Give Me Back My Five Bucks

June 2017 Goals: Recap

Okay, June’s expenses weren’t as bad as I thought they would be, BUT I made a few errors when developing my budget back in May because I had no idea what our mortgage payments would look like, and for some reason I put July’s rent into the budget. Whoops. Obviously we didn’t have to pay for July’s rent, and the way our mortgage payments work, we don’t actually make our first payment until July.

Speaking of our mortgage, after running the numbers with RD, we decided we’ll be increasing our accelerated bi-weekly payments by 20% and going from there. It’s an easy way to bring our mortgage down by a few years, and it doesn’t really affect our overall budget. Or at least it doesn’t seem to. We can re-adjust the amount later if we find it’s impacting our other goals.

Overall, our move went smoothly. We spend an entire weekend shuttling boxes back and forth between our house and the condo, so when the movers actually came, all they had to move was our big furniture. We also spent about 3 days painting – it was a lot harder than I thought it would be, but the place looks much better.

This month we also spent a weekend in Seattle with my family. It’s always a really fun trip, but with the exchange rate being what it was, it came out to be more expensive than we thought. I had also budgeted that we’d book the rest of our Portugal accommodation this month, but we ended up being way too busy, so that will just have to wait until July!

Freelancing went well this month and it was also a 3-pay cheque month. So because my cash flow this month puts me in a decent spot, I took on a bit more of the household expenses. We went to an antique store and found a beautiful teak dining room hutch (I’m going to use it as a pantry). It was originally $1,700 but we got it on discount for $570, so I’m pretty excited. I hadn’t anticipated buying furniture until July, so it wasn’t accounted for in the June budget, but the sale was too good to pass up. :) We’ll be going to IKEA this weekend to pick up a few more things.

Anyway, here is how I did this month with my budget:

Over Budget

  • Property Tax – we pre-paid for our property tax for the year when we closed on our condo.
  • Groceries – because we weren’t cooking at home that often, I ended up going out for lunch way more often. I tried going to more inexpensive places, but I still went over budget by a lot.
  • Household – as mentioned above, I bought an amazing pantry hutch for the house (it’s getting delivered next weekend). We also bought some stuff from the dollar store, got keys cut, bought cleaning supplies, and other small miscellaneous expenses.
  • Clothing – when we were in Seattle, I bought 2 pairs of jeans that were on sale. I also got a pair of Birkenstock sandals repaired, and bought a t-shirt at a concert I went to.
  • Personal Care – bought some miscellaneous toiletries at Target in Seattle.

Income and Savings

I brought in about $575 in freelance income this month, but still have about $7,500 pending. I thought I’d get some of it paid out in June, but looks like it’ll be more like July. :)

My savings rate this month was at 53.1%, and my average for the year is 54.5% – so right on target.

 

How to save on a Canada 150 vacation this summer

 

Note: this post was sponsored by RateSupermarket.ca, but the views and opinions expressed are my own.

 This has been an expensive year so far, with buying a condo and organizing a trip to Portugal, but now that summer is here, all I want to do is spend time outside, go on vacation, and just relax. Summers are always hard on my wallet, but because I’m super conscious about my spending, I never let myself get too carried away. :)

But because we have a lot of house expenses we’d like to take care of this year (like paying for a renovation, patio furniture, a dining set, and a spare bed – just to name a few), I need to be extra careful with my cash flow. Every dollar I spend on vacations means less to spend on the condo – and vice versa. There needs to be a nice balance between the two, and it starts by budgeting and prioritizing what is most important to us.

Last year we spent most of our vacation time exploring Canada, and this year – Canada’s 150th birthday – will not be much different. All of our summer vacation plans will be spent seeing first-hand just how amazing this country is.

Speaking of saving and of Canada 150, here’s an exclusive offer from RateSupermarket.ca. For a limited time, apply for a President’s Choice Financial® Mastercard® through RateSupermarket.ca and get a $150 e-gift card & up to 20,000 PC® points when you activate your card.1  

So, here’s how I plan to save money this summer on my vacations (while still having the best summer possible) – and any other tips would be much appreciated!

Have realistic expectations

We were originally planning a 5-6 day road trip to go hiking in the Stein Valley, but since we’re got a European vacation later this fall and we also have condo expenses to take care of, we decided to be realistic with our budget. Sure, we could afford to go, but we’d rather not stretch ourselves too thin. So instead we’ll have a little relaxing staycation at home, get up into the local mountains, and save the Stein Valley for another year when we don’t have so many competing expenses.

Camping

Our two-year anniversary is coming up in August, and to celebrate we’re getting on our bicycles, taking a ferry over to one of the gulf islands, and going camping for 3 nights at a gorgeous private campground. We stayed there last year as well, and had so much fun bicycling around the island, going to the farmer’s market, and lazing around our oceanfront campsite. It’s the perfect frugal getaway, but it also helps that we already have all of the camping gear needed to have an adventure like this.

Using AirBnB

This is a pretty standard thing to do, as I’m pretty sure most people use AirBnB nowadays. We definitely try to stay in AirBnBs or use HomeAway for every vacation we go on. Not only does it save us money because I get to cook at one or two meals a day, but it also feels nicer and more relaxed to be in an actual home. And there are some pretty amazing AirBnB places – when we were in Whitehorse last fall, we got to stay in a yurt overlooking a gorgeous lake, and on our last trip to Tofino, we stayed across the road from Chesterman Beach in a perfect little cabin.

