This was a good start to the year for me. I didn’t hit my budget (as you can see below), but that was mostly due to an unplanned charitable donation, as well as getting a piece of artwork framed.
January was our first full month living together in our little house, and I couldn’t be happier. The place is cozy, and we are in love with this neighbourhood. It’s also nice getting into a morning routine, establishing chores, and figuring out how we can best live together.
I’ve also almost been at my job for 3 months, and it’s been really good so far. It’s a big step up in terms of responsibility, and since I’m naturally introverted, it’s really challenging me to reach outside of my comfort zone. I think that’s why I like marketing in this particular industry – I’m doing a lot less designing and writing, and focusing more on the skills I think I can improve on, as well as the ones that I’m strongest in.
Anyway here is my budget recap for January:
- Food – We have been going to the local farmer’s market, where produce is quite a bit more expensive than our local grocery store. But the budget buster this month was my love of kombucha. I just need to get a grip, or perhaps start brewing my own.
- Household – Some of you might have seen on Instagram that I finally got a piece of art that I bought in Morocco professionally framed. Yep I could have done it myself, but because the canvas needed to be stretched and it wasn’t put under glass, I figured I’d better leave it to a professional.
- Clothing – I have a $500 budget for clothing and shoes this year, and I’ve already spent $110 of it. :) But to be fair, I bought a pair of colder weather shoes that I’ve been wanting for walking around the city. Before those shoes, I either had hiking boots or rain boots.
- Miscellaneous – A dear friend in Australia will be shaving her head in order to raise money for cancer research in March, so I wanted to support her. I don’t donate money to specific charities each year – but do make sure to donate to causes my friends are supporting whenever I can. If you’d like to help her out, check out her donation page!
Income & Savings
This month I grossed over $9,400 from a combination of my full-time job and freelance work, and was able to save 54.8% of that amount.
I’ve also signed contracts for about $11,000 in additional freelance income that I’ll be invoicing out by April, which is abnormal for sure. But I’ll take it, since I’m sure the summer months will be a lot quieter. :)
- Run once per week. FAIL. Although, we run for about 30 min. before each field hockey practice, so that’s gotta count for something, right? :) I’ll try this running thing again once the season is over.
- Transfer all my banking over to Tangerine. CHECK! I have moved all my daily banking over to Tangerine, and it feels really good.
- Pack my lunch 4x/week & no take-out coffee (unless social). CHECK! I think I did really well packing my lunch, and I didn’t get take-out coffee at all this month. I need to be better at keeping snack food at my desk though, because I did notice I was going to the grocery store a couple times per week to pick up an afternoon snack.
- Be a good roommate. CHECK! This month I learned that RD keeps a much cleaner house than me. Each week, he mopped the floors, scrubbed the counters, cleaned the bathroom – and I contributed by not getting in his way. He said he doesn’t mind cleaning, and since I really dislike it, we jointly decided that he’ll be the one to keep the house clean. :) My chores include day-to-day tidiness, like making the bed, taking out the trash/recycling, keeping the refrigerator and pantry organized, and doing the laundry.
February is going to be a fun month. :)
First for the blog – this month marks 9 years of blogging at GMBMFB. NINE YEARS! That seems insane. I’ll be doing a really cool giveaway later this month, so please watch out for it.
In other news, we finally committed to joining a rock climbing gym, but we are only signing up for a 1-month membership ($95) for now. If we decide to commit to a longer membership period, we could see this cost drop down to $60/month. A drop-in session is $18 and a 10-visit pass is $16 per session, so it was a no-brainer to opt for the membership since we’ll be going at least 2x/week.
We are also headed back to Victoria for the long weekend. It’s my family’s Chinese New Year celebration, and I’m excited for a nice dinner out, as well as a few brunch dates set up with my island friends.
Entertainment expenses are also a bit high this month because we are going to the Elliott Brood concert. I also bumped up my food budget by $25 to accommodate for rising food prices, and my kombucha obsession. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve considered starting to brew my own at home.
February 2016 Goals:
- Find alternative parking – I gave my notice at my parking stall (I have to pay for one more month after this, unless they can find another renter faster), and am going to try to find a different (free) option for parking near my work. $60/month is a steal in Vancouver, but I think I can find a better solution. And once I do? An extra $60 will be going into my savings account every month!
- Save $2,000 in my retirement portfolio – my normal contributions are $1,350/month, but since I’m passed my probation, that will rise to $1,500/month due to my employer contribution (and an extra $1,000 per year in company stock). So that leaves me with an additional $500 I will need to come up with for this goal.
- Declutter my closet – I recently purged my clothes in December when we moved, but I feel the need to do it again. There are items that I just don’t wear at all, and I want to get rid of them because they’re taking up space and slowing me down when it comes to dressing in the mornings. :)
- Cook one new recipe a week – we have been obsessed with the Oh She Glows cookbook but at the rate we’re going, we’ll run out of recipes. :) I’d like to try the Thug Kitchen cookbook, because I’ve heard nothing but good things about it!
We will never be homeowners in Vancouver. Combined, RD and I will gross about $165,000-175,000 this year. Our housing costs are relatively low ($1,650/month rent), and we are both good savers with enough in the bank for a decent down payment. The problem is, we live in Vancouver. And according to a recent Globe and Mail article, the average price of detached houses sold in November 2015 reached $2.53-million – which is up 27.7% from November 2014.
More than 91% of 66,752 detached homes surveyed within Vancouver had assessed values of at least $1-million on July 1, 2015, and prices have jumped at least 10% since then.
I just quickly plugged our numbers into a mortgage affordability calculator. Even if we spent a year or two saving a bit more money, we will still be forever priced out of the detached housing market here in Vancouver.
Based on the above numbers, the bank says we could afford a maximum purchase price of $982,000 (LOL), but we’d also be responsible for almost $20,000 in CMHC mortgage insurance (LOL x2). And our monthly mortgage payments would be $3,800? Hahaha just, no. But I went to Realtor.ca anyway and plugged in a search for detached houses in the Vancouver area that were less than $950,000 – and this is what I found:
A boat. In all of Vancouver, we could afford to live on a 480 sq.ft. boat. Sure that boat only costs $300,000 – but you also have to pay $9,700 in moorage fees each year, as well as an annual $1,870 licensing fee. And even still, you’re living on a boat.
As depressing as these numbers are, I’ve never pictured myself living in Vancouver forever. Neither has RD. Even though we both love our neighbourhood, our tiny house, and our jobs right now, I’ve never considered putting down permanent roots in this city. Vancouver is amazing, and I can absolutely see why it is so appealing. But it was always my plan to spend 10 years here gaining experience, and then move back to Victoria where I could use that experience to get a well-paying job. I don’t know if I’ll make it back in that 10 year time frame, but I think long-term living somewhere outside of this city is going to happen. At some point.
In conclusion, it’s obvious we will never EVER be homeowners in Vancouver. And I’m okay with that. Really. Because even if we could afford something, it doesn’t make sense to forfeit everything else in life that we love – like travel and early retirement and living a comfortable life with plenty of disposable income – just to own the roof over our heads. It’s also a very unsettling thought to have so much money tied up in a house that will drop in value when a housing correction hits Vancouver. So we’ll happily continue to pay 10% of our gross income towards rent, and maybe one day we’ll be ready to buy a home in another city … where we can afford more than a boat. :)