be possible.

But things that I can do are really small; like making my own detergent (which I do not want to), cutting my hair (which I do not want to), stop dyeing my hair (which I do not want to), buying grains and beans in bulk (like 10 kg bulk) and making them my primary staple (which I do not want to – I like grains and beans a lot but I want to eat fresh produce more), reducing the heating really low (which I do not want to), canceling my cable and risking the good price of internet-cable-phone plan (which I do not want to), not buying occasional awards such as a bar of chocolate or a drink/meal/breakfast for myself (which I do not want not to), and occasional waste like a bad apple here and there.

So, looks like for now, I am at a good shape and have a plan to tackle some of the the unnecessary expense areas. And who knows, once I reach the next level of frugality I may come up with new ways to cut my expenses and become more self-sustaining and resourceful 🙂

After all, there is always a chance of surprising ourselves – just like this bird/crow(?) in the gif below! What a smart animal! 🙂

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weekly budget check

I have not posted last week, but it is similar to this week’s spending; my grocery spending is more or less around the same level across the weeks; I continue to be generous with great people and gifting them (which is a delight); and I have reached one of my financial goals for this month, thanks to the budget for the year 2017! What a success 🙂

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery and cab ride x 2): $68.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $68.5= $51.5

Fun funds expenses: $47

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $1,176.25 !!! 🙂 

Other expenses: $64 (cab to an appointment and donation)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $49.75 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, walking rather than taking the bus, using coupons/sales etc.). 

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Pantry and freezer treasures enjoyed this week: The ones I remember are: frozen veggies from the freezer; canned beans x 2, canned lentils from the pantry.

My pantry and freezer are in good condition, with old purchases being consumed – I am pleased with this 🙂 #endfoodhoarding!  🙂 

And as part of my “eat more diverse food challenge”, I believe I have eaten some food that I have not eaten the week before, some of which are lentil, beet, celery, garlic, and lettuce. I am not paying attention as much as I want to,  but I will get serious about eating diverse food again starting tomorrow 🙂

One positive experience I can note, however, is that my consumption of canned food is significantly reduced! This has been something that I wanted to do for quite some time! I am excited and quite satisfied with this 🙂

Thanks for listening! Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

What I would not do in the name of frugality

I would;

  •  not lower the home temperature below 16 C
  •  not eat spoiled food
  •  not dumpster dive (no offense meant)
  •  not re-use tea bags or coffee grains
  •  not shower in cool water
  •  not not use soap or other cleaning products
  •  not have no social life
  •  not wear torn clothes/shoes
  •  not not dye my hair
  •  not not give to people whom I care
  •  not not donate for good causes
  •  not not give gifts to those that deserve
  •  not cut my power, cable, water, or internet connection
  •  not not use moisturizers
  •  not not visit my doctor or not buy medications
  •  not use re-usable hygienic pad (no offense meant)
  •  not not use toilet paper
  •  not not visit my family
  •  not let others pay for my expenses

But it would be awesome if I had won the lottery! 🙂

weekly budget check (belated)

I have not posted about my weekly budget check yesterday; here is a brief summary:

I took the cab three times this week because I was not feeling well or was in negative mood. I regret these decisions because walking is always making me feel great, but I certainly am okay with pampering myself when needed. So, the regret I feel works like a friendly reminder and helped me to take the bus this morning (rather than the cab).

Anyways; that is why my weekly expenses were inflated a little bit this week, but I was still under my weekly allowance of 120 bucks. So it was another successful week 🙂 So far in 2017 I have never over-spent my weekly allowance, which covers cab, breakfast/eating out, grocery and sometimes the cleaning and personal care products. So all is good. 

Since it is almost 6 months since the new year/new budget, I have looked at my expenses and savings. It looks really good – my expenses are considerably less than last year. The increase in the level of my chequeing account was not as great as I had hoped it would be, but I know soon it is gonna get better because of reduction in the power bill due to warmer weather 🙂 

And according to my calculations if the market continues like this, I will be increasing my net worth quite a bit this year (around 25%). 

Overall, things are going pretty good – I am very happy with this frugal adventure 🙂

 

weekly allowance

I mentioned in an earlier post that I studied for a very long time, and as a result I had very modest income and thus life style until ~10 years ago. So being a frugal person is a second nature to me. However, in no time in my life I have been as frugal as this year, or a two years period a decade ago.

A decade ago, work was really competitive, things were going really problematic with my boss, I was fired twice (even though I was re-offered a better position in the same place and never had a day without being on payroll), and thus I realized if I want to keep my chin up during financially turbulent times, I had to be extremely frugal.

So what did I do?

I moved into a smaller and cheaper studio apartment, leaving my gorgeous one bedroom apartment on the 20th floor of a downtown complex. It was located 3 minutes away from my work-place; had swimming pool, exercise room, and other amenities; and the apartment had a wonderful downtown view that was always a delight to look at. It was a also secure building. It hurt to move out but it was the right decision.

The studio apartment was 20 min away from my work-place and the apartment complex was nothing like the previous one, but both the apartment and the building were okay. It was a slightly less secure street but nevertheless I was comfortable there. I spent two years in that apartment. I remember very clearly counting on pennies in my purse and making calculations. My very ambitious weekly budget was $50 at that time…..

I do not know how I ended up with this amount, but honestly I made extraordinary effort to keep my weekly expenses (including grocery, personal care and cleaning products, and other miscellaneous expenses) under $50. This budget was extremely restricting at that time – I remember this feeling pretty clearly. I believe I could never manage to do so; my weekly expenses were always more than $50.. I think there was no movie or concert ticket in that allowance. My maximum book budget was $5/week (and I bought books every week). Eating out, hosting, or meeting with friends were a rare occasion, even though I lovingly had my favorite weekend breakfast consisting of two bagels and a cup of coffee. I could never think about a weekend without this breakfast 🙂

While I struggled with keeping my expenses under $50, I also saved quite a bit of my income. I put the money I saved into my RRSP account. I know I was locking it this way, but this gave me an enormous peace of mind at that time. I felt really good and proud of this investment for my future. Unfortunately at around the same time the markets had a bad time (remember 2008 turn-down?), so I think I mostly lost money at that time, but that is not the point 🙂

This year I have a similar budget, only that it is designed in a different way. My weekly allowance is 120 bucks for grocery; not including the personal care and cleaning products, hosting and eating out with friends and colleagues, and house-related or other expenses. If I average all expenses I made, I believe it could be ~$130 per week this year.

Not bad, eh?

It also does not feel restrictive. 

I kind of think that this might be because I budget a reasonable amount (that is $120/week + additional expenses) and I have the flexibility. It may also be because I am a seasoned frugal now?? 🙂

Have a great Friday night everyone 🙂

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weekly budget check

It has been good week. One of these weeks where the expenses are quite low because previously I stocked up food.  Oh, well 🙂

I have had a number of #noexpense days this week; I believe Saturday, Monday-Thursday I did not spend money, not even for transportation because I made the choice to walk 🙂

So it is possible to live without the need of spending money? This, my friends, feels really good 🙂 

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery): $22.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $22.5= $97.5

Fun funds expenses: $54

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $1,108.5 !!! 🙂 

Other expenses: $11.5 (soft drinks for the dinner I was invited to)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $32.75 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, walking rather than taking the bus, using coupons etc.). 

Better than spending them, do you not think 🙂

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Mortgage pre-payment: $225.5!

I am so excited about these payments!

I believe this is my 6th pre-payment since new year. Whatever I can save without much of an effort or planning (e.g. savings from would-be-expenses and the tax return are good examples), I use as pre-payments 🙂 I estimate that I will make around 5K of pre-payments this year – let’s cross the fingers! 🙂

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Pantry and freezer treasures enjoyed this week: frozen chicken meal from the freezer; and bulghur, wild rice, red lentil, and canned corn from the pantry. Talking about #endfoodhoarding!  🙂 

And as part of my “eat more diverse food challenge”  I have consumed kefir (for the first time in my life), corn, lentil, bulghur, wild rice, carrot, meat, green salad mix, and chicken that I had not eaten the week before (and a lot of sweets at the dinner with friends – ooooops! 🙂 )

Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

 

another #no-expense day

Today was one of these no-expense day 🙂

I have not spent any money, not even for the transportation; I walked.

These days were very rare last year; I was amazed the first time I could manage not to pay anything (including the bus fare) in a single day. I still am! It just is becoming a routine thing now. Routine, but still exciting 🙂

Talking about surprising myself 🙂 The feeling of empowerment is high. I am one step closer to simple and self-relying life.

Go try something you think is almost impossible 🙂

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weekly budget check

I have done well this week, too. I think after a while, being frugal becomes a second nature 🙂

————————————-

Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery and a cab ride): $54.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $54.5= $65.5

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $1,039.5 !!! 🙂 (a milestone! What do I do with this 1,000 bucks I saved from my weekly allowance? Tell me!!!!! 🙂)

Other expenses: $31.5 (gift and donation)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $43 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, walking rather than taking the bus, the discounts at grocery stores etc.). 

These savings have a special place in my heart because I know that I could easily make these expenses. And, more importantly, every once a while I contribute these saved money as mortgage pre-payments! How about this extra motivation to save? 🙂

——————————–

Pantry and freezer treasures enjoyed this week: frozen bread, bean meal, and red lentil soup from the freezer 🙂  #endfoodhoarding; nothing from the pantry this week (ouch! I may have but I just cannot remember…..)

And as part of my “eat more diverse food challenge” I believe I have consumed around 7-8 food that I had not consumed the week before; ones that I can remember are beet, celery sticks, shrimp, carrot, red lentil, green lentil, and rolled oat. I must confess this is hard – to eat a variety of food and then trying to remember them 🙂 But it is all for good, so I will keep going 🙂

Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

weekly budget check

After 2 months or so, finally this past two weeks I have saved a good sum of my salary and improved my chequing account balance 🙂 This feels good and is highly motivating. I wish to be able to keep doing this so that I can start the summer with a really strong chequing account.

This week I did not take the cab at all; rather I either took the bus or walked 🙂 Walking as usual is a great activity that relaxes my body and my mind. I have never been disappointed by walking. The trick is to be able to “think” about walking 🙂 Once I am in the good mood and decide to walk, then walking just comes naturally.

Those days that I walk to office feels extremely satisfying because that usually means that I have no other expense and as such those days are expense-free. Thus I feel completely self-sustaining 🙂

—————————-

Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery): $54

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $54= $66

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $974 !!! 🙂 (next week I hope to reach above 1,000 bucks – this is going to be a milestone for me 🙂

Other expenses: $5.75 (1 thrifted blouse and a piece of scrap fabric)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $65.25 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, walking rather than taking the bus, the discounts at grocery stores etc,).

Mortgage pre-payment: none this time

————————–

Pantry and freezer treasures enjoyed this week: frozen bread, chicken, and meatballs from the freezer; canned beans and rice from the pantry 🙂 Hurrah! #endfoodhoarding

And as part of my “eat more diverse food challenge” I believe I have consumed around 9-10 food that I have not consumed the week before; ones that I can remember are chicken, rice, tofu, beans, beef, potato, apple, oranges, and turnip.

Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

weekly budget check

I did not post the weekly budget check last week; it is quite similar to this week.

Basically, I keep staying within my weekly allowance and do not make other expenses, such as dining out or purchase of personal/cleaning products unless necessary. Despite my best efforts though, the funds that I can regularly save after my expenses, mortgage, bills, and RRSP/TFSA contributions is not overly significant. This worries me because this is how I increase the money in my chequing account. So far it has been going only up yet slowly, so it must be okay. Yet I wished I could do better, oh well 🙂

Anyways; I am excited to say that I keep making mortgage pre-payments whenever I find a chance. I did one today 🙂 Looks like every month I can do one or two payments with a minimum of 100 bucks. This does not sound like too much, but I would like to think that it is making a positive change in my debt 🙂 

Overall, I am very happy and grateful for my frugal life. It has been somehow rough lately and i have been taking the cab sometimes even though I really do not like the feeling afterwards, but i want to believe that I take the cab because I need to pamper myself. If a 10 bucks ride is going to make me feel better, honestly, there is no need to brag about it. I just am worried that it may become a regular thing – that is all. 

—————————–

Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery and cab rides x 2): $62.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $62.5= $57.5

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $908 !!! 🙂 

Other expenses: $42 (personal care purchases, such as moisturizer)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $29 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at the local cafe).

Mortgage pre-payment: $211 🙂

—————————-

And, last; I am happy to say that I keep consuming the food I have “hoarded” in my freezer and pantry (e.g. pasta, beans, frozen meals, frozen bread, canned corn and beans, etc.). I have actually replaced some of the food with fresh batches, which feels real good. I plan to prioritize the food in the pantry more – I have quite a bit dried veggies, wild rice, and cracked wheat still to consume, though! Lucky me 🙂

Happy savings! 🙂

weekly budget check

I continue to take the cab in the mornings this week – one gets used to comfort quite easily 🙂

I had forgotten what a blessing it was to get up whenever I want and not worrying about losing time by waiting for and taking the bus. Taking the cab in the morning sure does give me a warm feeling of being pampered.

Sadly, it also means that I am spending more than I would like to 🙂 

I know this is just temporary so I am not worried, but I wished I had started walking or taking the bus, rather than taking the cab, starting tomorrow. Let’s see how it will go.

Anyways, this week the spending is higher than before because of the extra cab expenses, but other than that I continue to spend consciously and keep saving.

Here is the week’s account:

—————————–

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast, and a cab fares): $104

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $104= $16

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $788.5 (🙂)

Other expenses: $84 (health-related and social expenses, in addition to personal care and cleaning product purchases)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $60.75 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at the local cafe, not picking up the bill for others at socials).

——————————

Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: soup (x2) and bean meal from the freezer;  quinoa from the pantry 🙂 Thank goodness, I am done with quinoa…..

——————————

Happy saving! 🙂

random thoughts

Our storm continues with heavy rain, rather than snow, and with high winds. It has been a wet, cold, gray, and miserable day, but luckily not a snow-day. I worked whole day at the office and one of my co-workers gave me a ride back home. What else do I want from such a stormy day? Maybe a cup of tea 🙂

I am determined to try to sew a collar again this weekend and start a new blouse project. It is the collars that screw everything most – once I do achieve sewing one acceptable prototype, I know I can keep progressing….. But  there were three trials so far and all were fails. I know I should be more patient and keep going. Eventually I will know how to best handle it. After all, there are so many people who can do a collar. Is there any particular reason why I cannot make it?

I did not think so.

Confidence and determinism are rare traits sometimes.

I have watched a number of youtube videos. There are many different ways to sew a neck line. I can do this! 

———————————–

I have not posted my “weekly budget check” this week. It has been similar to previous weeks where I saved by shopping items/grocery on sale, minimizing anything else. The only difference was that this week every morning I have taken the cab to the office. This was partly because of the bad weather and partly because of my need to feel good about myself. For some reason, I am not sorry. Perhaps one or two days I could rather take the bus, but in the other days taking the cab was the right decision. That is why I am not sorry. And the fact  that money is not everything. And the fact that it is okay to prioritize comfort every once a while 🙂

I wonder what the future years will bring. If our economy was not this bad, in the coming years we would expect to get salary increases. This would be nice and help me to make further plans to pay the mortgage off. I have a little increase coming in April, for which I am grateful. But knowing that our salaries will probably not increase, in contrast, may even be reduced after that, I am feeling disappointed.

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The other day I was thinking: what other expense I can reduce in my life? How can I get more income? One of the options is to get a roommate – but this will not happen without sacrificing my comfort and freedom. I wish I had a basement apartment where I could rent. At least that would feel like some kind of freedom. But in terms of the expenses, I cannot cut my cable-phone-internet combo; I sure can walk more frequently to office once the weather becomes more permissive; I cannot sacrifice from my grocery and food any further. None of these can happen without reducing the quality of my life or my life style. I can reduce the expenses related to my social life, but hey it is already not too much. So what do I do?

Nothing much. Cherish what I could achieve so much, aim to save as much as possible (possible is a great word here) while also enjoy my life. That is pretty much it.

2017 has been the leanest year in terms of my spending so far. Since it is March 31st, I thought it would be a good idea to check my finances. I usually do this at the end of each year, but it is good to know how I am doing in terms of budgeted categories.

Notable financial accomplishments/facts are as follows: 

1. I am spending much less money this year than before

2. I am walking in the mornings whenever I can – the first time in winter this year (well, okay this is not completely a financial achievement, but an important change in my life this year – so I will keep it in the list 🙂 )

3. I have made an effort to consume the food in my pantry and freezer and it worked really good for me

4. I started to make mortgage prepayments this year and it has been going well. I am more motivated than ever to keep saving, however  little it can be, and use it to make a pre-payment

5. My weekly allowance (of $120) has never been over-spent so far and I am constantly saving in my fund funds (these are the funds left from the weekly allowance). If it continues like this I will have an extra $2,000 – 2,500 at the end of the year in my fun funds account. This is additional to what I predicted that I could save this year. Maybe I will use it for my enjoyment, or maybe I will use it to invest/pay mortgage. We shall see 🙂

6. Of $6,000 funds budgeted for socials, personal care and cleaning products, hobbies, medications and other health-related expenses, gifts, and all expenses other than my weekly allowance, I spent around $1,000 so far. Considering that it is the 1/4th of the year so far, this number is good. I should keep going frugal in these areas, as I happen to shop a lot during the November-December to take advantage of the sales. I hope to keep within this budgeted amount this year.

7.  My chequing account is healthy, above $0, and as usual, I continue to contribute to my RRSP and TFSA investments biweekly. The only thing is that despite all the frugal life-style, regular savings to improve the chequing account has been quite difficult (because of the increased tax, pension contributions, and mortgage payments) compared to the last year. Nevertheless, since it is in a good shape, I am grateful for whatever I can do and I am determined to keep going. 

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Weekly budget check

Another #leanspending week 🙂

This was a week with the least amount of grocery expenses; I had fresh produce left from the week before, which I decided to consume before I bought new ones. It was a good decision; I wasted neither the produce nor the money 🙂 I also cashed loyalty card points, which dropped my grocery bill this week (don’t you love them?).

This being said, I have had a social that costed me a little bit. I am not complaining about this, knowing that it happens only rarely and I usually enjoy the food.

And, the most exciting part? The pre-payment I made to my mortgage! This week I made the biggest pre-payments ever; a total of $1,662.5. Almost all of this is my tax return. I am so excited and proud of myself…..

This is my 4th pre-payment done so far. I started in the new year; my motto is that whatever extra I get (from coupons, waivers, tax return, tempting expenses that are not done etc.) will be used as pre-payment. Before I know, they accumulate.

Anyways, here is the week’s account:

————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast, and a cab drive in the snow storm day): $37

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $37 = $73

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $757.5 (Yahooo !!!! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $178 (health-related and social expenses, in addition to shopping for personal care and cleaning products at a store)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $27.5(these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as walking rather than taking the bus, having breakfast at home rather than at the local cafe etc.).

Maybe a small amount, but a penny saved is a penny earned, right? 🙂

—————

Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: soup (x2) and brown lentil meal from the freezer; bulghur (x2), canned bean, and pasta from the pantry 🙂

Honestly, I am very excited about consuming the food that I already have. Since I started prioritizing the food in my freezer and the pantry in the last few months, I have consumed quite a bit of it. This helps me not only with saving money but also with an opportunity to refresh them. Like, last week I shopped for dry food (beans, lentils, seeds, rolled oats etc.) with great joy (oh, the joy of shopping cannot be under-estimated!). I have great and diverse food that can be enough for a couple of months and I am feeling incredibly abundant and grateful! 🙂

Happy saving! 🙂

weekly budget check

 

This was quite a #leanspending week 🙂

I am constantly saving from my weekly allowance (a.k.a. fun funds): I have not decided what to do with the accumulated funds, but I am sure I will come up with something over time 🙂

Also, I got a tax return last week, which excites me! I will be using it as a mortgage pre-payment next week 🙂

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery and other little miscellaneous expenses): $43

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $43 = $77

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $674.5  (Yahooo !!!! 🙂

Other expenses: $50 (health-related)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $31.25 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as walking rather than taking the bus, having breakfast at home rather than at the local cafe etc.).

Not too much this week, but that is okay – every dollar counts 🙂

————————————————-

Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: minced beef, cooked bean meal, green beans, and meatballs from the freezer; rolled oats, flax seeds, bulghur, and pasta (x2) from the pantry 🙂

 Don’t you love using the food at home?

 🙂 

————————————————-

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

weekly budget check

When it rains, it pours.

