Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February Recap and March Goals

At the beginning of February I set two specific goals for the month:

- Increase EF fund by $200 - FAIL
- Increase savings by $100 - FAIL

Any extra money that we had was spent so most likely unnecessary spending.  Lesson learned, pay ourselves first.  I have to make it a habit to move the money into our EF fund and savings accounts as soon as the money comes in.  Because truth is, if the money isn't there, we don't spend it.  There are times when we have $20 to last us 4 days til the next pay day and we can do it.

So moving onto March...

Here's what the month looks like so far:

Fixed Expenses:
Mortgage & Property Tax - $1844
Automobile (Payment, insurance and gas) - $876
House Alarm & Insurance - $81
Life Insurance - $300
Bank fees - $14

Variable Expenses:
Utilities (Cable, phone, internet) - $200
Cell phones - $100
Food - $500
Debt repayment - $1100
Other (Nursery school, gifts, entertainment) - $300

TOTAL:  $5215

Monthly Income:

This would leave us with $335 to put away into our EF and savings accounts.  It seems so simple and straightforward when I have it typed out, but for some reason I still struggle to stay on top of things.

Financial goals for March are (same as February):

- Increase EF fund by $200
- Increase savings by $100

Non-financial goals for March are:
- finish reading The China Study book
- pick up craft supplies to make myself a bracelet (idea I got from Pinterest!)
- finish filling up care package for DH's parents and have the package picked up by the delivery service

We will be filing our taxes in March and I really don't know what to expect.  I'm hoping we get a small refund, and if not, I hope we're not paying back a huge amount of money either.  March and April will be expensive months for us as there are a few big birthdays coming up.

Good news is that in terms of my cafeteria and mall food court purchases, these are pretty much non-existent.  I've stuck to my plan to have breakfast at home each morning and to pack a lunch and snacks every day.  Every now and then I'm very tempted to pick up something extra for lunch or as a snack but then I just dig into my lunch bag and eat something that I brought with me. 

Exercising is still going very well, the last week wasn't the greatest, but I'm still motivated to keep going.  Month 2 progress pictures should be posted in the next week or so.  So on the exercise and healthy eating side of things, I would say I'm doing very well and will keep going.

 Work is kicking my butt, but I don't mind the OT.  Just need to be very careful and ensure that the OT paycheque goes towards debt.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How much for a 3rd birthday?!!

I hate to admit it, but we went overboard with J's 3rd birthday celebration this past Sunday.  We had 2 separate parties, one for friends and kids and one for family.  The first one cost me a bit more than I had expected, due to additional guests that I did not anticipate.  The second party didn't cost much but because we were doing a party earlier in the day, I had no time to cook so all the food was ordered.

I went over the birthday budget by double the set amount.  Also, this past Saturday we were invited to a birthday dinner at Red Lobster, which set us back $65.  I would consider this our family meal out for the week, but it's still much more than we normally spent.

This week work has been kicking my butt.  I've been putting in a couple hours of OT each night and J decided he wants to give me a very hard time when it comes to finishing his dinner.  On top of catching up from the extremely busy weekend, the busy work days I feel low on energy and today I missed my work out which really sucks.

I could have done a work out and put in maybe 50% effort but I decided to perhaps try to get to bed early and catch up on reading some blog posts and to even update my own blog.

I'm definitely looking forward to March and trying to get back on track.  I don't feel like I've made much progress financially, but I just need to look at the numbers again and figure out what my plan of attack is.

Can't wait for March!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What Was Your Money Situation Like Growing Up?

The inspiration of this post came from Hanging By A Thread

I am the younger of 2 kids.  It was just my older sister and I.  We lived in a small 1 1/2 storey house, total sq footage?  Around 600 sq ft.  Both of my parents made very small salaries, but they were very good with managing their money.  I would have considered us "mid-class".  I never felt that I was behind in terms of school supplies or clothing, when compared to my classmates and friends.  They always made sure we put money in our piggy banks and always gave us a little extra to spend.  My parents took us on what I would consider a big family vacation every 4 years.  And in between those vacations, there were trips to Chicago every couple of years to visit family.  I remember when I was in college and had to quit my part time job due to my school work load, my mom insisted on giving me an allowance of $50/week.  I was very lucky.  Every time my sister and I think back to how well the household finances were managed, we are amazed.  And a part of me is confused as to how I didn't pick up a single budgeting practice or behavior.

