Posts Tagged ‘Budget’

Eating ‘Clean’ and Frugality

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2010 at 8:00 am

We are trying out a new fad around our house: eating clean. We tossed the idea around of trying a detox, but they seem just a bit too extreme for us. Our bodies are made to cleanse themselves of toxins, I’m not sure I need to drink only cayenne pepper and maple syrup in water to help that along!

From the Eat Clean Diet website:

Eating Clean is eating the way nature intended. You eat the foods our bodies evolved to function best on, and that makes you feel – and look – fantastic. When you Eat Clean you eat more often. You will eat lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. These practices keep your blood-sugar levels stable and keep you satisfied. The best part is that if you need to lose weight it will happen almost without you having to try. And yes, you can have a treat now and again.

Best of all, Eating Clean keeps you feeling great and full of energy. In fact, you can forget all about the days when “dieting” meant feelings of hunger, lethargy or deprivation.

Eating Clean is not a fad; it’s a way of life. When you Eat Clean your body will react by losing weight if you need to lose, maintaining a healthy weight if that’s where you are, and even gaining weight if you are too skinny. But regardless of whether you want to lose, maintain or gain, you will feel better than you ever have before.

What I wonder is how cost effective this will be to our grocery bill? We don’t spend a lot on food because we are excellent shoppers and love to cook gourmet meals on a budget. I think we are successful at this. What I’m interested to see is how we’ll do with the prescription of foods offered by the Eat Clean Diet.

Has anyone tried this? Or does anyone follow it and have recommendations on what to keep in mind while we try it out?

Yearly Expenses

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2010 at 8:00 am

There are some infrequent items that are just hard to account for in your monthly budget. Things like your annual car registration, birthdays, Christmas, annual vet visits, car maintenance (oil changes and miscellaneous), clothing and hair aren’t monthly occurrences.

For 2010 I decided to contribute to an ‘Annual Expenses’ Fund monthly for these line items. Here’s what I have:

Whenever one of these budget items comes up, I pay for it out my normal chequing account and then reimburse myself with a transfer from savings out of this dedicated fund.

So far it is working well. I will adjust amounts as needed, but so far these ones are fitting the bill.

Update: November Goals

In Uncategorized on December 2, 2009 at 12:54 pm

How did I do for November goals last month? Not too bad. Not amazing either. Here’s the November Goals post.

My goals were
– Make 50% of my Christmas gifts by November 30th.
– Decrease debt by $1000.
– Come under budget this month.
– Save money into tax account for small business.

Here’s how I did:

– Make 50% of my Christmas gifts by November 30th.
Nope, did not make half of my gifts. I still have about 80% to go!

– Decrease debt by $1000.
This might have been an ambitious goal. I reduced my total debt by $724.31 and my credit card debt by $526.78.

– Come under budget this month.
I did come under budget, but I haven’t formatted my budget to a way that allows me to share the exact numbers. I promise I will be setting this up for the new year so you can see where my money goes.

– Save money into tax account for small business.
Saved $627.97 into a tax account for my business taxes once I get around to doing them. I will be adding $150 to that this week.

I think I can improve upon my goals from November as well as add a couple small financial goals to them for December. Primarily my goals will centre around Christmas spending and travel since our families are both out of town.

Menu Planning

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2009 at 10:43 am

Menu Planning – it seems to be a popular thing to do. Do you do it? I don’t.

But maybe I should start?

The few things I would need to overcome:

1. Our schedules are not regular. Like, at all. Hubby is away several days a week. We are often not at home on the weekends on sporadic events at friends places, etc, usually only planned at the last minute.

2. When hubby’s away, I rarely eat meat. But when he’s home, he works from home and will cook the meals, often on a ‘whatever-he-feels-like-having’ plan with frequent trips to the grocer with ‘pick-up-what-he’s-missing-for-his-meal’ lists.

I think it would be hard to follow any sort of ‘plan’ I make up on a weekly basis if hubby was throwing it all away when he decided he wanted to make a big roast on Thursday that week. What would I do with my fresh channa curry ingredients since we’d be out all weekend and not have a chance to make it? Would it all go to waste?

