Weekly Spend - January (week 4)

Okay!  Week four down - and we've landed a bit high.

Groceries had a spike because we did some extra groceries to have around 15 people over for Baby Girl's first birthday.

Little Man needed some special cream for his hands so medical was higher (usually it's zero).

Kids Stuff was 1/4 payment of a photography session that we booked last minute for Baby Girl's birthday.  I'll finish paying for this in the first week of February so the balance will show then.

Vehicle Maintenance was a surprise new battery for one of our vehicles.  The car hadn't been run for a couple of months and the battery burst in the cold streak that we had.  So that's annoying.

Looking at the total spend to date we are at 98% of the budget and still have the rest of the last week of the month to get through. So we most certainly will be over. 


Soup Stock Day!

It's Soup Stock Day!

Every month or two or three, I save scraps of carrots, onion, celery, and bones from Roast or Chicken so I can make a big pot of soup stock.  It's a great way to make your food budget go just a bit further - plus it is tasty.

Unless your four - in which case, my toddler will tell you that soup = yuck. Every time.

It's actually been a while since I've done this so I had quite a few prime rib bones saved up! 

I added mayyybe a tablespoon of salt to the whole batch, brought it to a boil then simmered for around 16 hours.

I first used my big strainer to catch the big bits of bones, and then ran it through my fine mesh strainer twice to catch and little bits.

My mom's trick is to then get the stock cold enough that you can scrape off the fat that sits on the top, keep this in a separate container and freeze both.

When you're ready to actually make soup - use the stock-fat for frying up all your vegetables. You wind up with less fat overall in the soup, don't have fat separating in your soup and add more flavour back in then if you used oil or butter when you are making your soup.


Caselot Sale!

I spend a bit of time lurking on Reddit's personal finance forums and there seems to be a lot of chatter about how much people spend on groceries.  So I want to spend a bit of time thinking about how our money is spent in this area, in more detail. 

I don't typically keep grocery receipts, but did for last week's big shop.  We only have two grocery stores in my community - so suggestions around going to your local low cost shop don't work for me.  We plan ahead, try to get to Costco every couple of months or so and we watch for local sales.  Here's a peek at what some of our local costs are.

If there is interest I can post this again as I get more historical information.  My mom and I both track sales in the same excel worksheet, so that if I can't remember what a good price is I can go back and look.  I've been negligent in keeping this up to date, but I am going to start doing this for a while again. 

...and no, we don't by strip loin steak very often but we did this trip so wanted to show it on the tracker. They were too thick and delicious looking to pass by.


Weekly Spend - January (week 3)

Okay - here we go - week three!

Before even doing my summaries I know that I'm closer to being on track than we were last month.  Reason being?  I was able to manage credit card payments (100% of the balance), without drawing from our Line of Credit! 


For the first time in three weeks, we fueled the Escape. We did a big grocery shop (case lot sale), stocking up on essentials.  We went to the bakery twice and the liquor store once.  We did one stop at the dollar store and spent $20 on kid's art and craft stuff.

Here's the combined 1-3 weeks summary -- >>

You can see we have $550 left to spend in the budget.   We do have baby girl's birthday at the end of the month so hopefully, we can stay on track.


Eating In

We've been working hard at meal planning - in part to help just manage the after-work-daycare rush and in part to go out to eat less often.

Don't get me wrong, we really enjoy eating out, however; we want to be more intentional about it.  We want to go out when we're planning to do it - as a social thing not as an 'oh crap, did you take something out for dinner, no I didn't, we need to feed the kids' event.

Last week we planned to have a pizza night.  Recently we've been doing this with store-bought pizza shells.  This time, however; I found a great recipe online - quick and easy and made the dough myself.

It was amazing!  So good!  We did one pepperoni and one cheese.


Paint Paint Paint

We recently 'finished' a basement renovation - finished in that we paid the last bill and our contractor has wrapped up.  Now, that contractor just happened to be my Uncle - and he's infamous for giving homework when he's working for family.

