Sunday, 28 December 2014

Meal Plan

I'm trying something a bit new that goes partly with one of my 2015 goals (which I will share in a later post). I know a few other blogs I follow do a similar thing and I always look forward to those posts. Extra bonuses when the include links! Nice way to get new ideas for recipes :) 

Monday: Appointment with the vet in a neighboring town, potluck kind of night
Tuesday: Oven ribs & Broccoli Salad
Wednesday: Left overs
Friday: Left overs
Saturday: Chili & Garlic Toast
Sunday: Left overs


A bread loaf is currently being made as I type this and it should last us the week. We also have all the basics for salads and veggie wraps for lunches so we should be good on the food front. We will be going grocery shopping tomorrow while our dog is at the vet getting her blood work done. We made the list of things we need tonight while we were meal planning together. G is taking charge this week as he is on vacation. He really enjoys cooking and I can’t tell who’s more excited: him to cook or me to eat delicious food! 

- M

Car Loan

Last night G & I had a long discussion about our upcoming finances for the New Year. We discussed a lot: extra payments on our mortgage, saving for the new truck, adding more to our investments. But we decided against all those, instead making our 2015 goal to pay off our car loan.

We won’t get the yearly statement until January but looking at the last two years of payment breakdowns (principle vs interest) we should have about $18,000ish left owing. Once the LOC is paid off (February) and our Emergency Fund is topped up (April) we have an extra $1400 to play with, so I definitely believe it’s doable by the end of the year considering we will still be making the regular weekly payments of $90.81. That also doesn’t include any extra money such as G’s overtime, bonuses or snowflakes.

G also agreed that it would be nice to only have to worry about one car payment, when we do purchase the truck, instead of two. And we could easily do a similar personal repayment plan with the new vehicle – just maybe not as aggressive, lol.

It’s pretty exciting to think this loan might be done 3 years earlier than originally planned! I’ve never made extra payments on a loan before so I’m hoping it’s easy to set up. We don’t deal with Scotia Bank at all other than this loan and there isn't a branch anywhere near us so fingers crossed it’s something we can arrange over the phone.

Does anyone have any experience with prepayments? We know it is an open loan so there should be no fees by paying it off early, correct? Thank you in advance for any insight someone may have!


- M

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Christmas Celebrations

Merry Christmas everyone!

I handled Christmas pretty good yesterday until I FaceTime'd with my entire family. Seeing and getting to talk to everyone individually as my mom's iPad got passed around the table, made me miss home for the first time since we've moved -- even last year I didn't take it as badly. I think seeing my grandma start crying and then my dad tear up near the end of the conversation is what really tugged at my heart the most. I had a good cry after I hung up with everyone.

But the show must go on! G was going to be working that evening so we offered to have his partners for the night shift over for Christmas dinner before they started. He is currently going thru a separation with his wife and doesn't have any family living here, so we invited him. We ate ham, mashed potatoes and herb bread; watched the first Die Hard movie (hey it's Christmas-y!) and played Rummy for a bit until they had to go. It was actually a pretty fun evening and definitely brightened my mood.

This was our view on Christmas: I live in a winter wonderland ;)

Money wise: things are alright. LOC isn't where I want it to be but G had to purchase some stuff for the detachment so instead of $700 going to the LOC it went to pay the credit card -- we are hoping that expense cheque gets deposited before the end of the month so we can have our consumer debt at an even $3000 for the New Year. I'm still hoping for it to be paid off in full by January but I'm guessing it will be closer to February. January is a three paycheque month for me so there will be a tiny bit of extra money & G has his overtime and catch up pay from his raise that happened at the end of October that still needs to be paid out - but who knows when that will be.

I'm very excited for my year end wrap up & my goals for the upcoming year :o)

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Christmas!!

- M

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Using What We Have

Since as long as I’ve been blogging we have been on the quest to clear out and organize our freezer and pantry. These past two weeks we have made great strides in the right direction. Our food reserve was so out of control we did not have to go grocery shopping for two weeks! Tomorrow I finally have to give in and go, as we need vegetables and a few items for dinners this week – all of which happen to be on sale at the local grocery store aswell. Yay!

