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

It lives!

The repair company came and though we had misdiagnosed the washer the problem was a fairly inexpensive fix.

ML and I had agreed to spend no more than $400 on washer repair it came in at about half of that. That’s definitely going in the win column!

We also got them to look at the stove. Turns out it’s the original stove so fixing the oven will cost about $700. We’re just going to leave that alone.

Learning this made me want to use our toaster oven. the problem is that I still haven’t purchased toaster oven pans for it.

Go back and read that sentence. Yep, still enough of a spendthrift to fall for the hype that I need special pans. Now that I’ve decided I want to use the thing I got down to business and wen through my current pans. I’ve got at least 4 that work in the toaster oven!

I’ve got a round cake tin, 2 loaf tins and a heart shaped cake pan. I’m ‘missing’ a cookie sheet and muffin tin. While I could definitely benefit from the cookie sheet I’m going to hold off purchasing anything and see how it goes.

So far I made one meal in the oven and I’m pretty pleased!

Do you have any recipes for toaster ovens or tips for baking in them?

Savings Goals: Kitchen & Mortgage

I’ve been moaning about my kitchen since I began blogging. I’m not even going to link to those posts as no one needs that much negativity in one sitting. However, with all that complaining I haven’t made great strides in saving towards my goal.

pexels-photo-94865-medium
Something like this would be fantastic!

I suspect this is because we have a Home Renovation fund that I’m putting those savings into. As you can imagine, there are loads of home projects that can be done for much less than $20,000. So my funds keep going to those low hanging, but important, fruit. Most recently it went to repairing our washer.

Clearly something has to change. My decision is to take the money that’s currently going towards ML’s debt and dump it into a Kitchen Renovation line once he’s all paid up.

My original plan had been to take a portion of that money and put it towards our mortgage. While admirable I feel mentally the money will be better spent on the kitchen. I doubt we’ll use all $20,000 and once this is done I can transform the Kitchen fund into a Goodbye Mortgage account.

Image result for mortgage free images

Kitchen photo from here.

Mortgage image from here. 

Emergency Savings Win

As you know having a sizeable emergency fund in case of job loss is important to me. It wasn’t so long ago that I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was using the previous paycheque to fund my current fortnight. I have left the money alone as I’m really not sure how I managed to save it. While letting that magic growth happen, I’ve also been actively putting a bit of money into an emergency fund. Today I realized that the money in my emergency fund is the exact amount as one of my paycheques and I realized that my chequing account has a bit more than a paycheque in it.

In order to really allocate all this to my emergency fund. I transferred the amount that would be a full paycheque from my checking account into my higher interest emergency savings account.

This means that I’ve got one month of pay saved!

excited boy meets world freaking out cory matthews shawn hunter

My aim is to have a six month buffer in place over time that will give ML and I the freedom to not be completely stressed if one of us loses our job. I feel comfortable slowly working to this buffer as if I was let go I would have a host of options availalbe to me.