Dreaming

Do you have a crazy dream that you’ve kept in spite of not doing a thing to achieve it?

For me it’s always been being a lead singer.

Image result for selena quintanilla singing
Selena Quintanilla was my inspiration

In my teens I was involved in the school’s choir and my parents paid for lessons until my stage fright had me abandoning it.

In spite of not doing anything about this this little dream has me doing YouTube karaoke, pretending I’m on stage when putting on make up, and dancing around my living room.

Last month I found a school in town that teaches adults in a band setting. For $250/month I get to be in a band!

I’ll even be performing in front of crowds twice a year. Considering all my goals I wondered if this would be the best use of funds. How does joining a band and relearning to sing align with everything?

Remarkably well! I’ll be hitting the first 2 points of the things that I felt would make my life feel meaningful. For us the whole point of saving is to make our dreams come true. Pursuing this may mean that it takes me longer to save my 6 month buffer or we adjust our vacation goals. It does mean that I can get to make 2 dreams come true:

  1. Being a singer
  2. Having the money to pursue my dreams

While honouring myself.

What childhood dream would you revisit if you could?

 

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Taking a sick day 

I’ve got that tickle in my throat, the clogged feeling in my ears, and general drowsiness that heralds a cold.

Long nights, lack of exercise, and stress can definitely take a bit of blame for me starting October this way. The biggest culprit has been me not listening to my body. I haven’t given myself the boundaries I need to ward off illness completely. So today, I’m giving myself a sick day.

The nice thing about working outside the home is a sick day clearly means you don’t have to do your normal routine. Those 9hours I spend outside my home are now geared toward resting. Taking a sick day in a weekend is harder for me.

Weekend are usually my time to prepare and I had plans for this one! So I have given myself a new plan for today :

  • No chores
  • No budgeting 
  • Loads of tea
  • No junk food 
  • Lots of time in bed 
  • No going outside 
  • No accepting invitations

I’m hoping that giving myself the space to be ill that I’ll get over it more quickly and feel better about myself.

ML’s away this weekend and I don’t want him coming back to a mess or having to play catch up to help prepare us both for Monday. So here’s my Sunday plans:

  • Budget for October 
  • Laundry 
  • Tidy the main living areas
  • Grocery shopping 
  • Plan clothing for next week 

That list isn’t overwhelming and reminds me that taking time out to get better isn’t a waste of time.

Hope you’re healthy!

Zero Waste-ish

Image result for zero waste

 

I’ve been intrigued by the zero waste movement for some time but it often feels overwhelming.  The scope of zero waste in my purchasing choices leaves me dizzy.We tend not to get plastic grocery bags but do get bags for fruit and vegetables. Our meat comes in styrofoam trays, our vegetables in plastic.

Then there’s the not wanting to appear too different so accepting foil take out trays rather than bringing my own “doggy bag” or not bringing my own bags to bulk stores.

While our community does have a composting program I have found it difficult to use. I can’t count the number of times that items have been left behind because the bin wasn’t tilted enough to completely empty it.

Those are just a few of the things that hold me back from this step that aligns do well with my values.The biggest piece of course is not recognizing my successful baby steps:

  • We now only put out two small bags of garbage per week. This has to do with Bunny’s litter which, though compostable, gets left behind often in the bin.
  • We purchase a lot more things that can be recycled.
  • We often shop second hand first
  • We shop less! Gone are the days when a trip to the store ended with $20 of unexpected extras.
  • We no longer purchase as many single use items I.e. plastic cutlery, paper plates, paper towel.
  • We’ve cut down on loads of food waste by using our freezer properly and better menu planning.

I do want to embrace zero waste more fully so I was thrilled to hear that a local organization is hosting a zero waste week challenge in October.

A week sounds good. It’s not so long that I feel like I have reassess every purchase I’m making but ti’s long enough to give me a challenge. My aim is to set myself up for success with this by doing a slow audit over the next few weeks. I’ll make a more conscious effort to compost (hopefully the City is good about pick up) and recycle and see if I can’t slowly make my garbage fit into the mason jar.

Image from here.

Grocery Planning

 

I enjoy doing groceries weekly. It’s a system that works for me. It begins with opening an app on my phone on Saturday mornings as I have tea with Bunny. I then click anything I like the look of from my favourite stores.

Once the first part is done I look through to see what I can cut and get rid of any extras that were just pretty. I also look at what I have on hand to make meals. The reason meal planning comes last is because I enjoy purchasing a few extra things for the pantry that way when I have weeks I can’t make it to the store for one reason or the other I’m not suffering.

As I’m  a sale shopper it’s also important to me that I never pay full price for things with a long shelf life. So while I may not need pasta this week you can bet that the $0.99 package is going in my cart.

I’m definitely fortunate as I:

  • Can freeze items such as sale meat and fresh produce
  • Have the budget to purchase a bit extra to fill the pantry. The pasta, tuna, corned beef and rice mentioned below were all purchased on sale.
  • Have pantry space

Then of course a months like this one. A month where I’ve tied myself up and I’ve got $30 for 2 weeks worth of groceries though I had planned to have ~$100. In those cases I comb the pantry, shop the flyers for needs, and pull out my favourite recipes. Most importantly I make lists, the detailed lists that I usually don’t bother with because I know I’ll have options.

 

Here’s the list for the next 2 weeks:

So what did my groceries look like this week:

  • Granola bars
  • Pasta
  • Coffee
  • Eggs
  • Taco Kit
  • Milk*

*not on sale

To be fair, I should probably have skipped the coffee as ML has enough to last until the end of the month but it’s that not wanting to pay full price that got me. This size doesn’t go on sale too often so saving $5 made it worth the extra dig in my finances. Same goes for the taco kit.

