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

Preparing for a no-spend week

I’ve dabbled with the idea of a no-spend timeframes before and each time I’ve improved upon my last attempt. Each time, it’s been part of an experiment to ease myself into intentional spending and with the goal of paying off debt more quickly.

This time I have a very concrete goal as part of an uber-frugal month. With the kitchen renovation happening next month I’m definitely feeling the pressure to make sure that I’m not paying interest on it. As it stands right now, the only thing left to pay is the contractor.

ML and I are looking forward to receiving next month’s credit card bill to confirm the total and set out our own payment plan as we’re aware that the minimum payment plan is not designed to have us pay off the card within the 18 month time frame.

How does the kitchen relate to the no-spend week? My plan is that any money saved goes to the Kitchen Fund.

Menu Planning

I’m armed with a list but I also want to ensure I don’t over-purchase and end up being wasteful.

This week I’m thinking of making, along with needed ingredients:

  • Bread
  • Pancakes
  • sphaghetti – pasta, sauce, mushrooms and sweet peppers
  • Lord Woolton Pie with Mushroom gravy – mushrooms, root vegetables
  • Macaroni pie with green salad and bean salad  – cheese, salad fixings
  • Potato rarebit

Based on this list my vegetables are really looking like salad, mushrooms, sweet peppers and a few ground provisions.

How is your meal prepping going?


Here’s a Wrinkle

I had decided to have an Uber-frugal January, so I carefully planned all my expenses. However,as Robert Burns knew, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.

To prepare for my spending this week I went to the restaurant’s website to calculate the amount I would spend. Two things went wrong:

  1. I made the rookie mistake of not calculating tax and tip
  2. the menu is outdated

My $50 expense turned into $80.

Both gas and Bunny are currently under budget so if I can lower my grocery spending this week I may be able to maintain my spending.

How’s your week going?


This was the first weekend in ages I  didn’t go to the grocery store. The greatest reason for that was that I’m really trying to stick to my budget. It’s also the first time in forever that I was really willing to commit to items already in the house.

Saturday, I made bread. Sunday was a ham casserole that I added additional vegetables to and created a crumb topping. Today, most likely, I’ll make Lord Woolton Pie with mushroom gravy. This should see us through the week.

I’m looking ahead to next week and with the recent discovery of the sheer volume of vegetables and fruit Canadians were advised to eat I’m heading to Costco to see if I can get some variety while staying in my budget. While I adore potatoes, carrots, broccoli and mushrooms I am hoping that I’m able to extend my vegetable reach a bit more.

I’ve been rather stingy with my three apples so I’m hoping to find a good deal on fruit as well to add to my lunches.

With a budget of $50 but a goal of spending $30 I’m not quite sure if I’ll be able to get all the items on my list:

  • peanut butter
  • butter
  • fresh fruit
  • fresh vegetables
  • toilet paper

I may find myself going to the regular grocery store instead. I know that I’m definitely getting the peanut butter at Costco as no one can beat their price!

Setting up for Success in 2018

I’m budget planning a bit backwards. While I’ve got some goals for 2018 I haven’t clearly articulated them but with all the hard work looking at the numbers I felt it important to  create the format of the 2018 budget.

2017 2018
Fixed Costs
Life Insurance 6% 6%
Car Insurance 5% 5%
Mortgage 7% 7%
Bell | Rogers 3% 3%
Telus 6% 6%
Netflix 1% 1%
Open Media 0.4% 0.3%
Random Charitable organizations 0.4% 0.3%
SOR 9% 7%
Total 37% 34%
Long Term Savings
TFSA 4% 3%
mortgage 5% 5%
home renovation 4% 3%
Additional Retirement 4% 4%
 Total 17% 16%
Short Term Savings
Vacation 1% 3%
Life 2% 2%
Car Repair 5% 5%
Gifts 4% 3%
Home Reno 1% 1%
House Insurance 4% 4%
Kitchen 12% 11%
Medical 1% 1%
Total 30% 30%
Variable Costs
Bunny 1% 1%
Eating out 4% 3%
Entertainment 3% 3%
Fashion 1% 3%
Gas 1% 1%
Groceries 5% 5%
Misc. 2% 2%
Total 17% 19%

I got a bit of a raise so I also gave the budget an increase in 2018 while maintaining my buffet. While the Groceries, Eating Out, Misc. and Fashion lines were all really over in 2017, Fashion is the only one that saw a true increase.

