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 🙂

 

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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 🙂

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*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 🙂

Cvs GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

gif by: http://giphy.com/gifs/cvs-money-savings-piggybank-ToMjGpx5h68IVy1SCkM

 

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 🙂

shopping spree continues :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

a quick note on coupons

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

Can you imagine?

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

weekly budget check

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

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

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

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

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

fun funds saved this week: -$25.5

fun funds accumulated to date: -$8

 

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

argh…

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

 

 

weekly budget check – 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 🙂

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.

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 🙂

 

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

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 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 🙂

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 🙂

how to keep up with budget and diet while traveling?

Looking at the title of the post, you might have thought this post is about the useful tips that can help you.

Well, this is not the case. The title of the post a genuine question I have in my mind.

I have a couple of trips to make in the coming weeks. I am excited about them (I like to travel), but of course the time away from the office means extra work before and after the trip, which can explain my stress levels nowadays 🙂

Anyways, since I am on two plans; budgeting and healthy life-style, I wonder how these trips will affect me.

To tell you the truth, I have a tendency to relax, and eat what I want and buy what I want (mostly little gifts for people I love) during my trips.

I have progressed quite a bit with my budget and it is more or less in the right direction, but I still have a long way to go. In addition, my healthy eating and losing weight plan does not work at all. I need to come up with a good strategy and have some motivation and dedication to keep going with these plans.

I am planning to have snacks, fruits, and sandwiches with me on the first day of my trips; at least I may be able to eat one day good, without indulging into eating at my destinations. I am of course planning to taste different food and whatever I like but cannot find where I am (Chinese and Japanese food for example) once I arrived my destinations.

My other challenge would be how to not eat the free food (to be offered at the meetings I am taking the trips for); they are my weaknesses and I am certainly concerned….. Argh… why the snacks and other food offered at professional meetings are not healthy type? Like broccoli. Or milk. Or, I do not know, something other than the pastries, cookies, and sweets?

The only things I am not concerned about are walking and my supplements (calcium and VitD); i will have my supplement pills with me and I am sure I will find milk to drink wherever I go. Also, generally I am very energetic while on trips, partly because I love to explore the cities I am visiting; so walking will not be a problem, either.

So, wish me luck with my trips.

But at the same time, please tell me if you have any tips and strategies that can help keep my budgeting and eating plans on track while traveling 🙂

weekly budget check

I over-spent this week, big time actually ($39.75 above my already generous weekly allowance). I have a good idea why and I will tackle that problem later. Count on me.

On the bright side, my savings from would-be-expenses is $160 for this week – these are the expenses that I would usually do but did not (e.g. by taking the bus, not the cab) or were tempted to do but did not (eating at home rather than eating out at the Chinese restaurant last weekend). And the minor house maintenance work I do around the house myself (rather than paying someone). At least these savings are working fine – I was constantly able to save extra funds, which I was throwing away in the past….

I highly recommend everyone, who is trying to budget and save funds, to take these kind of savings into account. It almost always works and lifts the mood 🙂

till next time

shopping freeze items – August 2015

Going thru my stuff, both decluttering and taking an inventory, was a real eye-opener.

I have so many stuff that will be enough for at least a year that I gotta keep a list of them to have my conscious and unconscious minds taking notes and to apply a shopping freeze.

Here are the items for which I will apply a shopping freeze till the holiday season (I cannot miss the sales taking place during the holiday season :)):

1. Books: every once a while an interesting and affordable book is fine. Other than that, no regular purchases. Books, my ever-lasting love, have been the first items I have had on shopping freeze and it has been going well 🙂

2. Trousers: except I get really good deals. I have so many trousers that I have not even used yet that it is ridiculous to go buy another one.

3. Boots and shoes: I seem to have stocked up shoes and boots. I cannot believe I have so many of them sitting on my shoe shelf.

4. Shirts and jackets: I have more than enough to last another year. Unless I find something really nice and with a small price tag, none will be purchased.

5. Socks, t-shirts, sports pants, and others: Another category of items I seem to have well stocked up. Nope – will not buy one.

6. Cleaning products; laundry detergent, dish detergent, hand soap, shampoo, and other personal care products: I just need to purchase toilet papers, hair conditioner, and hair dye.

7. Stationary items: None needed – pens, notebooks, and paper are all stocked up.

8. Rice, dry food (beans, chickpeas), dried veggies, tomato paste, spices, tea, coffee, creamer: I just need turmeric and maybe creamer – others are more than I can consume off in a year.

9. Kitchen items, cleaning clothes, sponges, and others: Only need bleach – nothing else.

10. Furniture and home decor: Would like to buy 2-3 art-work. Things that will bring joy and excitement to me.

11. Bed linens, towels, and others: None needed.

The list seems great to me. I was first upset about having too many sponges, cleaning clothes, paper towels etc, but now I can see that was done well as I shop them when they are on sale. And they are durable – so I can keep using them for some time. I am thanking myself for making these purchases earlier.

And from the list I can see that I have a small list of items to purchase in the coming weeks, which is alright (I like shopping, right? 🙂 ).

These lists also tell me that the majority of my future expenses (at least till the new year) will be on food, mostly vegetables, fruits, yogurt, eggs, beef and chicken (aaaand maybe some bread please? :).

I should invest in the pressure cooker real soon to cook beans at home (getting rid of can will be a delight for me) and to make my overall cooking efforts easier and more accomplishable.

Let’s see how this plan will go 🙂

cheers everyone

weekly budget check

This is my budget check for the week.

End result: I am $2.5 over my generous weekly allowance – argh. More than that though I have an additional $307 expenses that are business-related dinners and socials as well as shopping for cleaning products and house-maintenance (caulk etc.) materials.

Now I am okay with only $2.5 extra this week and I am grateful for the other expenses that were made to protect or clean my home, or strengthen my work-related relationship. Yet I am still thinking the total amount (more than $500) is a lot to spend in a single week.

I need to come up with a better, more effective plan.

random thoughts

The best time for a change is right after another change. At least I guess..

Those who follow my post may remember I have been trying to make some healthy-life style changes (eating better, losing weight, more exercise etc.) as well as conscious spending activities.

It is not easy; I struggle a lot and am hardly consistent. Take my challenge of taking the bus rather than the cab every morning to save funds. Prior to my vacation last month, I was still having mental judo every single morning and often losing the game and taking the cab. The primary reason was the negative mood in the mornings that prompted me for convenience (of the cab rides).

I am doing alright since I came back from the vacation though – been consistently taking the bus in the mornings. It is not too long of a time to make sure that I really have an established habit right now, but it is at least a great progress. Take this morning when I woke up late to take the bus, so I had to wait at home (which I dislike big time) till the next one. I made it though – browsed on the net, checked my emails, and before I know the extra 20 min had passed. I think the fact that I have light work nowadays has also contributed to that; should I have a lot of things to do, I would rather find a justification to take the cab in order to save time. But, whatever the reasons for this, I am grateful and I sincerely hope that I can continue like this. The confidence coming out of this “I can do it” feeling is enormous.

Now I gotta implement my plans to eat better and walk longer. Wishing myself the best 🙂

possessing versus feeling abundant

I have been shopping less items in the last few months as part of my “consciously spending” plan.  I was not necessarily limiting the goods I need; only that in order to minimize the waste and save some money along the way, I had decided to shop on a need-to-buy basis. That sometimes meant going to the store more than once a week, but overall worked wonders with me: I wasted much less fresh produce than I usually would. And that made me happy and proud. I also saved money.

This week I have taken a step further and purchased even less amount of food. I bought two tomatoes rather than four for example. And how did I feel while preparing and eating food at home? Very abundant. Every single food in my fridge is valuable. Every single one of them…

I think the point is not to have too many; but to be aware and appreciative of what I already have. Being aware of items is easy when they are visible (e.g. not behind many items in the fridge/pantry) and being appreciative is easy when we know that what we got are (limited and thus) valuable.

Many people said and many books written this I am sure. But it is by experience I remember this once again.

So I am voluntarily on a budget and rather than feeling restricted, I am feeling more abundant…. Life works in wondrous ways 🙂

I want to see whether I can get more aware and more appreciative of what I purchase next time; maybe I can try “the $21 challenge” I came across at https://growingsnowballs.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/the-21-challenge-achieved-well-almost-save-money-frugal-shopping/

Give it a try should you wish and share with us how it goes.

best,

weekly budget check

This is my 4th week on a detailed budget.

My budget week ends on Thursdays; yet this week I am gonna write it a day before.

Simply because tomorrow I may not have time to note it and mostly because this week I over-spent.

Yep; as of today I spent an extra $9.5 in addition to my weekly very generous allowance. Grrr..

I am not happy with this and I am disappointed and somehow upset… I am not going to beat myself up for that, yet I am kind of grateful that I am feeling this way; It tells me that I really care about this entire budgeting stuff and my motivation to consciously spend and save continues. That is good news indeed.

As per my spending; I have around $100 unnecessary spending/week on a very unnecessary item. This one I am gonna target full force now. Full force.