No, not the rain – I am referring to my spending pattern 🙂 

This past week was a relatively high spending week.

Let me explain:

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $87

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $87 = $33

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $597.5  (dance with me here! Wohoo 🙂 ) 

Other expenses: $111 (social/dinner)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $46.5 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as walking rather than taking the bus, having breakfast at home rather than the local cafe etc.)

Notes: it is interesting that sometimes spending money feels right. For example, on Tuesday morning I took the cab to office for the first time in 2017 (I usually would take the bus or even walk). It felt right and I am not resentful about its fee because I woke up at 6.45 am and by taking the cab I started my work-day at around 7.20 am. It was a very efficient day and I am very happy about this.

Also the dinner expense I have made (today) was well worth it. I took a couple out for a simple dinner tonite. They are very nice people, I enjoy spending time with them, and I have been to their home many times. It was my turn. Also, they just bought a house, which I wanted to celebrate!  It was a great night with great people – so all is well 🙂

Mortgage pre-payment: I paid an additional $270 today as mortgage pre-payment 🙂 This is my third payment this year totaling $870. I am very excited about these payments and am motivated to save more from my regular expenses so that i can keep making these payments 🙂 🙂 🙂

————————————————-

Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: rolled oats, flax seeds, soya beans, and green lentils from the pantry 🙂 I love, love using the food at home! 🙂 

————————————————-

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

weekly budget check

Interesting times.

First, I feel like I am spending way more than I should, but this should not annoy me; I only purchase stuff that are either durable and on sale, or are needed.

Second, I think walking to the office in the morning now is a thing for even winter! I am making a serious effort to walk by default now, unless it rains or is very icy 🙂 Walking is so cool 🙂

Third, it is becoming a nice habit to use the small savings to pay as mortgage pre-payments – this year I have made 2 and today I ordered another one to be in effect next week. I am excited and very, very proud 🙂

Anyways, going back to the weekly account:

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $73

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $73 = $47

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $564.5 

Other expenses: $49.5 (hair dye etc.)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $46.5 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as walking rather than taking the bus, having breakfast at the local cafe etc.)

————————————————-

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: canned beans, quinoa, rolled oats, soup noodle from the pantry; breakfast calzone, beef, and pastry sheet from the freezer 🙂

*a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer. This will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste.

————————————————-

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

 

weekly budget check

This week is the one with the highest grocery spending yet.

I also bought myself a dinner and breakfast this past weekend – ooops 🙂

I owe this mostly to the bad mood – food, after all, is an effective remedy to help feel good.

Nevertheless, I continue to make excellent choices considering the circumstances and keep spending much less than before.

This week I also made a pre-payment order, using the funds saved by my choices or by luck 🙂 That feels great!

Overall, my mood was negative, I needed to pamper myself, I spent more, but I am always eager to curb my spending. I think this week will be such a week 🙂

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $111.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $111.5 = $8.5

Fun funds expenses: $19

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $464.5 

Other expenses: $0 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses: $91 (these are the expenses I would normally make, but decided not to, or just by chance did not need to make. A large chunk of these savings is a discount I asked for for a monthly service 🙂 )

Of note; I am making use of these savings – every once a while they are being paid as mortgage pre-payment 🙂 this is so exciting! seeing the seemingly small savings making such a positive difference in my debt levels. Very satisfactory 🙂

————————————————-

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: canned beans from the pantry; frozen green beans and minced beef from the freezer 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

I just want to spend money

I just want to feel good and one of the best ways I can do is to spend money.

It really is!!!!!

Another way is consuming food.

Maybe I could get out and buy myself a nice dinner.

—————————–

I like the feeling of freedom money and spending money gives me right now. Not giving a darn about spending money is a good feeling, my friends.

I think I have been on a strict budget for too long (my #TheLeanSpendingMonth practice is > 6 more weeks right now) and the fact that our boss mentioned about firing people last week, which naturally raised my nerve levels to a new high, I do not want to take “it” any more. 

I will spend money on myself if I want to.

I will buy unessential food/drinks that will help me feel good if I need to.

I will eat good food and nourish myself anytime and anywhere.

I will still be frugal, but I refuse to be cheap, especially towards myself.

With that I am ending my #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge.

—————————

I have saved a couple or more bucks with  #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge: during this challenge I was more careful and conscious about my spending and savings. But considering the fact that I had already had good spending habits, the money I saved was not too much (maybe around $20-25/week). It is still a good sum of savings but it is not worth this feeling of being constrained and deprived.

I have learnt that I was already a good spender/saver and I could continue like this.

I have learnt that I needed to be kind to myself and addressing my needs were important.

I have learnt that right now money was not the most important thing to save – keeping not only my physical health but also my mental peace was.

I have learnt that while I enjoy challenging myself, sometimes timing was everything – when it is not a good time, it is not the time.

These being said, there will be times when it is a good time to try  #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge again.

Until then, off I go to relax 🙂

 

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weekly budget check

Overall, I am keeping with #TheLeanSpendingMonth  plan 🙂

I think I am doing okay! 🙂

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $63

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $63 = $57

Fun funds expenses: $14

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $475  (yay! wow! can you believe in this? I have saved so much. Wow!! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $86.5 – paid for cleaning products and food at a store that I visit once a month or so. These were needed so I am okay with these expenses 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses: $137.5 (these are the expenses I would normally make, but decided not to, or just by chance did not need to make. For example, a large chunk of these savings is a repair that I was offered for free through my work place – I am so grateful! 🙂 here comes my next mortgage pre-payment!)

————————————————-

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: bread (from the freezer), rice and canned beans from the pantry 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

DAY 6 – #TheLeanSpendingMonth

It is February 6th, the 6th day of #TheLeanSpendingMonth.

What did I spend money on today?

Nothing 🙂

Not even the bus fare 🙂

Only because it has been a snow day! Yay!

Friends; it is exciting to spend nothing 🙂

But it is also concerning that one day whatever I have at home will be consumed and I will have to purchase them. So there will be purchases coming.

But, until then let me feel this joy 🙂

——————-

Number of no-spending days so far: 3

——————-

Gratefully acknowledging my good fellow-blogger Decluttering The Stuff, who is in this challenge with me and keeping an excellent company!

Hurrah to us 🙂

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DAY 5 – #TheLeanSpendingMonth

Alright – I did spend $14 unnecessarily. 

Was it a treat?

I do not know.

I just know that since our boss threatened us with firing last week, I have been feeling down, angry, stressed, and anxious.

And today I felt like I needed to do something; eat at a diner, buy fancy food, or just do something that will make me feel better. As if I needed to prove myself that I could afford luxury and money is not important (it is not actually.. but anyways – you have got the idea).  

So I bought lottery tickets.

Strike 1 on #TheLeanSpendingMonth plan.

Darn economy and potential future financial issues..

————-

The good thing is that usually during the week my expenses are quite low. I hope from today till Thursday evening (when I usually do my grocery), the only expenses I will have will be my bus fee.

DAY 4 – #TheLeanSpendingMonth

I spent A LOOOOOOOOOT of money today 🙂

Say what!?

Yup!

$86.5.

I did it.

I spent all of it!

——————

I had to.

And no worries, all purchases made were clean.

That means i bought only what I would need and if they were at good price. 

This has been my monthly shopping at a big store where I purchase my office snacks and personal care and cleaning products. By purchasing these items at this store I do save a lot of money so my consciousness is clean.

I had not done this in January so incidentally this was done now in February, which is my  #TheLeanSpendingMonth. Oh, well.

No worries I made conscious choices and did not buy a couple of items that I would normally spend money on. Also, I proudly took the bus again and carried the purchased items back home in tote and back pack (hey, I could take the cab, but I did not – so I am proud of myself 🙂 ). I did not treat myself with a nice cup of coffee and bagel, either. So…. Did I do good?

I think so 🙂

On an additional positive side: I find peace in knowing that my good fellow-blogger Decluttering The Stuff is in this challenge with me and keeping an excellent company!

Hurrah to us 🙂

weekly budget check

One day belated, but here is my weekly spendings 🙂

Overall, I am keeping with #TheLeanSpendingMonth plan and as of Feb 1st, I also am recording my daily spendings.

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $55.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $55.5 = $74.5

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $432  (yay! wow! so much saving – thanks me! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $0 for the third week -A miracle! 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses: $37 (these are the expenses I would normally do, but decided not to – I am proud of these 🙂 They may be small, but you know what I plan to do with them? Make a mortgage pre-payment!)

————————————————-

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: I have been consistently using the food in my freezer and pantry in the last few weeks 🙂 This week I have enjoyed the followings: canned bean, canned soup, cracked wheat, dry red kidney beans, dehydrated pepper and eggplant from the pantry and frozen carrots and frozen chicken soup from the freezer! Yaaaay!! 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

random thoughts and #TheLeanSpendingMonth

It is going well – this quiet and relaxing weekend I mean 🙂

Weather is good; I walked yesterday for 25 min or so and am planning to do so again this afternoon; I cook and eat healthy with lots of raw veggies; house is cleaned and laundry is done; a number of movies are enjoyed; world news are followed; better spending choices are made; food in the pantry/freezer is being consumed; and life feels overall not too eventful and is peaceful.

Of course, the world news are interesting. What the hey has been happening in the USA? I sometimes think that all the little problems of mine are unnecessary – I guess this kind of mentality and actions are the ones that will fuel a much larger world-wide conflict, unrest, and violence. So who cares about whether I will be able to do every thing I want to do this year? Save that much and invest this much? Nope. We may be looking at a much bigger and global problem to erupt (not to mention the pain and suffering by the people most needed the safety). I am sorry if I sound pessimistic (which I usually am).

Nevertheless, I try to focus on what I can control so that I can not feel hopeless altogether. That brings me to my #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge I assigned for myself (a.k.a. super-duper lean spending month).

I initially had decided to try it on February but more or less since new year I am on it.

What is #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge?

As the name implies – it aims to challenge me to spend the least amount of money on non-essential expenses (for me that would mean taking the cab, eating breakfast outside, buying coffee or other treats, buying more grocery that I can consume, and buying anything new while I still have a working copy at home).

I am not 100% lean in my spending; I decided a while ago that fully restricting myself was not a good idea. So I am buying one treat a week as I please (like peanut butter which is not essential for my diet). But I am quite conscious of my spending, and I am making it a choice to calculate the cons and pros of each of my expenses and think about how I could benefit from by not making the expense.

For example, I walked yesterday 15 min away to get eggs on sale, also thinking that walking is a great exercise that I am looking forward to anyhow. Yet, today I decided once again that baking dry beans would not worth it and the canned beans is a much better option for me regardless of the cost (it takes so loooong to cook beans…)…

I also needed an extra and quite clear benefit of not spending unnecessarily and so I come up with the mortgage prepayment account; I note my savings each week which will be later used to make a prepayment whenever I have more than 100 bucks in the account. I did this for the first time 10 days ago and I am excited about it 🙂 So I have more than enough motivation to keep going. 🙂

If anyone had asked me whether I could budget stricker than what I used to have last year, I would say no. But I am proving myself wrong now – I see that I can save more. This cannot be a long term plan for me though, so I rather see the #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge as some kind of “shopping ban”. After  all I also have a life to enjoy and I would love my weekend breakfast to come back sometime 🙂

So my advice to you, if you are interested in this kind of challenges, is to learn about yourself and your choices as much as possible. Also think about it as a temporary thing; who knows maybe it will turn into a long-term habit, but if not that should be okay, too. I should also say that it is fun to challenge myself and finding ways to cut my expenses. I hope you too will have a similar and positive experience.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

 

 

 

weekly budget check

Another great week of my super-duper lean spending month:)

I have had some extra expenses (a.k.a. non-essential) but I am okay with that as this is the best budget yet. I not only have stayed within my budget, but even managed to save from my weekly allowance:) While the super-duper lean spending month officially is February, you know I have started early and it feels alright. I will post about its details later.

 

Here is the account for this past week:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $74.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $74.5 = $45.5

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $367.5  (yay! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $0 for the second week -a true miracle! 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses: $22.5 (these are the expenses I would normally do, but decided not to – I am proud of these 🙂 They may be small, but you know what I plan to do with them? Make a mortgage pre-payment!)

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*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: I have done so well this week consuming quite a bit of the food that I have hoarded at the pantry and freezer! These included; pasta, canned bean x 2, and canned corn from pantry and two containers of soup, mixed veggies, and croutons from freezer. Not bad, is it not? 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

pantry/freezer treasure finds from the last 10 days

My plan and efforts to consume the food I have hoarded in my pantry and freezer are going well.

I am happy that I am taking steps to actually implement this plan 🙂

I originally wanted to record how well I have been doing re; eating the “pantry/freezer treasures” in my weekly budget check posts. Last week I have not posted it, so I thought I would have this separate entry here. I also aimed for eating at least one food per week.

Overall, I have consumed more than one item per week. For the last ten days, this list included canned corn, pasta, dehyadrated soup, frozen minced beef, frozen chicken, frozen bread loaf, and frozen breakfast calzone.

I congratulate myself for this highly satisfactory performance and I hope that I will keep doing this in the weeks to come 🙂

if I had 172,800 bucks..

I would maximize my TFSA, pay back my HBP (Home Buyers’ Plan), make an annual mortgage pre-payment, double my mortgage payments, give a portion of it to my family members, invest the rest, and have a nice Chinese meal somewhere to celebrate.

There.

My dream for today 🙂

They say the more money you have, the more you get. Sometimes I believe in it. I also believe that the more I think I do not have money, the more I find myself spending… What an interesting dilemma….

Years ago when my finances was really low (I was kind of like a student), I had read somewhere that we must set our subconscious mind right. Upon a suggestion I read in a book, I put a number of coins in a glass container and placed it in my kitchen window. Each time I pass there, I made it habit to say “I have money“. It felt good and I can say that year I saved the most money I have ever did until then even though the money I made was quite tight 🙂

Since it is new year and my budget is more or less in check, nowadays I am feeling in control of my finances. Yet, we have got some extra taxes implemented in the new year and also our pension plan contributions have been increased by our workplace, so my salary as of new year is  less than last year. I am determined not to lose track or my saving momentum, but considering how already and significantly I have cut my expenses in the last 1.5 years, I for a moment lost my hope and started to feel like I was financially restrained again.

Then, I thought about the people who have survived the war times or the great depression and I knew that I could still cut out expenses should I wish so. I can cut my coffee in half (currently having 5 cups on the average every day), refrain from buying clothes/shoes/boots for many years (I have plenty), change my diet (not necessarily into an unhealthy one, but a more frugal one), use regular flour rather than bread flour for my bread, stop treating/gifting my coworkers and friends, learn to grow veggies in my yard, stop dying my hair, sew better, stop miscellaneous gifting, stop socializing at expensive restaurants, stop wasting food and every other item in my possession and find ways to re-use them, find alternative ways to enjoy rather than writing on notebooks with fine pens, and so on and on….

Come to think about it, some of them are not bad idea (like cutting my coffee consumption – too much of anything is not good anyhow). I am quite bothered by waste, especially the food waste and still have some fresh produce stalling in my fridge… argh… (I should go back to shopping as required rather than weekly store visits). I can also switch to regular flour (which is cheaper than the bread flour) in my sourdough loaves. I can pay more attention to sewing techniques and start sewing myself blouses (which is my primary aim now).

The point is that there seems to be multiple levels of saving. The life circumstances can challenge us, but there is usually more to change and more to save. Hopefully without reducing the quality of life and hurting our health.

Hey, maybe I should thank those extra taxes and pension contributions. They stretch my mind and imagination 🙂

weekly budget check

The first weekly budget check record of the year 2017 🙂

Like last year, I have started 2017 with a wonderful budget and limited expenses. Hence, overall the numbers look quite good this week 🙂

The only difference between this year’s budget and the previous ones is that this year I will not be counting as savings the cab fare expenses that I have not made (i.e. money saved by rather walking or taking the bus) in my “would-be-expenses” category.

The reason for that is that now walking or taking the bus have become my “normal” (compare this to last year or the year before when it would be a miracle if I had not taken the cab in the morning and evening 🙂 )…While I will be still saving, since these savings will not be recorded, the numbers in the “savings from would-be-expenses category” below will be lower, but that is okay. This being said, I still include savings such as by the store discounts, coupons, sales, or loyalty card discounts in this category.

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Anyways; here is the snap-shot of the financial situation last week:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $35

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $35 = $85

Total fun funds accumulated so far: $72.5 (from last week; I started my budget recordings for 2017 in late December) + $85 = $157.5 (yay! 🙂

Other expenses: $11.5 (food and snacks purchased for hosting a couple of friends for a light dinner)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $219. A large portion of this savings is the reimbursement I have got for my credit card’s annual fee 🙂 Go ahead and ask for it friends! Banks sometimes waive it 🙂

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: a tasty meal prepared by baking dry beans and using the carrots that I had frozen sometime ago.

*I am noting this because a couple of days ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

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So; not bad my friends; I keep my frugal life style and my hopes for my future:)

 

financial challenges I assign to myself this year

I love assigning financial challenges to me and then seeing how I am doing 🙂

In the recent years, my first such joyful challenge was shopping freeze – I first applied it to books and then to shoes/clothes. I still did purchase a few of these items during the year, but hey, I had assigned these freezes for only a short time and they were needed when I purchased them. It is interesting that these freezes become habits quite soon after I first started them. Human attitude is quite plastic – it does change easier than we would like to think.

Anyways; the two things that I would like to try this year are the followings:

1. super-duper lean spending month. A fellow blogger suggested a no spend month, who I unfortunately cannot remember (raise your hand if you read this! 🙂 ).

Honestly I have no idea what no spend month means. I only think that the grocery, medication, transportation, and other essentials are excluded from this challenge.

Knowing my budget and daily life and requirements, I am pretty sure I cannot keep up with this – there will be at least work-place or socialization-related expenses; somebody will require some sort of gifts/donations, or I will find myself needing something all of a sudden. So, I do not have an interest in no spend month challenge.

So, why the hey am I talking about it here?

I want to give it a try and see whether I can rather aim for a “super-duper lean spending month“. That would mean finding alternative ways to contribute/donate/gift people; refuse or deflect social encounters (this is a challenge, but doable); and think really, really hard before I open my purse for anything other than essential grocery, cleaning and personal care products, transportation, medication and so on.

Certainly doable! 🙂

I am thinking February is a great time to do this challenge. And, no, not because it has less days than a regular month 🙂 I chose it because right now I have a good momentum in terms of spending (i.e. I shopped and stocked up quite a bit in Nov-Dec; that means in January I project to spend quite low anyhow).

I am curious how it will fold up 🙂

2. Pantry/freezer challenge: I have many food stored in my pantry and freezer. I have been meaning to consume them during the holidays, but time flied and things/socials happened. But I have not stopped thinking about it. My plan is to eat at least one meal per week prepared by the food already stocked up at my home. I also plan not to stock up any further until I consume half of the entire stock (then I can start stocking up them when they are on sale).

I kind of started it today when I baked a bean dish with the dry beans and frozen carrots 🙂

I know if I can put it in my to-do-list, I will make an effort to work on this challenge.  That is why I plan to record my pantry/freezer challenge activities within my weekly budget check posts.

If you have other challenges, please feel free to comment 🙂

 

year end finances

Year end financial calculations are always exciting for me! After all, I make plans and try hard to stick with them during the year. Now it is time to find out how I have done and what I can learn from the past years experiences.

Here is how I have done in terms of my budget, expenses categories, and savings:

A. Expenses within the weekly allowance:

Taxi cab (not including bus fare): $435.25 (ouch!…)

Unhealthy/junk food: $973 (OUCH!)

Grocery: $2,104.5

Eating out, including my weekend breakfast: $534.05 (maybe too much?)

Others (such as occasional books): $223.75

TOTAL: $4,180.6

 

 

B. Extra expenses (these are the expenses other than the weekly allowance expenses):

Dining out (myself or with others, excluding my weekend breakfast): $1,011.5 (ouch..)

Hosting at home/visiting others: $296

Gifts/donations: $754.5

Health-related expenses (e.g. dental visits, yoga etc.): $1,292.5

Cleaning and personal care products: $1,933.5

Clothes/shoes/sewing machine/sewing related expenses: $695

House repairs/furniture/extra house tax: $1,259

Annual vacation/family visit: around $6,200 (worth every penny!)

