2016 Average Spend Review

Here it is, our annual spend summary review.

We're going into the New Year putting a concentrated effort to reduce our spending on groceries.  Doing even more baking/cooking at home, starting to plan for a garden, and shopping sales.  There are no discount grocers in my town, so just going to a superstore/asian market isn't an option for us.

Eating out of course is higher then we'd like it to be, one of the things I'm going to do hear is improve my tracking when we're 'eating out' and when we're on vacation/out of town eating out.  I feel like this is different because it's planned for differently.

The same can be said for groceries and Costco shopping.  I tend to split a Costco shop roughly between groceries, clothes, pets, etc. but I'm not 100% accurate.  I'm going to start tracking Costco as it's own spend.

Home Maintenance is the obvious place where we spent a lot over the year - this was our home renovation, which was spendy and mostly budgeted for.

Overall I feel pretty good about how we managed our money last year.  I am looking forward to making some changes though, and reining things in even more.  I have yet to find a new job since being laid off just weeks before my Maternity Leave started, and Little Man is 14 months old now.  So, without my income, we will sure be spending differently.


Cloth Diaper Covers...Bam!

When I was pregnant, and we had decided we were going to cloth diaper instead of using disposables, my mom picked up the material and tools we needed so we could make some of our own covers (we use inserts/covers instead of the all in one systems).  Well, we also bought some ones that were already made, and then just never quite got around to sewing our own.

We're hanging all of our things to dry, and given that we can't dry outside right now, it sometimes takes a day or longer which means running out of covers!  So, we decided to get sewing.  We have two and a half so far, and enough material for a few more. 

The first one was pretty tricky, but getting into the third, mom and I found a bit of a rhythm.  Check out the first one on our model below!


Mmmm Homemade Bread

 Guys!  I love bread, I love not spending money, making my own bread is pretty great as it serves both.  The trick is, it takes patience to do it well.  My mom ran through everything with me, and adjusted the recipe to fit my KitchenAid when we made buns for Christmas.  Now that we've run out, I was inspired to keep going with this baking business.  Her method, requires we let the bread rise three times!  So start to finish, this takes 3-4 hours or so.

I love bunching down the dough!

Too much fun.

I couldn't find my third bread pan, I think Little Man might have put it in another cupboard somewhere.  So, we wound up with two loaves and six beautiful buns!

They aren't quite as smooth as my moms, but I'm super happy with how it turned out.

It's simple really - water, sugar and yeast to start.  A little butter or margarine, skim milk powder, then some brown flower and some white flower - more of the latter than the former.


Soup Stock


There is nothing like a cold winter day to have me wanting for soup!  I haven't done it on my own before, but I've had my mom's home made soup a lot and watched her make it too.  So today (well, I started yesterday), I'm making my own!

Starting with the stock, I pulled out a bag and a half of veggie scraps that I have kept in the freezer (just adding to it when we have carrots, or bits of onion, even a few potato peels), next I tossed in a few steak bones that were also in the freezer.  I had room in the pot, so tossed in a bit more celery and a limp carrot from my fridge that hadn't quite made it to the freezer yet.

I didn't have enough bones, so my mom gave me a few that she had picked up at the farmers market.  They were raw, chopped up small, from a local beef breeder/butcher.  Those bones I roasted for an hour, and then tossed in the pot too.

I topped it up with water ~ about 12 cups fit in my pot, and turned it on to low.  I added salt and pepper to taste, and a bit of garlic.  I tasted throughout the day and added a bit more salt a few times because I was pretty conservative with that.

It bubbled away for about 8 hours yesterday, and then we just stuck it in the attached garage overnight and I popped it back on the stove for a few more hours this morning.  Later today, I'll strain off the veggies and make the soup!

My mom lets the stock chill so she can scrape off the fat on the top, then, using the big pot, melt the fat, and add onions/celery until they are fragrant.  Then she adds the stock, any other veggies she wants, plus a tender cut of beef like Sirloin.

Yum, yum!


Electric Heat Woes

Guys, electric baseboard heat is expensive where I live :(

Billing is every 60 days - from October 20th to today, the cost is $773 for 6,582kWHs! November wasn't even that cold! BCHydro breaks the rate down into a step 1 and step 2 rates. It's meant to encourage conservation, which might work for homes that have alternative heat sources (my community has a lot of wood heat), but for homes with electric heat, the rate jump is pretty brutal.

  • Step 1: $0.08290 /kW.h for the first 1,350kW hours 
  • Step 2: $0.12430 /kW.h for the rest.

Our house in Alberta, which was about 2,700 square feet cost us about $450 for the same time period.  There of course was electric on top of that for lights and the like - maybe another $100?

The home we're in now is closer to 3,300 square feet - a fair bit larger.  We have all LED lighting, the thermostats are set to 17 or 18 degrees during the day and closer to 15 in the evening.  We have put up insulating plastic on all of our windows and have rolled up towels at the bottom of our doors for draft reduction.  We hang up most of our clothes and cloth diapers to dry, and wash them using cold water.

Given the temperatures, I'm now expecting the bill for December 20th through to the end of February is going to be closer to $1,000.  I'm not too sure what else I can do to manage the cost.

Do you guys do anything other than what I mentioned to save money on electric heat?  Are our rates here, more or less then the electric rates that you pay?


November Spend Report

We went to Alberta twice in November, but split the gas, so that's why eating out is quite a bit higher than normal.  Gas, groceries, and the rest are all pretty average - though we'll do an annual review in January sometime.

Gifts represents that for about 12 people, plus each other.  I feel pretty good about that.  In years past, we've spend thousandS not one thousand and change.  Next year, I'm sure it will be even tighter - depending on how my job hunt goes.

You might notice a new category here - Costco.  In the past, I've tried to split a Costco shop in groceries, home maintenance, clothes, etc. but it's never been very precise.  So, instead, I'm going to track what we spend overall at the place!


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