Immunity to Change

This entire blog is based on my journey to save while not feeling deprived. In recent months, I feel as though I’ve fallen into a terrible, spending rut. Luckily for me HR ran a workshop based on Immunity to Change  and provided a worksheet as a take away a few years ago.

Improvement Goal:

Keep my spending within my monthly budget

What I’d need to do differently:

  • Map out my monthly spending,
  • Look ahead to upcoming events that would encourage me to spend more,

Behaviours that Go Against my Goals:

  • Saying yes without consulting the budget (to experiences, friends)
  • Giving in to cravings (food budget)
  • Tell myself I deserve things and give in
  • Indulge in sales
  • Not properly planning (menu, events)

Worry Box/Competing Commitment

  • I’ll miss out on amazing opportunities
  • I won’t capitalize on good deals
  • I’ll seem cheap, rather than frugal, to friends and colleagues
  • I’ll appear selfish
  • If I don’t give to people they’ll think I’m using them

Big Assumptions

  • If I don’t go out with friends I’ll lose our connections
  • ML & I will get stuck in ruts because we don’t do things outside our home
  • If I don’t spend money on experiences and products I’ll cease to be interesting

It seems like a simple exercise but it did require soul searching and I can see that some of my habits come from a fear of losing relationships as well as losing the carefully crafted self.

The next step is to challenge these assumptions and test them to see if they’re true. I know they’re not true, however, it’s interesting to see that my fears have remained the same over time. The problem is that I stopped recognizing and combatting them.

Do you think this could be useful to you?

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Finding a Reset

When your electronics give you difficulties, the first step is always to restart.

I feel like I need to do that with my life. Our spending got a bit out of hand in February and as we don’t fully have our kitchen back I don’t feel that we have taken control of it again. This has led to increased food spending, which bleeds into other areas of our life, as well as not making the healthiest selections.

I’m afraid that my response has been rather juvenile. I’ve taken long breaks from budget planning and menu plan in a way that doesn’t really help me achieve my goal of healthy eating.

My first time getting rid of debt I used this blog. This time, I’m hanging on to that precipice. I do have household debt, as we opted to use a deferred payment plan for the kitchen, but this isn’t what’s stressing me. If we had to pay it back at this moment we could. We opted for this plan to allow our money further opportunities to grow.

The thing that is upsetting me is that I’m catching myself in dangerous thoughts: I deserve that, It’s not too much, I bet I’ll save a lot of money later. I’m using those three to justify purchases that don’t necessarily fit in my budget.

The bill for May hasn’t come completely due but based on my projected spending I’m going to be over budget. Some of that could have been saved for while some is a result of that not so great thought process.

Now that I’ve identified my problem my next step is to re-commit to weekly budgeting as well as to blogging. I did an awesome exercise through HR to help you identify what your big hurdles were in goal achievement. I’m hoping that using it for my budget will help get me back on track.

Planning for the Future

I’ve always had investments of some kind, my parents set them up in our name. When we moved the investor was a moron. She thought it cute that my parents were teaching us to save at such a young age and didn’t really help guide to the right accounts for our goals. She thought it darling that a 14-year-old wanted to save for a down payment for a house.

My parents had always worked with their friends. People who would call them at the end of the year and tell them if they needed to adjust their strategy. When we moved this was no longer the case and it was a hard lesson.

I’ve come a long way since that 14-year-old and meeting with the current financial advisor (FA) highlighted some of the gaps I still have but let me see how far I’ve come.

I don’t want to retire early but I want to have a nice pile by 55 so if I have career difficulty I can take a break. The FA doesn’t really get this so he’s choosing to think of it as an early retirement option that I’m creating so I can find my passion.

We had a brief conversation about passions but it turns out I’m not waiting. I am aware of my passions now and I’m pursuing them. In that case, what am I saving for?

I’m saving because:

  • I want a similar paycheque in retirement
  • I  want to know that if I get ill at the end I’ll be taken care of. I’d like to hire staff to care for me at home rather than go into a facility.
  • I want to fund my funeral and have a bit leftover.

