Frugal Month Update: June 2018

I haven’t spent rashly but somehow we’re halfway through the month and I only have $33 left in the budget. As I’ve paid all bills and contributed to savings this isn’t as awful as it sounds. Here’s what’s coming up:

  1. Beach Date with my sister
  2. Bubble tea date with former bandmate
  3. Coffee visit with girl friends
  4. My favourite kid is coming for a sleepover

I’m not sure how $33 is going to stretch that far and I don’t want to cancel any of these events.

I’m taking snacks to share for the beach date but if we end up stopping for dinner there is no way I can opt out of the that activity.  The 2 visits with friends can be kept, I believe, to a total of $15.

The kid may be my biggest challenge. He eats like crazy so having him over is going to require a grocery run. I’m going to have to fill up on fruits, vegetables, cheese, deli meat and crackers.

How’s your monthly budget coming?

 

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Day at the Spa (DIY Edition)

I was on vacation this week and I desperately wanted a spa day. However, I don’t want to spend $250 on a spa package. Instead I took Thursday and did all my prep so that I could treat myself at home.

My first step was to do all my prep so that I could move easily from moment to moment without feeling like I was losing the relaxed feeling.

I used 2 bananas, 1 tbsp. of honey, 1 tbsp. of coconut oil for the hair mask and 1 tbsp. each of coconut oil, coffee grounds and brown sugar for the exfoliation kit.

The 30 minutes to let the hair mask sit was used to complete a mindfulness meditation I found on YouTube.

Once I washed the mask out and exfoliated in the shower with a scrub that I had, I moved to my face. I applied a portion of the coffee scrub to my face and hands then moved to give myself a steam. I’m lucky as I received this as a gift in my teens. I then shaped my brows and used a mask.

Once my face was done I took a spa break to enjoy lunch. When I had gone to the sp alast time, my package had included lunch which I recreated.

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The veggies were sautéed with steak seasoning and made into a veggie pita with avocado and tomato.

Next up was my manicure and pedicure.

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One of the things I love about the spa is the music that I never listen to any other time but really does the trick! YouTube once again came to the rescue with one of the long calming playlists.

I was a little concerned that my DIY version may not be as restful or I’d get distracted. I was pleased that I focused and was able to make clean up a seamless part of the process. Having soft light throughout definitely helped the experience!

What’s your favourite way to pamper yourself at home?

Frugal Month July 2018

This month is supposed to be a frugal spend month. While usually this means that I’m going to spend less than I budgeted, based on my recent spending, I’ll be aiming to stick to my budget.

I’m just one week in  and I already know this month is going to be super tough! I’ve already spent the gas money and most of the grocery money. Here’s what I’ve got left:

  • Grocery – $35
  • Bunny – $14 (needs hay and possibly kibble)
  • Eating out – $36 (monthly dinner date; have been trying to meet a friend for sushi)
  • Entertainment  – $45 (parking at concert; tickets for upcoming wine tour)
  • Misc – $30

My hope is to keep to these figures and I’ll use savings to fund our anniversary party that’s going to be hosted the first weekend in August.

What’s in the Pantry

Following my wake up call with grocery prices I decided to re-delve into living on rations. I can’t believe I haven’t touched my research or even attempted a no-spend week since January. This week is most definitely not going to be my no spend week.

I’m having a friend over for dinner tomorrow, seeing another for Sushi, and then going on a mini vacation with a few friends over the weekend. To attempt a no-spend week would be ludicrous. What I can do is ensure that I make frugal choices this week and prep to begin July with as little spending as possible.

To get my mind engaged, I went through some of my previous research and really took a look at my pantry and recipe books. Recognizing that grocery spending can be one of the areas I feel a bit helpless I decided to focus on it. I went through the pantry with an eye to what I really need to own in order to make full meals:

  • Condiments
    • Olive oil – used for everything from salads to hair masks
    • Soy sauce – I love Chinese food and enjoy making my own
    • Vinegar (White & Apple cider vinegar) – used for cooking, cleaning and skin car
    • Mustard – I really enjoy it!
    • Ketchup – not necessary but it’s always nice to have and I’ve since learnt to make barbecue sauce
    • An array of spices
  • Baking
    • Flour
    • Baking powder
    • Baking soda
    • cocoa
    • chocolate chips
    • vanilla essence
    • Milk – powdered, condensed milk, evaporated milk and coconut milk
    • Shortening – also for lotion
    • Honey
  • Pantry
    • Rice
    • Pasta
    • Potatoes
    • rolled oats
    • popcorn
    • yeast
  • Misc
    • Olives
    • lemon juice
    • lime juice
    • fresh fruit and vegetables
    • tinned vegetables and beans
    • Meat
    • Cheese
    • Tea and coffee

I’m hoping that by recording this list I’ll use it as a guide when I’m leaning towards going over budget. I also wanted to give my chance to look at how I can create meals without resorting to convenience packages.

