random thoughts

After a hiatus from blogging, here I am again 🙂

Goodness knows, I missed it!!

The last month has been good to me. I still struggle with frayed nerves and occasional elevated blood pressure; insomnia and stress; but things are looking a little bit better.

I enormously benefited from the worry journal practice and I would recommend it to anyone.

I also do not work all the time and try to take a rest during the weekends. This also includes visits to cafe houses and enjoying my time on Saturdays and Sundays. Life is good.

I reduced my baking bread saga to every two weeks, rather than every week. This gives me a chance to just have one less task to do at the weekends. I bake two loafs at the same time and freeze one of the loafs. When needed, this loaf is as good to go as a fresh one. It works wonderfully for me.

I make a good attempt to take the bus and save money from cab fare. This has had a positive impact on my chequing account. I am excited. This was also topped up with the tax return – I am happy to say that I do not need to use my line of credit anymore and my chequing account is lifting up nice and easy. I feel quite excited about this!

I walk more often now. We have beautiful weather that makes it possible. I feel like energized and the hibernation season has surely ended.

Work is going okay. I still feel strained sometime when faced with difficult decisions. But I move along anyway and guess what – nothing is as bad as it looks.

I relaxed the self-imposed obligations and do not attend the meetings at work unless they are really interesting or absolutely required. This feels good as well.

I say “no” more often as well. I kind of prioritize my time over others’ needs. What a change! What a progress! 🙂

I have taken a couple of days off in the last two weeks – only because I was not feeling well or enthusiastic about going to work. I was worried at first, thinking maybe I had lost my interest at work for good, but I rapidly realized it to be a wrong assumption. I love this – I love loving my job.

Spring is here, which signals a time to close the loose ends and start anew. Last year this feeling had resulted in me getting interested in plants – succulents and cacti to be exact. This year I am not sure what it is gonna be, but I wait life to direct me to my next exciting interest.

I have more positive relationships at work thanks to me getting some rest and things look brighter and more positive.

I have socialized with friends a couple of times and this also had a positive impact on me and how I feel.

My relationship with my family is also much better since new year and I am very grateful for this.

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it turns out that tomorrow is Friday

What a surprise! 🙂

I just realized tomorrow was Friday and as such there was one more reason to be joyful today 🙂

I have had an easy-going day at the office today and this makes me feel good 🙂

Friends, I may try to be joyful yet, it does not change the fact that we have an incredibly cold and snowy weather here. This morning I waited for the bus for maybe 4 minutes and my fingers were almost frozen. I have gloves but I guess I must wear woolly gloves rather than leather/synthetic ones.

The scenery in such a snowy day is amazing and very enjoyable. I think we expect more snow early next week; are we looking for a snow day? Goodness, I hope so 🙂 You may think that I would rather be asking for the opposite and be at the office more so that I can finish work. I do want to finish work, but honestly I have enjoyed being away from the office in the last two weeks, so I wish for this to continue a little bit more now. Can you blame me? 🙂

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I could not work as much as I planned today, but I did what I could. There is an important document that I must send tomorrow, for which I have been waiting the input of a colleague of mine. He is away and I have not received his version of the document yet, so I am feeling on the edge. While by working together we all can do much better and bigger work, when not everybody works and does their parts at the same time, it does not move much. I will have to find a way to fix this tomorrow. Now I rather make a conscious decision to enjoy my time.

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According to my calculations, I have saved around 350 bucks from my salary since my last pay cheque. This looks less that what I wanted to, but it is better than nothing. I have no planned expenses coming this week (other than grocery and regular bills), and for grocery I only have a few items to pick this week. This may mean that I can save a few more bucks.

I know that if I do reach the $500 savings level once, I will be more motivated to keep saving after that. I really am focused on not making any unnecessary expenses within the next two weeks (that means no thrift store visits), no socials, no gifts/donations (I can do these later), no hair cut (my hair cut is long due, but..), no cabs (please no!), no books or any other items. I just need to pick laundry detergent this weekend – that will be the only non-grocery item I am planning to purchase.

Saving money, finding ways to maximize the value of the money (sales, use of points, etc.), and feeling fully abundant are empowering. I know there are a number fellow bloggers out there who are on the same journey as I am. Off to reading their post to get inspired now.

Have a great night everyone. I hope 2019 is treating you with Ease, Comfort, and Appreciation 🙂

 

all the good things – check

Friends – life has been up and down, but at least some things are going well. I must cherish and celebrate 🙂

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  • sleeping longer than the usual 6 hours and feeling good in the morning – check

this has been the 3rd morning in the last week, which really amazes me. It has been sometime that I could feel relax and comfortable enough to sleep in (rather than rushing to work). If you can sleep well, please give your thanks – it is a beautiful feeling

  • working without stress – check
  • witnessing a wonderful work of a staff member of mine – check

this team member did beyond my imagination!! we have been working very intensely about their project in the last two months or so (it did not go well for a year or so…), and today we have had significant progress. All the hard-work and stress pays off! This progress means;

a) I have a great staff that I must elevate even higher;

b) our overall performance is much higher that we or others thought;

c) we are confident and ready to show-case this work and get recognition;

d) the confidence that we have now is amazing (the next time something this big does not work, we will put our 150% into it again and solve it);and

e) we know that we can deliver this project, and as such, a significant load is off my shoulder right now :))))

  • loving my plants dearly – check

what a beautiful and glorious feeling! Looking at them, seeing them grown and thrive makes me feel happy and genuinely excited 🙂 I am so lucky!

  • getting a new succulent prop from a colleague and giving away props to three other colleagues – check

I am lucky in the sense that people gift me with plants and props (young plants) and I in turn lovingly gift them my own plants 🙂 Today I was able to get one new species and give away three others. It feels great to be sharing my plants/props with others, knowing that I have more than I can handle and others will love and cherish them as much as I am

  • buying a nice spider plant, which was on sale – check

yesterday I had seen some green/purple spider-plant like plant in the grocery store. They were on sale (3.5 bucks each) but also not in great shape. I had decided not to buy them, now that I had been also in a shopping ban period.

However, this morning I made a pact with myself and decided that if I took the bus but not the cab in the afternoon, I could rather use the money to purchase the plant! So, I went there and found that there were new and healthy-looking ones, still on sale and grabbed one right away 🙂 I came home admiring its leaves and giving it a good soak of water. I placed it on a window sil for now, but am planning to re-pot sometime soon and separate. Colors are amazing, green on top but purple at the back, which is great for the eye. I plan to combine a part of it with my coffee plant (which has been doing amazingly well) in a new pot, and place in my office. I cannot wait! 🙂

  • planning to go to thrift stores tomorrow and purchase new pots – check

I know, I know.. how is it that I am on a shopping ban and then planning to spend money…?. I have no excuse other than the fact that I want this.. I want to see whether I can get 4-5 other pots and place my rapidly growing plants in them this week. They are my joy and pride, and I love to be able to shop (rather than working) tomorrow afternoon

  • eating two apples in the afternoon – check

it has been sometime that I munched on apples and the ones I have had today were particularly tasty and sweet. I am doing good 🙂

  • having the night to myself – check
  • feeling good – check

going back to a previous point, knowing that I have turned things around with a team member of mine has been very elating and motivating. I know once again that stress that I had to take lately has been for something to come. Efforts pay off and things turn around. I will let this feeling sink in for a moment or two, so that next time I can remember it easily and find serenity…..

🙂

 

 

a relatively great day

Today I realized how rich and abundant I was when I was on my frugal life style. I certainly missed that feeling and I asked myself what was keeping me away from that life style again?

