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.
Well I did better this month than last month, but still went over budget. :)
I ended up buying a new purse/laptop bag for my commute because I don’t have any way to carry my work laptop home, and it was interesting how quickly I switched to wanting to buy stuff. I decided I wanted to buy new black flats for work, which then made me realize I’d like to buy cute summer work shoes … which made me think about our Portugal vacation and how I’ll probably want to buy some light weight casual dresses that wouldn’t wrinkle in my backpack … which made me wonder if I needed new shoes for the trip go to with these new dresses? It was incredible to see where my mind went and what I thought I absolutely needed to get. Of course I didn’t buy any of it, but it didn’t stop me from going into Banana Republic and J.Crew on my lunch break one day. I was only able to stop this thought cycle of “SPEND!” by reminding myself about how important it is for me to focus on saving for a home and for my future. And as soon as I left those stores on my lunch break, I transferred an extra $100 into my down payment account as a further act of commitment to save.
Switching gears to talk about travel for a second, has anyone been to the Azores before? We’re seriously considering spending 7-10 days there during our Portugal trip. Seems pretty ideal to do some snorkeling, surfing, and relaxing – oh and Portugal’s tallest mountain is there, which I definitely want to summit. :)
Anyway, onto how I did in February…
- Utilities – this is billed every 2 months, and December was so cold, so it’s no wonder we went over budget a little bit in this category.
- Food – we went a tiny bit over budget this month for groceries. This is due in part to my laziness – instead of walking a little further to the cheaper grocery store, I’ve been shopping at a more expensive one. That will change for March.
- Entertainment – I was doing so well until two concerts came up that we both really, really wanted to see: Ryan Adams and Jurassic 5, both in June. So we splurged and bought tickets. Worth it.
- Clothing – I ended up buying a laptop bag because my work lap top is too big to fit in my purse. I was able to get away with it when I was driving to work, but now that I’m commuting, I wanted something that would act as a laptop bag, purse, and lunch bag combined.
- Fitness – I bought some energy bars, Nuun, and a pair of much needed athletic sunglasses.
Income and Savings:
This month I saved 63.7% of my net income. I still have about $5,000 in freelance income that should be coming to me for March.
My down payment account is growing slowly, and it’s been interesting to really start paying attention to the new property listings that have been coming out. There has only been one listing that has really wowed me (and that was 3 months ago), so I think it’s going to take a while to actually find exactly what we’re looking for.
- Current Down Payment Fund: $129,750 / $150,000 (+ $1,150)
February 2017 Goals:
- Rebrand GMBMFB. FAIL. I should have found the time to make this a priority, but I didn’t. It’s going to have to get done in March.
- Cash out a portion of my corporate share program. PASS. I did look into this, but it’s not done yet. I’m not able to transfer it myself through the online options, so I’m going to have to call in, and I just haven’t found time to do that yet.
- Go to the optometrist. CHECK! I swear my eyesight has gotten worse over the past few years, but apparently I still have 20/20 vision.
- Take breaks at work. CHECK! Instead of doing my errands after work or on the weekends, they’re all getting done on my lunch break. I’ve been able to get out for a walk at least 2 or 3 times each week.
- Unsubscribe to all triggering e-mails. CHECK! I’ve been unsubscribing like mad to any emails I got during the month. It was hardest to say goodbye to Anthropologie, but it’s best that I just don’t know about all the amazing sales I’m missing out on.
February has already started off well because I was able to achieve one of my failed January goals of lowering my internet bill before I even had a chance to post this month’s budget. :)
We were paying $66 (plus tax) for our internet – which I thought was way too high considering we’re on the second cheapest plan, and the internet wasn’t even fast enough to support one person watching Netflix and the other person streaming a short video online. So I did some research on other companies in the area, and saw that one was offering a way better plan for $40/month. I’ve been mulling over switching for months, but as a long-time Shaw customer, I wanted to see if they could give me a better rate before I went with the new company.
After speaking with a couple reps, I was finally upgraded to a much better plan with Shaw which will be $50/month for 1 year (no contract needed). I’m happy that I was able to save $16/month AND get onto a plan that will better suit our internet usage. :)
As for my February budget, I anticipate normal spending – no big purchases for the month, aside from the final deposit on our Tofino accommodation in March. Work now pays for my transit pass, but I added in the cost of two tanks of gas because I really want to get into the mountains this month to do some snowshoeing.
February 2017 Goals:
- Rebrand GMBMFB. I’ve already picked out a template and I’m ready to go for it – the only problem is I need to find the time!
- Cash out a portion of my corporate share program. I just want to take out $3,500 and put it into savings, as that was earmarked as part of my down payment fund.
- Go to the optometrist. I think I need glasses? :(
- Take breaks at work. I’m horrible at not taking any breaks when I’m in the office. I usually eat lunch at my desk while I work, and don’t take any coffee breaks. This month I’d like to focus on going for short walks at least a few times each week.
- Unsubscribe to all triggering e-mails. I did this a few years ago, but unfortunately have re-registered with a few companies to get information on their sales. Except that there’s nothing I actually need! So, goodbye Patagonia, Icebreaker, Arc’teryx, and Fjallraven. I don’t need you anymore Banana Republic, J.Crew, and Anthropologie!