How to Spend Less

I had wonderful ideas this month! I wrote every expense as it came out, I tracked my budget and I followed my list. However, things happened and I spent more than anticipated. Do I sound like a broken record? I feel like one!

I took a look at this blog and my life in general to plot out where I was going astray.  The biggest problem I could find is that I have abandoned my kitchen. The renovations and drama surrounding it are ongoing. Working with Home Depot, once we began having problems,  was an awful experience.

Not being in the kitchen meant that I wasn’t cooking from scratch or making any of my homemade products. I used to do quite a bit of homemade things and luckily I tracked them on this blog. My plan is to get back into it. I made a fantastic hair mask using 3 ingredients.

picture of hair mask serum in a bowl with bottles of olive oil & lemon juice
Equal parts lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and water (2 tbsp.)

 

This quick fix gave me a the opportunity to indulge in a scalp massage and take 20 minutes to relax. It’s meant for itchy scalp and it definitely did the job!

Planning June 2018

June is the month that my life goes crazy every year!

I spend ~$500 on clothing and shoes as I have a weeklong event that I need to feel great about. So far I have given my clothes an overhaul to the tune of $150.  It’s a fantastic coupe as I got 4 dresses, 3 jackets and a scarf for that.

Next I do need to get shoes. I damaged my feet a few years ago so while $350 feels like a crazy amount to drop in a day on maybe 2 pairs of shoes, I know that it’s best to take care of me.

Here’s what June looks like:

  • Dinner with friends from previous job $30
  • Standing dinner with friend $80 – my turn to pay for both of us
  • Movie night with girlfriend $20
  • Shoes $350
  • Groceries for camping trip $200

I’ve gotten bad about saying no to myself consistently. ML & I are hosting a party in August. I haven’t been saving well for it. Sure I’m putting a bit of money towards it but I’m not holding myself as accountable as I should. We’re still paying off the kitchen and attempting to put money into savings so we can pay it off by next June. Since February, I haven’t had ‘leftover’ money to put towards either of these goals.

This month, I’m going to put everything into wine terms. For the party we’re purchasing 24 bottles of wine. 12 are $10 and 12 are $14. So every choice I make in terms of spending is going to be weighed against those. Example last night, I purchased the equivalent of 2 bottles of wine on a bad dinner. It wasn’t worth it.

My aim this month is to have enough money leftover for a case of the $10 wine. This will translate in me being $120 under budget.

I feel Rotten

I’ve been so proud of myself. While friends and colleagues having been getting the awfulness that has been going around I have been healthy. Well Thursday it came crashing down.

I awoke feeling less than stellar with a terrible headache, sore throat and upset tummy. Yesterday I added chills and joint pain to the list. That’s how I broke my no-spend plan.

Today I attempted to broaden my dietary limits from tea, toast and popsicles with less than stellar results. It seems I still need soft foods. I’m too ill to cook and, as ML is working this weekend, I don’t want to add to his list.

This is where I’m grateful to Pinterest. As I was searching for no-cook food that required minimal work I came across baby purees. My parents kindly offered to do a grocery run so I asked them to pick up a few fruits so I can make some healthy purees.

It was interesting to see the simple, nutritious meals the mommy-bloggers are feeding their children. I was struck once again, by how we can overcomplicate food.

I don’t intend to make purees a meal once I can digest properly again but I’m thinking some of them will make great work snacks while helping me get my fruit and vegetable servings up.

Do you have flu-busting tips?

Paying for the Kitchen

I don’t often share figures but this post is definitely going to be an exception! We’ve been saving for the kitchen renovation since we paid off our debt in 2016. Our original budget was $20,000, however, as we began working with our vendors and really putting together our vision for the space at the end of last year it became apparent that this project will cost roughly $30,000.

As we had already committed to completing the renovation this year we bit the bullet and opted to make use of the 18-month interest-free credit option that the store offered.

We have $17,000 saved right now and anticipate there to be $10,000 worth of work to be completed still. Since that $10,000 will not be on a deferred payment plan I will be using my savings to cover it. This means that I have $7,000 to be the $16,596 credit card bill.

I’ve modeled 3 payment scenarios:

  • Paying off the card in 12 months, which was my goal
  • Paying it off in 17 months, which is probably more realistic
  • Paying off as much as I can in 17 months and then transferring the balance to my line of credit. The interest rate on the credit card is 28%! My line of credit is much more reasonable.