Myself. My need to comfort myself at the face of work-related stress. So I take the cab everywhere (rather than taking the bus or walking) and eat junk/comfort foods. This gotta stop, right?

Right.

Now that I am in a more relaxed period of time, I would like to give it a shot again. I would like to take the bus in the morning and start walking in the evening back to home again. I do not need to buy anything except a few cleaning products, and I have tons of food to consume at home.

I was not able to make mortgage pre-payments for the past several months. My plan is to make around 2K before the new year.

I know that I have been struggling to re-implement frugality for some time, but I am motivated to give it a hand again….

Wish me luck!

 

shopping ban week

Gotta curb this spending habit I have been having lately (mostly cab and junk food expenses… yes, again… time to fix this).

What is the plan?

Well – I budget only $60 to consume till the next pay-day (12 days), including grocery and others. Should I walk in the morning and save the bus fare, this amount may as well increase a little bit. Then I can go buy some more pots from thrift store for my plants.

My choice now 🙂

I have everything I need; my fridge and pantry is full of food; and I have no urgent needs (except the physiotherapy and dental fees that I expect this week).

Let’s do it!

frugal life-style makes me feel overly abundant

Frugality means a lot of things to many people. For me, it is all about abundance.

Is it strange that the less I spend, the more able I feel?

Nope.

There are two things I guess;

1) frugality enables me to spend my money on things that most matter. I remember the first time I very strongly felt that: I was eager to purchase commercial baking yeast, but it was not on sale. The cost was around 7 bucks or something. For some reason, this sounded to me like too much 🙂 Argh…

Was 7 bucks a lot of money?

No.

I used to have at the weekends breakfast with a cup of coffee and bagels costing around 10 bucks back in the day. I thought about these two costs and I decided it was time that I leveraged my money, considering how much I was interested in buying the yeast (my baking adventures 🙂 ) . So that weekend was the first time I did not have my weekend breakfast (my favorite treat for years), and rather spent the money on the yeast. It felt good to trade expenses after that.

2) Now that I spend less, money becomes more valuable. Strange, is it not? Only a week early I used to pay around 100 bucks/week to cab rides. I knew it was a lot of money, but did not care much considering how easy it made my stressful life. Today, I bought lots of great food and my weekly self-treat of chocolate for under 20 bucks. When I looked at how they made me feel, I knew that I felt happier and excited.

20 bucks versus 100 bucks…

This is what I call abundance.

Long live frugality 🙂

 

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 🙂

I have almost lapsed into extra spending today :)

Almost….

I wanted too 🙂 I really did – I wanted to come home early and get that junk food again..

It was an internal struggle really. I thought “it would be such a shame if I lapse right now, after a great day of frugal and simple life yesterday“.

Thank goodness I remembered that my computer does not run well nowadays and if I had come home and worked here, it would be a disaster. So, I stayed and did some work in the office. My craving for the junk food got subsidized at the same time.

I know in a couple of days I will forget these and will not even think about the junk food or other additional expenses I make to feel good in the midst of all the stress and hard-work. I know if I can go through a couple of weeks frugal, it is gonna be just easy after that.

Really. 

 

 

at last; frugal and simple life again

Today I have been completely expense-free; I took the bus in the morning even though it was icy on the road; I did not treat anyone at the office with food or coffee; I walked back to home in the evening; and I did not buy the junk food that I have had an habit of eating every day since July (aka the busy work season).

I saved $30.5 today by these today.

$30.5…. in a single day…

It feels like a lot of money for me today (although I did not care doing these expenses every single day in the last 7 months..).

I feel like during only Monday-Friday this week, assuming that I will keep repeating my frugal life-style today, I will be saving over 150 bucks of mine. This is like 15 x 10 pounds bread flour (more than a year’s of what is needed to bake a sourdough loaf every Sunday); 3 weeks worth of grocery; >1/2 sewing machine (new); a night at a hotel; around 50 bus trips to work; around 8 generous thrift store purchases; or a lovely pre-payment.

Can you imagine how abundant I feel??? 

Very abundant and wealthy indeed!

I am so excited and so proud of myself.

🙂

it is time to have some plans

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

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

They may be small, but mighty! 🙂

Here they are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT??

An additional debt? Was mortgage not good enough??

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

……..

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

I chose Monday – wish me luck 🙂

 

 

 

year end finances – 2018

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

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EXPENSES

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

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

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

Other expenses

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

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

  • Europe vacation: $1,500

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

Looks like too much for a single person?

SAVINGS, INVESTMENTS, and OTHER GOOD NEWS

Retirement investments and HBP payment:

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

Fun funds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I cannot wait 🙂

Retirement GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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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.

🙂

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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 🙂

 

a proud moment

After almost 2 months of senseless spending and lack of frugality in my life, today I made a pre-payment for my mortgage (only $404, but better than nothing, is it not?). I saved this money by my humble daily savings in the last 2 months. I am feeling extremely happy, proud, and excited about this 🙂 

Sometimes planning is not good enough and one must take steps to move. This was an important step that I hope will help me come back to my frugal self.

I plan to pay another $6,600 till the end of December. This will mean that I will have paid an extra ~10K as pre-payment this year. Of course I still need to make these payments…. So before I get excited for no real reason, I must keep my eye on this prize and find the motivation that I so much needed to move even more forward 🙂

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.

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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 🙂

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weekly budget check

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I  am very grateful.

🙂

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!

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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! 🙂

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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 🙂

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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. 

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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 🙂

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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:

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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).

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

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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! 

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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

Another #leanspending week 🙂

This was a week with the least amount of grocery expenses; I had fresh produce left from the week before, which I decided to consume before I bought new ones. It was a good decision; I wasted neither the produce nor the money 🙂 I also cashed loyalty card points, which dropped my grocery bill this week (don’t you love them?).

This being said, I have had a social that costed me a little bit. I am not complaining about this, knowing that it happens only rarely and I usually enjoy the food.

And, the most exciting part? The pre-payment I made to my mortgage! This week I made the biggest pre-payments ever; a total of $1,662.5. Almost all of this is my tax return. I am so excited and proud of myself…..

This is my 4th pre-payment done so far. I started in the new year; my motto is that whatever extra I get (from coupons, waivers, tax return, tempting expenses that are not done etc.) will be used as pre-payment. Before I know, they accumulate.

Anyways, here is the week’s account:

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Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast, and a cab drive in the snow storm day): $37

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $37 = $73

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $757.5 (Yahooo !!!! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $178 (health-related and social expenses, in addition to shopping for personal care and cleaning products at a store)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $27.5(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 at the local cafe etc.).

Maybe a small amount, but a penny saved is a penny earned, right? 🙂

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Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: soup (x2) and brown lentil meal from the freezer; bulghur (x2), canned bean, and pasta from the pantry 🙂

Honestly, I am very excited about consuming the food that I already have. Since I started prioritizing the food in my freezer and the pantry in the last few months, I have consumed quite a bit of it. This helps me not only with saving money but also with an opportunity to refresh them. Like, last week I shopped for dry food (beans, lentils, seeds, rolled oats etc.) with great joy (oh, the joy of shopping cannot be under-estimated!). I have great and diverse food that can be enough for a couple of months and I am feeling incredibly abundant and grateful! 🙂

Happy saving! 🙂

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 🙂

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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 🙂

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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?

 🙂 

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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:

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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): $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 🙂 🙂 🙂

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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.)

