Life-related objectives following a vacation

I just returned back from a family visit – it was great!

I found a chance to see my family and friends, and I have had a great time. Food, conversations, and visited places were all awesome. I am glad I have done this trip!

I also found a chance to stay away from work, especially in the last half of the vacation. I did not access and respond to emails, which was a blessing! I like this improvement in my approach to work.

My work-induced stress levels were down to zero as soon as I stepped on the plane. I still feel positive and relax. I hope to be able to respond to work related feelings and pressures better. I want to convince myself that I can do this.

One of the best things about having a break from the routine and engage in activities and thoughts that are different than what I usually have (mostly work related issues) is that it is a good opportunity to formulate new plans to remove the negativity of the past activities and have a chance to improve things that do not go so well. Today is a good day to do these:

Aims related to personal life:

1. Going back to frugal and abundant life-style.

I have been quite successful with this a couple of years back and then I broke it with junk food and can-fare expenses… I want to go back to that as of today.

My specific aims are:

  • to spend no more than 100 bucks a week on grocery and other needs (cleaning products, personal care products, etc.). This does not include medication and health-care related expenses (e.g. physiotherapy)
  • to utilize what I already have (dried food, frozen food, etc) to reduce my food cost, while not sacrificing from healthy and diverse food
  • to have another shopping freeze for flower pots, shoes/clothes, books (occasional ones are okay) and furniture
  • to keep all other frugal activities I already have (e.g. use of coupons/discounts, points, etc.) to maximize the value of my money
  • not to make any pre-payments unless an unexpected sum of money finds my way. This is to ensure that my chequing account will remain at a healthy level. I feel quite strongly about this because when it dips, first I pay extra money to the bank each month, and second, it makes me feel like I am in a financial crisis – not a great feeling
  • to eat the food that I have in the freezer and pantry (I have a lot of dried legumes/beans/rice that are waiting to be enjoyed)
  • to save around 7K bucks till December
  • to make a prepayment in December with the money I will save till then while also keeping around 5K in my chequeing account. This is an ambitious but doable aim. I feel like this will give me the best motivation to move forward and keep my frugal spending habits.

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2. Having a healthier body and weight

I have gained quite a bit of weight this year and its negative effects on my health were noticeable during my vacation: my feet ached a lot, my back gave me trouble (twice I have had my back pain/sciatica – they were minor compared to last year, but still I did not like having two episodes in a short time…).

I am aware of two reasons as to why I have gained weight this year: I did not walk as much as I did in the past years (I used to walk from office everyday – rain or shine) and I ate quite unhealthy food (pizzas and prepared food…). I still have two boxes of frozen pizza and some frozen, pre-made dinners in my freezer. I will consume them as well but with the understanding that my priority will be not to purchase them anymore so that I can eat better.

Thus, my specific aims are:

  • not to buy any pizzas or other prepared meals
  • to eat at least 6 different food (veggies, fruits, or dried food) every week
  • to cook meals at least 3 nights a week (I often consume them in two-three days)
  • to eat apples everyday at the office and to continue to eat carrots and radishes that I love so much (for some reason, these veggies made me feel much better and help me lose weight at the same time)
  • whenever feasible, to walk in the morning to office and in the afternoon from the office (this will help me feel great, lose weight, and also save from the transportation – win-win situation!)
  • to shop at the farmers’ market to have fresh local and affordable food
  • to keep take my calcium supplements and drink milk to keep my bones healthy
  • to re-start doing my back exercises to help strengthen my abs and my back muscles
  • to do light weight-lifting at home to keep my muscles and my bones healthy and strong

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3. Heaving a healthier mind and higher quality of life

I wish not to have stress and anxiety to my best anymore…. Work-related stress, sleep problems, and problems related to relations with the colleagues have hit the ceiling last couple of years… I am better at managing my anxiety by means of the worry journal exercise. But in terms of stress management I have not been much successful.

Hence, my specific aims are:

  • to walk everyday, to eat a healthier diet, and to exercise whenever I can find a chance to provide myself a healthier, nourishing way of life
  • to rest everyday. This I noticed is quite important for my stress levels. Whenever I am tired, I noticed I feel more pressurized and over-react as a result
  • to not access the emails in the evenings and the weekends, unless I have a good reason to do so
  • to take things a little bit lighter and not to react to problems when I am anxious or panicky
  • to trust the life and people around me a little bit more
  • to stop thinking that I am the only person who can do things well and on time. This is one of the main reasons that I feel resentment towards people I work with. Often times I have a good reason to think that the work is not done well and corrections/my involvement is needed. However, this also makes me over-work and over-stressed… Perhaps it is time to lower my standards without harming the quality of the work. I can also take it easy with relations. I can be more tolerant and less assuming… (wish me luck with this one. It is hard…. but I must do this)
  • to make it priority to feel calm at the office
  • to feel confident that I have solved many issues in the past and I can do so now and in the future as well. I must remind myself this everyday, especially when I face of an issue
  • to integrate a new walking route or an activity in my life over time – whether this would be going to theaters/shows, visiting a cafe on a Saturday morning, or reading about an entirely new topic does not matter. Something useful and enjoyable!
  • to continue to read my daily affirmations first thing in the morning to set my intentions for the day for the better

For example:

I am calm and can take care of any of the work-related issues easily

I am confident and successful

I have great work-relationships with everyone I see today

I am known by my high quality and meticulous work and I am respected for these

I am kind to everyone I meet today, especially, myself

I have time to do my work

Today has all the opportunities and beauties I may need

I welcome and appreciate the opportunities life can offer me

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Have a great Sunday everyone!

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it turns out that tomorrow is Friday

What a surprise! 🙂

I just realized tomorrow was Friday and as such there was one more reason to be joyful today 🙂

I have had an easy-going day at the office today and this makes me feel good 🙂

Friends, I may try to be joyful yet, it does not change the fact that we have an incredibly cold and snowy weather here. This morning I waited for the bus for maybe 4 minutes and my fingers were almost frozen. I have gloves but I guess I must wear woolly gloves rather than leather/synthetic ones.

The scenery in such a snowy day is amazing and very enjoyable. I think we expect more snow early next week; are we looking for a snow day? Goodness, I hope so 🙂 You may think that I would rather be asking for the opposite and be at the office more so that I can finish work. I do want to finish work, but honestly I have enjoyed being away from the office in the last two weeks, so I wish for this to continue a little bit more now. Can you blame me? 🙂

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I could not work as much as I planned today, but I did what I could. There is an important document that I must send tomorrow, for which I have been waiting the input of a colleague of mine. He is away and I have not received his version of the document yet, so I am feeling on the edge. While by working together we all can do much better and bigger work, when not everybody works and does their parts at the same time, it does not move much. I will have to find a way to fix this tomorrow. Now I rather make a conscious decision to enjoy my time.

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According to my calculations, I have saved around 350 bucks from my salary since my last pay cheque. This looks less that what I wanted to, but it is better than nothing. I have no planned expenses coming this week (other than grocery and regular bills), and for grocery I only have a few items to pick this week. This may mean that I can save a few more bucks.

I know that if I do reach the $500 savings level once, I will be more motivated to keep saving after that. I really am focused on not making any unnecessary expenses within the next two weeks (that means no thrift store visits), no socials, no gifts/donations (I can do these later), no hair cut (my hair cut is long due, but..), no cabs (please no!), no books or any other items. I just need to pick laundry detergent this weekend – that will be the only non-grocery item I am planning to purchase.

Saving money, finding ways to maximize the value of the money (sales, use of points, etc.), and feeling fully abundant are empowering. I know there are a number fellow bloggers out there who are on the same journey as I am. Off to reading their post to get inspired now.

Have a great night everyone. I hope 2019 is treating you with Ease, Comfort, and Appreciation 🙂

 

holidays diary – Day 11

New Year is here – welcome 2019.

I am very indifferent, as you can see. I slept around 10pm last night and woke up not so enthusiastic about the day or the year, or anything else for that matter. My moody mood continues.

