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.

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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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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.

🙂

weekly budget check

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

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

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

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

Fun funds expenses: $0

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

Other expenses: $31.5 (gift and donation)

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

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

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

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

Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

weekly budget check

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

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

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

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Expenses within the weekly allowance: $48.5

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

Fun funds expenses (my discretionary spending): $80

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 🙂

 

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

 

 

I ordered my sewing machine :)

The day was full of great things, like it is being a wonderful sunny and warm November day; I walking in the morning and the evening, feeling good overall, working nice and easy, and eating healthy.

But one thing stands out as a unique source of joy – I ordered my sewing machine!

I did!

The last one week I was reading about different brands/models and trying to choose one that would be good for beginners’ as well as intermediate users’ sewing adventures. I decided a Singer 7258 was what I wanted. Looks like I can do up to quilting, the purchase includes 9-10 presser feet, in addition to many functions that are useful.

I have been checking online where to get this machine and its price. The price is considerably changing from one resource to other and I can say it is not a cheap machine. I ruled out purchasing a second-hand machine this time (even though I like second hand items).

I was determined and obviously I checked on Amazon for too long, for too many times; they sent me $10 promotion code a couple of days ago. I was hoping that the machine would further discount, especially towards the Christmas. So I was checking it almost everyday and today I have seen yet another discount (around $100 total). Together with my promotion code and free shipment option, I had a chance of getting $120 discount from its original (and the cheapest) price out there.

It would probably go down a little bit more in later days, but I thought; 1) what if it does not? 2) I really would like to get the machine soon enough so that I can start working on projects especially during my 2-weeks Christmas holiday, and 3) I was lucky and able to save an additional $142 this weekend, mostly from purchases/expenses I would normal do but did not.

So, I ordered it this evening – it is supposed to arrive next week 🙂

I am excited!

I hope it is a fantastic machine, I will be able to take excellent care of it in many years to come, and together we will be able to create many wonderful things once I get to learn it 🙂

 

*no advertisement intended.

 

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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