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2014 Annual Goals: Q2 Review

We’re already half way through 2014, and I know I’m going to sound like a broken record, but what a crazy year it’s been so far. Lots of ups and downs in both my personal and professional life, but I guess that’s the way it goes sometimes. I’m looking forward to a calmer, more stable second half to the year with a focus on health and relationships/friendships. But more on that later. :)

Anyway, onto my Q2 goals review:

Financial

  • Stay debt-free (aside from my mortgage). ON TRACK! This is pretty obvious, but my number one financial goal is to always stay debt-free. I’m on track to achieve this goal, with no major expenses on the horizon.
  • Increase my income by 10%. NEEDS WORK. Losing 6 work weeks in Q1 has definitely hurt this goal. But I technically have more earning potential at this new job, so I’ll have to keep plugging away at this and not let that setback bring me down.
  • Increase my net worth to $115,000. NEEDS WORK. This is an increase of approximately $22,000 from 2013. So far, I’m off pace (and I adjusted the worth of my car, putting me even farther behind) but I’m going to try to increase all of my automated savings to try and do as well as I can anyway.
  • Buy stocks. ON TRACK! I’ve been contributing $150-200/month into my Questrade TFSA account. I’m never going to be big into stocks, but it’s fun to learn and play around with it. So far, I’ve purchased two stocks and one ETF.
  • Save at least $750/month into my RRSP/TFSA. ON TRACK! I’m giving myself a pass here because I have been doing this, except for the 6 weeks in which I didn’t have a job – saving $600 into my RRSP, and $150 into TFSA.
  • Save at least $50 bi-weekly into a long-term travel fund. ON TRACK! Surprisingly, I’ve saved over $1,100 already this year. It’s all thanks to banking a whole freelance cheque, and any ING Direct referral bonuses I’ve been getting. Although this travel fund account will be constantly fluctuating, I do hope to create a $1,000 buffer so that I’m prepared for any last-minute trips. I can do this if I can stop going on trips and actually save that money instead. :)
  • Stay on budget every month. FAIL. I’ve already failed at this goal because of my job loss, but I’m still going to work hard at making achievable targets each month and being super conscious with my spending habits.
  • Sell at least one item every month. ON TRACK! Well, I’ve technically only sold one thing. But I’ve put items up on eBay every month, and I have given away a ton of stuff to goodwill, so that counts for something. At least for me, anyway. :)

Personal

  • Go on one big trip. ON TRACK! Well, originally I was going to Sweden this year for a work trip, and that was going to be where I based my vacation from. But since clearly that job didn’t work out, I’ve been focusing on smaller trips this year, with the goal to go somewhere in the fall – just not likely overseas. :) We’ve already been to Portland, Las Vegas, Oregon Coast, and are planning for Seattle next month. Ideas for the fall have included anything from New Orleans to New York to the Caribbean somewhere.
  • Run in four half marathons and set a PR. NEEDS WORK. Well, I’ve run in one half marathon already this year, but it was rough, and I’ve only been running consistently for the last month due to a foot injury that kept me out most of the year. But my training has been going really well, and I still have aspirations of running in at least two more half marathons this fall. My stretch goal is still to run one in 1:48, but realistically I just want to stay healthy for the rest of the year.
  • Read 20 books. NEEDS WORK. I’ve read 7 books so far this year, which means I’m 3 books behind schedule. I’m still hopeful I can reach this goal, because I have so many great books I want to read this year. This goal got derailed because I got a little obsessed with Netflix documentaries. :)
  • Spend less than $1,000 on clothing/shoes. ON TRACK! Well, surprisingly I’ve only spent about $250 this year on clothes, so I’m definitely under budget.
  • Make one new recipe every monthON TRACK! I’m still vegetarian, and it’s been fun to experiment with new recipes and ideas in the kitchen. Over the past few months, BF has slowly been reducing his meat intake to the point where he doesn’t really even eat red meat anymore. That has definitely helped us better meals together.
  • Tackle three household projects. NEEDS WORK. Well, I’ve still done none of these things. And while I was taking a million years to decide what to do, a new problem arose in my house – one side of the kitchen sink is leaking. So that’s my top priority at the moment, and then I’ll start looking into the bigger projects I wanted to get done this year.