Anyways; I worked today as well. I did not have anything better to do – everywhere is closed. In the afternoon, I called my family for a quick chat and then focused on finding a good book to read. I reviewed maybe 10 books before I finally found one that clicked. It is by an author who has a highly demanding job and she says all the things I want to hear or see; she says what seems unbalanced for many maybe your balance (true – I prioritize work to reach my goals, so I work hard and long. Even I got in to thinking “I should have a balance” trap, but why should I? Nothing I do is something that will keep me from my goals (except those that are somebody else’s responsibility, which I need to shoulder to keep work going). Rather, I work hard to reach my own goals the majority of the time.

Why should I complain about this? Why should I feel tired about this? Why should I feel frustrated about this? Why on earth should i feel negative about this????

My attitude is not right. Hmmm. Will seriously consider to change this around.

Never fall into the trap of believing in somebody else’s truth – find and own your own truth. That is the lesson I have learnt by reading this book today.

Funny thing is that I had this book for many years. I am glad I did not give it away. Today was its time to mean something for me. Well done.

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I must work and finish things, but I think tomorrow I will rather enjoy my life. I am thinking about going to thrift stores tomorrow. I will look for books and extra-ordinary/unusual pots. It is always fun to be able to look for these items and exciting to bring one home. I do not need to spend a lot of time. I certainly do not need any of these, but I would love to enjoy my life for another day, without thinking about the 5-10 bucks I work so hard to earn. Considering that I spend around 5K each year to visit my family (yes, I am still angry with them), I think this amount of money I spend on myself is very minimal. And, I deserve what my money can buy for me.

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I am in a frugal and minimalistic budget again, which is great. My plan, my very ambitious plan, is to be able to save 500 bucks from my every pay cheque – this is after RRSP and TFSA contributions. I know it is not realistic; last year I tried the same, but I was not able to save more than 400 bucks at a time, and often times I was able to save around 200-300 bucks. Nevertheless, it is okay to ask for and it is okay to hope. 

I hope 2019 is treating you with Ease, Comfort, and Appreciation.

 

 

 

shopping ban week

Gotta curb this spending habit I have been having lately (mostly cab and junk food expenses… yes, again… time to fix this).

What is the plan?

Well – I budget only $60 to consume till the next pay-day (12 days), including grocery and others. Should I walk in the morning and save the bus fare, this amount may as well increase a little bit. Then I can go buy some more pots from thrift store for my plants.

My choice now 🙂

I have everything I need; my fridge and pantry is full of food; and I have no urgent needs (except the physiotherapy and dental fees that I expect this week).

Let’s do it!

frugal life-style makes me feel overly abundant

Frugality means a lot of things to many people. For me, it is all about abundance.

Is it strange that the less I spend, the more able I feel?

Nope.

There are two things I guess;

1) frugality enables me to spend my money on things that most matter. I remember the first time I very strongly felt that: I was eager to purchase commercial baking yeast, but it was not on sale. The cost was around 7 bucks or something. For some reason, this sounded to me like too much 🙂 Argh…

Was 7 bucks a lot of money?

No.

I used to have at the weekends breakfast with a cup of coffee and bagels costing around 10 bucks back in the day. I thought about these two costs and I decided it was time that I leveraged my money, considering how much I was interested in buying the yeast (my baking adventures 🙂 ) . So that weekend was the first time I did not have my weekend breakfast (my favorite treat for years), and rather spent the money on the yeast. It felt good to trade expenses after that.

2) Now that I spend less, money becomes more valuable. Strange, is it not? Only a week early I used to pay around 100 bucks/week to cab rides. I knew it was a lot of money, but did not care much considering how easy it made my stressful life. Today, I bought lots of great food and my weekly self-treat of chocolate for under 20 bucks. When I looked at how they made me feel, I knew that I felt happier and excited.

20 bucks versus 100 bucks…

This is what I call abundance.

Long live frugality 🙂

 

weekly budget check

I have not posted these checks for a while.

Now that I am making a serious attempt back to my frugal life-style, here comes this week’s account:

Weekly allowance expenses: $119, including grocery, cab fare, treats at the office, and junk food. My weekly allowance this year is 100 bucks/week, so I over-spent this week.

Fun funds: The fun funds so far are at the negative side: -$596.

Fun funds are those that are left from my weekly allowance starting each new year. Last year I had used the fun funds for things that my heart wished for and a pre-payment. This year I am looking forward to bringing this to a positive balance, but I am not sure how fast this can happen 🙂 

Other savings: $7

Health related expenses and donations: $23.5

I am hopeful that next week will be a much better one, if I can continue with my frugal and simple life saga.

I have done something nice and made a pre-payment order today. I likely will need to tap into my chequing account really deep for this payment…. Normally, I like to have a healthy level of funds at the chequing account, but this payment will drop it significantly. I thought unless I challenge myself like this, I would not have enough motivation to save more and limit extra expenses. So, the weeks ahead will be somehow challenging and  interesting.

I am up for it!

I hope there will be no additional expenses in the next few weeks 🙂

at last; frugal and simple life again

Today I have been completely expense-free; I took the bus in the morning even though it was icy on the road; I did not treat anyone at the office with food or coffee; I walked back to home in the evening; and I did not buy the junk food that I have had an habit of eating every day since July (aka the busy work season).

I saved $30.5 today by these today.

$30.5…. in a single day…

It feels like a lot of money for me today (although I did not care doing these expenses every single day in the last 7 months..).

I feel like during only Monday-Friday this week, assuming that I will keep repeating my frugal life-style today, I will be saving over 150 bucks of mine. This is like 15 x 10 pounds bread flour (more than a year’s of what is needed to bake a sourdough loaf every Sunday); 3 weeks worth of grocery; >1/2 sewing machine (new); a night at a hotel; around 50 bus trips to work; around 8 generous thrift store purchases; or a lovely pre-payment.

Can you imagine how abundant I feel??? 

Very abundant and wealthy indeed!

I am so excited and so proud of myself.

🙂

9 days to holidays and reflections on finances

Counting down the days till holidays 🙂

I started cleaning my office yesterday, my traditional activity before the holidays. I am 1/3 done and would love to complete it sometime soon. Maybe tomorrow, maybe Friday, but maybe next week. But I will be doing it 🙂

I also started thinking about my budget and life-style for the next year. I can see that unless I become more careful I may not be able to save what I want to save. Last year has been a great teacher for me in terms of finances and my own attitude. 

I learnt that:

1. if I do extreme budgeting I get unhappy and all I think about is spending money. I know that because I tried a pantry challenge or something early in 2017 and restricting my shopping experience was unpleasant and expensive :)))) So I should not restrict my already tight budget

2. Work stress makes me feel like I am entitled to make unnecessary expenses, such as on junk food. This is very silly and I need to work on this

3. I need both short-term and long-term financial goals. My overall calculations are for the entire year, but I would feel much better if I can have a soon-to-be-completed goal so that I can keep my eye on it, strive for it, and eventually feel the satisfaction of completing it. I think I will have to work on this idea to keep me motivated. After all, we can aim all we want but unless it is realistic or reachable, we will lose our hope first and then the intention to reach the goal.

4. While I can spend on junk food and rationalize it, I also continue not to over-spend on grocery or other things, which is strange… This must tell me something. Why do I turn blind to unnecessary expenses, which are often much more than my grocery bill? if I can figure this out, I can figure out many other things…

5. I continue to be not cheap when it comes to socials. I notice that many people do not get that generous with me when I host them, so I want to opt for a smaller thing to take with me to socials; a loaf of bread, a jar of pickle, a baked goods are good options.

6. I stopped picking my colleagues’ bills when we go out together, which is awesome.

7. I still treat my team members with lunches or so time to time; this was 2-4 times a year so far. I think I will make it once year now. I will have to really work on this because I really like celebrating their accomplishments. 