————————————————-

*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 🙂

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*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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gif by: http://giphy.com/gifs/cvs-money-savings-piggybank-ToMjGpx5h68IVy1SCkM

 

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 🙂

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*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 🙂

my weekend breakfast is back! :)

I have got my bagel and coffee at a nearby cafe this morning 🙂

Like I used to have over years/decades every Saturday and Sunday morning 🙂

Toasted bagel and coffee are my favorite breakfast. I have had temporarily stopped having them in late fall to cover a portion of the money I used to purchase my sewing machine. I think I have done my best and I have done it for long; according to my calculations, 3 months of breakfast-fasting made me save around $100. It is not a huge amount but I know every penny counts and it was valuable when I saved. Now, however, I am claiming my breakfast back so that I  can enjoy my life and my weekends a little bit more:)

Since ending #TheleanSpendingMonth challenge yesterday, I have been feeling good about money not being my primary focus in life. I can choose to do that again in the future, temporarily save money, but right now, I gotta be true to myself and my needs.

Whatever you do, make sure your money works for you, not against you.

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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.

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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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gif by giffy;http://giphy.com/gifs/trump-violence-tone-CiYImHHBivpAs

 

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 6 – #TheLeanSpendingMonth

It is February 6th, the 6th day of #TheLeanSpendingMonth.

What did I spend money on today?

Nothing 🙂

Not even the bus fare 🙂

Only because it has been a snow day! Yay!

Friends; it is exciting to spend nothing 🙂

But it is also concerning that one day whatever I have at home will be consumed and I will have to purchase them. So there will be purchases coming.

But, until then let me feel this joy 🙂

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Number of no-spending days so far: 3

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Gratefully acknowledging my good fellow-blogger Decluttering The Stuff, who is in this challenge with me and keeping an excellent company!

Hurrah to us 🙂

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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.

DAY 4 – #TheLeanSpendingMonth

I spent A LOOOOOOOOOT of money today 🙂

Say what!?

Yup!

$86.5.

I did it.

I spent all of it!

——————

I had to.

And no worries, all purchases made were clean.

That means i bought only what I would need and if they were at good price. 

This has been my monthly shopping at a big store where I purchase my office snacks and personal care and cleaning products. By purchasing these items at this store I do save a lot of money so my consciousness is clean.

I had not done this in January so incidentally this was done now in February, which is my  #TheLeanSpendingMonth. Oh, well.

No worries I made conscious choices and did not buy a couple of items that I would normally spend money on. Also, I proudly took the bus again and carried the purchased items back home in tote and back pack (hey, I could take the cab, but I did not – so I am proud of myself 🙂 ). I did not treat myself with a nice cup of coffee and bagel, either. So…. Did I do good?

I think so 🙂

On an additional positive side: I find peace in knowing that my good fellow-blogger Decluttering The Stuff is in this challenge with me and keeping an excellent company!

Hurrah to us 🙂

weekly budget check

One day belated, but here is my weekly spendings 🙂

Overall, I am keeping with #TheLeanSpendingMonth plan and as of Feb 1st, I also am recording my daily spendings.

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $55.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $55.5 = $74.5

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $432  (yay! wow! so much saving – thanks me! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $0 for the third week -A miracle! 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses: $37 (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 been consistently using the food in my freezer and pantry in the last few weeks 🙂 This week I have enjoyed the followings: canned bean, canned soup, cracked wheat, dry red kidney beans, dehydrated pepper and eggplant from the pantry and frozen carrots and frozen chicken soup from the freezer! Yaaaay!! 🙂

*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 🙂

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!)

————————————————-

*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 🙂

 

 

 

pantry/freezer treasure finds from the last 10 days

My plan and efforts to consume the food I have hoarded in my pantry and freezer are going well.

I am happy that I am taking steps to actually implement this plan 🙂

I originally wanted to record how well I have been doing re; eating the “pantry/freezer treasures” in my weekly budget check posts. Last week I have not posted it, so I thought I would have this separate entry here. I also aimed for eating at least one food per week.

Overall, I have consumed more than one item per week. For the last ten days, this list included canned corn, pasta, dehyadrated soup, frozen minced beef, frozen chicken, frozen bread loaf, and frozen breakfast calzone.

I congratulate myself for this highly satisfactory performance and I hope that I will keep doing this in the weeks to come 🙂

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:)

 

financial challenges I assign to myself this year

I love assigning financial challenges to me and then seeing how I am doing 🙂

In the recent years, my first such joyful challenge was shopping freeze – I first applied it to books and then to shoes/clothes. I still did purchase a few of these items during the year, but hey, I had assigned these freezes for only a short time and they were needed when I purchased them. It is interesting that these freezes become habits quite soon after I first started them. Human attitude is quite plastic – it does change easier than we would like to think.

Anyways; the two things that I would like to try this year are the followings:

1. super-duper lean spending month. A fellow blogger suggested a no spend month, who I unfortunately cannot remember (raise your hand if you read this! 🙂 ).

Honestly I have no idea what no spend month means. I only think that the grocery, medication, transportation, and other essentials are excluded from this challenge.

Knowing my budget and daily life and requirements, I am pretty sure I cannot keep up with this – there will be at least work-place or socialization-related expenses; somebody will require some sort of gifts/donations, or I will find myself needing something all of a sudden. So, I do not have an interest in no spend month challenge.

So, why the hey am I talking about it here?

I want to give it a try and see whether I can rather aim for a “super-duper lean spending month“. That would mean finding alternative ways to contribute/donate/gift people; refuse or deflect social encounters (this is a challenge, but doable); and think really, really hard before I open my purse for anything other than essential grocery, cleaning and personal care products, transportation, medication and so on.

Certainly doable! 🙂

I am thinking February is a great time to do this challenge. And, no, not because it has less days than a regular month 🙂 I chose it because right now I have a good momentum in terms of spending (i.e. I shopped and stocked up quite a bit in Nov-Dec; that means in January I project to spend quite low anyhow).

I am curious how it will fold up 🙂

2. Pantry/freezer challenge: I have many food stored in my pantry and freezer. I have been meaning to consume them during the holidays, but time flied and things/socials happened. But I have not stopped thinking about it. My plan is to eat at least one meal per week prepared by the food already stocked up at my home. I also plan not to stock up any further until I consume half of the entire stock (then I can start stocking up them when they are on sale).

I kind of started it today when I baked a bean dish with the dry beans and frozen carrots 🙂

I know if I can put it in my to-do-list, I will make an effort to work on this challenge.  That is why I plan to record my pantry/freezer challenge activities within my weekly budget check posts.

If you have other challenges, please feel free to comment 🙂

 

the 8th day of the staycation

Wow!.. Days pass quickly. I cannot believe that I have 6 days left before I return back to office and start a work-marathon….This thought somehow depressed me, but I will let it go.

I have had a fine day with shopping and nothing else in particular. I am making an effort to have free time so that I can reflect rather than keep myself busy with doing house chores or other activities.

The year 2016 has been quite an interesting year for my life. I felt happiness quite a bit; especially when I started yoga/stretching classes in January. It was going well, I was feeling connected to my body and appreciating it, but then one night I pulled a muscle on my back and I quit those classes. Alas..

I under-estimated how bad that lower back problem was and even though I was recommended to see a physiotherapist I did not and two weeks later I pulled it again. I had no chance but to take it serious. And I have. I attended physiotherapy, my work-place purchased me a standing desk, and I have been doing my back stretches/strengthening exercises  quite frequently. My back is feeling alright, but I am not naive to think that it has been healed completely. I will keep taking care of it.

Then late February my dad passed away and sadness engulfed me. if you follow my blog, you know I am grieving quite a bit… He was a gentle soul who deserved much better. I wish our lives were different.. May he rest in peace.