While both ML and I currently have TermLife Insurance to cover the house we don’t have Full Life. This happened when we decided to not have kids. For us, Full Life meant we could leave an inheritance to any children we have.

Now chances are good statistically speaking and based on our families, I will outlive ML by at least 15 years. Currently, my planning incorporates that. If however, I were to die first after we retired ML would lose a huge chunk of change.

While there were some things I didn’t like about FA, I definitely appreciated having this drawn out.

ML and I come from nuclear families that are very similar in the way we treat death. While mine is more religious in the end there is a cremation, scattering or burying of the ashes and a party.

Apparently, ML’s parents differ greatly from the culture they were raised in. They detest the idea of a viewing! Making them much like my culture. I’m less religious than my parents so my plan is:

  • Cremation
  • Urn/scattering
  • Catered party at the house or a restaurant depending how the survivors feel
  • No church service

Trying to not re-start the Cycle

I’ve taken a break from posting because I did the bad thing…I took a break from properly budgeting. I had started doing weekly checks with myself when I discovered early on that this system works best for me. Then we started the kitchen renovation last month and boy did the spending get overwhelming fast. This seems like a great time to reinstate monthly debriefing!

TRACKING

  •  # Buy nothing days :3
  • # times ate out/purchased take out: 15
  • # activities with loved ones: 10 (I’ve gotten bad at tracking this)
  • $ saved at Costco: ?
  • % over or under budget: 24% over budget (this means that I’ve overspent my paycheque as well)

CELEBRATE:

  • We’re nearly through the kitchen renovation
  • We opted for pretty healthy options for the most part when eating out
  • Recommitted to my work out routine

DIP INTO SAVINGS/CREDIT

  • The washing machine died and we were able to put it on the same deferred payment plan as the kitchen
  • The kitchen and home renovation pieces are all coming out of savings right now which feels pretty good

KEEP IN MIND

We began a major home renovation. Though I tried to fight the urge to buy new, pretty things for the kitchen I did succumb and purchase new mats, a pretty colander, jars to hold dry goods, and a much needed spoon. Our grocery spending seemed excessive but was a good reminder that purchasing ‘convenience’ food is definitely more expensive than purchasing ingredients.

OVERALL

March was a whirlwind of spending. I’ve already begun April  without a lot of clear though but I’m definitely going to attempt to make it a bit of a frugal month.

 

It’s Been a While!

I had tracked my budget after the flu and I did surprisingly well considering I was ordering comfort food rather than cooking. I ended January with 6% of my budget unspent.

I even had a plan in place for February, which has been an exciting month! I attended a conference and the kitchen renovation has begun.

Every year, I attend this conference in February and every year I seem to under-budget. I gave myself $250 to spend but once again failed to take into account:

  • Exchange rate
  • True expense of tourist attractions
  • All the gifts

I must confess that between getting over the flu, re-organizing the entire house so that it doesn’t look like a disaster zone as the kitchen is being gutted, and preparing for the conference I didn’t budget as I should.

I ended up spending $700!

$200 of that was pure nonsense. My flight was delayed by 2.5 hours, which meant that I was in the airport for nearly 5 hours. I may have wondered into a Body Shop, it may have had products for my skin tone and items not available in my country yet…you can guess the rest.

I’m now on a make up and skin care ban for the rest of the year!

In spite of my crazy spend while away, I’m only 4% over budget. This is because ML and I have been really careful with our spending this month. I cut down on my eating out, we have been cautious with groceries as we knew we wouldn’t have a kitchen for 3 weeks, and Bunny didn’t need anything this month.

As for the Kitchen renovation, I am so proud of us! We created a mini kitchenette in our basement which includes the microwave, toaster oven, toaster, coffee maker and mini fridge. I also figured out I could plug my full size fridge in my living room. I didn’t get as much cooking as I wanted done before the reno began yesterday but we have enough frozen meals and tinned food to feel human.

