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 🙂

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how blogging changes your life

I have been contemplating, however late it seems this year, about the changes I want to make in my life in 2018.

Then I realized I have already done quite a bit of changes and improvements that made my life abundant, easy, more self-sufficient, and satisfactory. I think I am good where I am 🙂

The majority of the changes I have made fall in the following categories: frugal life; simple life; reduced waste; and self-reliance.

Let me explain.

The need for frugal live was driven by the home-ownership that necessitated cutting costs and increasing age that require better investments so that I could handle the repair and other costs a house requires (a 100 years old house requires many) and the anxiety and uncertainty about my own future. While I was on the average pretty good in living below my means, thanks to many inspiring stories and bloggers going through the same journey I found some kind of strength and higher level of motivation. Score! 🙂 Frugal life-standards made me appreciate what I have had and the excitement coming out of finding ways to cut cost, better deals, and better financial management. As a result comes the feeling of being less dependent on material and being abundant in so many different ways.

As part of frugal choices, I also switched from automatic take of cab in the morning and the afternoon during the work days. It was a struggle alright and it still is. Bus operates only every 30 min and in our harsh Canadian winters it is not a pleasant activity to wait in an open bus stop. I still take the cab time to time when I am crunched in time or tired. But when compared to previous years, I say the reduction in my transportation cost is an impressive success.

I also walk time to time to work and from work. I am usually good at routinely walking in the afternoon. In summer time walking in the morning is also very pleasant. I feel great after walking 25-30 min and it also makes me proud of myself for having a day relying on my own abilities rather than others. It is one example of self-sufficiency and easy-peasy life style I have developed lately.

Other examples of self-sufficiency efforts are baking my own bread, making my own jams/marmalade, ad pickling. They are not only exciting activities, but I also share them with neighbours and friends, which gives me an extra level of excitement.

The frugal life also brings in reducing waste, particularly food waste. I now am very conscious about what I purchase and I also freeze food. Frozen food is very practical for me as I do not like cooking everyday and a ready meal is always appreciated, especially if they are home-made. I implemented other changes in my aim to reduce the waste. Plastic shopping bags is a good example; I mostly use my tote now. I donate my clothes and other items if they are in good conditions to prevent them from ending up in the landfill (and support people in need). I use mostly re-usable cleaning cloths rather than paper towels. I cut up old clothes (not good enough to be donated) and use them as one-time cleaning cloths. I make use of coupons, while not in great quantity, to help with my expenses. Last, I also purchase items from thrift stores that helps not only me and environment but also the people in need and the organizations that support them.

I also declutter once a year or so to identify the extra, un-wanted, or battered items, and then remove them from my office or home by dumping, donating, or re-using. Excellent activity I must say. What a relief once they are gone out of my life. Additionally, it helps me to see what I already have and make use of them and feel grateful for their presence in my life. How many times I found a pair of shoes or a piece of clothe in good condition that I could use? Blogs about decluttering was instrumental in doing this activity at a more conscious level.

When I look at all of these I kind of realize that they are all inter-connected; frugal life style is powered by decluttering and making smarter choices about expenses and needs/wants; waste and unnecessary expenses are reduced by many small acts; abundance increase by being aware and grateful; and life becomes quite easier once we realize the alternative ways to do the daily activities.

How is blogging related to all of these?

First, we by sharing our own stories and plans somehow support the others with the same interest. Second by sharing our plans, we move one step closer to implementing these plans in our lives. Third we often find new ways to enrich our lives and reach our goals; whether it is through shopping bans, or developing a hearty sourdough starter by looking at the others’ experiences.

My take on my current life style is that I in fact have done very well in reaching these aims and changing my priorities. It took me around 3 years, but I am content at where I am right now and I think this blog and blog sphere have been instrumental in it.

 

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 🙂

Retirement GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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gifs by:https://giphy.com/gifs/loop-brown-jackie-lZd4oyt1EzC3C;https://giphy.com/gifs/retirement-deIChhcsO8iIM

9 days to holidays and reflections on finances

Counting down the days till holidays 🙂

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

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

I learnt that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– to be continued –

 

towards the end of year financial calculations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cannot wait to plan these next week 🙂

 

 

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

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

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

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

It still is……

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So, I asked myself;

Well, how much can I pay?

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

And how do I enforce this?

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

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

🙂

Myself GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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gif by:https://giphy.com/gifs/myself-OIz0TDfY2H160

 

weekly budget check

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

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

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

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

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

back to my frugal self this week

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

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

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

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

 

when spending feels alright

I continue to spend way more than my weekly allowance with no shame.

I keep saying that my quality of life and mental relaxation are important, so I really do not care.

But I should because I actually love saving money and hate wasting money.

I also have upcoming trips when I will need every saved penny to be at work. It excites me to save money for them.

I know once I start having a lean spending scheme, like before, I will find myself ultra motivated to reduce my financial waste.

If only I could have such a day….

 

let me end this unfrugal spending scheme

I have made more expenses in the last three weeks than any other time since the new year. I possibly spent 3X of my regular allowance. This does not feel good. Most of the expenses are for junk stuff and cab rides while I was trying to keep my head over work and work issues. Throw in a social and hosting two dinners (one last weekend, one tomorrow) and you can get the idea.

I am determined to pay this mortgage off in the next 6 years. This means I am reducing the time into half. I must and can save more while I have a salary. This must be my priority.

From tomorrow on, I will be on shopping ban; no thrift store or other purchases till October, unless absolutely needed. I will not buy any furniture or clothes, either. Absolutely no cab rides!! I will have my hair done, though, since I am transitioning to gray now. The journey has started and will be completed. I do not expect socials either. At least I will not be inviting over anyone. Well, maybe a couple with lovely kids. We will see.

The only purchases acceptable are:

  • baking items (I will need bread flour and whole wheat flour soon)
  • veggies and fruits
  • milk and yogurt
  • eggs and occasional meat products
  • personal hygiene products

I also am going to do another pantry challenge and focus on consuming the food I already have before filling my pantry, freezer, and fridge again. That will be exciting and I am really looking forward to this.

Mrw GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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gifs:https://giphy.com/gifs/mrw-shopping-frugal-GkCD0gtTIrlL2

 

weekly budget check

I have not posted in this category lately mostly because I have been spending a lot of money lately.

I am saddened somehow (but not fully) by the fact that I over-spent my weekly allowance ($120) in the last two weeks for the first time since the new year. The total for two weeks is around $400….In addition, I have had my hair done for over 200 bucks and made some expenses for a social gathering. I am not sorry for the social’s expenses, somehow pissed about the hair dresser’s fee but I am ready to forget this for now, and it is my own careless expenses that bother me most.

I made these expenses to feel better about myself the last two weeks, which was a rough time. They helped at that time, but it is time that I go back to my regular responsible, waste-free, and frugal self. Noting this here gives me hope and determinism to do this transition. I hope I will not fail in this.

Next week I am officially off and will keep working at home (my “work staycations” are becoming an interesting yet effective habit now…). But I am going to host friends this and the next weekend at home. I am looking forward to these events because I have seen nothing but support and friendship from most of the invitees. The expenses I will make for these dinner parties should not exceed 100 bucks each with some luck.

On the good side, within the last two weeks I have saved $70 from some expenses I was supposed to do, but did not. Also, my “fun funds” accumulation are around $1,230 as of today. These funds are critical for the short Europe visit I will make in October. I am so looking forward to this trip, which will give me some time to focus on my own enjoyment and relaxation. And it could not be possible without the fun funds 🙂 As a reminder, fun funds are those money that I saved from my weekly allowance since the new year. This is at least a successful product of my overall spending and saving adventure 🙂

Party GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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gifs by:https://giphy.com/gifs/party-warning-davin-MOTkF7sT8u2Z2;

semi-annual budget check

Now that almost 6 months have passed, I wanted to have a look at what I had budgeted and what I had spent.  Main numbers for variable expenses (i.e. not including the bills, mortgage etc.) are as follows:

1. I spend around $66/week for groceries, occasional cab and eating out. 

2. I so far have not over-spent my weekly allowance that covers the expenses listed above ($120/week budgeted)

3. However, I spent $232 for cab so far – the majority of the time I could take the bus or walk. That bothers me, but I must let go.

4. My “other”expenses including socials, treats, donations, gifts, medication/other health related expenses, personal care (such as hair cut), hobby/sewing notions, clothes, and cleaning product purchases constitute a higher amount than my “weekly allowance” expenses: a total of $2,281 or $88/week (averaged) so far. I have budgeted a total of $6,500 for this year. 

5. My total expenses per week (weekly allowance and “other” expenses together) come to a total of $154/week (on the average)

6. I also save by following the discounts, using coupons/loyalty card points, etc. This amounts to $1,899 so far – $73/week  (which is an amazing amount, by the way) 

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So some categories are doing awesome, others need some more careful thinking, but overall these are very good numbers.

This year’s budget has been really good and I have been doing really awesome – so let’s go get that ice cream!

Baby GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

gif by:https://giphy.com/gifs/art-funny-iscreaming-AGGz7y0rCYxdS;

 

 

 

complete frugality

Is it possible for me to be frugal 100% of the time?

I have been thinking about this since yesterday. You know I take the cab sometime and then usually (not always – sometimes I like pampering myself) I resent it the rest of the day.

It is one of these activities that works against my frugal and effective budgeting activities; a ride to office costs around 10 buck – considering how much effort I put to save 10 bucks each week, it is understandable that taking the cab is quite counter-intuitive and counter-productive for me. 

I thought about it and I know there are three other areas in my expenses that are against my frugal life-style;

  • social treats to cheap friends/colleagues (these are the ones that would let me pay for everything, rather than putting their hands in their purses!),
  • gifting (new year gifts, kids, house-warmer gifts, etc.), and,
  • social treats/donations that I must do because of my work place seniority. 

Some of these I can handle better I guess.

First thing first, those friends/colleagues who take advantage of my generosity: obviously I am pissed off by them! Next time I can try to be assertive with them!

Gifting: when I bought my sewing machine I thought I could sew gifts, but now I can see that this is not gonna happen anytime soon. So, I better start shopping for the new year gifts while there are sales. There will be other gifts that I will have to get along the way, like a birthday gift I probably will need in two days  – these I guess can be purchased when they are needed. I am afraid I have nothing additional to do about these expenses.

And social treats/donations that I must do at work: This is also an area of expense that I can hardly limit…. We have annual contributions for recognizing some of the employees’ work with us, which is perfectly fine and I am happy to do these (they so well deserve these). I am often asked to donate to causes that we all care, which I am again very happy to contribute to. And I usually take my team out for lunch several times a year, which is also great because we usually do that to celebrate a significant achievement or a life-event such as a wedding. It is also a great team-building activity. So other than choosing affordable places for lunch, I cannot see much of a thing to change here, either.

Alright. And the rest of my expenses seem to okay (not including the trips I pay to visit my family).

When I look for an opportunity to see whether I can further reduce my spending, I see that this may be possible.

But things that I can do are really small; like making my own detergent (which I do not want to), cutting my hair (which I do not want to), stop dyeing my hair (which I do not want to), buying grains and beans in bulk (like 10 kg bulk) and making them my primary staple (which I do not want to – I like grains and beans a lot but I want to eat fresh produce more), reducing the heating really low (which I do not want to), canceling my cable and risking the good price of internet-cable-phone plan (which I do not want to), not buying occasional awards such as a bar of chocolate or a drink/meal/breakfast for myself (which I do not want not to), and occasional waste like a bad apple here and there.

So, looks like for now, I am at a good shape and have a plan to tackle some of the the unnecessary expense areas. And who knows, once I reach the next level of frugality I may come up with new ways to cut my expenses and become more self-sustaining and resourceful 🙂

After all, there is always a chance of surprising ourselves – just like this bird/crow(?) in the gif below! What a smart animal! 🙂

Food GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

gif by:https://giphy.com/gifs/closer-level-3O5ihx3odCq76

 

 

 

 

weekly budget check

I have not posted last week, but it is similar to this week’s spending; my grocery spending is more or less around the same level across the weeks; I continue to be generous with great people and gifting them (which is a delight); and I have reached one of my financial goals for this month, thanks to the budget for the year 2017! What a success 🙂

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery and cab ride x 2): $68.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $68.5= $51.5

Fun funds expenses: $47

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $1,176.25 !!! 🙂 

Other expenses: $64 (cab to an appointment and donation)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $49.75 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, walking rather than taking the bus, using coupons/sales etc.). 

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Pantry and freezer treasures enjoyed this week: The ones I remember are: frozen veggies from the freezer; canned beans x 2, canned lentils from the pantry.

My pantry and freezer are in good condition, with old purchases being consumed – I am pleased with this 🙂 #endfoodhoarding!  🙂 

And as part of my “eat more diverse food challenge”, I believe I have eaten some food that I have not eaten the week before, some of which are lentil, beet, celery, garlic, and lettuce. I am not paying attention as much as I want to,  but I will get serious about eating diverse food again starting tomorrow 🙂

One positive experience I can note, however, is that my consumption of canned food is significantly reduced! This has been something that I wanted to do for quite some time! I am excited and quite satisfied with this 🙂

Thanks for listening! Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

weekly budget check (belated)

I have not posted about my weekly budget check yesterday; here is a brief summary:

I took the cab three times this week because I was not feeling well or was in negative mood. I regret these decisions because walking is always making me feel great, but I certainly am okay with pampering myself when needed. So, the regret I feel works like a friendly reminder and helped me to take the bus this morning (rather than the cab).

Anyways; that is why my weekly expenses were inflated a little bit this week, but I was still under my weekly allowance of 120 bucks. So it was another successful week 🙂 So far in 2017 I have never over-spent my weekly allowance, which covers cab, breakfast/eating out, grocery and sometimes the cleaning and personal care products. So all is good. 

Since it is almost 6 months since the new year/new budget, I have looked at my expenses and savings. It looks really good – my expenses are considerably less than last year. The increase in the level of my chequeing account was not as great as I had hoped it would be, but I know soon it is gonna get better because of reduction in the power bill due to warmer weather 🙂 

And according to my calculations if the market continues like this, I will be increasing my net worth quite a bit this year (around 25%). 

Overall, things are going pretty good – I am very happy with this frugal adventure 🙂

 

weekly budget check

It has been good week. One of these weeks where the expenses are quite low because previously I stocked up food.  Oh, well 🙂

I have had a number of #noexpense days this week; I believe Saturday, Monday-Thursday I did not spend money, not even for transportation because I made the choice to walk 🙂

So it is possible to live without the need of spending money? This, my friends, feels really good 🙂 

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery): $22.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $22.5= $97.5

Fun funds expenses: $54

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $1,108.5 !!! 🙂 

Other expenses: $11.5 (soft drinks for the dinner I was invited to)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $32.75 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, walking rather than taking the bus, using coupons etc.). 

Better than spending them, do you not think 🙂

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Mortgage pre-payment: $225.5!

I am so excited about these payments!

I believe this is my 6th pre-payment since new year. Whatever I can save without much of an effort or planning (e.g. savings from would-be-expenses and the tax return are good examples), I use as pre-payments 🙂 I estimate that I will make around 5K of pre-payments this year – let’s cross the fingers! 🙂

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Pantry and freezer treasures enjoyed this week: frozen chicken meal from the freezer; and bulghur, wild rice, red lentil, and canned corn from the pantry. Talking about #endfoodhoarding!  🙂 

And as part of my “eat more diverse food challenge”  I have consumed kefir (for the first time in my life), corn, lentil, bulghur, wild rice, carrot, meat, green salad mix, and chicken that I had not eaten the week before (and a lot of sweets at the dinner with friends – ooooops! 🙂 )

Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

 

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

After 2 months or so, finally this past two weeks I have saved a good sum of my salary and improved my chequing account balance 🙂 This feels good and is highly motivating. I wish to be able to keep doing this so that I can start the summer with a really strong chequing account.

This week I did not take the cab at all; rather I either took the bus or walked 🙂 Walking as usual is a great activity that relaxes my body and my mind. I have never been disappointed by walking. The trick is to be able to “think” about walking 🙂 Once I am in the good mood and decide to walk, then walking just comes naturally.

Those days that I walk to office feels extremely satisfying because that usually means that I have no other expense and as such those days are expense-free. Thus I feel completely self-sustaining 🙂

—————————-

Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery): $54

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $54= $66

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $974 !!! 🙂 (next week I hope to reach above 1,000 bucks – this is going to be a milestone for me 🙂

Other expenses: $5.75 (1 thrifted blouse and a piece of scrap fabric)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $65.25 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, walking rather than taking the bus, the discounts at grocery stores etc,).