Although we have been working towards using what we have, I think actually doing an inventory of our deep freezer a few weeks back was actually the biggest motivator. We had a lot of meat in that freezer and still have a good amount left. The pantry items tend to be more side dishes to those are a bit more easy to add once we have the main dish decided on. It’s definitely been nice to use up what we have. I’m hoping to be under budget with groceries this month.

Groceries have been on my mind a lot recently, in regards to our spending spreadsheet. I should have been doing this all along and for some this is going to be a no brainer but I’ve started to break down our grocery trips into categories. See before if we would go to the store I would just put that trip all into the grocery category, but when we go to places like Costco or Walmart I’m mostly stocking up on paper goods, dog food, etc; so my grocery budget looks insane for only two people. This new way of thinking (new for me at least) only dawned on me this month but it’ll be interesting to see in the New Year what we really spend on food as I definitely think, receipt break down or not, that is our biggest room for improvement. Oh well, better late than never.

If anyone else tracks their spending do you do a similar thing with your grocery shops? I’m debating where to put things like paper goods, cleaning products, etc. Home category? Shopping? Any advice?


- M

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Retirement Milestone

I dislike the beginning of the month. Or at least until the mortgage goes thru the account: then I’m good. We planned this month just perfectly though. I got paid on Friday but nearly 50% of my pay cheque goes to savings so I had to do some calculating and we will have $3.70 Tuesday night after the mortgage and house insurance goes thru. nervous laughter…Talk about the skin of our teeth! Wednesday G gets paid so we won’t even notice that sad number in our account.  We do have an overdraft on our account but I really hate using it. I’m glad to say we haven’t in over a year now that we are tracking our spending and have a shared iCalendar with the dates of all our bills and automatic payments. It’s literally paying off to be organized with our finances. J

            Speaking of organizing our finances: I have official crossed the $5000 mark in my retirement accounts ($5043.15 to be exact)! I have my retirement savings in a TFSA, which I opened in January and a Spousal-RRSP mutual fund, that we opened mid-April. I’m excited for next year to see what kind of headway I can make investing for an entire year. I’m aiming for $15,000 in the accounts, give or take with the markets I definitely think it’s do-able. Either way I’m very excited and proud. We all have to start somewhere!

            Okay, the last bit of good news. The company I work for had their fiscal year end October 31st, so in December there is always the possibility of a raise and/or bonus. This year I got both! The raise was only ten cents (lol) but at least it’s better than nothing, but my bonus surprised me quite a bit. $1,125! That is nearly two paycheques for me so I was extremely pleased. This is before taxes of course but what ever is deposited will go straight to our debt. Originally I wanted to split it half TFSA, half debt but after G and I talked it over with both agreed the sooner we could have the LOC gone the better. But I also asked that once we have everything taken care of and he gets an overtime payment that isn’t going to debt if I can make a $600 deposit into my TFSA to make up for my bonus, which he said yes of course.  So I’m happy with that.

            I’ll be watching these last few pay cheques for G very carefully. If he doesn’t get any overtime payment he will stay in the lower tax bracket but if he gets any payout it’s going to be extremely close. We do have my RRSP he can claim to help but we may have to allocate more if this happens just to help him get back to the lower bracket. Sorry taxman, I’m not going to let this one pass me now that I know what I’m doing and looking for. It's all about dat planning ;) 

- M


Sunday, 30 November 2014

November Budget Overview



Home (12%)

Regular mortgage payments and insurance. Abnormally, this month we purchased some new pots and pans from Canadian Tire that were on awesome clearance. We have a cheaper set that was given to us as a wedding present that definitely were still useable but I always kept my eyes peeled if a nice set ever came on sale. The set we found was an older style that wasn't being made anymore and the box was a little beat up but the lids and pans themselves were beautiful! I've forgotten how nice it is to have water come to a boil so quickly.

Utilities (5%)

Normal range for us but I expect our energy bill will be going up next month. Today was -40C with the windchill, our poor little furnace: its not even officially December yet!

Transportation (9%)

We had a few trips this month for various reasons, including our dog getting sick and having to drive to the vet a few times. I'm hoping next month will be better in this category.

Debt Repayment (16%)

Line of credit payment, down to an even $4000 owing.

Long Term Savings (20%)

All our automatic transfers to different investments. We will find out wither we get a bonus this month or not at my work and if I do any money will go into my TFSA. I'm hoping to add another $500 or so this month to give it one final boost before the end of the year, so hopefully this percentage will be higher next month to reflex that.