It's very important for me to teach my kids the value of money and the importance of saving.  It's often difficult because at the same time I want them to have everything that they want and everything I didn't have when I was growing up.  And there's always the thought that they're only kids for so long and that they grow up so fast.

This weekend will be a busy one with J's birthday, so I hope by Monday things have settled and I can start focusing on our finances.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tea and cottage cheese..

That is on the breakfast menu today.

Still seem to have issues uploading pictures, but I did have a nice picture of my David's tea travel mug and my bowl of cottage cheese with strawberries.

Yesterday on the drive to work, there was alot of discussion around Lent and what individuals were giving up for 40 days and 40 nights.  I wouldn't consider myself a religious person, but I thought that it would be a good personal challenge to give up one of my daily treats as part of Lent.  And so, I decided to give up coffee.  This morning on the drive into work, I already missed my coffee, bold coffee with a splash of french vanilla creamer.  So delicious, so warming, so comforting.  The tea is doing a good job keeping me warm but I still miss my coffee.

And the cottage cheese?  For the longest time, I've wanted to eat cottage cheese, because I knew that it was a healthy food item to add to your diet, low in fat and high in protein.  In the past when I've tried eating cottage cheese, I just couldn't do it due to the texture.  I'm huge on texture when it comes to food.  If it tastes good, but has a very odd texture, I won't eat it.  So I failed in the past each and every time I tried to add cottage cheese to my diet.  And today, is day 2 of eating cottage cheese with strawberries.  Big win for me!  The texture still bothers me, but I'm trying hard to not let it bother me.

Battling a cold right now too.  I suspect I may leave work early.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Weekend splurges

In my last post, I mentioned that I received a $180 gas coop rebate cheque which I was going to put towards our savings.  Instead, this past weekend the money was spent on other thing, other non-necessities.  A part of me feels bad that the money didn't go into savings, but another part of me is thinking that on the positive side of things, we didn't take money out of our savings or using any credit cards for money that was spent this past weekend.

In terms of what we spent most of our money on this past weekend?
Here's the breakdown:

$59.27 - oil change.  Bad news is that we need to take the jeep in to have the transmission line checked, they said that it was leaking.

$78.08 - eating out.  We went for All-you-can-eat-Sushi.  It was really good.  That meal itself cost just over $50, but it was well worth it.  I can say with confidence that I've had my fill of sushi for the next month or so.

$23.10 - Ruckers.  J is turning 3 this Sunday and so we were thinking of possibly inviting some friends and their kids to Ruckers (an arcade type of place with games that spit out tickets that you later redeemed for treats).  We went to check out the place and in doing so, spent $23.10 on game tokens.  The kids had lots of fun, heck I had alot of fun playing some of the games but for a 3 year old's birthday party, it didn't make sense, as alot of the games were for older kids.

$71.50 - new dress pants and shoes, for me.  I really wasn't looking for new pants or shoes, but there caught my eye.  And then I did the worse thing possible, I tried them on, and fell in love. hehe..  The heel height of the platform heels are higher than I've worn before, so it'll be interesting to see how I do when I wear them at work for the first time. (tried uploading a picture of them, but I keep getting an error)

$47.02 - DH also found a pair of shoes that he wanted to buy.  Couldn't say no since I had just purchased a pair.

$31.75 - candy and dark chocolate (oh and lotion too) - we let the kids pick up some candy while we were out on Saturday, and then I stopped by Shopper's Drug Mart and picked up 3 tubs of Vaseline Creamy Lotion and 5 (yup... 5!) dark chocolate bars.  I had a craving, bad idea to go to the store with a craving.

$58.02 - groceries and pizza.  My cousins cooked up some spaghetti and steak on Sunday night and invited us over, so we decided to bring a pizza.

So in total, this past weekend we spent:  $355.31!
OUCH! that's a huge number, but again, no savings was touched and no credit was used.

