It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, but summer has kind of taken over. July was a pretty fantastic month, and I’m proud of myself for staying on budget. :)
I had originally budgeted to buy a new couch, but it’s a lot easier to talk about buying a couch than actually doing it. I know we will get one eventually, but it’s a big effort so this purchase is on pause for now. We did end up having to break down and buy a fan though, as well as a TV antenna. We got a pretty cheap RCA digital flat antenna and I’m really pleased with how well it works. The HD channels come in very clear, and I’m really, really excited to be able to watch the Olympics!
Another thing I budgeted was for travel – but I redeemed some of my travel reward miles to bring the cost down a lot, and RD paid for the ferry to get to Roberts Creek so that we could visit with his brother and nephew who were there on vacation.
We did a good amount of hiking this month – Elk/Thurston Mountain (after going there the previous month with Nic, I had to bring RD to show him the area), Habrich Ridge, and Crown Mountain. Here are a few pictures:
I also started reading a lot this month! And finally got myself a library card. It’s a bit of a hassle because physical books are so heavy. It’s not practical to take a couple of books in my backpack for a weekend hiking/camping trip. So I still see myself buying ebooks for my Kindle, but it’s nice to save some money by using the library. :)
Anyway onward to how I did with July’s budget:
- Clothing – I bought a pair of shorts for hiking. They’re perfect, except they stretched out a little and are now too big for me around the waist. I’m considering just getting them altered instead of returning them because they’re so comfortable – and since I have pretty muscular legs, it’s super hard to find shorts that fit them. :|
- Fitness – I bought a bunch of protein bars, etc. for hiking, as well as a pair of socks, and paid for the Grouse Mountain gondola ride down after we finished hiking Crown Mountain.
Income and Savings:
This month I hit my 50% target by saving 67.8% of my income! :) I’ve been really happy with my savings rate this year, and the progress I’m making towards my goal of early retirement.
July 2016 Goals:
- Exercise 2-3 times/week – CHECK! This was a mix of the gym, yoga, spin class, and hiking.
- Organize my computer files – PASS. This was a huge task, but I did manage to organize all of my photos from the past 3 years into my filing system, so I consider that pretty good progress.
- Do research for our 3-week Yukon road trip – CHECK! We have a pretty solid plan on where we are going, now we just have to book accommodation! :) Right now we’re planning on Liard River Hot Springs, Kluane National Park, Tombstone Park, Whitehorse, Dawson City, and also a couple of days in a cute little yurt we found on AirBnB.
I know I’ve said this more than once this year, but 2016 is flying by. I can’t believe the year is more than half over, I can’t believe RD and I are about to celebrate our one-year anniversary, and I can’t believe I’ve already been at my job for 8 months!
Q2 was good in that I was able to really focus on myself. I spent a lot of time practicing yoga, and hanging out in forest. But one of the biggest changes to my attitude in the last 3 months was taking a good look at who I’ve been surrounding myself with. I’ve realized that I’ve been hanging onto toxic friendships and spending time with people that made me feel bad about myself (or have a way of bringing down my mood) – just because it’s hard for me to let people go from my life. But I need to focus on the friendships that I value the most, and put more of my time towards making those relationships stronger … and just learn to let the rest of it go. Even though that seems to be an incredibly hard thing for me to do. :)
The last 3 months have also made me examine where I feel like I belong. I went through a bit of a tough time because my love affair with Vancouver seemed to be strained. Even though I love where I live, and I love living with RD, a big city can be an exhausting place to live for an introvert. :) So although we both know we’ll be living in the city for the foreseeable future, I can’t help but want to explore options for where we’ll end up later. Maybe that’ll be 5 years from now, or maybe 10. There is no timeline. But it’s interesting to really examine where in the province there are challenging jobs available, mountains and/or ocean to play in, and is small enough where there’s still the ability to have quiet. Maybe such a place doesn’t exist. And if it doesn’t, Vancouver is still a pretty good place to be for now, but not forever.
Anyway, here’s how I’ve been doing on my goals so far this year:
- Stay debt-free. CHECK! I have not gotten myself into any debt so far this year.
- Save at least 50% of my income. CHECK! As of the end of June, my savings rate sits at 65% of my net income. I don’t expect this savings rate to stay steady (the first few months of the year were really good for freelancing), but I am extremely satisfied with my progress so far.
- Save at least $1,300/month into my RRSP/TFSA. CHECK! I’m currently saving just under $1,700/month right now. For those of you curious, I am invested in TD e-series funds for my RRSP and TFSA, using a modified Global Couch Potato investment plan. I also hold stocks and ETFs through Questrade, and my SPP at work is in a TFSA.
- Create realistic monthly budgets. CHECK! I think I’m getting better at forecasting my spending, and checking in every couple of days to input numbers into a spreadsheet. So far, so good.