The reasoning behind this is:

  • we really should not be eating out as much as we do
  • We need to just keep an eye on groceries and be more realistic in our spending
  • I need to re-learn how to say no to myself. As the Misc. line tends to go over when I think that I’ll be a bit tighter in another area that month. Based on the 2017 spending, I haven’t been good at decreasing other lines to ensure I live within my means
  • Fashion is touching on areas that are important to me and impact my health. Shoes and skin care were the big fashion spends. The shoes were to ensure that I keep my plantar fasciitis in check while the skin-care has a definitely mental health benefit.

Going back to the 50-30-20 rule, here’s where the budget for 2018 stands in relation to previous years:

Aim 2015 2016 2017 2018
Essential 50% 57% 48% 33% 25%
Lifestyle 30% 27% 28% 30% 29%
Future 20% 16% 24% 37% 46%

The anticipated budget l is bringing me much closer to my ultimate goal of 20-30-50.

Have you started looking at your budget for 2018?

Taking a Look Back II

Before I can share what our plan is for 2018, I want to delve a bit into the 2017 findings.

A few years ago I found the 50-30-20 rule and applied it to my budget planning. This week I took it a step further and plugged in my actual spending.

Aim 2017 Budget 2017 Actual
Essential 50% 33% 30%
Lifestyle 30% 30% 41%
Future 20% 37% 39%


My ultimate goal is to have the breakdown as 20-30-50. Something I was coming close to in my budget. As you can see that didn’t work as planned.

I’m definitely pleased with my essential spending! It’s good to know that in a world of rising costs I’m able to find deals that allow me to achieve my personal goal. Lifestyle…that includes fashion and eating out which we both know went crazy in 2017.

Future was interesting. I had anticipated being under the 207 budgets as I under-saved significantly over the year in a few areas so that I could afford essentials and lifestyle items. Looking back I realized I had increased savings in March to better meet other goals.

The end result is that I was over budget this year so I’m extremely grateful for having the foresight not to budget with my actual paycheque but to give myself a buffer. This buffer is what is allowing me to finish the year off in the black, as long as I behave in December.

After reviewing the 2017 spending I was able to see my pain points, identify areas that need improvement and recognize the difference between my anticipated and actual spending.

Tomorrow: Unveiling the 2048 Budget and the thoughts behind it.

How did you spending go in 2017?


Taking A Look Back

My financial well being is an on going experiment. while I do take time to review my progress monthly I find December a great time to take a holistic view of the project.

The scientific method is the perfect way for me to assess, with a side benefit of all those high school science projects coming in handy.


The ongoing question for me is: How can I live the life I desire within my means

The hypothesis was that I can use frugal tools to increase my savings for multiple goals.

This year, I experimented with significantly tightening my proverbial belt. I began this year by undertaking a frugal challenge in January. In March, I decided to up my savings and reduce my spending allowances.  In addition to the 2017 BHAG I hosted 2 friends from out of country and tied a vacation into an international conference.  The last two points meant that I pulled money from savings to cover unanticipated costs so my savings lines didn’t go as far as they have in previous years.

The benefit of monthly tracking also means that I have a lot of data to use. I was able to see how much I went over/under a budget line on average, recognize pain points and areas in which I need to further assess, as well as compare my proposed budget to my actual spending.

So how did the experiment that was 2017 go?

  • I was over budget 7 out of the 11 months so far
  • My significant pain points in order are Misc, Groceries, with Fashion and Eating out tied for 3rd place.
    • Misc items have included the Costco membership and upgrade, wedding attire for ML, Parking costs and hotel when there’s no money in the vacation line, gifts when there’s no money in that savings line
    • This year I’ve decided to take care of my face and my feet, however, I hadn’t really given myself a realistic budget line for those items so fashion went crazy
    • Eating out is something I’m really going to have to get back under control. A great deal of it had to do with being housebound until April and craving human interaction.
  • While the above three are the major pain points on average I’m overspending in all but one area: Bunny. Missy Bunny is the most frugal creature in the household!

ML and I spent a great deal of time this week reviewing the 2017 spending and coming up with the 2018 budget. That post, however, is for another day!

Image from here.

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?