Mortgage pre-payment: none this time

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Pantry and freezer treasures enjoyed this week: frozen bread, chicken, and meatballs from the freezer; canned beans and rice from the pantry 🙂 Hurrah! #endfoodhoarding

And as part of my “eat more diverse food challenge” I believe I have consumed around 9-10 food that I have not consumed the week before; ones that I can remember are chicken, rice, tofu, beans, beef, potato, apple, oranges, and turnip.

Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

weekly budget check

I did not post the weekly budget check last week; it is quite similar to this week.

Basically, I keep staying within my weekly allowance and do not make other expenses, such as dining out or purchase of personal/cleaning products unless necessary. Despite my best efforts though, the funds that I can regularly save after my expenses, mortgage, bills, and RRSP/TFSA contributions is not overly significant. This worries me because this is how I increase the money in my chequing account. So far it has been going only up yet slowly, so it must be okay. Yet I wished I could do better, oh well 🙂

Anyways; I am excited to say that I keep making mortgage pre-payments whenever I find a chance. I did one today 🙂 Looks like every month I can do one or two payments with a minimum of 100 bucks. This does not sound like too much, but I would like to think that it is making a positive change in my debt 🙂 

Overall, I am very happy and grateful for my frugal life. It has been somehow rough lately and i have been taking the cab sometimes even though I really do not like the feeling afterwards, but i want to believe that I take the cab because I need to pamper myself. If a 10 bucks ride is going to make me feel better, honestly, there is no need to brag about it. I just am worried that it may become a regular thing – that is all. 

—————————–

Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery and cab rides x 2): $62.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $62.5= $57.5

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $908 !!! 🙂 

Other expenses: $42 (personal care purchases, such as moisturizer)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $29 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at the local cafe).

Mortgage pre-payment: $211 🙂

—————————-

And, last; I am happy to say that I keep consuming the food I have “hoarded” in my freezer and pantry (e.g. pasta, beans, frozen meals, frozen bread, canned corn and beans, etc.). I have actually replaced some of the food with fresh batches, which feels real good. I plan to prioritize the food in the pantry more – I have quite a bit dried veggies, wild rice, and cracked wheat still to consume, though! Lucky me 🙂

Happy savings! 🙂

weekly budget check

I continue to take the cab in the mornings this week – one gets used to comfort quite easily 🙂

I had forgotten what a blessing it was to get up whenever I want and not worrying about losing time by waiting for and taking the bus. Taking the cab in the morning sure does give me a warm feeling of being pampered.

Sadly, it also means that I am spending more than I would like to 🙂 

I know this is just temporary so I am not worried, but I wished I had started walking or taking the bus, rather than taking the cab, starting tomorrow. Let’s see how it will go.

Anyways, this week the spending is higher than before because of the extra cab expenses, but other than that I continue to spend consciously and keep saving.

Here is the week’s account:

—————————–

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast, and a cab fares): $104

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $104= $16

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $788.5 (🙂)

Other expenses: $84 (health-related and social expenses, in addition to personal care and cleaning product purchases)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $60.75 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at the local cafe, not picking up the bill for others at socials).

——————————

Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: soup (x2) and bean meal from the freezer;  quinoa from the pantry 🙂 Thank goodness, I am done with quinoa…..

——————————

Happy saving! 🙂

random thoughts

Our storm continues with heavy rain, rather than snow, and with high winds. It has been a wet, cold, gray, and miserable day, but luckily not a snow-day. I worked whole day at the office and one of my co-workers gave me a ride back home. What else do I want from such a stormy day? Maybe a cup of tea 🙂

I am determined to try to sew a collar again this weekend and start a new blouse project. It is the collars that screw everything most – once I do achieve sewing one acceptable prototype, I know I can keep progressing….. But  there were three trials so far and all were fails. I know I should be more patient and keep going. Eventually I will know how to best handle it. After all, there are so many people who can do a collar. Is there any particular reason why I cannot make it?

I did not think so.

Confidence and determinism are rare traits sometimes.

I have watched a number of youtube videos. There are many different ways to sew a neck line. I can do this! 

———————————–

I have not posted my “weekly budget check” this week. It has been similar to previous weeks where I saved by shopping items/grocery on sale, minimizing anything else. The only difference was that this week every morning I have taken the cab to the office. This was partly because of the bad weather and partly because of my need to feel good about myself. For some reason, I am not sorry. Perhaps one or two days I could rather take the bus, but in the other days taking the cab was the right decision. That is why I am not sorry. And the fact  that money is not everything. And the fact that it is okay to prioritize comfort every once a while 🙂

I wonder what the future years will bring. If our economy was not this bad, in the coming years we would expect to get salary increases. This would be nice and help me to make further plans to pay the mortgage off. I have a little increase coming in April, for which I am grateful. But knowing that our salaries will probably not increase, in contrast, may even be reduced after that, I am feeling disappointed.

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The other day I was thinking: what other expense I can reduce in my life? How can I get more income? One of the options is to get a roommate – but this will not happen without sacrificing my comfort and freedom. I wish I had a basement apartment where I could rent. At least that would feel like some kind of freedom. But in terms of the expenses, I cannot cut my cable-phone-internet combo; I sure can walk more frequently to office once the weather becomes more permissive; I cannot sacrifice from my grocery and food any further. None of these can happen without reducing the quality of my life or my life style. I can reduce the expenses related to my social life, but hey it is already not too much. So what do I do?

Nothing much. Cherish what I could achieve so much, aim to save as much as possible (possible is a great word here) while also enjoy my life. That is pretty much it.

2017 has been the leanest year in terms of my spending so far. Since it is March 31st, I thought it would be a good idea to check my finances. I usually do this at the end of each year, but it is good to know how I am doing in terms of budgeted categories.

Notable financial accomplishments/facts are as follows: 

1. I am spending much less money this year than before

2. I am walking in the mornings whenever I can – the first time in winter this year (well, okay this is not completely a financial achievement, but an important change in my life this year – so I will keep it in the list 🙂 )

3. I have made an effort to consume the food in my pantry and freezer and it worked really good for me

4. I started to make mortgage prepayments this year and it has been going well. I am more motivated than ever to keep saving, however  little it can be, and use it to make a pre-payment

5. My weekly allowance (of $120) has never been over-spent so far and I am constantly saving in my fund funds (these are the funds left from the weekly allowance). If it continues like this I will have an extra $2,000 – 2,500 at the end of the year in my fun funds account. This is additional to what I predicted that I could save this year. Maybe I will use it for my enjoyment, or maybe I will use it to invest/pay mortgage. We shall see 🙂

6. Of $6,000 funds budgeted for socials, personal care and cleaning products, hobbies, medications and other health-related expenses, gifts, and all expenses other than my weekly allowance, I spent around $1,000 so far. Considering that it is the 1/4th of the year so far, this number is good. I should keep going frugal in these areas, as I happen to shop a lot during the November-December to take advantage of the sales. I hope to keep within this budgeted amount this year.

7.  My chequing account is healthy, above $0, and as usual, I continue to contribute to my RRSP and TFSA investments biweekly. The only thing is that despite all the frugal life-style, regular savings to improve the chequing account has been quite difficult (because of the increased tax, pension contributions, and mortgage payments) compared to the last year. Nevertheless, since it is in a good shape, I am grateful for whatever I can do and I am determined to keep going. 

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weekly budget check

 

This was quite a #leanspending week 🙂

I am constantly saving from my weekly allowance (a.k.a. fun funds): I have not decided what to do with the accumulated funds, but I am sure I will come up with something over time 🙂

Also, I got a tax return last week, which excites me! I will be using it as a mortgage pre-payment next week 🙂

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery and other little miscellaneous expenses): $43

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $43 = $77

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $674.5  (Yahooo !!!! 🙂

Other expenses: $50 (health-related)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $31.25 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as walking rather than taking the bus, having breakfast at home rather than at the local cafe etc.).

Not too much this week, but that is okay – every dollar counts 🙂

————————————————-

Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: minced beef, cooked bean meal, green beans, and meatballs from the freezer; rolled oats, flax seeds, bulghur, and pasta (x2) from the pantry 🙂

 Don’t you love using the food at home?

 🙂 

————————————————-

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

weekly budget check

When it rains, it pours.

No, not the rain – I am referring to my spending pattern 🙂 

This past week was a relatively high spending week.

Let me explain:

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $87

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $87 = $33

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $597.5  (dance with me here! Wohoo 🙂 ) 

Other expenses: $111 (social/dinner)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $46.5 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as walking rather than taking the bus, having breakfast at home rather than the local cafe etc.)

Notes: it is interesting that sometimes spending money feels right. For example, on Tuesday morning I took the cab to office for the first time in 2017 (I usually would take the bus or even walk). It felt right and I am not resentful about its fee because I woke up at 6.45 am and by taking the cab I started my work-day at around 7.20 am. It was a very efficient day and I am very happy about this.

Also the dinner expense I have made (today) was well worth it. I took a couple out for a simple dinner tonite. They are very nice people, I enjoy spending time with them, and I have been to their home many times. It was my turn. Also, they just bought a house, which I wanted to celebrate!  It was a great night with great people – so all is well 🙂

Mortgage pre-payment: I paid an additional $270 today as mortgage pre-payment 🙂 This is my third payment this year totaling $870. I am very excited about these payments and am motivated to save more from my regular expenses so that i can keep making these payments 🙂 🙂 🙂

————————————————-

Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: rolled oats, flax seeds, soya beans, and green lentils from the pantry 🙂 I love, love using the food at home! 🙂 

————————————————-

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

weekly budget check

Interesting times.

First, I feel like I am spending way more than I should, but this should not annoy me; I only purchase stuff that are either durable and on sale, or are needed.

Second, I think walking to the office in the morning now is a thing for even winter! I am making a serious effort to walk by default now, unless it rains or is very icy 🙂 Walking is so cool 🙂

Third, it is becoming a nice habit to use the small savings to pay as mortgage pre-payments – this year I have made 2 and today I ordered another one to be in effect next week. I am excited and very, very proud 🙂

Anyways, going back to the weekly account:

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $73

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $73 = $47

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $564.5 

Other expenses: $49.5 (hair dye etc.)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $46.5 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as walking rather than taking the bus, having breakfast at the local cafe etc.)

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*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: canned beans, quinoa, rolled oats, soup noodle from the pantry; breakfast calzone, beef, and pastry sheet from the freezer 🙂

*a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer. This will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste.

————————————————-

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

 

weekly budget check

Is Sears closing?

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

I am not sorry 🙂

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

Ok; back to weekly expenses and other financial events: 

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

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

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

Fun funds expenses: $0

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————-

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

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

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weekly budget check

This week is the one with the highest grocery spending yet.

I also bought myself a dinner and breakfast this past weekend – ooops 🙂

I owe this mostly to the bad mood – food, after all, is an effective remedy to help feel good.

Nevertheless, I continue to make excellent choices considering the circumstances and keep spending much less than before.

This week I also made a pre-payment order, using the funds saved by my choices or by luck 🙂 That feels great!

Overall, my mood was negative, I needed to pamper myself, I spent more, but I am always eager to curb my spending. I think this week will be such a week 🙂

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $111.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $111.5 = $8.5

Fun funds expenses: $19

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $464.5 

Other expenses: $0 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses: $91 (these are the expenses I would normally make, but decided not to, or just by chance did not need to make. A large chunk of these savings is a discount I asked for for a monthly service 🙂 )

Of note; I am making use of these savings – every once a while they are being paid as mortgage pre-payment 🙂 this is so exciting! seeing the seemingly small savings making such a positive difference in my debt levels. Very satisfactory 🙂

————————————————-

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: canned beans from the pantry; frozen green beans and minced beef from the freezer 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

I just want to spend money

I just want to feel good and one of the best ways I can do is to spend money.

It really is!!!!!

Another way is consuming food.

Maybe I could get out and buy myself a nice dinner.

—————————–

I like the feeling of freedom money and spending money gives me right now. Not giving a darn about spending money is a good feeling, my friends.

I think I have been on a strict budget for too long (my #TheLeanSpendingMonth practice is > 6 more weeks right now) and the fact that our boss mentioned about firing people last week, which naturally raised my nerve levels to a new high, I do not want to take “it” any more. 

I will spend money on myself if I want to.

I will buy unessential food/drinks that will help me feel good if I need to.

I will eat good food and nourish myself anytime and anywhere.

I will still be frugal, but I refuse to be cheap, especially towards myself.

With that I am ending my #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge.

—————————

I have saved a couple or more bucks with  #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge: during this challenge I was more careful and conscious about my spending and savings. But considering the fact that I had already had good spending habits, the money I saved was not too much (maybe around $20-25/week). It is still a good sum of savings but it is not worth this feeling of being constrained and deprived.

I have learnt that I was already a good spender/saver and I could continue like this.

I have learnt that I needed to be kind to myself and addressing my needs were important.

I have learnt that right now money was not the most important thing to save – keeping not only my physical health but also my mental peace was.

I have learnt that while I enjoy challenging myself, sometimes timing was everything – when it is not a good time, it is not the time.

These being said, there will be times when it is a good time to try  #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge again.

Until then, off I go to relax 🙂

 

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weekly budget check

Overall, I am keeping with #TheLeanSpendingMonth  plan 🙂

I think I am doing okay! 🙂

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Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $63

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $63 = $57

Fun funds expenses: $14

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $475  (yay! wow! can you believe in this? I have saved so much. Wow!! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $86.5 – paid for cleaning products and food at a store that I visit once a month or so. These were needed so I am okay with these expenses 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses: $137.5 (these are the expenses I would normally make, but decided not to, or just by chance did not need to make. For example, a large chunk of these savings is a repair that I was offered for free through my work place – I am so grateful! 🙂 here comes my next mortgage pre-payment!)

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*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: bread (from the freezer), rice and canned beans from the pantry 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

7th and 8th Day of #TheLeanSpendingMonth

Today I realized I needed to be kind and nourishing toward myself.

Not that #TheLeanSpendingMonth plan is hurting me; no. I enjoy challenging myself, finding new ways to save, getting excited about the things I can do; and overall I seem like saving a dime or two along the process (though it is not too much – I will write about this later).

But I, like anyone else, wake up with issues and negative feelings on my mind, go thru life as it is, work hard, and get annoyed by people or events. So, there are times that we just need to support ourselves a little bit better. Whether that would mean to care less about money and eat something unhealthy or luxurious, or do something that requires a little bit more money.

Today has been such a day; I decided I did not want to eat the same things as I have in the last few weeks. So even though it know well that it is unhealthy, I bought hot dogs and ate them with a large salad.

I ate the entire package (around 12 of them) without cooking… I know it is gross…. But, I wanted to do that – it is a manifestation of how much I do not care. And I can say now that I am not eating hot dogs again (at least for some time)…..

So I spent $4.5 for bus fare (yesterday and today) and $8 for food this afternoon. I am still doing strong and frugal.

And now I am craving for sweets… go figure….

 

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DAY 5 – #TheLeanSpendingMonth

Alright – I did spend $14 unnecessarily. 

Was it a treat?

I do not know.

I just know that since our boss threatened us with firing last week, I have been feeling down, angry, stressed, and anxious.

And today I felt like I needed to do something; eat at a diner, buy fancy food, or just do something that will make me feel better. As if I needed to prove myself that I could afford luxury and money is not important (it is not actually.. but anyways – you have got the idea).  

So I bought lottery tickets.

Strike 1 on #TheLeanSpendingMonth plan.

Darn economy and potential future financial issues..

————-

The good thing is that usually during the week my expenses are quite low. I hope from today till Thursday evening (when I usually do my grocery), the only expenses I will have will be my bus fee.

random thoughts and #TheLeanSpendingMonth

It is going well – this quiet and relaxing weekend I mean 🙂

Weather is good; I walked yesterday for 25 min or so and am planning to do so again this afternoon; I cook and eat healthy with lots of raw veggies; house is cleaned and laundry is done; a number of movies are enjoyed; world news are followed; better spending choices are made; food in the pantry/freezer is being consumed; and life feels overall not too eventful and is peaceful.

