weekly budget check

I have not posted these checks for a while.

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

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

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

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

Other savings: $7

Health related expenses and donations: $23.5

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

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

I am up for it!

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

it is time to have some plans

Now that I do not get any more (strong) anxiety, I have decided it was time that I come back to my regular routine by re-introducing my small daily life goals.

They literally make me feel like I am in control of my life, I am capable of taking care of my life and myself, and I am capable of making positive changes in my life.

They may be small, but mighty! 🙂

Here they are:

Working at the office, not at home, during the weekdays: Working mostly at home in the last 7 months made me socially isolated. I now feel better if I am in the office and do the work there. I can and will continue to work at home after hours/weekends, but at least my social health will be better. I will also enjoy being at home – lately I went through too many of stressful times while trying to do work at home. It is time that I experience what “home” means.

Taking the bus and walking: Last week was good in terms of taking the bus in the morning and walking in the afternoons (back to home). I do not want to waste anymore dimes on the cab (although I love it – so easy and comfy. Also the cabbies are always nice and very talkative). BUT I want to keep my money for more important things. I must keep my money for more important things.

Eating better: I have done well in the last two weeks by eating a variety and healthy food. I still sometime munch on candy or chocolate, but I cook more and eat more salad. The lettuce seems to be doing the magic 🙂

Stretching and elbow exercises: My physiotherapy continues and my elbow has been feeling better but not quite healed. I was given a new exercise last Friday that aims to smooth the muscles around my elbow (they are very tight). The effect was instantaneous and I cannot think about not doing these exercises! I feel so lucky and hopeful that my elbow will be like new quite soon 🙂

Budget and frugal life-style:  This is a long one.

I have been struggling with keeping up with my budget and that makes me feel bad. Literally bad. I have had a very successful history of highly effective budget and saving as much as I can. Last year was hugely successful.

However, I have not started this year well and I am way above my weekly budget and cannot save much from my pay check. This is ridiculous – I have some payments coming up; one soon for a plane ticket to Europe and another one for an investment account (an annual sum that challenges me each year, but I keep making it knowing that in the future it will be so useful). According to my calculations, unless I save around a good sum of money each month, it looks like I will not be able to make pre-payments and I will have to tap into my line of credit account.

WHAT??

An additional debt? Was mortgage not good enough??

By the way; why did Bank of Canada increased its interest rate? Argh.. Now the major Canadian banks are increasing their mortgage rates and they predict further increases in the future. My term ends in 2 years and with increased tax and no salary increase, how the hey am I supposed to pay my mortgage, invest for my retirement, and have a comfortable life all at the same time ??

……..

Going back to my frugality plan; all I have to do is to start being responsible and motivated about savings again. Which is hard. I meant to do this almost everyday lately. I know that it will happen one day, but when is that day? Tomorrow? Monday? Next week? 

I chose Monday – wish me luck 🙂

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

It still is……

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So, I asked myself;

Well, how much can I pay?

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

And how do I enforce this?

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

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

🙂

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weekly budget check

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I  am very grateful.

🙂

Saturday morning musing

Saturday! Yay! 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

I just want more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The first item on the list is:

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

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

So what is causing me to spend more?

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

Now, I want to feel this way again!

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

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

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

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The second item on the list is:

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

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

But I feel like I can do better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

weekly budget check

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

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

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

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

Fun funds left/accumulated so far: $188

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

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

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

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

Happy savings everyone! 🙂

how to use the savings most efficiently?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your opinions?

money: you have it or you do not have it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

delayed weekly budget check

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

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

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

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

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

weekly budget check

Another good week in terms of conscious spending:

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

Total accumulation in fun fund so far: $70

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

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

Oh, well 🙂

weekly budget check

Today is the end of the weekly budget and this is how I have done in the last week:

  1. Over-spent ($59)! oops.. Total spent: $259.
  2. Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to make but did not): $90

Well.. The holiday season is on to us, so are the expenses and the wide-open purse that purges money out of itself 🙂

Next week I will have additional expenses; one of my team members is leaving for another job. So I am taking everyone out for a lunch. I am not as happy to do this as before, realizing the entire bill is left on me all the time and it is usually a good sum of money that I can rather spend on myself (I have a frugal life-style and I am trying hard to save an emergency fund right now..).

I do not appreciate people leaving the bill entirely on me; if you guys do that to your boss knowing that s/he is spending her own money,  please try to be considerate and at least offer to pay your part of the bill. Chances that s/he will appreciate it and pay the entire bill more happily than before.

If you do not let others pay for your bill, then go ahead and please congratulate yourself. I guess this is fantastic.

I am feeling somehow bad for complaining about here, but then I know I should not be; I cannot understand why not one individual so far asked to contribute to the lunch bill over many years…

Sigh….

mortgage renewal

I went to renew my mortgage today; it looks like a couple of months earlier than the end of the term, it can be renewed and the new rates can start applied right away. I liked this as the interest rates are historically low.

I first wanted to have a 2-years term, which had an interest rate less than 2%; it is so appealing. Yet, then considering the rates may increase substantially in the next two years (who knows?), I opted out for a 4-year term. Plus, it is portable (in case I sell my current home, I can keep having the same rate on the condition that I get a new house and mortgage within two months). That was the most appealing part of the new mortgage.

Anyways, my new interest rate is just a little bit less than what I paid so far; so it does not look like I have gained anything. Yet, I increased my payments just a little bit and reduced the amortization period.

Where does the extra payment come from? A modest salary increase I have had today :))) I think that was a wise decision.

The numbers in the new mortgage are interesting: while the interest rate is not much lower than before, I think it is the (little) increase in the payment that reduces the principal more effectively than my current mortgage (the additional reduction is around $3,000 per year, even though the increase in payment totals to ~$2,000 per year). So I feel like I gained an extra $1,000 per year by this new mortgage. That feels good 🙂

When the bank rep showed me the principal amount at the end of the term, I could not believe that it was around 55% of the house’s price!  I never thought that in 6 years, I could pay 45% of the house. I think what they say is true – small increases in debt payment can make a huge difference not only in your debt levels, but also in your psychology 🙂

I am so motivated to increase or make a lump-sum payment to my mortgage right now. I just need to find out a way to save extra funds over the next years. Even it is an extra $20/payment.

cheers everyone

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