In Preparation for the Talk

Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear on a road trip

ML and I will hopefully be spending some time in the car today. If the weather co-operates we’re going to the beach! The benefit of long drives with each other is we can get deep and discuss  our big plans. So it’s the perfect opportunity to look at our goals for the next few years.

When I had updated my goals in May I had figured out how I was going to allocate the  money previously going towards my debt.  However, what I’ve now done is keep goals 1&2 but I’ve only put 6% in my Emergency Fund. The other 6% has gone into my budget so I can give myself some freedom.

In preparation of us being complete debt free by November we’ve starting to talk about our values.

I’ll be bringing:

Here’s to a good conversation!

GIF from here

 

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Debriefing July 2016

July

TRACKING

  •  # Buy nothing days :14 days
  • # times used S’mores Maker (aiming for 8 uses in 2016): 2+0=2
  • # times used champagne saucers (aiming for 7 uses in 2016): 4+0=4
  • # times ate out:4
  • # activities with friends/family: 20
  • % over or under budget:.23% over budget My budget geek is showing when I start tracking in decimals!
  • % of goal put toward ML’s debt:35%

CELEBRATE:

  • ML & I hosted my parents a bunch of times and hosted a large family barbecue
  • I took a week’s vacation and actually relaxed
  • ML and I began chatting about our values and enjoying a deeper understanding of our individual relationships with money.
  • I froze vegetables and made pickles!
  • I bounced back from June! I was able to put money towards ML’s debt even if it isn’t as much as I had planned. I’m hoping that tracking if I can keep my promise will stop me from overspending.

DIP INTO SAVINGS/CREDIT

  • Used medical line to pay for massage treatments
  • Used my fun fund to stay in budget and cover some fancy hair products
  • Used that lovely gift line for grad gifts and my parents’ anniversary gift

KEEP IN MIND

  • As July was spent cleaning up June’s mess I wasn’t able to put as much to ML’s debt. August is my opportunity to help him battle his.
  • I met with an Insurance/Investment advisor and we clicked.
  • No is a complete sentence! I need to learn how to say it nicely to people when their suggested events do not fit into our budget. This is from last month but it’s still true and definitely something I struggle with.

OVERALL

This month was great in general. Even when certain lines didn’t stay in budget I was able to keep the overall show on the road!

Image courtesy arztasumia via freedigitalphotos.net

 

Mortgage Update

So I prepared my Mortgage Conversation post yesterday, however, I was too excited to not broach it with ML. His immediate reaction was not particularly promising, as we had recently had an abstract conversation about this subject.

We had agreed that I can throw extra money at the mortgage as long as it didn’t mean that we weren’t also saving to achieve other goals such. It turned out my math was a bit off so I thought it would take a whole lot more per month to pay it off. When presented with the numbers ML was able to fix it to a reasonable amount.

It turns out by upping our mortgage payment by $150/month is all that is needed to achieve my goal.

Dean Winchester jumping and clapping his heels together.

I’ve take a look at the mortgage rules and I definitely won’t be able to up the monthly mortgage payment to that amount. Here are the rules for the lumpsum repayments though:

Your mortgage allows you to make lump sum payments based on a set percentage (20%) of your original committed amount.

Any payments above this amount are subject to a rather steep fee.

So guess what this means? I now have a solid goal to track ML’s debt repayment! While I was serious about us being debt free by November without another concrete goal I was having a hard time buckling down to it.  It urns out I work best when I take this advice:

1) set a goal 2) tell the world 3) walk your talk

Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m off for a walk!

Jumping Dean Winchester image from here

Quote from here

 

Mortgage Conversation

Grace from the CFO Mom Blog is currently tackling her mortgage and she’s a definite source of inspiration!

When we bought our home 7 years ago we did it on a 25 year amortization rate. When we renewed the mortgage 2 years ago we went with a better deal but they forced us to sign up at a 25 year amortization rate. That would mean it would now take us 30 years to pay off the house.

Dog with caption "Not Amused:

I knew I wanted to pay this thing off in 25 years. However, we had debt that I wanted to kill first. Now that my debt is gone and we’re hoping to banish ML’s for Christmas we’re turning to new goals. ML is on board with paying off the mortgage if it doesn’t negatively impact his current standard or our other dreams. He’s currently in the camp that knows that mortgages are never-ending beasts since many of our friends parents will be retiring with a mortgage.

