Sunday, 29 January 2012

Our Week's Spending

We did pretty good this week. We still need to set out a budget but what we did in January was let ourselves spend as needed so that we can see where we're at & what our trends are. Our goal for February is to have set amounts set out for spending & then total it up at the end of the month. For now, this is what this week looked like, from January 22nd to January 29th:

Groceries ~ $186.69. According to Gail Vaz Oxlade, whom we enjoy her show & are following her tips by website, we can spend $225 per week on groceries. Under budget here! And we'll start out this week in a good spot. We still have packs of chicken & salmon in the freezer & quite a bit of great fruit in the crisper. Good sales & great fresh produce helped at a time of year when usually the fruit is limp & not tasty. This week it was crisp, colorful & cheap!

Dollarama ~ $42.79. Supplies for my class, which I am reimbursed for 100%. And I did well & didn't shop for us!

Walmart ~ $29.61. I hate Wallyworld. Have I ever told you how much I HATE this corporate conglomerate? Don't get me started ... I concede at times because truly, the stuff is cheap. We needed some personal items like shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, gum & light bulbs. All things we won't buy at the grocery store because it's way too expensive there. Hold my breath, get in quickly, pay, leave, breathe. Survived another "close my eyes & pretend I'm not here" trip to WM.

Second Cup ~ $3.94. Dear husband had a meeting at his "office" Second Cup. And truly you can't have a meeting with another artist in a place like SC without ordering a special drink. He asked ahead of time. It wasn't a "No Spend Day". I let him. He's a nice guy. Might keep him ...

Charity Shop ~ $3.25. We end our week with a little trek to our favorite Charity Shop in our community. Sometimes we buy, sometimes we just look. But never spend a large amount here because even though it has great stuff, everything is so low in price, you can buy a lot & not spend much! We bought a whole lighted Christmas Village in December, brand new, still wrapped in the box, large houses & shops, not the small ones, with accessories for, get this, $25! We're great thrift shoppers. On Friday, we bought two pictures with quotes for my office (John Keats & Ralph Waldo Emerson, my favs) for $1 (for both, not a piece), two black iron thingys with swirly design to hang lovely fabric above our window in our bedroom to create a curtain effect (pictures to follow) for $1, brand new small lavender & cream Bearington Bear (brand new with tags) for .50 cents, packages of scrapbooking rub-ons for my stash for .50 cents & a small book for our grandson for .25. All new or next to new. I won't buy "junk" just because it's cheap. I'm pretty picky. And never am disappointed when we shop there. Love Fridays too. We always run into someone we know.

That's all the shopping we did this week. Pretty standard so I think we do okay.

We did manage this month to put $1,350 into our savings account. We have a goal of saving $10,000 in that account by the end of 2012. Now it sits at $7,000. The next couple of months the amount transferred over will vary but this was probably the biggest month for now. I also transferred $4.20 to both our TFSA's. I hate uneven amounts & interest is deposited at the end of each month. Drives me crazy, so I transfer over from our everyday account enough to bring the amounts in each of our TFSA's, our joint savings & our daughter's savings all back up to even amounts. Then I can sleep!

That's how I roll. Lots of thing I can't control in life, but I can make our accounts even!!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Best Buy of the Week

We've done quite well this week with our "No Spend Days". Making the big change  to the Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday/Sunday pattern has worked & we'll stick to that for now. Takes some planning but in hindsight, it's exactly what we needed. Not being able to buy groceries all weekend means that we have to have our shopping done on Friday & planned out so we're good for the week, instead of just that day. Haven't tallied up the figures yet but will do that a bit later, as I'm still laying in my warm bed, with an unexpected day off, planning my ventures for the rest of this short day. Too cosy to get up!

Best buy of the week: TurboTax Software for $28 at Costco vs. $38 every where else. We always did our own taxes when we both worked & had simple deductions. Then for quite a while, we had an accountant, who was so reasonable but worth the money. We were both self-employed for the longest time & we needed her help. Now that we're back to working for others, doing our taxes is a mix of simple & complex deductions but we discovered TT about 6 years ago & so far, so good. The bonus is it includes 8 returns, so we can do our kids as well & that saves them precious dollars.

Paying $28 to do 6 tax returns is a pretty good deal. That's $4.66 each.

