Easy Compote

We got the Costco sized pack of waffles from, well, Costco when we did our last grocery run. We ate peanut butter and waffles for most breakfasts last week.

ML mentioned that he would like a new topping if we were going to continue eating waffles this week. As we’re trying to eat healthy and not wanting to go to the grocery i took that as a minor challenge.

I had done a pantry check with lunches and dinners in mind. It turns out I had all the ingredients to make an easy compote.

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I never can seem to follow a recipe so here’s what I did:

ingredients

  • 10 frozen apricots, halved
  • 1.5 cups of frozen blueberries
  • 3 tbsp apple juice
  • a drizzle of maple syrup at the end

Method:

  • Put first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil
  • used a wooden spoon to muddle fruit
  • simmer for another 15 minutes, stirring and muddling occasionally
  • Add a drizzle of maple syrup (~2tsp) to pot around the 10 minute mark
  • transfer to glass jars to cool

It was a great way to use summer fruit had frozen from the market, add a new topping to the waffles, maintain our goal of healthy eating.

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Pantry Check

Early this month ML and I blew through our monthly grocery budget. At that time we acknowledged the hit and vowed to try to avoid the grocery until the end of the month.

This weekend I made a beef stew with ingredients purchased from that trip and took sometime to review what we have in the house in the hopes of making it to December without going to the grocery.

Heres where we stand:

  • 5 wraps
  • 4 English muffins
  • 2 packs biscuit mix ( makes 10 each)
  • 2 containers of crescent rolls
  • 2 containers ricotta
  • 1 pack imitation crab
  • 11 eggs
  • 2.5 sweet peppers
  • 1/2 pack frozen shrimp
  • 2 lbs bacon
  • 2 packs drumsticks
  • 2 lasagna
  • waffles
  • 1/8 bag of rice
  • 1 3/4 packs spaghetti
  • 1 can sloppy joe
  • 3 cans chickpeas
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 3 tins tomato
  • 1 Tin black bean
  • 2 tins cream of mushroom
  • 1 soup mix pack
  • 1 veggie broth
  • 1 hamburger helper
  • 2 tomato sauces
  • 1 tin pumpkin
  • 1 tin Vienna sausages
  • a vast array of seasonings

After compiling that list, I went from considering a grocery trip to knowing we only need a few more veggies.

At a quick glance I see the following meals in my future:

  1. Lasagna
  2. Spaghetti with carrots, peppers and sloppy joe
  3. Baked mushroom drumsticks with hamburger helper side
  4. pumpkin bake with beans
  5. Mexican rice
  6. soup with crescent rolls

I’m really looking forward to finishing this month in the black!

Week 3: November 2017

When I got paid last time I transferred the money into a holding account with the thought that I would move funds over when I get paid next, on the 23rd. That didn’t quite work out as planned so today I transferred over a bit to see me through the rest of the month.

I was supposed to only have one expense this week: Breakfast with my dad. That went a bit higher than anticipated as I had forgotten to factor in the taxes and tip into my figure. I also added a couple of expenses. The first was Bunny related.

At 9,  my darling girl got her first cold. So off she went to the vet, which was an unanticipated cost that only grew when I added in medication. Thankfully, I have my Life Happens account that was able to take the hit.

Last year, for the first time, we did personalized Christmas cards. It was thrilling and Bunny had served as my model. Fresh off a day of weeping as I had never let anyone keep Bunny I decided that since this may be her last Christmas we’re sending family cards again!

You can probably tell that this was an emotional decision rather than one rooted in deep through and budget consultation. Luckily for the budget, VistaPrint is running a promotion so the cost wasn’t awful.

However, it does mean that I only have $120 left for the month to complete ~$160 worth of activities. I revisited my spending plan and came up with this option.

Variable Cost Activity Cost  Total
Eating out Dinner with friends $20
Lunch with work $18
Lunch with my mum $40  $          78
Gas $40  $          40
Anticipated Spending  $        118

While I had been guessing on the previous meals, now that I know where the dinner and work lunch are going to take place I took a peek at the menus and calculated my meal including taxes and tip. Now, I just have to ensure that whatever I select definitely stays within my budget.

I adjusted the price of lunch with my mum and I’m hopeful that I can stay in budget. It’s a bit harder as I’d like to buy us both lunch when we do a group shopping trip.

The slightly tough part is that all these expenses are this week. Which means that the last week in November I’m going to have to be strong and not purchase a thing if I want to stay within budget.

