Give Me Back My Five Bucks

July 2017 Goals

Happy Belated Canada Day and 4th of July! :)

This past long weekend was our first weekend in the new condo. We spent our time building new IKEA furniture and planting flowers and herbs on the patio. I also started really organizing our pantry by putting most of our bulk dry goods into labeled jars. I also finally got our spice cupboard in order. These are all things we just didn’t have room for in our old place. It’s funny how much difference there is when you have a bit of outdoor space and an extra 150 sq.ft. inside. Although RD kept wandering around the condo the other day, muttering that the place was too big because he kept misplacing things. :)

We also got approval from strata for our renovation project to remove our electric fireplace, so I got a quote for the job (about $750) and fingers crossed we can book someone to do it in the next few weeks.

As for July, it’s shaping up to be a pretty busy month. My sister will be visiting us for a few days later this month , we are hosting a couple of dinners in the next few weeks, plus we have a trip planned back to Victoria, and we’re still chipping away at those home projects. I’ll try to keep our costs low by cooking as much as possible at home, and finding fun (free) local activities to keep us occupied.

Here’s my budget for the month:

July 2017 Goals:

  • Work out 12 times this month. I’m feeling pretty sluggish from about 3 weeks of very inconsistent physical activity and so much take-out and restaurant food. Ugh. Can’t wait to go running along the water, work-out in our building’s free gym, get up into the mountains, and join the (amazing) climbing gym near our place.
  • Try 3 new recipes. We have our favourite 5 or 6 recipes on rotation, but I’d like to try out some new ones from the cookbooks that we have. Plus I really, really want to try cooking with jackfruit but it is impossible to find! Might have to venture out to a T&T or another Asian market to try to find some.
  • Unpack all boxes. We’ve done pretty good so far, but the last 3 or 4 boxes are mine to unpack. Once we get our pantry delivered, I’ll be able to organize everything and finally feel moved in.
  • Grow herbs. I already have rosemary growing on the patio, but I decided to buy some some seeds, soil, and pots so that I can grow the other herbs I use the most (basil, cilantro, parsley, and chives) on our windowsill in the kitchen. I’m really excited to stop buying huge bags of herbs from the grocery store and having more than half of it go bad before I can finish using it all. Seriously, tell me who actually uses a whole bunch of cilantro before it starts rotting? :)

What are you up to for July?

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?

1 Apply online and when you receive your PC Financial Mastercard credit card, you will also receive four welcome coupons or offers each worth 5,000 PC points. Use your PC Financial Mastercard and redeem each coupon or offer to receive 5,000 PC points with any purchase at the checkout in participating grocery stores where President’s Choice® products are sold. See coupons or offers for full details. Coupons or offers have no cash value. For all offers, allow 2-3 weeks from qualifying purchase for bonus PC points to be awarded. Each offer is limited to one per new PC Financial Mastercard account and may be terminated or changed at any time without notice.

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