8. It is great to be taking advantage of the sales for items, such as clothes, required each year. This occurs often during October-December. I think one thing I should aim for is to save this money way advance; whether it is thru my fun funds or savings from the expenses that I could easily make but do not (like picking up others’ bills). 

9. Talking about the fun funds, I have never been clear about how to use them last year (fun funds are the money left out of my weekly allowance). I think it is time that I handle this better. I think this year I will replace the term “fun funds” with “weekly savings” and I will use these savings as mortgage pre-payments.

10. I will be on shopping freeze for trousers and jackets this year; the only place to shop for blouses/shirts will be thrift stores. I will continue to buy items that are supposed to be personal, like socks, from regular stores.

– to be continued –

 

towards the end of year financial calculations

I have 8 more days till the end of my fiscal year (next Thursday) when I will add up all the savings, expenses, and the net worth together to see how well I have done. 

I could not wait and did some preliminary calculations. I have room for improvement and also room for enjoyment. 

Overall, I spent more than I budgeted for for unnecessary items (like junk food). 

I also made significant expenses related to a trip/vacation and socials.

I am not sorry for any of these right now, but one thing is clear; if I want to save money, I must be consistent. The first half of the year I have done extremely well, and then started to spend unnecessarily.

And another thing clear to me is that if I want it, I can make it 🙂

I am on the right track, but I need a new strategy, better mechanisms to not make unnecessary silly expenses.

Cannot wait to plan these next week 🙂

 

 

when I do not have cash I figured I cannot spend it

Since July I have had all the excuses (rightfully mostly, but still excuses) to spend money and pamper myself; take the cab, buy and eat junk food, etc.

I was sorry for leaving my wonderful frugal life style, but at the same time I also enjoyed spending money. I always thought the next week, the next day, after this deadline or the other I would comeback to my regular budget. And sometimes I have done this, too. But only transiently.

Yesterday it finally occurred to me that I could not save enough to make an extra 5K pre-payment to my mortgage by the end of December…. I have planned for this for a year….It was a sad moment….

It still is……

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So, I asked myself;

Well, how much can I pay?

3K at most and this is if I stop spending on unnecessary things and start being frugal right away. 

And how do I enforce this?

By making 2K as a pre-payment right away.

Now I have no extra cash in my chequing account – I cannot spend money.

🙂

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weekly budget check

I have not done these checks for some time. It was because I mostly over-spent since July, but I am almost back to my regular, frugal budget.

This week I over-spent my weekly allowance by $19.5. I have made silly choices and spent unnecessarily but I would love to stop doing this. Let me see what this week will bring 🙂

I made a pre-payment to my mortgage in the amount of ~$1,600 today and I am feeling fantastic about this! I think it reduced the interest by round $50-60 – what better feeling than this right now 🙂

I still have some fun funds left (around $800), which I hope to bring to around $1,000 till the end of the year. These funds will be useful in making yet another mortgage pre-payment. I was planning to make an additional pre-payment in the amount of $5,000 by the end of December, but I am not so sure anymore… I found myself shopping (to take advantage of the sales), I need a new hair treatment coming, and there is at least one hefty social that I must shoulder next month….. I should not lose my hope and keep working towards this goal of making pre-payment. I know that even if I can make half of it, it will be fantastic.

This is the beginning of a new financial week for me (starting tomorrow) and I know that once I set the tone frugal it will likely go frugal. My plan for this week is to be mostly using the food in my freezer and pantry. I have so much food! It is time that they are consumed. I expect this to keep my grocery expenses low this week. This will further motivate me to keep frugal 🙂

back to my frugal self this week

Seems like I have had enough of the over-spending spree that has been happening since July.

Except one, all my deadlines are met, a large volume of work is done, and I completed two over-seas business trips. My stress levels are low (knock on the wood) and I am feeling like having a simple and frugal/resourceful life is easy now 🙂

Accordingly, this week my spending was way below my weekly allowance. A first in the last 3 months….. I am proud and very excited about this 🙂

Cannot wait to feel the joy coming out of frugal life and collecting all the savings that I will use for my advantage, such as having mortgage pre-payments 🙂

 

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.

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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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.

🙂

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) 

—————————————————

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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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 🙂

———————-

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.). 

—————————————–

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! 🙂

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 🙂 

—————————————

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 🙂

——————————–

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! 🙂

——————————–

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! 🙂

 

Saturday morning musing

Saturday! Yay! 🙂

This week passed so fast that it is one of those times when I am kind of stressed that it is weekend. Go figure! 🙂 

I got up later than usual today, even though I was woken up a number of times. I should get up as soon as I wake up – otherwise there is a period of half sleep-half awake state where many thoughts, memories, or emotions go through my mind and I kind of find their strength is increasing this way. Naturally many of these are negative, so it makes me feel bad after a while. I must focus more on the positive. Yes….. Yes….. Yes…..

So when I finally pushed myself out of the bed and saw how bright and shinny outside was, I felt great immediately. Spring is beautiful 🙂

We have a social to attend this afternoon and I am looking forward to that. There are kids involved (our friends have two kids), which means we (I and two of my friends, who do not have kids) are excited to see them and play with them. Kids, like animals, are so innocent, so loving that they make me feel grateful and protective again. Like mother nature. It is like returning back to beginning. The original. Where we are all loving, supportive, and happy. Interesting thoughts for a morning friends! 🙂

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Soon it is gonna be two years that I have had a budget, monitored my spending and identified where my money was going, what I could save by cutting expenses, and how I could help myself with all of these. It was a struggle at the beginning, it still is sometime, but I m reaping the benefits now; my chequing account is above $0, I keep doing investments for my future (RRSP and TFSA contributions), I started to make mortgage pre-payments this year (however little they may be), my spending is significantly leaner, and I am feeling great about all of these.

I just want more.

I want to save more and invest more or pay mortgage earlier. Since the most significant expenses are already curbed (like transportation and being overall less enthusiastic to shop and waste), I keep wondering what areas I can work on? I must realize somehow that whatever I will be doing from this point on will not be a significant saving, but rather modest. Like maybe 10 bucks a week. Is it worth it?

It is an exciting activity to do so if it does work without anything negative is attached to it (like feeling depriving myself, feeling cheap, or reducing the quality of food I consume). Otherwise, no, it is not worth it. 

I think the reason I would like save more is because I do see the benefits of it and the debt (aka mortgage) getting smaller. I sure feel able and prosperous. I am not a victim of my expenses and circumstance, but rather am in charge of my of financial world. That is very empowering.

I just need to figure out how to save more.  An exciting new game plan is needed 🙂

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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! 🙂

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

Is Sears closing?

I am asking because there were excellent deals this past weekend and I could not help but shopped there.

I am not sorry 🙂

Seriously not, because what I bought are incredible and the money I paid for them are possibly 1/4th of the actual cost. So, i would like to think that I am in a good shape….

Ok; back to weekly expenses and other financial events: 

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $67

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $67 = $53

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $517.5! (please, let me have a moment of happiness here 🙂 )

Other expenses: $144 (new clothes; see above)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $236.75 (these are the expenses I would normally make, but decided not to (such as walking rather than taking the bus, having a breakfast at home rather than outside, etc) as well as savings/extra money made just by chance (like the rebate we all have got lately at work 🙂 )

As it is becoming a lovely habit now, I will be using these savings to make mortgage pre-payment in the coming weeks 🙂 

Mortgage pre-payment made today: $228.5 (from my savings as of last week :))

Friends – this feels so awesome, so awesome! Seeing it getting less and less….Seeing myself making the effort to make my mortgage less and less. And feeling the excitement and happiness coming out if this 🙂

————————————————-

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed:  minced beef and frozen zucchini 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 🙂

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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 🙂

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*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.

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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 🙂

 

Disbelief GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

gif by giffy;http://giphy.com/gifs/trump-violence-tone-CiYImHHBivpAs

 

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!)