We’re also really fortunate as both our families have offered to prepare meals for us. By offer I mean that they have instructed us that we’re not living off frozen dinners and have been cooking extra portions and sharing. We’re feeling very spoiled!

Of course, the renovation is going over-over budget. It’s day 2 and we’ve discovered that we need a new sub floor. I’m terrified about what they’re going to find when they go to hook up the water lines and electrical. I know that with our plans we’ll be able to afford up to a $10,000 increase from our original budget. However, I’d really like to not have to!

How has your month been?

 

I feel Rotten

I’ve been so proud of myself. While friends and colleagues having been getting the awfulness that has been going around I have been healthy. Well Thursday it came crashing down.

I awoke feeling less than stellar with a terrible headache, sore throat and upset tummy. Yesterday I added chills and joint pain to the list. That’s how I broke my no-spend plan.

Today I attempted to broaden my dietary limits from tea, toast and popsicles with less than stellar results. It seems I still need soft foods. I’m too ill to cook and, as ML is working this weekend, I don’t want to add to his list.

This is where I’m grateful to Pinterest. As I was searching for no-cook food that required minimal work I came across baby purees. My parents kindly offered to do a grocery run so I asked them to pick up a few fruits so I can make some healthy purees.

It was interesting to see the simple, nutritious meals the mommy-bloggers are feeding their children. I was struck once again, by how we can overcomplicate food.

I don’t intend to make purees a meal once I can digest properly again but I’m thinking some of them will make great work snacks while helping me get my fruit and vegetable servings up.

Do you have flu-busting tips?

Paying for the Kitchen

I don’t often share figures but this post is definitely going to be an exception! We’ve been saving for the kitchen renovation since we paid off our debt in 2016. Our original budget was $20,000, however, as we began working with our vendors and really putting together our vision for the space at the end of last year it became apparent that this project will cost roughly $30,000.

As we had already committed to completing the renovation this year we bit the bullet and opted to make use of the 18-month interest-free credit option that the store offered.

We have $17,000 saved right now and anticipate there to be $10,000 worth of work to be completed still. Since that $10,000 will not be on a deferred payment plan I will be using my savings to cover it. This means that I have $7,000 to be the $16,596 credit card bill.

I’ve modeled 3 payment scenarios:

  • Paying off the card in 12 months, which was my goal
  • Paying it off in 17 months, which is probably more realistic
  • Paying off as much as I can in 17 months and then transferring the balance to my line of credit. The interest rate on the credit card is 28%! My line of credit is much more reasonable.

 

12 months 18 months 18+ months
February  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00
March  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00
April  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00
May  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00
June  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00
July  $    1,383.00  $        807.00  $        330.00
August  $    1,383.00  $        807.00  $        330.00
September  $    1,383.00  $        807.00  $        330.00
October  $    1,383.00  $        807.00  $        330.00
November  $    1,383.00  $        807.00  $        330.00
December  $    1,383.00  $        807.00  $        330.00
January  $    1,383.00  $        807.00  $        330.00
February  $        807.00  $        330.00
March  $        807.00  $        330.00
April  $        807.00  $        330.00
May  $        807.00  $        330.00
June  $        804.00  $    2,730.00

(ML side hustle + 330)

 $  16,596.00  $  16,596.00  $  13,275.00
 $    3,321.00

Looking at these numbers, paying this off in 17 months is a bit of a stretch. I currently set aside $330/ month towards the kitchen renovation line. I think upping that to $807 in July is going to be very tough!

What I’m not showing here is that the $1,383 payments could probably extend pass June as it’s coming out of the $7,000 that I’ve already saved.  I’m going to do some fancy math here let’s see if it’ll make sense to you and future me.

Payment Savings
 $  7,000.00
February  $    1,383.00  $  5,947.00
March  $    1,383.00  $  4,894.00
April  $    1,383.00  $  3,841.00
May  $    1,383.00  $  2,788.00
June  $    1,383.00  $  1,735.00
July  $    1,383.00  $     682.00
August  $    1,012.00
September  $        330.00
October  $        330.00
November  $        330.00
December  $        330.00
January  $        330.00
February  $        330.00
March  $        330.00
April  $        330.00
May  $        330.00
June  $    2,730.00
 $  15,010.00
 $    1,586.00

This seems much more realistic and I’m sure that if I’m rather frugal I’ll be able to add a bit more to a few months so that way I don’t have $1586 moving to my line of credit.