Food (10%)

I really need to find a way to cut this back.

Shopping (5%)

A friend of mine had a Scentsy party so I purchased some new winter scents and other little things during the month we picked up, like a star for our Christmas tree!

Savings (9%)

Money into our house and vacation fund. Currently on track for our Yukon trip :)

Personal (14%)

I don't think I've seen this number that high before. A large portion of this number is vet visits, but we always have a bit of Christmas gifts, cards, etc thrown in there as well.

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I'm glad this month is done. Not the best in my opinion and I'm kind of getting bummed out. G didn't get any overtime at all even though the payout keeps creeping up - it's extremely annoying. But I'm hoping next month the debt repayment percentage will be a lot larger. I just want to LOC gone (again)...

- M

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Side Hustling

So G has been hustling and I didn't even know it! Well, technically he didn't know either until this week, but that's no way to start a post ;)

Okay so let me explain. G was given the opportunity to complete the required training to become a field coach. There will be a new cadet graduating sometime in February and G will be his trainer. This was all fine and dandy but then we learned the awesome news that each time he will be asked to train someone he gets a bonus as compensation for all the extra paper work, now that is a nice extra :)  Any money earned from this will go directly into the vacation fund.

It's cute because while having the conversation about were the money would go G first suggested to pay off the LOC (how responsible, I was very proud :P ), but I let him know that we are on track to having it paid off by January. He seemed slightly confused how that was possible but knows I crunch numbers obsessively and have it under control, lol. He is happy nonetheless.

Also today, I did some pre-planning for next year and it seems as though our emergency fund will be fully funded as of April 1st 2015. If we can hit that goal sooner the more power too us but I know we will be booking our vacation around that time and want to make sure we have that money available in our vacation account.

We are having our first snow storm here tonight, expecting about 10-15 cm. Definitely makes me glad I don't have an hour commute to and from work anymore. Instead it's now a 5 minute walk or a 40 second drive (yeah that's right, I actually counted one day when it was storming).

Hope everyone is having a good weekend & staying warm!

- M

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Rest of the Month

G got his pay stub already even though he doesn't get paid until next Wednesday, so I took this opportunity to plan out the rest of the month. Things are looking pretty good and we will have $4000 left on the LOC by the end of this month. We will also have a $500 buffer in our chequing account to get us thru the early bills at the beginning of next month. I feel this puts us in a pretty good position financially coming up. With the regular $1000 payment on the LOC in December plus if G gets paid out the overtime we are on track to have the debt paid off for January.

I know it sounds really corny and extremely cliche but I'm really looking forward to the New Year. I've started jotting down my goals which I will share closer to January. It's nice to be accountable and have a blog to actually track the progress. This year has kind of been a roller coaster for our bank account: paying off our crazy debt, getting into debt again, working on paying it off again, starting to save for our retirement and future purchases. I don't want to sound naive but I'm ready for a new start. This doesn't mean I'm going to give up for the rest of the year and let our finances go to hell in a designer hand basket; if there is a way we can pay off the LOC before the end of the year I'm going to do it! The countdown is on.

Anyone else thinking about the New Year? Please tell me I'm not the only crazy planner!

- M

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Vacation

No, I'm not going on vacation again don't worry. It's more like a stay-cation. I had two days of vacation left that needed to used by the end of the year so I decided to tac them on with our day off yesterday (Remembrance Day). Yesterday I went over to a friends house for the evening, and today G and I hung out at home. We made Swedish meatballs for dinner; had the meat already mixed from a batch we had made & froze a few months back and then had mashed potatoes that a good friend had given us for free out of her garden! It was an awesome dinner and a nice way to use up stuff we already had. Now G is at work so I took a nice long warm bath (it's freezing outside!) and am curled up on the couch watching Gilmore Girls -- thank you Netflixs!

Money wise: G got paid today, just his regular amount - no overtime nor raise. We calculated it yesterday and he is owed just a little under $3000 extra in overtime. It's honestly like an RCMP savings fund. I'm just glad he has an Excel spreadsheet keeping track of everything and can mark it off when it's been paid correctly - I think the personal finance community is rubbing off on him as well, haha ;) I haven't moved money around yet as I'm expecting most of our bills to arrive soon. Our mortgage has been paid for the month though and that's the only one I really worry about.

