6/30/2011

6/29/2011

Guest Post: General Budgeting Tips in and Around The Home

Budgeting tips, make your money go further by comparing outgoing on line such as car insurance, home insurance etc.

General budgeting tips in and around the home

Setting a budget and sticking to it is something many of us struggle with. The bills – which cover everything from mortgage repayments, food, utilities, entertainment, car insurance to home and contents insurance – come thick and fast and can leave you with precious little left at the end of each week, month and year. To lower the cost of living in general and free up for a few extra dollars, follow these handy hints.

In the house – The costs associated with running a household will account for the vast majority of your budget so the more small changes you can make here and there the bigger the difference will be. To decrease the amount spent on your utilities, think carefully about how you can reduce the amount of energy used around the home. Turn off appliances at the socket when you’re done with them, avoid using the standby function and don’t leave lights on when you exit a room. Get properly insulated and try to limit the use of central heating systems and air-condition units if possible as turning them down slightly can make a huge impact. Buying energy-efficient products will also produce impressive results by the time your next utility bills arrive. Recycle and reuse items as much as possible.

In the kitchen – Adopt a methodical approach to going grocery shopping or you may end up going crazy and filling up your cart with unnecessary and expensive luxury items. Only buy what you need – the easiest way to do this is to try and plan your food menu over a week. It may be a regimented style of feeding yourself and your loved ones, but hopefully it’ll mean you reduce on wastage and only spend money on the essentials. Buy cheaper brands, grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs if you can and attempt to avoid eating out or getting takeouts. If you insist on dining out, then check if there are any relevant online vouchers or discount codes. Make your own lunches for work as saving a few dollars on a daily basis will soon add up towards the end of the month.

In the garage – Being a vehicle owner means paying out for insurance, garage bills and gasoline. The price to fill up at the pump varies greatly from one city and province to the next, but irrespective of where you live you can do your bit to lower fuel consumption, like sticking to speed limits, driving in a generally responsible manner and avoiding harsh accelerating and braking. Keep your tires inflated to the correct level and avoid making needless journeys in the car by instead taking public transport or, if possible, walking. You can get cheap car insurance by scouring the Internet for the best deals, making your vehicle more secure, decreasing your mileage and raising your deductibles.

6/28/2011

Updated Budget

Jordan and I have had a few pretty big changes lately, so I thought it was time to update our budget.  While we aren't sure exactly what Jordan's raise is going to look like, we know on the low end what is salary increase is going to look like. I also recently sold my horse - so we no longer have the monthly boarding fee.  We're planning on using the increase in the short term to help pay for the wedding - but once we're in the house we should be in good shape to look at all of our plans.

Here's how it's shaping up so far:

  • Our mortgage is based on the variable rate, weekly payments
  • Utilities are based on what we pay for our similarly sized, far worse insulated home
  • Vehicle insurance is up for renewal in October (crossing my fingers on that one) and I'm looking at moving to weekly payments instead of bi-monthly
  • Property taxes and home insurance are based on some online research I've Done
  • Our cell phones vary but $100/each is average
  • The Master Card spending numbers are based on what we are actually spending right now on average
  • Jordan and I are both comfortable cutting our allowances if we need to, but I would like to keep them if possible
  • House Goods would be planned saving for things like couches/chairs 
  • I would also like to bump up our RRSPs 
So that's it (so far), with $100/month left over.  What are your thoughts all you home owners out there??




6/25/2011

Mid-June Monthly Check In

Jordan and I set a pretty lofty goal for ourselves in terms of spending only in the gas and groceries categories for the month of June (less the wedding).  We haven't quite stuck to that - but I wanted to do a pulse check before the end of the month so we don't slide to far off the tracks.

As of June 21st - this is where we were at:


I'm actually pretty pleased with how this is coming together!  We went to the movies once and I had forgotten about our Netflex subscription when I said there would be no spending in entertainment (oops).  We did go out to eat once when we were in my parents home town.  I rationalized this because my mom, who's awesome, paid for my hair consult which would have been a wedding expense.

Whoohoo!! Under $500 and we're past the half way mark!  If we keep this under $900 by July 5th - we've done an ammmazing job!

6/23/2011

Starlight

Star Light Star bright,
The first star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.

Those that have followed this blog for a while, know that I have a horse, Starlight.  I've had her since I was 12 and she was 2 - I'm now 26.  I've known for the last few years that I needed to either get my but in gear and start riding more often to keep her in good health or find her a home where she would be ridden.  With getting married, buying a house and children on the 2-3 year horizon - I knew that it was fair to keep her.


Friday, June 17, 2011 marked the day that I found her a new home.

6/22/2011

Credit Cards of Doom

That's right, I said credit cardssss... plural.

I've been hinting in a few posts lately that our credit card was creeping up with a higher and higher balance.  Now that we are finished making our last two largest purchases (flights to vegas and wedding bands) - I thought it was time to share where we are at and what our plan is to pay it off.


Okay - there it is, it's far less scary when I stop pretending that it's not there.

Jordan and I are both committed to doing everything we can to get this these paid off!  I hope that you'll see our dedication reflected in next months monthly spending re-cap.

6/21/2011

Wedding Ring

This weekend, among many other things that got done, we bought our wedding bands.  While we bought my engagement ring at Spence Diamonds, we found the bands at Michael Hill.  They had the best price for the ring that suited the engagement ring the best!

Before we stopped into Michael Hill we had come to the conclusion (after visiting half a dozen other Jewelers, including Spence) that to get what we wanted, we weren't going to be able to stick to our $1,000 or under budget.  We went back to the wedding numbers and decided we could, at a stretch, make $1,500 work.

Michael Hill was having a sale and the representative first said that he could sell us my ring, and Jordan's for $1,750 before tax and before any sort of maintenance/insurance plan. We told him that it needed to be under $1,500 for it to work and he said he would see what he could do.