Of course, the world news are interesting. What the hey has been happening in the USA? I sometimes think that all the little problems of mine are unnecessary – I guess this kind of mentality and actions are the ones that will fuel a much larger world-wide conflict, unrest, and violence. So who cares about whether I will be able to do every thing I want to do this year? Save that much and invest this much? Nope. We may be looking at a much bigger and global problem to erupt (not to mention the pain and suffering by the people most needed the safety). I am sorry if I sound pessimistic (which I usually am).

Nevertheless, I try to focus on what I can control so that I can not feel hopeless altogether. That brings me to my #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge I assigned for myself (a.k.a. super-duper lean spending month).

I initially had decided to try it on February but more or less since new year I am on it.

What is #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge?

As the name implies – it aims to challenge me to spend the least amount of money on non-essential expenses (for me that would mean taking the cab, eating breakfast outside, buying coffee or other treats, buying more grocery that I can consume, and buying anything new while I still have a working copy at home).

I am not 100% lean in my spending; I decided a while ago that fully restricting myself was not a good idea. So I am buying one treat a week as I please (like peanut butter which is not essential for my diet). But I am quite conscious of my spending, and I am making it a choice to calculate the cons and pros of each of my expenses and think about how I could benefit from by not making the expense.

For example, I walked yesterday 15 min away to get eggs on sale, also thinking that walking is a great exercise that I am looking forward to anyhow. Yet, today I decided once again that baking dry beans would not worth it and the canned beans is a much better option for me regardless of the cost (it takes so loooong to cook beans…)…

I also needed an extra and quite clear benefit of not spending unnecessarily and so I come up with the mortgage prepayment account; I note my savings each week which will be later used to make a prepayment whenever I have more than 100 bucks in the account. I did this for the first time 10 days ago and I am excited about it 🙂 So I have more than enough motivation to keep going. 🙂

If anyone had asked me whether I could budget stricker than what I used to have last year, I would say no. But I am proving myself wrong now – I see that I can save more. This cannot be a long term plan for me though, so I rather see the #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge as some kind of “shopping ban”. After  all I also have a life to enjoy and I would love my weekend breakfast to come back sometime 🙂

So my advice to you, if you are interested in this kind of challenges, is to learn about yourself and your choices as much as possible. Also think about it as a temporary thing; who knows maybe it will turn into a long-term habit, but if not that should be okay, too. I should also say that it is fun to challenge myself and finding ways to cut my expenses. I hope you too will have a similar and positive experience.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

 

 

 

weekly budget check

Another great week of my super-duper lean spending month:)

I have had some extra expenses (a.k.a. non-essential) but I am okay with that as this is the best budget yet. I not only have stayed within my budget, but even managed to save from my weekly allowance:) While the super-duper lean spending month officially is February, you know I have started early and it feels alright. I will post about its details later.

 

Here is the account for this past week:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $74.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $74.5 = $45.5

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $367.5  (yay! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $0 for the second week -a true miracle! 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses: $22.5 (these are the expenses I would normally do, but decided not to – I am proud of these 🙂 They may be small, but you know what I plan to do with them? Make a mortgage pre-payment!)

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*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: I have done so well this week consuming quite a bit of the food that I have hoarded at the pantry and freezer! These included; pasta, canned bean x 2, and canned corn from pantry and two containers of soup, mixed veggies, and croutons from freezer. Not bad, is it not? 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

weekly budget check

My new “lean” spending scheme is doing well 🙂

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

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

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

You have got the idea.

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

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

Weekly allowance: $120

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

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

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

Other expenses: $0 (a miracle! 🙂 )

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

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: soup and bread

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

———————–

So; not bad my friends 🙂

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

happy savings 🙂

 

 

 

if I had 172,800 bucks..

I would maximize my TFSA, pay back my HBP (Home Buyers’ Plan), make an annual mortgage pre-payment, double my mortgage payments, give a portion of it to my family members, invest the rest, and have a nice Chinese meal somewhere to celebrate.

There.

My dream for today 🙂

They say the more money you have, the more you get. Sometimes I believe in it. I also believe that the more I think I do not have money, the more I find myself spending… What an interesting dilemma….

Years ago when my finances was really low (I was kind of like a student), I had read somewhere that we must set our subconscious mind right. Upon a suggestion I read in a book, I put a number of coins in a glass container and placed it in my kitchen window. Each time I pass there, I made it habit to say “I have money“. It felt good and I can say that year I saved the most money I have ever did until then even though the money I made was quite tight 🙂

Since it is new year and my budget is more or less in check, nowadays I am feeling in control of my finances. Yet, we have got some extra taxes implemented in the new year and also our pension plan contributions have been increased by our workplace, so my salary as of new year is  less than last year. I am determined not to lose track or my saving momentum, but considering how already and significantly I have cut my expenses in the last 1.5 years, I for a moment lost my hope and started to feel like I was financially restrained again.

Then, I thought about the people who have survived the war times or the great depression and I knew that I could still cut out expenses should I wish so. I can cut my coffee in half (currently having 5 cups on the average every day), refrain from buying clothes/shoes/boots for many years (I have plenty), change my diet (not necessarily into an unhealthy one, but a more frugal one), use regular flour rather than bread flour for my bread, stop treating/gifting my coworkers and friends, learn to grow veggies in my yard, stop dying my hair, sew better, stop miscellaneous gifting, stop socializing at expensive restaurants, stop wasting food and every other item in my possession and find ways to re-use them, find alternative ways to enjoy rather than writing on notebooks with fine pens, and so on and on….

Come to think about it, some of them are not bad idea (like cutting my coffee consumption – too much of anything is not good anyhow). I am quite bothered by waste, especially the food waste and still have some fresh produce stalling in my fridge… argh… (I should go back to shopping as required rather than weekly store visits). I can also switch to regular flour (which is cheaper than the bread flour) in my sourdough loaves. I can pay more attention to sewing techniques and start sewing myself blouses (which is my primary aim now).

The point is that there seems to be multiple levels of saving. The life circumstances can challenge us, but there is usually more to change and more to save. Hopefully without reducing the quality of life and hurting our health.

Hey, maybe I should thank those extra taxes and pension contributions. They stretch my mind and imagination 🙂

weekly budget check

The first weekly budget check record of the year 2017 🙂

Like last year, I have started 2017 with a wonderful budget and limited expenses. Hence, overall the numbers look quite good this week 🙂

The only difference between this year’s budget and the previous ones is that this year I will not be counting as savings the cab fare expenses that I have not made (i.e. money saved by rather walking or taking the bus) in my “would-be-expenses” category.

The reason for that is that now walking or taking the bus have become my “normal” (compare this to last year or the year before when it would be a miracle if I had not taken the cab in the morning and evening 🙂 )…While I will be still saving, since these savings will not be recorded, the numbers in the “savings from would-be-expenses category” below will be lower, but that is okay. This being said, I still include savings such as by the store discounts, coupons, sales, or loyalty card discounts in this category.

—————————————-

Anyways; here is the snap-shot of the financial situation last week:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $35

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $35 = $85

Total fun funds accumulated so far: $72.5 (from last week; I started my budget recordings for 2017 in late December) + $85 = $157.5 (yay! 🙂

Other expenses: $11.5 (food and snacks purchased for hosting a couple of friends for a light dinner)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $219. A large portion of this savings is the reimbursement I have got for my credit card’s annual fee 🙂 Go ahead and ask for it friends! Banks sometimes waive it 🙂

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: a tasty meal prepared by baking dry beans and using the carrots that I had frozen sometime ago.

*I am noting this because a couple of days ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

———————–

So; not bad my friends; I keep my frugal life style and my hopes for my future:)

 

year end finances

Year end financial calculations are always exciting for me! After all, I make plans and try hard to stick with them during the year. Now it is time to find out how I have done and what I can learn from the past years experiences.

Here is how I have done in terms of my budget, expenses categories, and savings:

A. Expenses within the weekly allowance:

Taxi cab (not including bus fare): $435.25 (ouch!…)

Unhealthy/junk food: $973 (OUCH!)

Grocery: $2,104.5

Eating out, including my weekend breakfast: $534.05 (maybe too much?)

Others (such as occasional books): $223.75

TOTAL: $4,180.6

 

 

B. Extra expenses (these are the expenses other than the weekly allowance expenses):

Dining out (myself or with others, excluding my weekend breakfast): $1,011.5 (ouch..)

Hosting at home/visiting others: $296

Gifts/donations: $754.5

Health-related expenses (e.g. dental visits, yoga etc.): $1,292.5

Cleaning and personal care products: $1,933.5

Clothes/shoes/sewing machine/sewing related expenses: $695

House repairs/furniture/extra house tax: $1,259

Annual vacation/family visit: around $6,200 (worth every penny!)

Fun funds expenses (expenses for my own enjoyment): $943.5

TOTAL: $14,385.5

 

C. Special savings

Total fun funds (savings from $120/week weekly allowance): $1,219.5 (yay!! – it is great to see these savings 🙂 ). I end this year with a positive balance at the fun funds (~$188)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $7,784.3!!! These are the money that I save by not taking the cab (as I would usually do), by using coupon/sales, and other lucky encounters. Honestly I am very surprised by this amount and am very excited!. can you imagine? Under different conditions I would be spending this money but I chose not to; I chose to follow the sales; and I chose not to make unnecessary expenses…I am very proud of these money that are now left with me!

D. Total savings and investments: Around 31.2% of my income after taxes (not including the home equity)

E. Others. I increased my mortgage payment in September by $100/biweek, which is not reflected in these calculations. Nor the bills, insurances, etc. (i.e. fixed expenses).

 

——————–

In summary; I see that I am capable of spending frugally and sticking with my budget to my best, but there are areas that I can focus. For example, I can reduce those junk food category and increase my hosting expenses. I should keep following the sales and taking the bus/walk to keep save a considerable amount of money.

Overall, I am content with what I have done, but I would love to save more of my net income.

Maybe in 2017! 🙂 happy new year everyone!

 

feeling more optimistic today

After feeling quite overwhelmed yesterday, I am feeling much better now.

I worked intensely today with two of my colleagues. I was drained but we have done a good job. I decided tomorrow was the day of cleaning the office (dusting and decluttering) as well as cleaning the work email box. After that i plan to leave my office for the holidays and start my break with visiting the fabric stores 🙂 And upon returning back to home, I hope to work on the blouse I have started today and maybe do some laundry to jump start the holiday plans! 🙂

Thursday morning I have an appointment with my bank. I will not make a lump sum contribution to my mortgage that I had planned earlier, but I decided i could increase my payment a little bit and still feel like doing a good job with it (without feeling deprived of money). I think I must give myself more credit; this year I have done really well in terms of my budget, savings, and increasing my mortgage and RRSP contributions even though some of our taxes increased. i will calculate my finances (savings and spendings in each expense category) for the year 2016 soon; I am excited about it 🙂 2017 will be somehow tough because our pension contributions will be increasing too, but I want to go through it. I can always reduce my TFSA contribution should I need cash. I must remember this.

Back to sewing; I started a new blouse project today. I must admit I am intimidated by sewing – there is so much to figure out and to try. It is good that I bought the fabrics at my hand at good price (from the thrift stores); even though they are now mostly wasted by my trials and errors (!), it is a necessary part of the process. Tonite I watched a couple of youtube videos and they were helpful in learning how to best sew a neck… Sewing a good looking neck and fitting the arms may be the hardest part of the sewing for me right now. I will develop over time I hope.

Have a great night everyone 🙂

weekly budget check

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

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

here is a snap-shot of this week:

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

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

total fun funds accumulated to date: $120.5

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

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

———-

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

have a great Thursday everyone 🙂

 

 

weekly budget check

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

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

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

—————————————

Expenses within the weekly allowance: $48.5

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

Fun funds expenses (my discretionary spending): $80

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

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

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

————–

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

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

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

The half full glass of sewing

I became interested in sewing only lately – I believe 3 weeks ago or so. I had used a little toy-like machine to sew around the edges of a piece of fabric to have extra baking cloths. I immediately fell in love with it!  I looked for a good deal, finally got a nice one, ordered a wonderful sewing machine, and eventually received it last Friday:)

Well, there are also expenses associated with it. I ordered additional bobbins, presser feet, and needles; am buying threads and fabric; and am needing other supplies like cutting mats, rotary cutters, scissors, pins, and more threads and fabric. I will possibly need more stuff and notions over time. So, it will cost me money….As a matter of fact just yesterday I have had that dilemma again – is this really worth it considering that I am on a saving adventure?

I do not like this thought at all.

I believed genuinely that sewing was good for me and that is why I bought the machine. I enjoy it and I sure will benefit from it. So tonite, I have been busy trying to list all the benefits of sewing and now I am feeling better 🙂 .

Here is my case for sewing:

1. Sewing is a great, interesting, and exciting hobby: Everybody needs a hobby or two that will distract our minds from the daily stress and issues and make our lives whole and better. I used to read books till last year as a continuous hobby; then started baking bread; and now am moving with sewing. I am in fact lucky that I have these beneficial, positive, and lovely interests in my life!

2. Sewing can help me make my living environment better: Once I got the supplies and necessary trial-error-experience, I can do so much with the sewing machine and improve my home. My long-term plans are to sew curtains, table cloths, bed covers, quilts, pillow covers, placemats, dishmats, napkins, sewing machine cover (yes, I will do this one too 🙂 ), bed sheets/linen, to name a few.

So for all these new and hopefully beautiful things crafted just according to my taste, soon and over the many years to come, am I not supposed to be actually joyful and grateful? I project that these will cost me more money than the factory produced items I could buy, but may not the pride, excitement, effort, and anticipation of making them myself just worth the extra price?

3. Sewing can make me more self-sustaining: I know from my bread baking adventure that it feels wonderful to be able to keep trying and baking my own bread (sometime brick-like, but that is okay), not buying store-made bread any more, and sharing my loaves with friends and neighbours.

If I can sew stuff, including clothes, then I sure will be more self-sustaining and I sure will feel the pride coming out of it. I did not sew till just 3 weeks ago!! Is that not a great ability now?

4. I can repair clothes and household items: I have a number of shirts and trousers that need a stitch or two. I also would like to fix certain problematic areas of select clothes that are in good shape but are not my favorites right now (like sleeves that are a little bit longer than I desire). My other alternative would be hand-repairing them, but this type of sewing has never been very successful with extensive repairs/fixes. So, in fact now I may be able to do these a little bit better. Will this not limit waste and increase savings over time?

5. I can sew clothes: In fact I would love to sew tunic tops; I even have a plan for a green one in my mind (it will be my first serious sewing project). How about pajamas?

6. I can make gifts by sewing and save money: This will be a penny-saver that is for sure. Every year I spend around 300 bucks for gifts. There are people that I love who are away and I do not gift at all (like my good friends). So, why do I not just improve my sewing and craft skills and make them gifts myself? A nice table cloth or quilt is sure to warm even the coldest heart.

In summary, here are the main benefits associated with sewing: better mood, better self-sustaining abilities, limiting waste, reducing a portion of my regular expenses (like gifts), and making my home/clothes the way I want it…

With these in mind, can I really brag about the expenses associated with sewing?

Especially that I am making an effort to identify the best priced supplies and do not do haphazard expenses?

And also, I just remembered: at the beginning of a new adventure like sewing, certainly the expenses are higher because of the additional but durable items required (like scissors, cutting mat etc.). Over time, my main expenses will be threads and fabric.

Overall, what is my verdict?

I will be okay and I should focus on enjoying my sewing journey!

 

weekly budget check

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

—————————–

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

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

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

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

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

———————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

I guess we will see how it goes 🙂

minimal spending plan till new year

Holiday season is coming. That means; a) I am socializing more often than usual, and b) shopping! In both cases, I will be spending money 🙂

I want to take advantage of the sales and the fact that I will be off for two weeks during the holidays means that I have time to go around and shop without rush. it is quite fun actually!

My plan is to purchase a new dining set, mixing bowl, sifter, french press for home, tea kettle, and other small stuff. I also would like to stock up my cleaning products, such as garbage bags, toilet paper, paper towel, dish detergent, and others. The regularly consumed food, such as canned food, are also in the list. Sure, I will also buy new pants and shirts when they are on sale. And socks.

The list was actually bigger than that, but I felt that I must trim it….Considering the fact that my biggest financial aim till new year is to make an additional payment to my mortgage, while I am excited about the idea of shopping and purchasing stuff that I will need, I am also aware that I may be financially strained if I am not careful and cut some of these expenses.