Having found the PF community here I know that I don’t have to live and die with a mortgage. I didn’t realize how important banishing it was until I met with an investment advisor yesterday and as we were speaking of goals. He was showing me plans with the assumption that I’ll have this debt hanging over me for another 23 years. That’s when I pipped up with, “My first goal is to be mortgage free in 15 years.”*

Dean Winchester asking What- Uh- Excuse me- What?

Not what I was expecting to come out!

As this isn’t ML’s goal and I do make more I feel that it’s my responsibility to up my contribution to the mortgage. Being a budget geek I spent some time today playing in Excel  figuring out what that would look like.

It looks a bit daunting and unfortunately it can’t be automated as I’m on allowed to minimally increase my payments once per annum and can make up to 2 extra lump sum payments per year. Though there is also a cap on the amount I can contribute.

This is definitely not something I can do on my own as I’ll be taking from our other savings goals in order to achieve this. So I’m looking forward to a long drive that we’re planning to take this weekend to continue our conversation regarding our goals as individuals and as a couple.

No matter what we decide I know that I will want to use some of the debt repayment money towards paying off the mortgage. In light of the restrictions placed by the company I will be adding it as a savings line in my savings account.

As today’s Excel is based on rough estimates, once ML and I figure out all our goals I’ll be able to get a better handle on how it’s all going to go.

 

*Since we do all our finances separately we also work with separate advisors so ML was not present for that little reveal :).

Image from here

GIF from here

Treat Yourself!

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Mrs. Steward recently shared a great post about treats in her life and how she handles them. It`s a fantastic read and got me thinking of how I limit myself now to ensure that things really are a treat.

I have no idea when it started but at some point I would pull my bank statement and notice loads of restaurant purchases but have no recollection of going there. I`d have to really dig into the day to recall that I popped in to get a cookie or that I forgot my lunch. I wasn’t using my money to create memorable experiences.

Clearly a new world order was needed. Slowly I got it, the daily coffee runs with co-workers continued because they were a time for bonding. This habit was alright with me because it was meaningful. I’ve since stopped as I’ve switched offices and the culture is different.

With the exception of the crazy month we now tend to tie our eating out with an occasion. For me it’s often going out with a friend or colleague. Though ML was alright with it I began to feel that it wasn’t fair that I was going out with other’s but not him. The problem is that it’s often more memorable in a group setting so we’re working through finding that balance at the moment.Currently it’s double dating but we’ll see where we end up on that.

Fashion is another line that needed a good look. I was overspending from this almost every month as I would treat myself to lotions, make up or a cute item. Every time the line would be gone but I wouldn’t feel like I had been properly treated.

I don’t recall where I heard of this but there is apparently a point at which items no longer bring joy. It seems I was consistently crossing that point. By taking my budget seriously I was able to begin treasuring my treats again.

This also ties in beautifully with Doctor Jonathon’s comment on one of my recent posts   His advice to me was:

If you are going to reward yourself, why not do something that “feels good” and is actually GOOD FOR YOU. A positive reinforcement adds quality to living and accomplishes the same “feel good” response. If you are going to reward yourself with a “gift,” why not purchase something that enhances your life rather than something that potentially damages it.

Psychologically, this new thought process can greatly affect one’s health and life.

His language made me realize that I’ve stopped using the terms reward and treat often. I tend to think of  a lot of things as budgeted lines and that’s a bit sad. I love the idea of treating myself!

I also love the idea of treating myself well, with this in mind I  think I’m going to create a list of things that I would look forward.  Danielle LaPorte has a list that goes further as it encompasses what she feels that she deserves. I liked it as often time our treats are things that we also feel that we deserve i.e. I deserve the ice cream for being a good sport all day and not wasting my 1/4 bushel of vegetables :).  But as Doctor Jonathon mentions and Danielle illustrates it can go much deeper than that and be much more rewarding.

What would be on your list?

UPDATE: Mrs. Steward shared a great post on how she’s treating herself

 

Guarding Against Envy

Long Post Warning!!

I`m not sure if it`s because I’ve had a few stressful interactions or my lack of quality sleep but a relationship of mine is causing me a lot of angst.

This person is the social organizer for one of the friend groups I enjoy. She’s quite lovely and I often enjoy hanging out with her as we share a lot of the same interests. When we first met she distinctly reminded me of someone I had kicked out of my life a few years ago. The person was often controlling in a seemingly nice way and would sugarcoat her condescending comments so that it was really my fault for being offended since she was just trying to help me.

Back to the present: this person, let`s call her Nancy, is very open about the fact that she can be very domineering towards other women. As I’m a go with the flow type until you hit a hard line I often wonder if she enjoys playing with me to see where my lines are. This occasionally leads me to be a bit on guard and prickly when we meet, which result in me feeling guilty for being prickly.