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*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

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

Hurrah to us 🙂

Pj Harvey GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

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!)

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*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 🙂

weekly budget check

My new “lean” spending scheme is doing well 🙂

I have a tighter budget implemented in the last few weeks, not because I have to but because I was curious about how much more I could not spend.

I have been thinking for some time; how much more expenses, in reality, can be cut?

I am thinking; if it comes to it, I may cancel my internet and phone services, but I will not do that right now. I can cut out my hair or stop have it cut for sometime rather than going to a hair dresser, but I will not do that, either. I can focus more on growing my veggies at home during the winter and in my yard during the summer. I can forgo eating fresh produce and rather focus on whatever is cheap, but I will not do this. I can stop using electricity/power unless it is extremely required, but I will not do that, either.

You have got the idea.

It is usually possible to find areas to save more. I wanted to give this a try with a super-duper lean spending month, which I had originally scheduled for February. But I said to myself “what is the use of waiting”” and I started it a few days after the new year. It has been an interesting exercise so far. I basically only aim to make expenses which are necessary (such as bus fare and  food). But I also allow myself to have one item per week to pamper myself (like my peanut butter I enjoyed last week 🙂 ). And, my friends – it is working: I am spending much less than before. Not sure how long I can continue with such a tight budget, but knowing that I am capable of doing it is a great feeling 🙂

Here is the account for this past week under the duper lean spending month plan:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $58

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

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $322  (yay! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $0 (a miracle! 🙂 )

Savings from would-be-expenses: $44.5 (these are the expenses I would normally do, but decided not to – I am proud of these 🙂 )

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: soup and bread

*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.

———————–

So; not bad my friends 🙂

And I am very excited to state this that I have made my first mortgage pre-payment today using my saved dollars; it may be a small amount but it was a great start!

happy savings 🙂

 

 

 

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.

—————————————-

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.

———————–

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!

 

weekly budget check

I believe I have not posted my weekly spending and savings last week. It was quite similar to  this week.

Notably; my minimal spending plan is going really well (i.e. I do not stock up food or other house items, I am careful with my grocery purchases, and I have my weekend breakfasts at home but not at a cafe), my “fun funds” have a positive balance for the first time in a few months (yay! 🙂 ), and I am making a lot of expenses, especially related to sewing notions and fabric 🙂

here is a snap-shot of this week:

expenses within the weekly allowance (all grocery): $26

fun funds this week (i.e. funds left from weekly allowance): $120 – 26 = $94

total fun funds accumulated to date: $120.5

other expenses: $266 ($49 was made for a social and the rest were for sewing notions and fabric)

Savings: $204. These are the savings thanks to sales/discounts, or thanks to not making the expenses that I would normally do but preferred not to (such as taking the cab rather than the bus). It is amazing how much I can save this way…

———-

My plan is to keep doing what I am doing, except that I am hoping I will be done gathering the sewing notions soon so that this one large expense can be minimized in the future. I need scissors and some other stuff in addition to fabric, but I think I have got the majority of the things I need. This is a relief as I love making these expenses! 🙂 I have been to stores this evening and collected some left-over/remnant fabric to use here and there. They cost me $26 bucks but I was the happiest person on earth 🙂 So, I am assuming I will keep doing this for sometime until I realize that I have more fabric than I could efficiently use. I am hoping I will not become a fabric hoarder 🙂

have a great Thursday everyone 🙂

 

 

weekly budget check

The minimal spending plan till the holidays is continuing. This was a great week in terms of spending my weekly allowance frugally (covering grocery, transportation, weekend breakfast, and other little daily expenses).

The additional shopping and taking advantage of the deals are also continuing, meaning money is spent now to save money over the long run (what an interesting thing to say….).

My fun funds are nowhere near being positive, which is bothering me. Hope to lift it up above $0 before the new year 🙂

—————————————

Expenses within the weekly allowance: $48.5

Fun funds (left-over from the weekly allowance): $120 – $48.5 = $71.5

Fun funds expenses (my discretionary spending): $80

Total fun funds accumulated to date: -$53 (yes, yes… it is a negative balance. no, no…. this is not great…)

Other expenses: a hefty $238.5, $100 of which is made for sewing supplies and notions

Savings from sales, transportation, and other expenses that I would normally do but have chosen not to this week : $222.5 (at least that is a good number; i could as well spend all of these. I am glad I have not..)

————–

Overall, I am benefiting from the “minimal spending plan” – it helps me to consume what I already have, which is awesome (also helping with limiting waste and food hoarding). Since I still have lots of fresh and dry/canned/frozen food to be consumed, I think I will be fine with continuing with this plan for some time.

I will slow down with my other expenses and am not planning to make any stocking up or additional shopping for personal care or cleaning products (other than for sewing-related needs) .

Let’s see how the next few weeks will go ahead 🙂

weekly budget check

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

————————

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.

———

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 🙂

weekly budget check

It has been a great week in terms of how much I did not spend 🙂

—————————–

expenses within the weekly allowance (grocery only): $35   🙂

funds left for fun funds: $120 – $35 = $85

total fun funds: – $126.5.. ahem.. negative balance…

total savings from purchases I was tempted to but did not (like not taking the cab); use of sales/coupons; kindness of people: $278 (this also includes a brunch which I was not let pay = kindness of people)

Other expenses: $278, including ordering the sewing machine and some accessories, taking the cab and some food to friends who invited me for dinner. That is a lot of money, but all is well.

———————–

This has been the first attempt of mine to have a minimal spending week and so far it seems doable; I have a lot of food in the fridge. Freezer has many bags of frozen veggies, meat/chicken, and breakfast pastries (to be consumed at the weekends), as well as frozen soups with chicken or bone broth. My pantry is also in a good shape with lots of dried veggies, pasta, rice/bulghur, lentils, and canned beans. I think I will be able to stick up with my minimal spending aim till New year 🙂

I am continuing to buy perishable essentials, such as milk, yogurt, and fresh produce. So no unreasonable sacrifice here.

I continue to walk in the morning and evening, rather than taking the cab or bus; I hope to keep doing that as long as the weather permits.

I will focus on consuming the food I already have rather than buying new ones. I kind of hope that before and after the holidays, there will be good grocery sales; I may be able to stock up/freeze again at that time.

I only let myself to stock up durable items, like paper towel, if the sales are really attractive. Otherwise, I am good with waiting till the holiday season.

I had decided to let go my weekend breakfasts and rather use that money to finance my sewing machine and supplies I will need. One wonders whether $7-8 a week (my breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday, consisting of a bagel and a cup of coffee) can make a positive difference…. Honestly I have mixed feelings about it myself (I am so fond of my weekend breakfast…); at one hand, yes I may be able to buy small sewing supplies, like thread and scissor, with these savings. But then, is it really worth it, considering how much I enjoy my breakfast?

I guess we will see how it goes 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

Aims and plans: 1) getting a leaner budget and b) paying mortgage early

With this post, I start to dissect the aims I have posted yesterday and focus on my plans/thoughts/ability to achieve them.

————————————————

The first item on the list is:

1. getting a much leaner budget and getting rid of the extra expenses for good

Ok. Now, since June 2015 I have had a great budget that worked wonders for me. Since the new year it has been a lot better, only that since June this year I lost track a little bit and started to over-spend. I am still keeping frugal, taking advantage of sales, implementing a nice no-waste food policy, continuing my shopping ban on books, shoes, and clothes, taking the bus rather than the cab almost every day, and am very keen about designing my meals around the on-sale food every week, yet these extra expenses are draining me.

So what is causing me to spend more?

Stress. It is causing me to consume stress relieving but nevertheless unhealthy stuff. It is crazy how much money (around 70-80 bucks per week) I spend on these junk! I had completely erased them from my life at the new year when I had achieved a great/the leanest budget ever. My savings were up and I had a positive chequeing account for the first time in the last two years or so. It was so satisfying, so exciting to be feeling so. I felt abundant, enriched, and proud.

