Give Me Back My Five Bucks

February 2017 Goals

February has already started off well because I was able to achieve one of my failed January goals of lowering my internet bill before I even had a chance to post this month’s budget. :)

We were paying $66 (plus tax) for our internet – which I thought was way too high considering we’re on the second cheapest plan, and the internet wasn’t even fast enough to support one person watching Netflix and the other person streaming a short video online. So I did some research on other companies in the area, and saw that one was offering a way better plan for $40/month. I’ve been mulling over switching for months, but as a long-time Shaw customer, I wanted to see if they could give me a better rate before I went with the new company.

After speaking with a couple reps, I was finally upgraded to a much better plan with Shaw which will be $50/month for 1 year (no contract needed). I’m happy that I was able to save $16/month AND get onto a plan that will better suit our internet usage. :)

As for my February budget, I anticipate normal spending – no big purchases for the month, aside from the final deposit on our Tofino accommodation in March. Work now pays for my transit pass, but I added in the cost of two tanks of gas because I really want to get into the mountains this month to do some snowshoeing.

February 2017 Goals:

  • Rebrand GMBMFB. I’ve already picked out a template and I’m ready to go for it – the only problem is I need to find the time!
  • Cash out a portion of my corporate share program. I just want to take out $3,500 and put it into savings, as that was earmarked as part of my down payment fund.
  • Go to the optometrist. I think I need glasses? :(
  • Take breaks at work. I’m horrible at not taking any breaks when I’m in the office. I usually eat lunch at my desk while I work, and don’t take any coffee breaks. This month I’d like to focus on going for short walks at least a few times each week.
  • Unsubscribe to all triggering e-mails. I did this a few years ago, but unfortunately have re-registered with a few companies to get information on their sales. Except that there’s nothing I actually need! So, goodbye Patagonia, Icebreaker, Arc’teryx, and Fjallraven. I don’t need you anymore Banana Republic, J.Crew, and Anthropologie!

January 2017 Goals: Recap

January was an expensive month, and not how I wanted 2017 to start – but that’s just the way it works sometimes. :)

This month marked our official goal of trying to save $150,000 for a future down payment. RD has already saved his half of the down payment, so now it’s just up to me. You’ll be able to see my progress every month in the details below.

I also started a crafty project for the year: I’m cross stitching Christmas stockings for RD and I. :) The one pictured here has about 50 hours worth of work already (thanks horrible January weather), so it’ll take some time for sure. This idea started back in December, when we were in his hometown visiting his parents. We realized that since our hometowns are so far apart, and we want to visit both families every Christmas, we’ll always be busy over the holiday break. We thought it would be nice to start up our own tradition so that we could celebrate the holidays together, before embarking on our travel plans. My hope is to get both stockings stitched and sewn before December of this year … the only issue is that I don’t own a sewing machine, so I’ll likely have to enlist help for that part. :)

Anyway, onto how I did this month with my budget!

Over Budget:

  • Household – just barely went over budget on this one, but we bought an air plant and a hipster planter to go with it. :)
  • Entertainment – a friend decided to throw a last-minute birthday party so we went to a pub to celebrate and bought her a couple rounds as well.
  • Clothing – well, I bought a Patagonia 3-in-1 coat for $500 (on sale), but then really couldn’t pass up the holiday sale at Anthropologie. I felt guilty afterwards so unsubscribed to their newsletter. Thankfully, I no longer work within walking distance of that store, so I doubt I’ll be shopping there much anymore.
  • Travel – the 50% deposit on our accommodation for Tofino (March) put me over in this category. I should have known this expense would happen in January, as we booked our accommodation last year in February and I wanted to book earlier this year.

Income and Savings:

This month I saved 66% of my net income and brought in $3,500 in freelance income. I still have about $4,000 in freelance work that should be coming sometime in February.

  • Current Down Payment Fund: $128,600 / $150,000 (+ $3,900)

January 2017 Goals:

  • Look into making my budgeting spreadsheet available to blog readersCHECK! I’m 95% sure I’m going to do this, but over the years my spreadsheet has become so customized to my taste that I’m going to have to spend some time making it a bit more generic.
  • Try 3 new recipes. CHECK! I tested out a bunch of new recipes from the Oh She Glows Every Day and Plenty More cookbooks – a kale and delicata squash salad, butternut squash with chili yogurt cilantro sauce, a new veggie burger recipe, Thug Kitchen burritos, smashed potatoes, maple glazed rainbow carrots … and made a few of my staple recipes a bit more fancy by making simple things from scratch like my own mango salsa, pesto sauce, roasted garlic, and salad dressing.
  • Bring my lunch to work every dayPASS. I bought my lunch twice – once was the first day back from vacation (which shouldn’t really count, right?), and the other time was when we only had enough leftovers to pack for one lunch, so I gave it to RD because he works in the middle of nowhere.
  • Try to lower my internet bill. FAIL. I actually did try to call into Shaw Cable (since I was told existing customers cannot use the chat function on their website to look at promo pricing), but the hold time was too long and I couldn’t wait any longer since I was at work.
  • Get into the mountains. CHECK! We only got out once this month because the weather has been so horrible (and because field hockey season has started back up again), but it was still nice. Next month I hope to get out more.

Saving for a down payment

For the past few years, I’ve been on auto pilot with my finances. My retirement savings are automatically withdrawn every pay day, and at the end of the month whatever is left over, I put into a general savings account. It’s what I’ve always wanted for myself – to be savvy enough to create a budget and (for the most part) stick to it every month, and to have enough income coming in that I could afford to do the things that I want to do, without financial struggle.

Related: Here’s how I saved 50% of my income in 2016

Because my finances are automated for the most part (I still manually pay all my bills), I haven’t had to put in effort to save for anything … and this realization actually made me feel pretty bad about myself. That’s in part because, aside from my long-term goal of early retirement or the occasional big trip somewhere, I haven’t had an actual financial goal in years. I’m talking about a big financial goal that would require me to create a plan and actually work hard to achieve it.

Until now.

Since RD and I have made it our goal to one day buy a home (probably, maybe sometime this year), all of a sudden my new goal is to save for a down payment, because the amount we put down on our future home is riding on how much I personally can save.

Right now I have $53,000 earmarked specifically for a future down payment (this lives outside of my general savings and my emergency fund accounts). RD has much more than that – so much more that it would actually be impossible for me to match his savings even if I tried my hardest this year. And since we are planning to go 50-50 on the down payment, the amount we will have saved really depends on how much more I can squirrel away.

It seems weird to even talk about saving for a down payment, when I was so sure we would be renters for years. But now that we both understand we’ll be here long-term, it actually does make sense to buy if we can find a place that costs about the same to own as to rent. The only problem is, those places are very rare, and we’re willing to wait until we find a home that we can love for 10+ years – and until the Vancouver real estate market settles down … which is why we have no idea when we’ll end up buying.

Related: How I saved for my down payment

My dream is that we’d have $150,000 combined for a down payment and closing costs, which means I’d have to save $22,000 more to come up with my half. Admittedly, this is a somewhat unrealistic goal considering our travel itinerary this year and the fact that I refuse to lower my retirement contributions, but there’s an outside chance I can get there. Of course, it depends on when we actually decide to buy, but I will still try to come up with some sort of plan to get me as close to my goal as possible. Stay tuned!

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