Since it is more beneficial to take advantage of the sales (and to socialize with great people), I have just decided I should implement a “minimal spending” plan. It is not as strict as “shopping ban“. It just aims to be more resourceful by using the food in the pantry, freezer, and fridge, and eliminating my weekend breakfast-related expenses till new year. I am not against occasional set-back, but I am determined to do my best.

I have been toying with this idea this past weekend (in order to save for my sewing machine) and it actually went okay. My grocery bill is lower, yet I have everything I need. I was okay brewing my own coffee and have breakfast at home. I also seem to have stocked up a lot of cleaning products/dry food/frozen food, so the timing is good. As a matter of fact, it is actually quite good that I will be consuming what I have; this will give me a chance to help replenish them with fresher ones.

I have 6 weeks to keep my weekly expenses low, to my best, and then leverage these funds to shop.

When it is a short period of time, I know it is doable. When I first had shopping ban on purchasing books, I was not sure how long I could keep up with it. But it did happen and is still continuing voluntarily. I hope that this minimal spending plan will work out just fine, too 🙂

weekly budget check

A good week in terms of saving from my weekly allowance (covering my weekend breakfast/coffee, grocery and other miscellaneous expenses):

Total weekly allowance spending: $77.5

Money left for fun funds: $120 – $77.5 = $42.5

Total fun funds accumulated (or, rather over-spent….) this year: -$211.5

Extra expenses (cleaning and personal care products) = $206.5 (ouch!)

 

Overall, I spent a lot of money this past week, that is for sure. None of the expenses were unnecessary, so I am perfectly fine with this. I know that I do not have to make another round of cleaning/personal care products shopping for some time.

 

Frugal encounters in the last one week:

I have saved $186 in the last week; $100 by walking to and from the work place (rather than taking the cab) and $86 by following the sales and using coupons ($13). I continue to be excited about these savings.

It is so easy to spend the money, but not so easy to save money, is it not? I must admit, though, saving money is quite exciting 🙂

 

Minimal spending week:

I have two important financial aims till the new year: a) to make an additional $4,000 payment to my mortgage, and b) to purchase a sewing machine.

Clearly, I must save more than what I have done so far…. That prompts me to look for ways to reduce my weekly expenses without reducing the safety or quality of my life. I decided this week was an excellent candidate to be a minimal spending week – I have lots of food in the fridge/freezer/pantry.. It is time that I consume them before they go bad. Hence, this week I will focus on consuming what I have, especially the dry food and the frozen veggies. I already purchased enough amount of fresh produce and fruits; so i will not focus on stocking up items, even they are on sale.

This is the week that I have a chance to actually save from my weekly allowance and even an extra $50 will make me feel excited! And, I am looking forward to that 🙂

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 🙂

 

weekly budget check

I have not updated this category recently; mostly because I was spending over my budget for some time as well as a trip I made to to Europe for a week.

Good news is that as of this week, I am back to my lean budget. That means none of these junks that I consume to deal with stress are in my life. Well, I am not an eternal optimist, so I am not saying they will never appear in my life (though, I wished they did not). But, until that time, I am proud and excited about this spending routine – nothing extra is purchased; sales are followed and items are stocked up as usual, money is saved, the chequing account gets healthier, and I feel abundant and well.

All is well in my financial world right now 🙂

weekly allowance expenses: $90

funds left from the weekly allowance and transferred to the fun fund: $120-$90=$30

total fun fund: -$270 (have I mentioned I was over-spending? argh..)

extra expenses (hosting, meals with others, health-related expenses): $182.5

 

I am looking forward to an even leaner week ahead. I really hope this will go on like this. There is quite an astonishing empowerment coming from increasing the value of your money (by means of following sales, for example), not wasting food, money, or items, saving money that otherwise would be lost, and still feeling like on top of everything 🙂

 

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

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

————————————————

The first item on the list is:

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

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

So what is causing me to spend more?

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

Now, I want to feel this way again!

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

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

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

———————————————–

The second item on the list is:

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

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

But I feel like I can do better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

getting back to aims and plans

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

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

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

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

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

random thoughts

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

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

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

So, what am I doing wrong here?

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

I really am looking forward to this.

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

weekly budget check

I have not been posting about my weekly budget spending lately.

The reason?

I over-spent…

Overall, in the last 3 weeks, I spent a total of $129 over my $120/week limit. This is $43/week in extra, mostly unnecessary, expenses…

I also had extra expenses (afraid to write them here..), such as the cost of hosting guests cleaning products, medication costs, and donations (well done though – I would do these expenses again should I need it – so no hard-feelings here).

My fun funds is a huge negative balance: around $200…. need to make a plan and stick – fun funds are the savings from my weekly allowance that I am free to spend on anything I like, but this certainly has been taking a down hill, as now I seem to spend them without even collecting them!!

I also needed to pay my bank an extra money to cover for my house tax, which reduced my overall saving- obviously what I pay them every two weeks is not enough. Do you not hate the increases in house taxes? I do.

Overall, the last three weeks made a hole in my saving objectives and I am feeling not great about it.

I am aware of the unnecessary expenses that I made lately (such as taking the cab etc.), which I am determined to tackle. I dislike spending and I love saving.

Time to go back to that mental state.

 

weekly budget check

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

total expenses (within the allowance): $98

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

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

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

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

———————————

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

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

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

weekly budget check

save-wise not doing well….. argh…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

weekly budget check

I am almost back to my regular budget after my vacation two weeks ago.

Last week has been good, yet I am aware that I made extra expenses that did not enrich my life. They could have been avoided, but I preferred not to. My choice. Like any other choice in life, I am responsible for it and since the effects are not detrimental, I am also okay with it 🙂

Anyways, here is last week’s account:

expenses within the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee etc): $108

savings from expenses that I was tempted to but did not: $204

weekly fun funds savings: $120 (my total weekly allowance) – $108 (this week’s total expense): $12

fun funds spending: $165 (these are the expenses I regret…But hey; fun funds are here to help me have this flexibility in my spending. I had fun making these expenses, so even though I may not feel the same excitement right now, I am sure at that time it was the right decision)

total fun funds accumulated so far/left: $18

Other expenses (such as cleaning and personal care products as well as clothes): $188


Overall, I am pleased with keeping up with the weekly budget; comparing prices at different stores or following the sales and shopping at thrifty stores (for clothes) to increase my savings; walking or taking the bus rather than taking the cab and saving a significant amount of money every week; cooking and baking at home rather than dining out (except weekend breakfast). This week has been a little bit expensive, but this does happen time to time, so all is well 🙂

weekly budget check – July 28, 2016

I have not recorded my weekly spendings and savings since mid-June because of the vacation I have had.

This week too I will not record it (will start next Thursday again), but I want to write down my overall experience with money right before, during, and right after the vacation.

Right before the vacation:

I relaxed my spending a little bit by buying last-minute gifts and requests by my family members and their friends. That sounds about right to me and I have no regrets. Things I have bought were useful and needed, and I am happy to provide them.

I also stopped doing grocery shopping for myself maybe 10 days prior to my vacation so that I would not need to dump out unconsumed food before I left. That felt right, too. I rather consumed what I had already had at the fridge, the frozen meals I had prepared earlier, or prepared meals using the food in my pantry. That also felt good, as I have a tendency to not consume the dry staples. Win-win situation 🙂

During the trips/at the airport:

Considering the expense, but more than that, the lack of variety of the airport food, I prepared sandwiches and veggie snacks for myself and happily devoured them during my airport/plane times.

I was happy to treat myself, too. Coffee was always welcome while waiting for the connections. So was the book that I purchased at one airport. I have had a 9-hour wait between connections at one point and that book helped me to spend time without getting bored or agitated; dollars well spent 🙂

As per water; I have had a plastic water bottle with me and whenever I found a filtered water fountain, I filled it. In some cases, this was not possible, which necessitated purchasing bottled water. Oh, well 🙂 That too was required and as such I have no regret.

During the vacation:

I have had budgeted for this vacation at the beginning of the year. So I did not care about spending my money within some limits. That, as you may be familiar with, feels good after a kind of strict budget that I have had :))) It is great to relax the rules and lift the “I should not buy this/make this purchase” thought. Freedom is needed in every aspect of our lives, I guess, however transient it may be.

Yet, at one point I thought if I continue like that I would over-spend my vacation money, so I needed to limit my shopping (especially for clothes). This did not negatively affect me, as I have clothes at home, some of them never worn, and it is time that I make use of them.

I was also moderately generous with friends and family and contributed to the food, transportation, and other expenses we have had together. I could have done more I guess, but it was still at an acceptable level. That feels okay.

After the vacation:

I am back to my regular budget. I have no regret or sadness about that. In contrast, it feels good. It is interesting that saving and becoming a conscious spender/saver becomes a delightful part of your life….

My checking account is still above $0, yet if I am not careful enough, it may rapidly drop below that level, which would not be good…. I am looking forward to making it stronger in the coming weeks/months.

It is interesting, overall, that we all have different types of relationships and beliefs about money. Often times, it does change over time, too. I have always been frugal I guess, but the “conscious spending journey” I have had in the last 1 year or so, has showed me that I can be better.

I am glad that I am not interested in extreme frugality/being a cheapskate, or being an over-spender. I am glad that I am interested in saving, limiting unnecessary purchases/expenses, and investing for my future and retirement. I still have my short-term and long-term financial goals, and more or less I keep up with them. I know there may be unexpected expenses in the future, which may derail me a little bit. But I hope I will find the courage to accept them as necessary and not dwell in the loss of money.

While lack of money is a negative experience that produces very negative feelings in me (anxiety, anger, sadness, and hopelessness sometime), I must remind myself that money is not everything; experiences and well-being of my loved ones are way more important. And my health and well-being, too.

It feels good to feel this way 🙂

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.

 

objectives and money

I have been on an exciting and fun adventure of finding ways to spend less, cutting my expenses, and saving more and feeling great about all of these.

It has been a year that I started this adventure – the beginning of last June. According to my calculations I have saved around $7K within the last year, which is awesome.

How did I do it?

The main reason for me was to need it. My motivation came from having the ownership of an old house that can require serious repairs anytime. As a matter of fact, the second week I moved into my home my roof started to leak from multiple places. It took me around a year to get it fixed and when it was fixed, my chequing account was in the negatives.

I could sell the house, which I many times considered, but then I did not. I like it, the neighbourhood, the yard, and how easy it makes my life. Long story short, I decided rather to cut my expenses and get rid of the “I am penniless” feeling.

The majority of my life I have had a frugal life style. So re-assessing priorities and implementing shopping bans (on items like books I used to buy every weekend), taking the bus rather than the cab, following the sales and designing my meals around the items on sale, stocking up when other products are on sale, having a “no waste” policy in effect, making my own bread and eating out less than before, looking for ways to further reduce my unnecessary expenses by either being resourceful or by saying “no” have all been very useful.

Now my chequing account is healthy and I have a great budget that works wonders for me. I have one lump sum payment for an investment plan coming up next month, which I have already saved since the new year. I am hopeful that after that, I will be able to save a nice sum of money till the end of this year.

I have been thinking about what to do with the savings…..

I am one of these people who is motivated by having a clear objective and working towards it by frequent monitoring. The progress makes me excited and keeps me motivated. So, since I have reached my objective (i.e. having a healthy chequing account balance), I have been craving for my next financial objective.

I have maximized my regular RRSP, I have increased my payment for the HBP (home buyer’s plan) re-payments, and I am steadily saving and investing in my TFSA account. I have not maximized my TFSA yet; I had used a portion of it as down payment.But in three years or so, it will be maximized, too. I am not worried about maximizing it at this time, so I guess I am more inclined towards reducing my mortgage with my savings. That is my next big objective – exciting! 🙂

So far I have not made lump-sum payments to my mortgage, but that time is now coming. Yesterday, I estimated that with my current saving rate and without a hazardous expense, I will be able to save around 5K till the new year. I have been contemplating about this, and I decided to use it towards my mortgage principal. Since I am planning to increase my mortgage payments in September, when I hope will get a salary increase, altogether till the end of my term (I have 3 years), I will be able to drop the mortgage by a total of $12,800.

My aim is to make other lump-sum payments till the end of the term. The number I have in my mind is to reduce my mortgage by an additional  $7,200 during the term, totaling the extra payments to $20K. This is an ambitious but an exciting plan 🙂 I am pretty sure I can find a way to do this.

Do I think I can come up with this amount?

Yes, I can. I love being frugal and resourceful, and I love making good choices about my spending and money. Unless something drastic shows up I should be able to reach my goal…

Let’s cross the fingers – it is possible that the salaries may be reduced due to the problems in the economy. I hope not, but if it does happen, the mortgage plan may fail. Or, I will have to find additional ways to save more and reduce that mortgage. Exciting times :))

weekly budget check

It has been a good week in terms of my own spending, yet I have incurred additional expenses (quite a bit) for a social that I hosted, personal grooming, and for the pest control company that is hopefully going to take care of the mice problem I currently have.

I am not sorry to have made these expenses as all of them are for good for me. I am grateful for having such a mentality towards money.

here is this weeks account:

expenses within the weekly allowance: $94

savings from expenses that I was tempted to but did not: $133.5

weekly fun funds savings: $120 (my total weekly allowance) – $94 (this week’s total expense): $26

total fun funds accumulated so far: $169

🙂

Since I am moving towards a “vacation” mentality, I feel like I will be doing less grocery shopping (small amounts and as needed only) and more gift shopping. And that is okay.

Have great savings everyone! 🙂

weekly budget check

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

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

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

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

Fun funds left/accumulated so far: $188

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

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

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

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

Happy savings everyone! 🙂

weekly budget check

It has been another great week in terms of expenses and savings.

Weekly allowance spending (transportation, grocery, breakfasts, eating out etc.): $55

Fun funds collected this week: $120 – $55 = $65

Fun funds expenses: $45 (dining out – every once a while it is okay, right?)

Fun funds left/accumulated so far: $194 (yay!)

Extra expenses: $27.5; spent for medication.

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do but did not do, or the discounts I used): $153

 

🙂

————————————–

Now that I am interested in baking, I realized my diet is becoming more and more hectic; the tea biscuits I have baked yesterday and today were basically my dinner and this is not good. I will go now and prepare a nice green salad to give my body what it will cherish.

I also noticed that I am not eating fruits even though my fridge is full of them. I did good with bringing fruits to the office this week -it seems to be working. No food to be wasted, please.

excitement is a lovely thing

I have been thinking; in the last one year or so I have had a number of things in my life that excited me. Lucky me 🙂

Last June, I started my budget. It was tough and frustrating time to time, but planning for it and monitoring the progress was interesting and somehow exciting.

In the Fall, I have had a couple of international trips. These trips were exciting in many different ways – the change, seeing new places, better weather, being away from the office and everyday routine.

Then in late Fall, I became interested in the Game of Thrones and ordered the first 5 books of the series. I read everything on the net and did complete reading the first book.

Then came the new year and I did two things that excited me; a better budget that allows me to spend much less and save much more. I also started yoga/stretching classes. Both gave me double-dose of excitement with their positive effects on me.

And then in the last two weeks or so, I became interested in baking. I am struggling with yeast-bread recipes but at least I have seen today that I can make excellent tea biscuits. i decided to try baking bread again this week, this time with baking powder. I want to just see that I can make it (recipes seem to be easier with baking powder…). And then I will switch back to yeast recipes. I am determined not to buy another store made bread in my life as long as I am capable of baking my own bread.

I like that. I had not noticed how much fed up I was with the store made breads, especially the toast breads. man, why did I buy and consume these chemical-full and untasty food for so long while I am fully capable of making my own? According to my calculations, it is also way cheaper to make the bread than buying it. Why did I not think about this before?

i wonder what else I can make my own and stop buying.

I am doing my own pickles since last year, too, which is great. I do not consume them too often but when I need it, I know they are there for me. Making my own bread will be something significant and I am very much looking forward to this. One other thing I always wanted to do is to stop buying canned beans and cooking them myself using a pressure cooker. i am scared of that equipment; have heard bad stories with the pressure and steam. But hey, maybe my new project can be that.

What else could I make myself?