Our accountant would be so proud of us!!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

A Challenge ... or Two!

I've decided to try the February Challenge that Carla, from "Half Dozen Daily" has offered. Signed up & ready to go. Here's all the details: Have you joined in yet? You haven't?? What's holding you back? Come on, join the party!!

I'm going to do all the areas she's set up as challenges. We purged our house in December, donating 40 boxes of items we no longer use but were still usable & 20 bags of clothes. But there's still some things that could go & I'm determined to get rid of many of the clothes I still have. The 20 bags of clothes was mostly kids clothes. Kent & I peeked in our closets & grabbed a couple of items to add to the pile but we really didn't do a purge. And we're planning to redo our kitchen, so emptying the cupboards more than we did in December will be quite therapeutic!

To date, we haven't actually put our financial goals down on paper so that will be the next challenge we tackle. We have some ideas but there not set in stone which means we're not commited to them ... just yet.

I am not crazy about January & February. Cold, dark, uninspiring months. But January has zipped by & other than one deep freeze for a week, it's been mild & slushy & tons of sun. And February will be filled with events & this challenge, so life is looking up!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Making a change ...

... to our plan to have "No Spend Days" on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays.

Yeah, that is so not gonna work!

So we're moving them to the "less likely to need to shop days" of Tuesdays, Thursdays & Sundays.


Because every Friday, we go to the thrift store & then head to Costco for groceries, stopping at the small grocery store on the way home for the little things you can't get at Costco. We are really good about only buying what we need. So many people complain that they walk in for milk & come out with $400 worth of stuff. If we go in for milk, we buy just milk. We may look but if we see something that is "wow", we come back, after going home & making sure it's something we really need or want & does it fit the budget. Many, many, many times we walk out of Costco without buying anything. The thrift store is like our little "treat" for working so hard all week. We sometimes walk out of there with empty hands too. But most times, it's a book for .50 cents or like last week, a small china plate for $2. We don't have to go but we both enjoying searching for antiques & have discovered our thrift store is amazing at pricing. We've pondered the idea of having a booth at the Antique Mall in the city & honestly, most of our stock would come from the thrift store because of the mark up we could do. And we feel good because all the money raised at the store is donated back to community organizations. Win win for all!

Tuesdays & Thursdays are my long work days so the chances of having to shop are greatly reduced, so we're switching to new days now for "No Spend Days" so we won't stress ourselves out!

Our children will be greatly relieved.

Thanks for listening!

Back to your regularly scheduled progamming.

Coming clean!

It's time to lay it out.

Reading everyone's blogs for months pushed me on to the path of creating my own. For many reasons. Including accountability. But to be accountable, I have to say it out loud, don't !?

Here it is:

Yes, we have debt!!


I am the type of person who does not, outside of my house, complain about how expensive life can be. I tend to keep it private. While my workmates or friends obsess about their latest cell phone bill or how expensive food is, I quietly work away at how to keep our finances in check.

We've had many, many lean years.

That came from choice not circumstance.

Why would we choose a life of frugality?

It was important to us when our children were young that they had a parent at home. I was home for 20 years & then my husband took time off & was home for the last 6 years when I secured a phenomenal job. Now he's back in the corporate field & we're learning to juggle 2 paychecks & 2 schedules.

I think we do pretty good but of course, we could always do better. It helps that my first career, before children, was working in a bank. You learn alot about life working in a bank. I watched people fret about paying bills, growing debt & living paycheque to paycheque. I vowed we'd try to do better. And we have for the most part. We used what I observed with my clients as our basis for "nope, not going there."

Not to give away my age too quickly, but this was before internet! So we had to figure things out on our own. Couldn't just google. And figure it out we did.

In 1989, we bought a book that we still have & it has become like a bible for our financial life. Some things we couldn't do at the time, like max out our RRSP's (hard to do when you have small children who need to eat) but many we could & looking back, I'm glad we scrimped & had priorities. We did contribute to our RRSP's that we started at age 18 but realized early on, our real estate & our savings were more important then. Now, if we wanted to, we can max them out but we're looking now at real estate as a better option for a healthier return. David, the author, recently talked about the value of TFSA's accounts instead of RRSP's because of the tax implications of withdrawing from the RRSP's once we retire. Hmmm. Glad we have our TFSA's & will continue to contribute there for now.