My relationship with my family strained a little bit after my dad passed away and we are trying to mend it. I never thought that I could have such a serious issues with my family members, but I did. Just recently I decided to go visit them this summer – I hope things will be back to normal. Love is stronger than anything else, even though time to time I too succumb into disliking things and people. Nothing changes the fact that my family is important to me.

In October, I went to a European convention and got strained there for two additional days because of a labor issue in the host country. The stress and anxiety I felt was palpable – would I be able to find a hotel room to stay? When could I return back safely? . Eventually it turned out to be okay, but this incident changed me a little bit. perhaps next time I can handle it better (not that I wish another adventure like this…). During those times I accidentally stepped on a song by Sia – Chandelier, which remains to be one of my favorites since then. I believe there has not been a day that I have not listened to it. The voice is captivating (though I am not sure what to think about the video).

 

In May I started to bake my own bread and in september I started my own sourdough starter 🙂 these two have been quite interesting adventures and  I am so happy that I have them in my life 🙂

And lately in November or so, I also became interested in sewing; I bought my sewing machine and have been collecting all the notions and supplies since then. I am not good at sewing yet, but I hope I will be over time 🙂

And, as per my budget; I have had the greatest budget at the beginning of 2016; it was the leanest budget I have had in the last 7-8 years and it did wonders for me. I was able to significantly reduce my spending, bring my chequing account to a positive balance, increase my RRSP contributions and my mortgage payments. During summer I succumbed back to spending unnecessarily, yet I hope the new year will give me a chance to keep my budget on track.

And finally; I lost around 15-20 pounds during the the past year. I suspect that baking my own bread and my lower back problem both contributed to it. I am feeling good about it and wish to keep losing some more fat in the coming year.

As per work; it continues to stress me out and I perform well, however, less than before. There are times that our interests change and I guess it has been the case for my work too. I still do a considerable amount of work, but there were times that I wished I could retire. Retirement is a distant dream, but it is such a freeing dream… I wonder what else I would discover and get interested in….

This year was also one of these that I made an attempt to be more social. I hosted a few times at my house, but it worked out well. I socialized with friends and colleagues and enjoyed them to some degree. Honestly I am not very interested in hosting or socializing again anytime soon, but I am glad at least I tried, made an effort to enjoy these occasions, and realized once more that solitude is the best life-style for me.

Quite a busy and influential year, is it not? 🙂

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!

 

the second day of staycation

It has been a busy day, but I have done some of the stuff on my list, which is pleasing 🙂

First thing first, I met with my financial advisor and made a number of changes to my investments. I am hoping to get better return, yet once can never be sure of the future or the markets, so I am not raising my hopes yet. But I am glad that I have changed one plan that did not yield return much over the years. It has been bugging me big time and it is done. I also inquired about some additional information, which will be useful in the future. More importantly, my advisor was able to waive the annual fee for my credit card, which  I love! It is not too much but bothers me a lot! I did that for the first time last year and I was told that there would be no other chance in the future, yet here I am. I feel so lucky guys!

The next item at my list is of course cleaning the house. I did regular cleaning today; nothing fancy. I thought I would first need this get done. Then, slowly built on it. I dusted and wiped everything (such as heater, behind the items, window sills, floors etc.) of the powder room and the laundry room. It is not too much but at least this part is done and I feel like I am progressing 🙂

I want to do more but I am waiting for a delivery…. It feels kind of strange to be locked up at home but if I do not receive it at home, I will have to take the bus and get it from the courier’s office. Not so great.. So, I am waiting. I hope it can arrive soon so that I can get out and do some grocery shopping and pick up an item at a store 15 min away from here.

Oh, and I treated myself with a breakfast this morning after I talked to my financial advisor 🙂 It felt great to treat myself and remind myself that I deserve little indulgences, especially if they signify the start of a staycation and waiving of the credit card fee 🙂

I will calculate my savings for this year and the expenses in my expense categories now – let’s see how I have done 🙂

Have a great evening 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 🙂

 

 

exciting thrifty store visit :)

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I have had a blast today at two thrifty stores 🙂

Gals; I was reading that some of you were able to get sewing fabric and notions from thrifty stores. I had not believed in it.

It turned out I was wrong 🙂

I took advantage of finishing some critical work early today and despite the slushy roads (which is not fun when one walks), I decided to check my favorite stores; a.k.a. thrifty stores 30 min walking distance from my office. Man, there is so many interesting stuff in these stores.

I have found lovely scrap fabric in great condition 🙂 These were left overs from who knows what project and were on sale. All in great condition and clean, and absolutely do not have any dirt or offensive odor or something 🙂 Some are as long as 7 meters, the shortest is around 1 meter. And I paid a total of $42 for all of these (12 different fabric accounting for more than 30 meters of fabric)!

This is my first serious fabric hunt so far (after I purchased my sewing machine). I am planning to use some as backing fabric for bed cover/quilt trials; some of them I would love to see as tunics, and many of them will be quilt pieces/placemats 🙂

I cannot wait to get my hands on these 🙂

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 🙂

shopping spree continues :)

I have been shopping lately; I bought a new sewing machine, ordered plate sets, and yesterday and today I have been to shopping malls – yay! 🙂

Do not worry; I buy what I must and am absolutely taking advantage of the deals. I have done well with my sewing machine (almost 40% off), plate sets (50% off), and others I bought this weekend. I am also shopping to replace old and unhealthy pieces at my kitchen- whether or not they are on sale does not matter to me (my health is more important, right?).

For example; I have got rid of two non-stick frying pans that were now full of scratches. Honestly I do not like non-stick products at all (stainless steel is the healthiest, but it unfortunately sticks..). So I wrestled quite a bit with myself and only after I promised myself that I would take excellent care of this new one and never buy another one again in the next 5 years or so, I placed the new non-stick frying pan in my shopping cart.

Similarly, I had also noticed that the lids of some of my mason jars were blackened here and there. After all these years of faithful service, I thought it was time to replace them (I think it is rust…). So I have got covers and lids for the small and the large jars and am slowly replacing all that are in bad shape. For my health, that is one great investment and I am feeling very good about it.

And today, I have got myself a nice french presser (coffee maker) to use at home. It was on my shopping list for some time and when I saw today that one product was on sale and there was an additional 25%, I could not help but buy that beautiful rouge presser 🙂 I had decided to buy a french presser because of three reasons: when I host at home, I bring in the one at my office which is cumbersome; I now am getting my weekend coffee at home rather than at a coffee shop (and interestingly I very much enjoy this); and I thought that I could also brew tea in it (I also needed a new tea pot). With one product, many problems solved 🙂

And of course I am building, however slowly, my sewing supplies, like thread etc. It will take some time to get everything I need, but I am getting there. And it is very exciting 🙂

Overall, I have had a great weekend and I hope you all are enjoying your Sunday night 🙂

 

weekly budget check

Yay! The second week on minimal spending plan has been a success 🙂

————————

expenses related to weekly allowance: $38.25

funds left from weekly allowance (re; fun funds): $81.8

total fun funds accumulated to this day: -$44.5 (it is still on the negative side, but it is getting closer to $0 at least. Considering that just 2 months ago I had -$300 in this funds says a lot, does it not?… I hope to make it positive till new year and hopefully really use these funds for something I can really enjoy 🙂 )

other expenses: $203. This included a set of plates I ordered (I love them; the set I have has been with me for 15 years. It was time to retire it. I am not sorry for this expense; rather I am pretty much delighted…) and an expensive dinner I had had with my friends last weekend.

