Kitchen Savings Update

In the middle of my post yesterday I decided to see how the kitchen fund is doing. I had written a pep talk on the realism of kitchen goal in March.

Goal Savings
 $20,000.00
Kitchen  $2,231.00
Home  Renovation  $2,184.00
Sky is Falling  $4,900.00
Total Savings  $9,315.00
New Goal  $10,685.00

That’s really exciting! I’ve been saving for quite some time in these accounts so I don’t want anyone to think that I’ve saved $10G in less than a year. Though all the power to you if you can do that!

With 10 more months to go this means that I’m aiming at saving $1,000 in my kitchen fund. I’ve picked up a small side hustle that should bring in some money that can be put there. ML’s got one that will most likely contribute $4,000.

This bring my goal of $1,000/month down to $700/month. While still a bit of a stretch this feels more realistic. I’ve gone from talking about a new kitchen to really feeling like this could be our reality!

Anticipated hiccups:

  • Hosting friends for 2 weeks in August
  • Multiple summer weddings (showers, gifts, travel, hotel)
  • Christmas spending (we always use our buffer here)

I can’t do a whole lot about those but it helps to remember them so I’m not thrown when they occur. This year I’ve been please with how frugal we’ve been.

Here’s to the kitchen becoming a reality!

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When Dreams meet Reality

I’ve been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat!  It’s filled with amazing beats, good advice and American History so there’s lots to love. There’s one lyric that makes me think of life after debt:

aaron burr

This has been our life this year! Getting out of debt was our brand new beginning. We were going to do lots:

  • Accelerate mortgage payments
  • update the house
  • get a new kitchen
  • save for a new car
  • build our emergency fund
  • go on a vacation

All of those are great goals but let’s be honest they’re not going to happen at the same time. Once we both got debt free we really had to face reality and figure out what it is we really wanted to do.

While most of our money is going towards the kitchen we are trying to work on the other points as well. This has ended up with me feeling as though I don’t have enough. I know it’s ridiculous so when I heard that line I finally had an explanation!

When I began this blog I thought it would take me 30 months to repay my own debt. I hadn’t even considered helping ML. In less than 2 years we were both consumer debt free. That’s an awesome achievement!  However,I hadn’t emotionally prepared myself for a realistic life after debt.

This year has been a year of learning how to set realistic goals again. It’s also realizing that I still choose not to have money for certain things. Maintaining my consumer debt free life and achieving my goals means that I still have to make choices.

I don’t think I had really anticipated that. Somehow in my dreams debt free meant that I could have my cake, eat it in one sitting and not have a tummy ache. Definitely a fantasy!

The reality is that maintaining a debt free life has been very similar to living with debt. This time instead of me paying the bank with interest, I’ve been paying myself and getting interest.

Which is a pretty awesome way to live. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to redistribute my debt payment so that I can fund my new start.

 

Home Insurance

At the beginning of May I got my home insurance billing notice. It’s a big number  but I’ve been socking away a bit each month for it.

Tiny problem: I under-saved.

Yep, completely did my math wrong and I’m now $180 short of what I need to pay up next month.

I was surprised at how upset I was by this hiccup. It wasn’t so long ago that I was forgetting that this would be due and putting the entire  amount on my credit card. An extra $180 is much more realistic! I can re-arrange my finances so that it won’t affect my budget numbers.

Next step: up my budget as of July in this budget line and remember that I have 11 months to save not 12!

To Costco we go

When we first got married, ML and I blindly followed the path of our parents and got our very own Costco membership.

While everyone around us extolled the virtues of Costco we found it wearing. Just getting into the warehouse was an experience: drive to the other town, try to avoid getting in an accident in the parking lot, circle parking lot four times because apparently indicators mean “I found a spot, you should take it!” Finally park, attempt to not get run over entering the store.

Once in, my rage is up so rude shoppers and staff members are now just the icing on an awful Saturday morning.