Why am I sharing this? Well most of my blogging is for both of us. For me to remember that I can love my life on a budget and to share that having a little money left until the new budget doesn’t mean that you’re eating things that don’t taste fantastic.

Do you have any favourite meals that you are tasty and inexpensive?

Playing Catch Up

I seem to get myself in tight corners these days by overpaying bills.  My year of paying down my debt has taught me a few tricks to help when it looks like I have too much month at the end of my money.

I had laid out a rough plan but I had no details just a dream of spending $50 until the rest of the month. The look through my wallet brought that up to a maximum of $80. Here’s how it’s working so far:

Bunny: $30; the store only had her large bag of litter so she was a bit higher than anticipated.

Groceries: $28; this is with a detailed meal plan in place.

Entertainment: $20 – my alma mater’s homecoming is this weekend and though I purchased tickets lunch was not included.

Anything else is not in the budget! It’s helpful to see this laid out because it’s so easy when it looks like I’ll be over budget already to spend just a few extra dollars here and there.

From passenger to partner 

“Can you believe this? We spent only $16 in the grocery. Do you remember when $50 a week was pushing it?”

ML grinned at me, ” Yeah, look at us now. I used to get angry with you then.”

“I know,” I said thinking of those times in the early days when I was militant with that $50 budget.
“You would get so mad if we had to throw out half a pepper. I used to think you were losing it. It’s half a pepper!”

I felt a bit defensive but held my tongue and I’m so glad because he followed with, “Now I see how big a deal half a pepper is which is why we can now spend less than $50 on groceries.”

When I began this journey ML was grudgingly on board. It’s so good to hear that he saw the benefit. It’s also a reminder that we’re now a team. I can still be a bit militant when dealing with my budget. I was forced to recognize this after ML had shared that my budgeting sometimes stresses him out because of how upset I get if I overspend.

Part of my reaction has been because I’ve felt that the planning has been on me. I haven’t given ML credit he deserves. He’s gone from grudging passenger on this journey to an active participant.

This can be easy for me to miss this change as we practice frugality differently. I’m the person who finishes a ketchup bottle, I find a way to use those last dregs. ML is not that guy. I find it impossible to go to a Dollar store and spend less than $5. ML has been known to leave them empty handed. 

This week we spent $30 at the grocery store, there was another stop after our conversation, and got extra things for the pantry.

We’ve come a long way!

Budget Room

I have mentioned multiple times that I don’t budget using my complete income. When I was in debt that allowed me to pay a lot toward my debt without feeling constricted.

Now it’s a bit different. ML recommended I put a set amount on his debt so I can treat it like a bill. This would allow me to give myself breathing room and the opportunity to use some of the ‘free money’ to treat myself.

Here’s a big change: treating myself is now watching my savings grow so I can spend the money on meaningful things. That’s definitely some big personal growth!!

Chandler Bing dancing on a coffee table

 

I had a few ideas of where I could put the money:

I spent some time reviewing my posts on each of these topics and realized that my extra money would be best used in the Gifts line. Christmas is only 4 months away and I’m back to having $0 saved as I’ve used the savings line consistently over the course of the year.

This plan allows me to treasure the room I have so I don’t dip into debt to cover costs when I go over budget while ensuring that I know that the ‘breathing room’ money has a secondary purpose.

 

Touring Homes

In spite of not wanting to move, ML and I often get curious about homes that go up for sale so we hop online and take a virtual tour. It’s always interesting as I love seeing how other people decorate their homes as well as checking out architectural features in light of the changes we’d like to make to our kitchen.

A few years ago I watched in awe as a friend sold her home. The staging that went into creating stunning photos was amazing.  One of the things she mentioned was how great it was to live in a home that was geared toward function and looking good. After one of my visits with her in that time period, I  returned home and started taking photos of the rooms.

It turned out that by taking photos of the rooms I was able to pick up on little details that allowed me to focus and fix items that were out of place. In the kitchen, this meant realizing that some of the items on the counter needed to find a new home.

After doing some virtual touring this weekend I got curious about how our home was looking. I took my phone and started snapping. It was fantastic to learn that our home didn’t require a lot of changes to photograph well.

As the shots focus my attention I’m able to see the things that are holding our space back. While some rooms would benefit from an overhaul (Kitchen!), for the most part it was tidying that was needed.

It’s amazing the low level mess that creeps in! Through taking those photos I was able to adjust our room, the spare room and our hall closet. Suddenly things I didn’t realize were bothering me have been fixed.

The other benefit was by treating our home a bit like a showpiece I was able to admire it for all the things it does.

Furnishing

I’m on a home update kick! I began writing a really long post that didn’t flow very well so I’m going to post a home update series as I’m really excited about some of the things we’re doing!

 

One of my consistent goals is making our home an oasis. Most days I love our space but every so often I crave a change. Usually a good cleaning and tidy makes all the difference and I’m happy again.

ML and I are pretty low key with our home, we’re happy to have serviceable items and will update if the item fits a need and our budget. This is how we got my hanging chair which I adore!

We’ve been in our home for 6 years and we very slowly furnished our living room. In fact it’s been so slow that we only finished it this past weekend. For the longest time we had a garden chair in the living room as I wasn’t able to find the chair I wanted to fit a very specific corner.

Then Saturday, I walked by a garage sale and there it was: the perfect chair in my favourite colour. I messaged ML as we consider any new furniture a ‘big purchase.’ So we both have to agree on it. I can’t imagine anything worse than having to see something I hate every day! Luckily he loved it and for the steep price of $10 we had the chair (which had recently been professionally cleaned) and our living room is complete!

It’s basically a red version of one of these and it’s insanely comfortable.

curved living room chairs

The only thing left to do is to stain the coffee table in the living room as it was previously owned by someone who thought coasters weren’t important.

photo from here.