Fun funds expenses (expenses for my own enjoyment): $943.5

TOTAL: $14,385.5

 

C. Special savings

Total fun funds (savings from $120/week weekly allowance): $1,219.5 (yay!! – it is great to see these savings 🙂 ). I end this year with a positive balance at the fun funds (~$188)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $7,784.3!!! These are the money that I save by not taking the cab (as I would usually do), by using coupon/sales, and other lucky encounters. Honestly I am very surprised by this amount and am very excited!. can you imagine? Under different conditions I would be spending this money but I chose not to; I chose to follow the sales; and I chose not to make unnecessary expenses…I am very proud of these money that are now left with me!

D. Total savings and investments: Around 31.2% of my income after taxes (not including the home equity)

E. Others. I increased my mortgage payment in September by $100/biweek, which is not reflected in these calculations. Nor the bills, insurances, etc. (i.e. fixed expenses).

 

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In summary; I see that I am capable of spending frugally and sticking with my budget to my best, but there are areas that I can focus. For example, I can reduce those junk food category and increase my hosting expenses. I should keep following the sales and taking the bus/walk to keep save a considerable amount of money.

Overall, I am content with what I have done, but I would love to save more of my net income.

Maybe in 2017! 🙂 happy new year everyone!

 

feeling more optimistic today

After feeling quite overwhelmed yesterday, I am feeling much better now.

I worked intensely today with two of my colleagues. I was drained but we have done a good job. I decided tomorrow was the day of cleaning the office (dusting and decluttering) as well as cleaning the work email box. After that i plan to leave my office for the holidays and start my break with visiting the fabric stores 🙂 And upon returning back to home, I hope to work on the blouse I have started today and maybe do some laundry to jump start the holiday plans! 🙂

Thursday morning I have an appointment with my bank. I will not make a lump sum contribution to my mortgage that I had planned earlier, but I decided i could increase my payment a little bit and still feel like doing a good job with it (without feeling deprived of money). I think I must give myself more credit; this year I have done really well in terms of my budget, savings, and increasing my mortgage and RRSP contributions even though some of our taxes increased. i will calculate my finances (savings and spendings in each expense category) for the year 2016 soon; I am excited about it 🙂 2017 will be somehow tough because our pension contributions will be increasing too, but I want to go through it. I can always reduce my TFSA contribution should I need cash. I must remember this.

Back to sewing; I started a new blouse project today. I must admit I am intimidated by sewing – there is so much to figure out and to try. It is good that I bought the fabrics at my hand at good price (from the thrift stores); even though they are now mostly wasted by my trials and errors (!), it is a necessary part of the process. Tonite I watched a couple of youtube videos and they were helpful in learning how to best sew a neck… Sewing a good looking neck and fitting the arms may be the hardest part of the sewing for me right now. I will develop over time I hope.

Have a great night everyone 🙂

exciting thrifty store visit :)

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I have had a blast today at two thrifty stores 🙂

Gals; I was reading that some of you were able to get sewing fabric and notions from thrifty stores. I had not believed in it.

It turned out I was wrong 🙂

I took advantage of finishing some critical work early today and despite the slushy roads (which is not fun when one walks), I decided to check my favorite stores; a.k.a. thrifty stores 30 min walking distance from my office. Man, there is so many interesting stuff in these stores.

I have found lovely scrap fabric in great condition 🙂 These were left overs from who knows what project and were on sale. All in great condition and clean, and absolutely do not have any dirt or offensive odor or something 🙂 Some are as long as 7 meters, the shortest is around 1 meter. And I paid a total of $42 for all of these (12 different fabric accounting for more than 30 meters of fabric)!

This is my first serious fabric hunt so far (after I purchased my sewing machine). I am planning to use some as backing fabric for bed cover/quilt trials; some of them I would love to see as tunics, and many of them will be quilt pieces/placemats 🙂

I cannot wait to get my hands on these 🙂

I love my money

No, not in a way that it becomes the entire focus of my life.

No, not in a way that I would do anything to have it or keep it.

No, not in a way that I would sacrifice the quality of my life, well being, safety, or security.

No.

I love my money in a way that I would like to see it in my chequing account and not getting crazy about not having enough money because I am so interested in investing it for my future or paying my mortgage early.

There, I said it.

Watching my chequing account and trying hard, very hard, to see it not dropping to a negative level is getting on my nerves.

I have had negative balance starting three years ago till last December (when it was finally positive). I like it being positive. I like it growing every paycheque. I like using it to contribute to my RRSP, HBP payments, TFSA, and a personal retirement plan. But since all of these are significant contributions (totaling around 20K each year), certainly coming up with these amount of money is a significant commitment and effort on my side.

Do not get me wrong; I love saving, being frugal, finding ways to limit spending and waste, and help secure my future.

What I do not like is to constantly feeling like I am running out of money and I must be very careful while spending my own money. This has started to bug me a lot lately because I have no reason to reduce the quality of my life or to generate extra stress for my life by getting anxious about my money and my chequing account.

My mortgage will be paid in a shorter time than many; whether I can make it 2 years earlier should not matter to me right now.

Right now, I want to breathe.

That is why I am not going to make that 5K extra contribution to my mortgage before the new year (that I had planned).

Making that contribution would make my chequeing account quite low (still on the positive side, but low) and I would be spending the next 6 months saving another 5K for my personal retirement payment in summer. And, when I make it, then I would be saving money this time to again beef up my chequeing account and buffer for extra expenses that may happen.

Forget that..

It is becoming a constant struggle, a source of stress and even sadness, to keep constantly save large amounts of money for something.

Should I not be instead celebrating all the positive changes I have made in my life with my budget and savings?

Yes, I should be feeling like celebrating rather than struggling….

shopping spree continues :)

I have been shopping lately; I bought a new sewing machine, ordered plate sets, and yesterday and today I have been to shopping malls – yay! 🙂

Do not worry; I buy what I must and am absolutely taking advantage of the deals. I have done well with my sewing machine (almost 40% off), plate sets (50% off), and others I bought this weekend. I am also shopping to replace old and unhealthy pieces at my kitchen- whether or not they are on sale does not matter to me (my health is more important, right?).

For example; I have got rid of two non-stick frying pans that were now full of scratches. Honestly I do not like non-stick products at all (stainless steel is the healthiest, but it unfortunately sticks..). So I wrestled quite a bit with myself and only after I promised myself that I would take excellent care of this new one and never buy another one again in the next 5 years or so, I placed the new non-stick frying pan in my shopping cart.

Similarly, I had also noticed that the lids of some of my mason jars were blackened here and there. After all these years of faithful service, I thought it was time to replace them (I think it is rust…). So I have got covers and lids for the small and the large jars and am slowly replacing all that are in bad shape. For my health, that is one great investment and I am feeling very good about it.

And today, I have got myself a nice french presser (coffee maker) to use at home. It was on my shopping list for some time and when I saw today that one product was on sale and there was an additional 25%, I could not help but buy that beautiful rouge presser 🙂 I had decided to buy a french presser because of three reasons: when I host at home, I bring in the one at my office which is cumbersome; I now am getting my weekend coffee at home rather than at a coffee shop (and interestingly I very much enjoy this); and I thought that I could also brew tea in it (I also needed a new tea pot). With one product, many problems solved 🙂

And of course I am building, however slowly, my sewing supplies, like thread etc. It will take some time to get everything I need, but I am getting there. And it is very exciting 🙂

Overall, I have had a great weekend and I hope you all are enjoying your Sunday night 🙂

 

weekly budget check

Yay! The second week on minimal spending plan has been a success 🙂

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expenses related to weekly allowance: $38.25

funds left from weekly allowance (re; fun funds): $81.8

total fun funds accumulated to this day: -$44.5 (it is still on the negative side, but it is getting closer to $0 at least. Considering that just 2 months ago I had -$300 in this funds says a lot, does it not?… I hope to make it positive till new year and hopefully really use these funds for something I can really enjoy 🙂 )

other expenses: $203. This included a set of plates I ordered (I love them; the set I have has been with me for 15 years. It was time to retire it. I am not sorry for this expense; rather I am pretty much delighted…) and an expensive dinner I had had with my friends last weekend.

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This “minimal spending” plan aims to limit my weekly allowance expenses (transportation, grocery, weekend breakfast etc.) till the holidays season so that I can save  funds to use during shopping during the holidays 🙂

As part of this plan, I walked everywhere this past week and saved my transportation funds. The number of days this week in which I did not spend any money was 4. I also am trying to consume what I already have, so my grocery expenses are pretty less than before and I had no breakfast-related expense this week. While I have lots of food and each week also buy fresh produce, I am not sure how long I can keep going like this (I am especially fond of my breakfast at the weekends), but I am making a great progress towards saving for my shopping plans 🙂

How to maximize the value of grocery funds


I am not an expert; but I have been making effort to save from grocery budget and limit food waste. These two goals together have helped me to try and find out ways that were useful in my journey. Here what I found are useful practices:

DO:

1. Follow the sales: Take advantage of the flyers that appear at your door steps. If that is not an option for you, do not despair – the majority of the stores have e-flyers that can make this exercise quite easy.

2. Shop at variety of places: I am not saying go travel 30 min to a store just to pick up a cartoon of milk. But if there are items that are on sale at different stores and if they are practical options to do so, you may want to consider visiting them. Often times, different stores have different items on weekly sales.

3. Buy bulk: Consider this if you are certain that you will consume the product. Dry food, like rice, pasta, legumes, and canned goods are good examples. Fresh produce usually does not last too long, unless they are dried, frozen, or canned.

4. Use coupons: Whether they come in the inserts, news papers, or apps, you can use coupons to save a dime or two.

5. Use loyalty cards: Many stores offer their own or main stream loyalty cards to their customers. The points accumulate and can give you a free item or two.

6. Freeze food: You can freeze almost any of the veggies or fruits with some practice. Blanching is a good way to preserve veggies, for example.

7. Freeze meals: Freeze extra portions of meals for future consumption.

8. Take an inventory of your fridge, freezer, and pantry: Know what you already have. This helps you to not only appreciate what you already have, but also to identify what you really need.

9. Make your own pickles, jams, peanut butter, sauces, etc.

10. Prepare meals from scratch

11. Bake your own bread: this may be intimidating to many, but it is a lot of fun! It is quite affordable and healthy too 🙂 Expand it to pizza and noodles

12. Opt for un-cut/unprepared meals, veggies, and fruits to save instantly

13. Use your own shopping bags/totes if your store charges for nylon bags

14. Have a meal plan and make an effort to stick to it

15. Take advantage of holiday sales

16. Use left-overs as lunch the next day or to prepare soups

17. Use bits and pieces of veggies or meat in hearty soups

18. Share what you have, especially if you think that you will not consume the food. Family, friends, neighbours, soup kitchen, and food banks are good examples

19. Buy frozen veggies

20. Keep a good stock of regularly used items so that you will not feel deprived

21. Know your coupons and their characteristics (e.g. expiry dates, brand/model they are eligible for)

22. Be grateful for what you have and try to appreciate your efforts

23. Shop when you need, not when you think you should shop

24. Check your bill at the cashier and correct or remove items if their price is not right

25. Change your habits; whether it is the food types, stores, or shopping habits, give a better habit a chance

26. Try new recipes and improvise

27. Learn from others: there are many blogs out there that gives good tips to reduce the grocery bill and the food waste.

28. Monitor your savings 🙂 whether you saved by following the sales, using coupons, or loyalty cards, once you realize how much you do save, it will make you feel great and motivated to keep going!

 

DON’T

1. Buy things only because they are on sale or you have coupons for

2. Care about peer pressure; rather focus on your own needs and goals

3. Get crazy about saving all the time; everyone deserves a nice treat every once a while

4. Buy suspicious food from dollar stores or from the stores’ sales rack

5. Sacrifice your health and well-being by under-nourishment or by consuming limited types of food

6. Forget to celebrate!

 

*In my experience using my credit card works for me (I pay the full balance at the end of each month and I do not buy things that I do not need) – so I cannot solely recommend using cash.

**I am not very familiar with price comparisons – if that works for you, go ahead.

***I am not into using food that are beyond their expiry dates

 

 

not picking the cheques anymore?

You know I have been on a budget to spend less and save more for my future, whether I do that to pay extra mortgage payments, to finance future house repairs (likely considering my house being an old one), to built an emergency fund (we all can need it anytime), to help family (they are important to me), or retirement (hey; I am important too).

And lately, you know that I got interested in sewing and have been saving extra to finance my new sewing machine, in addition to support my shopping plans for the holiday season.

You may also know that I like to be generous and pick up the cheques as dinners/cafes, if I am with friends or colleagues.

I came to a point that being a saver/conscious spender and being generous do not go well sometime. Sometime one has to choose one over the other.

Yesterday I have had two socials with the same people; a brunch and then a dinner. I offered to pay the bill of the brunch, but I was not let to. I am grateful for their kindness. Then later during the dinner I decided I did not want to pick up the bill. So, we got split cheques after a few awkward moments.

I felt cheap, I still somehow feel cheap, for not paying the entire bill, but it was the right thing to do.

One; I had no say in the choice of the diner (one of my friends yesterday made the reservation). It had one fixed menu. (by the way, that is quite strange… what if I do not feel like eating those?). Honestly I would love Asian cuisine much better and then it would worth every penny. So, strike one.

Two; it was an expensive restaurant. Do not get me wrong; it was a fine restaurant, food was interesting, and the service was excellent, but do I really need to pay around 80 bucks for a 5 course meal? I am here sacrificing from my weekend breakfast (that consists of a cup of coffee and one bagel) to help save for my sewing/holiday shopping needs, and then at one night I can spend 80 bucks? 80 bucks pay for 20 breakfast……That is a huge….The best choice is clear.

Three: as I was conscious of my money, I did not order extra meals/drinks like my friends did. Should I really pay for this?

Four: in the past I have picked cheques for both of my friends, so we should be fine.

So after this analysis, I am feeling better and I decided I might have been cheap but not unnecessarily. The question is; how am I going to continue making better choices in the future with other socials?

There will be some learning,  I guess 🙂

minimal spending plan till new year

Holiday season is coming. That means; a) I am socializing more often than usual, and b) shopping! In both cases, I will be spending money 🙂

I want to take advantage of the sales and the fact that I will be off for two weeks during the holidays means that I have time to go around and shop without rush. it is quite fun actually!

My plan is to purchase a new dining set, mixing bowl, sifter, french press for home, tea kettle, and other small stuff. I also would like to stock up my cleaning products, such as garbage bags, toilet paper, paper towel, dish detergent, and others. The regularly consumed food, such as canned food, are also in the list. Sure, I will also buy new pants and shirts when they are on sale. And socks.

The list was actually bigger than that, but I felt that I must trim it….Considering the fact that my biggest financial aim till new year is to make an additional payment to my mortgage, while I am excited about the idea of shopping and purchasing stuff that I will need, I am also aware that I may be financially strained if I am not careful and cut some of these expenses.

Since it is more beneficial to take advantage of the sales (and to socialize with great people), I have just decided I should implement a “minimal spending” plan. It is not as strict as “shopping ban“. It just aims to be more resourceful by using the food in the pantry, freezer, and fridge, and eliminating my weekend breakfast-related expenses till new year. I am not against occasional set-back, but I am determined to do my best.

I have been toying with this idea this past weekend (in order to save for my sewing machine) and it actually went okay. My grocery bill is lower, yet I have everything I need. I was okay brewing my own coffee and have breakfast at home. I also seem to have stocked up a lot of cleaning products/dry food/frozen food, so the timing is good. As a matter of fact, it is actually quite good that I will be consuming what I have; this will give me a chance to help replenish them with fresher ones.

I have 6 weeks to keep my weekly expenses low, to my best, and then leverage these funds to shop.

When it is a short period of time, I know it is doable. When I first had shopping ban on purchasing books, I was not sure how long I could keep up with it. But it did happen and is still continuing voluntarily. I hope that this minimal spending plan will work out just fine, too 🙂

weekly budget check

A good week in terms of saving from my weekly allowance (covering my weekend breakfast/coffee, grocery and other miscellaneous expenses):

Total weekly allowance spending: $77.5

Money left for fun funds: $120 – $77.5 = $42.5

Total fun funds accumulated (or, rather over-spent….) this year: -$211.5

Extra expenses (cleaning and personal care products) = $206.5 (ouch!)

 

Overall, I spent a lot of money this past week, that is for sure. None of the expenses were unnecessary, so I am perfectly fine with this. I know that I do not have to make another round of cleaning/personal care products shopping for some time.

 

Frugal encounters in the last one week:

I have saved $186 in the last week; $100 by walking to and from the work place (rather than taking the cab) and $86 by following the sales and using coupons ($13). I continue to be excited about these savings.

It is so easy to spend the money, but not so easy to save money, is it not? I must admit, though, saving money is quite exciting 🙂

 

Minimal spending week:

I have two important financial aims till the new year: a) to make an additional $4,000 payment to my mortgage, and b) to purchase a sewing machine.

Clearly, I must save more than what I have done so far…. That prompts me to look for ways to reduce my weekly expenses without reducing the safety or quality of my life. I decided this week was an excellent candidate to be a minimal spending week – I have lots of food in the fridge/freezer/pantry.. It is time that I consume them before they go bad. Hence, this week I will focus on consuming what I have, especially the dry food and the frozen veggies. I already purchased enough amount of fresh produce and fruits; so i will not focus on stocking up items, even they are on sale.

This is the week that I have a chance to actually save from my weekly allowance and even an extra $50 will make me feel excited! And, I am looking forward to that 🙂

sewing may be my newest hobby :)

Since I used my little portable sewing machine to sew myself cloths to use during baking last weekend, I cannot keep thinking about how enjoyable that activity, the feeling of being capable of and self-sustaining were.

I want to buy a sewing machine!

I can sew table cloths, napkins, bread bags, curtains, pillow cases, and make quilts, embroidery and much more! I can repair my clothes. I can re-purpose whatever I have. I can make gifts for family and friends. After many trials and errors of course 🙂

I really am excited about this idea.

I want to be an informed consumer; one thing I would hate would be to buy a machine that would not be comfortable to use, or suitable for my projects. I was looking at the internet and there are so many different brands and models – which one is it that I would like to get? I know I am looking for a beginners/intermediate level model that allows me to sew, quilt, and make embroidery. I know I need a machine that have many stitch options and allows me to adjust the stitch length and width. I will need a machine that fits many different foots suitable for my needs, hopefully coming with the purchase as accessories but not needing extra purchases and thus inflating the cost. I know I can get a mechanical or electrical one, and hopefully with a lot of room on the right side of the needle to help comfortably handle the fabric. I also would love a light machine that does not produce a lot of noise while operating. Something that can handle thin and thick fabric would be nice, too. I will keep reading to find out what else I need to be aware of while selecting my sewing machine.

Information, however, is overwhelming and somehow putting me off; so if you, the dear reader, have any recommendations, please feel free to share in the comment area.

I am thinking I can catch up the holiday sales if I can make my mind till then. I really would love to spend as little as possible. I considered the second hand ones and actually found a nice Singer sewing machine at $60, but I decided it was not worth it. A new one is probably the best bet with all the accessories available with the purchase (if possible). Plus, I can trust that the machine is at good condition.

So, with this decision, my next hurdle is to identify how to save for money to purchase this lovely addition to my life. I am perfectly capable of buying it right now, but honestly there is something nice about saving for it first by cutting expenses in other areas.

I have 6 weeks till the holiday season to save around $200-300. Wish me luck my friends 🙂

coupons can be exciting sometimes

If you follow me, you know well that even though I am on a frugal journey, I am not interested in couponing, unless coupons show up at my doorsteps as inserts or are stuck on the items in the stores.

This week I have got 3 inserts and several coupons that I can use. Two of them were manufacturer coupons for my hair dye ($2 each), which I was planning to purchase this week (they are on sale on a store nearby). I went to the store this morning and found out, to my surprise, that the packets also had $3 store coupons on them. So I bought three packages and together with the sale price, I paid $20.5 and saved $21.

Can you imagine?

$21…..

This is the first time that I have got that lucky with coupons. Perhaps I should be paying more attention to them?

I honestly think that I can start a new project where I can donate the savings I got from coupons. It may not be too much, but even a small amount is helpful.

