Financial report 2019

It looks like it has been a great year.

I could save mostly in the second half of the year and boy, was it good 🙂

  • My net worth increased around $62,000 in the last year. More than half of it is my investments and the return; as the markets have been doing good lately, this is reflected as a good increase in my overall net worth. Great 🙂
  • I did not pay any mortgage pre-payments and it shows: I paid only $16,000 off my mortgage year. This feels very little, but nevertheless I am grateful for it 🙂
  • My chequing account has increased to a healthy sum that I had aimed for; it feels amazing as I was hardly able to reach such a goal before. Amazing.. 🙂
  • This being said; right after these calculations I put an order for my first pre-payment in the amount of $5,000 🙂 It will be in effect next week. This way, I will enter 2020 with less than 110K debt. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you 🙂

I do not know you but we have less CPP contributions starting summers, so the winter means we get less of a salary and as a result, our savings are much less during the first half of the year. As also the power bill gets higher during winter, this translates into small accumulations. Kind of discouraging, but here is my plan which I hope will help me do well:

Continue the following practices:

  • taking the bus or walking, rather than taking the cab
  • continuing to take advantage of loyalty cards and occasional coupons
  • stocking up dry food and cleaning products when they are on sale
  • continuing to shop from thrift stores, especially clothes, trousers, house items, flower pots, and books
  • contributing the tax return, coupon and loyalty card savings, and anything else that comes extra or by luck to make a pre-mortgage payment. I am still not sure whether I will do these payments as I go, or at the end of the year.

My plan for the next year is to contribute $19,000 to RRSP/TFSA and save $5,000 as pre-payment, and have my chequing account increase by $5,000.

Wish me luck 🙂

 

 

 

 

year end finances – 2018

Today is the end of my fiscal year. Time to see where I spent my money and how I saved it.

Money Cash GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

EXPENSES

Weekly regular/daily expenses (allowance for eligible expenses=$120/week)

  • grocery: $2,796
  • eating out (alone): $166
  • cab: $1,018 (ouch!)
  • junk/unnecessary expenses: $1,621 (ouch!)

when compared to last year, all of these expenses, except eating out, have increased significantly.

Other expenses

  • Expenses related to cleaning and other household and personal care products: $1,494
  • Clothes: $620
  • Socialization-hosting-clothes-health-care-hair cut/dye-gifts-donations-hobbies=$5,268 (around $1,800 is hosting/socials-related expenses)

it looks like this year my social-life related expenses have increased compared to last year.

  • Europe vacation: $1,500

My total expenses not including mortgage, bills, bus fare, house tax,  insurance and other fixed expenses=around $15,000.

Looks like too much for a single person?

SAVINGS, INVESTMENTS, and OTHER GOOD NEWS

Retirement investments and HBP payment:

  • TFSA+RRSP+HBP (home buyer’s plan payment)=$19,000.  I feel good about these 🙂

Fun funds

  • fun funds (aka remaining funds from weekly allowance): $639
  • fun funds expenses: $270 (anything I wish as extra was an eligible expense)
  • remaining fun funds: $369 (yay! 🙂 )

Mortgage pre-payments=$7,790 (my tax return as well as weekly savings). This was the first year that I have made pre-payments to mortgage. It is amazing to see how little savings can make such a huge difference. I am not sure how much I have saved from the interests, but anything helps really.

Some of the savings this year were because of discounts, coupons, loyalty points, and other lucky encounters. For example, by just following the sales I saved more than $1,100 this past year. I am not into coupons and that shows; only $24 was gained by using coupons. Loyalty points were useful with around $200 worth of discounts. Every bits counts.

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Overall: I have done well and increased my net worth quite a bit.

I could do better, but I will let it go. I have done what can be done.

My spending habits changed, but surprisingly I spent more on daily expenses and at socials. Something to think about.

Now, it is time to move on and plan for the next year. 

I cannot wait 🙂

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How to maximize the value of grocery funds


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

DO:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Prepare meals from scratch

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

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

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

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

15. Take advantage of holiday sales

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

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

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

19. Buy frozen veggies

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

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

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

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

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

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

26. Try new recipes and improvise

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

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

 

DON’T

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

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

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

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

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

6. Forget to celebrate!

 

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

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

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

 

 

coupons can be exciting sometimes

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

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

Can you imagine?

$21…..