Now, I want to feel this way again!

Root cause: stress (or lack of will power – you tell me). This is one issue that I must tackle soon and quite effectively.

Consequences: unhealthy life style, harm to my body, and reduced self-respect. I also lack the excitement and other positive feelings associated with not doing these expenses. Plus, my savings have been down lately, which is rightfully annoying me.

Action item: Stop it!!!! Simple and effective (we will see how this goes, right?). I did it once and I would like to think that I can do it again. Please, please, wish me luck with this!

———————————————–

The second item on the list is:

2. making an extra payment to mortgage till new year and increasing my payment after that sometime. My very ambitious plan is to drop it to 100K in 3 years. Likely not gonna happen but whatever I can do is good

My current principal/mortgage debt is 175K… This is a lot of debt, which bothers me. The interesting thing is that in 3 years (sept 2019) with my current payment plan, it is supposed to fall to $132,200. When I think about it, it is awesome that I can drop it to such a much less amount.

But I feel like I can do better.

I have been saving some cash since last Spring, which I had planned to contribute towards my principal. Initially I had planned it to be around 5K, but with the recent extra expenses, it will be around 4k. I plan to make this payment around new year; better before the new year to celebrate 🙂

An extra 4K would make my mortgage drop to $128,200 till Sept 2019. I have always felt like if it is less than $120,000, then I would have a greater motivation to pay faster. Now, I think the best way for me is to actually aim higher and make it drop to $100,000 till then. The question is how am I going to do that?

I am currently contributing to my RRSP (maximum allowed), paying HBP (home buying plan in Canada – basically I borrowed money from my RRSP as down-payment, which I am supposed to pay back in 17 years. I pay almost double the amount I am supposed to pay each year so that I can pay it off early), a small personal retirement plan with an annual payment, and my TFSA.

Since I had taken money out of my TFSA when I purchased my home, my TFSA is not maximized yet. It looks like with my current contribution levels, I will need around 3 years to maximize it. While that would be awesome, I am more inclined to keep it below the allowed maximum level, and rather channelize the TFSA payments to mortgage. My current plan is to contribute another 9K to TFSA (which would take around 13 months or so) and then stop contributing to it for two years (till the end of my mortgage term).

So, 2 years of not contributing to TFSA would mean an extra $15,600 to go towards my mortgage. Together with the one-time lump sum payment I plan to make this december, that would mean at the end of the term my mortgage debt drops to $112,600.

I am not at $100,000 yet but it is possible that I can come up with an extra $12,600 sometime, somehow to make it finally become $100,000….

Action items: Make 4K one time lump sum payment to mortgage in late December 2016. Continue with contributing to TFSA for another year or so, and then stop it to use the money to increase the mortgage payments. Whenever an extra amount of money is saved, use it to pay the mortgage. This last one can be possible if I had got back to my lean budget – one more motivation to start it tomorrow! 🙂

 

 

getting back to aims and plans

I love to have aims and plans to tackle them. There is something exciting and energizing about this.

I am not always successful in my aims or plans, but, hey, I will try as many times as it takes and as much as I can enjoy.

The majority of my aims are around similar themes; having a financial plan; having a simple yet non-routine life; and having a healthier life-style.

I will focus on details later but the particular areas of my life that I would love to work on real soon are:

  1. getting a much leaner budget and getting rid of the extra expenses for good
  2. making an extra payment to mortgage till new year and increasing my payment after that sometime. My very ambitious plan is to drop it to 100K in 3 years. Likely not gonna happen but whatever I can do is good
  3. eating healthier and losing 25 pounds and keeping it off
  4. having a vacation somewhere this year only for my own enjoyment
  5. having a less stressful work life and dealing with work and emotions better
  6. being more social
  7. baking the perfect loaf
  8. decluttering the house and the office again and possibly again
  9. buying a new set of plates
  10. being more aware and appreciative of my surroundings, life experiences, and everything else in life 🙂

random thoughts

I have been working so hard and under so much pressure lately that for the first time or so in my life I am glad I must clean my home and do laundry today. It is weird, but true. I enjoy sitting in my living room right now and listening to the dryer’s noise and not thinking about the work I must take care of. I think I will let it sink back to me tomorrow. That is okay. At least I am giving myself the freedom to enjoy today….

I woke up tired and late but felt better with coffee (also ordered bagels this time – pampering feels good 🙂 ) and walking to a store 15 min away to shop. There were really good sales for items I had needed, so I took this opportunity and certainly it felt good. I even saved an additional 2 bucks by using a coupon that came with the insert last week.

I was thinking; while saving and limiting my daily expenses feels so good, why do I not have a stricker budget? I know for example I did take the cab three times this week; each costing around 10 bucks per ride. When I think about it, this actually is the cost of 15 kgs of bread flour (which would give me around 40-45 loafs of bread).

So, what am I doing wrong here?

Since my summer vacation, I have been relax in terms of spending. I am not spending a lot, but I sure am spending more than before and often on unnecessary items. I have been feeling the conflict created by saving by following sales and at the same time by making unnecessary purchases. While it is annoying for sure, I am also glad that I believe eventually this feeling will help me to cut expenses and have a lean budget again.

I really am looking forward to this.

Now back to the dryer and cleaning -my relaxants of the day 🙂

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

I have done well this week and stayed within my weekly allowance:

total expenses (within the allowance): $98

fun funds savings this week: $120 – $98: $22

total fun funds accumulated today: – $50 (sadly I spent more than I saved in this fund. Gotta be better soon….)

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses that I was tempted to, but did not do, savings from discounts etc.): $145 (always feel good…)

Other expenses: $146; mostly a dinner with a friend of mine (well deserved) and cleaning products

———————————

Starting this month, I am increasing my mortgage payments a little bit. I am feeling great about this 🙂 This is mostly because I have got a little salary increase and decided to use it to pay off my mortgage earlier 🙂 Welcome September 🙂

Money risen for the animal shelter by selling stuff on kijiji: $40 so far. Even a little bit helps these innocent and beautiful animals.

Honestly, there has not been any day that I have not thought about re-adopting Jamie the cat…My little boy.. if only I had a little bit more courage and relaxed…

weekly budget check

save-wise not doing well….. argh…

I over-spent my weekly allowance this week too ($134 instead of the budgeted $120)

I absolutely have no fun funds. As a matter of fact, I have a negative account ( – $22)

I have had additional expenses (like a second second-hand rug, cat supplies, passport application fees etc.) in the amount of $344

In the last few weeks, the only savings I could do out of my salary was my regular TFSA and RRSP contributions.

I need to shop this weekend again for the cat, Jamie. But other than that I hope to keep it up.

Once I start not going over-board, I am more motivated to limit my expenses. I hope that will happen this week.

On the brighter side, I increased my biweekly mortgage payments starting September and I am feeling good about this 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 :))

joy journal – May 27, 2016

1. I am grateful for sleeping well and getting up in a relatively good mood – priceless 🙂

2. I am grateful for taking the bus and being happy about it.

3. I am grateful for my office coffee! I cannot get tired of this. i am so lucky that I have an office for myself and I am accountable to only myself… That is great to note this as I have not particularly noticed it before… Coffee makes my mind work well I guess 🙂

4. I am grateful for having a long but nevertheless useful meeting.

5. I am grateful for walking back to home right after the meeting. It was kind of chilly but that is alright. Better days will come!

6. I am grateful for checking my home and finding no pest activity during the day. I feel good about this but I am not naive enough to  think that it is over yet. nevertheless, this is a peace of mind for today.