Here's the book that has guided our journey: He has just this fall released a sequel that I haven't read yet but is getting rave reviews.

Now that I've taken the first step & admitted out loud that we have debt, I'm exhausted & will need to take a break from posting anymore right now. Laying out our debt will be next but ouch, I ache from my admission!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

No Spend Day ...

We planned a "No Spend Day" yesterday.

Ask me how successful it was ... go on, ask!

Okay, let me tell you how successful it was.

It wasn't!

Well it almost was.

But then we spent.

Didn't use what we bought.

Will use it tonight, which has now become the "No Spend Day".

Does it still count if we switched days?

Here's the story:

We're currently living in a deep freeze in Canada. Yes, it's minus 82 outside.

Really, I'm not kidding.

So our schedule is a bit off. Decided on a lite dinner. Had most of the ingredients in our pantry but needed a few small things. Agreed to hop to the store to purchase them. I told him not to spend more than $20.

Husband came home with my ticked off list, proud to show a receipt of $18.04. This was the ingredients & a few other items to tide us over.

He listened.

Told him congratulations, you still have $1.96 left to spend on the "No Spend Day"!!

He didn't smile. Oops.

Children protested at planned dinner that now has all the ingredients.

Too tired to argue. Cooked the thawed chicken, scrounged around & found some rice & new peas.

Everyone was happy.

Put the ingredients for last night's dinner in the pantry & the fridge.

We 're set for tonight.

But we spent today's money yesterday, so I'm not sure if we failed on our plan or we're ahead of the game & can just head home tonight without stopping ...

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Day 2 ....

... of my blog & somehow, I have messed up!

Thank you & a warm welcome to my first follower, Sharon, who left two wonderful comments on my two posts. But in my attempt to welcome & respond, the system will not let me. I've tried signing in, signing off & signing away my first born child, but no response.

So until then, Sharon, here is my comments on your comments:

"Would you believe today, with the windchill, it is -46 at the moment? But I'm cozy warm in my office, after a warm commute in our warm car, driven by my warm husband, who didn't want me to brave the cold alone! He's a nice guy - I might keep him.

We live in sunny Alberta. Sunny, with a windchill!

When we come home from the gym we always have a snack but it's preplanned so we don't have to stop. I have a dear friend who stops at Booster Juice after every gym excursion. Booster Juice is beside a Mac's Convenience Store. Booster Juice in one hand & a "treat" in the other is her reward.


I'll stick to my pea pods & carrots!

Have a warm day.

Hopefully by my next post, I'll have figured out my error & comments will be smooth from here on in!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Learning, learning, learning ...

I've been reading blogs for the last two weeks that focus on families & individuals who are working towards a healthier financial future. It's been fascinating to see how others have figured out how to survive in this difficult economic time of our lives. Stories of frugal lifestyles, sharing of ideas & pleas for support have prompted me to create a blog to capture our financial chaos. I'm learning the terms, figuring out the "lingo" & deciding what approaches we may adopt. All around it's brought a new sense of excitement to bring back control to our lives, a sense of calm & more hope for our future.

Today, we had a planned "No Spend Day" that we were able to achieve, mainly because it's -82 outside!! Okay, so it's only -32 but after -30, who cares what the numbers really say. We planned our menu this week but had to make a change when we realized we didn't have two of the ingredients & that we had committed to a NSD. But thankfully we had filled the freezer on the weekend with chicken & salmon. We were able to make a quick switch & had a lovely baked salmon with green beans dinner. Mandarin orange slices & graham crackers for desert.

For now, we've decided to have "No Spend Days" on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays.

Ironically enough, the same days we go to the gym.

We'll have to make sure our driving route to the gym does not pass any tempting stores to "pop" in to on the way!

A beginning ...

... to sharing the tale of our woes, much like anyone else in today's world.

Trying to survive on decent salaries but with constantly increasing costs.

Trying to raise kids in a wholistic setting but with constantly increasing pressures.

Trying to make something of ourselves but with constantly increasing expectations.

Trying to find calm & balance in our lives but with constantly increasing chaos.

Life in 2012. Ours. Yours. Everyones.

Blogging for clarity, companionship & closure.

Enjoy the time you spend here!

And feedback is always welcome ...