As I`m writing this I notice that she also tends to sugarcoat condescending comments, using the words,”I’m glad we’re the type of friends who can be honest with each other,”to soften the blow.

Reading this I feel like a moron, why would I continue a friendship with someone who makes me feel this way? Really it’s the niceness of having someone to do fun things with other than ML.I miss the days of high school and university where you saw your friends all the time and could just pop over if you wanted a movie date.

Now the title of the post is Guarding Against Envy which I haven’t even touched on yet.

Nancy’s family recently moved into a new home. When they had purchased it I was in a good place and was thrilled with me. So why the creeping envy now? It’s been the throw away comments, the ease at which they speak of re-decorating the entire house and the way she shops when we go out together. As Nancy grew up with very little( We weren’t poor we were po’ , we couldn’t afford the extra letters, she says), she sees herself as very cost conscious. This is true to a point. While she’s searching for a good deal she’s looking for a good deal on an expensive product. Recently she wanted us to go to dinner to a nice restaurant where the drinks were relatively cheap at a minimum of $10 per drink. She’s not wrong based on the restaurants that she frequents those are very well priced. However, for me they’re on the high end of the scale.

This financial piece adds an additional strain as we’re in reversed circumstances. While her family was struggling to make ends meet I was attending private schools and taking part in a host of extra-curricular activities. I was fortunate as my mum was able to work from home, managing the family business, so I had all the benefits of a stay-at-home mum while my dad worked outside the home.  I suspect my parents felt very much like Grace at the CFO Mom Blog. Now  she and her husband are on track to become millionaires even if they don’t curtail their lifestyle. She doesn’t work while ML and my  combined incomes are still less than her husband’s.

As she makes it clear that she wants to host at her home it has left me feeling as though my home is wanting. Which is not true and really just a way in which I’m allowing another person’s  desire to be needed impact my own life.

Right now, I’m going to maintain the friendship as I enjoy hanging out with the group but limit our one on one time.

Have you had similar relationships? Any advice on how to handle this like an adult?

 

Domestic Goddess

I’m definitely overstating it! Though I did feel like a domestic goddess this weekend when I pickled and froze vegetables for later use. Two things that weren’t previously in my realm of possibility.

Do you remember me joining the CSA? Last week was the first week for pick up and I’m so glad that we got a 1/4 bushel! This is what it looks like for us:

Image of garden produce
fresh onion, a pickling cucumber, kale, a giant zucchini, 3 leeks

Though we try to eat our vegetables that’s a lot for two people. So I did some quick research on how to store them properly in the fridge as well as how to freeze them as I suspected we would need to.  Turns out it is as simple as plunging the green beans and zucchini into a pot of water that’s been brought to a rolling boil for 3 minutes then dumping them directly into an ice bath for another 3. The leeks were even easier as I just washed them, sliced them and flash froze them before actually freezing them.

Then I did something I never thought I would do: I pickled the cucumber and one bunch of the green beans.

I sampled the cucumber yesterday and I can’t believe I haven’t done this before! It was amazingly delicious.

I turned my quarter bushel into this!

the garden vegetables in packages for freezing
pickles, pickled green beans, 2 packages of leeks, 4 packages of zucchini, 2 packages of green beans

 

This is a huge leap from who I was 2 years ago and I’m really loving that I’m able to combine frugality, my wish to be good for the environment, and feeding myself well. Emily at Through my Lens wrote a fantastic post about her journey toward finding a balance when it came to eating real food.  Her tips are fantastic and really help you recognize that eating well can fit into your lifestyle no matter what. It’s not about doing it all, it’s about doing a little bit at a time.

As I’m only now exploring freezing and canning I’d love any tips or tricks you can share!

 

 

Wonderful Surprise

After my last post I was a little nervous about assessing my budget. It didn’t help that I had gone on to spend even more money the following day. However, having learnt that avoidance never solves the problem I bit the bullet last night and was pleasantly surprised.

I was $6 over budget!

Ecstatic is more like it!

Here’s where I learnt another important lesson: my savings accounts matter. I was laundering the bathroom mats the morning of the barbecue and one of them got shredded. I must confess that we have had these mats for at least 7 years and we’ve been ready for new ones for a while but as they were still serviceable I hadn’t changed them.

There’s a discount home store about 15 minutes from us so ML and I went together to see if we could find something that would fit our budget. While there I shared that I was ready for a change: I wanted a new shower curtain and tub mat. Yep, you guessed it both had been cleaned repeatedly for 7 years.