7. I am grateful for the cat next door that shows up in my yard time to time. I wish she could visit my home too so that the pest would have an extra motivation to leave my premises! 🙂

8. I am grateful for the misty weather today, which allowed me not to water my seeds in the yard.

9. I am grateful for not eating too much today. My appetite is not there in the last few days. I am feeling great about this, though I should make sure I eat healthy stuff. I noticed that I do not eat fruits as much as I would like. Gotta solve this problem this week 🙂

10. I am grateful for the fish I have baked this evening and it is being affordable and quite tasty.

11. I am grateful for the relaxing atmosphere of my home. I have everything I need and want (except the pests! 🙂 ).

12. I am grateful for the comfy bed I have that allows me to both relax and sleep on.

13. I am grateful for making new plans for my saving. As soon as I come back from my vacation, I will do some adjustments to further save and use my own hard-earned dollars. I deserve this.

14. I am grateful for my computer and internet connection that makes my life easy and enjoyable.

15. I am grateful for my job that allows me to have a comfortable and safe life.

16. I am grateful for all the savings I have made since the last one year. At the beginning of June, it will be a year that I started budgeting in a serious manner According to my records, in the last one year I have saved roughly 7K…… That is an amazing amount of money that I would have otherwise thrown away. I am proud of myself 🙂

17. I am grateful for being alive, healthy, safe, and sound.

18. I am grateful for my back feeling better and not needing exercises. being pain-free is an amazing feeling 🙂

19. I am grateful for being grateful and taking time to write my joy journal.

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! 🙂

Excitement

Excitement…

Excitement is an integral part of life, is it not?

I feel much better and energized when I am excited about something. Maybe it is my saving and budgeting efforts. Maybe getting stuff on sale with really good deals. Maybe it is baking a great bread and making plans for the next ones. Maybe it is walking in the mornings or finding a great book every once a while. Maybe it is accomplishing something at work, working efficiently, and getting good news/recognition. Maybe it is the nice weather and awakening of the nature with the coming of Spring. Maybe it is the coming vacation to be spent with my family. Maybe it is blogging and knowing that I am a part of a meaningful, informative, and supportive community.

Whatever it is, I increasingly realize that excitement is a good thing for me.

My budget has always excited me, occupied my mind with its ups and downs, and with its progressive and nowadays stable nature. To tell you the truth now that I am spending much less than before, and know and apply saving strategies that work for me, I am not as excited about it as before. OK….

Books still excite me, but I have got used to be on shopping ban for them and the fact that I have many books at home to be read, including the GRMM’s A Song of Ice and Fire, I am not really excited by the idea of buying books. The only book I can buy is about how to make bread – that is all. And I guess I will wait till my vacation to buy one or two.

Work has been exciting today as I could work efficiently and with less than regular distraction. I am moving a good project and that feels good. Also, my colleague from yesterday and I interacted quite positively today, which removes any stress about our potential conflict. All to be grateful for and yes I am excited about these.

I do not wish to walk in the mornings nowadays and I am okay with this. I know when I feel so, I will walk. I am not pressuring myself and I kind of take it as it happens. I am also excited about this lack of pressure and comfort I provide to myself.

Spring, of course, is amazing and I continue to be excited about it. I gave water this evening too to the seeds that I planted at the weekend. I also am happy to see my rosemary is looking considerably healthier that the weekend, thanks to watering it every morning. i am excited about this, too.

I am yet to feel excited about my vacation as I am more focused on finishing things at work prior to leaving. I usually start feeling excitement the day of my travel – I cannot wait for that. there is something awesome about leaving everything behind and taking a break to focus on what is important in my personal life for a change.

I am excited about trying breads, yet I develop that fear of running out of ideas or recipes to try. I know this is not a realistic fear as I am sure there are tons of recipes out there. But, I guess what this tells me is that I like to figure things out, try and experiment. Once I figure things out, then they are not that interesting anymore. So I constantly come up with new plans – like making my own pasta (which I will try some other time). I am also excited about the prospect of purchasing cookie sheets, dough scrapper, and a nice mixing bowl.

Luckily, I get to search for and identify the items on sale each week by checking three store in my close vicinity – that excitement is thus permanent.

I realized that anticipation seems to be a common theme in my bread-making, planted seeds, work, and budget adventures. An interesting driver of excitement.

I realized that once I got something integrated in my life, like my budget, I am not that excited any more.

I realized that some of my excitements are temporary, such as Spring and my rosemary.

I realized that maybe that is why I need to keep look for other activities/things/hobbies to keep myself excited.

Oh well..

Nonetheless, I would like to remind myself that I have time and resources such as internet – I can figure them out.

Who knows what they will be and how they will change my life. Now this idea is exciting!

🙂

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?

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 🙂

random thoughts

It is a windy day today. As a matter of fact some roads were closed in the morning because of wind damage to buildings/trees. It looks like we are having an usual weather. Hope it will return back to normal sometime soon.

Because of the wind, I decided to take the cab in the morning, which I now regret. Whenever I wake up with a negative morning mood, I rather prioritize un-stressing, which almost always means taking the cab. However, i always regret it afterwards. I must stop this – while I mend one negative feeling by taking the cab (e.g. morning stress), I create another negative feeling for later (i.e. regret for taking the cab rather than the bus).

Other than that, all is well. I worked nice and easy, though time is never enough. I still have a lot to do, but i also have time. I am glad that i did not leave my office after noon – I wanted to do that badly, but then decided not to. Working regular hours and taking care of work felt better.

I had reasonably good meals today. I even had a green salad for dinner (together with oven-baked battered fish). I like this meal. I can eat fish more frequently than chicken or beef. I find this interesting. Fish also makes me want to have salad with it. Win-win situation 🙂

This week I seem to spend more money than before. While it does feel good if I purchase items and products I need, after a while I start to regret that too. I do not want to regret necessary purchases. This aspect of having a budget and saving somehow bothers me -it should be okay to spend money on needs. I do not want to end being an extreme frugal, who no matters what, cannot spend money. I guess eventually I will find my emotional balance when comes to expenses and spending.

Cheers everyone 🙂

 

 

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.

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.

 

joy journal, Jan 26, 2016

🙂

1. I am grateful for feeling positive, energetic, and overall good nowadays 🙂 That is one of these times when things are going well and my mood and body feel good. While I know that it is not gonna last for ever, I am nevertheless extremely grateful for this experience.

2. I am grateful for sleeping well and getting up nice and easy.

3. I am grateful for not beating myself up for taking the cab this morning (the first occasion this year) rather than the bus; i could wait 20 min for the bus and I made the choice to start the work early by rather taking the cab. The fact that I could not wait to start to work this morning tells me once more I am in a highly productive phase – priceless 🙂

4. I am grateful for my coffee and tea at the office. I am extra grateful that I keep brewing my own coffee, as I like it, when and as much as I want it.

5. I am grateful for working nice and easy, with no stress today. I have completed a lagging document today, which feels very exciting and awesome. It is sent to others for review, after which all I have to do is to integrate the suggestions and then submit. Yay!

6. I am grateful for being appreciative of my writing performance nowadays. I have drafted two documents, all without much of a struggle nowadays. And they are really beneficial for me. So, tonite I feel like celebrating 🙂

7. I am grateful for working at the office till 6 pm today. I love it.

8. I am grateful for walking back to home. There was rain yesterday night, which helped dissolve the ice around the perimeter of my house and some of the snow banks. It is also warm – this evening while walking back home I sweated for the first time in a long while.

9. I am grateful for having no bread today and eating a healthy salad and oven-baked fish.

10. I am grateful for relaxing at home today. I did not go to yoga/stretching classes this evening. I will resume tomorrow.

11. I am grateful for watching a lovely movie.

12. I am grateful for the pens and papers that allow me to write and take notes. I love them 🙂

13. I am grateful for my house that keeps me safe, sound, warm, and cozy.

14. I am grateful for checking the flyers of the tow nearby stores; this week’s shopping will save me some more money.

15. I am grateful for my new budget that has forced me to have a hard look at my expenses. I have a number of things implemented in my life, all of which increase the purchase power of my money. Price comparisons and shopping items when on sale are the two prominent ones that constantly help me save money. Where was my mind before? It is hard to think that I let a large sum of money leave my purse previously, over years.. But it is equally exciting that from now on, I am more able and free of waste/unnecessary expenses.