I have done well in some ways; I saved around $180 from “would-be-expenses”. This is a huge amount of money. Would-be-expenses are those that I was tempted to or would normally do, but did not. I consistently save in this category, which is really pleasing me.

Overall, it is great that I am interested in budgeting and conscious spending and have a very detailed budget that I keep tracking ever week. It is also great that I can save a huge amount of money out of would-be-expenses. But it is not cool that I keep dining out (and I must say the meal I have had lately were so unhealthy and low-quality that I want to kick myself…) and I keep spending a considerable amount of money every week on a highly unnecessary stuff…

Looks like I have some more work to do.

weekly budget check

This is the third weekly budget check.

In the last one week, I saved $1 out of my allowance…. when combined with “would-be-expenses” (those that I would normally do but did not), then this amount increases to $98.5.

It is not as a big saving as previous weeks and I am honestly a little bit surprised, but I will look at the positive side and be happy for not exceeding my budget.

I am more motivated than before to spend less and save from my weekly allowance. Let’s see how it will go. I have one more week before I start my vacation. And during my vacation I am not going to count my spending; I will continue to be a conscious spender but will not get crazy about my weekly budget – there is something nice about this….

random thoughts

A rainy and grey day 🙂

Where I am, the weather is so not summer; the heater is on, the trench coat is back, and the umbrella is becoming one of my best friends.

It is good that I am going away for a vacation in 10-15 days in a sunny place. Family time! It is very exciting and I cannot wait. I will not be able to post to my blog and will certainly miss reading yours. But when I come back, at least these will give me something exciting to do and ease my transition back to my live and work here. You will be here, right?

I have now lost 10 pounds since I started conscious eating plan two months ago. I am still cautious that it may not be permanent; especially now that I am going to spend around a month with my family, I am almost sure that I will gain it all back 😦 That is sad, as I really need to lose another 10 more pounds for my health. Maybe, I will be able to control my eating while on vacation; let’s not be desperate; perhaps I can do that… My motivation is high, yet my confidence is not (how can I say no to my mom’s meals?). Sigh… 🙂 Maybe I will keep motivating myself by looking at the mirror; the weight loss is visible, especially around the belly region… Exciting!

I also would like to keep my conscious spending and budgeting practices while on vacation. I am almost sure that I will be able to do this one; unless something extraordinary happens. My family knows about my financial hardship and are highly supportive of my spending plan.

I took the cab this morning for no reason and I certainly did not feel good about it… I hope it will not rain like crazy tomorrow so that I can take the bus, not the cab. More or less,  I am still within my weekly budget and am hoping this week will be a satisfactory one, too. I will see on Thursday how I am doing 🙂

cheers everyone 🙂

weekly budget check

This is my second week with the detailed budget and tracking the expenses in separate categories.

First of all; I saved $19 out of my weekly allowance. When I add on top of this the would-be-expenses (those that I was tempted to do but did not; mostly the cab fare replaced by bus or walking), this amount increases to $103. Great :). Over-spending would make me feel not good; I am really happy with making the effort to stay within my limit and achieving it this week, too. Psychologically it makes me excited, feel accomplished, and most importantly I still feel free to make expenses should I wish it. Not having a feeling of deprivation seems to be essential for me….

A no-deprivation-budget + Seeing tangible results = Satisfaction.

I have also had a chance to look at the expenses in each category (transportation – cab), eating out (including weekend breakfasts, dinner, and snacks at the office), grocery shopping, and others. In the two weeks I made almost the same amount of expenses in each category, which is interesting 🙂 I know I cannot generalize this information yet, but I found it intriguing.

When examined a little bit thoroughly, I see that my grocery bill is relatively high for one person; certainly an area to contemplate more. Also I have extra expenses that I can live without – they could beef up my savings. These expenses and the eating out category can be subject to “expense-freeze” time to time (maybe for a week once a month); this way I would not feel deprived off them but at the same time save additional funds and have fun with it! 🙂

I also notice that I make the majority of the expenses during Friday-Saturday-Sunday time frame, with much less in the remaining days. And through the end of the week (my budget week ends on Thursday), my motivation to not spend increases because of this. During these days, I try not to get anxious thanks to my `unexpected` expenses account (highly recommended) so that I will not feel like falling through the cracks by inevitable expenses – I have an annual amount of funds budgeted for this category, which is a relief 🙂 I do not forget to pamper myself (my weekend breakfasts are good examples) along the way, which also makes me feel like I am indeed not depriving myself.

Budgeting and being realistic and analytic is one thing, dealing with the feelings (fear of deprivation, fear of spending money, excitement of experimenting with a spending plan and staying on track, satisfaction coming with the sense of accomplishment and the confidence followed by it, and learning about myself, my patterns, priorities, and abilities) is another.

This experience has been valuable in more than one way 🙂

random thoughts

Another interesting day in terms of the weather; it has been grey till an hour ago. During the day it rained, too, making the evening walk kinda challenge. Now though it is all bright and shiny!

I loved looking out of the window and seeing the nature as rain drops on it. With the rain came a little wind, moving the tree branches in a beautiful dance. I have taken my time to notice the tallest tree ahead and from where I stood, it looked like that tree has been there for some time. It is amazing to realize that some life forms have a much longer history on earth than us. I wish the trees could talk to us; we could learn so much 🙂

I have a thing for trees; I love them, their leaves, their cycle of life during the different seasons, their barks, the way they bloom during spring, and the flowers should they have any. I have two lilac trees in my little yard, which are about to blossom. The lilac flowers are short-lived yet when they show up, their scent and sight are amazing. I feel blessed to have them in my yard.

In terms of the challenges I have assigned to myself a while ago; some of them I am consistent now, which is a great feeling;

I am getting way better in taking the bus :);

certainly eating better 90% of the time :);

walking everyday whenever the weather is permissive;

as part of my “spending freeze”, so far I have only bought a couple of books (in the last 6 weeks or so), but not 2-3 books/week :);

doing the grocery shopping as required and in small amounts and so far I hardly let any fresh produce rot in my fridge :);

continuing with my conscious spending plan (not perfect but it is still there);

listening to the music both at the office and the house;

I am very consistent about drinking tea at the office 🙂 (except that I noticed drinking green tea if I am hungry is not a good idea; it upsets my stomach);

I love enjoying the view from the office window and getting amazed by the nature and its awakening during Spring (yes, it is still spring here; summer does not come very easily 🙂 );

assessing and recording my progress by writing them down;

applying facial moisturizer;

and wait….

I have lost weight; 8 pounds to be exact! Now…. Not sure whether it is permanent; I am still eating bread and bagels, but not as much as I used to and sometimes I dine out; but generally I seem to not eat a lot before going to bed (which I think is helping me to lose weight)…

I sincerely wish that this is a continuous progress. I just cannot take it granted as like many others, in the past I have lost weight just to gain back again 🙂 So I better keep doing what I am doing!

have a great evening everyone.

my another set of two-cents on budgeting and saving

Vastly because I am bored this evening and thus am looking for something interesting to deal with, I decided to write about budgeting and saving again.

While I am an experienced saver, I had not been for some years and the possibility of financial hardship in future and having a chequing account with almost $0 in it (mostly due to home-ownership), you know I have been trying to change things a little bit.

Read a lot, tried and liked some of the strategies about budgeting and saving.

Here they are:

1. Expense freezes: Stop purchasing items or services of your selection for a short and defined period of time. Short period are important as in my case at least, it tells me that this is not a total deprivation; I know for example I will start buying books again (I have one more month left out of two months freeze). It does not hurt when I have such a mental attitude (and freedom).

2. Change the items/services for the expense freeze activity periodically: After one freeze can come another one; rotate the things/services so that you will never feel deprived of any of the many items and services you like.

So, after books, what will be my new freeze item? I am thinking about not buying spice or tea for 2 months. I love spices and teas; but I already have so many of them at home and teas at the office; so why do I need to purchase new ones? Maybe the only one I can buy is the savoury; this spice has something very much appealing to me.

3. Take an inventory of items: That I find is a very surprising activity. I have not checked or emptied my pantry for sometime. I am sure when I go in it, I will find many stuff that I do not regularly use, currently possess, but nevertheless forgot. Many of the spice jars (some may need to be dumped as they go bad after a while) or tea bags I know I have are good examples. I know I have some canned food which I have not eaten for some time; is it not a waste not to eat something already available?

Just last week I noticed how many rolls of toilet paper and paper towel I have stocked up. I am not going to buy paper towel until I have 6 rolls left (it can take upto a year to come to that point). I can buy toilet papers only when they are on sale . Otherwise I am good for another year.

When I look for other parts of my house, I am sure I will find other items/goods I have forgotten I have. I have a facial mask somewhere, which I loved using….Time to find it.

4. Re-use if you can: I am sure we all do that somehow, but good to remind ourselves time to time.

I used to use cleaning clothes in the kitchen, which I would replace every two weeks. I realized I can actually wash them up and extend their usage. The books now I am reading, which I have bought years ago, are other examples. Or the shopping bags I use to protect the small garbage cans (rather than buying garbage bags). The list can be really long.

