Give Me Back My Five Bucks

April 2017 Goals: Recap

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:

Over Budget:

  • 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 openCHECK! 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 consciousCHECK! 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.

Budgeting for Portugal

Before RD goes off on his annual 5-week work trip at the end of this month, we wanted to budget for Portugal, and at least book our flights to Portugal. But since a big goal of ours this year is to save for a down payment, going off on a 3-week long European vacation seemed a bit extravagant. We can afford to go, but it doesn’t mean that we should go if it means sacrificing a bigger financial goal that we hope to achieve.

So after thinking about it for a while, we decided on a pretty good compromise – we’ll reduce our vacation from 3 weeks down to 2 weeks, and spend the additional week off as a staycation where we can get as much autumn hiking in as we can. It actually works perfectly because we still get to go to Portugal, but we’ll also get in a bunch of regional hiking in that we weren’t sure how we were going to fit into the summer months.

Right now we have a preliminary budget sketched out for our (now) 2 week trip:

  • Flights (Vancouver-Azores, Azores-Lisbon, Lisbon-Vancouver) – $2,450
  • Accommodation (14 nights) – $1,200
  • Food – $1,000
  • Car rental (7 days + gas) – $450
  • Transportation – $100
  • Miscellaneous – $200

Our budget came to $5,400 total. We have about $500 in travel rewards points to redeem, so I’m thinking we can do this trip for under $2,500 per person.

For our itinerary, we plan on spending 1 week in the Azores (split between Faial and Pico), and 1 week on the mainland in the Lisbon area. I’ve been to Lisbon, Sintra, and Faro before, but RD hasn’t been to Portugal at all. So it will be interesting to see if it’s as amazing as I remember it being. :)

In order to save money, we’ll be trying to book AirBnB for most of our stay so we’ll have access to a kitchen. Our trend when traveling is to cook most of our meals in our rental anyway, but I’ve added a bit of padding because I’m sure we’ll go out for food more often than usual in Portugal. We also decided to forego renting a car for the mainland portion of the trip. Instead, we’ll just take a train from Lisbon to Porto, and save our car rental for the Azores.

Any suggestions to this budget are more than welcome!

April 2017 Goals

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?

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