Financial Wins and Spending | Week 5

August 31, 2014 Permalink

financial wins


I was in denial that summer was coming to an end, but it’s actually getting cool outside. It’s still August so I’m still in denial, but it makes no difference to us anyway, because two weeks from the moment I’m writing this, we’ll be landing in Guangzhou, China for a short layover before arriving in Kathmandu, where we will start our nearly month-long honeymoon.

Since I am on a temporary contractand the company J works for pays his vacation time out on each paycheque, we technically won’t be getting paid for the period of time we are away from work.

I did get a vacation pay out from my previous employer which will go toward paying the bills while we are away, and of course we have savings aplenty just in case, but we won’t have the regular paycheques that are deposited into our account as if I were a regular employee.

Even though it won’t impact us that much, we are still trying to save money where we can so we don’t have to worry on our trip. If you’ve been reading along with my previous reports, you’ll note below that we’ve spent far more this past week than we have in the weeks prior, but not for lack of trying.

spending money weekly


Eating Out

I was so close to having a week-long streak of not eating out, but my team at work decided to do an end of summer dinner so I joined them for some Southern food. It was good to get out and get to know them away from work.


I mentioned last week that J and I went to hang out with my mom and stepdad in our hometown last weekend, so our as spending was higher than normal. This is just the portion that I put on my credit card.


J bought the groceries last week. I bought tortillas because we forgot to buy them at the grocery store when we went. I think he spent around $120, but because I am not sure and it didn’t end up on the credit card under my name, it doesn’t end up on the spending report either.


A few months ago, one of our dogs had a small cyst on her leg. We took her in to the vet to check it out and were told it was benign. She was bleeding recently, so we took her into the vet. That cost us a cool $82.80, and we’ll have to take her in for a minor surgery next week which will be $550.  It sucks that veterinary care is so expensive, but our pets are worth it and I hate to see either of them not feel up to snuff so we are excited to get it dealt with.


I don’t donate enough money to the causes that I love, and I’ve been trying to step that up recently. There was a dog in my community who the SPCA was trying to raise money for to afford him a walking device so I put money toward that. I need to work donations into my monthly budget, or, at the very least, start volunteering more often.

Financial Wins

We’ve had a few more small wins over the past few weeks, which have added up to big returns.

A Literal Win

Lucky girl that I am, I won a Visa gift card ($100). I got it in the mail at the end of the week and I plan to put the money aside for my travel fund. I’ll use the gift card on regular expenses, such as gas and groceries, and then transfer the $100 into my savings.

Reaching Half of My Goal

Just a couple of weeks ago I announced my goal of saving $12,000 for travel in 2015. I had wanted to save it in 7 months, but on Friday I woke up to payday and transferred another portion of my pay into my travel fund, which pushed my savings up to half of my goal since I set it two weeks ago.

I still have more than six months to reach the goal of saving $12,000 and of course I’ll surpass that. I’m excited to see how much I am able to save.

More Free Movies

J eats a lot of cereal, so when we went to go replenish his supply at the grocery store this week, we were happy to see that the free movie promotion was still on. We’re going to go to a movie this evening.



The Difference Between My Shopping Habits Now and Before

August 29, 2014 Permalink

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I loved to spend money. This was before I discovered the joy of waking up in the morning on payday and transferring half of my paycheque into my savings account. Be still, my heart.

Now I save money like it’s my job. But back then, I couldn’t even save a penny.

I didn’t even know that I loved to spend money, it just seemed to fly out of my hands as quickly as I could make it. I actually thought I was frugal, because almost everything I bought was on sale. A large chunk of my earnings went to rent, tuition, and transportation, but another huge chunk went down the drain.

Fortunately, I learned how to manage money properly before it was too late. My spending habits changed drastically when I moved, as I started to manage the finances of my dad’s business. In managing the way the funds were allocated for the business, I learned a lot about the principles of saving, investing, and spending.

good vs. bad ways to spend money

I also began reading smaller, more relatable personal finance blogs (I’ve always been a reader of the larger ones), which helped me put things into perspective and work toward my own form of financial freedom.

My shopping habits were not sustainable prior to making the change.

Clothing Shopping Then

I used to buy a high volume of cheap clothing that started to look worn and shabby after one wash.

I would spend my lunch breaks roaming the mall, supposedly “window shopping” but often buying these items from stores like Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters.

If it was on sale and I didn’t really like it, I would still buy it if I thought that the deal was good enough. An ugly tank top for $5? I’d still find myself at the register, digging in my wallet for my bank card, thinking that there would surely be someplace for me to wear it.