5. Forego the comfortable alternative time to time: I was writing a shopping list last week and I noticed that I would like to purchase wet mops to clean the floors. I am happy with them; they are practical, doing decent work, and when done go to the garbage easily. I will try whether I can clean the floors with other stuff, like paper towels or old clothes. Just for some time.

The most important one for me is of course taking the bus rather than the (comfortable) cab 🙂

6. Give yourself rewards: I cannot tell how good that feels. I am not talking about having big rewards, but eating out a couple of times a week, buying a hand lotion with a lovely scent, or trying new types of flossers that make flossing just a pleasant activity are among the rewards I have given myself lately.

7. Design a budget for yourself and track it weekly (and then monthly and annually): I have calculated my annual  income as well as fixed and variable expenses (an approximate) lately using Excel. I have a much better idea about what I can do, what I can change, and what I cannot. I also have an idea about how much I can save (both the maximum and a less, more realistic number). An unexpected positive outcome of this budget sheet was the realization of how well I was doing in some categories; for example the % of my retirement investments are above good. So even though I have little cash in my chequing account, I am not totally disadvantaged.

Short-term assessment of my budget, such as for a week, works wonders for me. I not only control my spending better (now that I have a motivation to see the progress in a week) but also see the general spending pattern I have; how much I spend for grocery? Cleaning products? Transportation? Dining out? Extras? How do I feel about all of these? Can I let go some of them? Should I include some more?

8. And the magic!: If there is a magic to saving and budgeting, it is to have the motivation. My motivation to save (more) came from home-ownership and serious repairs. I did not want to have a worse level of financial hardship in the future, so to help prevent it I am saving now. That is my motivation. What is yours? What are yours? Keeping a focus on the end-product can help you keep motivated.

9. And the extra magic!: Be grateful for all efforts you put into your budget and savings; the articles and blogs you have read; the funds you have saved; and your determination to keep going even though unexpected expenses occurred or you slipped off your track and thus your budget or savings do not seem to be working for you and you feel maybe disappointed with yourself or the process. It is important to recognize your interest, motivation, and effort no matter how the finances turn out. Be proud.

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There; now that I have written those, I already feel better 🙂

Good night everyone.

joy journal – June 14, 2015

I have not written in my joy journal for some time. What better way to start feeling positive, grateful, and even happy than writing, remembering, and cherishing the wonderful things, memories, thoughts, and people happening in my life?

1. I am grateful for wanting to write on my journal. I am grateful that I crave to do so to feel great; anytime available 0$ anti-depressant 🙂

2. I am grateful for a nice weekend; my mood was not bad, I was not exhausted or bored – it was just fine.

3. I am grateful for the breakfast in the morning. I went to a different cafe this time, closer to my favorite bookstore. I took my time to go thru the magazines and books (one of them was about Italian food), which was pretty refreshing. I feel a lot better and fully focus on while reading; it is one of the best ways to relax my mind.

4. I am grateful for the time I spent in the bookstore – this time too I did not find an exciting book (or, is it my book-purchase freeze that makes me difficult to choose books?), but certainly the time spent there was well worth it.

5. I am grateful for comfortably walking this morning; great exercise.

6. I am grateful for buying myself a lunch; in the afternoon I was actually pretty bored and wanted to get out of the house. I was also hungry – so I bought myself a meal. Next time, instead of two pieces of fish, I should order one; it was too much 🙂

7. I am grateful for continuing with my budget this week too; I notice that the majority of the expenses occur during Friday-Monday. This somehow makes me nervous; what happens if unexpected expenses show up till the end of week? I really do not want to pass my maximum weekly allowance.

8. I am grateful that I get nervous about my expenses and reaching the maximum amount of weekly allowance – that means I am conscious of my spending and how much funds I let myself use during the week. This feeling I am sure will help me to control the expenses in the remaining days.

9. I am grateful for the healthy dinner I have had; boiled cauliflower coated with garlicky yogurt, topped up by chilly pepper stir-fried in olive oil. It makes my mouth watered! The majority of you may not be familiar with the garlicky and salted (depending on your preferences); I admit that it may not be appealing for everyone – but garlic helps reduce the blood pressure in some people (including myself) and the health benefits of the yogurt I am sure are well known.

10. I am grateful for the relaxing day; it lightly rains today, a little it grey too. But that makes it only a perfect day to spend at home, relaxing, reading, and watching TV.

11. I am grateful for my books; I have found many books about financial and retirement planning that I had forgotten I have had. I have enjoyed re-reading one of them today and I am eyeing another one. I love reading about savings and investment 🙂

12. I am grateful for removing extra grass from my yard.

13. I am grateful for all the food, clothes, shoes, and furniture I have at home. They give me protection and comfort and a feeling of abundance; while following a budget and saving funds, I found one tricky thing is to not let yourself feeling deprived. Identifying what we already have may help with this feeling.

14. I am grateful for the visit I will pay to my family in July – I have some time to finish time-sensitive work till then. Then I can enjoy my full-month of vacation with family and friends, hopefully while not thinking or dealing with work.

15. I am grateful for increasingly wanting to declutter my house. I have so many stuff stuffed here and there; especially the storage area. Even the things around may need to go; the other day I threw away a nail polisher, which changed its colour from transparent to yellowish….. Cannot be still good; I am glad I have noticed it and dumped it. I wonder though how many more stuff I have that are not functional or needed/wanted anymore? Some……

16. I am grateful for my couch and the blanket that make my sitting and reading so comfortable, warm, and relaxing..

17. I am grateful for my house for being mine, old but spacious, having a great insulation and ventilation system, and feeling like home to me… despite its expensive problems.. it is not its fault, is it? I gotta start having more positive feelings about my house..

18. I am grateful for realizing I may be at the beginning of a middle-age crisis….. Time to re-prioritize what I want from my life and how to reach them; drop those not useful or hurtful as well. One life and it is passing really quick..

19. I am grateful for being grateful.

random thoughts

I am reading a retirement planning book; very pleasing 🙂

Not that I am not worried about my retirement, I am; but the author makes a great point re: how financial planners and others use “fear” to make us save and invest for our future and how we all feel like whatever we do/save/invest will not be enough in future; so we are left feeling “oh, well, this small savings today will not make a huge difference in the future, so why to bother on budgeting and saving?”

I certainly have experienced that and I dislike this “fear” factor instilled into us by others. Yes, we gotta save and invest for our future; yes whatever we can do we should do; but MOST importantly, no I do not want anyone to tell me (except myself) that I am not doing well with my current finances or future financial plans.

I am trying; like many of us. I can do better; I know that and I am working on it.

The only time I will let “financial fears” is when I stop being a conscious spender and start spending money mindlessly.

Though I must confess the uncertainty and the current turmoil about the (future) economy make me quite nervous (and almost fearful) – will these savings and investments survive & strive, and work for me during my retirement? How much will be there?

You know that there is no guarantee about the investments and future, right?

Back to the book.

joy journal – June 11, 2105

1. I am grateful for feeling better today.

2. I am grateful for the summer weather – for two days straight we have had incredibly warm (not hot) weather with blue sky. Its positive effect on me is incredible.

3. I am grateful for taking the bus this morning. I needed to wait 10 min at home, which I have. I must admit though the first thought passed my mind was “I can take the cab this morning”. It somehow went away after I managed to keep myself busy for 4 minutes at home.  When I got off the bus, I thanked for the opportunity to walk even for a short distance to my building.

4. I am grateful for eating two apples today. Healthy and tasty.

5. I am grateful for meeting with someone in our organization who provided me with excellent assistance on some project-related questions.

6. I am grateful for walking to and from the meeting (total around 25 minutes).

7. I am grateful for attending a seminar by a wonderful speaker; I enjoyed meeting with her, listening to her informative and energetic presentation.

8. I am grateful for walking to the appointment with the lawyer this afternoon. His office is 5 minutes away from my house and I could easily find it. I did mental-wrestling about taking the cab or walking. Eventually walking won 🙂

9. I am grateful for working at home after my appointment – I worked on an important document, which went really well in a short time. I am pleased.

10. I am grateful for meeting with my friends and having a dinner at a nearby restaurant. We were 5 people, all nice and cheerful people. The meal was great and so was the coffee 🙂

11. I am grateful for not over-eating today.

12. I am grateful for my conscious spending plans – lately they started to make a visible difference in my finances. I am highly motivated to keep going and save a lot more.

13. I am grateful for having a relaxing night – it is peaceful.

14. I am grateful for my plans to work tomorrow and possibly Saturday.

15. I am grateful for the coming weekend. I would like to read books, many of them if I can 🙂

16. I am grateful for keeping up with the challenges I assigned to myself: today I walked in the morning and then in the afternoon; took the bus not the cab; ate relatively healthy; did not make a purchase; enjoyed the view from my office; smiled more and had great time with friends; combed my hair in the morning, and determined to lift my mood, finances, and healthy life-style up.