The kids did amazing during their first week of Daycare last week - and so this week Jordan's expecting to have four days uninterrupted.  He has a stack of closet doors to paint and re-install, walls to patch and paint (after moving all our furniture downstairs the walls got pretty beat-up).  I'm so excited for all of these small jobs to be finished - and I know he's excited for me to stop talking about all the tasks left on the to-do list.



We made this.

It's two feet by three feet - and we bought two of these canvas for about $40 last month.  This is the first one that we painted as a family.  We're going to hang this and the second above our living room couch.

Inexpensive art, and a celebration of our family doing something fun together.


Weekly Spend - January (week 2)

Another week over, another spending summary review.  This week we spent about $200 on groceries - $70 less than last week.  We did not eat out!! Woo!  Jordan actually asked once, and I think (in part) because of doing these posts I didn't want to.  Our kitchen was a bit of a mess because Jordan was standing/staining the countertops so instead, we grabbed our dinner groceries and cooked in my mom's kitchen instead.  A win!

Oh! What's that $7 from?  That is something from 7-Eleven.  I assume a lottery ticket and a coffee.

Kids Stuff! $120 in kids stuff?  Okay - this is about $95 in diapers (two boxes from Costco), two 360 sippy cups for baby girl for daycare and a new water bottle for Little Man for daycare.

Finally, we have about $265 in Home Maintenance. This is $55 in paint - with the kids back at daycare, Jordan is getting some small jobs around the house finished before he goes back to work.  Starting upstairs he got our closet doors painted, and the doors in the hallway painted that were somehow two different off-white colors.  $175 was at Rona for painting supplies, drop cloth etc. etc. Next up was a $15 cable/electric detector thing that Jordan tells me will save us a $150 call-out fee from an electrician and finally a set of glassware containers for about $20 - with the kids back in daycare and all this meal planning we're doing - we needed a few more to store leftovers.

 <  <  < This is a summary of both weeks.  Mostly so I could see the remaining amount to spend and % spent of the budget. 

On the surface we're doing well because we're two weeks in and spent just under half of the budget...buuuut January has nearly five full weeks in it.

So...we'll see how we do.

Have a great week!


Weekly Spend - January (week 1)

Well, we made it through the first week of January - we've already spent nearly $1,800.  Goodness.  Of course nearly $1,500 of that was on cat insurance for one of our vehicles.  So leaving that aside, Here's a breakdown.

I know we went to the grocery store a few times already - and it looks like a bit much.  The extra spend this week is from extra daycare snacks for the kids who start going tomorrow, extra veg for a family dinner on Sunday (my mom and grandmother), and for an unexpected diaper blowout.  While we were at the store, Little Miss needed a change and we realized that neither of us packed the diaper bag...so we also had to buy not-on-sale diapers :(

The eating out was one trip to DairyQueen - Jordan tried a new Lamb recipe for ribs and it wasn't quite what either of us was expecting.  Everyone was still hungry after dinner - so we rant out for a quick bite.

Entertainment this week was our DisneyPlus and a phone game.


Debt Much?

A couple of days ago, I mentioned we had gotten ourselves into some debt in 2019.  From renovations, to dog surgery, to vehicle breakdowns etc. etc. This post is about how we're going to get out of it.

After some brainstorming with Jordan and then bouncing the ideas off of my mom - we've decided to suspend all of our current savings (RRSPs, RESPs, TSFA, future spending) and direct all of it to the debt.  This will essentially have the debt paid off in 2020 rather than 2021 - so that's big.  To my husband's point - why are we saving if we're drowning....and we're not, drowning that is, but debt is a slippery slope.  Once you have it it, it's easy to keep sliding.

Our income/expenses are also going to change several times throughout the year so my other strategy is going to budget based on the constant and then as our situation evolves make additional lump sum payments, rather than continuously updating the budget.

Here's a snapshot of the budget.