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

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

🙂

random thoughts

It has been a fine Fall day; a little bit cool but otherwise nice and shinny 🙂 I love this year’s Fall – from the scenery to nice weather, it has given its full potential to our enjoyment.

I have not worked too intense today; I rather left the office at noon and walked to a nearby shopping centre 🙂 It is very rare for me to go shop on a work day, so I loved the fact that I permitted myself a bout of spontaneity – talking about breaking the routine 🙂

My first stop was at a thrifty store, where I found a fine piece of art work for my office 🙂 It is a canvas painting with lots of natural colours, trees, and plants in front of a lovely house with great wooden doors and windows. Just looking at it makes me feel in the nature – loved it 🙂 Money well spent.

I then proceeded to check another store and was able to find two gifts for my neighbours and one of my good friends. I could not believe how affordable they were, which was quite a relief. One of the gifts I purchased was a product of my home country, which made me extra excited 🙂 I thought at first the gifts per se would not be enough but then I decided to supplement them with a freshly baked loaf of bread. The fact that there has been budgetary issues where I am and, lately, my organization increased our pension plan contributions, made me very aware of the limited purchasing power. I believe the gifts are just appropriate and the bread will just make them even better 🙂 So my consciousness is clear.

I also visited my favorite dollar store. Well, the majority of the items are not $1 anymore, but still things are quite affordable when compared to other stores. I am excited about the new oven mints (they are bright red and look so lovely 🙂 ) and the pens (they have been my favorite in the last one year or so) I purchased 🙂 I did not buy everything I wanted to, leaving the joy and excitement of shopping to some other time.

Tomorrow a friend of mine and I are going to a shopping centre again. We would like to put our hands and minds on some craft, so let’s hope we will be able to find those fabrics. I also have been meaning to get some left-over pieces of fabric, which I plan to use during baking/dough preparation. We will see how it goes 🙂

This weekend seems like a triple dose of shopping as I am also planning to go to another shopping centre on Sunday! I know, I know… You are thinking; what is she doing – talking about frugality and saving and then shopping three days in a row? See, sometimes you need to do what excites you. Shopping always does excite me…. I do not buy things that I do not need, so no worries about over-spending. I want to buy a couple of items which are on sale this week, like olive oil, as well as hair dye for which I have a coupon. I also need to buy another set of gifts for my friend, which I am happy to check for sales now rather than later.

So my friends, the holiday season is coming, the sales are on, and gifting is somehow both required and exciting. My past experience is that I spend more than average during the holiday season, but this is mostly to take advantage of the sales. I have a list of things that I hope to catch good sales for and this certainly excites me. I would like to buy new pairs of socks and pants, for example. In the past I was able to get really good deals during the holidays. Then I can forget about looking for them during the rest of the year. So that is what exactly I am planning to do this year too 🙂

Hope everyone will be able to get the exceptional deals and enjoy their purchases 🙂

frugal encounters – this past week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total savings: $152.5

 

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

 

weekly budget check

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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 🙂

coupons make me think

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

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

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

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

A couple of reasons.

First, I have limited time to look for coupons.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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 🙂

random thoughts

It has been chilly today but they expect a warm Monday tomorrow 🙂

I like this about my city – the weather can change in such a short time.

My plan for tomorrow evening is to finish staining the deck and paint the woods close to the soil. They are in good condition, but I was advised to paint them every 3-4 years to protect them from the water damage. As tomorrow will be warm, it sounds like the right time to me.

I went to shop at noon to get the stain for the deck. I visited other stores around too. It is always an enjoyable activity for me (did I mention I loved shopping? 🙂 ).

Luckily, I catched some sales today; I bought a nice plant and toilet papers with discounts. It is interesting with the toilet papers that they were not only on sale, but there was also a coupon valued $3 on each pack. I have been hoping I would catch up something like that to stock them up for some time – so I felt happy :)) I bought 3 packs, enough for more than a year. My estimation is that the sale together with the coupons led me to have an 50% discount for each pack. That is not bad at all. I thank myself for noticing the coupons 🙂 I would feel silly otherwise – why to throw away money while the vendors let me keep it?

I contemplated about taking the cab, but then decided not to. I carried my plant around (together with other stuff I purchased), took the bus, and came home. I am seriously proud of myself :). Yet my back is aching 🙂 Maybe it was not the best idea.

I have decided not to hesitate to take the cab if I have many stuff to carry around – my health is more important than a cab fare.

have a great Sunday everyone 🙂

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