 

 

2 More Weeks

I finally got around to putting my spending into my budget! I’m feeling quite proud of my work this month though, I must confess, a recent bout of illness helped keep my spending in check.

Here’s how the budget is looking:

Variable Costs Goal Actual
Bunny  $    20.00  $    25.10
Eating out  $    60.00  $       4.20
Entertainment  $    65.00  $    52.08
Fashion  $    50.00
Gas  $    40.00
Groceries  $  215.00  $  214.13
Misc.  $    45.00  $       9.25
Total  $  495.00  $  304.76

This means that I’ve got $190 to see me through the rest of the month. This feels like untold riches, yet every time I feel that I way I seem to blow through my budget.

To keep myself on track I wanted to detail how my spending looks for the rest of the month.

Variable Cost Activity Cost Total
Eating out Breakfast with my dad $20
Dinner with friends $35
Work coffee runs $10
Lunch with my mum $50
Birthday visit with friend $25 $140
Gas $40 $40
Anticipated Spending  $  180.00

I’m hopeful that my Eating Out costs are significantly lower than I’m projecting, however, I’d rather guess generously and have more money leftover than be too conservative and find myself in the red.

How are you keeping on track with your goals this month?

 

 

Week 2: November 2017

I was really good this week.  I didn’t spend a dime, until yesterday. Then I spent. Boy did I spend. I blew through my grocery budget but I’m not mad though it will mean a that I do need to behave myself.

Here’s what I spent this week:

Groceries 143.96
Entertainment 52.08
Gifts 212.91
Misc 9.25

Shocking but when I break it down it’s less so. The grocery line includes meals for 2 weeks (fingers crossed), hors d’oeuvres for holiday entertaining, and items for our anniversary date night. Entertainment is the gift we gave ourselves for our anniversary, Chromecast which allows us to stream from our phone to TV. It’s definitely a good investment for us. The gifts are for 11 people which makes the number go from shocking to high five worthy.  The Misc. line was used for pharmacy purchases.

While each of the purchases makes sense it doesn’t negate that I need to be diligent this month. As the month can feel long, I’m just going to focus on this week. This week I will:

  • not eat out
  • Stay on top of my menu planning
  • Only purchase gifts that are on the list

I hope your week is off to a great start!

Christmas Planning

If you’ve followed me for the past couple of years, you know Christmas is a time that sends me into a tizzy. You’d think after penning so many posts about my angst and always coming to the realization that gifts just need to be meaningful and thoughtful I’d finally have conquered the crazy.

Not quite but I’m getting there.

One of the big helps is that my side decided to only give gifts to each couple and put a firm limit. My parents went a step further and requested gift cards. I’ve gone from spending $50 per person to the same amount per couple. It’s a huge guilt-free savings.

Today I started truly Christmas shopping. I was feeling awful because I’m behind. Usually I start planning in May and keep an eye out for items.

ML and I hit Costco with a list and got most of the presents. It felt good to go with a list and know who we are giving gifts to and have strong ideas of the types of things we want to give them.

Leaving the gifts to a reasonable time frame and having a list of those who matter means that I will be under my usual budget and we’re giving thoughtful gifts.

Have you started thinking of the Holiday season and gift giving?

Gift Giving

My family is big into gift giving. It’s our short-hand to say, “I love you!”

Last night my mum called to chat about our upcoming anniversary. It was an interesting and strange conversation which included this beautiful acknowledgement:

“You and ML have reached a stage in your life that most people reach when they’re in their fifties. You’re very aware of what you’re bringing into your home and what you’ll use. “

She went on to share that knowing this, they didn’t want to get us something that we would feel obligated to keep but not enjoy.

By the end of the conversation, she asked that I let her know if there was something we would like that fit into the traditional or modern anniversary gift model. If not, my parents will be happy to give us a financial gift.

The offer of a financial gift is a huge move. My parents previously hated the idea of gift cards, much less, handing over money. They felt no thought or love went into the gift when you throw cash at people.

My sibling and I feel differently and slowly have managed to adjust their perception. So much so that all they’re asking for this Christmas is gift cards.

Knowing that my parents prefer to give gifts but that I didn’t want to ask for anything, ML came up with a compromise: a salad bowl.

The one we received at our wedding was recently chipped and I’m working my way to throwing it away. This would be a lovely, meaningful gift that will allow my parents to layer another memory into our lives.

 

November 2017: Week 1 Budget

It’s the first weekend of November and I’m re-starting a Sunday tradition!

