There’s no way around it, April is an expensive month – and travel is the reason why. We went away for the Easter long weekend (also for RD’s birthday), I had to buy baseball tickets for my family’s annual trip to Seattle (now that the Blue Jays are a good team, we have to play premium prices – baseball isn’t cheap anymore!), and we wanted to book our flights to Portugal for September because our flights are very specific and the prices are really good right now. PLUS, I’m headed up to Smithers for 4 days at the end of the month to speak at a writing retreat/conference.
All this spending goes against our goal of saving for our down payment, but we’ve made conscious efforts to scale back our trips, and I’m currently on at least a 3-month shopping ban. We also plan on doing a major purge of our belongings in the summer – including selling RD’s car, as well as a (somewhat) valuable painting that will never hang on our walls. I also have a nice Leica camera I don’t use anymore, a good amount of clothing that I can try to sell or donate, as well as some kitchen items (juicer, blender, etc.)that can go.
Anyway here is the budget for April:
April 2017 Goals:
- Be open – I’m sure some of you can relate to this, but speaking is basically the hardest thing for me to do. I’m introverted, but can do presentations and lead meetings when needed. I’ve also gotten quite comfortable leading meetings and discussions at work, but speaking to large crowds is something I’m just not used to. So when I go to my speaking gig at the end of the month I want to be open to whatever happens. I know my presentation will resonate with some people, but it might not be for everyone. And that’s okay. I want to be open to meeting new people and also being honest when I don’t know the answer to something. I’m not an expert, but I’m passionate about blogging, social media, and being online … and I know enough to help people get started. :)
- Be budget conscious – Since I have an enormous budget this month, I won’t be able to save anything aside from my automated retirement contributions. So I really want to monitor my budget and make sure I’m not spending unnecessarily.
Those are my only goals for the month. To be honest, this month has been really difficult so far – which is why my monthly goals are so late. Between preparing for RD to leave, freelancing, the personal finance conference, gearing up for work to start getting busy, lots of people wanting to visit, and my upcoming speaking gig, I’ve been stressed. Usually I’d have at least 2 or 3 more goals I’d try to accomplish this month, but honestly I don’t think I can do much more than this. And I think that’s okay! May will be better. I hope. :)
How is your April coming along?
March was a busy month. We got pre-approved for a mortgage and started checking out open houses, went on a week-long vacation, RD’s parents came into town, lost of visiting with friends, and we also started planning for our trip to Portugal in the fall (I created a rough budget which I’ll share later this month) as well as my family’s annual Blue Jays weekend in Seattle. All of these travel expenses will fall into April’s budget, which I’m not really looking forward to. :)
But I tried really hard to keep saving for my down payment as a top priority in March. We cut back on eating out in restaurants, when we were on vacation, we only went out to one restaurant and opted to cook the rest of our meals in the cabin (we didn’t even go to Tacofino!), and I bought the blazer that I wanted on eBay instead of in-store (which saved me about $100). Admittedly I didn’t need the blazer – or any new clothes, really – so I’m going to put myself on a shopping ban for the next 3 months (April-May-June) to see how that goes. The only thing I will allow myself to spend money on is repairing a pair of shoes (my Birkenstock sandals need to be resoled before I start wearing them every day during the summer). Spending money on clothing won’t make me happier, and will take me further away from my down payment goal.
As for how I did in March? I came in under budget, which I’m pleased about. Here are my numbers:
- Household – just a few dollars over budget spending on normal essentials like laundry detergent and cleaning supplies.
- Car & Transportation – replaced the battery on my car remote, and ended up paying for parking a few times.
Income and Savings:
This month I earned over $10,000 (which is definitely not normal for me), and was able to save 68.5% of my net income. And because of that bump in income, I was able to contribute a decent amount to my down payment fund. :)
For those that are wondering how I’m allocating my savings, the only savings I have automated is for retirement – because that will always be my number one financial goal. After that, every month I put $100-200 into a general savings account, and the rest goes into my down payment fund. I no longer contribute to my emergency fund (it has sat fully funded at $10,000 for the past few years).
- Current Down Payment Fund: $133,150 / $150,000 (+ $3,400)
March 2017 Goals:
- Rebrand GMBMFB. FAIL. I bought the theme and have started playing with it, but haven’t implemented it live. Soon.
- Cash out a portion of my corporate stock program. CHECK! I cashed out about $2,000 in corporate stock and added it into my EQ Bank account.
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage. CHECK! We’ve seen about 10-12 places and have really narrowed down exactly what we’re looking for.
- Figure out a good system to combining some of our finances. CHECK! We opened up a joint chequing account, and are ready to merge together our day-to-day finances. We discussed our current system and agreed that it’s working for us, so there’s no need to change it until we actually move.
With all this gloomy weather here in Vancouver, I’m so excited for our trip to Powell River and Tofino this month. :) We did this exact trip last March (4 nights in Tofino, 2 nights in Powell River), and the weather was perfect, so keeping my fingers crossed that we luck out again. What I’m most proud of was we were able to reduce our accommodation cost by $210 over last year just by booking a month earlier. Not only that, but we’re in a better location in a stand-alone cottage (instead of in a suite in a rental house).
Field hockey is winding down for the year (we’re in the championship game this weekend!), so I’m going to have to start going to the gym to keep my cardio up. In prior years, this is where I’d start taking up running, but since realizing that distance running aggravates my feet (to the point where I need corrective surgery), that’s not really an option anymore. I get a fairly significant discount through work if I wanted to join a gym (much cheaper than the rec centre I currently go to), but I don’t want to commit to anything yet until we know exactly where we will be living long-term.
I was supposed to be on TV last month to do a personal finance segment, but it was canceled at the last minute because the cameras were malfunctioning. What I realized was that I need to update my more formal work clothes. I’m fine from a day-to-day perspective with enough dresses and shirts. But what I’m lacking is a nice suit (I bought one a few years ago, but it’s too big for me and tailoring it would cost almost as much as the suit itself!) and pencil skirts. I feel like I actually need these items in my wardrobe for industry functions for both my full-time job and my freelancing work. So I added $200 into my budget to buy a blazer I’ve been eyeing (when it’s on sale). This is a start. I’m not willing to commit more for the time being, but having a few more professional pieces in my wardrobe is starting to feel like a goal I want to accomplish this year.
Anyway, here is my budget for the month! :)
March 2017 Goals:
- Rebrand GMBMFB. I should have found the time to make this a priority last month, but I didn’t. It’s going to have to get done in March.
- Cash out a portion of my corporate stock program. I figured out how to cash out my stock, but the $25 fee is really bugging me. But I just have to get it done.
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage. We’ve decided to take the step to get pre-approved for a mortgage now, because we realize that there are very few places we really, really like. We started to monitor the listings in the neighbourhood we want to live in back in November, and only 2 places really had us interested – and 1 of those was ruled out due to high strata fees. So if another one comes up, we should at least be prepared if we want to make an offer.
- Figure out a good system to combining some of our finances. We’ve discussed this off-and-on for a few months now – what would it look like when we eventually combine our day-to-day spending accounts? We both want to maintain financial freedom with our own accounts (we’ll never fully combine our money), but we do have to figure out the best system for our joint expenses going forward. Especially if we’re looking to buy a home.