———

This “minimal spending” plan aims to limit my weekly allowance expenses (transportation, grocery, weekend breakfast etc.) till the holidays season so that I can save  funds to use during shopping during the holidays 🙂

As part of this plan, I walked everywhere this past week and saved my transportation funds. The number of days this week in which I did not spend any money was 4. I also am trying to consume what I already have, so my grocery expenses are pretty less than before and I had no breakfast-related expense this week. While I have lots of food and each week also buy fresh produce, I am not sure how long I can keep going like this (I am especially fond of my breakfast at the weekends), but I am making a great progress towards saving for my shopping plans 🙂

How to maximize the value of grocery funds


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

DO:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Prepare meals from scratch

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

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

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

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

15. Take advantage of holiday sales

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

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

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

19. Buy frozen veggies

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

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

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

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

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

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

26. Try new recipes and improvise

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

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

 

DON’T

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

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

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

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

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

6. Forget to celebrate!

 

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

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

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

 

 

not picking the cheques anymore?

You know I have been on a budget to spend less and save more for my future, whether I do that to pay extra mortgage payments, to finance future house repairs (likely considering my house being an old one), to built an emergency fund (we all can need it anytime), to help family (they are important to me), or retirement (hey; I am important too).

And lately, you know that I got interested in sewing and have been saving extra to finance my new sewing machine, in addition to support my shopping plans for the holiday season.

You may also know that I like to be generous and pick up the cheques as dinners/cafes, if I am with friends or colleagues.

I came to a point that being a saver/conscious spender and being generous do not go well sometime. Sometime one has to choose one over the other.

Yesterday I have had two socials with the same people; a brunch and then a dinner. I offered to pay the bill of the brunch, but I was not let to. I am grateful for their kindness. Then later during the dinner I decided I did not want to pick up the bill. So, we got split cheques after a few awkward moments.

I felt cheap, I still somehow feel cheap, for not paying the entire bill, but it was the right thing to do.

One; I had no say in the choice of the diner (one of my friends yesterday made the reservation). It had one fixed menu. (by the way, that is quite strange… what if I do not feel like eating those?). Honestly I would love Asian cuisine much better and then it would worth every penny. So, strike one.

Two; it was an expensive restaurant. Do not get me wrong; it was a fine restaurant, food was interesting, and the service was excellent, but do I really need to pay around 80 bucks for a 5 course meal? I am here sacrificing from my weekend breakfast (that consists of a cup of coffee and one bagel) to help save for my sewing/holiday shopping needs, and then at one night I can spend 80 bucks? 80 bucks pay for 20 breakfast……That is a huge….The best choice is clear.

Three: as I was conscious of my money, I did not order extra meals/drinks like my friends did. Should I really pay for this?

Four: in the past I have picked cheques for both of my friends, so we should be fine.

So after this analysis, I am feeling better and I decided I might have been cheap but not unnecessarily. The question is; how am I going to continue making better choices in the future with other socials?

There will be some learning,  I guess 🙂

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 🙂

feeling lucky (again) :)

This past weekend I switched from my lovely canvas purse to another leather one, as the weather started to act and rain is a regular event now. Yesterday I noticed that it has a zipper-secured section on the side. Just out of curiosity I checked inside and found around $22 worth of coins 🙂 I must have put them there last time I used it.

This is the second time I find a considerable amount of money forgotten; once in a coat’s pocket and now in my purse. It both cases, I was surprised quite a bit. But, most importantly I also felt lucky to have them back 🙂

It is not too much of an amount, but, hey I have a sewing machine plan to save money for! Together with a $4 savings I have had from a regular expense today, I have a total of $26 in the sewing machine account. $274 to go 🙂

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 🙂

joy journal, Nov 5, 2016

I meant to have a great weekend and so far it has been going well 🙂

1. I am grateful for the refreshing and easy sleep. For someone who has had sleeping problem in the past, it is such a wonderful thing to be able to get sleepy, fall asleep at night, and wake up rested and feeling well.

2. I am grateful for the coffee I treated myself with in the morning 🙂 One cup of coffee can sure make me feel pampered and energized 🙂

3. I am grateful for the bagel-like pastry I baked last week, freezing them during the week, thawing over-night, and then eating it this morning with my coffee 🙂 I decided that this was a great practice – I know what I am eating and I enjoy trying new recipes. So I decided to make a batch of bagels tomorrow (my first trial – so wish me luck 🙂 ) to consume at the weekends together with my morning coffee.

4. I am grateful for walking to a store 10-15 min away and purchasing the hair dye I would need soon. Using the coupons, both store’s and manufacturer’s, made it a great deal and an excited occasion for me 🙂

5. I am grateful for meeting with a friend of mine and visiting a shopping mall. We spent around 4 hours there, going around the stores, checking clothes and other items, chatting, and drinking coffee. It was a fine day 🙂

6. I am grateful for the left-over piece of cotton I found at a fabric store today. It costed me $2.30 for 1 meter of fabric. I have some cotton cloths that I us during baking (e.g. to rest or the shape the dough on), but I wanted to have extra ones so that I would not feel rushed to wash them every day. The today’s piece was enough for 4 pieces of cloths 🙂

7. I am grateful for the little battery-operated sewing machine my sister and my mom had bought me a year ago! It is like a kid’s toy but sure does the work! I used it for the first time today to sew around the cloths 🙂 I am not done sewing the baking cloths yet, but it was such a joy to be able to operate this little magical tool and fix my baking cloths 🙂

8. I am grateful for not spending on anything unnecessary today.

9. I am grateful for the meal I have had cooked yesterday, which made my dinner easy today.

10. I am grateful for the sourdough I am rising tonite. I am trying something new and I hope to bake something interesting tomorrow. We will see how that goes 🙂 exciting!

11. I am grateful for doing the laundry today; it is sometimes a chore that I dread a lot…. I am glad that I do not have to think about it for another week 🙂

12. I am grateful for the beautiful day today 🙂 it was warm and shinny and felt like early spring.

13. I am grateful for my plan to shop tomorrow at another mall. I am hoping that the weather will be nice (though the forecast says that it sill be chilly) so that I can walk to the mall. It will take around 30-40 min to do so, but I really am looking forward to this opportunity 🙂

14. I am grateful for having the night to myself.

15. I am grateful for the push ups (today’s set consisted of 30! Wohooo 🙂 ) and the other light weight lifting and lower back stretching exercises 🙂 I am getting stronger and that makes me feel a lot better about myself. This is a great feeling that I had missed for some time. I am very, very grateful for this feeling.

16. I am grateful for not getting bad news today.

17. I am grateful for my back being pain-free. I can turn around without too much of a problem and it does not bother me at all.

18. I am grateful for not getting crazy about gaining 2 pounds the last week. Okay… Okay… Maybe I am… I was losing weight and it was feeling great and then I stopped and then even put on two pounds back. I have not really eaten too much or too different this week, so I am not sure about the cause of this weight gain. I am still conscious about my eating and making really good choices. Sometimes it is what it is I guess. I hope that the next week things will turn alright.

19. I m grateful for the McIntosh apples I have got Thursday. They are my favorites and I had not had them for months 🙂 The sour/sweet and juicy texture of this apple is distinctive. I have been eating two of them per day since I have got them. I hope to buy another bag hopefully tomorrow 🙂

20. I am grateful for my computer, internet connection, house, job, salary, benefits, furniture, clothes, shoes, and everything else I have at home and in life that makes my life safe, comfortable, and easy.

21. I am grateful for being grateful and taking time to note these 🙂

coupons can be exciting sometimes

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

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

Can you imagine?

$21…..

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

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

🙂

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 🙂

 

no spending day

I just realized today was a no-spending-day since I do not know when…

I am so excited about this.

I walked and did not pay for bus and I absolutely bought nothing today; no coffee, no treats, no grocery, no nothing….

