Give Me Back My Five Bucks

January 2018 Goals

Well, I’m a little late with my January budget, but better than not getting it done, right? :)

First thing to report is that Zoey had her dental surgery on the 5th and she did really well when I took her in for her 1 week check-up. After a few down days where she was clearly in pain from the surgery, she has slowly returning back to normal. And I think she’s eating with a lot less pain now, which I’m thrilled about. However, she has had some major bowel issues which I won’t go into detail about, so we got some meds from the vet that will hopefully make the situation less messy for all of us. :)

And, I’m happy that the $1,700 we thought would cost for her surgery actually only cost $1,365. Which I mean, yeah that’s still a lot of money, but over $300 less than what we thought we would pay, so I’m counting that as a win.

Other than Zoey’s surgery, January is a quiet month. No travel to pay, no big film festivals, and nothing huge to pay for … except for the wedding of course. :) I’ve decided to keep our wedding expenses separate and outside of my monthly budget spreadsheet. I’ll be tracking all of our expenses on the side, and will give a brief update at the end of every month during my budget recaps.

One thing to note from the below budget is you’ll see our climbing membership has been suspended. RD sprained his MCL over the Christmas break, and will be out for at least another 6-8 weeks while he rehabs with a physio. :( He’s pretty bummed about it and I know it’s tough for him, but I’m happy that it wasn’t anything more serious than that. We’ll be back to the climbing gym before you know it! And in the meantime, I’ve been taking full advantage of the free gym in our building to supplement my weekly exercise outside of field hockey games and practices.

Anyway, onto the budget!

January 2018 Goals:

  • Bring my lunch to work. Except for team lunches if my boss comes to the downtown office where I work out of.
  • Sell my Leica camera and my Coach purse. Or at least post them online. They’re doing nothing for me collecting dust in my closet.
  • Move for at least 60 min. every day. Even it’s just a walk on the treadmill, I want to be moving every day in January.

2018 Annual Goals

I had these goals all written out and ready to publish over the holidays, but then with the excitement of getting engaged (and realizing that shifted a lot of our goals for the year), I decided to spend a couple of weeks thinking about how that would affect my own personal goals.

The feeling of getting married has been an interesting one for me. I love the idea of being with RD forever – I think we’re a great match and it’s pretty incredible that we were able to find each other (and all that mushy love stuff). But as this is a financial blog, the idea of financially binding myself to someone is scary. It’s scary!!! Not because I think he’s bad with money (he’s better with his money than me), but because my financial goals aren’t entirely mine anymore. They’re ours. So sure, I’m saving for my retirement, but I’m really saving for our retirement. And my desire to put down X amount on the mortgage might differ from how much he wants to put down, or maybe I want to pay the car insurance monthly but he prefers it annually. I know every couple goes through this, I’ve just been doing it my own way for so long that the loss of independence and control is a weird feeling. Not a bad feeling, just a different way of thinking about things. :)

In 2018 I’m going to work on the personal things that I’m not very good at – like taking care of my body and finishing what I start. I want to focus on my career, and I also want to make sure that I take the time to enjoy everything that comes along with getting married and having a wedding.


  • Stay debt-free. This is obviously an important goal. :)
  • Save at least $1,650/month into my RRSP/TFSA. Aside from staying debt-free, saving for retirement is my most important financial goal. I hope to be able to retire when I’m 50-52, and at the pace I’m going, I should hit that goal. If I get any sort of raise during 2018, I will increase my retirement contributions accordingly.
  • Stay on budget with our wedding. A wedding is definitely a huge expense, but we have a fairly practical budget given that we’re having two receptions. That being said, I’d still like to stay within the budget we’ve set for ourselves. We’ve only been planning for a few weeks, and I can already see how easy it can be to get carried away thinking you have to have something, when you really just don’t.
  • Make an extra lump sum mortgage payment. We are currently on an accelerated bi-weekly schedule, and put down an additional 12% for each payment. We’d like to put some money down as a lump sum payment towards the mortgage, we just don’t know how much that would be yet.
  • Complete one home renovation project (on budget). We agreed that we’d do one home renovation each year, and I believe we’ve settled on putting down flooring on our balcony. This is something we can do ourselves, and aside from painting or putting together IKEA furniture, this will be the first home renovation I’ve ever been apart of. Well, if you can call balcony flooring an actual renovation, haha!