🙂

frugal encounters – this past week

On my frugality journey, here are the main things I have done to save money this past week:

1. walked to and from the work instead of taking the cab or the bus, whenever possible. Estimated savings: $78

2. Followed the sales, stocked up durable items and designed my meals around them: estimated savings: $45

3. Used a coupon that came with the insert. Savings: $1

4. Baked my own bread (sourdough): estimated savings $4

5. Baked and consumed my own croutons. Estimated savings: $2.5

6. Did not purchase the pyrex/mixing bowl set of 6: Savings: $22

Total savings: $152.5

 

Is that not awesome? I keep focus on reducing my expenses and thus counting them, but seeing the savings is  in fact a real eye opener and a great motivator to keep going 🙂

 

weekly budget check

The lean budget continues to empower me, albeit with some extra expenses that I believe were made for good causes. These extra expenses are 2 cab drives totaling $22 due to heavy rain we have had this week (rather than walking or waiting for the bus).

total expenses within the weekly allowance (including the cab fare): $104.5

total funds left for fun fund: $120 (weekly allowance) – $104.5 = $15.5

total fun fund account: -$254 (man… I spent that fund before I saved for it… argh. still trying to make it a positive value. hope is a great thing! 🙂 )

 

Overall, this is the second week that I did not over-spend my weekly allowance. I am pretty excited about this and hope that i continue like that. I am aware that the coming holiday season, socials, gifting and others will somehow throw this balance off, but I hope to do my best 🙂

By the way, yesterday I received not one but three coupon inserts with the weekly flyer package. I have used one of them today 🙂 I am not crazy about coupons, but if they appear on my doorsteps and if they are for the items that I was planning to purchase anyhow, they sure give a great feeling 🙂

 

weekly budget check

I have not updated this category recently; mostly because I was spending over my budget for some time as well as a trip I made to to Europe for a week.

Good news is that as of this week, I am back to my lean budget. That means none of these junks that I consume to deal with stress are in my life. Well, I am not an eternal optimist, so I am not saying they will never appear in my life (though, I wished they did not). But, until that time, I am proud and excited about this spending routine – nothing extra is purchased; sales are followed and items are stocked up as usual, money is saved, the chequing account gets healthier, and I feel abundant and well.

All is well in my financial world right now 🙂

weekly allowance expenses: $90

funds left from the weekly allowance and transferred to the fun fund: $120-$90=$30

total fun fund: -$270 (have I mentioned I was over-spending? argh..)

extra expenses (hosting, meals with others, health-related expenses): $182.5

 

I am looking forward to an even leaner week ahead. I really hope this will go on like this. There is quite an astonishing empowerment coming from increasing the value of your money (by means of following sales, for example), not wasting food, money, or items, saving money that otherwise would be lost, and still feeling like on top of everything 🙂

 

no spending day

I just realized today was a no-spending-day since I do not know when…

I am so excited about this.

I walked and did not pay for bus and I absolutely bought nothing today; no coffee, no treats, no grocery, no nothing….

I remember last year when I first aimed to have a no-spending day it was so difficult…

I feel like I am coming back to my lean budget as of this week and it is making me feel very empowered and abled. This has nothing to do with my accidental no-spending-day today, but both are what make me excited in terms of achieving my goals.

It is interesting that spending less money can make one that excited about herself 🙂

weekly budget check

I have not been posting about my weekly budget spending lately.

The reason?

I over-spent…

Overall, in the last 3 weeks, I spent a total of $129 over my $120/week limit. This is $43/week in extra, mostly unnecessary, expenses…

I also had extra expenses (afraid to write them here..), such as the cost of hosting guests cleaning products, medication costs, and donations (well done though – I would do these expenses again should I need it – so no hard-feelings here).

My fun funds is a huge negative balance: around $200…. need to make a plan and stick – fun funds are the savings from my weekly allowance that I am free to spend on anything I like, but this certainly has been taking a down hill, as now I seem to spend them without even collecting them!!

I also needed to pay my bank an extra money to cover for my house tax, which reduced my overall saving- obviously what I pay them every two weeks is not enough. Do you not hate the increases in house taxes? I do.

Overall, the last three weeks made a hole in my saving objectives and I am feeling not great about it.

I am aware of the unnecessary expenses that I made lately (such as taking the cab etc.), which I am determined to tackle. I dislike spending and I love saving.

Time to go back to that mental state.

 

a quick note on coupons

While I am not into coupons, I used one today (BOGO); it was for my favorite soap that was also on sale at a nearby store. I could not help but ask the cashier whether I could use it (argh – very in-experienced couponer here 🙂 ) and it turned out that I could. I paid $2.99 (plus tax) for 4 bars of soap that otherwise would cost me $8.98 (plus tax).

Can you imagine?

The coupons came in an insert with the weekly flyer combo. While I love looking at them and deciding what to purchase every week, this week’s insert was the one that delighted me most. I have a coupon for the hair dye I must buy and I sure will use it before it expires 🙂

weekly budget check

seems like I am spending and spending… While shopping is a great feeling, constantly spending over my budget is not. I gotta come up with a strict budget for the next week to get back to track (this works for me).

weekly allowance expenses: $145.5 ($25.5 over my regular allowance…)

savings from would-be-expenses (expenses that I was tempted to do, but did not; discounts, etc.): $163

Other expenses (cleaning products, cat supplies, cab to the shelter, a second hand rug): $317.5.

Ah, come on…. this is a huge amount. Around $200 is for cat-supplies/cab fee to visit the shelter. $70 is for a lovely second-hand area rug which turned out to be perfect (new, good-looking, and fitting the living room well. I should not be sorry 🙂

fun funds saved this week: -$25.5

fun funds accumulated to date: -$8

 

So, for the first time since the new year, I have a negative balance in the fun funds, which means that I have no money left for extravaganza :). I am smiling but this situation is actually not great. I gotta tighten the belt this week. I need to purchase more cat supplies and also pay for the cat adoption fees. So, I probably am looking for another week with lots of expenses in the category of “other expenses”.

argh…

But, my fiends, life is good. I have hope that things will turn around  🙂

 

 

weekly budget check

I am almost back to my regular budget after my vacation two weeks ago.

Last week has been good, yet I am aware that I made extra expenses that did not enrich my life. They could have been avoided, but I preferred not to. My choice. Like any other choice in life, I am responsible for it and since the effects are not detrimental, I am also okay with it 🙂

Anyways, here is last week’s account:

expenses within the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee etc): $108

savings from expenses that I was tempted to but did not: $204

weekly fun funds savings: $120 (my total weekly allowance) – $108 (this week’s total expense): $12

fun funds spending: $165 (these are the expenses I regret…But hey; fun funds are here to help me have this flexibility in my spending. I had fun making these expenses, so even though I may not feel the same excitement right now, I am sure at that time it was the right decision)

total fun funds accumulated so far/left: $18

Other expenses (such as cleaning and personal care products as well as clothes): $188


Overall, I am pleased with keeping up with the weekly budget; comparing prices at different stores or following the sales and shopping at thrifty stores (for clothes) to increase my savings; walking or taking the bus rather than taking the cab and saving a significant amount of money every week; cooking and baking at home rather than dining out (except weekend breakfast). This week has been a little bit expensive, but this does happen time to time, so all is well 🙂

list of items I want

I am in the mood of buying stuff..

Whether this is good or bad, I have no idea.

Sure, if I buy things I want (i.e. not necessarily need), I would spend money and save less.

That is a loss. Kind of.

If I buy, then I can enrich my life, my activities.

Dilemma.

What do I want, by the way, that creates this dilemma?

 

baking-related items:

You know I am highly excited about baking bread – it is a great adventure 🙂

I want to have a dutch oven, a bench cutter, and a sifter, in addition to semolina drum flour, rye flour, and buckwheat flour. These are all can be purchased with around $100 – 150.

I certainly do not need this, but would love to have them. After all, rather than buying these I may continue with my current abilities: I can bake the loafs in my oven-safe dishes/cookie sheet; I have a small dough cutter, which is not fully functional but nevertheless works;  I have all purpose, whole wheat, bread, and corn flour at home, which I can use to make breads.

Yet, there is some kind of excitement in wishing to have the other items; to make my bread adventure almost full 🙂

 

furniture:

I would love to have one or two nice carpets. Not the synthetic ones, real, hand-made ones. They are rightfully very expensive, but it does not defer me from wanting them.

I would love to have an additional pantry cabinet; it would have it in the laundry room and place in all the cleaning products, like laundry detergents, dryer sheets, etc.

I also would love some more artwork/decorative pictures around the house; in the living room, bed room, and the bathrooms…

well, all of these would possibly cost me thousands 🙂

eeerk! No way I am paying that much money now 🙂

….

I guess I will have to opt to buy the baking-related items for now. It is possible that I can save some more money by being careful about my weekly spending, which can be then leveraged to purchase them. I may be able to use my fun funds perhaps…

Hope is a good thing 🙂

weekly budget check – July 28, 2016

I have not recorded my weekly spendings and savings since mid-June because of the vacation I have had.

This week too I will not record it (will start next Thursday again), but I want to write down my overall experience with money right before, during, and right after the vacation.

Right before the vacation:

I relaxed my spending a little bit by buying last-minute gifts and requests by my family members and their friends. That sounds about right to me and I have no regrets. Things I have bought were useful and needed, and I am happy to provide them.

I also stopped doing grocery shopping for myself maybe 10 days prior to my vacation so that I would not need to dump out unconsumed food before I left. That felt right, too. I rather consumed what I had already had at the fridge, the frozen meals I had prepared earlier, or prepared meals using the food in my pantry. That also felt good, as I have a tendency to not consume the dry staples. Win-win situation 🙂

During the trips/at the airport:

Considering the expense, but more than that, the lack of variety of the airport food, I prepared sandwiches and veggie snacks for myself and happily devoured them during my airport/plane times.

I was happy to treat myself, too. Coffee was always welcome while waiting for the connections. So was the book that I purchased at one airport. I have had a 9-hour wait between connections at one point and that book helped me to spend time without getting bored or agitated; dollars well spent 🙂

As per water; I have had a plastic water bottle with me and whenever I found a filtered water fountain, I filled it. In some cases, this was not possible, which necessitated purchasing bottled water. Oh, well 🙂 That too was required and as such I have no regret.

During the vacation:

I have had budgeted for this vacation at the beginning of the year. So I did not care about spending my money within some limits. That, as you may be familiar with, feels good after a kind of strict budget that I have had :))) It is great to relax the rules and lift the “I should not buy this/make this purchase” thought. Freedom is needed in every aspect of our lives, I guess, however transient it may be.

Yet, at one point I thought if I continue like that I would over-spend my vacation money, so I needed to limit my shopping (especially for clothes). This did not negatively affect me, as I have clothes at home, some of them never worn, and it is time that I make use of them.

I was also moderately generous with friends and family and contributed to the food, transportation, and other expenses we have had together. I could have done more I guess, but it was still at an acceptable level. That feels okay.

After the vacation:

I am back to my regular budget. I have no regret or sadness about that. In contrast, it feels good. It is interesting that saving and becoming a conscious spender/saver becomes a delightful part of your life….

My checking account is still above $0, yet if I am not careful enough, it may rapidly drop below that level, which would not be good…. I am looking forward to making it stronger in the coming weeks/months.

It is interesting, overall, that we all have different types of relationships and beliefs about money. Often times, it does change over time, too. I have always been frugal I guess, but the “conscious spending journey” I have had in the last 1 year or so, has showed me that I can be better.

I am glad that I am not interested in extreme frugality/being a cheapskate, or being an over-spender. I am glad that I am interested in saving, limiting unnecessary purchases/expenses, and investing for my future and retirement. I still have my short-term and long-term financial goals, and more or less I keep up with them. I know there may be unexpected expenses in the future, which may derail me a little bit. But I hope I will find the courage to accept them as necessary and not dwell in the loss of money.

While lack of money is a negative experience that produces very negative feelings in me (anxiety, anger, sadness, and hopelessness sometime), I must remind myself that money is not everything; experiences and well-being of my loved ones are way more important. And my health and well-being, too.

It feels good to feel this way 🙂

coupons make me think

I do not coupon, even though I am interested in limiting my expenses and saving more. I mentioned this a couple of times before; I am not against couponing. I understand that a large portion of us rely on it to make the ends and put food on their tables. I also understand, as someone who likes this kind of “seek-and-find-and save” activities, that couponing (finding them from a variety of resources, using them and making significant savings or even getting items free) must be an exciting activity after all.

These being said – I, however rarely it may be, use coupons when they fall on my head (not literally). For example when they show up in my mail box together with weekly flyers, are posted on the shelves at stores, or placed on the product itself. In the last one year I think I have had something like 2-3 coupon usage adventure.

I think even though you do not need it, couponing can be an interesting activity. My main (theoretical) interest in couponing is the fact that coupons are available to everyone. If one person can get the same product at a discount price, why should not the others like me?  Do people like me who do not use the coupons feel like they are being taken advantage of by not getting items at discount prices?

I must say I feel silly  for not using the coupons – why should I pay more while I can pay less, like others? So, why do I not coupon?

A couple of reasons.

First, I have limited time to look for coupons.

Second, when compared to many people, I do not make a lot of purchases so purchasing a newspaper for its coupon insert does not make much sense to me. (I however follow the sales and compare prices among different stores on walking distance to my house – that I think is a continuous and practical strategy for my savings).

Third, I do live in a city where many stores with great coupons are not available.

And fourth, sometimes I read couponers’ tales where they buy multiple items by their coupons, which would take years for me to consume. I just read a blog where there were more than 20 rolls of paper towels purchased. The blogger claims that all was free, which is awesome. But I just thought that it would take me 2 – 3 years to consume those. That is not bad as paper towels are durable items so if they were free, I would get them too 🙂 But some tales and blog-pics are somehow horrifying to me; like buying 10 bottles of shampoo or 20 boxes of cereal, or 10 mascara, only because they are on sale or at hugely discounted prices with coupons. I cannot possibly buy these items and consume…

I believe both cases are fine – for some couponing works perfectly, for some like myself it does not.

I have read this post a few days ago and I loved it as this person very clearly demonstrates that frugality has multiple faces, multiple ways, and “one size does not fit all“. Its main message is that there is no one right way to save money or have a frugal life and I fully agree with this.

 

objectives and money

I have been on an exciting and fun adventure of finding ways to spend less, cutting my expenses, and saving more and feeling great about all of these.

It has been a year that I started this adventure – the beginning of last June. According to my calculations I have saved around $7K within the last year, which is awesome.

How did I do it?

The main reason for me was to need it. My motivation came from having the ownership of an old house that can require serious repairs anytime. As a matter of fact, the second week I moved into my home my roof started to leak from multiple places. It took me around a year to get it fixed and when it was fixed, my chequing account was in the negatives.

I could sell the house, which I many times considered, but then I did not. I like it, the neighbourhood, the yard, and how easy it makes my life. Long story short, I decided rather to cut my expenses and get rid of the “I am penniless” feeling.

The majority of my life I have had a frugal life style. So re-assessing priorities and implementing shopping bans (on items like books I used to buy every weekend), taking the bus rather than the cab, following the sales and designing my meals around the items on sale, stocking up when other products are on sale, having a “no waste” policy in effect, making my own bread and eating out less than before, looking for ways to further reduce my unnecessary expenses by either being resourceful or by saying “no” have all been very useful.

Now my chequing account is healthy and I have a great budget that works wonders for me. I have one lump sum payment for an investment plan coming up next month, which I have already saved since the new year. I am hopeful that after that, I will be able to save a nice sum of money till the end of this year.

I have been thinking about what to do with the savings…..

I am one of these people who is motivated by having a clear objective and working towards it by frequent monitoring. The progress makes me excited and keeps me motivated. So, since I have reached my objective (i.e. having a healthy chequing account balance), I have been craving for my next financial objective.

I have maximized my regular RRSP, I have increased my payment for the HBP (home buyer’s plan) re-payments, and I am steadily saving and investing in my TFSA account. I have not maximized my TFSA yet; I had used a portion of it as down payment.But in three years or so, it will be maximized, too. I am not worried about maximizing it at this time, so I guess I am more inclined towards reducing my mortgage with my savings. That is my next big objective – exciting! 🙂

So far I have not made lump-sum payments to my mortgage, but that time is now coming. Yesterday, I estimated that with my current saving rate and without a hazardous expense, I will be able to save around 5K till the new year. I have been contemplating about this, and I decided to use it towards my mortgage principal. Since I am planning to increase my mortgage payments in September, when I hope will get a salary increase, altogether till the end of my term (I have 3 years), I will be able to drop the mortgage by a total of $12,800.

My aim is to make other lump-sum payments till the end of the term. The number I have in my mind is to reduce my mortgage by an additional  $7,200 during the term, totaling the extra payments to $20K. This is an ambitious but an exciting plan 🙂 I am pretty sure I can find a way to do this.

Do I think I can come up with this amount?

Yes, I can. I love being frugal and resourceful, and I love making good choices about my spending and money. Unless something drastic shows up I should be able to reach my goal…

Let’s cross the fingers – it is possible that the salaries may be reduced due to the problems in the economy. I hope not, but if it does happen, the mortgage plan may fail. Or, I will have to find additional ways to save more and reduce that mortgage. Exciting times :))

weekly budget check

It has been a good week in terms of my own spending, yet I have incurred additional expenses (quite a bit) for a social that I hosted, personal grooming, and for the pest control company that is hopefully going to take care of the mice problem I currently have.

I am not sorry to have made these expenses as all of them are for good for me. I am grateful for having such a mentality towards money.

here is this weeks account:

expenses within the weekly allowance: $94

savings from expenses that I was tempted to but did not: $133.5

weekly fun funds savings: $120 (my total weekly allowance) – $94 (this week’s total expense): $26

total fun funds accumulated so far: $169

🙂

Since I am moving towards a “vacation” mentality, I feel like I will be doing less grocery shopping (small amounts and as needed only) and more gift shopping. And that is okay.

Have great savings everyone! 🙂

weekly budget check

I admit this week I have spent more than regular – I am not sure why. I have had this irresistible need to shop, but I hope to restrain myself soon 🙂

Weekly allowance spending (transportation, grocery, breakfasts, eating out etc.): $103

Fun funds collected this week: $120 – $103 = $17

Fun funds expenses: $24 (this and that – they were not necessary at all…)

Fun funds left/accumulated so far: $188

Extra expenses: $58 (donations for a gift and some other stuff that I cannot remember now)

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do but did not do, or the discounts I used): $152 (yahooo! 🙂 )

Seriously; I have the need and the wish to shop…. I want to buy stuff, just to buy. where does this come from? I better come to my senses, as I have an expensive social to attend this week…

One thing I know about myself is that if I need to spend a large amount of money on something, then I care less about other expenses and my spending increases substantially. It kind of nullifies all the efforts I put into saving. Did I mention there is a psychology behind saving? One more thing to add into that argument.

Happy savings everyone! 🙂

weekly budget check

It has been another great week in terms of expenses and savings.

Weekly allowance spending (transportation, grocery, breakfasts, eating out etc.): $55

Fun funds collected this week: $120 – $55 = $65

Fun funds expenses: $45 (dining out – every once a while it is okay, right?)

Fun funds left/accumulated so far: $194 (yay!)

Extra expenses: $27.5; spent for medication.

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do but did not do, or the discounts I used): $153

 

🙂

————————————–

Now that I am interested in baking, I realized my diet is becoming more and more hectic; the tea biscuits I have baked yesterday and today were basically my dinner and this is not good. I will go now and prepare a nice green salad to give my body what it will cherish.

I also noticed that I am not eating fruits even though my fridge is full of them. I did good with bringing fruits to the office this week -it seems to be working. No food to be wasted, please.

weekly budget check

A good week in terms of saving from my weekly allowance, though I have had extra expenses:

Weekly allowance spending (transportation, grocery, breakfasts, eating out etc.): $71

Fun funds collected this week: $120 – $71 = $49

Fun funds left/accumulated so far: $174 (yay!)

Extra expenses: $105; this money was spent to dine out with a good friend and for the cab fare to pick up a gift for someone, who well deserved it. I am aware that it is a significant amount of money, but believe me when I said the enjoyment of these activities is worth the every dollar. One of those times when I sincerely think that “money is not everything”.

Fun funds expenses: $0

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do but did not do, or the discounts I used): $171.5

Overall, I remain highly satisfied with my budget and spending habits.

A couple of things are worth noting;

Walking in the morning rather than taking the bus has highly positive effects on me. I am glad the weather is permissive. This morning I had to go to a meeting away from my office and I directly walked there from home. It is a longer route, maybe around 35 min on foot. And after the meeting, I walked to my office, too. This last part is around 20 min. My mood was pretty good during the rest of the day, which makes me excited about walking (I believe a somehow long walk that warms my body and makes me sweat a little bit is also long enough to improve my brain chemistry). Additionally, I felt very proud of myself for not being lazy and taking the cab. Considering the additional $20 saved by just walking these distances makes me even more proud of myself.

how to use the savings most efficiently?