Sorry for such a rambling post. I have nothing left to report, just I'm going to make myself a peppermint tea -- did I mention it's freezing? My poor furnace.

- M

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Extra Savings & Planning

This week has been pretty significant savings wise.

A few weeks ago G and I called Sasktel (our cell phone provider) to inquire about getting upgrades for our phones. The woman we spoke with was super nice and although the price to upgrade early was insane (we decided to wait) she did save us $30/month while looking over our account! They had added a better/updated version of my long distance that was A LOT cheaper, and because it was an add-on option I had with my plan we didn't need to sign a new contract. So a single phone called saved us $360 a year! I need to really get into the habit of doing a review of our services yearly, even if they can't lower or change anything at least I know I inquired.

Also at work I'll be changing my insurance benefits so that will save some money every pay cheque -- but I just started that process so I don't have all the details yet. Once I have more exact numbers I'll do an update post.

G and I sat down and thought about our plans for his salary increase. It's a $5600 increase and we agreed to bump up his personal spending from $100 biweekly to $150 biweekly (he works way too hard and does a ton of overtime so I think that is fair) and add more to our vacation fund (we need to save $300 a month in order to meet our goal for our Yukon trip). That's just a rough idea at least. The paper work has been submitted but we normally don't see the raise for at least a few months when a giant lump sum of backpay adjustment gets deposited into our account - nothing quite like that to wake a girl up in the morning haha. Speaking of G's work: he's been working waaaaay to much.  :( They are insanely understaffed and he had a really bad week last month. I've never shared this on here before as I like to remain pretty anonymous but G is an RCMP officer, so understaffed = extremely scary for me. We don't live in a bad area but still they are kept pretty busy. He has a pretty clear career goal in mind, but I would still love the day when he could feel free to retire. That's honestly what motivates me the most. Small steps, long term goals.

- M

Saturday, 1 November 2014

I'm back! October Budget Overview


Why hello everyone! I'm extremely sorry for disappearing so suddenly but it was a busy summer and fall as well. I believe things should be returning back to normal, hopefully. Winter has arrived here (hence the slow down in activities). Yesterday afterwork I walked around town with a friend from work as her son was trick or treating. In -6*C weather, we were all freezing after 2 hours. I've never walked home so fast in my life! Jumped straight into bed and tried to warm up haha

Soooooo, I'm really hoping that you would be wowed by our Long Term Savings pie slice but you may be wondering why we have a slightly larger pie slice that has returned. Debt Repayment. Yup :(  I'm kind of embarrassed but not at the same time. End of September G & I finally went on our honey moon. After nearly 2 ½ years of marriage! We took a road trip to Alberta (Jasper & Banff area) and we had an amazing time. That is a trip I'm going to remember for the rest of my life. I've never seen the mountains before and we soaked up every single second we could, went on so many hikes and a lot of activities. I don't regret a thing. Well that's a lie, because I wish we would have planned better but I'm learning! I have our next trip (Whitehorse, Yukon) planned out, priced out & a savings plan in place. So our Line of Credit is sitting at an even $5000 at the moment and the plan is to have that gone by January, while still keeping our Long Term Savings as it is (since all of that is automatic).

Good news money wise is that I have increased my TFSA contributions. So we are now putting in $200 bi-weekly. G celebrated his 2 year anniversary in his career which comes with a bit of a pay bump. I also got a pay increase at the end of summer. And the company I work for just finished their fiscal year so this means bonuses and another wage increase (hopefully) -- although I don't find out until next month. Oh! And I finished all my Christmas shopping.  :)

I'm sorry this post is so all over the place! But it feels good to be back and I promise less chaotic posts next time.

- M

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Snowflakes

Yesterday G & I went thru our budget since now we are focused on both short and long term savings I knew we needed to rejig our spreadsheet. We now have those two categories separated so we can see exactly how much of our income is going towards retirement and how much is being saved for planned spending (vacation and house fund, and our personal spending accounts).  We also set up the automatic transfers to each of these accounts on our paydays.