Professional

  • Research project management programs. ON TRACK! I keep flip flopping between taking a project management program, and getting my Masters degree. I know where I want to get to professionally, but am unsure about which one will get me there with the best results. I think it’s the project management program, but I need to be 100% sure before I commit to anything because $$$.
  • Take a French language class. NEEDS WORK. If I do end up taking a management program, I might drop French language lessons. It was a good goal to have in the last industry I was in, but I’m not sure it’s needed in the direction that I’m headed. It’s still worth taking a look though, because a second language is always beneficial.
  • Get published 4 times. NEEDS WORK. I was published once this year, and am currently in negotiations to write for a few other companies.

Spending Recap: June 30-July 6, 2014

Monday 30th – Seaside, OR
$3.21 breakfast
$8.97 lunch
$3.30 salt watter taffy (gift)
$5 arcade
$19 dinner

Tuesday 1st
$3.21 breakfast
$16.05 Chipotle
$27.08 groceries

Wednesday 2nd
+ $500 freelance income
$5.25 Subway

Thursday 3rd
$10 lottery tickets
$22 dinner & drinks

Friday 4th
$15.87 Granville Island Tap Room

Saturday 5th
$51.32 gas
$20 field hockey tournament fee
$7.19 gelato

Sunday 6th
$4 breakfast sandwich
$2.19 Tim Hortons
$20.92 groceries

Freelance Income: + $500
Expenses- $244.56

TOTAL: + $255.44

This was a bit of a spendy week for me. Monday was spent in Seaside, Oregon with a couple of my friends. Tuesday was a travel day as we were on the road back to Vancouver. Friday evening BF and I went on a fun date night – a few beer samplers at the Granville Island Tap Room, followed by an evening at TheatreSports! :) This was my second time going to TheatreSports, and I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to go. Such a fun way to spend an evening.

Over the weekend, I played in a field hockey tournament out in Surrey. Saturday I had 2 games, and Sunday there were 4 scheduled. It was fun, but I need to work a bit on my fitness! :) Also, I haven’t played with men in a really long time, and I enjoyed it a lot. Their game is a lot quicker, which forced me to elevate my play as well. I spent Saturday afternoon with BF and his friends in Stanley Park. That was followed by dinner at Cactus Club right on the beach, and gelato for dessert. Overall, a really great weekend.

How much do you spend on groceries?

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m fairly frugal when it comes to groceries. Since moving to Vancouver in 2008 my monthly grocery budget has ranged from $100 to $200 each month (maybe even upwards of $250 if I go to Costco). For me, this is a normal amount. I don’t eat a lot, and while I’m fairly adventurous when it comes to food, I don’t mind eating simple meals when at home.

Related: Can you feed yourself for $100/month?

But that being said, I received this comment on my June 2014 Goals Recap a couple of days ago on the blog:

groceriesNow, I do know that I likely spend less than most people on groceries each month. However, when it comes to people who are already frugal, as well as personal finance bloggers, I think I’m about average. I don’t know anybody that spends $500-700 as a single person on groceries each month, unless you are counting restaurants as well. But even then, that’s probably pretty high. Groceries and dining out combined, I probably spend around $225-250/month.

SoI went to Twitter and asked people what their average grocery budgets were each month:

groceries-twitter

Here are just a couple of small ways I save money on food:

