Saturday, 22 August 2015

Frugal and Productive Weekend

Yesterday after work I spent the evening cleaning out and organizing the guest bedroom. My parents are coming in less than two weeks so I want the house to look perfect for them! I was able to get rid of three more boxes of stuff I completely forgot we had. Canadian Diabetes is coming to do a pick up next month so everything is being donated to them. I’ve given up counting how many items I’ve gotten rid of this year; it’s over 800 items that’s for sure.

This morning I meal planned for the week (I’ll add the plan at the end of this post) and then G and I went off to the grocery store. We spent $41. Woohooo! This month our grocery bill has been $238. That is an all time record and way under the $350 I had budgeted. Even though we are debt free we are still pretty determined to cut back our budget when we can or want too. So far this month we were able to add $500 into our emergency fund, pay our annual property taxes (just a little over $1000) and purchase a brand new shot gun (haha, random). Next month is a three-paycheque month for G so there is a lot of savings on the horizon. :D

This afternoon I started doing a mini-reno of our master bathroom: a new coat of paint on the walls and trim, spray-painting the existing towel bar and toilet paper roll holder (both of which were a tacky gold colour). Better yet we had all the materials needed in our basement! The bathroom is small without any windows so I’m just painting the walls white to allow as much light as possible. We had a half used gallon of paint downstairs that was still perfectly good so I’m using that. G has some silver spray paint so that is what he is using for the fixtures. I’m currently waiting on the first coat to dry and will do another coat tonight. Sunday, I can put everything back in its place. I also painted the door in the guest bedroom, plus some trim touch ups that needed to be done. Excited to see what it’ll look like when it’s done!

- M

Meal Plan

Saturday – Lasagna (was in the freezer)
Sunday – Leftovers
Monday – Corn & roasted garlic potatoes (corn was crazy cheap this week and the potatoes we had already in the pantry)
Tuesday – Burgers with leftover garlic potatoes
Wednesday – Burgers and scalloped potatoes
ThursdayChicken Sloppy Joe's with Greek salad
Friday – Leftovers
Saturday – Going to a wedding – will be eating dinner there

SundayChicken Shawarma

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Grocery Shopping in the Garden

Well, we are officially debt free except the mortgage. We paid off our car that was sitting on the LOC on Tuesday including a $54.37 interest charge that went thru. Once I seen that interest charge I knew I made the right decision. It feels awesome knowing we have nothing but the mortgage left and once we get a beefy Emergency Fund we can begin rebuilding my TFSA. I'm happy with where we are right now and this frees up so much more each month and give us so many options. We are really looking forward to seeing our net worth really amp up!

So far we are at $132.28 for groceries for the month and this week is going to be another cheap week because I got to go grocery shopping in my friends garden! I was over at her acreage today helping make pies for her wedding that is coming up at the end of this month. She's so sweet, we went thru and we picked a TON of vegetables for me to bring home. She said this is the first haul of many.

Green, Yellow and Snow Peas, Lettuce (two kinds), a huuuuge bag of tomatoes, celery, a mini-pie (not from garden but homemade! lol), basil (two kinds), carrots, beets, and cucumbers

G and I are going to make a huge batch of pasta sauce once the tomatoes ripen and I'm going to blanch and freeze most of the peas. The basil I froze because I cannot get fresh basil at the grocery store here, same with the celery leaves (for use in future soups). Everything was home grown from seed and pesticide free. I was snacking on the snow peas as we were picking them, lol. Nothing beats garden fresh.

This week has been extremely budget friendly, and even though we are debt free (besides mortgage) we are both very happy with a cheaper, minimal lifestyle. Definitely something we plan to keep up and even get better with each and every month. :)

- M

Sunday, 9 August 2015


I was looking over our accounts tonight, seeing how we were doing so far this month. I clicked on my TFSA, curious what the interest rate is at… 0.60% Hmmm. I knew it was low but not that low. We make more interest on the high interest savings account than my TFSA… I click on our LOC: 6.7%

I wonder over to G, let him know. After about an hour of discussing we have agreed that I am going to withdrawal my entire TFSA, all $8855.79 of it, close out my TFSA (and stop contributions) at our bank and pay off our LOC. That will leave us with $1355.79 that I will open a TFSA investment account with at Tangerine and restart my $200 biweekly contributions (not skipping one if all the paperwork goes smoothly). Our goal for the rest of the year will be to top up out Emergency Fund once again, but instead of the $5000 we had before we want to increase this to $10,000 - we just feel more comfortable with this number given our dogs health & owning a home.