17. I am grateful for being grateful.

weekly budget check

This is my first weekly budget check.

I had lately prepared a detailed budget document where I set myself a maximum weekly allowance and started to note the expenses in specific categories (grocery, transportation, dining out, etc.).

Today is the end of the 1st week. I enthusiastically kept the records and continued to respect and protect my funds. I did not forget to treat myself along the way, either (got breakfast at the weekend, bought myself a meal twice etc.). And the result?

I managed to save $17.5 from my weekly allowance! When I added up the amounts that I was tempted to do but decided not to (for example, taking the bus rather than the cab, not drinking the second cup of coffee during the breakfast), then this amount increases to $143 this week.

I am excited about this. I know it has been only one week and there is no guarantee that I will continue to save that much, but I know I did it once and I can do it again. Plus, the mental transformation is really helpful; now I am really thinking twice before making an expense and I am motivated to not over-spend. I did not know I was that competitive and determined to achieve!. These are all great news for me 🙂

Honestly, I am also a little bit disappointed in myself that I have not started this earlier – years for now I could have been more conscious about my spending and as a result could have saved a good amount of money……Should I beat myself? No, rather let me use this feeling to keep going like this.

Perhaps I should thank the repairs needed for my house for bringing me back to the conscious spending mind-set; they are the real motivators that I did start to think and take actions seriously to save money.

I talked to a second lawyer today; he thinks that it would be very difficult to go after the previous owner of the house for the possible foundation problem I have at my house – he says I need to establish that the previous owner was aware of the problem and hid it prior to selling it to me. I am free to pursue this and spend money on a legal battle, but the chances of winning is slim.

How am I feeling? It is kind of weird but it is relieving that I will not go into a legal battle – I have tried my best to know the situation and my legal rights. And I have. From now on it is all about my house and I fixing the issues. It will cost me a lot of money (I was told tens of thousands), but at least I have no more questions in my mind about “what to do”.

random thoughts

Life is good.

I am working slowly but steadily. My mind is working and thus is happy.

It was a warm day; the evening is young and I have many interesting books and blogs to read; I am happy, peaceful, and slightly excited; just the way I would like to feel.

The effect is mostly coming from the carbs I have eaten for the dinner – I know this feeling so well. I am trying to limit the carbs but their positive effects on my mood is amazing.

Moderation… Moderation.

I have made purchases today, which kind of threw my weekly budget up to the maximum level. I am feeling a little bit nauseated with that, but I know tomorrow is another day, next week I can make it better, and under all conditions, I am constantly striving to do my best 🙂

Sometimes I feel like the effort and having an aim to accomplish is more exciting than reaching the aim itself. I need years to turn things around with conscious spending. Instead of waiting so long, why not to enjoy today and reflect on my experiences?

Yes, Mam 🙂

challenges, budgeting, and recent realizations

I am kinda excited about a couple of things regarding the challenges I assigned to myself:

The main thing is that even though I fall thru the cracks time to time, I keep trying to implement these changes.

Consider my (often painful) efforts to take the bus rather than the cab. Two weeks ago, I did it four day/week but last week none.. This morning I tried it again and I am motivated (for now). Taking the cab is convenience and satisfaction for me, taking the bus is inconvenience but good for my budget (and the environment).

Another thing I do is to keep reading about budgeting, saving, investing and most importantly, preparing a detailed budget and keeping track of it. For years now I kept recording all my expenses everyday. However, I hardly itemized them or gave them a cap amount. This time, for example I have a weekly discretionary allowance of $200 for daily expenses, breakfast, and grocery shopping (this may look like a big amount, but where I am fresh produce is very expensive and this amount also includes expenses related to cleaning products and self-pampering expenses such as the books and stationary items).

With the maximum amount of weekly allowance and keeping track of all expenses using an Excel document, I am very aware of how much funds I have left. So far I have spent 3/4th of my allowance till Friday, so I am not interested in making other expenses yet; I will see whether I can keep doing so for this week and the weeks to come.

One more breakthrough I have had lately, thanks to the detailed budget, was to realize that in terms of having a modest life-style and investing in my retirement plans I was doing above good. My biggest problem was to keep up with the expensive house repairs and to have some funds in my chequeing account. And to do the latter, I really needed to be frugal with my variable expenses, such as my weekly allowance, possibly for a couple of years. This is a long time, but I will see what I can do. I know I can do this and with each increase in the available funds, I am more motivated to move forward. Of course, there is a chance of an unexpected and required expense that may throw my saved funds and motivation out of the window, but until then, let me keep this wonderful feeling.

And just yesterday, I realized I should be considering even saving $200 as a major accomplishment. I have a tendency to calculate yearly expenses or savings, which I do not consider it as a major savings if it is not bigger than $3,000-$4,000. I was reading a book yesterday which said “have respect for your money“. That was the sentence that helped make me change my opinion on the “significant amount”.

Wishing to keep discovering about myself, my spending and saving habits, and my abilities to respect my hard-earned money.

joy journal – June 6, 2015

1. I am grateful for the beautiful day today – a little bit foggy, a little bit chilly, but nevertheless a nice weekend day.

2. I am grateful for sleeping well yesterday. I slept till 11 am this morning, a little bit unusual for me, yet the rest of the day was all right.

3. I am grateful that I had cleaned my home yesterday. This week I left my office early and yesterday I took the opportunity to clean the house in the afternoon. That would mean I had the day free today. Yay!

4. I am grateful for the breakfast; I did not bring in my laptop to work this time. That allowed me to go thru the magazines and just relax. I took a couple of minutes to just gaze out and try to decide what to do with my day: I was not rushing, which is a great change 🙂

5. I am grateful for going to the office and doing some work. I feel good and my mind, which was bored by not working lately, is satisfied.

6. I am grateful for taking the bus today and walking in the afternoon back from the office. I am feeling good 🙂

7. I am grateful for the grocery shopping. I think I have not done one in the last week or so. I bought fresh produce, a different type of bread, canned foods (lentils and beans; my favourites as salad), snacks for the office, and so on.

8. I am grateful for now being 7 pounds lighter compared to 3-4 weeks ago. I am assuming it is because of the conscious eating and limiting the bread to some extend. I am still cautious and not getting too excited as I know my weight can fluctuate 3-5 pounds within a day. But this does not mean that I am not motivated to continue to eat well and keep checking the progress. Who knows, maybe this time, I have a chance to drop these pounds.

9. I am grateful for the peaceful Saturday evening and night. It is relaxing and free of issues.

10. I am grateful for seeing the house across from the bus stop today, which is being renovated. They stripped off the front of the house and I can see all the woods and the rest. For some reason, this gave me strength – it does not look as complex as I thought it would be. I am feeling more positive towards the renovations in my house now.

11. I am grateful for all the books I have, which I can look at or start reading to fill the night with interesting information or stories.

12. I am grateful for all the shoes, clothes, furniture and food I have at home that make my life easy, safe, decent, and abundant. I used to stock up durable items whenever I had a chance. I am not stocking up lately but I already have many clothes, shoes, items, and food that I can keep going with. Acknowledging their presence gives a huge “I am abundant” feeling.

13. I am grateful for opening an Excel sheet and keeping tracking my everyday expenses in different categories. I note that I am much more conscious about my spendings now.

14. I am grateful for not going to shopping malls. I want to. I want to check the thrifty stores as well; they are so affordable and contain so many interesting items. But I will not do that for now. I have everything I need. Maybe in a couple of months I can go check them again.

15. I am grateful for tomorrow being Sunday; I have no particular plans so I will take it easy and maybe walk a little bit. If the weather permissive (raining outside now).

16. I am grateful for drinking tea whenever I am in my office, walking from office to home almost always, making a huge effort to take the bus rather than the cab, shopping when required rather than once a week, eating more apples and less bread, walking sometimes just for the love of walking, feeling energized by the good weather, enjoying my office and sight from the window, keeping a modest life-style and being interested in using my money for the best, seeing a positive difference in my chequeing account in the last few weeks, being motivated to do a better job in terms of healthy eating, exercise, and conscious spending, loving my hair for getting longer and combing it time to time :), and dutifully cleaning and aerating my home every week. Boy, I am doing really good 🙂

17. I am grateful for being peaceful and grateful today.

budget, budgeting tools, and thoughts

I have had fun reading blogs on budgeting, checking websites recommended, checking government and bank websites for budget tips and free budgeting tools.

I did not prefer to log into websites to use a budgeting tool, or use the tools with restricting terms of use. So, even though it took me sometime, I designed my own Excel document to keep track of my “variable” expenses; these are my weekly allowance, grocery shopping, eating out (breakfast at the weekends mostly), other non-regular expenses (such as gifts) in addition to the house maintenance costs.

Each week, I plan to keep track of my expenses in each of these categories and see whether I can keep up with my weekly (or annual in case of house repairs) budget.

