Dreams Change

I’ve had a rough couple of weeks emotionally. I came off a tough week at work to enter some rough family situations. This was all on top of the construction nightmare we’ve been experiencing with Home Depot. Needless to say, I’m exhausted.

It’s a good time to re-visit my previous posts regarding my values. It’s always a wonderful way to find my center. In late 2016, I decided to embrace my creativity by pursuing a longtime dream of performing in a band. Due to my accident, I never did get to perform in front of a live audience. I learned that I really don’t want to! I’ve been paying the fee for a while but when I decided to take a break for the summer I realized it was no longer bringing me joy.

Image result for singing

The microphone which used to represent love and escape now feels like a trap. Not exactly a great way to add value to my life! Though I’m leaving the formal program I know that my lessons are sticking with me and I hope to continue singing and playing with apps while strengthening my voice.

Are there long-held dreams that you’ve followed but discovered didn’t quite suit you?

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Menu Planning for Friends

We’re leaving to go the Costco soon with a friend. The plan is that we’ll get food for the 6 of us to have over the course of our long weekend. There’s a slight problem: the menu was never discussed. The idea of going into Costco without a list is absolutely awful. That’s exactly how we end up spending $500 in less than 30 minutes!

Based on experience I know that we like cooking simple meals and somehow allows end up in the overpriced mini-mart outside the town collecting something. As I’m the one spending the initial sum I’m hoping that this plan works for all:

Breakfasts: bacon, eggs, toast, strawberry scones

Lunches: sandwiches, leftover dinner; we’re visiting a chip shop on one of the days

Dinner: steak and fries, hamburger, hot dogs

Snacks: chips, cherry clafouti, s’mores, s’mores pie

With this breakdown, I’m hopeful that we won’t over purchase or end up with waste.

UPDATE: We did well! We did end up needing more eggs and opted to get coffee refills for the hosts. In addition, to what’s listed above we picked up:

  • a salad
  • 4 bags of chips (only 2 needed)
  • fruit tray
  • Tray of peaches
  • Juice boxes (next time buy a bottle)
  • Milk
  • mini tomatoes

Next year, we’ll pick up a veggie tray instead of the salad.

Having a drink on a budget

We’re off to a cottage with friends this weekend. We generally all pitch in for food and then bring our own alcohol. For the last few years I haven’t indulged on the weekend with the exception of wine with dinner. This year, I think I want to join in a bit. However, I don’t want to overdo the enjoyment or spend loads on liquor.

The best way for me to enjoy and stick to my budget is to make my own mixes. My plan is to enjoy a pitcher of mojitos and/or a pitcher of sangria for the weekend.

Mojito

  • Mint Syrup (using mint from the garden)
  • 1.5 cups of lime juice
  • 1.5 cup white rum
  • 1 liter of club soda

I haven’t done this one before but I’m thinking I can mix the first 3 ingredients, pour a shot of that into a glass and top with the club soda. Alternatively, I can make 1 glass at a time using 1:1:1.5 (syrup, lime juice, rum) and then topped with the soda.

Wine Spritzer

  • 1 container of strawberries diced
  • 1 bottle of white wine
  • 1 liter of lemon-lime pop or sparkling water

This one will have to be made fresh at the cottage as I don’t want it to go flat.

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.

Grocery Budget

Every month I’ve gone over my grocery budget. Considering the kitchen situation and my own desire to stay out of it I’m not surprised by that. However, when I went shopping this week I was concerned. I spent nearly $50 on:

  • 3 pints of strawberries
  • 2 pints of blueberries
  • 1 large bag cherries
  • jar of yeast
  • White vinegar
  • Half and Half
  • Whipping Cream
  • 3 graham pie crusts
  • Mixed pack of hors d’oeuvres

That’s not a lot of food. In fact, it’s not even a meal.

It was my reminder that the cost of living has gone up but I haven’t moved my grocery line up. As I had all the food I needed in the house this wasn’t a bad grocery run. I used some steak we got on sale to make Teriyaki, though I didn’t use a slow cooker. I make the sauce with some substitutions as I didn’t have sesame oil and made use of the frozen vegetables we had on hand.

The process of doing groceries, working through my budget and reading the blog has me determined to reclaim my kitchen.

bottles of blueberry iced tea, blueberry pancakes, s'mores pie and Rocky Road Ice Cream

I was too eager to wait to take photos of everything!

I made blueberry simple syrup to make 8 cups of iced tea. The leftover berries were then used to make blueberry pancakes for the week. The whipping cream went into the home made rocky road ice cream and the Half & Half in the s’mores pie. I got my groove back with making 2 loaves of bread and I’m keeping the strawberries to make more shortcake scones with the Half and Half.