  • Eat vegetarian. Even when I was eating meat, I ate vegetarian for most meals. By not centering my meal around meat, I significantly cut down my grocery expenses. Instead, I supplement with chickpeas (and hummus), tofu, lentils, quinoa, etc.
  • Shop at farm markets. I’m always shocked at how cheap it is to buy produce at farm markets and small Asian grocery stores. I buy a huge bag full of veggies and fruit for about $15 a couple times a week, and buy staple items like quinoa in bulk at Costco.
  • Eat simple meals. Not every meal needs to be Pinterest-worthy. :) I splurge on ingredients when I’m cooking a nice meal for BF or for friends, but everyday eating is pretty simple in my house. A typical meal for me would be some roasted (or steamed) veggies, Wasa bread (or Lavish crackers) with hummus, and grilled mushrooms on the BBQ.
  • Rarely buy junk food. If you come over, I won’t have ice cream, chips, cookies, or chocolate at my house. :) I do enjoy them, but can’t justify spending money on unhealthy foods on a regular basis. BF doesn’t have them at his house either, so the only time we might indulge is if we go out with friends or if we make a point to walk somewhere to pick up ice cream or macarons.

Related: Inside my grocery bag

It should be noted that I do spend time each week at BF’s house. Sometimes he buys groceries, and I buy dinner. Or vice versa. We loosely split costs 50/50, and I think my expenses all even out over the course of a month.

How much do you spend on groceries each week?
What’s your best tip for saving money on food?

Spending money on clothes

IMG_2761One of my goals for the year was to spend less than $1,000 on clothing. This may seem like a lot of money, but when you consider the need to replace shoes (specifically athletic shoes), that doesn’t leave me with a lot left over for the rest of the year!

Of course I’d love to spend my money on cute dresses from Anthropologie, or great work clothes from J.Crew or Banana Republic… but filling my closet with stuff doesn’t get me to my financial goals any faster. And while I do think I need to refresh my wardrobe somewhat this year, I don’t think I need much. My work wardrobe is definitely lacking some staples – namely pants. I don’t own any that fit. I’ve been getting by with skirts/dresses, black jeans, and dark blue jeans (which I technically shouldn’t be wearing) … but actual dress pants? Not one single pair. And worst of all, the suit that I bought early last year? It doesn’t fit anymore. So I’m going to have to significantly alter the pants and suit that I currently own (and hope I don’t gain any weight), or buy new ones.

Anyway, half way through the year, I’ve spent a total of $250.18 on clothes:

  1. $100.80 – new bathing suit (June)
  2. $111.16 – clothes from Value Village & new jeans (April)
  3. $38.22 – nylons (March)

Not bad. I actually thought it would be more than that! But I know big expenses are coming up. I want to buy new field hockey turf boots for the upcoming season ($125). I’ve had mine for at least 5 or 6 seasons now, and they’re not holding up very well. I might need a new pair of running shoes this fall ($150), as well as work shoes ($100). I wear the same pair of work shoes almost single day, and after 2 years, they’re looking a bit rough. But because I know the size, style, and brand of the shoes that I wear, I’ll try to buy them all online in order to save some extra money. Still. For someone that only owns about 8 pairs of shoes, that’s quite a lot of money to be shelling out this year. :)

This time last year, I had already spent $1,226 on clothes, which represented 14% of my discretionary spending, or 3.5% of my gross annual income (mid-way through 2013). Yikes. So the $250.18 I’ve spent this year is a significant improvement for sure!

Do you give yourself a budget for clothing/shoes?

Spending Recap: June 23-29, 2014

Monday 23rd
+ $199.59 freelance income
$11.50 lunch

Tuesday 24th
No Spend Day!

Wednesday 25th
$11.50 lunch

Thursday 26th
No Spend Day!

Friday 27th – Tacoma, WA
$5.08 road trip snacks
$7.33 Chipotle
$37.40 hotel

Saturday 28th – Florence, OR
$2.18 ice
$20.17 groceries
$53.18 hotel

Sunday 29th – Lincoln City, OR
$11.50 breakfast
$4 coffee
$55 dune buggies
$56.51 gas
$20.22 dinner
$60.56 hotel

Freelance Income: + $199.59
Expenses- $356.13

TOTAL: - $156.54

I had two lunch dates this week with friends, which is a bit out of the ordinary. But both times we went to the same place, and they’ve got a pretty cheap lunch menu, which is why the cost for both days is exactly the same. :)

The rest of the week was spent on holidays in Oregon. Here are some of the expenses, but I’ll recap the entire trip in a separate post, with pictures and everything that we did.