April was expensive, but I ended up coming under budget because we decided to use our credit card rewards points to offset some of the cost of our Portugal trip, and I booked cheaper tickets to the Blue Jays games. The prices of the good seats were just outrageous, especially with the exchange rate, and all the seats at Safeco Field have a great view anyway.
We started organizing and setting aside items for donation and to sell, which feels really nice – but the place looks like a bomb went off. And now that RD is off on his annual 5-week trip for work, I’ll have a pretty busy May trying to sort through and sell what we no longer need.
In work-related news, I might have mentioned before that my boss has taken the next 3-months off to go on an epic around-the-world adventure with her partner. I’m so thrilled that she’s on such an amazing trip, and I’m also very happy that the company I work for is flexible and allows for life events like that. While she’s gone, I’ll be working a lot more overtime because I’m taking on some of her workload. But I’m more than happy to do it. And the extra hours means more banked vacation time. :)
I also got a raise a few weeks ago, which will allow me to increase my retirement contributions. I haven’t figured out exactly how much I’ll be increasing it by, but will have the numbers in my May Budget post later this week.
Anyway, here’s how I did this month:
- Utilities – The amount we were billed was for March and April. It’s been chilly the past 2 months, and we used our heat more than I thought we would. We’ve since turned the thermostats all the way down, so I don’t anticipate the next two months to be very expensive.
- Food – We fell out of sync with our normal grocery shopping routine near the end of the month when we were both preparing to go away but didn’t want any leftovers in the fridge.
- Household – RD ended up buying some plastic totes because they’re more durable for storing stuff in the garage. I’m glad he did because our stuff is just sitting on the floor in cardboard boxes.
Income and Savings:
I only made a few hundred dollars in freelance income for the month, but am in negotiations for two or three projects in May. I also have a cheque from the conference that I spoke at this last weekend, but will group that in with my May income.
- Current Down Payment Fund: $133,650 / $150,000 (+ $500)
April 2017 Goals:
- Be open – CHECK! I’m introverted, so public speaking can be difficult for me. Actually, even a lot of social interaction is difficult. Thankfully I’m able to overcome it most of the time, and perform in a way where people might not know how scared/nervous I actually am. I felt like when I was at the conference (more so talking one-on-one with people and not during my talk), I was able to be authentic and show my true self. And that’s all I really wanted. :)
- Be budget conscious – CHECK! I tried really hard to watch my budget this month, and because of that (and some rewards points), I was able to save $500 to my down payment fund, in addition to my regular automated retirement contributions.
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.