I also have no desire to wander the aisles. I want this mission over! Costco, however, has other plans. The cling wrap has moved to a magical place, the chips I wanted are sold out or possibly four aisles over above my low eye level.

To top it off, we never seemed to leave without spending $100.

In short, after that first year we only returned as guests of my parents. It’s been a while and a Costco recently opened close to my parents. ML has mentioned he’d like to try a membership again and slowly I’ve gotten on board.

This time we have rules:

  • No weekend shopping
  • We go in with a list
  • We must know grocery pricing to  properly assess savings
  • Maximum 2 convenience items per trip
  • We must track our savings, if we don’t truly save $100 it’s not worth it
  • Truly saving means that we’re purchasing necessities

I’m wary of Costco because to me it opens a world of possible spending. The urge to purchase things because they’re a good idea or inexpensive is huge.

Are you a Costco shopper? Any tips or tricks to keep our spending sane would be greatly appreciated!

 

Not so Uber Frugal Month

I began this month, really ready to tackle an Uber Frugal Month but my desire to save money and visitt with friends were definitely at opposing ends.

There have already been 2 trips with friends for lunch this month, with 3 more meals coming up. I’m laso  hosting 2 meals at my home and my favourite kid is coming for an overnight visit.

Whenever, I have a guest I try to stock things they’d like. Usually this is easy with other adults. They’ll generally eat the same food, don’t snack a whole lot but consume a tonne of coffee. With kids, it tends to be different. While adventurous in their own home they crave familiarity in other settings. They also eat way more than adults.

This morning I did a quick grocery trip to “kid friendly” my pantry. I got everything on sale but still spent $33 on kid food including:

  • Juice packs (we don’t drink juice so I want him to take the packs when he goes)
  • yogurt
  • fruits
  • sandwich meats (we tend not to stock these as we over do a good thing)
  • bread
  • granola bars ( I also picked up a pack for work)
  • chicken nuggets (we both  like them and it’ll be super easy to cook while giving him attention; also good job past me buying fries on sale last week! They were triple the price this morning)

I cheated a bit on this one and shopped at a grocery that allows me to use my credit card points. In the end this only took $3 from my grocery budget.

I haven’t checked my budget so I’m not sure where I’m sitting. I do know that purchasing those groceries are cheaper than buying a pizza for dinner, going out for breakfast, and picking up something for lunch. Since spending quality time with people I care about doing interesting things is important to me I don’t have a problem with these expenses. I’ve scrutinized my life and know that all the meals will enrich my own life as these are people I truly want to see.

How’s your spending this month?

Planning My 2017 Finances

Past me is awesome! Last year I created this planning post and it was a fantastic way to check in with myself and ensure I was budgeting appropriately. This list will include items that I’m also saving for as it will serve as a reminder as to why I’m using them.

Here’s the list of anticipated expenses:

  • January: conference items that may be needed; dinner date with a friend
  • February: Birthday gift and dinner with a friend; purchase wine tour tickets and play tickets
  • March: my birthday month was pretty expensive due to eating out last year, Renew my license sticker and have a diagnostic test on the car
  • April: Ticket for annual lunch event goes on sale, new light fixtures
  • May: Road trip to see a friend, gift for family member, wine tour, fix the driveway
  • June: wine tour, crazy work week (eating out, fashion costs)
  • July: house insurance due, gifts for family members
  • August: road trips to see friends, wine tour, wedding gift and shopping for friends
  • September:  wedding gift and shopping for friends
  • October: Crazy work week II (eating out, fashion costs)
  • November: tickets for shows

Last year I gave myself a ‘raise’ when I paid off my debt and put all of that towards saving. This year I gave myself a ‘raise’ to accommodate my singing lessons and just reworked my budget to accommodate my savings goals. I’m feeling pretty confident that 2017 is goign to continue to build on the success of the previous year.

Do you have any expenses that you’re aware of now?

