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 the menu is outdated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?



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
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!

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.