  • Take care of my body. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best at taking care of my body. I want to be better at the small things like: moisturizing more often, washing my face before bed, fixing my nail polish when it chips, or not trying to stretch my dry shampoo for the third day, etc. These might be normal habits for most people, but I tend to get lazy and stuff like this slides. And I find when I actually pay attention to the details, I feel so much better. But, I also want to maintain the big things – like eating right, exercising often, and managing my injuries properly. For example, for the first time in my life I’ve decided to go to a physio to help me with my hip issues (which I’ve had since October). I can see a lot of improvement, and I think I might come out of this without any permanent damage – which is more than I can say about my feet and ankles after years of abuse playing high-level sports.
  • Continue bringing my own lunch to work. I’ve become pretty good at making sure we have lunches to take to work, and I want to continue this into 2018. I won’t be perfect all the time, but if I can limit buying lunches or coffees to just a couple times a month, that’s going to do wonders for my budget.
  • Make the most of smaller trips. Because we have a wedding to pay for (and don’t want to reduce our additional mortgage payments or retirement contributions), we are postponing our honeymoon until next year (which also means no big vacation trip this year), so we’ll have to make sure our smaller getaways are super meaningful. We already have three trips booked – Tofino in March, Bowen Island in April, Seattle in August, and potentially (fingers crossed) a week in Haida Gwaii in early June.
  • Finish what I start. I realize that sometimes I get super stoked on a project and go super hard on it, only to lose interest and move onto something else before it’s finished. Actually, RD was the one who made me aware of this. And as a result of this quirk of mine,  I have a lot of half finished crafting projects sitting in my closet (like when I taught myself how to knit but didn’t even finish the scarf I started, or when I had grand ideas of making our own Christmas stockings and did so much stitching that my hand cramped up and I quit). So, my goal for the year is to finish things that I start. Or at least pace myself so that I don’t burn out. And maybe go back to some of my half finished projects and work on them a little. :)


  • Start studying for the APMP Certification (Foundation). I’ve been in this industry for almost 4 years now, and I’m almost positive that something in this line of work is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my career. That being said, I’ve always wanted to further my education with a certification program – I just haven’t found something that really suited my career path – until now! Last year I heard about the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, and while certification through them isn’t a requirement for my job, I think it’ll be beneficial because I’d like to learn something new, and it’s just nice to add a designation after my name to set me apart for future career opportunities.
  • Increased responsibility/exposure at work. I’m not really sure what this looks like yet, but I’d like to do more. Last year, I volunteered to take on some additional tasks which I found fun and fulfilling. Plus, my boss took an extended leave so I got to see more and interact with different people. Whether this goal results in increased responsibility or just increased exposure to other people within the company, I’m not sure. But learning more and growing is important to me – and even though there’s still lots more I can learn in my current role, I would definitely be interested expanding my knowledge.
  • Blog more often. Honestly, I have so many half finished blog posts just waiting for some final touches. But over the last couple of years, I haven’t been posting as much. It all started when I was dating someone who wasn’t super supportive of my blog or freelancing, and that was difficult to manage. Because when it comes down to it, real life is more important than my blog life. So I made the choice. But that’s in the past, and RD couldn’t be more supportive of what I’m doing. I’m confident and interested in sharing my financial choices and lifestyle (and learning from everyone else too!), it’s just that for some reason getting back into the rhythm of putting those thoughts down on the blog has been difficult. I need to figure out why I have that block, and how to get past it. Maybe it’s just a matter of posting more often and getting used to it again.

2018 is going to be a super busy but fun year, and I’m really excited about it. What are your goals looking like for this year?

Wedding planning fun!