Corporate Greed and the Frugal Family

I believe that everyone should make at least a living wage.

The government has raised the minimum wage drastically. It’s a big jump of roughly $3/hour but sadly still about $4 below a living wage.

Not surprisingly, there has been a lot of fear-mongering about the ways in which this is going to hurt the people it’s meant to help and cause massive job losses. Another check in the not surprising column is that big businesses are using it squeeze their staff.

ML works in the retail industry which is notorious for this sort of nonsense. His boss has been mandated to cut staff hours by a big amount. I was a bit surprised when I heard the number and I definitely didn’t envy him the task. I think he did it in the most humane way possible: he cut just a bit of everyone’s hours. ML is now working 1/2 hour less per day.

My first reaction was joy as it’s definitely easier on us if ML finishes a bit earlier due to car sharing. Then I began to take in the economic impact on us. Due to our budgets, it isn’t an enormous inconvenience but it does mean that ML’s spending money, which was modest, to begin with, will take a hit.

We’re fortunate that this squeeze is not impacting our necessities. It does impact our savings and our ability pay off our kitchen as quickly as we’d like.

I am pleased that the wages are being increased but saddened that we have to legislate human decency.

 

 

Missy Bunny and the Rising Costs of Kibble

Image result for rabbit eating  kibble

Last night Bunny ran out of kibble. I debated just cutting her kibble this morning and giving her extra hay and greens but ML felt strongly that, as I was already out, I should pick up her kibble.

Her usual pet store is out of my way and when I arrived it was closed. They’ve got a no-name kibble, literally, it’s a plastic bag with a label on it. For this delicacy, I pay under $5. Since I was already on the hunt I went to the store that is close to our home. The kibble there is a minimum of $15.

Bunny is actually rather picky about her kibble. When her store closed a year ago for renovations it took us a long time to find a replacement she deemed worthy of her delicate digestive tract. I was examining these packages to see if the kibbles were too big, looked too much like litter or had ridiculous serving sizes. To add to all of this, I was the only person in the pet store at 8:30 pm.

I ended up purchasing the $15 kibble out of shame and the cashier advised that if Bunny refused the kibble I can return the opened package.

As I relayed this story to ML, he took a turn at inspecting the kibble. “Yeah, I think you’re right. This is the one she doesn’t eat,” he agreed.

That’s when we had to make the decision:

  • Attempt to feed her the pricey kibble knowing that if she eats it we would keep it.
  • Return the open package if she refuses to consume it and purchase her usual food
  • Return the sealed package and purchase her usual food

We’re opting to go with option 3. After work today, I’m going to her store to pick up the kibble. If they don’t have it, I’ll use option one but if it’s in stock I’ll be returning her fancy food.

I’ve struggled a bit with this decision as I feel I’m toeing the line of being cheap.  I am aware that I should have just walked out of the store rather than purchasing the kibble due to price alone. My saving grace is Bunny herself. She really is a picky eater and it happens that her appetite and my budget are in agreement.

Image from here

Attempting a 2nd No Spend Week

Last week went so well that I’m aiming to try it again. This time though it can’t be truly no spend.

This week The Goal is to spend less than $20 between Bunny and a few groceries. As we didn’t do our groceries this week ML & I once again planned our menu.

We made the chickpea tacos though the mayo bombed. I finally made a version of Woolton Pie and mushroom gravy. I had used stir fry veggies which in retrospect I should have added the potatoes and carrots.

Those 2 meals will take us until Wednesday. At that time we’re thinking of Mac n Cheese. It’s a grey, cold and dreary week so heavy comfort food feels like a great option.

I’m hopeful that my lessons over the last two weeks will help me when we opt to do groceries.

How’s your Monday?