I remember last year when I first aimed to have a no-spending day it was so difficult…

I feel like I am coming back to my lean budget as of this week and it is making me feel very empowered and abled. This has nothing to do with my accidental no-spending-day today, but both are what make me excited in terms of achieving my goals.

It is interesting that spending less money can make one that excited about herself 🙂

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.

 

a quick note on coupons

While I am not into coupons, I used one today (BOGO); it was for my favorite soap that was also on sale at a nearby store. I could not help but ask the cashier whether I could use it (argh – very in-experienced couponer here 🙂 ) and it turned out that I could. I paid $2.99 (plus tax) for 4 bars of soap that otherwise would cost me $8.98 (plus tax).

Can you imagine?

The coupons came in an insert with the weekly flyer combo. While I love looking at them and deciding what to purchase every week, this week’s insert was the one that delighted me most. I have a coupon for the hair dye I must buy and I sure will use it before it expires 🙂

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

seems like I am spending and spending… While shopping is a great feeling, constantly spending over my budget is not. I gotta come up with a strict budget for the next week to get back to track (this works for me).

weekly allowance expenses: $145.5 ($25.5 over my regular allowance…)

savings from would-be-expenses (expenses that I was tempted to do, but did not; discounts, etc.): $163

Other expenses (cleaning products, cat supplies, cab to the shelter, a second hand rug): $317.5.

Ah, come on…. this is a huge amount. Around $200 is for cat-supplies/cab fee to visit the shelter. $70 is for a lovely second-hand area rug which turned out to be perfect (new, good-looking, and fitting the living room well. I should not be sorry 🙂

fun funds saved this week: -$25.5

fun funds accumulated to date: -$8

 

So, for the first time since the new year, I have a negative balance in the fun funds, which means that I have no money left for extravaganza :). I am smiling but this situation is actually not great. I gotta tighten the belt this week. I need to purchase more cat supplies and also pay for the cat adoption fees. So, I probably am looking for another week with lots of expenses in the category of “other expenses”.

argh…

But, my fiends, life is good. I have hope that things will turn around  🙂

 

 

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 :))

joy journal – May 27, 2016

1. I am grateful for sleeping well and getting up in a relatively good mood – priceless 🙂

2. I am grateful for taking the bus and being happy about it.

3. I am grateful for my office coffee! I cannot get tired of this. i am so lucky that I have an office for myself and I am accountable to only myself… That is great to note this as I have not particularly noticed it before… Coffee makes my mind work well I guess 🙂

4. I am grateful for having a long but nevertheless useful meeting.

5. I am grateful for walking back to home right after the meeting. It was kind of chilly but that is alright. Better days will come!

6. I am grateful for checking my home and finding no pest activity during the day. I feel good about this but I am not naive enough to  think that it is over yet. nevertheless, this is a peace of mind for today.

7. I am grateful for the cat next door that shows up in my yard time to time. I wish she could visit my home too so that the pest would have an extra motivation to leave my premises! 🙂

8. I am grateful for the misty weather today, which allowed me not to water my seeds in the yard.

9. I am grateful for not eating too much today. My appetite is not there in the last few days. I am feeling great about this, though I should make sure I eat healthy stuff. I noticed that I do not eat fruits as much as I would like. Gotta solve this problem this week 🙂

10. I am grateful for the fish I have baked this evening and it is being affordable and quite tasty.

11. I am grateful for the relaxing atmosphere of my home. I have everything I need and want (except the pests! 🙂 ).

12. I am grateful for the comfy bed I have that allows me to both relax and sleep on.

13. I am grateful for making new plans for my saving. As soon as I come back from my vacation, I will do some adjustments to further save and use my own hard-earned dollars. I deserve this.

14. I am grateful for my computer and internet connection that makes my life easy and enjoyable.

15. I am grateful for my job that allows me to have a comfortable and safe life.

16. I am grateful for all the savings I have made since the last one year. At the beginning of June, it will be a year that I started budgeting in a serious manner According to my records, in the last one year I have saved roughly 7K…… That is an amazing amount of money that I would have otherwise thrown away. I am proud of myself 🙂

17. I am grateful for being alive, healthy, safe, and sound.

18. I am grateful for my back feeling better and not needing exercises. being pain-free is an amazing feeling 🙂

19. I am grateful for being grateful and taking time to write my joy journal.

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! 🙂

Excitement

Excitement…

Excitement is an integral part of life, is it not?

I feel much better and energized when I am excited about something. Maybe it is my saving and budgeting efforts. Maybe getting stuff on sale with really good deals. Maybe it is baking a great bread and making plans for the next ones. Maybe it is walking in the mornings or finding a great book every once a while. Maybe it is accomplishing something at work, working efficiently, and getting good news/recognition. Maybe it is the nice weather and awakening of the nature with the coming of Spring. Maybe it is the coming vacation to be spent with my family. Maybe it is blogging and knowing that I am a part of a meaningful, informative, and supportive community.

Whatever it is, I increasingly realize that excitement is a good thing for me.

My budget has always excited me, occupied my mind with its ups and downs, and with its progressive and nowadays stable nature. To tell you the truth now that I am spending much less than before, and know and apply saving strategies that work for me, I am not as excited about it as before. OK….

Books still excite me, but I have got used to be on shopping ban for them and the fact that I have many books at home to be read, including the GRMM’s A Song of Ice and Fire, I am not really excited by the idea of buying books. The only book I can buy is about how to make bread – that is all. And I guess I will wait till my vacation to buy one or two.

Work has been exciting today as I could work efficiently and with less than regular distraction. I am moving a good project and that feels good. Also, my colleague from yesterday and I interacted quite positively today, which removes any stress about our potential conflict. All to be grateful for and yes I am excited about these.

I do not wish to walk in the mornings nowadays and I am okay with this. I know when I feel so, I will walk. I am not pressuring myself and I kind of take it as it happens. I am also excited about this lack of pressure and comfort I provide to myself.

Spring, of course, is amazing and I continue to be excited about it. I gave water this evening too to the seeds that I planted at the weekend. I also am happy to see my rosemary is looking considerably healthier that the weekend, thanks to watering it every morning. i am excited about this, too.

I am yet to feel excited about my vacation as I am more focused on finishing things at work prior to leaving. I usually start feeling excitement the day of my travel – I cannot wait for that. there is something awesome about leaving everything behind and taking a break to focus on what is important in my personal life for a change.

I am excited about trying breads, yet I develop that fear of running out of ideas or recipes to try. I know this is not a realistic fear as I am sure there are tons of recipes out there. But, I guess what this tells me is that I like to figure things out, try and experiment. Once I figure things out, then they are not that interesting anymore. So I constantly come up with new plans – like making my own pasta (which I will try some other time). I am also excited about the prospect of purchasing cookie sheets, dough scrapper, and a nice mixing bowl.

Luckily, I get to search for and identify the items on sale each week by checking three store in my close vicinity – that excitement is thus permanent.

I realized that anticipation seems to be a common theme in my bread-making, planted seeds, work, and budget adventures. An interesting driver of excitement.

I realized that once I got something integrated in my life, like my budget, I am not that excited any more.

I realized that some of my excitements are temporary, such as Spring and my rosemary.

I realized that maybe that is why I need to keep look for other activities/things/hobbies to keep myself excited.

Oh well..

Nonetheless, I would like to remind myself that I have time and resources such as internet – I can figure them out.

Who knows what they will be and how they will change my life. Now this idea is exciting!

🙂

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.

random thoughts

It was a go-go kind of day, with many things happening at work and taken care of with a rush that still makes me dizzy. But at least it is over for today, so I can set this feeling aside.