I have been thinking; I am in a saving mode for 11 months now (wow – it is hard to think that I have been working on my budget and on limiting my expenses and saving for such a long time…), and I am doing alright.

My primary concern that prompted me to start with the budget last year was the home ownership and the home maintenance funds that may be required on a constant basis. Since I have an old house, I am single and the only bread winner, and I got hit with a huge (around $8,000) repair bill right after I bought my home, I was left with a chequing account below $0 and lots of anxiety and uncertainty for the future. I was scared. I found that the only way  that could get me out of this situation was to either sell my home right away or to limit my expenses. The second option was the one that I chose.

It was a hurdle and I failed many times, but eventually I started to take better control of my finances. I guess I am in a state where my purchases and expenses have gradually decreased and surprisingly I am more content with what I have. My chequing account is also on the positive side now, I guess, since last December. I am very happy with these, though I am also cautious that anytime extra expenses can happen. So I should keep saving and make smart choices.

While I am still closely watching my chequing account (I have one big payment coming up next month, which if I am not careful enough, can derail my account again), I have been constantly accumulating my emergency fund (TFSA account). It is not maximized yet, but I have a good sum of funds in this account that I can use for emergency or home repair purposes. I thought this morning that perhaps I can stop contributing to it in the new year and direct the funds to my mortgage.

Mortgage is my only debt right now (other than sporadic and month credit card balance that I pay to the fullest every month). I am quite motivated to reduce it as much as I can. I was planing to increase it by $100 in September, only because I am getting a little salary increase then. That would decrease my mortgage principal by around $7,800 in 3 years (the end of the mortgage term). Now I am thinking that perhaps starting new year, I can stop my TFSA contributions and start putting these money into my mortgage. That would decrease my mortgage by an extra $19,000 till the end of the term. Total reduction in the mortgage principal thus would be $26,800 in about 3 years.

That is a pretty amazing number, don’t you think?

One thing I can not be sure is if I increase my regular payments at the new year whether I can reduce it say, a year later, to the original amount. I am thinking about this just in case our salaries get chopped up by the economy or something like that. I must clarify this with my bank sometime soon.

My other alternative is to of course, keep contributing to the TFSA and then making extra, lump sum payments to my mortgage by withdrawing money from it. This gives me the flexibility because I do not need to adjust my regular mortgage payments and I can make extra payments anytime and in any amount I wish.

I cannot decide which one is better for me. My psychology loves the ease and convenience of the first option (i.e. increasing the regular mortgage payments once and then dealing with no additional paperwork). But it also loves being in control of my funds and thus making lump-sum payments, even though that means I must pay a visit to my bank each time and making a transfer order of funds from my TFSA account to mortgage.

What are your opinions?

just another rant about the economy

My province’s finances are not great and this is well reflected on the annual provincial budget.

The end results? People are furious, scared, and reacting.

Even I found myself perplexed by some of the new impositions on our lives and finances. Did I create this mess? Why should I be taxed and forced to pay more on many stuff and services? What will happen in future – will this turn around or will it continue like this, or even get worse?

I have no answers to these questions. I just feel the hardship coming and hope is lost. I wonder sometime whether we will ever be able to retire in such an economic climate? Even today there are many people who cannot afford to retire, as their retirement income would be much less than what they are getting today through their salaries. Ironically, the longer these individuals stay at work, the lesser the chances for the young people to have jobs.

With increased jobless rate and decreased financial ability comes, inevitably, less spending and more public discontent & stalled economy. I think economist call it something like  “consumer confidence”; when the economy is not good, people spend less. So how is this new budget, new fees and taxes, and weakened ability to consume helping anyone?

I hope the government has some great economists who can understand, designed, and approved of their plan. Maybe there is a benefit in this budget folks like myself cannot see.

I sure will be spending less, now that I have extra fees and costs associated with being a resident of my province. Do not get me wrong; I am a collective person, I would be happy to help out the less fortunate. But I am not happy with a depressive future outlook. If I knew that this was only temporary and things would be eventually better, then I would have a better feeling about these. But I do not.

I do not think that things will get better after a few years. There are many talks about extensive lay offs. There are many people who are talking about leaving this province for another one, or worse yet, sending their kids away for better opportunities. I think everyone is entitled to their own decisions and by all means I respect their wishes, but again my problem is the loss of hope for the future. It looks dark. It looks not healthy. It looks uncertain (well… future is always uncertain, but when you face a financial situation like this and realize how serious the situation is, it just becomes more palpable than I would like).

So I must spend much less to pay off the extra taxes and fees imposed by the provincial budget while I also want to keep going with my financial plans (e.g. maximizing my RRSP and TFSA contributions each year; contributing to my retirement plan; keeping an emergency fund to help especially home repairs; keeping my chequing account at the positive side; and increasing my mortgage payments in September).

OK…. How the hey am I supposed to do this???

I already have a minimum spending plan that also buffers the costs associated with limited social activities and having a comfortable life.

I have not shopped for clothes for some time.

I cannot cut my cable because I have a cable-internet-phone package and if I delete the cable, then the remaining two cost essentially the same amount.

I am not into extreme couponing (though I love reading about it).

I cannot possibly drop anything related my health and well being, like medications, fresh produce, or hygiene.

So what am I supposed to do?

I do not know. But something will give up I guess.

This being said, I am nevertheless grateful that I am one of those fortunate ones who can still keep a home above their heads and food on their tables. If things get worse, I can further reduce my spending (I hope this will not happen, though), but for families and single people out there who are making much less than me, this would mean a disaster.

Hoping the economy will get better. If not, then at least, not get worse.

eggs, frugality, and walking

I am not an extreme frugal, but those who follow me know that I have been on budget (since last June), significantly eliminated unnecessary expenses (such as the annual fee for the credit card – one time opportunity but hey I have saved more than $100, or by changing the cable package – monthly savings are around $25, or by taking the bus rather than taking the cab to work – weekly savings around $40). I also started to freeze food and implemented a “no food waste” strategy. All has been working wonderful so far 🙂

I am not good with coupons (not that there is anything wrong with them – I just do not have time or interest to look for the coupons of items I regularly consume/use). I price-check and shop for items usually when they are on sale. I check the weekly flyers of three stores in close proximity to my home. One store is five minutes away; another one is 10 min away, and the third one is 15 min away.

After yesterday’s baking a bread saga :), I realized I was running out of eggs. I love eggs! They make easy meals (hard-boiled or poached) and can be used in many different dishes (I will post the recipe for an egg-onion-parsley-pasta sometime) and an absolute ingredient for baking. Anyways, so yesterday I checked the flyers and I identified that eggs were on sale at Shoppers. I walked there this morning (a total of 20 min of walking both ways; talking about the health benefits of being frugal), bought two dozens of eggs, and happily come back home.

I do not know how much I saved by this activity but to tell you the truth I do not think it is a lot (many be a couple of dollars), but I am more awed by the positive feelings associated with this; I walked and energized my body; it felt awesome, somehow meditative, to be walking and watching the rhythms of my legs as they walked 🙂 I got exposed to sunshine and got some Vitamin D I need :); and overall I felt satisfied by finding eggs to purchase (they run out of it pretty easily – past experience).

Who would know that such a small financial savings would create such, multiple and positive, feelings?

weekly budget check

Overall, another good week though I have spend a little bit more of my weekly allowance than average this week. I am okay with that as the additional expenses were for stocking of some food that was on sale and for treating myself to a lunch today.

Weekly allowance spending (transportation, grocery, breakfasts, eating out etc.): $106

Fun funds collected this week: $120 – $106 = $14

Fun funds left/accumulated so far: $125

Extra expenses: $100 (a gift well deserved by someone I appreciate very much)

Fun funds expenses: $0

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do but did not do, or the discounts I used): $168

🙂

I have just read two posts by follow bloggers about budget and savings; I enjoyed reading them and I though you too would be interested in knowing their stories or ideas. They can be found here and here.

have a great night everyone 🙂

 

weekly budget check

Another week with a reasonable spending and savings 🙂

Weekly allowance spending (transportation, grocery, breakfasts, eating out etc.): $83

Fun funds collected this week: $120 – $83 = $37

Fun funds left/accumulated so far: $111

Extra expenses: $0

Fun funds expenses: $20.5 – I bought a nice framed photo 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do but did not do, or the discounts I used): $142

Cheers!

 

weekly budget check

Today is Thursday, the end of my weekly budget week. Here is how I have done within the last week:

Weekly allowance spending (transportation, grocery, breakfasts, eating out etc.): $62 (which is pretty awesome…)

Fun funds collected this week: $120 – $62 = $58

Fun funds left/accumulated so far: $94

Extra expenses: $65 (medication and donations)

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do but did not do, or the discounts I utilized): $145

Overall, feeling good 🙂

This budget really works for me, yet I should be eating better. I must aim for buying more grocery/food and cooking healthy meal at home. That is important. In the last 2 months or so, I am not cooking at all and the food I consume is usually not veggie-based. This cannot be too good. So time to eat better! 🙂

 

money: you have it or you do not have it

Many years ago, I was living in Toronto, one of the greatest cities in Canada.

Toronto is a beautiful example of multicultural/multinational city. I believe I have met with people from all over the world and it was awesome! Food was amazing, groceries were diverse and affordable, social and cultural activities were abundant and lovely, and the city was clean and well cared for. It was good to be in Toronto 🙂

Like any other big city, however, it was  expensive to live in Toronto, especially the rent. When I was there, I had a contract position that paid no benefits and a limited salary. While I had no luxurious life style, as a single person I had to be very careful with my money. Despite this I had accumulated debt in the first few years. I handled it better after that time. This was the first time that I had ever had debt in my entire life.

As a highly educated and hard-working professional, I was uneasy about my job and the finances, and was constantly thinking that I was deserving better. I kept thinking that I did not have enough money…..

Well.. Until I got fired from my contract job.

Getting fired is a horrible feeling. What was I going to do? How was I going to handle the rent? Living expenses? How was I going to find a job?  I was given a 4-months of notice so I still had time but this did not prevent my anxiety over the blank future.

The same day that I was fired, I remember looking at a bunch of coins I had found in my pocket; I had slightly over $3 and for the first time in many years I had thought “I have a lot of money. I can buy 3 cans of beans with this and eat for three days.”

That was a sad but profound experience. I had understood the value of money….. I started a tight budget, I moved to a cheaper rental, and I cut out my daily expenses by 40% or something. I appreciated everything I have had and every single dime that ended up in my purse.

A month before I was to leave my work place, miraculously I was offered a better position at the same place and stayed there for another year. I was very grateful for this opportunity and I had felt rich 🙂 But I did not relax my budget; I kept going. While I still needed to look for jobs after a year, I decided I would keep my budget and save as much as possible. I found some kind of enjoyment and peace of mind in these savings. After that job, I found another one for a year and I continued my frugal life and savings. These two years were the toughest years in terms of finances, yet also made me aware of the value of the money.

I am not sure what prompted me to remember these today, but I am grateful for the experience. After I have found my current job, I continued my frugal life a couple of years but later I relaxed again and started spending more than I should have. That lasted until I purchased my home, which hit me in the head hard. I needed to reduce my spendings significantly if I wanted to keep my home and my mental sanity. So, here I am into a 10 months period of budgeting again. And it is going more or less well.

I am grateful for the financial hardships that taught me valuable lessons; I am grateful for myself for caring about my finances and for learning; and I am grateful for life and people for giving me the opportunities that helped provide me with a comfortable life.

weekly budget check

I was complaining about not spending enough (!) in the last few weeks; so this past week I have done great spending money 🙂

Weekly allowance spendings (transportation, grocery, breakfasts, eating out etc.): $92

Fun funds collected this week: $120 – 92 = $28

Fun funds spending (I had quite a bit collected as of last week): $160. Ooops 🙂 See, I told ya; I can spend money 🙂 Hair cut and other stuff only for my leisure… felt good 🙂

Fun funds left/accumulated so far: $36.5

Extra expenses: $123; mostly cleaning products and some gits/donations.

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do but did not do, or the discounts I utilized): $195

 

Well, overall I am very happy to be saving by not throwing away money by taking the cab or by not purchasing and stocking up durable items when they are on sale.

I am also happy about the freedom fun funds gives me…. I can basically do whatever I want to do with these money that is left out of my weekly allowance.

I am done with spending a lot of money and now it is time to go back to being responsible 🙂

weekly budget check

A good week in terms of spending and saving.

I was meaning to spend more, especially for food. I am not eating well and if I must dine out, that is what it should be. Perhaps next week, I will do this now that I have accumulated quite a bit of funds in the “fun funds” category.

A couple of regrets I have had are to take the cab this morning (i could not wait 10 min for the bus….sigh…) and some fast food I ate a couple of days ago. Dully noted.

Anyways; this weeks breakdown is as follows:

weekly allowance expenses (grocery, eating out, and transportation): $74.5

funds left from the allowance for the “fun funds” account: $120 – $74.5 = $45.5

total fun funds: $168.5

savings from the would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do, but did not such as cab, or discounts): $128

 

My plan for next week is to buy interesting and tasty food so that I can cook and eat at home (I am 100% sure that this is way better for my health than eating out). As a matter of fact, I cooked this evening  pasta, which had carrots, green cabbage, minced beef, and onion as veggies in it. This is the most veggies I have eaten in a while. Even though I believe pasta is not good for me (too much carbs), the fact that I had the motivation to cook and eat this dish, and I consumed a variety of veggies, was priceless.

cheers!

 

I am grateful for my financial choices

I have chosen to do something about my finances last year as the weight of home-ownership as well as negative chequeing account made me depressed, hopeless for my future, and hugely anxious.

I knew that unless I have had a hard look at my finances, these feelings would continue and I would experience further financial hardship.

So I made the choice of doing something about the situation and started a budget, where I calculated and monitored my fixed (e.g. mortgage, bills, etc.), flexible (grocery and other purchases, entertainment), and savings and investments for my retirement. I failed many times to keep up with my budget but eventually it stabilized. My spending was more conscious and wiser. I have had shopping freezes for items like books. I took advantage of loyalty points and followed sales. I still was taking the cab and wasting money, but hey, that was what I could do best at that time. Eventually things got better, but not perfect. Nevertheless, it was a small victory.

Then, I decided I could do way better. In the new year, I have aimed for a tighter, smaller budget that forced me to be better with my spending and better with my choices. I started price comparison and followed the sales more closely. I designed my meals around the produce on sale. I stop taking the cab and started taking the bus almost all the time. I traded one expense/product for another, more enjoyable or useful alternative. I never, even once, forgot to reward myself. I listened to my feelings and saw I was happy and excited. I saw that I was able to save way more than I can imagine with the new budget. I decided I liked savings and I paid my gratefulness everyday. For some miraculous way, I never felt deprived. In contrast, I have been feeling empowered, abundant, free, and able.

My choices and feelings have a huge role in my current financial status. I cannot know what the future will bring, but I know whatever I am doing it is working for me so far. I have wiser choices and more satisfaction, and less anxiety over the finances. It did not come with occasional fails, but that is a part of any journey. What matters is that I have seen my own progress and it made me excited and more motivated.

I think it is important that we find ways that work for us. I think it is also important to record and monitor our goals and our progress.  Additionally, I think it would be dry and somehow demotivating if we have not rejoiced our progress or achieving our objectives. So, give yourself the chance to celebrate your financial choices and progress.

I am lucky that I have a simple life, I am not materialistic, I do not bend in the presence of peer pressure, I do not have a car or wishes for luxurious items or vacations. I do not mind shopping items at thrifty stores if they are in good conditions and in good hygiene. I do prefer to shop whenever I visit another city or country, where things are cheaper than where I am. I am lucky that my feelings give the motivation I may need to keep going. I like these about myself and my life.

Maximizing the value of our dollars is a very valuable choice. I do not use coupons (I am not against them, just cannot have time to find and use them), but sales, price check, and the loyalty points all made it for me. Would it not be wonderful if we had bought the laundry detergent half of its price? It would be. So if I can, I stock pile durable items while they are on sale. I cannot believe how much I am saving this way. In terms of food, the pantry items and dry food proved to be awesome (i.e. much cheaper than prepared meals), and so did the frozen meals and veggies I learnt to prepare myself. I regularly freeze my extra meals and consume them later when I do not feel like cooking.

Freezing food and being conscious about my spending also helped me to limit my food waste, for which I am extremely grateful.

And over time, I noticed that I did not need to spend money to feel good. I rather felt good with my choices, the funds accumulated, and the hope and empowerment I have got as a result. This requires a daily reflection and being in touch with my finances and feelings. A good way to spend 5 minutes each day to monitor my finances and a good way to calculate the increase in my net worth every two weeks on the day I get my salary.

I am extremely grateful for this new found freedom and appreciation I have. Like any other achievement, it started rough and was somehow as a struggle at the beginning, yet keeping going seems to be the best way. I also appreciate and am thankful for all the fellow bloggers who support and share useful tips and experiences that made this journey a pleasure.

I also thank myself for being candid with my financial situation, for writing about my journey in my blog, and making my finances, savings, expenses, and budgeting a daily, organic, evolving, and pulsating part of my life. I hope I will be able to go ahead like this for some time and keep these positive feelings towards my financial situation.

re-assessing my financial decisions

I have been re-assessing my financial priorities and decisions lately.

There is an incredible satisfaction coming out of achieving a financial goal; now I have a great budget that works for me; my chequeing account is on the positive side; my emergency fund (aka TFSA) has a good sum of funds accumulated; and I have increased my biweekly RRSP contributions (to take advantage of the low market and to pay off the HBP faster) as I am getting a little salary increase in April.

I have another little increase coming up in September. My plan is to put the extra amount into my mortgage. So I will increase the biweekly payment beginning of September. I am feeling good about this, too.

I have been trying to project my next year and what I would do with the money I would save over the year. Would I increase my mortgage payments? My RRSP? Or my TFSA?

I am not sure what would be the best for me; they all have cons and pros. A balanced act would be desired I guess. Here are the cons and pros I can think of:

RRSP (registered retirement saving plan):

How would I would like to make the extra contributions: Lump sum contributions to directly pay off the HBP (home buyers plan withdrawal that I have had as a part of my down payment).

Cons: Once the contributions are done, I may not have access to these funds unless I take the risk of penalty of early withdrawal.

Pros: The market is down and it is the best time to make investments for long term. Plus, I gotta pay back my HBP anyhow (i.e. I consider it debt), so early payments are better.

 

TFSA (tax free saving account): 

How would I like to make the extra contributions: Lump sum contributions. I have still contribution room, which I believe will take me another 3-4 years to maximize with the amount of contributions I make now.

Cons: none that I can think of. I am just not sure which one is better; to contribute to TFSA or to RRSP/mortgage? I am inclined towards RRSP or mortgage payments more than contributing to TFSA at the time being. But, this is likely to change over time.

Pros: TFSA is liquid and I can have access to it anytime I want. This gives a huge peace of mind as I may need money for emergencies or important things, like serious home repairs. So, if I have a surplus of funds and nothing better to do, why not to invest them in TFSA? My current TFSA plan is extra safe; it does not earn much but it does not lose much, either. I am opening a new one next week which I would like to be a little bit more aggressive (high risk category). It will be small at the beginning but I am planning to contribute to it from now on so that it may have a chance to grow over time. This TFSA will be hopefully for long term investment.

 

Mortgage payments:

How would I like to make the extra contributions: I would like increase my mortgage payments over time. I am thinking from September on, if things go ahead as projected, every time I get a salary increase, it would be nice to increase my biweekly payments. One thing I am scared of is whether or not in case something happens I am allowed to reduce it. If that is not possible, then the lump sum payments seem to be the best option.

Cons: Once the funds are paid, I may not have access to them in case I need liquid funds. That is why my TFSA accounts are so important to keep healthy.

Pros: Knowing that the debt is reduced and there will be a better motivation for me to pay it off in a shorter time. There is a psychological part that works for me; if the debt is small, I can get more excited and committed to pay. I am not sure when I can fully pay it off, but I hope it will not take longer than another 10 years.

 

And how am I going to find out whether I have extra funds to supplement my RRSP, TFSA, or mortgage payments (if lump sum)?