Growing herbs or veggies is something that can make me happy. The climate where I am is not suitable for greens, but maybe I can manage to grow potatoes in the yard or herbs inside the house. I bought a small pot of rosemary last week, which I hope to keep and use in baking and cooking. It looks like a study type of herb that I can keep alive.

let’s cross the finger 🙂

 

weekly budget check

A good week in terms of saving from my weekly allowance, though I have had extra expenses:

Weekly allowance spending (transportation, grocery, breakfasts, eating out etc.): $71

Fun funds collected this week: $120 – $71 = $49

Fun funds left/accumulated so far: $174 (yay!)

Extra expenses: $105; this money was spent to dine out with a good friend and for the cab fare to pick up a gift for someone, who well deserved it. I am aware that it is a significant amount of money, but believe me when I said the enjoyment of these activities is worth the every dollar. One of those times when I sincerely think that “money is not everything”.

Fun funds expenses: $0

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do but did not do, or the discounts I used): $171.5

Overall, I remain highly satisfied with my budget and spending habits.

A couple of things are worth noting;

Walking in the morning rather than taking the bus has highly positive effects on me. I am glad the weather is permissive. This morning I had to go to a meeting away from my office and I directly walked there from home. It is a longer route, maybe around 35 min on foot. And after the meeting, I walked to my office, too. This last part is around 20 min. My mood was pretty good during the rest of the day, which makes me excited about walking (I believe a somehow long walk that warms my body and makes me sweat a little bit is also long enough to improve my brain chemistry). Additionally, I felt very proud of myself for not being lazy and taking the cab. Considering the additional $20 saved by just walking these distances makes me even more proud of myself.

how to use the savings most efficiently?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your opinions?

just another rant about the economy

My province’s finances are not great and this is well reflected on the annual provincial budget.

The end results? People are furious, scared, and reacting.

Even I found myself perplexed by some of the new impositions on our lives and finances. Did I create this mess? Why should I be taxed and forced to pay more on many stuff and services? What will happen in future – will this turn around or will it continue like this, or even get worse?

I have no answers to these questions. I just feel the hardship coming and hope is lost. I wonder sometime whether we will ever be able to retire in such an economic climate? Even today there are many people who cannot afford to retire, as their retirement income would be much less than what they are getting today through their salaries. Ironically, the longer these individuals stay at work, the lesser the chances for the young people to have jobs.

With increased jobless rate and decreased financial ability comes, inevitably, less spending and more public discontent & stalled economy. I think economist call it something like  “consumer confidence”; when the economy is not good, people spend less. So how is this new budget, new fees and taxes, and weakened ability to consume helping anyone?

I hope the government has some great economists who can understand, designed, and approved of their plan. Maybe there is a benefit in this budget folks like myself cannot see.

I sure will be spending less, now that I have extra fees and costs associated with being a resident of my province. Do not get me wrong; I am a collective person, I would be happy to help out the less fortunate. But I am not happy with a depressive future outlook. If I knew that this was only temporary and things would be eventually better, then I would have a better feeling about these. But I do not.

I do not think that things will get better after a few years. There are many talks about extensive lay offs. There are many people who are talking about leaving this province for another one, or worse yet, sending their kids away for better opportunities. I think everyone is entitled to their own decisions and by all means I respect their wishes, but again my problem is the loss of hope for the future. It looks dark. It looks not healthy. It looks uncertain (well… future is always uncertain, but when you face a financial situation like this and realize how serious the situation is, it just becomes more palpable than I would like).

So I must spend much less to pay off the extra taxes and fees imposed by the provincial budget while I also want to keep going with my financial plans (e.g. maximizing my RRSP and TFSA contributions each year; contributing to my retirement plan; keeping an emergency fund to help especially home repairs; keeping my chequing account at the positive side; and increasing my mortgage payments in September).

OK…. How the hey am I supposed to do this???

I already have a minimum spending plan that also buffers the costs associated with limited social activities and having a comfortable life.

I have not shopped for clothes for some time.

I cannot cut my cable because I have a cable-internet-phone package and if I delete the cable, then the remaining two cost essentially the same amount.

I am not into extreme couponing (though I love reading about it).

I cannot possibly drop anything related my health and well being, like medications, fresh produce, or hygiene.

So what am I supposed to do?

I do not know. But something will give up I guess.

This being said, I am nevertheless grateful that I am one of those fortunate ones who can still keep a home above their heads and food on their tables. If things get worse, I can further reduce my spending (I hope this will not happen, though), but for families and single people out there who are making much less than me, this would mean a disaster.

Hoping the economy will get better. If not, then at least, not get worse.

eggs, frugality, and walking

I am not an extreme frugal, but those who follow me know that I have been on budget (since last June), significantly eliminated unnecessary expenses (such as the annual fee for the credit card – one time opportunity but hey I have saved more than $100, or by changing the cable package – monthly savings are around $25, or by taking the bus rather than taking the cab to work – weekly savings around $40). I also started to freeze food and implemented a “no food waste” strategy. All has been working wonderful so far 🙂

I am not good with coupons (not that there is anything wrong with them – I just do not have time or interest to look for the coupons of items I regularly consume/use). I price-check and shop for items usually when they are on sale. I check the weekly flyers of three stores in close proximity to my home. One store is five minutes away; another one is 10 min away, and the third one is 15 min away.

After yesterday’s baking a bread saga :), I realized I was running out of eggs. I love eggs! They make easy meals (hard-boiled or poached) and can be used in many different dishes (I will post the recipe for an egg-onion-parsley-pasta sometime) and an absolute ingredient for baking. Anyways, so yesterday I checked the flyers and I identified that eggs were on sale at Shoppers. I walked there this morning (a total of 20 min of walking both ways; talking about the health benefits of being frugal), bought two dozens of eggs, and happily come back home.

I do not know how much I saved by this activity but to tell you the truth I do not think it is a lot (many be a couple of dollars), but I am more awed by the positive feelings associated with this; I walked and energized my body; it felt awesome, somehow meditative, to be walking and watching the rhythms of my legs as they walked 🙂 I got exposed to sunshine and got some Vitamin D I need :); and overall I felt satisfied by finding eggs to purchase (they run out of it pretty easily – past experience).

Who would know that such a small financial savings would create such, multiple and positive, feelings?

weekly budget check

Overall, another good week though I have spend a little bit more of my weekly allowance than average this week. I am okay with that as the additional expenses were for stocking of some food that was on sale and for treating myself to a lunch today.

Weekly allowance spending (transportation, grocery, breakfasts, eating out etc.): $106

Fun funds collected this week: $120 – $106 = $14

Fun funds left/accumulated so far: $125

Extra expenses: $100 (a gift well deserved by someone I appreciate very much)

Fun funds expenses: $0

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do but did not do, or the discounts I used): $168

🙂

I have just read two posts by follow bloggers about budget and savings; I enjoyed reading them and I though you too would be interested in knowing their stories or ideas. They can be found here and here.

have a great night everyone 🙂

 

weekly budget check

Another week with a reasonable spending and savings 🙂

Weekly allowance spending (transportation, grocery, breakfasts, eating out etc.): $83

Fun funds collected this week: $120 – $83 = $37

Fun funds left/accumulated so far: $111

Extra expenses: $0

Fun funds expenses: $20.5 – I bought a nice framed photo 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do but did not do, or the discounts I used): $142

Cheers!

 

weekly budget check

Today is Thursday, the end of my weekly budget week. Here is how I have done within the last week:

Weekly allowance spending (transportation, grocery, breakfasts, eating out etc.): $62 (which is pretty awesome…)

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

Fun funds left/accumulated so far: $94

Extra expenses: $65 (medication and donations)

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do but did not do, or the discounts I utilized): $145

Overall, feeling good 🙂

This budget really works for me, yet I should be eating better. I must aim for buying more grocery/food and cooking healthy meal at home. That is important. In the last 2 months or so, I am not cooking at all and the food I consume is usually not veggie-based. This cannot be too good. So time to eat better! 🙂

 

weekly budget check

I was complaining about not spending enough (!) in the last few weeks; so this past week I have done great spending money 🙂

Weekly allowance spendings (transportation, grocery, breakfasts, eating out etc.): $92

Fun funds collected this week: $120 – 92 = $28

Fun funds spending (I had quite a bit collected as of last week): $160. Ooops 🙂 See, I told ya; I can spend money 🙂 Hair cut and other stuff only for my leisure… felt good 🙂

Fun funds left/accumulated so far: $36.5

Extra expenses: $123; mostly cleaning products and some gits/donations.

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do but did not do, or the discounts I utilized): $195

 

Well, overall I am very happy to be saving by not throwing away money by taking the cab or by not purchasing and stocking up durable items when they are on sale.

I am also happy about the freedom fun funds gives me…. I can basically do whatever I want to do with these money that is left out of my weekly allowance.

I am done with spending a lot of money and now it is time to go back to being responsible 🙂

random thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers everyone 🙂

 

 

weekly budget check

A good week in terms of spending and saving.

I was meaning to spend more, especially for food. I am not eating well and if I must dine out, that is what it should be. Perhaps next week, I will do this now that I have accumulated quite a bit of funds in the “fun funds” category.

A couple of regrets I have had are to take the cab this morning (i could not wait 10 min for the bus….sigh…) and some fast food I ate a couple of days ago. Dully noted.

Anyways; this weeks breakdown is as follows:

weekly allowance expenses (grocery, eating out, and transportation): $74.5

funds left from the allowance for the “fun funds” account: $120 – $74.5 = $45.5

total fun funds: $168.5

savings from the would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do, but did not such as cab, or discounts): $128

 

My plan for next week is to buy interesting and tasty food so that I can cook and eat at home (I am 100% sure that this is way better for my health than eating out). As a matter of fact, I cooked this evening  pasta, which had carrots, green cabbage, minced beef, and onion as veggies in it. This is the most veggies I have eaten in a while. Even though I believe pasta is not good for me (too much carbs), the fact that I had the motivation to cook and eat this dish, and I consumed a variety of veggies, was priceless.

cheers!

 

I am grateful for my financial choices

I have chosen to do something about my finances last year as the weight of home-ownership as well as negative chequeing account made me depressed, hopeless for my future, and hugely anxious.

I knew that unless I have had a hard look at my finances, these feelings would continue and I would experience further financial hardship.

So I made the choice of doing something about the situation and started a budget, where I calculated and monitored my fixed (e.g. mortgage, bills, etc.), flexible (grocery and other purchases, entertainment), and savings and investments for my retirement. I failed many times to keep up with my budget but eventually it stabilized. My spending was more conscious and wiser. I have had shopping freezes for items like books. I took advantage of loyalty points and followed sales. I still was taking the cab and wasting money, but hey, that was what I could do best at that time. Eventually things got better, but not perfect. Nevertheless, it was a small victory.

Then, I decided I could do way better. In the new year, I have aimed for a tighter, smaller budget that forced me to be better with my spending and better with my choices. I started price comparison and followed the sales more closely. I designed my meals around the produce on sale. I stop taking the cab and started taking the bus almost all the time. I traded one expense/product for another, more enjoyable or useful alternative. I never, even once, forgot to reward myself. I listened to my feelings and saw I was happy and excited. I saw that I was able to save way more than I can imagine with the new budget. I decided I liked savings and I paid my gratefulness everyday. For some miraculous way, I never felt deprived. In contrast, I have been feeling empowered, abundant, free, and able.

My choices and feelings have a huge role in my current financial status. I cannot know what the future will bring, but I know whatever I am doing it is working for me so far. I have wiser choices and more satisfaction, and less anxiety over the finances. It did not come with occasional fails, but that is a part of any journey. What matters is that I have seen my own progress and it made me excited and more motivated.

I think it is important that we find ways that work for us. I think it is also important to record and monitor our goals and our progress.  Additionally, I think it would be dry and somehow demotivating if we have not rejoiced our progress or achieving our objectives. So, give yourself the chance to celebrate your financial choices and progress.

I am lucky that I have a simple life, I am not materialistic, I do not bend in the presence of peer pressure, I do not have a car or wishes for luxurious items or vacations. I do not mind shopping items at thrifty stores if they are in good conditions and in good hygiene. I do prefer to shop whenever I visit another city or country, where things are cheaper than where I am. I am lucky that my feelings give the motivation I may need to keep going. I like these about myself and my life.

Maximizing the value of our dollars is a very valuable choice. I do not use coupons (I am not against them, just cannot have time to find and use them), but sales, price check, and the loyalty points all made it for me. Would it not be wonderful if we had bought the laundry detergent half of its price? It would be. So if I can, I stock pile durable items while they are on sale. I cannot believe how much I am saving this way. In terms of food, the pantry items and dry food proved to be awesome (i.e. much cheaper than prepared meals), and so did the frozen meals and veggies I learnt to prepare myself. I regularly freeze my extra meals and consume them later when I do not feel like cooking.

Freezing food and being conscious about my spending also helped me to limit my food waste, for which I am extremely grateful.

And over time, I noticed that I did not need to spend money to feel good. I rather felt good with my choices, the funds accumulated, and the hope and empowerment I have got as a result. This requires a daily reflection and being in touch with my finances and feelings. A good way to spend 5 minutes each day to monitor my finances and a good way to calculate the increase in my net worth every two weeks on the day I get my salary.

I am extremely grateful for this new found freedom and appreciation I have. Like any other achievement, it started rough and was somehow as a struggle at the beginning, yet keeping going seems to be the best way. I also appreciate and am thankful for all the fellow bloggers who support and share useful tips and experiences that made this journey a pleasure.

I also thank myself for being candid with my financial situation, for writing about my journey in my blog, and making my finances, savings, expenses, and budgeting a daily, organic, evolving, and pulsating part of my life. I hope I will be able to go ahead like this for some time and keep these positive feelings towards my financial situation.

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

Here is the account for the last week:

weekly allowance expenses (grocery, eating out, and transportation): $106.5

funds left from the allowance for the “fun funds” account: $120 – $106.5 = $13.5

total fun funds: $103.5

savings from the would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do, but did not): $152

 

on fun funds

I have this wish to assign my “fun funds” for something really useful. At first I thought I would spend it freely but now I see that is not the case. As a matter of fact, I am so fond of my fun funds that I do not want to spend them at all…..

I know this is not gonna be possible as at one point I will have to have a hair cut, buy myself a dinner, have an unexpected expense here or there, or will need to buy gifts for people more than I budget for. So, it will have to be spent but I keep hoping that at the end of the year, I will have some funds left in that account.

Then, I would like to use it for a good cause. I would like to say that “by saving from my weekly allowance, that is what I have done now”; whether it is helping someone, buying a nice artwork, or paying down my mortgage. I do not know. But I know that I want to see it be useful for a specific and special purpose.

That is why this week I considered opening a second chequing account with my bank. My plan was to use this account only to deposit my fun fund each week and see it grow over time; that would be incredibly motivating. I almost did that and then decided not to; I thought that was an extra layer of complexity in my life; do I really need an additional account to see my fun fund accumulations? No. I am glad I did not open the account as I later realized I would have to keep a minimum balance in the account, or pay a monthly fee.

Peeew… I was lucky. Good job intuition! 🙂

on being frugal and budgeting

I sometimes feel weird writing about these topics, but then why should I? Both of these concepts have made positive differences in my life, my bank accounts, and my psychology.

I admit that my recent effort of budgeting (starting last June) was motivated by fear. The fear that I would not able to manage home-ownership without getting into debt. It is fueled by a large sum of expenses made to repair my roof, which started to leak at multiple places immediately after I bought it. I possibly have a foundation problem too, which I have been “watching” since last year – when it reaches an actionable level, I will have to spend thousands of dollars to have it fixed. With one salary, this is difficult on me, even though my salary is good and I am very grateful for it. Plus, since I started saving/investing for my retirement late in life, understandably I was stressed.

This stress helped me to look at my spending habits with a fearful yet careful eye. I decided to control my expenses in an attempt to increase my savings and to have a peace of mind. It was difficult at the beginning, I still time to time get frustrated with my spending, but each day it only becomes better; I kicked out unnecessary and significant expenses out of my life, I am able to spend and waste less, and save more for future expenses. The fellow bloggers here also helped a lot with their posts as well as their support. Overall, I feel pretty good about this experience.

While I am more frugal, I do not feel deprived. In contrast, I am more abundant than before. I have some funds I allocate for miscellaneous (i.e. not must have) expenses, such as my weekend breakfast (cost less than $20/week). I make sure to buy things that will make me feel good (such as scented hand creams that I like). These for sure makes me feel like I am not restricted or deprived. That was one smart thing to do and I am glad I have kept it so far. Additionally, my purchasing power is increased somehow (e.g. by following the sales, price comparison between the two stores that are close to my house, etc. For some reason, I am not into couponing or apps…). I did not change the quality of the items I purchase; I still use the same brand of hair dye, toilet paper, toothpaste, food, or stationary items and others. They just cost less now as the value of my money is maximized. And finally, I have developed a better appreciation for what I have and for having limited waste (food to clothes or anything else). All of these help me to feel more abundant than before.