The oil change and groceries were part of our budget and a portion of eating out was also in our budget (since we go out to eat once on the weekends)

Late last week I was feeling very lost with our budget and with the recent overspending this past weekend, I know that I need to get focused or else things can go downhill from here very fast.  I need to set aside 30 minutes each morning to go through our expenses and to update my blog so that I can stay on top of things.

With J's 3rd birthday coming up, this will be a bit of an expensive weekend, but I am determined to not go completely overboard.  Simple decorations and simple cake and alot of good food.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Losing track of things..

I'm not sure what it is, but I feel like I've lost complete track of the household finances.
I open up our budget spreadsheet every day, and the spreadsheet is broken down by the month, income coming in, expenses going out.  But somehow, whenever I check our bank balance I'm surprised by the amount of money we have, or to be more precise don't have.  I feel very lost and quite incapable of keeping on track financially.  Maybe it's just this month for whatever reason.

Good news is that our yearly gas co-op cheques were mailed out this week and we received a cheque for $184!  This will go into our savings/emergency fund, so I'm very excited about that. 

Hoping for a quick work day and hoping to get focused on our finances.  Good news is that although I'm feeling a little lost financially, the debt isn't growing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Two leather jackets to add to my wardrobe...

and it didn't cost me a dime!!  Let me explain.  Years and years ago (maybe 5 years), when I was spending money like it grew on trees, I purchased a couple leather jackets.  And I wore these jackets quite a bit during the time.  But after kids and the weight gain, they became too snug, to the point where I looked like a sausage ready to burst when I tried putting the jackets on.  So the jackets went to the back of the closet.

Last night, I thought I would take them out and try them on.  I knew that my body was changing with the exercising and cardio I was doing, and I knew that some of my other clothes were fitting better, so I thought I'd give it a try.  It was such a nice surprise to find that both jackets fit better and I could start wearing them again.  Still a little snug but the jackets are now back in my wardrobe!  Yay!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cancelled dinner date

Every year in February, a number of restaurants around the city participate in a "Dine About..." event, where they offer set menus which are put together to showcase the chefs' talents.  Over a week ago, my best friend suggested we go on a double date and try one of the restaurants.  I thought it was a great idea and was very excited when we decided on a restaurant that specialized in seafood.  I love seafood!  We made reservations for this past Saturday and I thought the dinner could also be an early Valentine's dinner.

Then on Friday night I started thinking about the cost of dinner.  I'm thankful that my parents agreed to babysit the kids, so there are no babysitting costs.  But the dinner itself?  The set menu was $36 a person.  Which did not include beverages, tax and tips.  Between DH and I, I'm sure we would have spent $100.  And so, on Friday night I was thinking about that $100 and how it was difficult to justify going out for dinner for that amount of money.  I thought about the amount of groceries I could purchase with $100 and how the entire family could go out for a nice lunch or dinner with $100.

And so I called up my best friend and explained that I couldn't justify the $100 cost for dinner.  She understood and I'm glad that she didn't try to convince me that the dinner would be worth it.  I'm sure that the dinner was great (she and her fiance went ahead with the reservations), but I would have felt guilty afterwards for spending that much money on a dinner for DH and I.  I'm very glad that we didn't go.

DH was very surprised that I canceled our dinner date.  He was even more surprised that I told my best friend that the reason we didn't go was due to the fact that we didn't have $100 to spend on dinner.  I guess DH thought I'd be a little embarrassed to tell someone that we couldn't afford a $100 dinner date.  I actually felt proud that I made a wise decision to cancel and felt very financially responsible.

Last week, work was kicking my butt and I just couldn't find time to update my blog more often.  The next couple weeks are better and I hope to be writing more.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

February Goals

It's been awhile since I've reviewed our budget to see where things stand and see if there are any possible increases in debt repayment or savings.

Here's what the month looks like so far:

Fixed Expenses:
Mortgage & Property Tax - $1844
Automobile (Payment, insurance and gas) - $876
House Alarm & Insurance - $81
Life Insurance - $300
Bank fees - $14

Variable Expenses:
Utilities (Cable, phone, internet) - $200
Cell phones - $100
Food - $500
Debt repayment - $1100
Other (Nursery school, gifts, entertainment) - $300

TOTAL:  $5215

Monthly Income:

This would leave us with $335 to put away into our EF and savings accounts.  It seems so simple and straightforward when I have it typed out, but for some reason I still struggle to stay on top of things.