After about ten..fifteen minutes, he came back to us saying that he would sell us my ring for $1,499 and 'give' us Jordan's ring next Saturday when he can capitalize on another sale he's having.  It seemed a little sketchy but he wrote everything down and we have receipts so went with it!

I'm so excited that we found the perfect ring!  I have a picture of mine, but wasn't able to find Jordan's online. The little bit of curve fits around the setting of the engagement ring beautifully.



The wedding band is 18K white gold with a total carat weight of 0.50 and the engagement ring is 19K white gold with a carat weight of 1.16...I find it very bizarre that for wanting something simple Jordan and I both fell in love with rings that are absolutely princess.

6/18/2011

House Fund = 100%

Yesterday I shared our plan for the house fund and that we had reached our goal with time to spare!  I'm pretty excited about that...for all of the obvious reasons AND it means that I get to re-arrange the goal trackers on my blog again...and maybe the colors too.  I'm feeling a need for change.

6/17/2011

Final Deposit Payment

Today is the day that our new home builder Sable, will deposit the last of our 5% down payment for our new home purchase.  We were given the option when we purchased our new home to pay the 5% upfront or to break it into four payments.  After a quick conversation we decided that more control over our money for a longer period of time was a wiser choice!

Here is how the breakdown worked:

The 1.5% we have to have available for closing is a requirement by our Mortgage Lender (ING) - While I understand why we have to have it available, the circumstances around buying a new home from a builder result in this being a bit moot.  There will be no closing costs, no lawyer fees, no utility transfer fees, no land transfer taxes...you get the idea.

There will also be no significant cost to moving as Jordan and I intend on moving ourselves and he will get a discount on a rental truck.  We estimate it will cost us $250 in pizza, beer and gas to move.

If we actually take possession in November this money will serve as some christmas money, get us set on our emergency fund and help pay down any left over wedding bills (of which hopefully there will be none).

6/16/2011

Jordan's Income Potential

Yesterday I shared with you that Jordan will be getting a job promotion within the next couple of weeks.  I took the potential for his gross salary and broke it down based on current pay stubs and the Canada Revenue Agency's payroll calculator to get a close guesstimate of his potential net take home pay.


I highlighted the cells in  yellow that I know will change but that i'm not 100% sure what the premium calculations are based on - they likely will only change within a couple of dollars or so.

We're pretty excited that come July Jordan's take home pay will be increasing by about $114 -$175 a month.

6/15/2011

Jordan is Getting Promoted

Jordan called me yesterday at work with some very exciting news!  After working at his truck/trailer rental company for the last three years as the Parts Supervisor, he is being promoted to the Repair Dispatch Manager.  

This promotion will open a lot of doors for growth within his company.  With this transition he'll now have two to three people reporting to him as well as a variety of increased responsibility.  As the job still has a huge parts element to it, he'll be able to finish his third, and final, year of his Parts Technician Apprenticeship.

They are offering Jordan $200-300/month increase in salary (don't ask why they talk like that, he is salaried) - with some quick math we see that they are offering $2,400 to $3,600 increase in pay.  As his current salary is $42,000 he's looking at ending up at $44,400 to $45,600 which is a 5.71% to 8.57% increase in pay.

At this point he doesn't actually know where in that range he's going to fall - but either way it's a significant raise (percentage wise).

I did a bit of research on salaries in Alberta for this job based on the NOC.

A starting hourly rate for this type of job in 2009 was $20.17 which equals = $42,000 the average rate of pay for this job in 2009 was $24.04 which = $50,000

So if they get Jordan up to $45,000 a year right now that seems fair with your three years parts background – but within two years I believe he should expect to be at about $50,000 (keeping in mind this data is two years old…so really it should be a bit higher because of cost of living and what not)….but it gives you a good sense of things.

Congratulations Jordan!  I am so proud of you!

6/14/2011

6/06/2011

Suits: Check

Jordan, his best man, and his groomsman went suit shopping this weekend.  It was their second trip and they found everything they needed!  The guys wound up with a dark charcoal suit, white french cuff shirts, purple ties, and purple cuff links!

They went to a variety of different stores but had all agreed they wanted to purchase instead of rent so that they had a good suit to use in the future.  When they started out looking at different shops they found suits ranging in price from $150-$1,500.  


The price point that wound up being the most comfortable for all three of them was at TipTop Tailors which was about $500 each.

Here's the breakdown of the cost:


Unfortunately, no one came prepared to pay for their suits so Jordan and I footed the entire bill - my credit card is now screaming.  The Best Man will be paying us back for his bit sometime this week and we expect the other groomsman (his brother) to pay us back this week as well. 

I was budgeting approximately $800 for Jordan's suit however; so in that sense the weekend/suit shopping was a great success!  I'm really glad Jordan found something that worked for him and his men that worked for the pocket book.

oh- I should mention.  The Best Man did buy his own tie (we bought those at another store) and the groomsman's shirt cost more because of the length of his back - it needed to be a bit special.  

6/02/2011

New Page

Just a quick note...

I added another page to the blog called Found Recipes


Like dialogging the books that I've read/am reading I thought this would be another fun way to write and share.  So if you have any recipes you'd like to share with me and the readers of this blog, feel free to email them to me and I'll post them!

6/01/2011

Architectural Controls

I mentioned Architectural Controls briefly a few weeks ago and had mentioned that it was one of the final pieces of the puzzle that we were waiting on before we could finalize everything with the house.  We were told to budget approximatively $2,000.

The final number came in and I'm so excited to share that it's $1,076.25!  That combined with some other tough decisions leave us with this final breakdown of our new home purchase:


We also received our draft blue prints to review tonight and tomorrow we sign off on the final plans!

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