Know what your priority is

You can afford anything, just not everything. So if you’re like me and on a budget, chances are you can’t afford to stay in the best hotel, eat at the fanciest restaurants, and do all of the touristy things in the city. This means that when I’m creating a budget for any trip, I try to figure out what the priority is for me. Usually it’s being outdoors and sightseeing – which means I need accommodation in a central location, and a mode of transportation to get me to where I want to explore (whether it’s walking, transit, taxi, or renting a car). So I create my budget around that kind of trip, and everything else – like fine dining and fancy amenities – don’t really get much thought.

How are you planning on celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday this summer?

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The real cost of moving in Vancouver

This will be the 12th time I’ve moved in my adult life. Some moves were temporary, and some were longer-term, but they all cost money. It kind of makes me sick knowing that I’ve spent thousands of dollars in my lifetime just on moving, but it’s obviously unavoidable. And in Metro Vancouver, where rent is expensive (and the vacancy rate is less than 1%), the cost of a move could be the reason you don’t move at all.

When we bought our home back in April, we decided to hold back $10,000 of the money we had saved for our down payment so that we could pay for moving expenses, closing costs, a small renovation, and furniture. And with the way the timing worked out with our rental and our condo financing, we don’t actually pay rent or a mortgage payment in July, which gives us a bit more breathing room to pile up some cash in our joint account (our ‘buffer’ money) instead of dipping into our savings.

Now that we are finally nearing the end of paying for all of our moving expenses for what I anticipate is my last move until I retire, so I thought I’d break down everything that we’ve spent so far on our move. I’m going to leave out closing costs, the renovation, and furniture, because they’re not really “moving” costs, and I’ll talk about them in another post anyway. :)

Move-in Fees – $75 + $250 damage deposit

Our condo building requires a $75 payment for a 2-hour window of time to block off one of the elevators for a move. They also need a $250 cash damage deposit (which we will get back at the end of the move, provided we – or the movers – didn’t ding up the common property).

Movers – $450 (estimated)

We decided to hire movers to save us the headache of moving everything out of our tiny two-storey laneway house, and into a high rise condo. Sure, we could have done it ourselves, but it would take us at least twice the amount of time and just so much unnecessary headache. This is the first time either of us has ever hired movers, so I’m kind of excited to have this luxury. Their quote was for $360 (4 hours), plus a $90 one-way travel fee. It could be less if we’re finished within 4 hours – which I think we will be.

Cleaners – $164.64 (includes tip)

When I sold my townhouse in 2015, I paid for professional cleaners to come in before the new owner took possession. So I was pretty choked to see that the person who previously lived in our condo didn’t bother cleaning anything. I mean, they didn’t have anything behind, but the place was just dirty. Like they had never taken a sponge to a single surface of the home, ever. There was a thick layer of dirt over all the windows (and the blinds were filthy), make-up smudges all over the bathroom, cat hair everywhere, and random dried food splashes on the doors and some of the walls. I started to clean the place myself, but it took me 6 hours to clean just the living room windows, and I still had the kitchen and both bedrooms to tackle … we just ran out of time.

Paint & Supplies – $210.71

We wanted to buy a condo that needed no updating except for painting … little did we know that painting was kind of a huge chore to tackle when we’re already tight on time. But it needed to be done, otherwise we’d be living in Taupe City.

After getting quotes from 4 different painters (ranging in price from $800 to $1,800), RD decided that since we were paying for movers and cleaners, he wanted to try to save money and tackle the painting himself since he had 2 days off work. Neither of us had ever painted a home before, but RD is pretty good with a paintbrush, so he was stoked to take on the project. Except that it took us so, so, so much longer than we thought. By the time RD had to leave for another work trip, I still had one bedroom and a cement pillar to paint. And after it was all said and done, it took us about 4o man hours total to paint the entire place. For reference, we have a 2 bed/2 bath condo of about 825 sq.ft.

Household Items – $229.42

There were a bunch of things we needed to get that I just hadn’t thought of. For example, going from one bathroom to now having two, meant I had to buy a bathmat, soap dispenser, shower curtain, toilet scrubber, etc. I also bought cupboard liners, a splash mat for wet/muddy shoes, a step ladder, closet organizer, and a small succulent plant because I couldn’t help myself.

Restaurants – $300 (estimated)

Long days painting and moving meant there hasn’t been any time to cook meals at home. I do not feel healthy eating in restaurants or getting Subway all the time, so I can’t wait until this is all over and we can get back to our normal routine.

Gas – $90 (estimated)

RD is currently on another work trip, so I’ve been shuttling boxes to the new place, as well as whatever I can fit easily into my car. This is in part to make our time with the movers go faster, but also because I want to at least be partially moved in by the time RD gets back. The more I can get done now, means less stress on us the closer we get to our move-in date. I’ve spent $41 on one tank of gas so far, and I’ll have to fill up again before we actually move in.

Condo insurance – $412.08

We’ll be getting back a portion of our renter’s insurance for 2017, but I haven’t included it against our condo insurance because who knows when we’ll actually receive the refund.

TOTAL: $1,931.85

Before we started spending money on the move, I had hoped to keep our moving costs under $1,500 – but the added cost of hiring a professional cleaner, as well as paying for our condo insurance annually (when I had initially thought we’d pay monthly), put us over our budget. That leaves us with just over $8,000 left for closing costs, a small renovation project, and furniture. This should be doable, although I’m a bit concerned about how much the renovation project will cost. I have a few people coming over this week to give us quotes on the job, so fingers crossed!

How much did you spend on your last move?

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