That is where the chequeing account becomes important. I would like to ideally keep around $5K in it to be able to handle the fluctuations in budget and extra/unexpected needs. But, whenever it is bigger than that I can decide to make the lump sum payments. The best time to decide is the fall; between September and December. I have some lump sum payments in summer and then in December (for insurance and others). That means after these expenses if I still have a surplus in this account, then I will have an opportunity to make lump sum payments to my choice among RRSP, TFSA, or mortgage. Then in winter, I can start saving and accumulating for the coming lump sum payments for insurance in summer and December.

I guess that is a good plan for now. I hope things will move on as I project them. If not, I am ready to re-assess and adjust.

All is well for now.

 

weekly budget check

Today is the end of my weekly budget and here is how I have done:

 

weekly allowance expenses (grocery, eating out, and transportation): $47

funds left from the allowance for the “fun funds” account: $120 – $47 = $73

total fun funds: $123

savings from the would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do, but did not such as cab, or discounts I cathched up): $149

 

I did not spend a lot of money this week, mostly because I did not do grocery shopping. If you follow my blog, you know that lately I have not been cooking or eating well (even though now I am making effort to turn this around). This is not intentional and I am not trying to deprive myself. I hope to take better care of myself next week.

Overall, this budget works for me, I am okay with taking the bus (which saves me a lot of money), and I continue to spend much less than before.

I like the fact that I have a nice sum of funds in the fun funds category. Hey, I guess it is time to get a nice hair cut.

That is lovely 🙂

 

delayed weekly budget check

I have not posted about my weekly budget and saving saga in the last 3 weeks. I felt weird about monitoring my expenses and writing about money while grieving the loss of my dad. I decided today that it was okay.

Overall, I am doing okay even though there has been extra expenses. I had dental care, medication, and physiotherapy expenses within that time frame. All are for great causes and as such I am glad I did make these expenses. I also did spent more right after the death of my dad, mostly for eating out (I still do not cook much at home since then) and for books on death, grief, and grieving (that helped me to go thru the grief in more or less a rational way). Needless to say, I spent much of the “fun funds” I have accumulated since the new year. Again, I am not sorry for that. In contrast, I am glad that I have had these funds at my disposal, which made my life easier during this difficult time.

Despite these extra expenses, generally I am spending much less in my weekly allowance category; my grocery do not cost more than $60/week and I changed the cafe I eat in at the weekends, which further reduced my weekly expenses (plus, coffee is much better!). I took the cab only occasionally and am doing really well with taking the bus in the morning. As a whole, I do not see much of an interest to spend money and I am okay with that. I lack nothing and my financial health is improving.

It has been 10 weeks since I started this new budget (with $120 weekly allowance); so far I could handle is really well and seems like I can keep doing this. Since new year I also made extra contributions to my RRSP account and despite this amount, I am still increasing my chequeing account every two weeks and I do not expect a below $0 chequeing account hopefully for quite sometime.

Next week I have an appointment with my bank and I will increase my biweekly RRSP contributions by a small amount ($50). This is mostly because I am getting a little salary increase and the fact that the market is more or less down; I believe it is the best time to buy stocks. This extra contributions will help me to pay back my HBP (home buyers plan) payments earlier (I had withdrawn money from my RRSP account for my down payment). Whether I like it or not, HBP payments are debts, too, and paying it soon is good for me.

random thoughts

A fine day. It is snowing lightly right now and it is a delight to look out of window. I am becoming more and more of a snow gal 🙂

I have finally got my tax filed this morning and I have got a tax refund. This feels good (in the past, it was not unusual for me to have a balance and send a cheque back to the taxman). I am relieved that this year I was on the positive balance side.

I, like many of us, plan to use this refund for saving purposes. My chequeing account will now be at a healthy level, and this is something I have been working very hard to achieve in the last few years. The satisfaction coming out of this is really cool.

I, of course, have also celebrated this achievement. Before you think that I spent my refund on a new TV or clothes or anything else that I do not need right now, please take a breath… Thanks. here is my account of celebration for the tax refund and knowing that my chequeing account is now above $0 and healthy:

  1. Chinese lunch: I walked all the way up to a shopping mall after I have got my taxes done. It takes around 40 min and I believe it is an healthy and lovely activity. I wanted to treat myself with a nice meal after I went thru some of the stores but not buying anything. I love Chinese food, but the restaurant there was about to close till dinner, so I opted for a food court restaurant. It was not the best I could eat, but I have and I enjoyed it. Cost: $11.50
  2. New socks and stuff: I desperately needed new socks. I do not know why but I happen to use up and damage socks pretty fast. That is okay. I also needed some other minor stuff. By taking advantage of a sale, now this issue is resolved. Cost: $35.0
  3. Candies for the office, dehydrated bread, and napkins: I happen to have candies or little chocolates in my office. I snack on them myself as well as anyone who comes over. I guess it is a nice gesture though one may argue they are not healthy. I hear you and I agree with you. That is why I now switched to a low sugar type of candy that comes in many different colors. They are cute and not as sugary as other products. I bought two packs today. I also bought paper napkins for a friend of my, who likes them and asks me to get some for her time to time. I also bought a pack of dry or dehydrated bread slices, which are awesome and crunchy companion for soups. Cost: $11.0

My total cost of shopping for needed items, little gifts for loved ones, and office treats today is $57.5.

And I am glad I have made these expenses. No regrets.

Now the rest of the tax refund will be used to do beef up my chequing account, which I will use for an annual personal retirement plan contribution in the coming months. Proud 🙂

thanking myself for my life style

Self-appreciation is something we do not even think about, but we all deserve big time.

I have many things to celebrate and appreciate about myself, work, character, life-experiences, and resilience. For this post, I will just focus on my life – style. Specifically, for its being simple and cost-effective.

here are the things I come up that makes me quite satisfied about my life-style:

1. Having no car: True that it may be restricting my mobility, but that does not apply to me. I have other means (walking, taking the bus, or flights) to go to places. I do not have to buy or lease one, I do not have to pay for the insurance, I do not have to apply for a parking permit to the city or pay for a parking spot at work, I do not need to look for and pay for parking space in the city, or I do not have to maintain or pay for repairs/replacements.

I am not arguing against having a car or two. Having a car is a necessity for many people, especially those who commute, or have kids to transport to schools or activities, or those who live away from their work places. I also know that it is a must for many where there is no public transport (like many cities I know in the USA).

My monthly transportation expenses, assuming that I take the bus or walk, are around $25.

Just by looking at that amount I now realize how easy it is for me to save…

2. Brewing my own coffee at the work days: I have been brewing my coffee at my office in the last 7 years. There were occasional buys from the cafeteria, but that is pretty much it. I am not sure how much I am saving by this habit, but considering I drink around 4 cups of (light) coffee per day, it must be quite so. A large can of coffee (~$10), 300 grms of coffee mate (~$3), and 200 grms of sugar (~$1) are enough to brew coffee for two weeks.

Can I guess how much I am saving compared to buying 2 cups of coffee/work day from Tims, for example? I think I can:

$3/per day x 5 work day = $15 per week. $60 per month. $120 per two months. Based on this calculation, I am saving around $50/month only from coffee…

3. Not eating out frequently: Since I started my budget last June, I limit it to maybe one or two times a month. Sounds pretty good to me. I used to eat out at least once or twice a week prior to that.

4. Having simple and low-cost pleasures:

   a) My weekends almost always include a morning coffee and bagels at a cafe. This is my signature pleasure – I must have them! 🙂 Honestly, I do not mind giving $6-10 per weekend to them.

   b) Over 90% of my books are second-hand books, purchased from second-hand book stores or the thrifty sores.

   c) I do not eat dessert or meat regularly, or buy food from convenience stores. The last one is mostly because there are 2 grocery stores within 10 min walking distance to my home – I am lucky.

   d) I live alone and I cook for only myself. And if you follow my blog, you know that I do not like to cook… For myself, I cook simple things and salads are my favorites in addition to soups. At the work days, I do not have breakfast and lunch is usually a canned fish or other snacks like trail mix. I am aware that this is not an healthy eating style. So please go ahead have your own delicious meals regularly as you need them, as you wish them. This is how it has been for me for decades and I guess that is what works for me.

   e) I am not interested in fashion and I often buy clothes and shoes when they are on sale. Holiday sales are my favorites. When I travel to other countries or cities, I shop there too, which are often much less expensive than where I am.

   f) Using internet for both entertainment and learning: I am very happy with my computer and internet connection. every evening and night, these give me a chance to read blogs and articles on the net, and watch TV series/movies. being content with these is something I must truly celebrate.

5. Exploring international stores and other small businesses: I can find many food, diverse food, at a reasonable cost in these stores. There is one close to my home where the spices, oriental sauces, pickles, canned beans, noodles, legumes, and olives are way cheaper than the stores. Many of these items I cannot even find in the big chain grocery stores. Plus, there is a pride and satisfaction coming out of supporting small business owners. Win-win situation in so many different ways.

6. Not hosting dinners at my home: Again, I am not arguing against this.. As a matter of fact, it is sad that I do not do that. Main reason is the fact that cooking for my lovely guests is an incredibly stressful event for me (only because I usually mess one or two dishes each time…). Maybe once a year or so, I will have my good friends over – but that is it. They understand and I am glad they do.

7. Not comparing myself with Jonases and giving up upon peer pressure: i do not do these. I do not need to have the latest computer or the TV, nor the cellular phone. I time to time get talks from friends about how I need to replace my old TV or replace my phone etc, but I do not give in. Give me a break. It is my life. I will replace my stuff when I need or want them. Not when the others suggest. I hope you do not have such toxic people in your life.

8. Vacations: I take one vacation per year and that is to visit my family. I do that every year and I am glad I do that and I am financially capable of doing that. My friends from other cities and countries invite me to their places, for which I am really happy and touched. If I had more vacation time or more funds at my disposal, I would love to do these visits – they are truly lovely and nice people. But I made a decision long time ago that my family had more priority over my friends. And I am glad I have done that, as now that my father passed away, I am glad I have seen him every year in the past decade or so, or before that whenever I could make it.

 

I am sure I have a longer list of experiences and choices to appreciate. Perhaps at another post.

I am sure you have many thing to appreciate about yourself. I would like to encourage you to find and appreciate those choices you have that enrich your life without breaking your bank account or psychology.

cheers 🙂

 

conscious spending and emotions

I have been looking at my weekly budget, expenses, and savings and I cannot help but feel weird about the entire change.

yep, I used the term “weird”. Only because it defines the situation very well.

There are a number of things that I find weird in this journey of limiting the waste (food or funds), limiting the expenses (fixed or flexible ones), increasing my savings and thus the health of my chequing account (primary reasons I have started this at the first place;  I ran out of cash after buying my home and the unexpected expenses that followed it).

First of all, it is weird that the less I consume/spend the more I am content. Was it not supposed to be the opposite? Feeling deprived? Restricted? Incapacitated?

Second of all, why do I feel less to pamper myself with dining out, books, or convenience, such as taking the cab everywhere? How come I am content with waiting and taking the bus every morning?

Third of all, how come my grocery bill has reduced around 30% though I am not missing anything?

Fourth of all, why looking at my expenses in each category and seeing  that I can actually live on a much smaller budget than even the current one (which is considerably less than the last year’s and the years’ before it)? Has there been no inflation, no increase in my daily needs?

Fifth of all, how come I get a pleasure out of making the best out of my cash by price comparison and following the on sale items each week (I just shop at 3 different stores and the majority of the time at two grocery stores in 10 min walking distance to my house)

And finally, how have I been continuing with this entire conscious spending plan as if it has been something like an interesting game or project that excited me?

Feeling, my friends, make many things weird. I am aware that my emotional health has some influence on my spending and my need for convenience; when I am happy or not stressed or saddened, I am more likely to go ahead with my conscious spending plan. For example, when I am stressed or lack the time, I do not hesitate to take the cab to save me some time. When I am drained or do not feel like going thru cooking a dinner, I am more likely to buy myself a dinner.

In turn, spending less and feeling more abundant and enabled by the increased savings reduce my anxiety and worry for the future unexpected and serious expenses. That has a positive influence on my emotional health. I have more hope and more power over my future expenses. I kind of feeling like I act like a bank for myself… Interesting feeling….

And the fact that I do not completely restrict myself and always have some funds available for “miscellaneous or fun” expenses. I know, for example, every once a while I am okay with buying a book or two and get excited like a little kid. I know that I will never refrain from some of my little indulgences, such as weekend coffee+bagel breakfasts. Even though time to time, I choose to trade these with something that I may like better; such as stocking up certain durable items that are on sale that week. Only because the idea makes me excited. Not because I cannot afford both my breakfasts and purchasing the items on sale.

I also know that every once a while I must make larger expenses, such as for cleaning products or other regular needs that I buy at a store a little bit distant from my home (thus I make the trips to this store only once a while). The weird thing is that I started to feel bad about making such large expenses. I know I need them and will use them; so why do I start to have remorse about spending something like $100 – $200 in a single shopping trip?

I have been thinking about this “weird” feeling triggered by making such a purchase last week and I do not like this; I do not like not liking making expenses that can seem more than what I usually make every week. I do not want  to end up like someone who would not spend her money. I do not want to feel bad about making purchases (the unnecessary purchases are exemptions). I do not want to hang on to my money so much that I would be reluctant to share it with others in need. I do not want to love money so much that it would become the most important focus of my life….

So the irony is that while I am very happy and proud of my budget and conscious spending habits (that I re-formed in the last 8 months or so), I am not happy with making it an important part of my life. Even the number of posts I have made about money, budget, budgeting, savings etc. have increased considerably as I started to make more progress and I got more excited. Even this post is an example of what an important topic it has been in my life and how eager and excited I am to write about it.

Do I not have more important things to get excited about?

I think it is time that I develop and start implementing another challenge/plan to make my life better. Also, it is the perfect time to donate for a good cause.

Yep.

 

 

 

weekly budget check

Here is the account for the last week:

weekly allowance expenses (grocery, eating out, and transportation): $106.5

funds left from the allowance for the “fun funds” account: $120 – $106.5 = $13.5

total fun funds: $103.5

savings from the would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do, but did not): $152

 

on fun funds

I have this wish to assign my “fun funds” for something really useful. At first I thought I would spend it freely but now I see that is not the case. As a matter of fact, I am so fond of my fun funds that I do not want to spend them at all…..

I know this is not gonna be possible as at one point I will have to have a hair cut, buy myself a dinner, have an unexpected expense here or there, or will need to buy gifts for people more than I budget for. So, it will have to be spent but I keep hoping that at the end of the year, I will have some funds left in that account.

Then, I would like to use it for a good cause. I would like to say that “by saving from my weekly allowance, that is what I have done now”; whether it is helping someone, buying a nice artwork, or paying down my mortgage. I do not know. But I know that I want to see it be useful for a specific and special purpose.

That is why this week I considered opening a second chequing account with my bank. My plan was to use this account only to deposit my fun fund each week and see it grow over time; that would be incredibly motivating. I almost did that and then decided not to; I thought that was an extra layer of complexity in my life; do I really need an additional account to see my fun fund accumulations? No. I am glad I did not open the account as I later realized I would have to keep a minimum balance in the account, or pay a monthly fee.

Peeew… I was lucky. Good job intuition! 🙂

on being frugal and budgeting

I sometimes feel weird writing about these topics, but then why should I? Both of these concepts have made positive differences in my life, my bank accounts, and my psychology.

I admit that my recent effort of budgeting (starting last June) was motivated by fear. The fear that I would not able to manage home-ownership without getting into debt. It is fueled by a large sum of expenses made to repair my roof, which started to leak at multiple places immediately after I bought it. I possibly have a foundation problem too, which I have been “watching” since last year – when it reaches an actionable level, I will have to spend thousands of dollars to have it fixed. With one salary, this is difficult on me, even though my salary is good and I am very grateful for it. Plus, since I started saving/investing for my retirement late in life, understandably I was stressed.

This stress helped me to look at my spending habits with a fearful yet careful eye. I decided to control my expenses in an attempt to increase my savings and to have a peace of mind. It was difficult at the beginning, I still time to time get frustrated with my spending, but each day it only becomes better; I kicked out unnecessary and significant expenses out of my life, I am able to spend and waste less, and save more for future expenses. The fellow bloggers here also helped a lot with their posts as well as their support. Overall, I feel pretty good about this experience.

While I am more frugal, I do not feel deprived. In contrast, I am more abundant than before. I have some funds I allocate for miscellaneous (i.e. not must have) expenses, such as my weekend breakfast (cost less than $20/week). I make sure to buy things that will make me feel good (such as scented hand creams that I like). These for sure makes me feel like I am not restricted or deprived. That was one smart thing to do and I am glad I have kept it so far. Additionally, my purchasing power is increased somehow (e.g. by following the sales, price comparison between the two stores that are close to my house, etc. For some reason, I am not into couponing or apps…). I did not change the quality of the items I purchase; I still use the same brand of hair dye, toilet paper, toothpaste, food, or stationary items and others. They just cost less now as the value of my money is maximized. And finally, I have developed a better appreciation for what I have and for having limited waste (food to clothes or anything else). All of these help me to feel more abundant than before.

My saving has increased a lot as a result of budgeting and applying frugal strategies and it feels awesome to see the difference.

I can say that the enormous level of fear I felt last year is now giving me abundance, a higher level of gratitude, and hope for my future. I am also proud of myself. So many positive feelings here….I am surprised as well why I could feel this way while my spending is much less compared to before. See; as the habits change so does the mindset. I hope you also see the positives out of this experience if you are going thru a tough time financially and are budgeting or reducing spending.

cheers 🙂

weekly budget check

Not a bad week.

So far (since new year), I have not over-spent my weekly allowance. This is very motivating…Here is the account for the last one week:

weekly allowance expenses (grocery, eating out, and transportation): $115

funds left from the allowance for the “fun funds” account: $120 – $115 = $5

total fun funds: $88

savings from the would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do, but did not): $145

I have additionally paid the fee for the physiotherapy session; it is good that my insurance pay a good portion of it – I am grateful. I am supposed to get these sessions twice a week for some time – hope that they will help alleviate my back pain. So I am happy to make these expense.

Let’s cross the fingers and hope next week will go this good, too 🙂

weekly budget check

As opposed to last week, I spend almost the entire weekly allowance this week. I also have spent a portion of the “fun funds” and had expenses in the “cleaning products” category (not shown).

Using my fun funds to have a hair cut was fun. Did you know that I could have my hair cut exactly as I wished it only twice in my entire life (!) Twice…. This girl needs a better hair dresser 🙂

But budget-wise overall, it is was a great week:

weekly allowance expenses (grocery, eating out, and transportation): $115

fun funds contribution: $120 – $115 = $5

hair cut (paid thru the fun funds): $55

total fun funds left/accumulated to date: $83

savings from the would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do but did not): $159

🙂

 

weekly budget check

I experimented with my expenses this week to see whether in case I need it, I can limit my expenses to essential grocery only.

Looks like it is possible – I have done the smallest expense this week in the last 7 years.

My total expense this week was $57.25, including $4.5 coffee/bagel and $10.50 for cab in one morning. The rest was grocery.

It is exciting for me to know that time to time I can really limit my expenses while not limiting my food or well-being. I feel more abundant than before now.

Fun funds saved this week: $120 weekly allowance – $ 57.25 expenses = $62.75 🙂

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2016: $133. Tadaaaa 🙂

My fun funds excites me 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to but did not, like cab fare + discounts): $179.5.

I know it will not be so good all the time my friends, yet to see these numbers is a blessing.

 

weekly budget check

Another good week in terms of conscious spending:

Out of my $120 weekly allowance (that covers grocery, taxi cab – if ever, and breakfasts at the weekend), I managed to save $18.75 this week. This goes into my “fun fund” to be used for fun stuff later 🙂

Total accumulation in fun fund so far: $70

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to but did not do, such as the cab fares as well as discounts I got here and there): $178.75

I am not naive enough to think that my budget will keep going like this for ever 🙂 I know that there can be and will be extra or unexpected expenses time to time. For example, next month I will have to make an RRSP contribution. That means I may need to use my line of credit, which means debt….

Oh, well 🙂

being single and saving

I started my lovely Saturday morning with exploring new blogs about saving, debt payment, and retirement.

I was enjoying this activity as much as I can; I thought “I am not alone in this journey” “there may be things that I can learn from them” and ‘I can do this, too, as now I have a great budget that works for me”.

Yeah, right….

I stumbled upon a blog on the net where a young couple plans to retire at the age of 35 or something. They seem to be doing well, both working and having decent salaries, with large houses and others. It looks like they do save one salary completely and some of the second salary each year. They claim to increase their net worth ~$12,000 every month (mostly from investments and savings from salaries).