Right away you might notice that I'm not budgeting here for annual insurance premiums etc.  I usually save for advance for those, but those savings are also being directed to the Line of Credit until we've got it paid off.

The next thing you might see is the monthly spending of $2,600.

This also has Jordan's income - but he's not back to work until February.

One of the mistakes we've made (several times) in the past, is not being realistic when we budget on what we spend on life.  So this number represents what we actually spend - not what we hope to spend.  Intention here is so that we don't go further into debt while trying to get out of it.

The numbers are coming from yesterday's post on our 2019 spending summary.

Of course we will try to keep this as a maximum, and even less - but also - let's be realistic here.
On to what will be changing over the course of the year.

  • In April we'll see a tax refund of some kind
  • In February I think we'll be eligible for the BC Affordable Child Care Benefit for the 2019 year.  This may (or may  not) decrease our child care expense by around $450.
  • In July our CCB Benefit will be re-assessed and I expect this to go up based on 2019 reduced income.  I think it will be around $450
  • In September little man will go to Kindergarten, so Daycare will be reduced by $850/month and then we'll have after-school care for a couple hours.  I don't know what that will cost yet.
  • In a few months we'll be apply for Life Insurance for Jordan
  • When Jordan goes back to work we won't have the RRSP premiums line item
  • In June our mortgage is up for renewal.  We're going to see about reducing our weekly payment ($500/week) to manage cash-flow.  The goal is down to $400/week.
  • In the spring, we'll be installing three new exterior doors - we're expecting that bill to be around $8,000.
So, that's it. 

That's the plan.


2019 Spending Summary

This is the breakdown of our monthly spending in each category we track.  The first summary, called Day to Day is the spending we do when we're just out and about.  Other Spending includes larger annual or monthly expenses like maintenance, insurance etc.

We've started meal planning just in the last two months so I'm looking forward to seeing how that impacts our average. Our clothes/shoes/hair spend is pretty significant - a big chunk of this was because of me.  Going back to work, having a baby, changing body - all required that I update my wardrobe a bit.  I think this will settle down into 2020.

Costco typically includes some big household items like toilet paper, paper towel, garbage bags etc.  It also includes some grocery items like flour, sugar, maple syrup, lunch snacks and it includes kids clothes - love their PJs.  Home maintenance and renovation will go way down in 2020 but I suspect vehicle maintenance will go up.

We're expecting to have to get the clutch looked at for the Kia and the Escape need the rear suspension looked at.  Both vehicles need new windshields.  We're both eager to replace one of the vehicles soon - but this won't happen until our debts paid off (outside of the mortgage).  We would also like to wait until there are more electric vehicle options on the market.

It's January?

How did that happen?

I started out this year with good intentions..then I had a baby and now it's January.  I've still been tracking our spending, trying to keep on top of things and making progress on our financial goals.  This is a bit of a catch up post for myself.  I don't think there is anyone out there reading anymore, but I enjoy the process of writing, of documenting our journey - however sporadic.

We have managed to get ourselves into some debt this year.  With finishing our renovations, major surgery for our dog, maternity leave followed by shared parental leave and a vacation in the middle and now Christmas.  It's not ideal - but I think we'll be back on track in the next six months or so.  Though it will be a full year before the debts paid off, I wouldn't trade this year for anything.

Not only did I get to spend seven wonderful months at home with Baby Girl and Little Man, Jordan spent six months at home with them as well.  We overlapped in August for six weeks, and so the kids are getting ready to go to daycare starting next week - Jordan is still on unpaid leave for another four weeks.  This is largely to help with the transition.  We're expecting it to be a difficult one with Baby Girl and there are some projects around the house that need Jordan's attention too.

So, what's the big picture?

Our net-worth has increased by a modest 4%  - this is largely because some of our gains were offset by the debt I referenced above - you can see though since August we've been making steady increases.

Our credit scores are currently very strong.  I'm at 850 and Jordan is at 808 - It's a big improvement since I last wrote about it.

We are all healthy and happy and are looking forward to a vibrant 2020.


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