All I knew was that I wanted to keep our bathroom scheme reminiscent of a beach: blues, greens and sandy hues. ML was on board. For just under $50 we got a complete bathroom uplift. So how was I only $6 under budget? Well that money came out of our home renovation budget. We had recently decided that any home improvement that we both agree on and will significantly impact our experience in our home will come out of that line.

The barbecue was also the first day I had since 2 people since they graduated and it was my parents’ anniversary. So gifts had to be purchased. These came out of my gift budget.

I love that I am able to pay for these items without them affecting my bottom line as I have savings lines to cover them. It is absolutely freeing.

The only issue is that occasionally these lines go into the red as though they’re separate lines in my budget I save for these costs in a single account. This month both my medical and car lines are in the red. For the medical this is because I haven’t gotten all my insurance reimbursements back. Once those come in I’ll be ahead of where I started.

The car was because we needed new tyres. We were going to hold off until next Spring but when I went to get my oil changed the technician let me know that my tyres were on sale. All four and installation for $500! I couldn’t pass it up. As I had money in the savings account I made the purchase.

As for the $6, I’m going to use my fun fund to cover that cost as I know that it’s the result of my hair products which I loathe to return.

Have your savings lines allowed you to stay within your monthly budget?

 

But I forgot 

I was feeling really good about my budget. I may even have leftover money and my fun fund would get a lovely boost!

Then I looked at my budgeted line for entertainment: $65.

Here’s what I forgot:

  • We’re hosting our ML’s family this weekend, including a few extended members, and my parents. Which means we invited 12 people for dinner.
  • We like to offer wine and a small selection of liquor
  • We like to cook something a bit different than our usual fare 
  • We have people with a variety of dietary restrictions attending
  • No nuts, dairy or gluten in any of the dishes we prepare 
  • For this group we try to make everything from scratch as swapping recipes is part of the tradition. Also much easier to control restrictions when cooking from scratch.

Here’s the current menu:

  • Veggie tray**
  • Pesto mushroom caps
  • Hummus with gluten free chips and crackers
  • Bruschetta*
  • Strawberry salad*
  • Chicken kebabs with pineapple and peppers 
  • Jerk chicken
  • Rice and red beans
  • Potato salad*
  • 2 desserts*

Beverages:

  • Red and white wine
  • Rye
  • Rum
  • Coke
  • Ginger ale

* One of our guests is bringing this item

** Looking at this list it’s going to be the veggie tray or the mushroom caps

$65 covered the cost of the alcohol. Even with shopping sales and my pantry stock my food cost came to $74.The money has been taken from my grocery line and  Bunny, who has been under budget so far.

So my $65 line should have been $120. Which would have been generous and covered this haul:

Instead, I’m now playing with the idea of returning some nice to have hair products I haven’t opened so I can definitely stay within my budget.

The plus side is our pantry will keep us from having to do groceries this week if there aren’t many leftovers.

Hopefully by writing this post I’ll be a bit more realistic when I budget for the next family event :).

1 Year!

Happy First Anniversary

Saving without Scrimping turns one today!

This is the longest I’ve consistently stuck with a personal project in a long time.

then

When I began I knew that tracking myself was the only way to kick my debt. A blog seemed like a good way to track myself, give myself permission to be human and seek the advice of like minded folks.

I created this site after a particularly stressful month when I was feeling like every good intention was blocked by some life event. I thought if I tracked myself I would see results but also be able to have more realistic expectation of myself and my money.

now.png

I’ve definitely reaped benefits:

  • Kicking my consumer debt in less than a year rather than 30 months
  • Being able to identify my values
  • Better living my values
  • Meeting people I would never have had the opportunity to learn from. There are too many to list!
  • Learning about FIRE (an acronym that wasn’t in my vocabulary a year ago)
  • Pursuing mindfulness and joy (Jess at 365 Days of Carpe Diem near daily posts help keep this top of mind)
  • Consistently working on my health (Dr. Jonathon at All About Healthy Choices posts keep me on track and help me assess ways I can tweak my lifestyle)

Starting this blog was a personal thing. I do it semi-anonymously because I want the freedom to share. The only person in my ‘real life’ who knows about this blog is ML. This has allowed me to be more honest. I’ve treasured that. Knowing that who I am online tends to be a truer reflection of me.

You have kept me accountable, you’ve shared your tips and tricks, your support has helped raise me.

I wanted a community and I got so much more.

Thank you for making this year awesome!

Here’s to another year of growth, adventure and loving life on a budget!

 

Toast image courtesy of Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net

Then and Now Supernatural images from here.