The reading that started so exciting on this beautiful Saturday then turned into a sour feeling: I cannot possibly save that much….

I felt all my efforts to make the best out of each dollar I earn somehow felt inadequate… insufficient…. I felt like I was trying to swim in a little pond in the backyard rather than an ocean….

But, it should not!….

I am living within my own reality, not somebody else’s. It may take me longer than others maybe, but eventually I will accomplish what I hope to accomplish. I have no interest in early retirement, though I would appreciate the freedom to retire early should I change my mind in future. I may feel disadvantaged but I should also feel proud of myself.

And I think I should especially appreciate the fact that I am saving and investing for my future all by myself.

Saving for a single person is not easy; one income means one person’s expenses, but when you think about couples (assuming that both of them are working), they do share the mortgage and utilities (though it is also possible that they may have extra expenses for being a couple, like having two cars, bigger houses, date nights etc.). Nevertheless, on the average I believe a couple may be able to save more than a single person. Correct me if I am wrong.

I applaud all the single people out there who are trying to save as much as they can – you deserve that.

I also applaud all the people out there, single, couple, with kids or not,  who are trying to save even though they do struggle with daily expenses, debt, and lack of employment or social support.

We may not be able to save thousands each month, but we can keep doing what we can do best.

And for that, we need to acknowledge, cherish, and congratulate each other.

weekly budget check

This is the second week with the $120 weekly allowance thereshold.

Overall, I have done well – I spent $99 on grocery and breakfasts (5 days this week I have got breakfast at a cafe). No cab fare for this week, which is awesome 🙂

The remaining portion of the weekly allowance that I saved is $21; now this goes to my “fun funds”. Together with the last week’s savings, I now have $51.5 in this account – I am free to spend it on things that will bring me joy, excitement, or happiness like books, hair cut, dining out, or something else 🙂

The savings from would-be-expenses is $160.5 this week; these include the savings from discounts (grocery) as well as two unnecessary expenses I used to have in the past. I am so happy that I finally kicked these expenses out of my life! Keeping track of these savings help me to see how much money I was throwing away in the past by not following the sales every week or by taking the cab rather than the bus, etc. Over a month, they reach around $500 and over a year ~$6,000. This is a real eye opener and it motivates me more to keep going. I may suggest a similar exercise for you… Give it a try.

I feel very empowered by this budget and keeping within my limits. Of course, the main thing was to kick the unnecessary expenses out, which literally took years. But, now it is done and I should do nothing but celebrate this 🙂

Hoping to have similar savings in the coming weeks 🙂

abundance and gratitude

One of my colleagues a couple of times commented about my TV (which is not an LCD one) and suggested I should buy a new one. She said LCD TVs now were “cheap” so it should not be a problem for me to afford.

My colleague does not understand the fact that I am happy with my TV and I do not feel the need or the pressure to replace it with an LCD TV right now. I bought my TV long time ago, it serves me well, I like it, and I have no interest to replace it until it breaks (which I hope will not happen for a long time).

How to explain such a simple thing to people with a mind set of “I must have the latest technology / the best available”? I have no idea. I told her exactly what I wrote in the previous paragraph – whether or not she sees my point, I am not sure. I hope we will not have this conversation again..

In the last week or so, with the excitement of the new budget and my ability to protect my money better, I have been filled with gratitude and thankfulness for everything I now have; everything in my house works well for me and I should be proud of exploring, finding, and using them. The furniture, the clothes/shoes, the cleaning or personal care products I use, the food and kitchen items.. Everything I have is perfect and works wonders for me and for my life.

I am also grateful for decluttering and getting rid of all the unnecessary items from home last summer. That made me become aware of my stuff and develop a deeper appreciation for those that I left at home. While I gotta do this sometime soon to get rid of a couple of old socks and this and that, I feel like what ever I have right now has a purpose and they serve me well.

I have a tighter budget now this year than before and I feel more abundant and rich than before. The reason? Knowing that whatever I get actually has a purpose and use for me. That over the years, I have found out the items that work best for me. That I follow the sales and stock up durable items. That I take advantage of the loyalty points. That I am okay with shopping at thrifty stores. That I learnt to freeze my food and consume them during the week when I am too tired to cook. That I only purchase food that will nourish my body and will be enough for a week or so, so that I will not waste any of them. That I explored different stores and now I know which products or produce are available at a better price.

That I am grateful for whatever I have, rather than what others think that I should have.

My life. My choices. I lack nothing and everything I have works wonderfully.

 

weekly budget check

 

First, the new budget for 2016:

Based on the experience in the last 6 months of budgeting, I have now changed a couple of things in my budget for 2016. I believe they are good 🙂

1. Weekly allowance: I reduced it from $200 to $120 per week – it will include grocery, transportation, and weekend breakfasts.

2. For personal care and cleaning products etc.: I now have a separate category of expenses.

The reduction of the weekly allowance has been something that I have been meaning to do for sometime. It is now possible because of the separation of the cleaning products etc from the weekly allowance. In addition, I have got rid of an unnecessary expense, I hope for good, which made me feel very happy and help me save a chunk of money each week!

I feel rich and so abundant thanks to getting rid of this one last expense I have been meaning to cut for many years.. The struggle is ended and I feel completely free of it and the thoughts i have had about it. That my friends, is freedom and joy 🙂

3. Introducing “fun fund”; a new addition to my budget – I will accumulate whatever is left after each weekly allowance in this fund 🙂 I am excited about this, as it will give me freedom to spend money on things that I may love, such as hair cut, books, some treats to myself, etc!. I am so excited about this. The trick is to take the bus but not the cab; then I can save some fun funds each week. Nowadays the weather is really nice so I can do this, but as the winter progress, I may have to take the cab. Well, I can only do whatever is possible – so I am okay with not having a fun fund accumulation every week,

As before, I continue to have separate categories and funds allocated for my trip to home, gifts, dining out with friends, hosting people at my place, medications, clothes/shoes, and yoga classes.

This is an ambitious budget but I know I can do this and can save more than the past year, improve my emergency fund, and RRSP/TFSA contributions. I also know that not every week I will be able to keep up with it; but that is okay. All I can do is to do my best, which I will.

I am so excited, friends!

Now the last week’s account:

Total expenses in the weekly allowance category: $89.5

Fun fund: $30.5 ($120 allowance – expenses)

Savings from would be expenses: $184

Expenses in other categories: $504.5 (including yoga and shopping; ooops, too much. But I did not buy anything that I did not need. So that is okay).

 

anyways, wish me luck while I keep with this budget friends 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

weekly budget check

well… I…. over-spent…. again…

It was expected I guess: I have over-spent my weekly allowance by $38. In addition to that I have had donation to a good cause and an extra expense (for team lunch) in the amount of $305.

I know time to time, this will happen; that I will have to spend money for good causes. So I will be okay with this…

Nevertheless, I am looking forward to spending less and saving more in the coming weeks. The next week will be busy with shopping, too. Luckily, after that the new year will start and what is better than a new, fresh start with strong motivation to keep up with my budget and save for my future?

We all will see how this will develop 🙂

weekly budget check

Today is the end of the weekly budget and this is how I have done in the last week:

  1. Over-spent ($59)! oops.. Total spent: $259.
  2. Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to make but did not): $90

Well.. The holiday season is on to us, so are the expenses and the wide-open purse that purges money out of itself 🙂

Next week I will have additional expenses; one of my team members is leaving for another job. So I am taking everyone out for a lunch. I am not as happy to do this as before, realizing the entire bill is left on me all the time and it is usually a good sum of money that I can rather spend on myself (I have a frugal life-style and I am trying hard to save an emergency fund right now..).

I do not appreciate people leaving the bill entirely on me; if you guys do that to your boss knowing that s/he is spending her own money,  please try to be considerate and at least offer to pay your part of the bill. Chances that s/he will appreciate it and pay the entire bill more happily than before.

If you do not let others pay for your bill, then go ahead and please congratulate yourself. I guess this is fantastic.

I am feeling somehow bad for complaining about here, but then I know I should not be; I cannot understand why not one individual so far asked to contribute to the lunch bill over many years…

Sigh….

an unconventional way to save money

Now that I am nearing the end of the year, I have been increasingly thinking about how to better save money in the new year.

Do not get me wrong; I already have a great budget that helps me save money. I track all my expenses, reduced grocery bill (and food waste), weekly book cost (around $10/week), and my cable bill (by negotiating), and saved money by means of shopping freezes that helped me to curb unnecessary spendings.

I still have room to grow my savings. For one, I have some unnecessary expenses that sum around $100/week. This is a huge amount of money if you ask me. I have been thinking about getting rid of these expenses; it is pretty much like a bad habit that you keep doing out of habit. I was not successful in my attempts so far.

So, today I am thinking I can open a new saving account and put $100/week there that I would otherwise spend mindlessly. I think this would help me to get rid of these expenses for good. I cannot keep having these expenses, as my chequeing account is just on the positive side and having this new saving account and the these expenses together would stress not only my chequeing account but also my psychology.

Better yet, considering the fact that I would be tempted to use this money in the saving account should I not be able to curb my habits, I may rather choose a different saving strategy that allows me to have no access to the saved funds: increasing my mortgage payments. Since there is no money to access and there is no other choice, I think I would get rid of these expenses for good.

This is kind of “forced” savings, if you wish. I know eventually I will have to convince myself that that is the best and the responsible thing to do.

first dining out after I do not know how many months

Yep. I have done it; I dined out this evening 🙂

For someone who is trying to keep up with a reasonable yet still challenging budget, who is keen to save money for her future expenses/retirement, who counts every penny each week to record her spending, this may sound like a failure, but my friends, it must be okay.

I do not remember the last time I dined out. I know there has been socials I attended where I have eaten food (all delicious by the way), but my once “at least a week dining out” practice has been gone since last summer.

I have been craving for Chinese food in the last week or so. I finally could not resist anymore and I had it this evening. And boy, did it taste good?

I am over my weekly budget as of today, but I am not going to cry or ask for forgiveness or something. Rather my take is I enjoyed it and every once a while this is okay. I may as well enjoy my money now.

Happiness certainly goes thru the stomach 🙂

 

weekly budget check

How did I do this week in terms of sticking with my weekly budget?

Well; looks like the idea of taking the bus or walking will not be possible for a long time, until the weather becomes more permissive and the ice and snow on the streets are cleared. So be it… That also means that I had to increase my weekly budget from $150 to $200 to accommodate the cab fares in the morning.

With this new number, I was within my budget this week: I spent $197.5. I am glad it did not go above this limit.

The savings I have are a total of $74.5; these are mostly the savings from grocery as well as cab fare in the afternoon – I rather walked. So, overall not a huge amount yet knowing that if I was not carefully shopping or if I had preferred to take the cab in the afternoons, I would have lost this amount. This makes me happy once again.

It is mid December. During the holidays, I will look at my entire budget and spending/savings during 2015; this will give me an idea about how much I have saved, how well I have done, and how better I can budget for 2016. There has been a number of lessons learnt during 2015 in terms of budget, savings, spending habits, and investments for the future. These all will be very valuable for my 2016 planning.

till then, cheers 🙂

weekly budget check

The end of the weekly budget and I am looking at huge numbers this week… argh… 🙂

My total expenses are $465, including my transportation (mostly cab fare), grocery, coffee and breakfast (these are my weekly allowance categories. They total $300 this week, way more than my usual $150 allowance…) as well as a big shopping at the weekend; the purchased items included gifts for three people and clothes that were on sale; I assumed by purchasing the clothes at a reduced price, I was saving.

I actually did save; when I combined all the savings, it was a hit this week, with a whopping amount of $208.5. This is a large sum of saving, but I am feeling really bad about the total spending….

I know that is not ending here and with the holidays and all the sales, I will make other purchases. That is kind of okay as I have been on shopping freeze for many items for a long time and was planning to end it during the holidays to take advantage of the sales.

Nevertheless, the expenses hurts a little bit…

Oh, well.

weekly budget check

I have done well this week too 🙂 I am still cautious that I may not be able to keep up with the reduced weekly allowance (currently $150 down from $200 in the last two weeks) in the coming weeks, but so far so good and I am going to enjoy this 🙂

I have spent a total of $145.5 this past week; I did not take the cab (walked or took the bus) this week, hardly did grocery shopping (I was determined to use what I already have had in the fridge and the pantry), and these two alone helped me to save a huge chunk of money this week.

In addition, the savings from would-be-expenses (such as cab fares and other expenses I was tempted to but did not) reached a total of $98.5. I am feeling very good about this too. Considering the fact that my weekly allowance was reduced $50 this week, that means overall my savings this week compared to before is $98.5+$50=$148.5. Wow!

I am very grateful 🙂

 

weekly budget check

Today is the end of my weekly budget, and here is my spending and savings:

From last week on I reduced my weekly allowance from $200 to $150; this allowance includes my grocery shopping, dining out/coffee as well as transportation expenses.

I could not stay below my limit this week, but it is lower than $200 (yay!): my total weekly spending in this category was $164. I took the cab every morning this week, which was the main inflator of the expenses.

The savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I would usually do or I was tempted to do, but did not) are $43.5. This amount is low but nevertheless I am grateful.

Overall, as I expected my plan to further reduce my expenses seems more or less functional, but certainly I need to follow this new budget ceiling for sometime to see whether it is stable.

In the meantime, since tomorrow is the beginning of my new budget week, I immediately started feeling rich 🙂

what is so nice about shopping freeze and decluttering?

I can answer this question quite easily.

Shopping freeze is a temporary lack of purchase of a specific item(s). For example, I first started with having one on books (that I used to purchase every week) for 2 months only.

At first I did not think I could make it, as it was one of the most beautiful and happy experiences in my life. But I did. This does not mean that I have not occasionally bought books; I have. But not every weekend. Not too many (a maximum 10 books in the last 5 months; which is way lower than 2-3 books/week I used to buy)…

The fact that it was temporary made this possible for me. I knew at the end of 2 months, I was able to return back to this activity. I did not feel deprived of this enjoyable activity. I did not feel restricted for ever. These helped with sticking up with my shopping freeze.

Since I was saving money by not buying books every week and since I was not feeling totally restricted by this, I could continue; I later decided to extend this freeze till the holiday season.

Honestly now I think I will never go back to weekly book purchase habit….I think my habit is now changed and I am rather an occasional book buyer (I still read books though – I have many unread books at home and I am planning to borrow from the library when I am done with them).

After the initial success of this strategy, I extended it to other items; clothes, shoes, cleaning produces, etc. (I had occasionally bought cleaning products during the freeze; if they were on sale or if I needed them). This not only helped me with saving more money, but interestingly I also felt my life was easier now as I did not need to think and decide about shopping these items frequently.

Do you know what else helped?

Decluttering.

I found out the books that I purchased but had not read before during this activity. I found out what cleaning products I have had and what I have not. I found out the clothes I had forgotten I have had. I not only donated or throw away extra stuff from my home, but I also realized how abundant I was and what I had possessed already.

My two cents? Try both of these (decluttering and shopping freeze); they can change your habits should you want. You can also save your money for more important needs, feel appreciative of what you have, and know what you really need – you will not be sorry to try them.

 

 

 

weekly budget check

Ok; I have saved only $0.5 from my weekly allowance this week, but that is okay 🙂

The savings from would-be-expenses (these were the expenses I was tempted to make but did not) are $157.5. So overall, it was a good week 🙂

From this week on, I am aiming for reducing my weekly allowance from $200 to $150 (let’s start with this one). I will see how this one go – hope to be more conscious of the money I spend and save a little bit more, even though I may not be able to keep up with the $150 limit.

Better days and more savings to come 🙂

no saving plan can be enough sometime

I am really worried about my saving rate.

Currently it is 15% after taxes, mostly in RRSP and a personal retirement plan. I also have an additional company retirement plan; since I started quite late in my life, there is not much accumulated in these accounts. So I feel poor and not doing well financially…

Here and there I see bloggers who say they save up to 50% of their income. There is at least one famous blog site that claims to save more than 70% by living super frugal.

I feel the stress of not being able to save such a huge part of my income; can I do better? Yes. Should I feel bad about myself? I do not know….

It is impossible to save a huge amount of my income; my fixed expenses (mortgage, insurance+tax, transportation, grocery and other expenses, not including the socials, family visits, donations, and house maintenance costs) is around 65% of my after tax income. I cannot think about not visiting my family or not taking care of my house. So the most I can save is 20-25% of my income each year.

Still not as good as some other bloggers’ savings, but this is the percentage I will aim for.

Before that though, I must fix my emergency fund and then my weekly budget. I anticipate around a year before I can start saving (and investing) 20-25% of my income.

A year!! What a long time to wait for a person like me who is very impatient. Arghhh.

Is something wrong with me and my life-style?

No. I am generally a frugal person. My mortgage is reasonable, I do not have a car, I do not have children or other dependents, I do not live in a big house (okay maybe it is big for a single person), I do not go to vacations (only family visits), I do not buy the latest technology (in contrast I use whatever I have till they get unusable), I do not dine out frequently, I am not interested in fashion, I do not have expensive hobbies (other than books that I am on shopping freeze now), I brew my own coffee at the office, I am not interested in fancy furniture, clothes, or shoes etc.

So what is it?

I guess for single people compared to married people with two incomes, saving is harder. I will remind myself not to compare my situation with  others. I will also patiently or impatiently wait another year till I can start saving and investing more for my future.

That is my conclusion.

how can I get more savings?

Yesterday while writing another post, I noticed that my net worth at the age of 50 will not be a great one.

It is depressing, which is bitter – sweet. That means I want to do better and I will take some actions.

I just do not know what can be done. If I had not bought my house, I would be in a better shape, but since I know it will require repairs/renovations over time, I am worried. This will be the most challenging part of this planning. On the other hand, I also think that over time paying down my mortgage will become easier as I will owe less and the payments I will make will be mostly towards the principal. It feels like paying of the mortgage as soon as possible will give me quite a peace of mind.

Anyways, I must come up with a better budget and saving plan. I have done well with the budgeting and bringing my chequeing account to a positive balance lately. I am now working on my emergency fund. After that, I will have to find ways to save more and invest for my retirement.

What could make this? I am already having a restricted budget compared to before. I know I can cut some of my expenses too, but will they be enough?

Even a small amount of extra saving will help, I know. My psychology wants big savings, though. What can I do to help myself?

1. Shopping freeze for almost everything, except the clothes and cleaning products till the end of 2016. I am planning to take advantage of the holidays sales. I may as well purchase my cleaning products, in addition to some new clothes, at that time and get over with it. No books, no vacations (except family visits) (well, maybe one or two art work for my home). Occasional books. That looks like the most practical cut of expenses for now. Good.

2. Transportation: Take the bus or walk. Rain or shine. My only hurdle is the morning mood that makes me complain about anything; how can I bypass this long-term habit? How can I find joy in the mornings so that I can be okay with letting my need to have comfort? A miracle is needed…

3. Reducing the weekly allowance to $100; this will cover my grocery and other small daily expenses, such as my weekend coffee at the cafe. It may also include my cab fares should I take cabs. I will not be able to make it at first. I may not be able to make it over the long run – so prepare yourself for frequent rants, dear reader….

4. Mortgage; I am not planning to increase my payments now; maybe in April when I will get a small increase. I may as well put this extra amount into my mortgage. Ok.. sounds like a plan. At least an improvement over what I currently do.

5. Socials and holiday celebrations: Gotta be frugal here; I tend to be generous with the socials and when I am invited somewhere.

Then the question is; what to do with the newly saved funds?

I am more motivated if I can find a measurable improvement somewhere; whether reduction of debt or increased investments.

Beefing up my emergency fund: this is the priority now; I will see it accumulate till it is $8,000.

After that,

Increasing my RRSP and TFSA contribution: I will do this at the new year; it will be a small amount but nevertheless valuable to increase my retirement savings/investments.

After my emergency funds are done, I may increase my TFSA contribution a little bit more.

Planning is exciting, writing is useful and easy, implementing is challenging.

I think we all will see how this adventure of mine will go 🙂

weekly budget check

Today is the end of my budget week, so here is the account:

I neither over- nor under-spent this week – the entire weekly allowance is spent. It would be nice if I had not, especially by not taking the cab in the mornings, but hey that is okay; I traded money with feeling better about myself or to protect myself from rain and snow. That is okay for a week, but I am thinking when the winter comes, taking the cab will be a routine again; I wonder whether I can at least try  to take the bus tomorrow, before it gets too cold outside, which will make waiting challenging. Good idea (can I please get up on time to catch the bus tomorrow? 🙂 )

My weekly savings from would-be-expenses are not too much, around $50. even though this is a small amount, I am thankful for it – this money could end up on being wasted easily. yet, now it is with me and that feels great 🙂

In the last two weeks I was on trips and my estimations is that more or less my spending was okay and I did not spend over my budget.

