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

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!

 

re-assessing my financial decisions

I have been re-assessing my financial priorities and decisions lately.

There is an incredible satisfaction coming out of achieving a financial goal; now I have a great budget that works for me; my chequeing account is on the positive side; my emergency fund (aka TFSA) has a good sum of funds accumulated; and I have increased my biweekly RRSP contributions (to take advantage of the low market and to pay off the HBP faster) as I am getting a little salary increase in April.

I have another little increase coming up in September. My plan is to put the extra amount into my mortgage. So I will increase the biweekly payment beginning of September. I am feeling good about this, too.

I have been trying to project my next year and what I would do with the money I would save over the year. Would I increase my mortgage payments? My RRSP? Or my TFSA?

I am not sure what would be the best for me; they all have cons and pros. A balanced act would be desired I guess. Here are the cons and pros I can think of:

RRSP (registered retirement saving plan):

How would I would like to make the extra contributions: Lump sum contributions to directly pay off the HBP (home buyers plan withdrawal that I have had as a part of my down payment).

Cons: Once the contributions are done, I may not have access to these funds unless I take the risk of penalty of early withdrawal.

Pros: The market is down and it is the best time to make investments for long term. Plus, I gotta pay back my HBP anyhow (i.e. I consider it debt), so early payments are better.

 

TFSA (tax free saving account): 

How would I like to make the extra contributions: Lump sum contributions. I have still contribution room, which I believe will take me another 3-4 years to maximize with the amount of contributions I make now.

Cons: none that I can think of. I am just not sure which one is better; to contribute to TFSA or to RRSP/mortgage? I am inclined towards RRSP or mortgage payments more than contributing to TFSA at the time being. But, this is likely to change over time.

Pros: TFSA is liquid and I can have access to it anytime I want. This gives a huge peace of mind as I may need money for emergencies or important things, like serious home repairs. So, if I have a surplus of funds and nothing better to do, why not to invest them in TFSA? My current TFSA plan is extra safe; it does not earn much but it does not lose much, either. I am opening a new one next week which I would like to be a little bit more aggressive (high risk category). It will be small at the beginning but I am planning to contribute to it from now on so that it may have a chance to grow over time. This TFSA will be hopefully for long term investment.

 

Mortgage payments:

How would I like to make the extra contributions: I would like increase my mortgage payments over time. I am thinking from September on, if things go ahead as projected, every time I get a salary increase, it would be nice to increase my biweekly payments. One thing I am scared of is whether or not in case something happens I am allowed to reduce it. If that is not possible, then the lump sum payments seem to be the best option.

Cons: Once the funds are paid, I may not have access to them in case I need liquid funds. That is why my TFSA accounts are so important to keep healthy.

Pros: Knowing that the debt is reduced and there will be a better motivation for me to pay it off in a shorter time. There is a psychological part that works for me; if the debt is small, I can get more excited and committed to pay. I am not sure when I can fully pay it off, but I hope it will not take longer than another 10 years.

 

And how am I going to find out whether I have extra funds to supplement my RRSP, TFSA, or mortgage payments (if lump sum)?

That is where the chequeing account becomes important. I would like to ideally keep around $5K in it to be able to handle the fluctuations in budget and extra/unexpected needs. But, whenever it is bigger than that I can decide to make the lump sum payments. The best time to decide is the fall; between September and December. I have some lump sum payments in summer and then in December (for insurance and others). That means after these expenses if I still have a surplus in this account, then I will have an opportunity to make lump sum payments to my choice among RRSP, TFSA, or mortgage. Then in winter, I can start saving and accumulating for the coming lump sum payments for insurance in summer and December.

I guess that is a good plan for now. I hope things will move on as I project them. If not, I am ready to re-assess and adjust.

All is well for now.

 

random thoughts

A fine day. It is snowing lightly right now and it is a delight to look out of window. I am becoming more and more of a snow gal 🙂

I have finally got my tax filed this morning and I have got a tax refund. This feels good (in the past, it was not unusual for me to have a balance and send a cheque back to the taxman). I am relieved that this year I was on the positive balance side.

I, like many of us, plan to use this refund for saving purposes. My chequeing account will now be at a healthy level, and this is something I have been working very hard to achieve in the last few years. The satisfaction coming out of this is really cool.

I, of course, have also celebrated this achievement. Before you think that I spent my refund on a new TV or clothes or anything else that I do not need right now, please take a breath… Thanks. here is my account of celebration for the tax refund and knowing that my chequeing account is now above $0 and healthy:

  1. Chinese lunch: I walked all the way up to a shopping mall after I have got my taxes done. It takes around 40 min and I believe it is an healthy and lovely activity. I wanted to treat myself with a nice meal after I went thru some of the stores but not buying anything. I love Chinese food, but the restaurant there was about to close till dinner, so I opted for a food court restaurant. It was not the best I could eat, but I have and I enjoyed it. Cost: $11.50
  2. New socks and stuff: I desperately needed new socks. I do not know why but I happen to use up and damage socks pretty fast. That is okay. I also needed some other minor stuff. By taking advantage of a sale, now this issue is resolved. Cost: $35.0
  3. Candies for the office, dehydrated bread, and napkins: I happen to have candies or little chocolates in my office. I snack on them myself as well as anyone who comes over. I guess it is a nice gesture though one may argue they are not healthy. I hear you and I agree with you. That is why I now switched to a low sugar type of candy that comes in many different colors. They are cute and not as sugary as other products. I bought two packs today. I also bought paper napkins for a friend of my, who likes them and asks me to get some for her time to time. I also bought a pack of dry or dehydrated bread slices, which are awesome and crunchy companion for soups. Cost: $11.0

My total cost of shopping for needed items, little gifts for loved ones, and office treats today is $57.5.

And I am glad I have made these expenses. No regrets.

Now the rest of the tax refund will be used to do beef up my chequing account, which I will use for an annual personal retirement plan contribution in the coming months. Proud 🙂

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

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.

my another set of two-cents on budgeting and saving

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

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

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

Here they are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————————————————————————-

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

Good night everyone.

challenges, budgeting, and recent realizations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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