What’s the point of cake if you don’t eat it?

I remember the first time I decided that I should give eating like a responsible adult a try. I thought the best way to do it was to join a healthy eating challenge at work. It was a time when skinny fat was hitting the media as a term for folks like me. We aren’t large but subsist on a diet that is usually associated with larger people.

That first time was fairly awful even with the slack I gave myself. I was used to no salad, fried foods and sugar on tap. I’ve come a long way from those days! I still occasionally have cake for breakfast and ice cream for lunch but the concepts of a healthy diet are so ingrained now that when I decide to re-set my diet by participating in a healthy eating challenge I’m not miserable.

As I’m currently working on getting my diet back to a healthy level, I realized that dieting is a lot like financial planning. After an intense bout of healthy living, even when you allow some sloppy habits back, the knowledge remains. It becomes easier to re-introduce those good behaviours and slowly becomes a way of life.

In my worldview, any diet worth its salt has room for some fantastic treats and my budget is the same way. In both my diet and my budget I do try to have my cake and eat it too. This time around I’m taking a reasonable portion instead of the entire thing in one sitting.

 

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Christmas Gifts

Gift

I named my blog Saving without Scrimping because it was important to me that I repay my debts and save money without feeling like I didn’t have room to breathe. I’m not always successful but even when I feel constricted I look at my quality of life and know that I’m truly fortunate.

Christmas is difficult because even with being crafty and focusing on ways to not overspend there are loads of areas that I didn’t anticipate. It’s not even the end of November and I will be participating in 6 Christmas parties/dinners where we will be bringing hostess gifts and a dish. This does not include the family dinners and the possibility of us hosting a joint family affair.

I will crunch numbers and attempt to stay as close to the budget as possible but there is a loophole in my budget that I will use. I currently allocate 3% of my income toward my debt repayment. This 3% is not included in the budget as if I saw that figure every week when I reconcile I’d be rather sad and may even be tempted to lower the amount to afford frivolous items.

For the remainder of November and into December I’m going to lower that amount to 1.5%. I’m not going to adjust my budget as I do really want to keep my spending as close to the budgeted amounts as possible but I will not be upset when the inevitable overspending occurs.

My red flag was when I reconciled this week and I’ve already spent my November budget! The biggest culprit: Christmas gifts! I’ve been quite good at sticking to my gift list  but the problem is that I didn’t anticipate how much it would cost. I was feeling quite smug as I had anticipated my gift budget and began saving for it in October. Turns out that my budget wasn’t nearly enough. I’ve already overspent and I still have 3 more people to purchase items for plus groceries for some of the homemade treats.

The silver lining is that for the first time I can see why Christmas and New Year’s always sends me into the red. I overspend not because I’m too generous or people have unreasonable wish lists but because I forget the number of events I attend and don’t properly budget for presents.

 

Image courtesy of CuteImage FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Trying to maintain Financial & Physical Health

I had mentioned a work challenge that a colleague had shared previously. There was no uptake on this which is rather unfortunate as I was hoping for some backing at work.

My personal goal had been to eat less processed foods which hasn’t been working out so well. Our combined work and social calendars have made it difficult to plan meals properly and though technically we’re eating in the groceries have been on the more processed side.

The other difficulty has been that I had forgotten how often people want to go out for a meal as the weather gets colder. Even with increasing my budget line to consider a couple miscellaneous restaurant visits I would still be over if I said yes each time.

This year I’m determined to keep myself in both financial and physical shape at the end of this year!

 

 

 

Credit card Goals

I read a great post recently on How to Stuff Your Pig and it took me a bit to let the message sink in. I had stopped using my credit card because I found I was likely to say to myself, “it’s only a little more.” Those little more purchases added up! When using my debit card a little more is the difference between being able to pay or not.I’ve missed using my card as it’s a points card and last year I was able to purchase most Christmas gifts and all my hosting needs with those points. However the mess I’d gotten myself in made me wary of using the card again

With the advice ringing in my ears I decided to use my credit card last week. It worked in the sense that I was able to “spend” from my savings accounts without a visit to the bank. The problems were:

  • I found myself a bit less diligent as I knew I would be able to cover the cost of my purchases
  • transactions aren’t recorded immediately.

The transaction recording has improved greatly since my card and I took a break. Now the company shows pending charges which allows me to track my spending much better than before. The hiccup occurred when I went to check my spending and was recorded as blowing the budget by $200.

A quick call confirmed there were holds on the account due to some gas station stops. Since I can’t find those receipts I have to wait a few days to see what the damage is.

I’m going to continue using my card this month and see if my spending mindset has improved. My only way to help myself is to also continue my weekly budget so I know how much I should be spending per week.

Do you have any tips to help keep me on the straight and narrow?

I promise I’ve got enough

I joined my mum on a shopping trip for her. It was a fun day but I did give her a bit of a scare. As I had already done my purchasing for shoes I didn’t try on anything and I resisted the urge to pick up any cute items that caught my eye.

I thought this was me being a responsible adult, unfortunately she thought this was a sign of financial trouble. In the car after the trip she began with this,”I don’t mean to pry but are you guys alright? I don’t mean your relationship…your finances…are you guys okay?”