My saving has increased a lot as a result of budgeting and applying frugal strategies and it feels awesome to see the difference.

I can say that the enormous level of fear I felt last year is now giving me abundance, a higher level of gratitude, and hope for my future. I am also proud of myself. So many positive feelings here….I am surprised as well why I could feel this way while my spending is much less compared to before. See; as the habits change so does the mindset. I hope you also see the positives out of this experience if you are going thru a tough time financially and are budgeting or reducing spending.

cheers 🙂

today’s bits

I have done something different and went to a cafe 20 min away from home. I did not take my laptop with me, either. So I have had a great coffee (I like their coffee the best) and two bagels. I also read the newspaper the cafe have had. I sat in front of the window and enjoyed my breakfast and life for sometime.

It was well worth to visit this cafe. Plus, its prices are more affordable than my favorite cafe; so better coffee+free read of newspaper+better affordability = I should be going to this cafe all the time!! 🙂

There is another catch with this cafe; it is just next to my favorite second hand bookstore. I admit; I wanted to visit the bookstore and possibly buy a book; that is why I went to that cafe (first visit since december or so). And I am glad I have. I missed being there and going thru all the interesting books….This is an amazing feeling. I know I have been on shopping freeze for books for some time, but every once a while having this pleasure of being there and buying a book should be okay 🙂

I bought a book. It is about finances and investing. I enjoy reading this kind of books. Considering it is my objective to save and invest as much as possible for my future, I am glad I have bought this book. The book does not say anything new we do not know;

1. start saving and investing early

2. invest in stocks; stock market eventually corrects itself

3. invest over time and regularly (such as monthly or biweekly)

4. invest when you have money and wish to invest; do not wait or delay

5. do not try to time the stock markets

6. buy and hold rather than buying and selling frequently, unless there is a very good reason (what would that reason be, I have no idea)

7. work with financial advisors or investors

8. buy, if you can, when the market is low (just like nowadays…)

9. maximize your company retirement plans (401K if you are in the USA) and take advantage of the company matching plans (For my fellow Canadians, that would translate into maximizing the RRSP contributions)

10. do not try to pay off your mortgage in a short time by extra payments or by increasing the mortgage payments; rather invest the extra payments or keep cash at hand so that if you need it, you can use your own money.

Okay; this last one is tricky and after I read it it made some sense to me. Yes, by paying the mortgage early we do save from the interest and it feels quite exciting to be able to have the “home” in nearer future. Yet, nowadays the interest rates are really low and one wonders whether if investing the money would bring a better return? I really do not know. I for one lost confidence in the market as they are volatile and they are predicted to go even more down as the countries struggle with their economies as well as the aging populations.

This being said; I am  planning to increase my mortgage payment by a small amount in the fall, only because I am getting a little salary increase at that time. But that is pretty much it.

BUT, I love the idea of keeping my own money should I need it (for repairs or other urgent matters of life, like health problems etc.) rather than making it my day and night effort to pay the mortgage off first. As a matter of fact this is what exactly I am trying to do for now; accumulating an emergency/house contingency fund in my TFSA account. My prediction is that after maybe 2 years or so, I will be comfortable enough to divert my money to investments for retirement, or to reduce my mortgage by extra payments.

I keep telling myself I should be patient…

Time will show 🙂

 

 

weekly budget check

Not a bad week.

So far (since new year), I have not over-spent my weekly allowance. This is very motivating…Here is the account for the last one week:

weekly allowance expenses (grocery, eating out, and transportation): $115

funds left from the allowance for the “fun funds” account: $120 – $115 = $5

total fun funds: $88

savings from the would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do, but did not): $145

I have additionally paid the fee for the physiotherapy session; it is good that my insurance pay a good portion of it – I am grateful. I am supposed to get these sessions twice a week for some time – hope that they will help alleviate my back pain. So I am happy to make these expense.

Let’s cross the fingers and hope next week will go this good, too 🙂

weekly budget check

As opposed to last week, I spend almost the entire weekly allowance this week. I also have spent a portion of the “fun funds” and had expenses in the “cleaning products” category (not shown).

Using my fun funds to have a hair cut was fun. Did you know that I could have my hair cut exactly as I wished it only twice in my entire life (!) Twice…. This girl needs a better hair dresser 🙂

But budget-wise overall, it is was a great week:

weekly allowance expenses (grocery, eating out, and transportation): $115

fun funds contribution: $120 – $115 = $5

hair cut (paid thru the fun funds): $55

total fun funds left/accumulated to date: $83

savings from the would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do but did not): $159

🙂

 

weekly budget check

I experimented with my expenses this week to see whether in case I need it, I can limit my expenses to essential grocery only.

Looks like it is possible – I have done the smallest expense this week in the last 7 years.

My total expense this week was $57.25, including $4.5 coffee/bagel and $10.50 for cab in one morning. The rest was grocery.

It is exciting for me to know that time to time I can really limit my expenses while not limiting my food or well-being. I feel more abundant than before now.

Fun funds saved this week: $120 weekly allowance – $ 57.25 expenses = $62.75 🙂

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2016: $133. Tadaaaa 🙂

My fun funds excites me 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to but did not, like cab fare + discounts): $179.5.

I know it will not be so good all the time my friends, yet to see these numbers is a blessing.

 

joy journal, Jan 26, 2016

🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. I am grateful for watching a lovely movie.

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

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

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

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

16. I am grateful for being grateful 🙂

 

weekly budget check

Another good week in terms of conscious spending:

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

Total accumulation in fun fund so far: $70

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

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

Oh, well 🙂

being single and saving

I started my lovely Saturday morning with exploring new blogs about saving, debt payment, and retirement.

I was enjoying this activity as much as I can; I thought “I am not alone in this journey” “there may be things that I can learn from them” and ‘I can do this, too, as now I have a great budget that works for me”.

Yeah, right….

I stumbled upon a blog on the net where a young couple plans to retire at the age of 35 or something. They seem to be doing well, both working and having decent salaries, with large houses and others. It looks like they do save one salary completely and some of the second salary each year. They claim to increase their net worth ~$12,000 every month (mostly from investments and savings from salaries).

The reading that started so exciting on this beautiful Saturday then turned into a sour feeling: I cannot possibly save that much….

I felt all my efforts to make the best out of each dollar I earn somehow felt inadequate… insufficient…. I felt like I was trying to swim in a little pond in the backyard rather than an ocean….

But, it should not!….

I am living within my own reality, not somebody else’s. It may take me longer than others maybe, but eventually I will accomplish what I hope to accomplish. I have no interest in early retirement, though I would appreciate the freedom to retire early should I change my mind in future. I may feel disadvantaged but I should also feel proud of myself.

And I think I should especially appreciate the fact that I am saving and investing for my future all by myself.

Saving for a single person is not easy; one income means one person’s expenses, but when you think about couples (assuming that both of them are working), they do share the mortgage and utilities (though it is also possible that they may have extra expenses for being a couple, like having two cars, bigger houses, date nights etc.). Nevertheless, on the average I believe a couple may be able to save more than a single person. Correct me if I am wrong.

I applaud all the single people out there who are trying to save as much as they can – you deserve that.

I also applaud all the people out there, single, couple, with kids or not,  who are trying to save even though they do struggle with daily expenses, debt, and lack of employment or social support.

We may not be able to save thousands each month, but we can keep doing what we can do best.

And for that, we need to acknowledge, cherish, and congratulate each other.

weekly budget check

This is the second week with the $120 weekly allowance thereshold.

Overall, I have done well – I spent $99 on grocery and breakfasts (5 days this week I have got breakfast at a cafe). No cab fare for this week, which is awesome 🙂

The remaining portion of the weekly allowance that I saved is $21; now this goes to my “fun funds”. Together with the last week’s savings, I now have $51.5 in this account – I am free to spend it on things that will bring me joy, excitement, or happiness like books, hair cut, dining out, or something else 🙂

The savings from would-be-expenses is $160.5 this week; these include the savings from discounts (grocery) as well as two unnecessary expenses I used to have in the past. I am so happy that I finally kicked these expenses out of my life! Keeping track of these savings help me to see how much money I was throwing away in the past by not following the sales every week or by taking the cab rather than the bus, etc. Over a month, they reach around $500 and over a year ~$6,000. This is a real eye opener and it motivates me more to keep going. I may suggest a similar exercise for you… Give it a try.

I feel very empowered by this budget and keeping within my limits. Of course, the main thing was to kick the unnecessary expenses out, which literally took years. But, now it is done and I should do nothing but celebrate this 🙂

Hoping to have similar savings in the coming weeks 🙂

weekly budget check

 

First, the new budget for 2016:

Based on the experience in the last 6 months of budgeting, I have now changed a couple of things in my budget for 2016. I believe they are good 🙂

1. Weekly allowance: I reduced it from $200 to $120 per week – it will include grocery, transportation, and weekend breakfasts.

2. For personal care and cleaning products etc.: I now have a separate category of expenses.

The reduction of the weekly allowance has been something that I have been meaning to do for sometime. It is now possible because of the separation of the cleaning products etc from the weekly allowance. In addition, I have got rid of an unnecessary expense, I hope for good, which made me feel very happy and help me save a chunk of money each week!

I feel rich and so abundant thanks to getting rid of this one last expense I have been meaning to cut for many years.. The struggle is ended and I feel completely free of it and the thoughts i have had about it. That my friends, is freedom and joy 🙂

3. Introducing “fun fund”; a new addition to my budget – I will accumulate whatever is left after each weekly allowance in this fund 🙂 I am excited about this, as it will give me freedom to spend money on things that I may love, such as hair cut, books, some treats to myself, etc!. I am so excited about this. The trick is to take the bus but not the cab; then I can save some fun funds each week. Nowadays the weather is really nice so I can do this, but as the winter progress, I may have to take the cab. Well, I can only do whatever is possible – so I am okay with not having a fun fund accumulation every week,

As before, I continue to have separate categories and funds allocated for my trip to home, gifts, dining out with friends, hosting people at my place, medications, clothes/shoes, and yoga classes.

This is an ambitious budget but I know I can do this and can save more than the past year, improve my emergency fund, and RRSP/TFSA contributions. I also know that not every week I will be able to keep up with it; but that is okay. All I can do is to do my best, which I will.

I am so excited, friends!

Now the last week’s account:

Total expenses in the weekly allowance category: $89.5

Fun fund: $30.5 ($120 allowance – expenses)

Savings from would be expenses: $184

Expenses in other categories: $504.5 (including yoga and shopping; ooops, too much. But I did not buy anything that I did not need. So that is okay).

 

anyways, wish me luck while I keep with this budget friends 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

weekly budget check

well… I…. over-spent…. again…

It was expected I guess: I have over-spent my weekly allowance by $38. In addition to that I have had donation to a good cause and an extra expense (for team lunch) in the amount of $305.

I know time to time, this will happen; that I will have to spend money for good causes. So I will be okay with this…

Nevertheless, I am looking forward to spending less and saving more in the coming weeks. The next week will be busy with shopping, too. Luckily, after that the new year will start and what is better than a new, fresh start with strong motivation to keep up with my budget and save for my future?

We all will see how this will develop 🙂

an unconventional way to save money

Now that I am nearing the end of the year, I have been increasingly thinking about how to better save money in the new year.

Do not get me wrong; I already have a great budget that helps me save money. I track all my expenses, reduced grocery bill (and food waste), weekly book cost (around $10/week), and my cable bill (by negotiating), and saved money by means of shopping freezes that helped me to curb unnecessary spendings.

I still have room to grow my savings. For one, I have some unnecessary expenses that sum around $100/week. This is a huge amount of money if you ask me. I have been thinking about getting rid of these expenses; it is pretty much like a bad habit that you keep doing out of habit. I was not successful in my attempts so far.

So, today I am thinking I can open a new saving account and put $100/week there that I would otherwise spend mindlessly. I think this would help me to get rid of these expenses for good. I cannot keep having these expenses, as my chequeing account is just on the positive side and having this new saving account and the these expenses together would stress not only my chequeing account but also my psychology.

Better yet, considering the fact that I would be tempted to use this money in the saving account should I not be able to curb my habits, I may rather choose a different saving strategy that allows me to have no access to the saved funds: increasing my mortgage payments. Since there is no money to access and there is no other choice, I think I would get rid of these expenses for good.

This is kind of “forced” savings, if you wish. I know eventually I will have to convince myself that that is the best and the responsible thing to do.

first dining out after I do not know how many months

Yep. I have done it; I dined out this evening 🙂

For someone who is trying to keep up with a reasonable yet still challenging budget, who is keen to save money for her future expenses/retirement, who counts every penny each week to record her spending, this may sound like a failure, but my friends, it must be okay.

I do not remember the last time I dined out. I know there has been socials I attended where I have eaten food (all delicious by the way), but my once “at least a week dining out” practice has been gone since last summer.

I have been craving for Chinese food in the last week or so. I finally could not resist anymore and I had it this evening. And boy, did it taste good?

I am over my weekly budget as of today, but I am not going to cry or ask for forgiveness or something. Rather my take is I enjoyed it and every once a while this is okay. I may as well enjoy my money now.

Happiness certainly goes thru the stomach 🙂

 

weekly budget check

How did I do this week in terms of sticking with my weekly budget?

Well; looks like the idea of taking the bus or walking will not be possible for a long time, until the weather becomes more permissive and the ice and snow on the streets are cleared. So be it… That also means that I had to increase my weekly budget from $150 to $200 to accommodate the cab fares in the morning.

With this new number, I was within my budget this week: I spent $197.5. I am glad it did not go above this limit.

The savings I have are a total of $74.5; these are mostly the savings from grocery as well as cab fare in the afternoon – I rather walked. So, overall not a huge amount yet knowing that if I was not carefully shopping or if I had preferred to take the cab in the afternoons, I would have lost this amount. This makes me happy once again.

It is mid December. During the holidays, I will look at my entire budget and spending/savings during 2015; this will give me an idea about how much I have saved, how well I have done, and how better I can budget for 2016. There has been a number of lessons learnt during 2015 in terms of budget, savings, spending habits, and investments for the future. These all will be very valuable for my 2016 planning.

till then, cheers 🙂

weekly budget check

The end of the weekly budget and I am looking at huge numbers this week… argh… 🙂

My total expenses are $465, including my transportation (mostly cab fare), grocery, coffee and breakfast (these are my weekly allowance categories. They total $300 this week, way more than my usual $150 allowance…) as well as a big shopping at the weekend; the purchased items included gifts for three people and clothes that were on sale; I assumed by purchasing the clothes at a reduced price, I was saving.

I actually did save; when I combined all the savings, it was a hit this week, with a whopping amount of $208.5. This is a large sum of saving, but I am feeling really bad about the total spending….

I know that is not ending here and with the holidays and all the sales, I will make other purchases. That is kind of okay as I have been on shopping freeze for many items for a long time and was planning to end it during the holidays to take advantage of the sales.

Nevertheless, the expenses hurts a little bit…

Oh, well.

weekly budget check

I have done well this week too 🙂 I am still cautious that I may not be able to keep up with the reduced weekly allowance (currently $150 down from $200 in the last two weeks) in the coming weeks, but so far so good and I am going to enjoy this 🙂

I have spent a total of $145.5 this past week; I did not take the cab (walked or took the bus) this week, hardly did grocery shopping (I was determined to use what I already have had in the fridge and the pantry), and these two alone helped me to save a huge chunk of money this week.

In addition, the savings from would-be-expenses (such as cab fares and other expenses I was tempted to but did not) reached a total of $98.5. I am feeling very good about this too. Considering the fact that my weekly allowance was reduced $50 this week, that means overall my savings this week compared to before is $98.5+$50=$148.5. Wow!

I am very grateful 🙂

 

weekly budget check

Today is the end of my weekly budget, and here is my spending and savings:

From last week on I reduced my weekly allowance from $200 to $150; this allowance includes my grocery shopping, dining out/coffee as well as transportation expenses.

I could not stay below my limit this week, but it is lower than $200 (yay!): my total weekly spending in this category was $164. I took the cab every morning this week, which was the main inflator of the expenses.

The savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I would usually do or I was tempted to do, but did not) are $43.5. This amount is low but nevertheless I am grateful.

Overall, as I expected my plan to further reduce my expenses seems more or less functional, but certainly I need to follow this new budget ceiling for sometime to see whether it is stable.

In the meantime, since tomorrow is the beginning of my new budget week, I immediately started feeling rich 🙂

weekly budget check

Ok; I have saved only $0.5 from my weekly allowance this week, but that is okay 🙂

The savings from would-be-expenses (these were the expenses I was tempted to make but did not) are $157.5. So overall, it was a good week 🙂

From this week on, I am aiming for reducing my weekly allowance from $200 to $150 (let’s start with this one). I will see how this one go – hope to be more conscious of the money I spend and save a little bit more, even though I may not be able to keep up with the $150 limit.

Better days and more savings to come 🙂

how can I get more savings?

Yesterday while writing another post, I noticed that my net worth at the age of 50 will not be a great one.

It is depressing, which is bitter – sweet. That means I want to do better and I will take some actions.

I just do not know what can be done. If I had not bought my house, I would be in a better shape, but since I know it will require repairs/renovations over time, I am worried. This will be the most challenging part of this planning. On the other hand, I also think that over time paying down my mortgage will become easier as I will owe less and the payments I will make will be mostly towards the principal. It feels like paying of the mortgage as soon as possible will give me quite a peace of mind.

Anyways, I must come up with a better budget and saving plan. I have done well with the budgeting and bringing my chequeing account to a positive balance lately. I am now working on my emergency fund. After that, I will have to find ways to save more and invest for my retirement.

What could make this? I am already having a restricted budget compared to before. I know I can cut some of my expenses too, but will they be enough?

Even a small amount of extra saving will help, I know. My psychology wants big savings, though. What can I do to help myself?

1. Shopping freeze for almost everything, except the clothes and cleaning products till the end of 2016. I am planning to take advantage of the holidays sales. I may as well purchase my cleaning products, in addition to some new clothes, at that time and get over with it. No books, no vacations (except family visits) (well, maybe one or two art work for my home). Occasional books. That looks like the most practical cut of expenses for now. Good.

2. Transportation: Take the bus or walk. Rain or shine. My only hurdle is the morning mood that makes me complain about anything; how can I bypass this long-term habit? How can I find joy in the mornings so that I can be okay with letting my need to have comfort? A miracle is needed…

3. Reducing the weekly allowance to $100; this will cover my grocery and other small daily expenses, such as my weekend coffee at the cafe. It may also include my cab fares should I take cabs. I will not be able to make it at first. I may not be able to make it over the long run – so prepare yourself for frequent rants, dear reader….

4. Mortgage; I am not planning to increase my payments now; maybe in April when I will get a small increase. I may as well put this extra amount into my mortgage. Ok.. sounds like a plan. At least an improvement over what I currently do.

5. Socials and holiday celebrations: Gotta be frugal here; I tend to be generous with the socials and when I am invited somewhere.

Then the question is; what to do with the newly saved funds?

I am more motivated if I can find a measurable improvement somewhere; whether reduction of debt or increased investments.

Beefing up my emergency fund: this is the priority now; I will see it accumulate till it is $8,000.

After that,

Increasing my RRSP and TFSA contribution: I will do this at the new year; it will be a small amount but nevertheless valuable to increase my retirement savings/investments.

After my emergency funds are done, I may increase my TFSA contribution a little bit more.

Planning is exciting, writing is useful and easy, implementing is challenging.

I think we all will see how this adventure of mine will go 🙂

weekly budget check

Today is the end of my budget week, so here is the account:

I neither over- nor under-spent this week – the entire weekly allowance is spent. It would be nice if I had not, especially by not taking the cab in the mornings, but hey that is okay; I traded money with feeling better about myself or to protect myself from rain and snow. That is okay for a week, but I am thinking when the winter comes, taking the cab will be a routine again; I wonder whether I can at least try  to take the bus tomorrow, before it gets too cold outside, which will make waiting challenging. Good idea (can I please get up on time to catch the bus tomorrow? 🙂 )

My weekly savings from would-be-expenses are not too much, around $50. even though this is a small amount, I am thankful for it – this money could end up on being wasted easily. yet, now it is with me and that feels great 🙂

In the last two weeks I was on trips and my estimations is that more or less my spending was okay and I did not spend over my budget.

The cost of clothes when my airline lost my luggage: looks like the paperwork is too much, too cumbersome. I will not even apply for reimbursement. This does not mean that I am okay with this; I am furious that the airlines make this process that difficult, especially considering that it is their fault that led to the spending. But I am gonna let this one go so that my nerves will not fry for any longer. Argh…

self-appreciation: I thank myself for having a budget and a generous weekly allowance, saving as much as possible, being frugal and loving it, recording my expenses meticulously, and overall spending much less and saving more in the last 4-5 months when I started having a budget 🙂

random thoughts

I have been quite relax lately about my budget; yesterday and this morning I have taken the cab to the office (rather than walking or taking the bus).

The reasons were the followings: yesterday it was raining so I decided against walking; and today only because I felt like I needed to pamper myself and it was better to be at the office right away, as there were many things that I would like to work on.

There was a mental judo, of course; I was beating myself for getting relax with money, but then something inside me said “You only do what you think is best for you. Tomorrow is another day. Do not take this as a complete failure“.

How awesome to be able to say this and even more than that, to be able to hear them among all the chatter that goes in my mind 🙂

I remind myself that every once a while, things will not go ahead as I planned or wanted them to be. Every once a while there will be other things more important than my cab fare. I know that I can start taking the bus tomorrow, if I do not feel like walking at all. And I can go to bed early to make sure I will arrive my office early, too, so that I will not feel the push in the mornings.

Even though I do not make it tomorrow, I will try it later again.

I will be gentle on myself. That is my promise; why to break my own heart?

Be gentle to yourself.

the psychology of saving

I am not a psychologist, but I strongly believe in the role of motivation and feelings while implementing a budget and saving.

I kind of know myself and how my motivation picks up or go down. I dislike over-spending my weekly allowance for example. It bothers and annoys me. Big time….

What I like is saving. That feeling is pleasurable and very much enjoyable. Plus, when I save, I do not need to feel the annoyance coming with over-spending. I believe I need to associate my budgeting and frugal-land journey with pleasure. Never with annoyance. Thus, I love to save 🙂

Knowing this, first, I keep my weekly allowance high, not low. It is currently $200/week and contains my daily little expenses (such as coffee here and there, grocery, and other little items). I,  60% of the time spend less than this amount, which is great. It gives me a sense of satisfaction and hugely motivates me.

Second, I get more motivated to save if I do see a substantial and tangible increase in my savings. For example, I consider the followings as savings and note them in my budget Excel sheet for every week;

1. amount of money I save from in-store deals; my store now notes them on the receipts.

2. coupon values as well as the discounts I get from loyalty cards; one of my loyalty cards let me get a $10 discount nearly every two months

3. expenses I was tempted to do but did not (such as dining out, breakfasts)

4. expenses I would normally do prior to start of my budget, but did not (such as taking the cab to and from work)

5. money left from my weekly allowance

6. I pay myself for house maintenance activities around the house ($40/hour; examples are painting or staining the deck, caulking, mowing). My justification is that I could be paying others to do these. If I do them, then I am saving.

7. when instead of me, others in the socials pick up the cheque and contribute to their portions or to the tip.

One or more of these happens every week, leading to a substantial amount saved; the fact that I save $90/week by only not taking the cab can tell you how much I enjoy doing this. Yep. There were times that I saved around $300/week. That is a huge amount of money… When at the end of the week or the year I see the amount I save, I am awed… I could easily spend it but I did not. That requires celebration and appreciation of one’s self.

If you are like me, you will join me in saying that this is why it is very critical to document our expenses and savings at the same time.

Third, I have another, maybe peculiar, motivating factor; I have gotta find a valuable experience or a need met with the money I save. Maybe it is a trip now I can take with the saved funds. A new pair of shoes or a new (needed) service I can buy. I may cover for increases in mortgage payments or insurance premiums that bug me. Or, I can lift my chequing account up and start making bigger mortgage payments, both of which feel good.

Whatever it is, I feel a lot better when I know how specifically the saved funds are helping me and improving my financial, physical, or mental health and life overall. That brings, believe me, a new level of empowerment!

So, in my case, not only recording the expenses but maybe more than that recording my savings motivates me big time. In addition, knowing what I can do and I do with the saved funds gives me peace and satisfaction beyond what I thought I would get when I started this journey.

Wishing you a great frugal journey, too! 🙂

weekly budget check

I had not recorded my weekly budget check last Thursday (Thursdays are the last day of budget week), as I was away. Because of that, it was a little bit challenging to keep track of expenses, but I think I have got the approximate accounts for the last 2 weeks now:

The week before: expenses within the weekly allowance category for 4 days (excluding the days of the trip) was $131.5 out of $200 weekly allowance; savings from would-be-expenses was $121.

This week: expenses within the weekly allowance category for 5 days of the week (excluding the days of the trip) was $119.5 out of $200 weekly allowance; savings from would-be-expenses was $95.

During the trip: $180 for personal expenses (such as gifts)

I also had other expenses not covered by the weekly allowance category (that is okay).

I am more or less on track. I am pleased to see the would-be-expenses savings are accumulating constantly (these are the expenses I would normally do but did not, such as the cab fare, or the savings from sales).

I also noticed that my grocery cost is lower in the last few weeks; I believe “buy one get one free” deals have been playing a role in this. I do not know whether the store is having more of such deals, or I am now noticing and taking advantage of them more frequently. Either way, it is great. I have a lot of nutritious food in my fridge and freezer and I am completely feeling abundant.

In the coming weeks, maybe the new year, I am planning to reduce my weekly allowance to $150. I think I can do that and save even more.

On a very positive side, I am also proud to see that my chequing account now has a positive balance. It has been getting better and better since I started my budget and frugal journey since last June :).

Frugality works 🙂

Budgeting works 🙂

Hope works 🙂

on conscious spending and being “cheap”

I should thank the financial hardship I have had since I bought my house almost two years ago; it did force me to have a hard look at my finances and my spending habits. I should also thank the bloggers who share their stories and their useful tips, and support me with their comments and kindness through this journey.

Like any other endeavor, it was hard to deal with the emotions resulted from the financial constraints and it was also difficult to implement changes required to stabilize my finances and keep my spending lower. After 4 months now, I am happy to see the positive progress in my life, as budgeting did not only helped me to understand myself and save my money for future (whether for retirement or house-maintenance and other unexpected expenses), but it also helped me to limit wasting; from food to books to household items to clothes/shoes.

I have been always interested in keeping a modest life with modest material (such as furniture or attire). I have never been interested in showing up by owning “material”. I have never been interested in having the latest technology at home or the trendy clothes. I do not have a car and I do not plan to have one. I always lived close to my workplace so that the commute would not be an issue. I always shopped and stocked up when items were on sale. I knew my limits and I knew I wanted to save and invest for my retirement, So debt and wasting have never been a big deal in my life.

Yet, it is true what they say; as I started making more money, I started to have more waste. Sometimes it was the fresh produce that stayed in my fridge for long, sometimes it was a jacket that I bought, which I later did not like and did not even return back to the store. It was the cab drive in the morning and the evening that I thought I deserved well. It was the unnecessary generosity with socials. It was the books that I bought every week that made me so joyful.

I have changed now.

I do grocery shopping as required to limit the waste. It is only possible that there is a big grocery store 5 min away from my house.

I have spending-freezes that I started with on books, which I later extended to others. The nicest thing about these freezes are they are temporary and as such they never make one feel deprived. Another positive outcome is that it becomes a habit before you realize it; for example my 2-months shopping-freeze on books was initially planned for 2 months, but later I extended it till the new year. It also simplifies my life; I do not need to think about buying such items regularly.

I started to notice and make use of the coupons, discounts, and loyalty points. I am not an extreme couponist and I do not think I will ever be. But when I see a product with a coupon, I ask for it to be scanned (sometimes the coupons are stuck on the package and they need to be scanned at the cashier to be applied to the sale). The coupons and deals are there for the customers and I am a customer myself; so if I am eligible to get it, I will get it.

I designed my meals around the on-sale produce each week. This substantially reduced my spending.

I explored different stores and identified those that have better prices. I look at their flyers every week (not too many stores; maybe 3-4), which does not take much of a time of mine. I hardly miss a sale that includes a product I will need in future, even though I do not need it now (toilet paper is a good example of a product needed continuously).

I started shopping at thrifty stores for items such as jackets, shirts, and purses. I will probably never buy shoes, underwear, or pants from these stores (I cannot bypass the possible hygiene issue). I am amazed by the affordability and the good quality of the items there. Plus, I am contributing to the recycling of material and helping the ones in need with my purchases. That is a triple-win.

I decluttered my house and I gotta see what I have had. I have had a lot of stuff, which I had forgotten. Especially the food in the pantry and the cleaning products. I felt an extraordinary amount of abundance that is still lasting.

I called my credit card company and got my annual fee to be waived for this year; I will call them next year, too.

I hinted to my cable company that I was not happy with the prices and I could cancel it. They later offered me a much better and cheaper plan, which I gladly accepted. It is for 3 years and I will be saving around $500 each year.

I prepared sandwiches and snacks for my trips to limit both expenses and unhealthy food consumption.

I let a friend of mine paying her portion of the meal cost, rather than me paying for the entire bill.

I have better appreciation for every single item I have now. I was good at being grateful for everything I had, but now I am better. I was good at re-using items (such as using the shopping bags as garbage bags), but i am better now (e.g. using the old clothes as mopping cloths). I was good at not wasting food, but now I am better (e.g. freezing the extra diced onion to be used later).

There is a pleasure coming out of all of these. Knowing that I can do and am doing a lot better to protect my money and limiting wasting of food and other items. This newly found pleasure is the one that makes me keep going. I have some new plans to reduce my spending further, which I will articulate in the coming days. Exciting! 🙂

I still struggle with the idea of “being called cheap”, though. I have a respected profession, I am single and have no kids, and have a decent salary. Hence, people expect me to be doing well and being generous….

I am concerned that if other people knows that I shop at the thrifty store or if I tell people that I am happy because I got my credit card fee waived, for example, then they may look down on me. One of my colleagues did not understand why I called the credit card company and asked for a waiver. I understood her as I was like her in the previous years; why should anyone be concerned about and make a phone call for a $120?. But I should not feel cheap. I rather should feel like if they give these discounts to others, it is my right to get it, too. I feel like we are even now with the credit card company, as for years I stayed with one credit card and I have used it for every purchase.

I like to share what I know or learnt with the people around me. But maybe the lesson I should get out of my conversation with my colleague is to not tell people about my frugal experiences.

There is a difference between being a frugal person and being cheap. I have never let others pay for me at the socials; I never borrowed money that I did not later pay back; I never stole; I never did dirty tricks to confuse or take advantage of people or the systems.

I am not cheap; I am solely a happy frugal who consciously spends and protects her money and gets an enormous hope and pleasure out of it 🙂

back from trip #1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cheers everyone 🙂

how to keep up with budget and diet while traveling?

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

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

I have a couple of trips to make in the coming weeks. I am excited about them (I like to travel), 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

Today is the end of my weekly budget. Here are the numbers:

I overspent my weekly allowance by $36. In the last 3 weeks, I have over-spent every week….

I also have extra expenses related to eating out with friends and shopping for cleaning products etc. not included into this amount. Come to think about it, I really spent a lot of money even though I have cut one of my major expense (taking the cab to the office). I need to gather myself up a little bit more. I also need to have a separate category for cleaning products; the feeling of over-spending is not a good one…..

Anyways, on the bright side, I saved $155 from would-be-expenses. I have been consistently saving in this area, which is a great news.

I will have two socials this week, which will increase my expenses for the next week. I am happy to do these, do not get me wrong; I guess the benefit of celebrating and appreciating people around me are great feelings.

I just wished I could be more careful with my spending; that is all 🙂

random thoughts

It was a busy day, but there were a lot of social interactions and laughs as well. So I cannot complain 🙂

I am very grateful that there are two more work days and they are meeting free. That means I can focus on the urgent work at hand. I think I will have to work at the weekend, but that is okay, too. I incidentally invited some friends over; I am happy to host them although this is going to make my weekend a little bit busier. Nevertheless I am looking forward to it 🙂

This week, neither my budget nor the healthy life-style plan is going well, but I am not going to beat myself about either of them. I know myself – when the right time comes, I will do better. I right now am observing and analyzing; what is happening? what needs fixing? what can I do? I trust myself that with both of these plans, I will eventually do a lot better.