16. I am grateful for being grateful 🙂

 

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 🙂

today’s bits

A lovely day, albeit with lots of snow in front of the house, on the streets, and anywhere else I can see.

Yet, I waited for the bus this morning in an open bus stop; I should say rather 1 meter away from it right on the road (the sidewalk was completely occupied by a ~30 cm high snow – no way that I am immersing myself into that mess). Thank goodness there was not a lot of traffic and even though the bus was late like 15 minutes, I managed to be safe and get on the bus.

In my old days, I would automatically take the cab, especially in this kind of weather. Now, I am happy to take the bus. What an adventure for me…

The fact is that nowadays I am getting up with more energy and with a positive mind set in the morning, which make me relaxed, less stressed, and willing to catch the bus.

I am not sure what I owe this nice change in my life. I thought about three things;

1. I may have more energy now as it turns out the iron supplements I was prescribed to 3 months ago are working well and my iron levels are within normal levels. yay! I will continue for another 6 months, this time with one pill every other day. I am grateful that my body is responding well to the supplement. Thank you, thank you, thank you 🙂

2. The yoga classes that I started at the beginning of January have a very positive effect on my body as well as my mind and spirit. I am more centered, relax, and in tune and connected with my body, and I feel overall very good. These positive feelings may be promoting better mood in the morning.

3. And of course, I have a much higher motivation now to keep up with my budget and protect my money by taking the bus but not the cab in the mornings. So far this year it has been going really well (well, it has been just 3 weeks, so I cannot generalize it yet; but I am very grateful and excited about my reduced spending so far and increased ability to save money – hope that will continue like that..). Even during the day at the office, sometime I find myself remembering how well I have done by taking the bus rather than the cab and that makes me feel good 🙂

For someone who suffered from stress and lack of energy the majority of the time, especially in the last 7 years, the experience I have had lately is so precious, so happiness-creating for me.

I am very grateful for these developments in my life and happy to share with my friends here 🙂

 

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 🙂

random thoughts

There has been a number of positive things I have done differently today, so I am excited to be writing this post.

Nothing biggie 🙂 but even the small stuff may be impactful – so, so be it! 🙂

First thing first, the way I wake up does not change much; I usually am not in good mood in the morning, and when I have work to do or want to work (both are the case for me nowadays), the first thing I would like to have is convenience and to reach my office as soon as possible. That usually means taking the cab.

But today thanks to the clock in my bedroom, I could take the bus rather than taking the cab. The reason? I have not fixed it after the end of day light savings and it looks like it is not 1 hour but 1 hour and 15 min off.. So when I came down to living room, I noticed that I could actually take the bus (the bus passes every 30 min here). So that is what I have done! Even though it was windy and chilly, I waited at the bus stop for a couple of minutes and comfortably went to my office 🙂 It made me happy and excited; I know that I can do this more often. I know I can take the wind and chilly weather. I know that I saved some money.

Before leaving my home, my mind was also occupied with work related issues and the hardship of making decisions or taking next steps in the midst of thoughts. Since I have been feeling this way for sometime and I was not able to come up with the “perfect” solution, I decided in the morning to do my best… I practiced being kind to myself and I felt a huge load lifted off my shoulder… Now I can move ahead… No more inaction… That feels awesome 🙂

I enjoyed my day by doing work and canceling an afternoon meeting. I rather came home (I know… I was supposed to spend more time at the office and finish work, but I could not help it today..). And at home, I worked with a sharp focus, reviewed some documents that were staying on my list for months untaken care of, identified their issues and the next actions to take (this part can take some effort and is usually painful if you ask me, but the decision to let go the perfectionism this morning helped quite a bit). I love working and I love my job 🙂 Now more than ever as I am not stuck at issues. Yay! 🙂

The positive feedback I have got for my presentation last week also helped with this positive mindset; I told myself that “I can do this. I know this”. Of course I know what to do, but sometimes I beat myself so much for the name of perfectionism that I lose my confidence.

I gained it back now.

Oh, before I forget, I picked up a little garbage next to my house this evening. I have had seen it in the morning. You may ask “what is so exciting about this?”. Well, it means that I am okay with doing stuff not part of my daily and lazy routine. That is why I am excited! 🙂

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 🙂

joy journal – Oct 29, 2015

joy 🙂

happiness 🙂

joy 🙂

peace 🙂

Alright, alright… Not everything in life is great, positive, joyful, or useful. I have been struggling with some negative feelings caused by an ugly behavior of a colleague of mine during one of my trips lately. I was ridiculed for no reason directly related to me and I felt quite down. There are a number of blogs I wrote about it and then erased. I am making an effort to put these behind (after developing strategies that I can use next time if a similar situation arises) and choosing to focus on positivity, goodness, kindness, and joy in life!!!

1. I am grateful for coming home after 8 days of two trips done to separate cities with long flights and tiring business meetings. Boy.. 🙂

2. I am grateful for sleeping till late to give my body to take a rest today.

3. I am grateful for seeing a friend of mine today and chatting with her all nice and easy at the cafe. Always great to have understanding and lovely people in my life.

4. I am grateful for the apple I have had this afternoon. I have not particularly eaten well in the last week during my trips. The only things I have done good were to a) eat an apple a day, b) drink milk to get calcium and vitamin D, c) take my iron supplement regularly, d) eat a variety of things, however fatty or carby they may be.

5. I am grateful for the airline that put me in a business class seat yesterday (for no reason) and provided me with hot towels and complementary food. I was hungry and planning to buy something. The food they have given was great and satisfied my hunger. On a separate note, I wished there was no economical class separation on planes. I wished we were all equal. I understand business is business, but…

5. I am grateful for meeting with a long time friend of mine during one of my trips. We had not seen each other for over a decade, yet our sincere and trustworthy friendship continues as if there has been no time gap in our friendship. What a great experience 🙂

6. I am grateful for taking today off and not going to work. I was supposed to be at my office as I have many things to do, but my body appreciated the relaxing and laid back day after the trips.

7. I am grateful for talking to my family on the phone today. I am glad that they are well and sound.

8. I am grateful for all the nice, kind, fair, lovely, and good-hearted people in the world. They do make a huge and positive difference in our lives. They make me hopeful and optimistic about life. They are my role models and I wish to spread their goodness with my behavior.

9. I am grateful for the lovely and smart colleague of mine I met at one of the trips lately. She and I met many times over the years while attending the same annual business meeting. This lovely European lady is certainly one of the kind and nice people I mentioned above and wishing her the best in life and continuation of her good heart and manners.

10. I am grateful for my internet connection and computer that makes the blogging possible for me. Reading all the genuine and authentic posts is a great pleasure. I learn a lot and I get to know really great people. Many of you guys have life experiences different than mine; I would not get to know life and develop a deeper empathy if it was not because of you. Thank you all.

11. I am grateful for keeping up with my conscious spending plan during my trips. I cannot wait till the mid December when I will wrap up this year’s budget and see how much I have spent, and  how much I have saved. I am also excited about designing a new budget for the new year, 2016 at the same time. Hope is a great feeling; thanks to my budget and motivation, I have done well in the last 4-5 months and I am excited that it is very likely to keep going in the future.

12. I am grateful for not cooking today.

13. I am grateful for my new streaming service; I love finding all the movies from the past that I like watching… I am dreaming about sparing one or two days in the future, long after I work very hard and take care of my work, when I will get my hot chocolate and just binge-watch some of these movies for a full day 🙂

14. I am grateful for the pants and the t-shirt I needed to buy last week when one airline lost my luggage and I had to purchase clothes. I liked both of them; I guess they are nice additions to my wardrobe and I certainly am enjoying using them 🙂

15. I am grateful for remembering to smile time to time today 🙂

16. I am grateful for the food I have had today, the coffee I have drunk in the morning, and the clothes I wear and keep me warm.