What works for you?

Maybe I will try it out for two weeks and see how things go. Maybe hubby will be convinced its a good idea once we get into the routine. I’m just afraid it will impeded his ‘creativity’ in the kitchen – he’s an AWESOME cook and I love when he whips us up an amazing dish. Mmmmm… hungry now!

A phenomenon in the blogosphere is ‘Menu Plan Monday‘. Every Monday I started to see posts titled Menu Plan Monday. I just thought everyone planned their menus for the week that day because the flyers came out and we knew what was on sale, or for some other unknown to me reason. I just did a search on my Swagbucks, and found out that I guess it is actually something that was organized by Laura at ‘I’m an Organizing Junkie‘. Here’s her menu plan for this week.

I’ll keep you posted on our Menu Planning progress. I’d love to hear how you plan out your weeks meals and grocery shopping. For our grocery shopping, we have a list we post on the fridge of our most commonly purchased items, organized in order by their appearance in the grocery store. When we notice we are out of an item, we check it off the list to make sure we pick it up next time we are out. It works really well for making sure we always have our staples in the house. Things like flour, eggs, butter, coffee…

Saving Up for Maternity Leave

In Uncategorized on October 11, 2009 at 8:00 am

It would be wonderful if I had a job that provided a maternity leave top-up, but currently where I work they do not offer any top-up. I’ve come to understand that this is the norm and most people seem to make do without getting much income while on their maternity leave. I presume most people are not in debt when they have kids? I am sort of at a loss to how this will work for us unless we save a big nest egg for my Mat Leave. I would be able to take my leave, but I would only be bringing in the usual EI income.

The way it works is Maternity Benefits cover the mother for 15 weeks. After this time, Parental Benefits come into effect and cover the parent for a maximum of 35 weeks. This is a total of 50 weeks of EI coverage. The other 2 weeks come from your minimum vacation time per year, which I assume should be paid by your employer when you leave, or however you negotiate it since you do pay into it all year. Typically, since there is a two week wait for Maternity Benefits to come in from EI your vacation pay-out should help balance it out.

Hubby DOES have top-up, but since he can’t be the one who actually gives birth, I will still need to take time off work. But since he can take parental leave, he will take 4 months with top-up, and I will take 8 with no top-up.

This means we have to plan for the parental leave. 8 months of savings will be needed. I’ve done all the calculations so I know how much we need to save in order to take time off to have a child. Here is what I’ve come up with so far. If you see any loopholes or things I have not thought of, please let me know.

My items that need to be covered while on Mat Leave:
My half of housing costs:
My debt repayment amount:
My car and insurance:
My student loan payments:

My income that would be coming from while on Mat Leave:
The amount received from EI benefits (55% of salary, to a max of $447 a week minus taxes – I subtracted 22%, but maybe this should be more? If anyone knows the net amount that comes in per month in Ontario, it would be so helpful with my planning!)
Child Tax Benefit (which is pretty measly, in my opinion)
Universal Child Care Benefit (a taxable amount of $100/month)

Essentially, I calculated we need to save $12,046 to cover off my usual expenses for 8 months. If Hubby could cover the entire housing costs, we would only need to save $6,756!

We will need to discuss how this will work for us.

And hey, maybe by that time next year I won’t even need to worry about this because I’ll have a job with Mat Leave top-up and the amount needed to save will be much, much less.

How do people afford to have kids?

My calculations don’t even cover any of the extra things we’d need to consider with raising a child or having a baby in the house. Things like cloth diapers, any extra food, and clothing.

My plan is to have most things already purchased (or acquired is more like it!) prior to going on leave so they can be worked into the usual budget. Things like baby furniture seem kind of silly to me since so many people give this stuff away on sites like Freecycle and sell old (but still in new condition) furniture on Kijiji. Plus we’ll get a lot of hand-me-downs from the family too. I don’t think we’ll spend a lot on furnishings or the nursery. The main costs will be cloth diapers (I am 100% firm on this) and clothes.