I will also note my extra savings. These are the expenses that I am tempted to make, but decide not to; for example, if I want to eat out but talk myself into not, then I will add ~$20 as savings.  Each week I do not buy books, I will add $15. When I am tempted to buy a new pair of shoes or clothes but decide to use the already existing ones, I will put this amount into the savings. Whenever I walk from home or take the bus (instead of taking the cab), I will put the difference into the savings.

I am aware that this is actually silly, as some of these expenses (e.g. books) are covered by my weekly allowance (i.e. by not spending money on these, I am saving from my weekly allowance anyhow).

So, why do I do that?

Simple: To reward myself psychologically. To see that I can save. Weird? Very much. I noticed long time ago that beating myself for the expenses I do does not work for me – I work very hard to provide myself with a living and I deserve to feel good about my life. Plus, I already have a modest life-style. So I am not interested in penalizing myself for my expenses; au contraire, it feels awesome to reward myself for savings.

I will also note other types of extra savings: whenever I do a house improvement (such as caulking, painting, or staining) or mown my own lawn, I will pay myself $40/hour. Why? because instead of paying someone, I take my time and energy to do these; I very much deserve it.

In addition, whenever I find a second use for anything I already have, I will congratulate myself.

I was good at all of these once. I know I can do this again.

I also find “spending freeze” idea pretty cool; for short period of times, I can decide not to spend money on certain items. For example, books. Seems to be working for now, knowing that it is not for ever.

I want to keep my money for better use. But along this journey, not even once I will ignore to pamper myself; whether it is a nice meal or something else, I will not forget to have treats. There is one more hazard in spending less; to strain myself to a degree that I return back to spending like before.

So, wish me luck with this plan and be patient with me as I rant, write, get excited or frustrated about conscious spending! 🙂

random thoughts

It is a little bit warmer and especially sunny today. the winter coat is gone and I am happy to have two jackets (!) as the outfit 🙂

My poor computer is about to crash – starting up is a pain in the neck and it shuts down very frequently. I crashed the previous one, too. I regret not copying many pictures I have had in it. This time I am experienced; everything is backed up. I did order for a new one, which arrived last week. I just need one more software installed in it by our IT department to bring home. I think I will bring in tomorrow though – I have a feeling that tomorrow this computer may not open at all.

I like this about me – using things till the last minute. Many people do not understand this, but I feel proud of this.

As per the challenges I assigned myself a while ago,  I have been keeping up with walking, drinking tea, listening to the music and enjoying the view from my office, eating relatively healthy, combing my hair and moistening my face, not buying books, doing grocery shopping as needed, conscious spending (except taking the cab), motivating myself with positive words and smiles, and eating a variety of food. I even did walk down and up the stairs once. Not as much as I wished to do, but better than before 🙂

While I usually do not feel hungry during the day, this week was an exception. I have had lunches at the work-place. While they were extra expenses, I am actually grateful that I have more or less a normal eating habit this week 🙂

happy Thursday everyone 🙂

PS: that reminded me about a poem I wrote about Thursday – the forgotten day of the week 🙂

random thoughts

the last three days feels like fall – it is grey and the temperature is less than 14C. I am having a hard time reminding myself this is June 🙂 It is great that I am going for a long trip to a sunny place soon; I am sure my body will appreciate the warmth and sunlight.

I am feeling bored nowadays as I have not worked well in the last few weeks – the good weather certainly distracted me and led me to leave my office earlier than usual to enjoy the outdoors. Yet, my mind is now bored and the only way to cherish is to work. Those who find something great about working would understand how I am feeling right now.

As per my financial goals, I continue to shop consciously, which makes a small, but noticeable difference. And no I did not take the bus this week yet, which feels somehow awkward. Can I start doing it tomorrow?

My mood in the morning is not great – I think this is one of the reasons for me to take the cab. I do not want to strain myself further by waiting and taking the bus. The cab takes me from the front of my house and leaves me at the door of my work place. So convenient. And convenience feels good, though I miss the self-appreciating feeling when I do take the bus. Tomorrow is another day. I can re-visit this then.

I keep eating fruits (apples and oranges mostly), drinking tea once a day, eating healthy as much as I can. At least this part of my life is going more or less as I wish it to be.

On a final note, I have been trying some fictional stories lately and poems earlier. I find I cannot keep working on them for extended periods of time – what I think about while writing is what I feel . So unless I start a comedy-centered piece, I am okay with working on them only time to time :). That also means I have developed a huge appreciation for poets and novelists.

challenging myself – updated list – May

Ok – now that I have some success (!) at integrating some of the challenges I have assigned to myself, it is time to expand it a little bit. I will keep almost all of them, but the new ones (in red font) will just enhance my efforts (green fonts my updates/experience on challenges).

Challenges:

challenge 1: take the bus (not the cab) – get up at 8.15am to catch the bus. getting used to it 🙂

challenge 2: eat better and healthy – cut out the carbs and consume more veggies and fruits

challenge 3: walk an extra 30 min at the weekends – I got it 🙂 with this beautiful weather, staying inside does not feel good.

challenge 4: do not buy books for two months. I think I did buy a couple of books since then, but no. Not unless I feel the extreme need to pamper myself, no new books for two months.

challenge 5: cut out the bagel breakfast- one bagel/breakfast. Could not do that yet. Tomorrow is another day – I will see.

challenge 6: do grocery shopping as required and buy small amounts – many stuff perished in my fridge so far – what a sad waste. Going well. I am not interested in limiting my diet, only to not waste. So far it has been going well.

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

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

challenge 9: get up in the morning and smile to yourself and hum a song. well, remembered to do only a few times. Made a mental note to do more often.

challenge 10: look outside the window at the office three times a day – enjoy the view and relax. This has been one of the most consistent one. what a wonderful idea. With no ego I can say my office has the best view among all on my floor. Plus, when I am at home I get to enjoy the view from my yard.

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 🙂

challenge 12: increase the contribution made to the RRSP account. Nope. This is not happening. This gotta wait until my chequeing account moves to a positive balance.

challenge 13: during the day remember to smile. oh well.. sometimes. Just sometimes.

challenge 14: lose 15 pounds in two months – record weight and food consumed every day. Ok. This is hard to do but I am trying. By means of limiting bread mostly. There is a 5 pounds difference, but hey that happened before, only to gain again in a couple of days later. I am not keeping my hopes high re; this challenge. I will get excited when I lose 10 pounds.

challenge 15: stick to the plans – I have done these before and I can do it again. I am. to my best. I am so motivated nowadays that I am increasing these challenges today.

New challenges (as of today):

challenge 16: comb the hair everyday. Mornings are great when I usually have a couple of extra minutes before I leave for the bus.

challenge 17: spare 5 min every day to breathe – just to breathe. 

challenge 18: apply sunscreen every morning.

challenge 19: apply moisturiser every night.

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.

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

challenge 22: write the joy journal every day; no matter how dry or repeating it may feel. It always makes me feel good.

challenges – daily progress

I am speaking too much today 🙂 this is my third post. But I gotta write this one, as it keeps me motivated and helps me make these changes in my life.

So here is the list of things I have done today to improve my life: I took the bus in the morning and surprisingly did not mind waiting 10 minutes for it; drank a cup of chamomile tea, which I usually do not like but was fine this time; looked out of the window to enjoy the nature and the surroundings at the office; walked back to home and then to the post-office at a fast pace (yay!); am motivated to walk more in the evenings and weekends; ate healthy meals and limited carbs; listened to the music at the office while working; and did not make any purchases.

I have done well today; maybe I should increase/change the challenges as time goes on. New challenges, new excitements, and new reasons to feel good 🙂

cheers everyone

conscious spending update

For a while now I have been trying to save money so that I can continue to invest for my retirement and also save funds for my house repairs.

A couple of weeks ago I became serious about it. I have a large payment (an annual contribution for a retirement account) coming up at the end of next month and my chequing account has been on the border of being empty since last December. This week I started to see some improvement. I will not have enough funds in my chequing account to pay for the payment next month (use of line of credit is inevitable), but the situation looks a lot better now. I have hope that in two months I will have my chequing account back to positive. That gives me not only hope but also a great motivation to keep going 🙂

No large-scale shopping, no books, no gifts, no eating out, no cab (bus is my new hero nowadays :), and continuing the usual frugality for another two months. Two more months and I can do this.

great news! 🙂

random thoughts

I have done well today in terms of the challenges I have assigned to myself a while ago: I took the bus (yay!), drank a nice cup of mint tea at the office, walked in the afternoon, shopped consciously, ate an apple, looked out of the window many times to enjoy the nature and to give a break to my work-oriented mind.

The highest point of today was walking down and then up stairs (4 storeys) at the work place. One of my assistants and I were exploring the new building in terms of the safety features (such as the location of fire-extinguishers and the emergency exit). So we took the stairs down to the first floor to know how we could evacuate the building and then decided to go up to the 5th floor. We did it! I had thought I could be breathless; yes I was eventually but it was not as hard as I thought it would be. We made a mental note to try this, at least 2 storeys, every single day for our health. Is this not awesome? 🙂

joy journal – May 25, 2015

1. Another beautiful, warm spring day that fills me with energy, optimism, and love. Yes, love. Love for the season, for the sun, for the awakening of the nature, for the renewal, and for the hope all these positive changes bring. I made a mental note today that in the coming years’ March and April, I will remind myself how the Spring feels in May. The things I can do better (e.g. walk more), the things I can do differently (e.g. spending time with nature).