They say that getting married is one of the most stressful events in anyone’s life. But I look at two of my best friends (who are also in my wedding party), and they both seemed pretty calm and collected when it came to planning their own weddings. Or maybe they just didn’t reveal just how stressed they were. :)

As we start to seriously plan for our wedding, I’m excited! It’s actually a lot of fun, but I can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed by all of the choices and potential expectations that come with a wedding. In reading the paperwork from our officiant, as well as countless online wedding forums and websites, I’m beginning to realize that 1) I’ve already done stuff that is considered a faux pas, and 2) I don’t actually know much about weddings. Like what is a candle ceremony? A sand ceremony? I have no idea. I didn’t know that mothers got corsages, or that a post-wedding brunch was a thing. And I didn’t even think about ceremony music or first dance songs or having a microphone so people could make speeches, or a guestbook, or a slideshow at the wedding?

Related: We’re Engaged!

Some of these things are important, and I’m glad I learned about them, but a lot of it? It’s just not us, so we’re either not going to do them, or we’re going to do it in our own way. And while our wedding budget is by no means skimpy, $20,000 does not go a long way when you’re planning two separate out-of-town receptions that will likely end up totaling well over 125 guests combined!

Here are a few details that I can share right now! :)

  • All communication will be sent via e-mail. The only thing we’re actually mailing out will be our thank-you cards. Both the save-the-dates and invitations will be sent digitally. I subscribed to a service that will handle our guest lists and invitations for multiple events, and will give us a beautifully designed website that will host all of our important details. This saves us a lot of money for sure, but mostly I’m happy for a system that will keep my guest lists organized for both receptions. I also bought a custom domain name for $1.00, and that’s that!
  • We axed the engagement party and bridal shower. Neither of us were interested in having an engagement party and I didn’t want a bridal shower, so those things will not be happening.
  • Along with two receptions, we’ll both have two outfits. That means two wedding dresses and two suits. I’ve always thought it would be so special to be able to wear a traditional Chinese wedding dress to the banquet, so that’s what I’m going to do. And RD will also be wearing a traditional Chinese suit which I’m really excited about. This is definitely something that is important to us, so we’re going to make it happen. But…
  • I’m getting both wedding dresses custom made. At first I was going to make all these appointments to try on dresses so that I could have some sort of special bridal experience. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered what the point was. After doing a lot of research, the dresses that I liked the most were way out of my price range, and besides, the dress isn’t a super important element to our wedding anyway. So I started researching online dress makers, and found an amazing resource of people with gorgeous dresses and really great reviews from other brides. Since what I want isn’t super complicated or fussy and I know what dress shapes flatter my body best, I’m just going to go for it.
  • Our decorations will be minimal. RD is DIYing the ceremony decorations, and my sister and I are going to make some centre pieces for the reception. But other than that? We don’t have anything else planned. Ok, maybe I’ll buy a cute “Just Married” banner to hang on the table at the reception.
  • I’m going to make our wedding favours. At first I was going to buy them, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to actually put in effort to thank people for coming. So I’m to attempt to DIY this task for both receptions. It shouldn’t cost much, but it’s not something I’ve ever done before … so if it fails in the test run, then don’t worry! I’ve got a back-up plan.
  • Vendors are getting booked! We have booked our cake, photographer, salon appointments (hair and makeup), our hotel accommodation, seating for the ceremony, officiant, and 1 of 2 reception venues. I’m also in talks with the florist and waiting for a quote. Once the other venue gets booked, I’ll feel a lot better, but until then I’ll be a little ball of anxiety. :)

That’s where we are so far! I won’t be revealing too much more about the actual wedding details, as I know a lot of friends and family read this blog and I want to keep some of it a surprise! :) For those interested, I’m using WeddingWire for my budgeting and task list, and AppyCouple to manage the guest list, invitations, and website. I feel pretty proud that we’ve gotten this all done in just a few weeks, but at the same time I know we’re missing a lot of details (big and small) that should be sorted out ASAP.

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