After my baguette fiasco yesterday I have had that constant feeling of making a bread. It is as if if I can make one, then I will have confidence and can try and achieve baking beautiful loafs. I even considered it for tonite, but decided not to – I will wait for the weekend. more excitement this way 🙂

In terms of my budget, I have done really well so far this week, which is very pleasing. I did not have to buy too much of grocery and I catched up some sales. I also used the points of a loyalty card this past week, which reduced my grocery bill. I believe every month, I can get some cash back (to be used in grocery shopping) using the loyalty card. It can be a small amount but sure makes a difference in my finances and life. While I still have 3 more days to go before my weekly budget ends, I am hopeful that I will be able to keep up my expenses low this week.

This is good because I have a couple of socials to attend and some social expenses to cover in the coming weeks. While they will cost me some money, I am also excited to be a part of them. So all will be fine.

I have a family vacation coming up and I wanted to save quite a bit prior to it. I may not have saved as much as I wished, but I guess what I have is good enough to cover for expenses in a comfortable way. The family vacation also means that I will be away from the work. This can explain the rush and stress I have been having lately. I would like to start the vacation without thinking too much about the work. So things are better taken care of until then.

On the positive side, I walked this morning from home to the office. We have had an exceptional day today, with really warm Spring temperatures. It is kind of ironic that I had to spend such a beautiful day inside my office. But hey, at least I have seen it and got excited about Spring 🙂 So walking in the morning and then in the afternoon were very delightful. I hope to do the same tomorrow. Hopefully there will be no rain tomorrow 🙂

My back has been feeling good in the last two days. Last week, I have had back pains and I was worried. So I decided to give my back a rest and did not do my exercises since friday. Surprisingly that seems to be working so far 🙂 I did a little bit arm work with dumbbells – I like the feeling and the obvious tone improvement in my arm muscles. This is pretty much becoming a regular exercise for me. the trick is to do light work without straining myself a lot or taking too long of a time; then I have the motivation to keep going. Little bit of it is better than none of it 🙂

I was thinking today why and how the gym culture has evolved. Is it because we became too dependent on technology and cars etc. and forgotten to work our body in a natural way? Or did we get obsessed with how we look? Maybe we become more competitive and feeling the need to shape our body and feel good about ourselves?  maybe it is what everybody else is doing so we feel the pressure to do attend a gym… Is it not ironic that we have walking bands in the gyms, countless of them, while we can walk during the day? Have you ever gone to gym with cars?

Those who live in unsafe areas and totally dependent on driving their cars to go around can disregard this last question. Many of my friends in the US have had this one reason for not walking on the streets. It is amazing and sometime quite sad how our living environment can shape our lives, life styles, and needs.

I will finish my random thougths post today by noting the Fort McMurray wildfire that is affecting Alberta and close communities. It is a disaster that I cannot even comprehend; sending my best wishes to fellow Canadians living in that area.

random thoughts

Today I had meetings over meetings, made important decisions, and completely got drained energy-wise. I will work tomorrow too at the office with a team member of mine, and it looks like for the next 4 weeks or so I will have hardly any time to take it easy.

But that is okay because 5-6 weeks later I will be visiting my family. Vacation and family time!

I am just stressed  a little bit but I know I can handle this. I have gone thru similar pressing times at work. Even though it does strain me, eventually the outcome of hardwork is good and desirable. I know I will be okay. I just need to spend my time more wisely and give myself “awards” that will excite me.

So this is what exactly I have done today and bought myself a can of traditional active yeast 🙂 You know my love for yeast, right? The other day I had also got additional flour (I already had whole wheat flour, now I would like to try all purpose flour for a softer type of bread) and now I am ready to roll 🙂

I would like to try a lovely loaf on Sunday. I plan to rise it really well this time. So I will start the dough in the morning and will give it enough time to rise. I have been reading a lot and I have got many tips. One thing I cannot be sure about is whether I will have a plain loaf or a veggie bread, like zucchini bread. I will decide it at that time I guess. Nevertheless, I am excited!

It has been raining today a lot, so I took the bus in the morning. I am glad that I decided to do so, rather than taking the cab. I am very content about this shift in my thinking; previously nothing would stop me from taking the cab in the morning, especially if the weather was annoying. My mind-set at that time was “I deserve this” and “I better go to office as soon as possible to start taking care of work” and “I am really not in the mood and I have little energy; so taking the cab is the greatest convenience for me right now“, and “it is so annoying to wait 5 or 10 minutes for the bus“.

As we all know, these thoughts are feelings of mine are now mostly gone. I, more than 90% of the time, take the bus or walk to the office in the morning. I am not annoyed by waiting for the bus. I enjoy taking the bus (or walking). I enjoy using the cab fare rather on more meaningful things, such as strengthening my bank account or investing for my retirement.

There are a number of factors that has helped me with this mental transition. First, my determination to control my finances better. Second, the iron supplementation that increased my energy levels. And third, waking up a little bit earlier, which makes me feel like I am not late and it is okay to spend extra time to take the bus.

Little things can make huge difference. I feel lucky for being able to have these factors in my life.

Cheers everyone 🙂

 

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?

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! 🙂

 

money: you have it or you do not have it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 🙂

 

 

joy journal, April 2, 2016

1. I am grateful that I have had a relaxing night yesterday and had a good night sleep. I woke up with thoughts rushing to my mind again, which is quite annoying, but I am determined that to not ruin my life and my life choices.

2. I am grateful for taking the bus to and from the shopping mall in the morning. Always a great way to save. Considering it would cost me $16 one-way should I have taken the cab…  It is awesome that in both cases i did not have to wait longer than 5 min (waiting something/someone makes me crazy…).. Am I lucky or what? 🙂

3. I am grateful for the coffee and bagel I have had at the mall. It is the same brand of cafe that I regularly visit at the weekends. Yet, at least this time I have had the opportunity to enjoy a change in the environment.

4. I am grateful for the dollar store; I love buying the stationary items there. All bunch of colorful ones and so affordable. This time I bought 2 packs of dehydrated bread (awesome companion to soups), a cute gift bag, and several candies (all colorful, of course) for my office 🙂

5. I am grateful for having a hair cut! I finally did it and this time it is absolutely short. As I have wanted! Last time the hairdresser was hesitant (why, I should have asked to her) to shorten my hair by 2 inches – so she rather trimmed it and that was not what I wanted at all. This time I insistent and said that I wanted it short! And, short it got 🙂 This hair dresser too commented that I had healthy and thick hair, which is always great to hear. She also commented on the red colour (yes, I do have hair with bright red colour) and said that this tone would usually not suit many people, but it really was suiting my complexion. Awe… Thank you nice lady 🙂

6. I am grateful that a nice elderly lady complemented my hair while I was walking towards a store. I am not sure what prompted her to say that, but that is always a nice thing to hear. The truth is I had liked her hair more than mine, which was just a little bit longer than mine and all gray. She looked so awesome with that hair. I complemented her as well 🙂

7. I am grateful that I did not mind waiting 40 min at the hair salon to get my hair cut. Under different conditions I would hate to wait and probably leave after 5 minutes. But this time I convinced myself that today I was going to get this task done. I have been meaning to get my hair cut for a couple of weeks now and it was so hot today that it reminded me that the short hair was the best. Right on 🙂

8. I am grateful for purchasing some gifts for my family and some little indulgences for myself, all out of my fun funds that I accumulated lately. I also paid my hair cut by my fun funds. For those who are not familiar with the term fun funds; these are the money that I save from my weekly allowance to spend on items or services that help me feel good 🙂

9. I am grateful for finding my favorite yogurt on sale; $2/750 grs, which is the lowest I have seen so far. I eat a lot of yogurt. So naturally I stocked up 5 of them today. I am also excited about the peanuts and canned fish that I bought as snacks for my office and my favorite brand of hair dye, which was on sale. I am extra happy that I did not make any extra purchases – all was needed or will be needed in near future. All is well 🙂

10. I am grateful for speaking with my family and laughing quite a bit. It is great that our mood is getting lighter and happier (it has now been 5 weeks that we lost my dad..).

