Give Me Back My Five Bucks

November 2017 Goals: Recap

So I went over a little on my budget this month, but I feel good about all of my purchases. I’m especially proud of the fact that I significantly cut down on buying lunches and coffee this month – I didn’t go to Starbucks during work at all, and only ended up buying my lunch twice during the month (the day before I left for Toronto, and the day after).

All of my Christmas shopping is done. Okay, all of the major shopping is done. I’m only giving myself a small budget for December to pick up some odds and ends, wrapping paper, shipping expenses to get out gifts up to Smithers, etc. It feels good not to have to worry about buying gifts at all in December.

I also think I’m going to have to increase our Household budget because we are spending more on cat food each month than I had anticipated. I can’t bring myself to buy lesser quality food for Zoey, so as a result we’re spending about $80 on her food, and then there’s litter as well as treats. So I imagine we’re coming close to $100/month on her.

Speaking of Zoey, we took her to the vet for a dental consultation today because we were told at our previous check-up that her teeth were horrible. And it turns out they were not exaggerating. One of her canine teeth has broken off at the base (the root needs to be extracted), and another tooth has ground down to next to nothing. Plus, she has severe plaque build-up and her bath teeth are so bad that he thinks a few of them will need to be extracted as well. Poor cat!

They gave us an estimate of about $1,700 (!!!). The vet said she’s likely been in a good amount of pain for a while, so this will drastically improve her life. It’s a lot of money to spend since our pet insurance won’t cover something that’s clearly pre-existing … but it’s worth it, and I’m grateful that we don’t have to worry about the expense and can pay for it all out of our savings.

Also it’s interesting to talk to the vet about how old he actually thinks Zoey is. The SPCA estimated she was 3 years old, but he said that it’s very unlikely that a 3 year old would have that kind of dental damage, so he thinks she’s closer to 6-8 years old. He said that a lot of times the shelters estimate a lower age so that the pets are more adoptable. It’s a bit upsetting that she’s a lot older than we thought she was, but it doesn’t really change anything. Anyway, we are booked for her all-day dental appointment on January 5th, and I’m hoping that she won’t be in too much pain for the next month.

Anyway, here are my numbers for November:

Over Budget

  • Household: We had to take Zoey to the vet for some vaccinations, and then we also bought an Instant Pot during Black Friday sales. It was a bit of an impulse buy, but the slow cooker has been broken since last winter, so I see it more as a replacement. :)
  • Clothing: Getting my shoes re-soled ended up being a bit more expensive than I expected.
  • Travel: It was raining when I was in Toronto for the Canadian Personal Finance Conference so I took Ubers to the conference centre, and also when RD came to pick me up from the airport, my flight was delayed so parking was a lot more than I had anticipated.
  • Personal Care: Ended up getting my hair cut. Normally haircuts at this salon are $50, but if you go in with already washed hair, they drop the price to $30! I’m happy giving a 50% tip if it means my hair cuts stay under $50 total.
  • Gifts: I splurged a bit on my sister’s gift, and also I put down a deposit on accommodation for RD’s birthday getaway in April.

Income & Savings

I saved 38.2% of my income this month and my net worth went up 2.56%.

Also, I earned an extra $1,000 in freelance income and invoiced out for $3,000 which I’m hoping I get next month but realistically it won’t be until January. :)

November 2017 Goals:

  • Set up a joint savings account. FAIL. Because of the way we have our accounts set up, RD has to be the one who initiates opening up the joint savings account. But it’s something we know we want to do, so it’s just about making the time.
  • Consolidate my TFSA accounts. CHECK! I moved my Tangerine TFSA over to Questrade and into ETFs. I feel really good that I was able to move everything over and that I’m working at simplifying my investment accounts.
  • Get my boots re-soled. CHECK! I took them back to the only place I trust with my boots. They’re a bit more expensive than other places, but worth it because they do really good work.
  • Pack a lunch every work day. CHECK! Technically I bought my lunch twice this month, but I’m giving myself a pass because the work days before and after a trip are always difficult. And my flight home was delayed so that I didn’t even have a chance to get to the grocery store to pick up lunch items anyway.

How was your November?

Who manages the money in your household?

I received an email not too long ago asking if I could write a blog post about how RD and I manage our household finances. As you may know, we keep our personal savings and retirement account separate and I’ll never blog about RD’s personal finances (so this post is really an incomplete picture of our overall financial management), but we do have joint accounts for managing our everyday spending. And that I can talk about. :)

Just a few notes about us if you’re new to this blog:

  1. We are in our mid-30’s with no debt other than our mortgage
  2. We make roughly the same amount of money
  3. This is obviously just what works for us, and is not necessarily going to work for every couple.