- Live one month with a bare-bones budget. PENDING. I haven’t done anything about this yet, and am not sure it’s possible to do while living with another person (who likely would not want to go through a month of bare-bones living with his crazy girlfriend). I might need to re-examine this goal and see if I can do something just for me, that wouldn’t affect RD.
- Spend less than $500 on clothing and shoes this year. FAIL. I’ve already failed at this goal, as I’ve replaced a few items that could not be repaired, as well as buy some hiking clothes that were needed (like waterproof hiking pants).
- Make my body strong. CHECK! I think I’ve been doing a really good job watching what I eat, as well as continuing to exercise on a regular basis. It’s been a fun mix of yoga, spin class, rock climbing, hiking, and the gym. I’ve been running short distances (around 5km) for the past few weeks, and have gotten down to my 10km race pace. I might not be able to run long distances again until I get surgery, but I’m going to enjoy the short runs while I can. :)
- Go on a multi-day hiking trip. CHECK! We did 3 days of the Sunshine Coast Trail.
- Bring lunch to work most days. PASS. I was doing really well in the first few months of the year, but haven’t been the best at this for the last two months. RD has been gone a lot for work, which means I’ve been lacking with my batch cooking, and making dinners like I used to. But now that he’s back for the rest of the year, I’m sure this will improve again.
- Stop going to coffee shops. PASS. Just like with bringing my lunch, I never go to coffee shops if RD is home (we make french press coffee every morning before work). But since he’s been gone, I just haven’t gotten myself as organized as I should be. So I have been buying coffees a few times a week – but just drip coffee, no fancy lattes at least. :)
- Eat less dairy. PASS. We still eat cheese, but have switched over to non-dairy butter, mayo, and milk.
- Read 12 books. PASS. I’ve read 5 books this year, and have been on the hunt for my next read. I’ve got some marked through Goodreads, so hopefully will catch up soon.
- Bring more creativity to my life. CHECK! I originally thought my creativity would come in the form of crafts. But instead, I’m finding a bit of creativity in the kitchen. Back in May I started brewing my own kombucha (and have been loving the process so far). We’ve also been experimenting with new recipes, and hope to continue that for the rest of the year.
- Rebrand GMBMFB. PASS. I’ve mapped out a little bit of what I’m looking for (and have even contacted a couple of designers), but am beginning to wonder if it’s the right move for me right now. I still need to give it some serious thought.
- Go to three marketing conferences/seminars this year. PASS. I’ve gone to two marketing seminars so far this year, and will likely get in at least one or two more in the fall when they start up again.
It’s full-on summer now, and I can’t wait to spend as much time as possible outside over the next two months. :) This month is going to be a low more low-key than June, with most of the month spent in the city. But city life = more entertainment expenses, especially during the summertime. And that’s reflected in this month’s budget.
I have some social commitments booked for this month already – including dinners out and at least one or two Vancouver Canadians games to attend – which is why my Entertainment and Travel categories are a little more than usual. RD’s brother is also coming into town, so we’ll be going for brunch with him, as well as going up to the Sunshine Coast for a short day trip.
Next month we’ve already booked a two-night getaway to Mayne Island. If you’re not from BC, you might not have heard of the camping outrage happening right now in this province. Basically it is near impossible to book any Provincial Park campsites within 2-3 hours of Vancouver. You can book up to 3 months in advance, but if you’re not booking the second it becomes available, you’re basically out of luck. So we ended up booking at a private campground that cost us 40% more than a Provincial Park.
Still though, costs will be kept quite low for our weekend away because camping is always cheaper than renting a cabin. Plus we’ll be taking our bicycles across on the ferry instead of a car! Thankfully the campground isn’t too far away from the ferry terminal, because I have a feeling we’ll be lugging a lot of food along with us in our backpacks – not to mention a bottle or two of wine. :)
I also budgeted $300 into Household because we desperately need a new couch. I had a great couch, but it was too big to fit up the stairs of our tiny little house. So we gave it away and bought a new (used) couch off Craigslist. This couch looks great, but we both agree that it has to go. So I’ve budgeted some cash for us to find another used couch off Craigslist – preferably the same brand and model as my old couch, but just a little bit smaller.
Here is my budget for the month:
July 2016 Goals:
- Exercise 2-3 times/week – Field hockey is just around the corner, and I need to be in shape so that I can stay healthy this season.
- Organize my computer files – This is a task I’ve been dreading for a while now. I have so many photos and documents that need to be filed, and I want to get it done now because when I eventually buy a new laptop this year, I want everything organized and ready to go.
- Do research for our 3-week Yukon road trip – we’ll need at least a bit of a timeline so we can book accommodation (when we aren’t camping) and make sure we hit all the spots we really want to see. So far on the list we have Liard River Hot Springs, hiking in Kluane National Park, and drinking sourtoe whisky. :)