2. I am grateful for taking the bus in the morning – I feel like accomplishing something huge! I even printed out the bus schedule to help myself. I never complained about taking the bus so far – when I can do it I love it.

3. I am grateful for working lightly and not being stressful at all. I enjoy working my mind better than not though. So maybe I can find some problems/questions to work on. Mental exercise is awesome 🙂

4. I am grateful for leaving my office early and walking a little bit longer than usual. I love looking at the houses along the way and thinking “would I buy this house?”. Sometime the answer is yes. I like houses with bay windows and in good conditions (who would not?). I also noticed that I do not prefer houses more than two storeys and without a yard. View is also important 🙂

5. I am grateful for getting an email from a well-respected leader in our field today – she would like to visit our department and get to know our work and interests a little bit better. This is a great opportunity and I am truly honoured by her contact. Would like to do my best to form a great work relationship with her.

6. Oh by the way, I am extra grateful for my colleague who did not respond to the request of the person in (5) above, which prompter her to contact me instead. Am I not lucky that I have this chance of communicating with her? yes, I am. Certainly, somebody’s lack of action is somebody else’s good luck. Thanks a lot 🙂

7. Additionally, I am grateful for my hard work as I had emailed a proposal to a group this morning, which also includes the person in (5) above. I think the timing could not be better 🙂

8. I am grateful for the healthy food I have had today. I ate bread but the rest was all healthy food.

9. I am grateful for watching TV; I am watching a movie I kind of remember, yet I have no recollection of neither the story nor the characters 🙂

10. I am grateful for combing my hair this morning. I do not usually do that for some reason, but now that it is getting long, it is getting all tangled. I better comb it after washing.

11. I am grateful for deciding to take a better care of my skin. I use a wash clothe today to exfoliate and moisturise my face. I hope to remember to put my night cream before going to the bed. I should also start putting sunscreen on my face before I leave the house.

12. I am grateful for loving my flossers. I have been struggling to floss for many years. Right after my semi-annual dental visits, I would continue for some time but after that it would drift from my mind. The one that worked with me was a tri-liner flosser (not the string). It did the wonders with me. it is interesting how long it may take sometime to find out the best working solution for our quests… Trial of new options is a must.

13. I am grateful for keeping up with some of the challenges I assigned to myself a while ago: I took the bus; walked; drank two cups of great smelling and tasting herbal tea; looked out of the window and the yard to enjoy my surroundings; ate mostly healthy food; did not make unconscious spendings; and listened to the music at the office 🙂

14. I am grateful for being grateful, noticing my joyful moments,  doing activities that make me feel accomplishing my goals, and writing them to my joy journal.

have a great night everybody 🙂

joy journal – May 24, 2015

1. A truly exciting and blissful day; it was sunny (although windy too) and energizing. I am grateful for every moment of this day.

2. I am grateful for not sleeping in late. I got up around 9 am, which is great. At first it did not feel so exciting, since the breakfast place does not open till 10am, but eventually I made it to 10 am and then the rest of the day was long and full of things to do!

3. I am grateful for the breakfast and the chats I have had with the staff. They are young bright people who are just going thru school and part-time job at the same time. It is kind of difficult; I remember my own years. but they seem to do both just well and are incredibly nice people to interact with.

4. I am grateful for shopping and getting shocked by the receipt!! It was not too much, but then it was.. I liked the fact that I reacted negatively to spending that much today. This tells me that I am really in the “conscious spending” mode and I am very happy with that. I am extra grateful that I left one item prior to checking out.

5. I am grateful for buying the glues my sister wanted for so long. I am also grateful for the shea butter hand cream I bought for myself; it smells good and feels very smooth. It was above my budget but I bought it anyways to treat myself. Conscious spending does not mean I need to constrain myself to the degree that I cannot enjoy my own money, especially for something that is good for my body.

6. I am grateful for the healthy lunch and dinner I have had today. yes I have eaten bread too (which I am trying to cut), but at least I have also eaten veggies, either raw or canned.

7. I am grateful for spending time in the yard, getting mesmerized and fascinated by the young trees, checking the seeded areas for growth, and removing some dandelion out. I could sit whole day out, breathing fresh air, listening to the trees and birds, and feeling the sun warming my bones. I am lucky I am to have a yard and I am very thankful for that.

8. I am grateful for walking twice today; first while going to the store to purchase stuff and then in the afternoon. The nice thing about nice weather is the energy and wish to be outside it gives. I could not help myself but put the shoes on and went out. walked to another grocery store maybe 10 min away. Since last year I have not been there – it is a relatively small store but the fresh produce is fantastic. I did only buy a pack of chocolate-biscuit I was craving for and enjoyed it while walking back to home.

9. I am grateful for having an upbeat, relaxing, and energizing weekend. This weekend was truly a blessing. My mood is high and I am looking forward to a productive work week ahead of me.

10. I am grateful for TV and the movies I have watched this weekend.

11. I am grateful for having the love in my heart to give to the trees, the plants, and anything else in my yard.

12. I am grateful for speaking with my family and my best friend today; their support is always useful, sincere, and strong.

13. I am grateful for deciding to take a longer route starting yesterday to walk from office to home in the afternoon. The change of scenery should feel good and it will give my body a better exercise.

14. I am grateful for all the food I have at home. My pantry and fridge has more than enough food to let me go through the week.

15. I am grateful for the blogs I have read today – I learn so much about gardening, budgeting, and crafting. Learning and curiosity are the sources of excitement 🙂

16. I am grateful for being relaxed, positive, and grateful today.

random thoughts (on my spending habits)

I would like to reduce my spending and I know I can up to 8-10K per annum; I have two major expenses that I am aware of and have been struggling to switch to better, more affordable alternatives.

One of these expenses is the cab I take every morning from home to office. I did well last week taking the bus, but not this week. The reasons? I feel overwhelmed by all the issues in my life, small or not, and I would like to pamper myself. An additional one is the relatively low levels of energy in the mornings. And also, I do not like to wait for the bus, so the timing of waking up is really critical for me.

I know that I feel a lot better when I take the bus. There is nothing much I can do for my  energy levels. I can use the extra time to walk (rather than to wait) a couple of bus stops prior to taking the bus. But how do I pass the need to pamper myself?

The second expense I can cut is related to healthy life style. Eating better food for example. Or having breakfast during the week days. Not eating bagels at the weekends. Not eating out. Almost all of them are again related to my need to feel good and pamper myself.

Yesterday I felt like drastic changes may be more effective than the “transitional ones”. Once and for all, I can remove all these from my life and start a new chapter. I may pamper myself by other means; walking and exercise always worked with me. Yoga class close to my home, which I had attended for a month in the winter, has been incredibly relaxing and pampering (the only thing is the monthly fee, which is around $100). I can keep myself busy for a while while I adjust to the new life-style. Most importantly though I need to convince my mind that pampering myself (my mind) does not mean that it should be at the expense of my body (e.g. unhealthy food).

Yesterday I was frustrated with myself and felt like I could lock myself in the house and mentally work on this last point. It ends in my mind and maybe I will start brain-washing myself right now.

Hope that will work.

joy journal – May 16, 2015

Here are the events, feelings, activities, and realizations that gave me a chance to be excited, happy, or positive.

1. I am grateful for its being Saturday. Although I want to work and finish tasks, I appreciate the freedom to do whatever I want or need.

2. I am grateful for meeting with a friend of mine at my favourite cafe today. We had breakfast together, chat, and looked at her pictures from a recent vacation in a beautiful city. It was a great change for me and I liked being social :).

3. I am grateful for cleaning my home today. Saturdays are usually the cleaning and laundry day for me. I 90% of the times keep this habit. I am glad that it was not difficult to do it at all.

4. I am grateful for aerating my home. It is truly a spring day, so nice and warm. I like opening the windows and letting fresh air in. It gives me a sense of being in a “healthy” home.

5. I am grateful for working at the yard, getting exposed to sunlight, breathing in fresh air, and exercising my body. My yard looks better than yesterday and I am getting more and more interested in doing better.

6. I am grateful for the seeds of herbs and plants that over the year I had bought and accumulated. The day to plant them finally arrived! Tomorrow I hope to plant some flower seeds. I need to choose excellent places for them so that once planted and grow, they always can stay where they are.

7. I am grateful for taking three pots out on the deck. One of them has a variety of flowers that are originally designed indoors. I am not sure whether I should plant them on the yard, but I guess it is better to try that. Other two; I had planted herbs in them but they never excelled indoors. I am hoping they will thrive outdoors. If not I am not losing anything 🙂

8. I am grateful for cooking and eating a healthy meal for dinner.

9. I am grateful for being excited about the spring, nature, and warm weather – who would not? 🙂 I notice that the awakening of the nature has a positive effect on me as it gives hope. Hope that dark days will be followed by bright ones, hope that whatever is challenging us will cease to be so. Spring is truly the season of hope.