So goals for February are:

- Increase EF fund by $200
- Increase savings by $100

I really need to revisit our budget .. again... and figure out a better way to track our expenses and spending.
Feeling quite overwhelmed right now.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Can't believe I'm posting this...

but I really wanted to show you all the progress I've made with my healthy eating and exercise.
(Please ignore the partial shot of the toilet)
When DH first suggested taking progress pictures I was very hesitant and really didn't want to take the first set of pictures.  I knew I wouldn't like what I saw.  But now that I can do a side-by-side comparison of where I was a month ago and where I am today, I'm glad that DH  insisted that I take pictures.

In total I've lost a few pounds but the big difference is in the shape of my body.  Overall I feel great and I actually don't miss the foods I often had almost every day prior to eating healthier.  While watching Superbowl last night I did munch on some potato chips and I found that I just felt sluggish and sleepy afterwards.

It's been a great journey so far and I can't wait to start the 2nd month of the Insanity workouts (by Beach Body)

And I'm truly lucky because regardless of where I was in my journey to get into shape, DH always made me feel beautiful and sexy to him.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat - February 5th

A bit late getting online today and I probably won't have a full update until tomorrow, but I thought I'd join Carla's Sunday Night Chit Chat.

What are you…

Still reading "The China Study", recommended by a coworker.  Also trying to catch up on my blog reading, feels like I have so much catching up to do.

Just finished watching the Superbowl (Go GIANTS!!)  Now watching Oceans 11.  It's one of my favorite movies.

Listening to?
Oceans 11 on the bedroom television and the kids watching Handy Manny in the living room television.

Before sitting down in front of my laptop, I just finished making a spinach and egg white omlette to bring as part of my lunch tomorrow.

Happy you accomplished this week?
A solid week of exercise, lifting weights and cardio.  Cardio-wise, this week is a "recovery" week, in preparation for Month 2 of Insanity.  I have to admit, I'm nervous but very excited.

Looking forward to next week?
Getting back to a normal work week.  Being on a 3 day training session last week really threw me off and left me with a ton of work to catch up on.  Work that I actually should be doing, hehe...

Thankful for today?
The weather is nice out and definitely not the -25 that we normally get in February.

Tomorrow I should have a full update on our finances.  I miscalculated a fundraising cheque that I wrote last week and forgot about T's nursery school fees (again!) so I need to move some money out of our savings until Thursday when DH gets paid.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Finally a chance to catch up and update!

It has been an extremely busy past 3 days.
At work I was participating in a 3-day training session on how to write executive level reports and presentations.  I found the training session to be very informative and valuable.  Most important, the skills that we were taught, are skills that I can apply immediately to my current job.  Composing emails, reports and presentations will now benefit from my newly learned knowledge.  Of course as I type this post, I am fully aware that I am not using proper sentence structure and I suspect that if I were to think about the grammer and style of my writing, it would take me much longer to write a post.

Financially, we're still on track.  I got paid yesterday and now have an idea of my semi-monthly income.  So I do need to tweak our budget to reflect our new income.  I'm glad that our income has increased slightly, not a huge amount, I would say approx $200 a month, but it's $200 a month more than we made last year.  This will definitely help with putting money aside for our emergency fund and savings accounts.

Health-wise, I'm still on track.  Today I'm struggling to get out of bed and to do my cardio session.  Today I should be lifting weights as well as doing cardio, but I'm not feeling very energetic.  At a minimum, I would love to do my cardio session but at this very moment, I don't see that happening.  I may wait another 30 minutes and will see how I feel.  Should I do my cardio session with 50% effort or not do it at all since I can't give 100%?

I took my one-month progress pictures yesterday.  I have to admit, although there is some improvement, I had hoped for more.  I am now reminding myself that it's only been a month and that I need to be more patient.  Regardless I told myself that I would keep working at it until the end of February.  Hoping that I see more progress, I really don't like this feeling of disappointment.
I am going to continue with the Low/No Spend Challenge and will start setting mini-goals.
Hopefully when I update next time, I'll be able to report that I got out of bed and had an awesome work out.