A lot of decisions were made tonight, but I’m honestly feeling really good about this. G even suggested once we get any windfall of money and our emergency fund is starting to fill up we can do a lot more lump sum payments to my TFSA to fill it back up. We definitely aren’t going to inflate our life style since we both agreed we live pretty darn well on our budget right now. I’m really happy with where we are going to be at the end of this month. Pretty much a 6% return just by filling out a few forms!

Bye-bye car loan!!

- M

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Grocery Budget & Meal Plan

I really like writing about my grocery budget. They are also my favorite posts to read. Not everyone is paying off debt, not everyone owns a house or a car, etc; but everyone has to eat! I love seeing how creative people can get. 

Anyways, last month I had a budget of $350. We went over (womp wompppp). $388.46 is what we ended up spending, $38.46 over. So close! But I’m not going to beat myself up about it because that is still pretty darn good and I'm getting better. I have the same budget this month for food and I’m confident we can do it! We spent Monday afternoon meal planning for the week and this is our menu:

            Wednesday: Left over ribs (from yesterday) and scalloped potatoes
            Thursday: Bacon burgers and salad
            Friday: left overs
            Saturday: Sole with rice and green beans
            Sunday: left over sole with a soup on the side

I did the weeks grocery shopping today afterwork. My grocery list only consisted of the following items: milk (cost us $6.77... ugh), tomatoes, watermelon, yogurt, lettuce, cucumber, orange juice, cranberry juice & hamburger buns - my only 'impulse' purchase was blueberries because they looked really good. Everything else we had in the freezer or panty - our freezer is a carnivores idea of heaven. My bill came to $40.13! What an awesome start to the month! 

G also got paid today and I was able to make a $2000 payment to the LOC, which is now sitting at $7500. That's a sigh of relief considering we weren't able to make any progress last month. Nice to be back in the groove :) 

- M

Monday, 3 August 2015

30 by 30 at 25!

Yesterday was my 25th birthday. My plans were unfortunately canceled when G’s eight-hour shift turned into a marathon 23.5-hour shift… so needless to say I had quite a bit of time on my hands. It was actually kind of nice. I had a mini spa day after taking my time cleaning the house and just relaxed! I finished reading Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam, worked on our August budget and of course had quite a few phone calls from family. “I can’t believe you’re 25! I remember when you were just a baby.” “God, I feel so old.” “So close to 30!” That last one got me thinking. Thirty… still 5 years away but so adult sounding, lol. I remembered a blogpost that Bridget over at Money After Graduation wrote which talked about 30 milestones to strive for by the time you are 30 so I thought I would see how we were doing. It definitely got me thinking about our short and long term goals, also about how far we have come in such a short amount of time.

1. Financially independent of your parents.
Check! My husband and I haven’t accepted any help from either of our parents since we moved from Ontario to Saskatchewan nearly 3 years ago. G’s parents gifted us the down payment on our house because we didn’t have the cash to purchase it (and the town we moved too didn’t have anywhere to rent). That was the lowest point in my life, having to ask for that money because we weren’t prepared… I definitely never want to do that again. My mom actually offered last week to help us with Mocha’s surgery if we didn’t have the money available but I let her know we did have savings and will just take it from there.

2. Debt free.
Not yet. Still working on paying off our car, $9500 left! I really really want this gone before the end of the year. After that, we will just have our mortgage, which is below 100k.

3. Out of overdraft.
Check! We’ve never been ‘overdraft junkies’ though even though we had it on our accounts.

4. Established good credit history.
Check! I don’t know my credit score but I know thru pulling my credit report I have never had a late payment J

5. Have $25,000+ saved for retirement.
I currently have around $13,500 in my retirement accounts and G has about $20,000. There is no doubt I will have reached this goal just in my own personal accounts by the time I am 30. In fact if we stay on the track we are now with our automatic payments, not adding anything extra like tax refunds or growth within the funds itself, we are looking at being north of $120,000 this time in 5 years. Talk about progress!

6. Started an investment portfolio.
Check! Just mutual funds at the moment though but I am hoping to change this soon enough. I’ve been doing a lot of research about EFT’s and how that all works with a brokerage – once I feel more comfortable and confident I will make the switch. Definitely a goal to strive for before turning 30.

7. Established an emergency fund.
Half check? Technically we have an emergency fund, just at the moment it only has $3000 instead of the $5000 we normally keep. At least it’s established though!

8. Properly insured.
Check! I was actually going over this the other day. Very pleased with the amount of insurance we both have.

9. Maximizing employer benefits.
Check! This is actually one of my goals this year and I’m using it all up slowly but surely. This reminds me I need to make an appointment to see the eye doctor soon. *mental note

10. In the habit of tracking your spending.
CHECK! This is actually a big check for us. We’ve been tracking our spending on an Excel spreadsheet that G made for us at the beginning of last year. A couple times a week I take a few moments to balance our chequing account to our spreadsheet and then update our budget. This is a habit now and takes hardly any effort to plug in the numbers. I actually couldn’t imagine not doing this now.