10. I am grateful for having the evening to myself. I enjoy reading blogs and getting inspired by them. I also like watching TV and having my books next to me; when the time comes, I will read and enjoy them.

11. I am grateful for continuing to be a conscious spender.

12. I am grateful for being excited about new ideas, new hobbies, and taking the time to read and learn about them. For example gardening and conscious spending are my two recent interests. Those who post about them here; you all are awesome!

13. I am grateful for not being able to find one of my garden cutters. I cannot find it at home. No idea where it is. Yet, while looking for it, I had a chance to see what else I have had and I am happy to see how much stuff I actually own (all useful).

14. I am grateful for replacing the soap with a new one; it smells so nice that I felt blessed. Small things can have profound positive effects on me. A $2 soap making this effect is amazing.

15. I am grateful for dumping some extra stuff from my bathroom. I am thinking about de-cluttering again and I started with the easiest place – the bathrooms. I do not have a lot of stuff in bathrooms, which helps me to identify and dump un-useful, unused, or old stuff. The rest of the house then can follow. My biggest concern will be the storage cabinet, which is full of old paperwork. I am not sure whether I am doing good keeping them or not? I will see.

16. I am grateful for being grateful and excited about today.

stay well everybody

random thoughts – conscious spending

I am really excited and interested in reading material on frugality, budgeting, saving, and simplifying life. All thanks to a (relative) financial hardship (due to recent home-ownership).

I am doing allright financially, though my savings for my retirement are not great and my chequeing account is empty. Plus, I have that huge mortgage and I am looking at some serious repairs in a couple of months. I am not complaining; I know there are many people out there not as lucky as I am and given time and with some job stability (which I kind of have), I am likely to clear my debt and improve my retirement savings in the future. But what bothers me is that I can do a lot better given my current income.

I started investing in retirement accounts quite late in my life. I was 35 when I opened my RRSP account (mutual funds); I started with a biweekly contribution of $100. I remember the day I had seen the $100 become $100.01 in a couple of weeks. It was not a huge(!) increase, but I had felt proud of myself. It was only a year after that when I got a job that had a company pension plan. 36 years of age sounds late to me to start having a pension plan. That is another reason that I would like to be an aggressive saver and investor. For my own future. While I can do it. But can I do it?

I used to do well prior to buying the house and now I am not sure what I can – something gotta give; the house, the retirement investments, or my spending habits.

I am considering selling my house after I fix the issues I am aware of. But I should say I am also somehow attached to it. I will see how it goes.

In the mean time, all I can do is to control my spending to make sure I have adequate means to continue to invest in my non-company retirement plans: together with the portion I need to pay back for the Home Buyers Plan (I withdraw money to make down payment for my house), regular RRSP contribution, and a personal retirement investment plan, I invest around 10% of my income per year for my retirement. I am glad I do that.

My primary concern is to get the extra money to finance the house maintenance/repairs and lift my chequeing account to a positive balance.

I have kept records of my weekly spendings in the last 8 years or so. I have a good idea of what my expenses are; which ones are essential, which ones are inevitable, and which ones are I can live without. I have been making some calculations and by taking the bus rather than the cab every morning, I save around $4,000 a year. I am surprised by this number. It is a huge amount of money. I have other expenses that I can remove from my life easily and double my savings. Amazing is it not?

It is.

If I can do this for extended period of time, the level of financial stability I can have is amazing.

They say frugality is a life-style and I am intrigued by this. So far my aim is to try it for two months and see what I can do and how I feel about the entire stuff.

So far, I am not consistent but I certainly am feeling excitement and interest about “conscious spending”. I like using this term because it tells me that a) it is my choice, and b) it is the responsible thing to do. Two things I like.

joy journal – May 14, 2015

1. I am grateful that my mood is up today. Partly because I did hardly have any time slot empty today. I can say maybe up to 8 formal and informal meetings I have had and all went all right. I love being busy but also relax; it was one of these days.

2. I am grateful that I noticed one of the reasons I feel stressed or lazy, especially in the mornings, is that I get up with many thoughts in my mind. I think if I focus on something rather than what I have to take care of during the day or in future, my chances of feeling better is more likely. They say being in the moment helps with this kind of stuff; would like to find a way to divert my mind to more positive things. May not be easy, but I will try 🙂

3. I am grateful that I made a conscious choice of not eating the cake at the social this afternoon, but rather had vegetables. I am seriously proud of myself. I had a chance to eat a variety of veggies and did not let my body get irritated by sugar.

4. I am grateful for one of my good friends/colleagues giving me a ride this afternoon. She is a sweetheart and I am lucky to have her as a friend. It makes a huge difference to have good, kind, wise, and nice people in my life. I am extra grateful that in the car there was another colleague of mine, whose name I had known but never had a chance to meet with. Considering that she had actually resolved one of my work-related issues today (I got a letter from her just today), I was so excited to meet with her. Amazing!

5. I am grateful that weather is nice today; not necessarily warm but really nice and bright. They say it will raise up to 16 C tomorrow. Cannot wait:)

6. I am grateful for having a phone interview in the morning with an applicant for my team. The applicant is not necessarily the best one suitable for my projects, yet there are some nice qualities about him that I may be interested in recruiting him. The phone conversation left a good impression on me. Better than what is written on the paper.

7. I am grateful for shopping in the afternoon. I found fresh mint, which excites me very much. Where I am, it usually is not a common herb, but I love it! I could not be happier 🙂

8. I am grateful for having a large green salad where I liberally used fresh mint. It was amazing! I should go back tomorrow and buy more. I would like to grow mint myself – I tried it before but now more than ever I am determined to find a way to do so.

9. I am grateful that I have had a protein-based meal for dinner and I am very pleased with the recent eating pattern. I bought bread today but I am keen of eating it less and veggies more. I will see how it goes.

10. I am grateful for my shoes, clothes, furniture, stationary items, my computer/cable/internet connection/TV that makes my life easy and comfortable. I am extra grateful for my house, however problematic it may be, for sheltering me from bad weather and the rest.

11. I am grateful for weighing a little bit less today compared to last couple of days. I know my body does not like simple carbs, especially bread, in excessive amounts. I am keen to keep my body happy and continue to lose water or fat, whatever it is that I am losing and have a healthy blood chemistry (i.e. normal level of glucose).

12. I am very grateful that I kept up with some of the challenges I listed a couple of days ago.  Specifically, I could get up right on time (8.15 am), waited and took the bus rather than the cab, drank a cup of tea at the office, not only looked out of my own office window but two other places to enjoy the scenery during the day, ate better and healthier, did not make unconscious expenses, shopped lightly and bought fresh produce, and smiled once or twice during the day (that made me smile now 🙂 ).

13. I am grateful for being grateful today.

cheers

joy journal – May 13, 2015

1. I had difficulty sleeping yesterday night, but I am grateful I got up only 30 min late. That meant me not being able to wait for the bus (argh!) and taking the cab again. I am not going to beat myself up for that, but I am extra grateful that I am feeling not good about this. I am hopeful about tomorrow.

2. I am grateful for taking care of a number of small stuff at work today. I feel the need to work on the major tasks, but when my daily schedule is fragmented between meetings, phone calls, urgent matters to take care of, and my team member’s needs, it is somehow difficult. I am planning to preserve the morning hours for me only. I think that is a great idea and I hope to implement it, starting tomorrow.

3. I am grateful for having a relaxing night at home. I have this new interest of “conscious spending”, which prompted me to look for and follow a number of blogs nowadays. I should say I am really inspired! I know I will not do the majority of the things suggested, but nevertheless they keep me focused on the conscious spending idea and help me to make small changes everyday.

4. I am grateful for having a really healthy dinner this evening. I did not buy bread today, so I am lacking the carbs to make me sleepy, but eating fruit a few minutes ago almost filled me and I hope this feeling will help me to fall asleep tonite. If I can make it, then it will make me believe that I will be able to live without being dependent on bread to make me feel good or sleepy. Confidence is a great feeling for implementing changes.

5. I am extra grateful that while I was getting ready to make pasta for tonite’s dinner, I changed my mind and rather prepared a vegetable dish. How could I do that? I am proud of myself 🙂

6. I am grateful that I worked with a junior team member of mine today on a project. I did not have clear answers but at least we tried to clarify things and I am hoping that was a good learning opportunity for her. She thanked me at the end, saying that now she has a better idea of how things should be. Is that not awesome? It is awesome! Do you know why? Because my other team members always expected me to have answers right away and fix things, which does not happen all the time. Great to have someone new with a different attitude around.

7. I am grateful for working till 6 pm at the office. Since days are longer now, it just feels okay to spend longer time at the office.