The only account account we didn't automate yet is the house fund (for repairs and maintenance) just because we got our property tax bill this month and wanted to make sure we can pay for that in full by the end of the month to take advantage of a savings our town offers if you pay by the end of July rather then waiting until the end of the year. We both agreed at the end of the month if we have a surplus in our chequing account, anything above $500, we will divide that into the emergency fund and the house fund. I'm really excited to see how this month turns out!

Also, a few things I had posted online sold this week. A few young adult books I had read years ago but still had in the back of my book bookshelf. $15.00 that will be going into our emergency fund. I took a few photos of some blouses and one summer dress today and will be putting those up for sale tonight. Hopefully someone will like them. Who knew I would be hoping for snowflakes in July!

- M

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Mid-Year Budget Overview


Two pie charts this month?! You betcha. The year is half way done and this is what our 2014 totals look like so far. It kind of gives a better look at how everything averages out. I won't explain as I have  already explained everything thru my regular monthly overviews. This post is mostly just for me to be able to reference before I start adding into the July budget column in our spreadsheet.

- M

June Budget Overview


Happy Canada Day! I'm enjoying my day off by doing laundry and cleaning my floors. Then maybe venture outside and see how many weeds I need to pull out of my garden, that's just a maybe though ;)

Debt Repayment: (24%)

I hope this is the last time I ever have to talk about this category again! G & I kicked our Line of Credits ass this month. I explained our payment breakdown in detail in my last post so I won't explain it here. It's done!! :D

Savings: (9%)

Our savings this month was a lot lower then we normally try to save, and it should be even lower since we completely drained our emergency fund, but I'm not sure how to show that in my budget since everything goes thru our chequing account. Oh well, next month this number is going to be a lot higher as we focus on replenishing our EF.

Food: (8%)

We spent A LOT on food this month. Over $1000.00 for just two people... that is embarrassing to write. BBQ meat is the killer of our budget though and we entertained a few times this month for some of G's co-workers (and those drop in's are usually unexpected and G ends up going to the store to get some BBQ stuff because it's the easiest). Ugh and my plan of eating what we had fell to the waist side but I still have the sheet of meal plans so I hope to draw from that a lot in July.

Shopping: (4%)

Mostly home stuff; like a new wireless router, some tools G wanted that were on sale, some nail polish for myself (not home stuff lol). 

Personal: (1%)

Only thing that was personal this month was my father's day gift! At only 1% it looks like I actually didn't get him much but my mom says he wears the safari sun hat I got him nearly everyday :) It'll be perfect for him to use during their summer vacation as well since they both do a lot of hiking.

Home: (47%)

That GIANT pie slice is what a new roof looks like ladies and gentlemen. Another major factor in clearing out our emergency fund but it was completely paid for in cash (well, cheque actually) and it could not have been completed at a better time as we've had a ton of rain here this month! Oh the joys and responsibilities of home ownership :P

Utilities: (3%)

Normal, aka boring 

Transportation: (4%)

I transfered to an office here in town at the end of last month so I'm not commuting 1 hour a day round trip, 5 days a week to get to work. It takes me 5 mins to walk to work or under a minute in the car for the days we had some really bad weather. We only filled up the car once this month, rather then once a week. This number is just car payments, insurance and the bit of gas. 


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This month started off really down for me but ended on the huge high note of finally paying off our LOC. I'm not going to lie: I'm actually kind of nervous about slipping into old habits when it comes to our spending because we don't have our debt payment being our main focus. Since we've both turned 18 and had credit cards, G & I always had consumer debt. Getting into that shift of re-adjusting to savings is somewhat terrifying. We've both talked about this a lot on weekend and we opened 2 savings accounts: one for my personal spending and one for G's personal spending. Each paycheque he gets we set it up so $100 automatically gets send to his account and same with my paycheques, $100 into my account. G & I both realized we need limits when it comes to our spending and this way we each have our own spending accounts. We also promised not to judge each other's purchases either, that way I don't have to complain about how expensive video games are and I don't have to hear him nag about how much stuff at Sephora is. :) I think this is going to be excellent not only for our budget but for our marriage as well! :P

- M

PS: I don't want to get all sappy but I really want to say thank you for everyone who has their own personal finance blog. I honestly do not think I would be in the position I am today with my finances if it was not for reading other peoples post. They are constant inspiration and always motivate me. I'm really glad I found this community when I did :) Thank you!