Maybe I am totally unrealistic? Anyone care to share their thoughts on my plan?

Another motivation for getting to debt free: if I had no debt repayment amount, we would only need to save $6,045 and I would still be contributing my share of the housing costs! For me, motivation to repay debt comes from tangible milestones in my life. For example, being able to have a baby without worrying about my debt payments. Or being able to contribute more money to my RRSPs so that our retirement can consist of travel and freedom to not be worried about part-time jobs. Or living in a house that is 100% our own.

One day. 😉

No Spend Month: Update

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Spent so far in October:

post office
I had to spend this to ship something back to a friend. It was a time sensitive mailing so I paid Xpresspost rates.

Christmas gift
This was actually a cheque I had sent about 3 weeks ago that just recently got cashed. I should get the gift in the mail this week and will be able to scratch the in-laws off my Christmas list.

fast food
Spent for hubby so he had something to eat while we helped out friends out this weekend.

Toiletries and household items.

Christmas gift supplies
I committed to making almost all of my Christmas gifts this year! This was some yarn.

So far the unexpected spending category totals $12.96 for the postage and fast food. Reflecting on these, I wish I had just put a regular stamp on my mailed item instead of paying the premium, as I’m sure my friend would understand. As for the fast food, I should have just packed along some snacks from home, but we hadn’t planned on needing to buy food… Ugh.

Christmas gifts and supplies are part of a budget line I contribute to every month all year long so they are not counted towards my no-spend-month.

I feel kind of crappy about spending the money I have so far, but instead of dwelling on these things I will be carrying on through my no-spend goal in hopes of being able to contribute a good sized snowflake at month’s end to my debt repayment plan.

Some upcoming costs for the month include more supplies for Christmas gifts, gas money for travel on the Thanksgiving weekend, and we are out of cat food, but this is also budgeted.

No Overdraft Since May!

In Uncategorized on September 25, 2009 at 10:55 am

It has been since May that I have stayed out of my overdraft. I am convinced this is due to my budgeting prowess and finally sorting my bill payments into parts of the month that make sense. Now, instead of making a lump payment into our house account prior to bills being paid or mortgage payments coming out, I transfer the money when I deposit my pay bi-weekly. This is also the same time I transfer my debt payment out of my account and into my ‘debt repayment account’. Having several bank accounts is the only way I can manage to keep things separate. What works for me may not work for you, and this is why I do it this way – because it works! The debt repayment payment is gone, out of my sight, and I’ve been making all my debt repayment payments on time.

This works for my cash flow very well, and the evidence that it is working is in my overdraft – it hasn’t been touched! Hurray! It is amazing. All that time, I did always make enough money, I just wasn’t managing it correctly. What a relief. 🙂

No Spend Month for October?

In Uncategorized on September 23, 2009 at 8:00 am

Anyone up for a challenge starting next week? We are rolling into yet another month, and with Christmas coming up a no-spend-month (NSM) might be just the thing to keep ourselves on track to meet our holiday budgets.

October is the perfect month for us to do a no-spend-month because all of our summer events have finished. We have limited travel to do – just a small trip to the parents for Thanksgiving – and spending some time at home on Christmas crafts would be a good thing.

A NSM means that we only spend money on necessary items such as food, utilities, mortgage and car payments, and of course your debt payments. At the end of the month, anything left over will go into savings or will be snowflaked into the debt accounts.

Keeping a tally on this amount will be the toughest part. It means a lot of the extra lines in the budget should remain full and topped up. No Miscellaneous spending here! Also we’ll have to be mindful of the costs of gas. Currently we drive very little other than to and from work, but trying to conserve fuel consciously may even get us out and active in the evenings!

Busy busy busy!

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2009 at 11:19 am

Life can get in the way of getting blog posts written! Proof in point…

As maid of honour to my best friend this year, a lot of time has been spent planning, organizing, actualizing and participating in wedding-related events.