 

 

Using Guidelines: 2017 budget

Early last year I found another way to assess my budget: The 50-30-20 rule. I plugged in my numbers and was quite happy with my allocation. This year I opted to do it again with my proposed 2017 budget. Here’s what it looks like:

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

The drastic change in the essential line is because previously it included the minimum payment of my debt. With no debt my essential costs are down!

My lifestyle cost is up as it takes into account my singing lessons.  I’m having fun doing the lessons and meeting people so I feel like it’s a great cost and it’s nice to see that I’m still within the recommended guideline.

That increase in my Future category makes me feel great! Since I still don’t budget with my entire pay once my top two categories stay within budget I may be putting a tiny bit more into future than reflected here.

One more Down!!

firework.

We did it! We just paid off ML’s credit card!

I’ll admit to some minor cheating here: I was desperate to start 2017 as a consumer debt free household but with my overspending way back in June I was an entire payment short of what I had promised to help ML.

Being an easy going soul he didn’t mind but it turned out I did. We were so close! In fact we were just that payment short of stamping out the credit card debt so I pulled money from my Sky is falling account and put it toward that.

This means that he has 1 student loan left and his final budgeted payment will wipe it out in January!

Thank you so much for all your support, tips and ideas! This is the best Christmas gift we could have and we’re thrilled beyond belief to be starting 2017 consumer debt free!

 

 

Photo courtesy of satit_srihin via freedigitalphotos.net

2017: Year of the House

As of January 1, 2017 we will be consumer debt free. As I mentioned the money I currently put towards debt repayment will then move to the kitchen renovation fund.

ML has expressed a desire to paint our kitchen in the short term, this would give the room a lift and help us feel a bit better about it. I’m on board as I recognize that this is important to him.

We have no intention of selling the house so why make 2017 the year of the House? Well, this is where we spend most of our time and frankly it’s our biggest purchase. We need to be better at maintenance.

It’s the little things like:

  • Fixing the sinking driveway
  • Adjusting the backyard
  • Painting/ fixing worn baseboards
  • Putting up light fixtures that work and aren’t dated

That can elevate our home. Writing that list I feel like we must live in a dump! I promise we don’t. The house was given bare minimum maintenance when we moved in and to be honest we weren’t much better.

We used the, “We’re not handy people” line and a fear of not being able to afford proper help as excuses for lack of action. My plan is that this stops now. We’re not handy people and frankly I’d rather pay someone to come and fix something than experiment. This comes from my fear that we’ll spend more if we mess up.

Knowing this about myself I then need to gather quotes and make informed decisions. 2017 is going to be the year that I do this.

Budget Update: Christmas Gifts

Last year I did a pretty good job Christmas planning and shopping. I made a list and then tracked it to see if I had enough room in the budget. While I increased my gift budget this year based on my Christmas spending I quickly realized that I underestimated how many gift giving occasions currently occur in my life.

So once again I was in the position of using my budget loophole to ensure that I didn’t go into debt to afford the presents I wanted to give. I’m really glad that I considered my gift list in August so I was able to begin shopping in September. While the actual items varied in some cases the value of them was relativily consistent with the exception of one person who I opted to spend 3 times the budgeted amount on.

This decision is because this family member rarely asks for anything much less expensive things. I was given the option of purchasing 1 of 3 items but opted to purchase 2 of the 3 items on their wish list. The joy it gives me to treat this person is worth the overspending.

The interesting thing with Christmas 2016 presents is that I’m spending less than the amount I anticipated but because I dipped into the Gift budget line so often over the year I’m feeling the pinch.

My plan in 2017 is to maintain the amount I’m putting in this line as I suspect if I increase it I may just spend more. However, I will also plan to use any money that is not specifically allocated to a savings line in the latter part of the year to the gift line.

All this being said, the gifts that I’m really trying to give are these:

 

Image result for minimalist christmas to do list

What steps do you to take to give the gifts that you want to during the Holiday season?

 

photo from here