I’m going to be snacking on the cherries but I need to figure out what to make with them. The other container of blueberries and half the strawberries will be used to make a sangria for the weekend.

Taking the time to do this batch of baking and cooking has revitalized me. I’m feeling better not only about getting back  my kitchen but also getting my budget under control.

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.

Debrief MAY 2018

Even while knowing weekly checks are a good thing, I’ve been struggling to do so. This morning I promised myself I’ll start my month off right by reviewing May and planning June.

TRACKING

  •  # Buy nothing days :9
  • # times ate out/purchased take out: 9
  • # activities with loved ones: 5
  • $ saved at Costco: ?
  • % over or under budget: 15% over budget (this means that I’ve overspent my paycheque as well)

CELEBRATE:

  • My eating out is down
  • I incorporated a spa day with my mum and sister-in-law into the fashion line
  • Recommitted to my work out routine

DIP INTO SAVINGS/CREDIT

  • Baby Bunny is now an old lady and had a rather expensive vet visit
  • We had unexpected car items that we were able to use the savings for
  • The kitchen savings continue to be added to as well as spent.

KEEP IN MIND

I need to read my own words! I need to focus on what I want and track weekly. Somehow we spent over $400 in groceries. Considering the amount of food currently in the house I’m not sure what we purchased. I’m tempted to dip into my misc. fund and purchase Monopoly money so that I can track with ‘cash’ what I’m spending on.

OVERALL

May has been a blur, I’m not sure where the time or money went. I spent a lot of time with my head in the sand regarding lots of areas of my life. My aim is to go into June with my eyes wide open.

 

Immunity to Change

This entire blog is based on my journey to save while not feeling deprived. In recent months, I feel as though I’ve fallen into a terrible, spending rut. Luckily for me HR ran a workshop based on Immunity to Change  and provided a worksheet as a take away a few years ago.

Improvement Goal:

Keep my spending within my monthly budget

What I’d need to do differently:

  • Map out my monthly spending,
  • Look ahead to upcoming events that would encourage me to spend more,

Behaviours that Go Against my Goals:

  • Saying yes without consulting the budget (to experiences, friends)
  • Giving in to cravings (food budget)
  • Tell myself I deserve things and give in
  • Indulge in sales
  • Not properly planning (menu, events)

Worry Box/Competing Commitment

  • I’ll miss out on amazing opportunities
  • I won’t capitalize on good deals
  • I’ll seem cheap, rather than frugal, to friends and colleagues
  • I’ll appear selfish
  • If I don’t give to people they’ll think I’m using them

Big Assumptions

  • If I don’t go out with friends I’ll lose our connections
  • ML & I will get stuck in ruts because we don’t do things outside our home
  • If I don’t spend money on experiences and products I’ll cease to be interesting

It seems like a simple exercise but it did require soul searching and I can see that some of my habits come from a fear of losing relationships as well as losing the carefully crafted self.

The next step is to challenge these assumptions and test them to see if they’re true. I know they’re not true, however, it’s interesting to see that my fears have remained the same over time. The problem is that I stopped recognizing and combatting them.

Do you think this could be useful to you?

Finding a Reset

When your electronics give you difficulties, the first step is always to restart.

I feel like I need to do that with my life. Our spending got a bit out of hand in February and as we don’t fully have our kitchen back I don’t feel that we have taken control of it again. This has led to increased food spending, which bleeds into other areas of our life, as well as not making the healthiest selections.

I’m afraid that my response has been rather juvenile. I’ve taken long breaks from budget planning and menu plan in a way that doesn’t really help me achieve my goal of healthy eating.

My first time getting rid of debt I used this blog. This time, I’m hanging on to that precipice. I do have household debt, as we opted to use a deferred payment plan for the kitchen, but this isn’t what’s stressing me. If we had to pay it back at this moment we could. We opted for this plan to allow our money further opportunities to grow.

The thing that is upsetting me is that I’m catching myself in dangerous thoughts: I deserve that, It’s not too much, I bet I’ll save a lot of money later. I’m using those three to justify purchases that don’t necessarily fit in my budget.

The bill for May hasn’t come completely due but based on my projected spending I’m going to be over budget. Some of that could have been saved for while some is a result of that not so great thought process.

Now that I’ve identified my problem my next step is to re-commit to weekly budgeting as well as to blogging. I did an awesome exercise through HR to help you identify what your big hurdles were in goal achievement. I’m hoping that using it for my budget will help get me back on track.