There is something so nice about trusting that the best is yet to come. That things will turn around  good. That I can and will do better. That there is something better coming after each struggle or failure. This has always been like this – frustration just means that there is something better I will get to experience, design, or plan. It is just a matter of time.

That is a good feeling.

I have other plans about my life and work that I would like to implement. I am excited to be able to handle them, too. Knowing that I cannot implement many new things all at the same time, naturally would like these two to work out well first (so that I can move on with the new plans). I have done well with the budget, though I still have a large unnecessary expense to erase form my life. The healthy – life – style plan is going good but not so good; I am generally eating better, cut out the bread and bagels a lot, I walk extra in the mornings; it is just that the weight loss is not there. Anyways, that too will happen one day; I just need to keep going 🙂

Right?

weekly budget check

As today is the end of my weekly budget, here is the account of the last 7 days:

I over-spent my weekly allowance with $26; $25 of this is a donation in a fund-raising event, which was a pleasure to contribute to. On the other hand, one of my major and unnecessary expenses is still continuing – I really would like to focus on it this week and the coming weeks.

I also have dined out with a friend; this expense is under the “extra” expenses; I still have room in this category. I guess it is okay to occasionally socialize, but I should admit I am not happy with the huge dining-out bills – when did eating become so expensive?

On the positive side, I saved quite a bit from the “would-be-expenses” this week; a total of $223. I guess that is an awesome amount! The majority of the expenses not done and thus saved are made possible by taking the bus rather than the cab, store grocery discounts, some expenses I was tempted to but did not, and some work I have done around the house (I pay myself for my efforts to maintain my house- I could easily give this money to someone else. That is cool 🙂 ).

I am overall satisfied with the situation. It has been a struggle at the beginning and time to time after that, but more or less I keep trying to stick to the plan. And I think it is awesome that I am generally very good about the “would-be-expenses”, too 🙂 Considering that prior to establishing my budget a few months back, I would have made these expenses….. talking about dumping money to garbage…

Now I must tackle one last unnecessary expense, and after that feel hugely accomplished 🙂

all the best

weekly budget check

Today is the end of my weekly budget – so here is the situation:

I over-spent this week, by $50.. Ouch. $30 of these expenses are for an unexpected social and a donation for a good cause. I contemplated about to put them in the “other expenses” category at first, but then decided against it. Two things shaped my decision: 1) I should not be afraid of occasional over-spending – I am generally doing better than I thought I would; and 2) I noticed that there will always be unexpected expenses, for which I should find room in my weekly budget (e.g. this can help me with prioritizing essential expenses only and continuing to spend carefully considering the possibility of unexpected expenses anytime).

Another reason increased my expenses this week is that I took the cab twice this week because it was raining. I think rain and snow will challenge my plan to take the bus (why do they not have a covered shelter for the bus stops?). I will see whether I can find a sheltered bus stop somewhere close.

On the other hand, I saved $103 from “would-be-expenses”, mostly the cab fares I saved by taking the bus. That is not bad 🙂

Overall, I am satisfied by spending less than before.

gratefulness

I have been pretty occupied with my budget and weight-loss journeys lately. They both aim to benefit me and require daily effort and recording/assessing of progress.

Along the way, I forgot to be grateful for life, to notice little thing that make me happy, to note the people, things, and events that gave me joy.. It does feel superficial and empty without being grateful, joyful, and happy; there are so many things out there more important and more valuable than these two plans…. I am happy to note this today.

Do not get me wrong; I am also grateful for coming up with these plans – I needed both. My finances would be much worse, very constraining, and depressing in future (now that I own an old house); and my weight is only going up and this is scaring me.

Those who are familiar with my posts will know what a struggle it is to implement and make these plans more or less established changes in my daily life. I rant, I get excited, I complain…I get excited again 🙂

It is draining sometimes – going through this phase. Especially at the beginning. Later things become alright one way or the other (either done, replaced, or modified to suit the reality).

Today I am not going to rant; I will rather give my thanks for the reasons that made me need these changes; the budgeting plan particularly.

I am grateful for the house I own; it is old, but newly renovated. I love being in this house and in the little yard it has – with all the trees and flowers that bloom in the spring. It is on a great location, helping me continue with my life and work with no problem (e.g. my work place is in walking distance, the bus stop is close, there are restaurants, a big grocery store, and multiple convenience stores in my neighborhood etc.). Last year I had a major roof problem, which took me 9 months to get someone to fix – it was a nerve-breaking experience. And it was expensive – after paying it my chequing account drop to $0. It has been an ongoing battle to have a positive balance since then.

And since last March, I got crazy over a crack on one of my interior walls, which I was told is possibly a foundation problem. I am still waiting for it to get visibly worse (if it gets…) so that we can start repairing it. The quotes given to me are not for the fainted heart.. And I know that there may be other unexpected repairs or expenses associated with the home-ownership (for one example, my property tax just got increased, argh..). That is why I came up with my budget 3 months ago: All the expenses incurred for my house and those that are possible in the future.. I could not see any other way out of this psychological drama.

Yes, it was a struggle, I was not consistent in the beginning at all, but now I am very much comfortable with my budgeted life. I cannot talk for sure about the future, but I am sincerely hoping I will continue like this.

You may ask “why is she grateful?”.

I am grateful because I do see this budgeted life as a continuous life-style that saves me around $10K/year. That is a huge amount of money that sure will help cover the expenses related to house repairs and maintenance over many years. And more importantly, I started not too late so that I can see the savings (however little they may be) accumulating before I face serious repairs. This way, I bought time and am feeling at more ease (this saved funds may not be enough for the repairs, but still are they not better than not having any savings? I could as well just continue like before and throw them away with my spending ..)

While I cannot say I am totally at ease with the possibly huge expenses associated with home-ownership, I can say that budgeting allows me to take the home ownership a little bit easier.

I just needed to reminded this to myself today.

Thanks for listening.

random thoughts

For a book-lover like myself, it is weird that I happen to put notes on their pages. Such an habit certainly makes the books unsuitable for others to read. Plus, it actually a little bit disrespecting to these wonderful, and information and imagination full things that we call books…

Anyways, just yesterday I notice a benefit of this practice. I was re-reading a personal finance book that I am fond of and I came across my notes from years ago; I wrote two major and extra expenses that I was utterly unhappy of. As a matter of fact, whichever personal finance book of mine I look at, I find this recurring expenses and my wish to eliminate them…One of them is taking the cab rather than the bus or walking (to and from the office).

I have a very good estimate of this extra expense; I save $90/week by taking the bus in the morning and by walking in the afternoon, rather than taking the cab in the morning and the afternoon. This corresponds to around $4,500 savings per year. Considering I took the cab for many years (only because it was convenient and I thought I deserved this convenience), the total amount I paid for my transportation unnecessarily adds up to quite a large amount of money….

I knew it then and I know it now. But what I have experienced yesterday is the relief of knowing that this years-long struggle is now ended (as part of my “conscious spending” project I have been working on the last 3-4 months) . While I am still not happy about writing on the books, I am glad I put these notes there to remind me how long I have been occupied with eliminating this unnecessary expense.

An additional, and perhaps more cheerful thing is that I have been working on the second expense that I would like to get rid of. It too has been in my list for many years and I am making attempts to erase it. After yesterday’s experience, I am more confident that when the right time comes, that expense category will go, too. Then I will be able to cross them as issues from my life.

Priceless.

weekly budget check – Sept 10, 2015

As usual, my budget week is ending today. Here is the account of the last week’s spending and savings:

I have spent $180 for grocery, eating out (much less now as I do not eat bagels at the weekends), and other expenses. This is a $20 savings from my weekly allowance 🙂 I am very happy with that, as last week I had over-spent.

Of note, these expenses do not include the expenses done for maintaining my home at good shape; I have a separate category and designated budget for such expenses.

I also saved $264.5 from “would-be-expenses” this week – these are the expenses I was tempted to do but did not (e.g taking the bus rather than the cab); this is the biggest savings I have had so far; It is inflated this week because I had planned a social at my place, but then my friends decided to rather take me out. The expenses now are not incurred and as such contribute towards my savings.

I continue to shop grocery as required; this means I usually shop twice a week. This practice has been decreasing my waste as well as the grocery costs.

Overall, I am very satisfied for keeping down my expenses this week 🙂

Hope next weeks will also be similar 🙂

what did decluttering my books teach me?

As part of a few weeks’ decluttering effort, I finally sorted out my books and decided on which ones to keep with me.

I have always been a book lover and as much as I like to read them, I also love to buy books (sometimes even more so than reading them).

Buying books at the nearby second-hand bookstore was a regular weekend activity for me for around 6 years. As soon as I got my breakfast, I would run there, often times with my coffee, and forgot everything while browsing the books. It was a pleasurable and meditative activity, I got to discover awesome books and writers, and going back home with books I knew it would be exciting to read the books.

There were times though I could not find something to my likening; infrequently I left the bookstore without buying any book. But in the rest, I had to buy – I could not stand the thought of a weekend without exploring a book, and the relaxation, and excitement coming out of it.

I know that I have many books that I am assuming I bought to satisfy that impulse – they are not great, they are not exciting, and even sometime the topic does not interest me at all. I now dumped these books. Lessons learnt: I should not buy books if I am not sincerely interested in them; instead I should go check out the books I already have at home now- the ones that I decided to keep are all awesome, timeless books.

It is great that I wanted to declutter my house, that I went thru each of my books and now know them better, and that I have a shopping freeze for books till the holiday season. After seeing the amount of books I purchased and dumped today, I felt bad about piling them around my home and wasting money on them. Do net get me wrong; I think any book can be awesome for someone, somewhere, sometime; but the ones I sorted out were not meant for me.

Happy decluttering, happy appreciating what you have and enjoy, and happy saving money 🙂

That just sounds perfect to me.

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

assessing the progress re; challenges I assigned to myself

Did I tell you earlier that I love to plan?

Maybe not, but that is the plain truth.

Planning and assessing the progress. Slight changes and modifications to the plan if required. Learning along the way, and hopefully also having fun.

I have had a number of challenges I have had assigned to myself a while ago. It is time to review them, adjust if required, celebrate the challenges tackled, and plan for the next items on the list.

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challenge 1: take the bus (not the cab). DONE! – hopefully I will not give up 🙂

challenge 2: eat better and healthy – cut out the carbs and consume more veggies and fruits. Well, missed that one big time.. NEED A PLAN.

PLAN: have regular breakfast, eat more protein, eat more veggies, cut out the bread (one bag/week) and fried eggs, cut out late-night eating, eat more apples and pears. cook at home; make it fun, and monitor the progress.

challenge 3: walk an extra 30 min at the weekends. NEED A PLAN.

PLAN: have the breakfast at another cafe 15 min away from home. Have leisure walks.

challenge 4: do not buy books for two months. I did pretty good with this, with only occasional buys. I have a new two-months freeze in place. DONE! 🙂 Good job! 🙂

challenge 5: cut out the bagel breakfast- one bagel/breakfast. Could not do that yet. NEED A PLAN – maybe withing “better eating” plan.

PLAN: Overall, I should be skipping the bagels as part of the healthy eating plan… Ouch!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADJUSTMENT: wait till I accumulate some funds or till I cut  my weekly budget in a sensible way.

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

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

challenge 14: lose 15 pounds in two months – record weight and food consumed every day. Missed big time! NEED A PLAN – possibly within the healthy eating plan.

PLAN: See above; challenges 2,3, and 5

challenge 15: stick to the plans – I have done these before and I can do it again. Hmmm. Some success here and there. NEED A STRONGER IMPLEMENTATION.

PLAN: remember the success in other challenges; particularly taking the bus. You can do it!!

challenge 16: comb the hair everyday. I do not need that anymore – have the hair cut short. Yay! NOT APPLICABLE.

challenge 17: spare 5 min every day to breathe – just to breathe. Well, this does not make sense anymore, now that I am listening to music for many hours a day and thus relaxing. NOT APPLICABLE

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

challenge 19: apply moisturiser every night. NEED MOTIVATION AGAIN.

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

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.NEED MOTIVATION AGAIN.

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

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

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

challenge 22: write the joy journal every day; no matter how dry or repeating it may feel.  I do not write it every day – NEED ADJUSTMENT.

ADJUSTMENT: I am adjusting this to “write the joy journal at least twice a week”

challenge 23 (previously not listed): have a budget, write down all expenses in each category, do not over-spend the weekly allowance, save as much as you can. DONE!  I am certainly spending less than before and more consciously. Yay! 🙂

challenge 24 (previously not listed): continue to declutter the home and donate the usable items.

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Some big, some small steps.. Let’s see how it will go this time. The ones that I will vent about in the coming weeks (just like my past ventings while struggling with taking the bus) will be the most important ones. I am predicting they will be about healthy eating and losing weight 🙂

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.

weekly budget check

Here is my weekly budget check report for this week (my financial weeks end on Thursdays):

Overall, my own regular expenses were within budget and when I add the “would-be-expenses” to the funds I saved from my allowance (these are the expenses that I would usually do but did not, for example taking the bus instead of cab and the money I pay myself for mowing the yard), total savings is $168.

There were however two extra expenses that I had to do; both are dining out with colleagues or friends ($95). They total quite a bit but they are budgeted under the “extra expenses” category and thus I am okay with them. I could live without these meals but I do value the nice, friendly time I spend with my colleagues, which almost always strengthen our relationships. Plus, they are really wonderful people. Seeing this (i.e. that money is not the most important thing in my life) is also a very positive realization.

till next time 🙂

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,

friends, trips, and unexpected expenses of airlines

Something wonderful happened today; my friend who is staying at my place did a great gesture and prepared me a lunch box full of apples and sandwiches – she said considering my recent plans to consciously spend, that would seem about right…. How generous, how considerate of her… Do we not love our friends? 🙂

This lifted my mood right away prior to my trip, as I just realized I need to pay a considerably amount of money for the 2nd luggage. Sigh… The ticket was expensive enough even though I bought it months ago. And now the extra luggage fee? Why do airlines do this? I admit I had not checked the airline, but had rather focused on the date and the timing of the flight. Lessons learnt; I am not flying with them again. Another lesson; if I buy the ticket earlier than usual, then my chances of finding a cheaper flight by a better airline increases.

I am thinking about how to keep up with my budget during my trip. I happen to like to buy books and small gifts for family members, drink coffee and have food at the airports. I used to enjoy all of these 🙂 This time, I will try to make my budget a priority, without limiting myself too much; I still will have my coffee, but I am bringing food with myself this time, and I will not buy books at the airport (rather packed two of them from home), but will buy gifts for my nephew and brother at one of the airports.

I cannot wait to start this trip and see my family in the coming days. I also love the fact that this vacation breaks the work, life-style, and thought routine for me. A nice change that I will not only enjoy but will also use as an opportunity to reflect on my priorities: What is it that I would like to do with my life? How am I doing re; the changes I have been trying to do in my life (budgeting, weight loss, healthier eating etc.)? What else can I do to make my life better?

I hope I will figure out these soon 🙂

Cheers everyone.

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.

pen versus keyboard

Writing can be addictive.

Yes, indeed.

Prior to this blog, I used to write on paper. It is still my favorite – I love the feeling of holding a pen and letting it glide on the paper. Whenever I have a moment to spend, I am likely to write down something; whether a plan, a poem, a note to be used later, or whatever is going thru my mind. I am good at “free writing” as well; what I write pretty much every time surprises me. All these things that went through my mind:) Give the “free writing” technique a try and see yourself.

While writing with a pen is my favorite, I must confess it is very difficult to read my hand-writing. So maybe 10% of the time I can decipher what I have written without much difficulty 🙂 That is not an exaggeration. Though I am very curious about my own writings, it is a challenge.

So, this can explain why I see a benefit in blogging (in addition to get to know good people and have good interactions with many here): I can read what I have written; my writings are available anywhere in the world through the net, and most importantly except I lose my blog-space, they are permanent 🙂

Of course it is not unusual for me to destroy things that are not useful or valuable anymore. Or, a source of head-ache for some reason. But until then..

yours,