 

12 months 18 months 18+ months
February  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00
March  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00
April  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00
May  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00
June  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00  $    1,383.00
July  $    1,383.00  $        807.00  $        330.00
August  $    1,383.00  $        807.00  $        330.00
September  $    1,383.00  $        807.00  $        330.00
October  $    1,383.00  $        807.00  $        330.00
November  $    1,383.00  $        807.00  $        330.00
December  $    1,383.00  $        807.00  $        330.00
January  $    1,383.00  $        807.00  $        330.00
February  $        807.00  $        330.00
March  $        807.00  $        330.00
April  $        807.00  $        330.00
May  $        807.00  $        330.00
June  $        804.00  $    2,730.00

(ML side hustle + 330)

 $  16,596.00  $  16,596.00  $  13,275.00
 $    3,321.00

Looking at these numbers, paying this off in 17 months is a bit of a stretch. I currently set aside $330/ month towards the kitchen renovation line. I think upping that to $807 in July is going to be very tough!

What I’m not showing here is that the $1,383 payments could probably extend pass June as it’s coming out of the $7,000 that I’ve already saved.  I’m going to do some fancy math here let’s see if it’ll make sense to you and future me.

Payment Savings
 $  7,000.00
February  $    1,383.00  $  5,947.00
March  $    1,383.00  $  4,894.00
April  $    1,383.00  $  3,841.00
May  $    1,383.00  $  2,788.00
June  $    1,383.00  $  1,735.00
July  $    1,383.00  $     682.00
August  $    1,012.00
September  $        330.00
October  $        330.00
November  $        330.00
December  $        330.00
January  $        330.00
February  $        330.00
March  $        330.00
April  $        330.00
May  $        330.00
June  $    2,730.00
 $  15,010.00
 $    1,586.00

This seems much more realistic and I’m sure that if I’m rather frugal I’ll be able to add a bit more to a few months so that way I don’t have $1586 moving to my line of credit.

Corporate Greed and the Frugal Family

I believe that everyone should make at least a living wage.

The government has raised the minimum wage drastically. It’s a big jump of roughly $3/hour but sadly still about $4 below a living wage.

Not surprisingly, there has been a lot of fear-mongering about the ways in which this is going to hurt the people it’s meant to help and cause massive job losses. Another check in the not surprising column is that big businesses are using it squeeze their staff.

ML works in the retail industry which is notorious for this sort of nonsense. His boss has been mandated to cut staff hours by a big amount. I was a bit surprised when I heard the number and I definitely didn’t envy him the task. I think he did it in the most humane way possible: he cut just a bit of everyone’s hours. ML is now working 1/2 hour less per day.

My first reaction was joy as it’s definitely easier on us if ML finishes a bit earlier due to car sharing. Then I began to take in the economic impact on us. Due to our budgets, it isn’t an enormous inconvenience but it does mean that ML’s spending money, which was modest, to begin with, will take a hit.

We’re fortunate that this squeeze is not impacting our necessities. It does impact our savings and our ability pay off our kitchen as quickly as we’d like.

I am pleased that the wages are being increased but saddened that we have to legislate human decency.

 

 

Missy Bunny and the Rising Costs of Kibble

Image result for rabbit eating  kibble

Last night Bunny ran out of kibble. I debated just cutting her kibble this morning and giving her extra hay and greens but ML felt strongly that, as I was already out, I should pick up her kibble.

Her usual pet store is out of my way and when I arrived it was closed. They’ve got a no-name kibble, literally, it’s a plastic bag with a label on it. For this delicacy, I pay under $5. Since I was already on the hunt I went to the store that is close to our home. The kibble there is a minimum of $15.

Bunny is actually rather picky about her kibble. When her store closed a year ago for renovations it took us a long time to find a replacement she deemed worthy of her delicate digestive tract. I was examining these packages to see if the kibbles were too big, looked too much like litter or had ridiculous serving sizes. To add to all of this, I was the only person in the pet store at 8:30 pm.

I ended up purchasing the $15 kibble out of shame and the cashier advised that if Bunny refused the kibble I can return the opened package.

As I relayed this story to ML, he took a turn at inspecting the kibble. “Yeah, I think you’re right. This is the one she doesn’t eat,” he agreed.

That’s when we had to make the decision:

  • Attempt to feed her the pricey kibble knowing that if she eats it we would keep it.
  • Return the open package if she refuses to consume it and purchase her usual food
  • Return the sealed package and purchase her usual food

We’re opting to go with option 3. After work today, I’m going to her store to pick up the kibble. If they don’t have it, I’ll use option one but if it’s in stock I’ll be returning her fancy food.

I’ve struggled a bit with this decision as I feel I’m toeing the line of being cheap.  I am aware that I should have just walked out of the store rather than purchasing the kibble due to price alone. My saving grace is Bunny herself. She really is a picky eater and it happens that her appetite and my budget are in agreement.

Image from here