17. I am grateful for my books. I bought two books at the airports during my trips. I regret buying both of them, though they have let me pass time at the airport. Making a mental note to not to buy books at the airports anymore.

18. I am grateful for my regrets that constantly teach me something.

19. I am grateful for hope. Having hope… Being hope… Giving hope….

20. I am grateful for being grateful! 🙂

how am I doing with the challenges I have assigned to myself a while ago?

I am too talkative today… I know.. I know… Hope you do not mind! Having a day to myself without working or house chore is really a blessing – it allows me to learn and do new stuff and get excited about the new useful information.

This post is a continuation of a few number of previous posts where I wrote about the changes I would like to do in my life; some of them good for my budget, some good for my mental or physical health. I revisit them time to time to see how I have done since the last time. I also update them, too, and create new challenges for myself.

so let’s see how I have done so far:

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challenge 1: take the bus (not the cab). It was done then!. I am even better since then; I started to walk in the morning from home to office in the last 3 weeks! I am so excited about this and happy to see that I have the energy to do so and open-heartedness to truly enjoy it. I am not sure how long I can keep doing that as the old man winter is about to arrive and it also rains time to time. Let’s cross the fingers 🙂

challenge 2: eat better and healthy – cut out the carbs and consume more veggies and fruits. DONE. I am eating much better compared to before 🙂

challenge 3: walk an extra 30 min at the weekends. NOT DONE – NEED A PLAN.

challenge 4: do not buy books for two months. DONE! 🙂 I have a shopping freeze till holidays and it has been going really well, I am okay with occasional purchase of a great book.

challenge 5: cut out the bagel breakfast- one bagel/breakfast. DONE!

challenge 6: do grocery shopping as required and buy small amounts. Going well. DONE! 🙂 

challenge 7: start listening to music and relaxing 20 min a day; this is done easily now thanks to my computer and youtube/internet sources. DONE! 🙂 

challenge 8: drink at least one cup of tea a day. I easily and lovingly do this during the week. DONE! 🙂 

challenge 9: get up in the morning and smile to yourself and hum a song. well, remembered to do only a few times. NEED MOTIVATION AGAIN.

PLAN: just remember this challenge; the rest will come 🙂

challenge 10: look outside the window at the office three times a day – enjoy the view and relax. Going well. DONE! 🙂 

challenge 11: record the progress in these areas in breaking the routine or joy journal categories. Not necessarily in these pages, but I kept posting them somewhere in this blog, good job 🙂 Going well. DONE! 🙂 

challenge 12: increase the contribution made to the RRSP account. NOT DONE yet but now that my chequing account has a positive balance, I am getting closer to implement it. I am planning to increase it in the new year by cutting out some expenses- exciting!

challenge 13: during the day remember to smile.  NEED MOTIVATION AGAIN.

PLAN:  just remember this challenge; the rest will come 🙂

challenge 14: lose 15 pounds in two months – record weight and food consumed every day. PARTIALLY DONE. I have been on a healthy – life style mission in the last 7 weeks; all I have lost is around 6-7 pounds. It is going slower than I had expected, but at least it is happening. So I am happy with it 🙂

challenge 15: stick to the plans – I have done these before and I can do it again. ALMOST DONE 🙂 keep going.

challenge 16: comb the hair everyday. I do not need that anymore – have the hair cut short. Yay! But i can easily change this into a new challenge for my short hair; dye the hair every month but every 6 months, get it dyed in a saloon to get a better treatment.

challenge 17: spare 5 min every day to breathe – just to breathe. NOT DONE. I am re-introducing this challenge again. I will start doing this today – it is always relaxing.

challenge 18: apply sunscreen every morning. NOT DONE…NOT APPLICABLE ANYMORE (summer is gone)

challenge 19: apply moisturiser every night. NOT DONE…. It is such a nourishing activity. I should start it now that winter is coming, my skin feels dry.

challenge 20: every week, eat two different food from last week – whether veggies or fruits or others. Change the brands or types of canned food or others I regularly consume. I have been consuming canned beans and others rarely since I started my healthy eating plan. In terms of variety, yes I need to do that and started with it this week – good job 🙂

challenge 21: take the stairs at the office (2 storeys) at least twice a week. NEED MOTIVATION AGAIN.

challenge 22: write the joy journal every day; no matter how dry or repeating it may feel.  I do not write it every day – NEED ADJUSTMENT. The primary reason is I keep blogging about many other topics and it does not leave much time to write my joy journal. nevertheless, all is well and I will keep writing it 😉

challenge 23: have a budget, write down all expenses in each category, do not over-spend the weekly allowance, save as much as you can. DONE!  I am certainly spending less than before and more consciously. I even managed to bring my chequing account to a positive balance. My credit card and cable fees are also down. I am taking advantage of the sales and discounts and I am very abundant. I am proud of my efforts. Yay! 🙂

challenge 24: continue to declutter the home and donate the usable items. DONE! I still need to get rid of the VHSs and CDs, but I have donated my clothes and a large number of books a couple of months ago – feeling good 🙂

challenge 25 (new challenge): learn ways to minimize food waste. I have started this; even though my waste in the past was limited, my aim is to completely prevent it. I will keep reading blogs and websites, get ideas, and implement them as appropriate.

challenge 26 (new challenge): Stretch your body every day and start with light weight lifting activities. Even better, start the gym at the work place to do some free weight exercises. I should be doing these. As soon as I am done with my trips, I will start my free weight training; my plan is to do it twice a week; mondays and fridays. Once I start, I am sure I will be hooked as weights are always fun to work with 🙂

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It is so satisfying to see that I have been noting down the beneficial changes I would like to make in my life and seeing that the majority has been implemented. The flexibility to adjust them and to add new ones, as well as this checks I do time to time help me tuned in and motivated to keep going. Overall, this has been one of my most valuable experiences 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

back from trip #1

I returned back from trip #1 yesterday night; I have been to Athens for a business meeting. I could not find time to go around the city much due to the 9 am – 8 pm meetings, but the weather was nice (around 25-28 C), which is awesome. When my plane arrived here at night, it was 7 C – ouch! 🙂

I also found a chance to get together with friends the day I arrived there (no meeting day); it was amazing 🙂

The long flight used to make me nervous and uneasy (I need my sleep and I do not like the idea of sitting for long hours); yet I was happy to see that my body handled it very well – I am very grateful for this 🙂

I was worried about how I would do with my budget and healthy life – style plans prior to this trip. I have not done amazingly great, but I did pretty good. While  food choices and exercise during the flights and at the airports are challenging, I must say I still cared about what I eat and even walked around 45 min withing the airport on the way to Athens.

At Athens, I walked around 1 hour everyday in the evenings – I did extremely good with that and I am very proud of myself. I have not eaten much of the snacks (usually cookies and other sweet stuff served at the meetings) during the day (I ate only three small pieces over three days) and except one day, I have eaten really well (one day I have had two pieces of sweets, which made me hungry after a few hours and eat later). During breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I refrained from getting a second plate and filled my plates with lots of greens and raw veggies and meat. For someone who likes to eat and who likes to eat carbs, that was pretty good. I am pleased with this 🙂 My current weight is more than what I had prior to the trip, but I am almost sure that it is the water retained in my body, which I hope will go away in a couple of days.

I have bought souvenirs and little gifts for my loved ones and I had to take the cab once to go to the city center. Other than these, I did not have a major expense. These cost me an extra $180. I am okay with this. Considering that I did not even buy many stuff I liked; like a pair of nice boots. I think it is the economic situation; I found it very affordable and I wish I had more time to shop. Alas, maybe next time.

The airport food is not only ridiculously expensive but also quite limited in variety. I will continue to take the snacks and sandwiches I prepare at home with me for my next trips as well – at least they help me eat well for a while.

In sum, overall both my budget and healthy  life – style plans went okay, although not perfect. I guess it is quite a progress on my side that I did not return to my previous eating or spending habits – that makes me happy and proud 🙂

cheers everyone 🙂

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), bu