Friday, 18 March 2016

Checking in on March Goals, and How we Saved This Week

I listed some financial goals goals for the month of March and thought that it's time to revisit them and see how we are doing. In a nutshell:

  • Write ourselves each a cheque and deposit them into each of our personal accounts (the plan is to do this every month--March will be my first). One account will be Savings (Christmas, land taxes, a few bills that are coming at us soon), the other will be vehicle and home maintenance/repair fund, kids activities fund, "slush fund". I did deposit to one account, and have a spread sheet done up to track the money--we might close the other account and we have plans to transfer the funds into investments, so an update down the road will be necessary.
    • create a spreadsheet for each of these accounts keeping track of how much money belongs to each designated fund and recording any transactions.
    • Into the kids' activities fund I will transfer their Christmas money from Grandparents in Newfoundland. We usually save the money for something big for them so this year it might be a camping trip. Likewise, birthday money from my mom is always spent on swimming lessons, and their other birthday and Christmas money goes into their own bank accounts. Once the kids activities fund gets to a certain amount I plan to make a lump transfer to each of their RESPs. The birthday and Christmas money is in the account designated for Kids Activities.
  • Repay money from vacation fund that we have "borrowed". The cash from our bottle/can recycling, along with other bits of cash that we end up with, are stashed in an envelope waiting for a summer trip of some kind. Twice now I've taken money from it when I needed cash so need to put $40 back!
  • Register the kids for swimming lessons at the pool. I was a few days late registering and we are stuck in the late spring session (when I'll wish I was home working in my yard!) doing our lesson from 5:30-6 pm. Such a hard time for us to make the half hour drive to and from town :( But I can't swim and my kids are borderline afraid of the water (although they have fun in it they won't dunk their heads). I want to keep them in lessons so they are more comfortable by summer when we do lessons at the lake). Going to town at supper time twice a week for 6 weeks is going to be a nuisance but we will have to eat early and have a snack before bed!
  • Continue to bake all of our bread, buns and sweets. My kitchen aid mixer has broke down! It's really upped my bread-baking game and I'm lost without it. Today my challenge is finding the receipt and dealing with warranty as it is just over 1 year old :(
  • Continue to put $5/week into the egg jar.
  • Continue to explore ways to make money myself, without incurring childcare costs. I plan on a bigger garden this year, and more animals which will end up in the freezer. So although not a "paying" job these are ways that I can provide for us without having to pay someone to look after my kids and do the jobs here that I normally take care of (ie housecleaning, yard work etc). My hope is to be able to sell and give away the excess which will generate a bit of income while also contributing to my community. I am also writing a weekly column and investing half of what I earn into my tax-free savings account. 
So, how did we save money this week?

  • Husband was home Sunday and we considered taking the kids and their bikes to town and letting them ride the paved paths at a local park (our yard was mostly mud and running streams). The wind was picking up and I suggested we stay home and play games, which was a good thing as we ended up having a blizzard. So we saved the cost of fuel and any possible snacks or treats that might have been purchased. I would have stopped for a few groceries while we were in town, so not going forced me to stretch things until the following week. Also, my parents' power was out so they came over for supper and we had a great visit.
  • I didn't do a "how we saved money" post last week, but gravy mixes were on for 24 cents! They are usually $1.68 (which is why I started making my own). I bought 20 of them, for a grand total of $4, when paying full price would have cost me $33.60! I do have enough gravy mix to see me into the next decade, but hey I can't pass up a good deal ;) I also don't think I can make it for that! This is a great example of how knowing the price of things can save you money.
  • This week's groceries was a bigger spend as I took advantage of some specials and stockpiled rice and a few sale items. I spent $257.04 yesterday, by far the most I've spent in a week since I started tracking my grocery budget. This puts us near our $600/month limit for the month, probably over it once I add in the extra pet food (see below). But it makes no sense to obey an arbitrary limit when it saves me money to go over once in awhile. The $600 limit is there to prevent my impulsive overspending on food, which I believe is working! The store I shop at had an in-store coupon for a free turkey with $250 purchase so that is now stowed in our freezer. I am also almost up to $70 free groceries there by using the plus card, and almost up to a $20 free grocery purchase with my air miles card. These are being saved for a large sale or Christmas, or an extended period of unemployment. 
  • I got new rubber boots for $7.49 on sale, and a new pair of lined winter mitts for $3.99 on a great clearance sale (the boots were regular about $30 and the mitts $12)
  • At the same farm supply store I bought extra cat and dog food for a few dollars less. I probably saved $5 on cat food and $4 on dog food, which is very worth it to me especially when I was already at that store (and without kids, woot! woot!) Getting large heavy bags of feed is a hassle at the best of times but especially when dragging kids along to extra stores. I hope to make it to the farm supply every month to take advantage of the lower prices.
  • I spent $50 on a small dome mini-greenhouse with a grow light. I always agonize over buying cheap gardening supplies (and believe it or not, $50 is cheap as in cheaply made, small, and possibly junk). My fear is the light burning out right away and not being able to replace it, or the plastic lid cracking etc. But in my excitement at the farm supply I justified it as 1) immediately available without ordering online and paying shipping 2)possibly no worse quality than what I would find at a fancier gardening store 3) a way to immediately begin to grow greens and herbs and cut down on my grocery bill. And it is my birthday present from Husband, as I informed him last night :)

  • I purchased all of my garden seed for 2016 (some of which will be left over for following years). I am realizing the expense of gardening (it adds up rather quickly when you are counting pennies!), but it saves us in many ways throughout the year. For one thing, it is a hobby that I practice almost daily for 5 or 6 months of the year and I do not have time or energy for shopping, facials, manicures etc that many women spend time and money on. The input cost for gardening is very low compared to some hobbies (ahem! quilting....!) Never mind that, it provides our family with local, chemical free food and teaches my kids the essential life skill that is knowing how to grow your own food. I think as their generation ages it will become an even more valuable skill. 
  • Perhaps most importantly, I met with a financial adviser yesterday. He helped me come up with a plan to invest despite the economic downturn we are experiencing. I can't commit our money to an automatic monthly withdrawal because there are months we don't/might not/ have income. At the same time, with careful budgeting, it is very important to me that we squirrel away money whenever possible. So we are setting up an investment account that I can pay into as though it were a bill payment, but I can choose when I am comfortable doing so. So simple. But without meeting to discuss it I might never have thought we could invest. 
So that's it. It feels like a week where I spent more than usual, which it was. I got tea tree oil at the health food store (my kindergarten aged son has escaped the creepy crawlies that are going around his classroom but I want an extra line of defense. Even the mention of "lice" makes my skin crawl). I got our Easter stuff and (blushing) a new bra. My last one gave up on life last year and my collection of sports bras has sufficed until yesterday when I was in town alone. It is just never going to happen that I take my two kids bra shopping :) I also bought some snacks and juice boxes for a road trip to see daddy this weekend. I've eliminated most of those types of purchases from our usual grocery bill but it is still healthier and cheaper than hitting a drive thru on the road. So how about you? How did you save money this week? And have you made any plans for your 2016 garden?


  1. It looks like you have done pretty good thus far this month. Love how you are addressing everything and are staying on track. Every step forward counts even if it isn't as large as you'd like, right?!

    1. Nice to hear from you Pru! I really feel like checking back in on goals helps keep them relevant. I would otherwise forget what I had planned :) I believe I was inspired by you, actually lol. Hope you had a good weekend!