Every time I return, I wonder why I stopped taking that 5-10 minutes to feel good. We’re 5 days in and I think we’re doing alright.

Looking at the week ahead my goals are:

  • Don’t spend money on food with the exception of 1 planned lunch out
  • Meal plan and only purchase groceries if there’s a need
  • Cook on Wednesday
  • Make a Christmas list and go to Costco on Friday

I’ve noticed that I’ve been using food poorly the last few weeks. I’ve been eating emotionally and giving in to cravings. While not all bad I want to spend this month focused on treating myself well. For me that means:

  • Keeping on top of my budget
  • Eating well and incorporating treats in moderation
  • Working out again
  • Allowing myself to work at my own pace

How’s your month going?

 

 

Image from here

Home Improvement

Remember this post in March: BHAG?

Goal 1: Save for New Kitchen

We have $12,000 saved for this adventure which is awesome! We’ve been working on getting quotes in and playing with our numbers as our goal is to spend $20,000 on the kitchen.

It turns out that our goal figure is not looking terribly realistic as we aren’t handy and will be:

  • Tearing down walls
  • Adjusting electrical
  • Putting in a dishwasher into a space that’s never had one
  • Re-doing all flooring
  • Putting in all new cabinets, counter tops and drawers
  • Taking out our entire back wall and putting in a sliding door

We’ve worked diligently on opting for cabinets that are reasonably priced; I bid a bittersweet adieu to the a beautiful corner cabinet that was going to cost $3,000. I’m also taking a hard look at the appliances.

My fear is that unknown costs that people just assume you know aren’t included, such as delivery and installation fees. I’m meeting with the company again to hopefully balance out all those questions over the next week or so.

With a little luck we’ll be able to start work before the end of the year.

Goal 2: Home Improvement

So I got quotes and the driveway and it is a big job. $2,500 to rip it out and re-do. Our aim is the kitchen so we’re going to put all available money into the kitchen and keep the driveway on the back burner.

We also did a lot of updating this summer which felt great and allows me to feel like we’ve slayed our goals. I still get a thrill turning on my foyer light, seeing the paint colours and hanging out in my updated bedroom.

I’ve spent the last few months doing minimal saving to try to bring my spending back on track. It’s been a big year and I’ve had a hard time staying in the black. My overall goal is to start 2018 debt free.

 

Not counting

Well, a little counting. At last check I was $700 over my August monthly budget. This meant that I had blown through my ‘extra’ income as well as had no savings lines to deplete for my expenses.

To be very honest, I do have savings lines that can work but they’re currently saving for something(s) and using the money to fund my “Treat Yourself” spree is not a good idea.  While I know that not looking isn’t going to make it any better, I cleaned up my act as soon as I realized how much I had spent in August.

Looking now isn’t going to make me be better but will definitely make me feel worse about myself.

The money spent in August went to:

  • Skincare products (my very first facial included!)
  • Clothing
  • Treating my friends to a great time
  • Enjoying our vacation

All those expenses made me feel better about myself. I’ve returned to work and my life feeling rejuvenated and ready to put my best foot forward  None of that money is wasted.

Where does that leave me now?

I’ve already recognized that in September I will be at least $600 over budget this is because we have a host of gift-giving events and my Gift Line has been depleted. I started strong but we’ve had a host of celebratory events this year. On top of the gifts, we also have transportation and fashion costs.

Knowing that September is going to be tough I’ve got a two areas that I’m planning to spend less:

  • Eating out: hopefully this will be easier as I’m being quite strict with myself about my diet. The budget wasn’t the only thing to go out the window in August
  • Entertainment: We’re doing 2 weddings in one month, how much more entertainment can I need?

While I usually try to curtail my grocery spending as well, I’m focusing on eating well and feeding body and soul so I’m not sure how much tighter I can get with my groceries.

I’ll be heading to October with a financial setback.

This terrifies me a bit as I know that this can easily snowball and make me feel like I’m going to end 2017 poorly. Once I caught that thought, I was able to rejoice in the fact that I am looking so far ahead.

I may not end 2017 as strongly as I did 2016 but I’m going to do my darndest to start 2018 debt free. Maybe I won’t have as much savings but I won’t be in the red.

To do this I need to:

  • re-instate weekly budget check-ins with myself
  • Be very clear about what matters to me
  • Ensure that my spending aligns with my values and goals
  • Make a Christmas spending plan

 

I’m not sure what the rest of 2017 will hold but I do know that I have the tools to live frugally and enjoy my life.