Of course I gave her an emphatic yes but then explained that we do have money I’m just trying to be careful how I spend it as I was a bit reckless and now have consumer debt. I’m not sure how much I eased her mind, I know my parents want to give me everything. I suspect if they could they would pay off my debts and give me a clean bill of financial health.

The problem with that scenario is that I don’t know if it would stick. I feel like my debt is like some viruses. If I get in debt it becomes easier for me to fall back into this illness but in my struggle to get over it I build up an immunity. Therefore once I’m out I’ll be stronger, I’ll be able to withstand some situations that may have originally toppled me in the first place.

Here’s to us getting over our debt and being stronger!

Update on Posting and weekly check

When I first began I was posting daily and loved it. Unfortunately my posting has become sporadic at best due to the uptick in my work commitments. I love posting so I’m going to commit to posting on Monday and Thursday as a minimum.

So on to today’s post (let’s pretend it’s Monday):

I was off yesterday as I had accrued loads of overtime. It was absolutely lovely to be off on a Monday as I used the extended weekend to do some shopping so I could avoid the weekend rush. I made my list of items and compared it to the weekly budget I had created which was fairly good though I noted there were a couple items I forgot to add to the budget.

As everything was moving at a more relaxed pace I was able to make a note once I got back to the car of where my allocated funds were going. A few things came over budget and then there were the things I forgot to add to the budget (foundation is not cheap!). By tracking I was able to make a list at the end of the day and see how much money I’ve got for the rest of the week.

Let’s just say the anticipated spending and actual spending were vastly different. It’s not dire but it does mean that I’ve got to adjust my spending for the rest of the week. I’ve got 3 eating out dates that are going to need to be under budget so I’ve already gone online to 2 of the restaurants to see where I can shave a few dollars and still visit with my friends.

After skipping out on the end of October and seeing how bungled my finances got it feels good to keep a realistic eye on the figures again

Healthy work challenge

Yesterday a colleague suggested we take on month long  challenge to get ready for  December. Intrigued we asked for more details. There are a few floating but he began with a basic one:

  • 1.5 litres of water
  • 30 minutes of exercise
  • 30 minutes of mental stimulation
  • Eating out no more than 2 times a week
  • 2 individual goals

I like this idea, particularly the 4th point which is generally in keeping with my budget goals.

As he mentioned meditation works for the mental piece I’m going to use knitting and play either one crossword or sudoku per day.

I’ve been fairly rotten about exercise so I’m going to have to incorporate it into my life again.

My 2 personal goals:

  • Follow a clean eating diet with a focus on less processed food
  • 8 hours of sleep

Are you up for this challenge? What would your goals be?

Santa’s Helper

I sat down this morning with a cup of tea and a notepad to get my list out of my head.

Here’s what I’ve got so far ( the numbers are people):

  1. Knit slippers and?
  2. Belt, Knit bow tie, and skin care products
  3. 2 dress shirts
  4. Pendant (?)
  5. Cheesecake
  6. Cocktail gift pack (mini bottles of JD and coke, vodka and cranberry, Baileys and coffee)
  7. Knit slippers, pajamas, skincare products
  8. $25 child’s toy
  9. Kitchen item?
  10. Coffee travel mug and beans
  11. Cake
  12. Cake, Knit bow tie, Knit headband
  13. Craft set, Knit booties, household items
  14. Doggie treats
  15. Fudge? Coffee mugs with office treats? No more than $10 each
  16. 2 video games
  17. Knit boots for family of 3

Here’s what I’ve got so far!

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I’m feeling very accomplished!

You’re probably going to see a lot of these crafty Christmas posts as I am making a huge effort to keep my costs down. Each time I post it’s a reminder to myself that I am being thoughtful and frugal. I enjoy giving gift packages and so far the packages I listed are cost effective. My trouble usually comes late November when I begin thinking that it’s not enough and I need to add just a few more items. This bad habit usually tips me far into the red.

Looking Back on October

I’m hoping to do a proper debrief soon but October was insane. I got sick and then extremely busy with work while still getting better so I pretty much bled money in the latter part of the month.

As I realized this I dreaded looking at my budget which probably made my spending my worse. Well today at lunch I bit the bullet and downloaded my stuff.

It was a bit overwhelming as I was struggling to remember the reasons for some of my purchases and wasn’t able to get as detailed as I usually do. The really rough bit was when I realized I had overspent by ~ 15%. This made me take a hard look at what I was spending on. The culprits were:

  • Fashion – I purchased 4 pairs of shoes ( I returned 2 but got store credit instead of a refund…)
  • Groceries – I was sick so instead of cooking I’d drop by the store and purchase convenience foods
  • Entertaining – we ended up hosting a Halloween party and I may have gone overboard.

As you know I fib to myself so even with this gross overspending I still am able to pay a bit toward my debt but it’s not nearly as much as I’d like.

One of the other lessons from this month is that I do much better when every dollar has a job. This month we were supposed to have a lot of wiggle room as there weren’t a lot of planned outings/expenses. Next time that happens I’ll allocate a miscellaneous fund per week, this way I can indulge in my new freedom without crashing through my budget.

With Christmas coming up I’m a bit nervous about all the travelling and gifts so I’ll need to keep a strong hold on my budget to not start the new year poorly.