The cost of clothes when my airline lost my luggage: looks like the paperwork is too much, too cumbersome. I will not even apply for reimbursement. This does not mean that I am okay with this; I am furious that the airlines make this process that difficult, especially considering that it is their fault that led to the spending. But I am gonna let this one go so that my nerves will not fry for any longer. Argh…

self-appreciation: I thank myself for having a budget and a generous weekly allowance, saving as much as possible, being frugal and loving it, recording my expenses meticulously, and overall spending much less and saving more in the last 4-5 months when I started having a budget 🙂

random thoughts

I have been quite relax lately about my budget; yesterday and this morning I have taken the cab to the office (rather than walking or taking the bus).

The reasons were the followings: yesterday it was raining so I decided against walking; and today only because I felt like I needed to pamper myself and it was better to be at the office right away, as there were many things that I would like to work on.

There was a mental judo, of course; I was beating myself for getting relax with money, but then something inside me said “You only do what you think is best for you. Tomorrow is another day. Do not take this as a complete failure“.

How awesome to be able to say this and even more than that, to be able to hear them among all the chatter that goes in my mind 🙂

I remind myself that every once a while, things will not go ahead as I planned or wanted them to be. Every once a while there will be other things more important than my cab fare. I know that I can start taking the bus tomorrow, if I do not feel like walking at all. And I can go to bed early to make sure I will arrive my office early, too, so that I will not feel the push in the mornings.

Even though I do not make it tomorrow, I will try it later again.

I will be gentle on myself. That is my promise; why to break my own heart?

Be gentle to yourself.

random thoughts

It a beautiful crispy and sunny fall day again 🙂

The beauty around the weekends (or no work day) is the freedom that it gives in terms of how you would like to spend your day, the absence of rush of the work or work environment, and the possibility of having nice conversations and get-togethers with friends and family.

I also like the feeling of “taking care of myself” feeling – whether it is shopping for grocery, cooking a nice meal, cleaning my house, or handling other stuff related to our daily life.

Taking care of ourselves is a must and although I often times forget this, especially when I work, I love doing the activities that remind me that I am on track.

I used to have a great relationship with food, always looking for diversity and nutrition. It was a pleasure going to the stores and finding excellent veggies, fruits, and others. I would find myself often grateful for everything that is available to me and for being able to afford them. I am still hugely grateful for these, but something is missing really…

Over the years, my priority changed from taking care of myself to taking care of work. It is a mistake if you ask me. Those who follow my blog knows that I love my job; it is interesting, keeping me engaged and being productive, the work I do I believe benefit many people and humanity as a whole. The satisfaction coming out of it is incredible and I am very grateful for having this work-line.

I have been feeling, rightfully, though it is now time to switch to “taking care of myself” mode. I have been struggling with this for some time (my healthy life-style journal and breaking the routine page is a good example) but I keep going. Not everything is perfect but I am putting a continuous effort. I am determined to do better for myself and although I lack better and newer ideas, I believe I will do better over time.

They say it is not the end point but the journey that matters, that is valuable. Perhaps that is true in my case. I have seen quite positive changes with my other efforts (conscious spending plan is an excellent example) – I have more or less functional plan that excites me and yields positive and immediately observable outcomes. I need to see over years how it goes and how it helps me to handle financial problems and enables me to retire comfortably. I am grateful for doing this so far and the hope and confidence it gives me now.

Of course, I would like to see the same progress I have with my conscious spending plan with the healthy life style plan. I have been thinking; I am not sure what the reasons behind me not losing weight as I used to, but age is one factor. And of course I should not forget the effect of the trips and my mentality that promotes unlimited eating freedom during the trips (I seem to have gained 8 pounds back in a week). I wonder why I can do so well with the budgeting but not better life style?

Perhaps it is the fact that with budgeting I can see a progress in my finances in a week, while with the weight loss, it is kind of tricky. I remember when I had walk on to the scale a couple of weeks ago and seeing an 8 pound difference and how it had made me feel accomplished and more motivated to keep doing…..

Going back to the idea of “not the end points but the journey matters“, I believe that what I am going thru with my healthy life style plan should be a teacher for me, I should be noticing things about myself and my life as a whole. Perhaps I am aiming for the wrong things (i.e. weight loss) than the beauty of having a healthy life, with great food, exercise, and stretching. Perhaps I am hard on myself and put the weight loss as an indicator of the success of my plan…..

Considering that is possibly the reason (I have implemented many good things as part of this plan, such as walking more, especially in the morning, started stretching, eating whole and healthier food, cutting out bread and carbs from my diet, and supplementing my diet with calcium and vitamin D and milk, both of which are great help for my bone health) is in fact an eye opener.

Perhaps what I should focus on is all the good things I have done for my body and physical health, rather than the mere weight loss.

have a great weekend everyone 🙂

being frugal versus being cheap

It is not uncommon to confuse the terms “frugal” and “cheap”; as a matter of fact, whenever I or others try to be spending their money responsibly, I bet the first thing that comes to people’s mind is the term “cheap”. Not that they are all mean or inconsiderate people – I guess it is because the difference between a frugal and a cheap person is not always clear.

It was not absolutely clear to me, either, although I had some idea.. I searched the internet and came across a number of sites that distinguish them: two things I have learned and makes perfect sense to me are 1) frugals are resourceful and aim to get the best out of the money they have, and b) frugals do not negatively affect others by their money-related behaviours.

I am attaching select links below for you; there are probably other differences between the two and many other posts about the frugal and cheap people.

I must admit sadly (!) I did not include some websites/pages that also treat frugality with a negative tone.

I am a proud frugal! 🙂

http://money.usnews.com/money/the-frugal-shopper/2014/06/20/5-major-differences-between-cheap-and-frugal

http://www.moneycrashers.com/the-difference-between-frugal-and-cheap/

http://embracingsimpleblog.com/frugal-vs-cheap-whats-the-difference/

PS: I have added this after the post. I would never call a poor person or a person who can hardly afford anything cheap. I do not think this is “cheapness”. I do not think these people are cheap. Absolutely not. Sometimes our finances can be so limited that all we can afford is the cheapest one. The only thing wrong with this would be “why we could not help these people to afford better?”.

the psychology of saving

I am not a psychologist, but I strongly believe in the role of motivation and feelings while implementing a budget and saving.

I kind of know myself and how my motivation picks up or go down. I dislike over-spending my weekly allowance for example. It bothers and annoys me. Big time….

What I like is saving. That feeling is pleasurable and very much enjoyable. Plus, when I save, I do not need to feel the annoyance coming with over-spending. I believe I need to associate my budgeting and frugal-land journey with pleasure. Never with annoyance. Thus, I love to save 🙂

Knowing this, first, I keep my weekly allowance high, not low. It is currently $200/week and contains my daily little expenses (such as coffee here and there, grocery, and other little items). I,  60% of the time spend less than this amount, which is great. It gives me a sense of satisfaction and hugely motivates me.

Second, I get more motivated to save if I do see a substantial and tangible increase in my savings. For example, I consider the followings as savings and note them in my budget Excel sheet for every week;

1. amount of money I save from in-store deals; my store now notes them on the receipts.

2. coupon values as well as the discounts I get from loyalty cards; one of my loyalty cards let me get a $10 discount nearly every two months

3. expenses I was tempted to do but did not (such as dining out, breakfasts)

4. expenses I would normally do prior to start of my budget, but did not (such as taking the cab to and from work)

5. money left from my weekly allowance

6. I pay myself for house maintenance activities around the house ($40/hour; examples are painting or staining the deck, caulking, mowing). My justification is that I could be paying others to do these. If I do them, then I am saving.

7. when instead of me, others in the socials pick up the cheque and contribute to their portions or to the tip.

One or more of these happens every week, leading to a substantial amount saved; the fact that I save $90/week by only not taking the cab can tell you how much I enjoy doing this. Yep. There were times that I saved around $300/week. That is a huge amount of money… When at the end of the week or the year I see the amount I save, I am awed… I could easily spend it but I did not. That requires celebration and appreciation of one’s self.

If you are like me, you will join me in saying that this is why it is very critical to document our expenses and savings at the same time.

Third, I have another, maybe peculiar, motivating factor; I have gotta find a valuable experience or a need met with the money I save. Maybe it is a trip now I can take with the saved funds. A new pair of shoes or a new (needed) service I can buy. I may cover for increases in mortgage payments or insurance premiums that bug me. Or, I can lift my chequing account up and start making bigger mortgage payments, both of which feel good.

Whatever it is, I feel a lot better when I know how specifically the saved funds are helping me and improving my financial, physical, or mental health and life overall. That brings, believe me, a new level of empowerment!

So, in my case, not only recording the expenses but maybe more than that recording my savings motivates me big time. In addition, knowing what I can do and I do with the saved funds gives me peace and satisfaction beyond what I thought I would get when I started this journey.

Wishing you a great frugal journey, too! 🙂

weekly budget check

I had not recorded my weekly budget check last Thursday (Thursdays are the last day of budget week), as I was away. Because of that, it was a little bit challenging to keep track of expenses, but I think I have got the approximate accounts for the last 2 weeks now:

The week before: expenses within the weekly allowance category for 4 days (excluding the days of the trip) was $131.5 out of $200 weekly allowance; savings from would-be-expenses was $121.

This week: expenses within the weekly allowance category for 5 days of the week (excluding the days of the trip) was $119.5 out of $200 weekly allowance; savings from would-be-expenses was $95.

During the trip: $180 for personal expenses (such as gifts)

I also had other expenses not covered by the weekly allowance category (that is okay).

I am more or less on track. I am pleased to see the would-be-expenses savings are accumulating constantly (these are the expenses I would normally do but did not, such as the cab fare, or the savings from sales).

I also noticed that my grocery cost is lower in the last few weeks; I believe “buy one get one free” deals have been playing a role in this. I do not know whether the store is having more of such deals, or I am now noticing and taking advantage of them more frequently. Either way, it is great. I have a lot of nutritious food in my fridge and freezer and I am completely feeling abundant.

In the coming weeks, maybe the new year, I am planning to reduce my weekly allowance to $150. I think I can do that and save even more.

On a very positive side, I am also proud to see that my chequing account now has a positive balance. It has been getting better and better since I started my budget and frugal journey since last June :).

Frugality works 🙂

Budgeting works 🙂

Hope works 🙂

would you call this waste?

When I was a child, one of the novels I had read was about a poor immigrant family living in Brooklyn in post-war era. The family was poor alright, but the father would put extra effort to get a small amount of coffee and they had made it a tradition to have 1 cup of coffee per person each Sunday morning. It was their way of celebrating their life together and rewarding themselves with something nice and valuable while everyday they struggled with financial hardship.

What had stricken me most was that the daughter in the family would not like coffee and she would dump it down the sink. Her parents would know that; never asking her to share it with another member of the family, forcing her to drink it, or omitting her from this family tradition.

They had accepted the fact that it was her decision to do whatever she would like to do with her portion of the coffee, even though it was expensive, hard to find, and would certainly be enjoyed by someone else in the family.

I keep remembering this fictional family time to time. This family had it right and had respect to individual choices and individual freedom, even though it would mean one of them was “wasting” a nice and then-expensive cup of coffee every week. (I would not feel the same way towards wasting food or other essential items, though, which are essential for our survival).

I am not saying go waste everything as you please. No. But I really like this story and how democratic this fictional family was. Maybe they also felt luxurious or abundant in the middle of poverty as they could let one cup of coffee go every week. I do not know.

What do you think?

on conscious spending and being “cheap”

I should thank the financial hardship I have had since I bought my house almost two years ago; it did force me to have a hard look at my finances and my spending habits. I should also thank the bloggers who share their stories and their useful tips, and support me with their comments and kindness through this journey.

Like any other endeavor, it was hard to deal with the emotions resulted from the financial constraints and it was also difficult to implement changes required to stabilize my finances and keep my spending lower. After 4 months now, I am happy to see the positive progress in my life, as budgeting did not only helped me to understand myself and save my money for future (whether for retirement or house-maintenance and other unexpected expenses), but it also helped me to limit wasting; from food to books to household items to clothes/shoes.

I have been always interested in keeping a modest life with modest material (such as furniture or attire). I have never been interested in showing up by owning “material”. I have never been interested in having the latest technology at home or the trendy clothes. I do not have a car and I do not plan to have one. I always lived close to my workplace so that the commute would not be an issue. I always shopped and stocked up when items were on sale. I knew my limits and I knew I wanted to save and invest for my retirement, So debt and wasting have never been a big deal in my life.

Yet, it is true what they say; as I started making more money, I started to have more waste. Sometimes it was the fresh produce that stayed in my fridge for long, sometimes it was a jacket that I bought, which I later did not like and did not even return back to the store. It was the cab drive in the morning and the evening that I thought I deserved well. It was the unnecessary generosity with socials. It was the books that I bought every week that made me so joyful.

I have changed now.

I do grocery shopping as required to limit the waste. It is only possible that there is a big grocery store 5 min away from my house.

I have spending-freezes that I started with on books, which I later extended to others. The nicest thing about these freezes are they are temporary and as such they never make one feel deprived. Another positive outcome is that it becomes a habit before you realize it; for example my 2-months shopping-freeze on books was initially planned for 2 months, but later I extended it till the new year. It also simplifies my life; I do not need to think about buying such items regularly.

I started to notice and make use of the coupons, discounts, and loyalty points. I am not an extreme couponist and I do not think I will ever be. But when I see a product with a coupon, I ask for it to be scanned (sometimes the coupons are stuck on the package and they need to be scanned at the cashier to be applied to the sale). The coupons and deals are there for the customers and I am a customer myself; so if I am eligible to get it, I will get it.

I designed my meals around the on-sale produce each week. This substantially reduced my spending.

I explored different stores and identified those that have better prices. I look at their flyers every week (not too many stores; maybe 3-4), which does not take much of a time of mine. I hardly miss a sale that includes a product I will need in future, even though I do not need it now (toilet paper is a good example of a product needed continuously).

I started shopping at thrifty stores for items such as jackets, shirts, and purses. I will probably never buy shoes, underwear, or pants from these stores (I cannot bypass the possible hygiene issue). I am amazed by the affordability and the good quality of the items there. Plus, I am contributing to the recycling of material and helping the ones in need with my purchases. That is a triple-win.

I decluttered my house and I gotta see what I have had. I have had a lot of stuff, which I had forgotten. Especially the food in the pantry and the cleaning products. I felt an extraordinary amount of abundance that is still lasting.

I called my credit card company and got my annual fee to be waived for this year; I will call them next year, too.

I hinted to my cable company that I was not happy with the prices and I could cancel it. They later offered me a much better and cheaper plan, which I gladly accepted. It is for 3 years and I will be saving around $500 each year.

I prepared sandwiches and snacks for my trips to limit both expenses and unhealthy food consumption.

I let a friend of mine paying her portion of the meal cost, rather than me paying for the entire bill.

I have better appreciation for every single item I have now. I was good at being grateful for everything I had, but now I am better. I was good at re-using items (such as using the shopping bags as garbage bags), but i am better now (e.g. using the old clothes as mopping cloths). I was good at not wasting food, but now I am better (e.g. freezing the extra diced onion to be used later).

There is a pleasure coming out of all of these. Knowing that I can do and am doing a lot better to protect my money and limiting wasting of food and other items. This newly found pleasure is the one that makes me keep going. I have some new plans to reduce my spending further, which I will articulate in the coming days. Exciting! 🙂

I still struggle with the idea of “being called cheap”, though. I have a respected profession, I am single and have no kids, and have a decent salary. Hence, people expect me to be doing well and being generous….

I am concerned that if other people knows that I shop at the thrifty store or if I tell people that I am happy because I got my credit card fee waived, for example, then they may look down on me. One of my colleagues did not understand why I called the credit card company and asked for a waiver. I understood her as I was like her in the previous years; why should anyone be concerned about and make a phone call for a $120?. But I should not feel cheap. I rather should feel like if they give these discounts to others, it is my right to get it, too. I feel like we are even now with the credit card company, as for years I stayed with one credit card and I have used it for every purchase.

I like to share what I know or learnt with the people around me. But maybe the lesson I should get out of my conversation with my colleague is to not tell people about my frugal experiences.

There is a difference between being a frugal person and being cheap. I have never let others pay for me at the socials; I never borrowed money that I did not later pay back; I never stole; I never did dirty tricks to confuse or take advantage of people or the systems.

I am not cheap; I am solely a happy frugal who consciously spends and protects her money and gets an enormous hope and pleasure out of it 🙂

how to keep up with budget and diet while traveling?

Looking at the title of the post, you might have thought this post is about the useful tips that can help you.

Well, this is not the case. The title of the post a genuine question I have in my mind.

I have a couple of trips to make in the coming weeks. I am excited about them (I like to travel), but of course the time away from the office means extra work before and after the trip, which can explain my stress levels nowadays 🙂

Anyways, since I am on two plans; budgeting and healthy life-style, I wonder how these trips will affect me.

To tell you the truth, I have a tendency to relax, and eat what I want and buy what I want (mostly little gifts for people I love) during my trips.

I have progressed quite a bit with my budget and it is more or less in the right direction, but I still have a long way to go. In addition, my healthy eating and losing weight plan does not work at all. I need to come up with a good strategy and have some motivation and dedication to keep going with these plans.

I am planning to have snacks, fruits, and sandwiches with me on the first day of my trips; at least I may be able to eat one day good, without indulging into eating at my destinations. I am of course planning to taste different food and whatever I like but cannot find where I am (Chinese and Japanese food for example) once I arrived my destinations.

My other challenge would be how to not eat the free food (to be offered at the meetings I am taking the trips for); they are my weaknesses and I am certainly concerned….. Argh… why the snacks and other food offered at professional meetings are not healthy type? Like broccoli. Or milk. Or, I do not know, something other than the pastries, cookies, and sweets?

The only things I am not concerned about are walking and my supplements (calcium and VitD); i will have my supplement pills with me and I am sure I will find milk to drink wherever I go. Also, generally I am very energetic while on trips, partly because I love to explore the cities I am visiting; so walking will not be a problem, either.

So, wish me luck with my trips.

But at the same time, please tell me if you have any tips and strategies that can help keep my budgeting and eating plans on track while traveling 🙂

weekly budget check

Today is the end of my weekly budget. Here are the numbers:

I overspent my weekly allowance by $36. In the last 3 weeks, I have over-spent every week….

I also have extra expenses related to eating out with friends and shopping for cleaning products etc. not included into this amount. Come to think about it, I really spent a lot of money even though I have cut one of my major expense (taking the cab to the office). I need to gather myself up a little bit more. I also need to have a separate category for cleaning products; the feeling of over-spending is not a good one…..

Anyways, on the bright side, I saved $155 from would-be-expenses. I have been consistently saving in this area, which is a great news.

I will have two socials this week, which will increase my expenses for the next week. I am happy to do these, do not get me wrong; I guess the benefit of celebrating and appreciating people around me are great feelings.

I just wished I could be more careful with my spending; that is all 🙂

weekly budget check

As today is the end of my weekly budget, here is the account of the last 7 days:

I over-spent my weekly allowance with $26; $25 of this is a donation in a fund-raising event, which was a pleasure to contribute to. On the other hand, one of my major and unnecessary expenses is still continuing – I really would like to focus on it this week and the coming weeks.

I also have dined out with a friend; this expense is under the “extra” expenses; I still have room in this category. I guess it is okay to occasionally socialize, but I should admit I am not happy with the huge dining-out bills – when did eating become so expensive?

On the positive side, I saved quite a bit from the “would-be-expenses” this week; a total of $223. I guess that is an awesome amount! The majority of the expenses not done and thus saved are made possible by taking the bus rather than the cab, store grocery discounts, some expenses I was tempted to but did not, and some work I have done around the house (I pay myself for my efforts to maintain my house- I could easily give this money to someone else. That is cool 🙂 ).

I am overall satisfied with the situation. It has been a struggle at the beginning and time to time after that, but more or less I keep trying to stick to the plan. And I think it is awesome that I am generally very good about the “would-be-expenses”, too 🙂 Considering that prior to establishing my budget a few months back, I would have made these expenses….. talking about dumping money to garbage…

Now I must tackle one last unnecessary expense, and after that feel hugely accomplished 🙂

all the best