Give Me Back My Five Bucks

December 2017 Goals

I can’t believe it’s already December! Yes this post comes a little late, but I’ve been busy creating my 2018 budgeting spreadsheet, and getting ready to wind down the year financially so that I can start calculating my final numbers for 2017.

2017 has been a great year so far, and I think the last few weeks of December will be a lot of fun as well. There are year-end dinners and catch-ups with friends and family, and I’m also really excited to go up to Smithers for a snowy Christmas (although I hope it’s not too cold!), and then to Victoria to hang out with my friends and family.

My budget for the month is a bit higher than normal, and that’s because:

  • December is a 3 pay cheque month for me, which is why my mortgage amount is higher than it normally is.
  • We had to have some bloodwork and tests done on Zoey to make sure she was physically able to have the dental surgery in January. All of her tests came back great, which is a relief. The cost of the testing was included in the quote we got a couple of weeks ago, we just had to pay for that portion up front.
  • I’ve budgeted for a few last minute Christmas gifts just in case, but I think we’ve managed to cover everyone already. :)

December 2017 Goals:

  • Go see a physio – I’ve had issues with my hips since October when I somehow injured myself playing field hockey. I immediately stopped running and tried to rest my hips. And due to travel as well as how the field hockey schedule worked out, I even had a 2.5 week break from any real physical activity. But they’re still bothering me. So have to go get it dealt with before it becomes a real issue.
  • Realistically plan for 2018 – there could be some major expenses coming up next year which could hinder our ability to take our normal ‘big’ vacation. I want to finalize my budgeting spreadsheet and make sure I have enough money saved up for these expenses – and if I don’t? Then I’ll see if my monthly budget need adjusting, or if I need to try to bring in more income.
  • Pack my lunch every day – So far for December I’ve packed my lunch every day, and I hope to continue to do so for the rest of the month.
  • Get out of the office – I’ve fallen back into the habit of never leaving the office during the work day. I need to start taking walks again, or going grocery shopping on my lunch break, so that I get a break from my desk.

November 2017 Goals: Recap

So I went over a little on my budget this month, but I feel good about all of my purchases. I’m especially proud of the fact that I significantly cut down on buying lunches and coffee this month – I didn’t go to Starbucks during work at all, and only ended up buying my lunch twice during the month (the day before I left for Toronto, and the day after).

All of my Christmas shopping is done. Okay, all of the major shopping is done. I’m only giving myself a small budget for December to pick up some odds and ends, wrapping paper, shipping expenses to get out gifts up to Smithers, etc. It feels good not to have to worry about buying gifts at all in December.

I also think I’m going to have to increase our Household budget because we are spending more on cat food each month than I had anticipated. I can’t bring myself to buy lesser quality food for Zoey, so as a result we’re spending about $80 on her food, and then there’s litter as well as treats. So I imagine we’re coming close to $100/month on her.

Speaking of Zoey, we took her to the vet for a dental consultation today because we were told at our previous check-up that her teeth were horrible. And it turns out they were not exaggerating. One of her canine teeth has broken off at the base (the root needs to be extracted), and another tooth has ground down to next to nothing. Plus, she has severe plaque build-up and her bath teeth are so bad that he thinks a few of them will need to be extracted as well. Poor cat!

They gave us an estimate of about $1,700 (!!!). The vet said she’s likely been in a good amount of pain for a while, so this will drastically improve her life. It’s a lot of money to spend since our pet insurance won’t cover something that’s clearly pre-existing … but it’s worth it, and I’m grateful that we don’t have to worry about the expense and can pay for it all out of our savings.

Also it’s interesting to talk to the vet about how old he actually thinks Zoey is. The SPCA estimated she was 3 years old, but he said that it’s very unlikely that a 3 year old would have that kind of dental damage, so he thinks she’s closer to 6-8 years old. He said that a lot of times the shelters estimate a lower age so that the pets are more adoptable. It’s a bit upsetting that she’s a lot older than we thought she was, but it doesn’t really change anything. Anyway, we are booked for her all-day dental appointment on January 5th, and I’m hoping that she won’t be in too much pain for the next month.

Anyway, here are my numbers for November:

Over Budget

  • Household: We had to take Zoey to the vet for some vaccinations, and then we also bought an Instant Pot during Black Friday sales. It was a bit of an impulse buy, but the slow cooker has been broken since last winter, so I see it more as a replacement. :)
  • Clothing: Getting my shoes re-soled ended up being a bit more expensive than I expected.
  • Travel: It was raining when I was in Toronto for the Canadian Personal Finance Conference so I took Ubers to the conference centre, and also when RD came to pick me up from the airport, my flight was delayed so parking was a lot more than I had anticipated.
  • Personal Care: Ended up getting my hair cut. Normally haircuts at this salon are $50, but if you go in with already washed hair, they drop the price to $30! I’m happy giving a 50% tip if it means my hair cuts stay under $50 total.
  • Gifts: I splurged a bit on my sister’s gift, and also I put down a deposit on accommodation for RD’s birthday getaway in April.