An associated honour of being in the bridal party is diverting part of your income to said events. Not that I am not appreciative of being important enough to be named part of the celebration, but those costs can really add up. And you have to plan for them. Some of us plan for them better than others, and sometimes unexpected costs come up.

A wedding itself can get carried away with costs for the bride and groom, but what about the guests and the bridal party? Out of town weddings have travel costs associated with them such as gas, vehicle mileage/maintenance, hotel nights, and meals. Not to mention any time off work that may be required. Those are costs in addition to the usual things you need to attend a wedding such as your gift (shower, and wedding for some!), drycleaning of suits, any new outfits or parts of outfits, hair styling, maybe new makeup, drinks at the wedding, taxis to and from reception/ceremony and on and on.

But weddings don’t have to be expensive for the guests. There are ways to be frugal and still enjoy the event. The one thing I do not cheap out on however is the gift. If you can’t give a gift, do not attend the wedding. Send the gift instead if it is going to cost too much to be there in person. This being said, gifts don’t need to break the bank! A thoughtful parcel can mean a lot more the couple than a cash gift. One of the gifts we received was a beautiful photo album with a $10 gift card to go towards printing some digital photos. This was a really nice gesture, and if we didn’t have that album on hand I probably would still not have put any photos into any album!

All of this little blurb of mine is just to say that weddings can add up. Both in time and money. You know about wedding well in advance so make it a line item in your budget if you know you will be in one in the coming future. It eases the big payments for attire, gifts and travel because you will have accounted for it early on. And be sure to remember that you will need to attend a shower/bachelor/bachelorette, a rehearsal and dinner, possibly need to travel/hotel, hair and makeup (if the bride requests it), shoes, jewellery, and so on.

If you simply can’t allow for this in your budget, then politely decline the honour and ask if there is anything else you can do for the wedding that would be meaningful (give a reading, if you are crafty help with some of the decorations/favours, if you are talented, perhaps a song or play an instrument). Explain your reasoning – any good friend would never hold it against your friendship if you simply could not afford to be a part of the wedding party. But you need to be honest and upfront with them in the beginning. Backing out halfway through can cause a lot of stress for everyone involved.

But love is grand, no? 😉

Budget for August

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2009 at 7:56 am

Well, July was not a great month for my budget. Luckily, I brought in a lot more income than I normally do – thanks to my side hussle – so it worked out. And I still contributed to my debt repayment so I am no worse off.

HOWEVER: the point was to stay WITHIN my budget not BLOW it!

But here are some reasons why the budget went over.

It was the month for our kitty’s veterinary checkup. This amount is an amount I put away for every month, so in my monthly budget it was not reflected since it came out of my savings but will get replaced in the few months to come by the amount I contribute every month to ‘my kitty fund’.

I had several weddings to attend in July. Not that I didn’t know in advance and plan for these weddings, but being out of town I of course forgot some staple toiletries that I had to pick up and this threw my ‘personal effects’ line off. *sigh* Luckily I can replenish this line with the coming months by refraining from buying any more toiletries or makeup and my clothes should be fine now until fall.

Speaking of clothing, I am going to be sorting through my closet and placing several of my fall items from a couple years ago on consignment. Hopefully this amount will be able to see me through any new fall clothing I need to purchase this year. The hope is to come out even. Since I only buy secondhand clothing or items on deep discount, this shouldn’t be a problem.

My goals for August are to track every expense weekly and to stay within my budget.

I’ve also come close to obtaining my $500 cushion in my chequing account so I will attain my goal of having $1000 emergency fund too.

As some of you know, my emergency fund is not to cover lost income if I lose my job, but to cover any unforeseen expenses that in the past would have been covered using my credit cards. This is to keep me from racking up more debt while I pay it off.

Eventually I would love to have an e-fund that covers 6 months of expenses, but right now my main priority is to eliminate as much debt as possible. Maybe once I am down to only paying off my line of credit I can really build up that fund.

Happy Thursday all!