11. I am grateful for the warm weather, which prompted me to wear my trench-coat rather than the winter coat. Oh, the sweet lightness that I missed! Honestly, my winter coat is so heavy and whenever I switch to spring clothes, the relief I feel is more than awesome 🙂

12. I am grateful for opening the windows on both storeys of the house and letting fresh air in. Even in winter I try to do that at least every two weeks. The weather is really soft and warm, and today I let the windows open over 2 hours! Great feeling 🙂

13. I am grateful for doing my back exercises and stretches. I do them every day and every day I have to have a mental struggle to start doing them. While it is a constant struggle till I lie on my back on the floor and start stretching, after that all comes very easy and I feel overall much better than before. I also feel stronger muscles on my legs, arms, and abs (which I must strengthen, or use, to complete the exercises). I am feeling good about these 🙂

14. I am grateful for finally finishing the veggie pasta I had cooked three days ago. While it was tasty and lovely, eating the same thing for 3 consecutive days is never fun. Time for new dishes, please 🙂

15. I am grateful for doing the laundry. Did I mention that it is one these tasks that I find dreadful? But, then I do find many house chores as dreadful 🙂

16. I am grateful for having the day to myself. After the laundry is done, I will totally immerse myself in writing and reading. There is so much to learn, so many blogs and articles to read. I am certainly grateful for my computer and internet connection for making this possible.

17. I am grateful for being grateful 🙂

random thoughts

Finally it is Friday! 🙂

Man, this week felt so long and now it is completed. I am excited 🙂

I worked well today and then left in the afternoon to shop. I bought food that I hope to consume in the coming week. There were BOGO free deals – felt awesome to stock up shampoo 🙂 And I am glad I did not purchase too many of them as with this usage pattern, I predict that I will not need to buy another bottle before the new year.

By taking advantage of coming home early, I did my weekly house cleaning, too. This saves me time tomorrow, which I plan to spend at a mall shopping and getting my hair done. Again, I am excited.

These excitements feel good after a week that I spent mostly down.

We all deserve a break. Should you have had a similar experience, I hope you too will have opportunities to cheer yourself up this weekend.

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.

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.

 

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 🙂

 

delayed weekly budget check

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

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

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

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

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

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 🙂

thanking myself for my life style

Self-appreciation is something we do not even think about, but we all deserve big time.

I have many things to celebrate and appreciate about myself, work, character, life-experiences, and resilience. For this post, I will just focus on my life – style. Specifically, for its being simple and cost-effective.

here are the things I come up that makes me quite satisfied about my life-style:

1. Having no car: True that it may be restricting my mobility, but that does not apply to me. I have other means (walking, taking the bus, or flights) to go to places. I do not have to buy or lease one, I do not have to pay for the insurance, I do not have to apply for a parking permit to the city or pay for a parking spot at work, I do not need to look for and pay for parking space in the city, or I do not have to maintain or pay for repairs/replacements.

I am not arguing against having a car or two. Having a car is a necessity for many people, especially those who commute, or have kids to transport to schools or activities, or those who live away from their work places. I also know that it is a must for many where there is no public transport (like many cities I know in the USA).

My monthly transportation expenses, assuming that I take the bus or walk, are around $25.

Just by looking at that amount I now realize how easy it is for me to save…

2. Brewing my own coffee at the work days: I have been brewing my coffee at my office in the last 7 years. There were occasional buys from the cafeteria, but that is pretty much it. I am not sure how much I am saving by this habit, but considering I drink around 4 cups of (light) coffee per day, it must be quite so. A large can of coffee (~$10), 300 grms of coffee mate (~$3), and 200 grms of sugar (~$1) are enough to brew coffee for two weeks.

Can I guess how much I am saving compared to buying 2 cups of coffee/work day from Tims, for example? I think I can:

$3/per day x 5 work day = $15 per week. $60 per month. $120 per two months. Based on this calculation, I am saving around $50/month only from coffee…

3. Not eating out frequently: Since I started my budget last June, I limit it to maybe one or two times a month. Sounds pretty good to me. I used to eat out at least once or twice a week prior to that.

4. Having simple and low-cost pleasures:

   a) My weekends almost always include a morning coffee and bagels at a cafe. This is my signature pleasure – I must have them! 🙂 Honestly, I do not mind giving $6-10 per weekend to them.

   b) Over 90% of my books are second-hand books, purchased from second-hand book stores or the thrifty sores.

   c) I do not eat dessert or meat regularly, or buy food from convenience stores. The last one is mostly because there are 2 grocery stores within 10 min walking distance to my home – I am lucky.

   d) I live alone and I cook for only myself. And if you follow my blog, you know that I do not like to cook… For myself, I cook simple things and salads are my favorites in addition to soups. At the work days, I do not have breakfast and lunch is usually a canned fish or other snacks like trail mix. I am aware that this is not an healthy eating style. So please go ahead have your own delicious meals regularly as you need them, as you wish them. This is how it has been for me for decades and I guess that is what works for me.

   e) I am not interested in fashion and I often buy clothes and shoes when they are on sale. Holiday sales are my favorites. When I travel to other countries or cities, I shop there too, which are often much less expensive than where I am.

   f) Using internet for both entertainment and learning: I am very happy with my computer and internet connection. every evening and night, these give me a chance to read blogs and articles on the net, and watch TV series/movies. being content with these is something I must truly celebrate.

5. Exploring international stores and other small businesses: I can find many food, diverse food, at a reasonable cost in these stores. There is one close to my home where the spices, oriental sauces, pickles, canned beans, noodles, legumes, and olives are way cheaper than the stores. Many of these items I cannot even find in the big chain grocery stores. Plus, there is a pride and satisfaction coming out of supporting small business owners. Win-win situation in so many different ways.

6. Not hosting dinners at my home: Again, I am not arguing against this.. As a matter of fact, it is sad that I do not do that. Main reason is the fact that cooking for my lovely guests is an incredibly stressful event for me (only because I usually mess one or two dishes each time…). Maybe once a year or so, I will have my good friends over – but that is it. They understand and I am glad they do.

7. Not comparing myself with Jonases and giving up upon peer pressure: i do not do these. I do not need to have the latest computer or the TV, nor the cellular phone. I time to time get talks from friends about how I need to replace my old TV or replace my phone etc, but I do not give in. Give me a break. It is my life. I will replace my stuff when I need or want them. Not when the others suggest. I hope you do not have such toxic people in your life.

8. Vacations: I take one vacation per year and that is to visit my family. I do that every year and I am glad I do that and I am financially capable of doing that. My friends from other cities and countries invite me to their places, for which I am really happy and touched. If I had more vacation time or more funds at my disposal, I would love to do these visits – they are truly lovely and nice people. But I made a decision long time ago that my family had more priority over my friends. And I am glad I have done that, as now that my father passed away, I am glad I have seen him every year in the past decade or so, or before that whenever I could make it.

 

I am sure I have a longer list of experiences and choices to appreciate. Perhaps at another post.

I am sure you have many thing to appreciate about yourself. I would like to encourage you to find and appreciate those choices you have that enrich your life without breaking your bank account or psychology.

cheers 🙂

 

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.