Income & Savings

I saved 38.2% of my income this month and my net worth went up 2.56%.

Also, I earned an extra $1,000 in freelance income and invoiced out for $3,000 which I’m hoping I get next month but realistically it won’t be until January. :)

November 2017 Goals:

  • Set up a joint savings account. FAIL. Because of the way we have our accounts set up, RD has to be the one who initiates opening up the joint savings account. But it’s something we know we want to do, so it’s just about making the time.
  • Consolidate my TFSA accounts. CHECK! I moved my Tangerine TFSA over to Questrade and into ETFs. I feel really good that I was able to move everything over and that I’m working at simplifying my investment accounts.
  • Get my boots re-soled. CHECK! I took them back to the only place I trust with my boots. They’re a bit more expensive than other places, but worth it because they do really good work.
  • Pack a lunch every work day. CHECK! Technically I bought my lunch twice this month, but I’m giving myself a pass because the work days before and after a trip are always difficult. And my flight home was delayed so that I didn’t even have a chance to get to the grocery store to pick up lunch items anyway.

How was your November?

Who manages the money in your household?

I received an email not too long ago asking if I could write a blog post about how RD and I manage our household finances. As you may know, we keep our personal savings and retirement account separate and I’ll never blog about RD’s personal finances (so this post is really an incomplete picture of our overall financial management), but we do have joint accounts for managing our everyday spending. And that I can talk about. :)

Just a few notes about us if you’re new to this blog:

  1. We are in our mid-30’s with no debt other than our mortgage
  2. We make roughly the same amount of money
  3. This is obviously just what works for us, and is not necessarily going to work for every couple.

Before we combined our finances

When RD and I first moved in together, we kept our finances separate for the most part. RD would write out our monthly rent cheques, and we would put all of our joint expenses (groceries, household, travel, etc.) onto my credit card because of the rewards points. Then, at the end of every month, we’d reconcile all of our transactions, and one of us would transfer money to the other person depending on how the expenses came out that month. I liked it this way because I had a record of all of our everyday purchases so that I knew exactly how much we were spending. And RD liked this method because he wasn’t super interested in any of that information. :)

We kept our finances like this for the first 18 months we lived together. It was an easy system to work with, and also it gave us a sense of financial protection should our relationship not work out. Not that we were planning for the worst, but we both felt strongly about maintaining a level of financial independence, especially in a new relationship.

Related: We are home owners!

Creating our budget

When we decided to buy a condo together, that’s when we decided to open up a joint account for our shared expenses. I wanted to have a set amount of money that we deposited into this account bi-weekly – that would cover our mortgage, maintenance fees, property tax, insurance, groceries, household expenses, as well as a decent amount of buffer money that would also act as our joint household savings account. And because we had 18 months worth of data to draw from, I did what I do best, and created a spreadsheet. Ok, multiple spreadsheets. :) I averaged the last 18 months of our joint expenses, probable mortgage and housing costs, included a buffer, and came up with a magic number that we would each auto deposit into our joint account on payday.

Related: Why I don’t want to burn my mortgage

In the last 6 months, we’ve adjusted our magic number once – by just $20 – because our condo maintenance fees increased after our AGM, and we have another mouth to feed ever since we adopted our beautiful cat Zoey from the SPCA. :)

Who manages the money?

Me. This actually works out perfectly because you know I love budgeting and spreadsheets and numbers. Nothing makes me happier than burying my nose into a good spreadsheet or reconciling purchases and paying bills. It’s not because RD isn’t good at this type of stuff (he’s never had debt and he always pays his bills on time), but I like taking a more in depth look at our money. It was actually a huge step out of his comfort zone having me take on his part of our joint finances, and I appreciate that.

I also tend to take on any paperwork regarding our joint finances and negotiating any bills that need to be negotiated (like our internet), but only because I have a more traditional desk job and access to a phone on a more regular basis.

We do make sure to check in regularly with our finances, and he has access to our joint accounts so that he can see our balances and transactions whenever he wants.

Who spends the money?

Me, mostly. :) We have that joint credit card that he puts gas onto or if he buys anything for the home, but I do almost all of our joint household shopping for groceries, cleaning supplies, toiletries, pet stuff, etc. This falls into our division of chores, because I like shopping and comparing prices and products. I also feel a sense of satisfaction in having our pantry and linen closet stocked with essentials. I also pay our credit card balance every month, and any other random bills that might come in, but most of our household bills are automatically deducted from our joint account.

Your turn!

I’m curious – who manages and/or spends the money in your relationship, you or your partner?

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