8. I am grateful for flossing almost consistently in the last month or so. Now, you may say, dear reader, that this is gross. I totally agree with you! It is gross. but then it is also healthy and I am kind of excited to be persistent about it. The trick that worked for me was to use the “flossers” rather than the floss (i.e. string) itself. this experience reminds me that sometime there are multiple ways to do things and if one way does not work, keep looking for alternatives. And who knows? Maybe we will come across one that works for us. Keep hope.

9. I am grateful for eating an apple today. Why? because of its health benefits 🙂

10. I am grateful for my computer that is still working. It has been slowed down in the last one year and frequently shuts down. When it shuts down, it does not start easily afterwards. Poor thing. It is time to get a new one and I ordered for one. Until the new one comes, I will be thankful each day I am capable of using it and connecting to internet.

11. I am grateful that I remembered to put the garbage out this morning; it is garbage collection day. So far I have not missed it not even once. I congratulate myself.

12. I am grateful for keeping up with some of my challenges today. In short, I ate healthy, limited the carbs considerably, drank two cups of tea, smiled once or so even when there was no one around, looked out of the window to enjoy the view, and did not have extra expense (other than the cab fare) that would threw away my “conscious spending” plan. well done!

13. I am grateful for not being lazy and writing this post tonite.

cheers everyone

random thougths

I have made some financial goals lately – for two months I will restrict some extra expenses and see how it will go. If I can save some money, then I am planning to invest it in my RRSP (retirement investment plan).

I did some calculations. At first I thought the savings, for example, by not buying books for two months did not generate a substantial amount of savings. It discouraged me – why should I stop doing one thing I absolutely love (I like being in the bookstores and buying books slightly more than reading them.)? I decided not to cut it out.

But then, there were other expenses, bigger or small, which added up to a nice sum in two months. Just two months. This time period is good because I know that it is not forever and I will be able to continue my regular spending pattern after that. So being financially-conscious for two months does not bother me at all. I found this very interesting, very motivational, and very essential (psychologically) for success of my plan.

I am not sure I will be able to stick to this plan and whether I will transfer the savings into my retirement plan, as I would like to. But it is certainly worth trying it.

One other thing I noticed (which excites me very much) is that when I decided to shop twice a week rather than once a week, and buy food in smaller quantities each time, I actually have a better appreciation for food. Especially the fresh produce, which I would not find time to eat/cook until they get bad. I am committed to not waste food. That makes me happy.

It is interesting that while we try new approaches, attitudes, etc., we get to notice many things about ourselves and our relationship with things in our lives.

I love trying and then learning along the way. Life is good 🙂

challenging myself

I have been thinking about changes that will enhance my life, my health, and my financial health for some time. I have not done anything substantial yet, which finally came to a point that the entire lack of implementation of changes started to make me unhappy with myself.

I do not need to be unhappy about myself.

The main problem of mine is that even though I know what can work, I have the confidence that they will work (I have done similar changes before), I just have a substantial need of pampering myself. The need to relax; the need to take a break from everything; the need to feel good; the need to not constrain myself. The more I pamper myself, the longer the issues remain unresolved, the heavier they accumulate as an emotional baggage.

In other words, pampering myself  = inaction = bothering myself more over the long run.

I do not need these.

From this morning on I invited myself to several challenges:

challenge 1: take the bus (not the cab) – get up at 8.15am to catch the bus.

challenge 2: eat better and healthy – cut out the carbs and consume more veggies

challenge 3: walk an extra 30 min at the weekends

challenge 4: do not buy books for two months

challenge 5: cut out the bagel breakfast- one bagel/breakfast

challenge 6: do grocery shopping as required and buy small amounts – many stuff perished in my fridge so far – what a sad waste.

challenge 7: start listening to music and relaxing 20 min a day.

challenge 8: drink at least one cup of tea a day

challenge 9: get up in the morning and smile to yourself and hum a song

challenge 10: look outside the window at the office three times a day – enjoy the view and relax

challenge 11: record the progress in these areas in breaking the routine or joy journal categories

challenge 12: increase the contribution made to the RRSP account

challenge 13: during the day remember to smile

challenge 14: lose 15 pounds in two months – record weight and food consumed every day

challenge 15: stick to the plans – I have done these before and I can do it again

things I do well for financial health

Ok – not everything about my spending habits is bad. Yes, home-ownership costs and I have some extra expenses, which need to be cut, but there are so many wonderful things I do to keep the cost of living manageable, to be fair and to be on the positive side, I better acknowledge them, too.

1. Unlike many people, I am not interested in having a big house, new electronics, or expensive furniture. Many things at my house are second hand (except my TV, my computer, my bed, and appliances etc.); I love using them (i.e. I did not buy them just because they were cheap). I use a long-distance card for out of city calls, my cable plan is basic, and my internet usage is mostly within limits.

2. Unlike many people, I am not interested in grooming products or services (e.g. manicure, pedicure, or regular hair cuts), I dye my own hair, and I use my clothes and other personal items till they literally got torn apart ( a little bit exaggerated here but it is almost true).

3. I shop and stock up durable items, such as cleaning products, dry, canned, and frozen food, and clothes when they are on sale. I imagine I save quite a bit of money with this habit.

4. I shop when I travel, where almost everything is cheaper than where I am, especially in the USA.

5. I usually buy my books from second hand stores. I am also a fan of thrifty/dollar stores where many stuff can be purchased at affordable prices. There is also a great satisfaction coming out of supporting the re-cycling and re-using the items and also helping the charity with their causes.

6. I am not subscribed to any of the magazines. I do not buy magazines from stores.

7. I am good at re-using stuff, including the shopping bags (great for my small garbage bins at home, which then are placed into one big garbage bag every week for disposal), and old clothes make great cleaning clothes.

8. I hardly eaten out, but when I do, I enjoy it rather than getting on myself.

9. I usually brew my own coffee at the office.

10. Unless really necessary, I do not buy bottled water; rather fill my bottle at the water fountain at work or filter my water at home.

11. Unless it is really hot, I do not consume soft drinks.

12. My diet is not heavily dependent on meat or meat products.

13. I do not have a health club membership that I do not use (I had 5-6 years ago; a yearly membership and I have used the premises only 10-12 times in a year…)

14. I do maximize my RRSP contributions every year, and also save and invest additional funds, however little they maybe.

15. I do not have a car, and therefore I do not have to pay for purchasing, insurance, parking (both in front of the house and at the work-place), repairs, or gas.

16. I keep a spending journal and I record all expenses daily. So far I have not gone back and ever looked at it, but at least it is making me concious of my spending and also I can see how much I spend each week. Most importantly, I also record how much I do save each week for expenses I did not do; for example for walking rather than taking the cab, for not purchasing something extra or unnecessary etc.

17. I do not buy CDs or DVDs (any more).

18. I do not host many people at my place; this is mostly because I do not enjoy cooking.. I love my friends and I would like them to come over, yet it is not a practical option for me. A side-effect of not hosting dinner parties is to be able to save money.

19. I do not travel for leisure, except to see my family. I used to make trips to see my friends in the past, but unfortunately I am not doing this anymore..

20. I do not have the urge to change either my kitchen items or my furniture. Again, I use everything almost until get broken or torn apart.

21. I use the electricity responsibly; only lighting up where I need it.

22. I also donate to charity, my family members and friends in need.

frugality

I have been always frugal, responsibly spent my money, and saved and invested as much as I could.

Not anymore. It is partially because my salary is much better than the past and I kinda feel the urge to make my life comfortable and easy. So, I have developed some “luxurious” activities, such as taking the cab (rather than the bus) and attending socials and being generous with them. Do not get me wrong, socials and being generous is awesome, but when it is one-sided, it is not so great after a while.

Today while at the shopping mall, I thought that the only way that I can have some control over my finances are to a) sell my house that costs me a lot to maintain, and b) going back to being frugal. Otherwise I do not see myself having financial stability in my life.

I made a pact with myself and the first thing I am crossing from my list is to buy meals for others. That happens 4-5 times a year with the team members that work with me. I somehow thought I should shoulder all the bills, which I have done so far. But I think I will cut this out. Other bosses around me do not do this kind of stuff, so why should I do that myself? You know what is the strangest things? Nobody ever asked whether they could contribute to the bill, or pay for their own meals? Why is that I wonder, as I would not let anyone to do this repeatedly. Anyways. End of an era. And it is good for me. If my team members would like to organize something and then invite me, I may go and pay for my own meal. That is it.

the second thing I will do is to cut the cab out of my life for ever. I have done well in the last few days taking the bus everywhere (work and shopping malls). Prior to buying my house, I would go to and come back from the office by cab and also go to the shopping centers by cab. When I think about it, it was cheaper than having a car and as such I did not care. Since last year, I try to walk or take the bus (mostly) from office to home as well as when I go to the malls. But in the mornings, I almost always take the cab. So, obviously I have made changes and reduced my transportation costs quite a bit, so well done with that. Yet, now I guess I can finish the rest of the plan and only take the bus in the mornings. That will decrease my transportation costs further.

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