Before we combined our finances

When RD and I first moved in together, we kept our finances separate for the most part. RD would write out our monthly rent cheques, and we would put all of our joint expenses (groceries, household, travel, etc.) onto my credit card because of the rewards points. Then, at the end of every month, we’d reconcile all of our transactions, and one of us would transfer money to the other person depending on how the expenses came out that month. I liked it this way because I had a record of all of our everyday purchases so that I knew exactly how much we were spending. And RD liked this method because he wasn’t super interested in any of that information. :)

We kept our finances like this for the first 18 months we lived together. It was an easy system to work with, and also it gave us a sense of financial protection should our relationship not work out. Not that we were planning for the worst, but we both felt strongly about maintaining a level of financial independence, especially in a new relationship.

Related: We are home owners!

Creating our budget

When we decided to buy a condo together, that’s when we decided to open up a joint account for our shared expenses. I wanted to have a set amount of money that we deposited into this account bi-weekly – that would cover our mortgage, maintenance fees, property tax, insurance, groceries, household expenses, as well as a decent amount of buffer money that would also act as our joint household savings account. And because we had 18 months worth of data to draw from, I did what I do best, and created a spreadsheet. Ok, multiple spreadsheets. :) I averaged the last 18 months of our joint expenses, probable mortgage and housing costs, included a buffer, and came up with a magic number that we would each auto deposit into our joint account on payday.

Related: Why I don’t want to burn my mortgage

In the last 6 months, we’ve adjusted our magic number once – by just $20 – because our condo maintenance fees increased after our AGM, and we have another mouth to feed ever since we adopted our beautiful cat Zoey from the SPCA. :)

Who manages the money?

Me. This actually works out perfectly because you know I love budgeting and spreadsheets and numbers. Nothing makes me happier than burying my nose into a good spreadsheet or reconciling purchases and paying bills. It’s not because RD isn’t good at this type of stuff (he’s never had debt and he always pays his bills on time), but I like taking a more in depth look at our money. It was actually a huge step out of his comfort zone having me take on his part of our joint finances, and I appreciate that.

I also tend to take on any paperwork regarding our joint finances and negotiating any bills that need to be negotiated (like our internet), but only because I have a more traditional desk job and access to a phone on a more regular basis.

We do make sure to check in regularly with our finances, and he has access to our joint accounts so that he can see our balances and transactions whenever he wants.

Who spends the money?

Me, mostly. :) We have that joint credit card that he puts gas onto or if he buys anything for the home, but I do almost all of our joint household shopping for groceries, cleaning supplies, toiletries, pet stuff, etc. This falls into our division of chores, because I like shopping and comparing prices and products. I also feel a sense of satisfaction in having our pantry and linen closet stocked with essentials. I also pay our credit card balance every month, and any other random bills that might come in, but most of our household bills are automatically deducted from our joint account.

Your turn!

I’m curious – who manages and/or spends the money in your relationship, you or your partner?

Fast track your savings using artificial intelligence

Note: this post is sponsored by RBC, but the views and opinions expressed are my own.

I think it will come as no surprise to you that I spend a lot of time analyzing and creating budgets, planning for my future, and trying to figure out the best way to spend and save my money. :) I have multiple spreadsheets that I manage manually, and while I actually do really enjoy this type of work, I have often found myself wondering if there was a better way. I’ve tried so many apps and software over the years, but end up coming back to my spreadsheets because they are personalized to me and what I want to see.

This is why I was so interested to learn more about RBC’s new programs called NOMI Insights and NOMI Find and Save. They are the first bank in North America to use artificial intelligence to automatically track spending and fast track your savings.

Not only is the user interface really attractive and easy to understand, but you can also get real, actual insights about your finances (without having to dig out the data yourself). There is a fully automated savings solution that goes above spreadsheet budgeting and spending categories – it uses predictive technology to help you save money based on your current spending habits. IT LEARNS HOW YOU SPEND YOUR MONEY and adjusts based on that information. I honestly can’t think of anything cooler in the financial space right now.

There are two products that RBC has made available to all clients this month:

NOMI Insights

This program will help you stay on top of your day-to-day finances by giving you timely tips and advice. It will also track your spending, plan for upcoming expenses, and give you a heads up when needed about upcoming bills. I can see how this could help you reach your goals sooner by making you more aware of your finances, and I think would be a great addition to anyone’s financial management tool belt, but especially useful for those who don’t currently track anything, or for those who have good intentions, but life just gets in the way and they end up falling behind.

NOMI Find & Save

This is what I’m most curious about. NOMI Find & Save uses predictive technology to find amounts of money that clients can spare. It’s a completely personalized savings tool that learns your spending behaviours and looks for pockets of money in your cash flow to automatically move over into a savings account. It will never set aside more savings than you can afford, and you can even receive push notifications alerting you every time money is saved!

Personally, I’m really curious to see how these programs work, and what this will mean for the future of daily banking in Canada. I’m someone who loves data of all kinds (I’m just as obsessed with analyzing my FitBit data as I am with financial data). It’s something I think is fun and interesting, and to have a financial tool that can learn my spending behaviour and potentially help me save more money? That’s something to get excited about.

What are your thoughts on artificial intelligence entering the personal banking world?

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