11. Done with impulse purchases.
It’s difficult for me to say with this one because I live in a small town where I can’t really impulse spend, so I’m not 100% sure if the shopping bug is out of me yet. I guess I am able to say I have become a lot more conscious of what I choose to purchase. Decluttering and organizing my house has definitely opened my eyes to the amount of stuff we had accumulated mindlessly.

12. Willing to spend where it counts.
Check! This actually hits very close to home at this moment in my life. Last week our dog Mocha had surgery to have a mass cell tumor removed from her leg. Today we got a call from the vet saying all the test results came back and they were successful in removing all the cancer from her leg and it was non-aggressive. Giving her a chance at a longer happier life is priceless to my husband and I. We are very far from our families and have no children – she is our family and we would do anything for her. <3  

13. In the habit of regularly checking your credit report.
Check! Once a year for both G and I. It’s free so why not!

14. On top or ahead of all your monthly bills.
Check! We actually have notifications set up in our family iCalendar that sends us alerts a few days before bills automatically debited from our account will come thru or when a statement will be available online for us to look at. Works great for us and we are both notified, thus both know what is going on.

15. At least one big splurge you saved up for and paid in full with cash.
Last year we purchased a new roof for our house but I wouldn’t really consider that a ‘splurge’, haha. This year I guess our vacation will be the biggest splurge we’ve treated ourselves too in a while. We’ve paid for the hotel, flights and a few different activities all in cash and currently saving for the extra shopping and food money.

16. An understanding of personal income taxes and how to minimize what you pay.
Last year was the first year we did our own tax refunds so there is a lot of room for improvement. The CRA website is very useful and explains things very well but the problem is you need to know exactly what your looking for – which is easier said than done.

17. Diligently saving for a big purchase.
Check! We’ve been saving for a vacation we are taking later this year and it’s been fun to see this account grow.

18. A clear direction of your career.
This one is difficult for me because of my husband’s career. We never know where we might get asked to go next but we both understood that going into this. So I’m not sure how to answer this question at this moment.

19. A profitable side income.
Negative, although G builds furniture on the side and has sold a few of his pieces. I let him use that money to purchase equipment though as it’s a hobby for him.

20. A positive, growing net worth.
One thing I haven’t shared on this blog is our networth but I have been tracking it month by month and I am happy to report there is a significant jump each month! J

21. A BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) for your finances.
I want to be mortgage free by the time I am 40 while at the same time not sacrificing our investment contributions. How cool would it be not to have a mortgage payment!? It's my biggest long term goal I have at the moment.

22. An understanding and a plan of how your money will deliver the lifestyle you want.
This is something we both need to work on. I only somewhat understand G’s pension plan and what it means for income in the future is still confusing to me. How much will it bring us each year? How much extra do we need to save? RRSP or TFSA? How much will we need to live on when we retire? All these questions are 20 years + in the future, and it’s confusing.

23. So over measuring your finances against that of your friends.
I still do this. However, I have realized that not everyone is going to be in the same circumstances thus trying to measure each other up really gets you no where. There are so many different factors in everyone’s budgets (or non-budgets). Reading personal finance blogs has actually helped me put this into perspective.

24. Less consumption-oriented.
Working on this one. I am getting better though.

25. A healthy relationship with credit cards.
Check! I wish I had this checked about 5 years ago but I’m glad to report our credit cards are paid in full each month. We use them for all of our purchases (gimmie dem points) but keep our spending in line.

26. A regular contribution to charity.
No, we really need to work on this. It’s embarrassing and selfish to say we don’t.

27. If you’re part of a couple, a healthy way of sharing money with your partner.
Check! Money talks for G and I never result in a fight nor are they stressful. All our accounts are joints (besides registered investments obviously) so we are both aware what is going on at all times.

28. A commitment to putting free or cheap before convenient.
Kind of but could still use some work, living in a small town there isn’t that much convenience…

29. Done paying unnecessary fees.
No. We still have our main chequing account with a major bank ($13.95 a month) and I need to do something with our high fee mutual funds. This needs work.

30. An understanding and appreciation for the reality that money is only a tool of exchange, and not worth obsessing over.

No but I’m getting better and relaxing a lot more. I will write a separate post about this soon because I’ll need to do some explaining, lol.

Not too bad for 25! Three years ago I wouldn't have been able to 'check' anything. We were living beyond our means and on credit cards. I'm so glad we are not there anymore...

- M