Clothing Shopping Now

Now, I buy clothing when I need it.

I love fashion and feeling great in what I am wearing, but instead of buying a large quantity of cheaply made clothing, I demonstrate these interests by spending more (sometimes) on quality, classic pieces that I actually want and need.

My wardrobe now consists of a handful of trendy items mixed in with a few key pieces which will last me for far longer than would anything those cheap stores sell, and will continue looking good for years to come.

Anything that I need to replace, I will do so, with quality instead of quantity.

Grocery Shopping Then

J and I were at the grocery store the other day, picking up something from the freezer aisle, when I reminded him of our terrible grocery shopping habits of when we first moved in together.

First of all, we were eating like crap. Every item in our cart would be something from the processed food aisles: cereals, packaged cookies, “fruit” snacks, pudding, chips, Poptarts, bagels, you name it.

Second, we often went shopping without a meal plan, and would buy a handful of fresh ingredients which would just spoil in the fridge because we had no real plan for it. We were spending well over $800/month on food for the both of us, none of it healthy and much of it ending up in the trash.

Grocery Shopping Now

Now, we meal plan, brown bag our lunches, and skip the processed food, opting instead for whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Our diets are much better for it, and as a result we both feel better than we ever did eating all of that crap. Furthermore, we spend substantially less on groceries than we did during our grocery free-for-all.

I will always remember one time, standing in line at the grocery store in front of an elderly couple, with our carts to the brim full of “food”. The woman nudged her husband and whispered: “Oh, they must have a big family”.

That should have made us stop and think about how much food we were buying (and how much of it is marketed towards children), but it didn’t click for a few years.

 Shopping for Leisure Items Then

Leisure items can be anything from a television, to our bikes and hiking boots.

Back when J and I first started dating, if we wanted something like a bike, new television, or even a car, we’d find the cheapest possible version of the item and buy that.

We would then grow tired of whatever poor quality item we’d purchased, and go buy one that was equally as cheap but maybe a bit easier on the eyes.

The cycle would continue, the product would break or we would grow tired of the glitches or issues with it, and we’d have to get a new one.

Shopping for Leisure Items Now

Now, we spend hours researching before we even step foot into a store. We look for quality, functionality and anticipated life of the product before even looking at the price.

After we’ve narrowed it down to a handful of items, we’ll compare them for value, and then go check it out in the store.

We buy things only that we know that we’ll use for years to come (our bikes, for instance) and don’t bother with stuff that will just end up cluttering our garage.


It’s so refreshing having quality instead of quantity, and being able to rely on our purchases instead of live in fear that they are going to wear out. We change and adapt throughout our lives, and this is one change that I’m grateful we made.

Financial Wins and Spending | Week 4

August 24, 2014 Permalink

financial winsI’m posting this a bit late because over the past weekend, we spend some time at my mom and stepdad’s house in our hometown. As summer is winding down and we are away on our honeymoon in just a couple of weeks for the better part of a month, we wanted to take the opportunity to spend some time with them.

It was a nice, short trip and I’m just now settling down and getting some work done. The (small) cost of this trip will show up on next week’s spending report.

Last week, we broke the seal on our spending and enjoyed ourselves a little more.

We have been very fortunate in that we haven’t had any unexpected or emergent expenses come up, so we’ve been able to save a significant amount of our take home pay over the past month or so. We feel a bit more freedom as a result, so we have loosened up the purse strings and enjoyed a date night out and some ice cream.

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 5.28.50 PM

Eating Out

This included a fun date night with J, an awesome dinner with Cait, and a couple of other smaller food purchases.We don’t have much of an entertainment budget besides eating out, so I’m fine with this number.

Gas & Groceries

These are both fairly standard; we’ve been trying to eat what is in our cupboards recently, so our grocery bill has been a bit lower than we might expect it to be. This isn’t reflective of what J spent on groceries; we ended up going at different times throughout the week.

On Friday, I bought some munchies for the road at the dollar store so they are included in the figure.

Financial Wins

The financial fortune continues!


We live in this amazing corner of the world that has so much to offer, including: blackberries!

This time of year is a forager’s dream. The blackberry bushes were all bearing fruit, and on Sunday, J and I took our bikes over to a local park which has a walkway lined with blackberry bushes and scored five pounds of sweet goodness.

This is a financial win because every morning, I have a smoothie with a fruit in it. Usually, we buy fruit from farmers markets and freeze it, or just buy frozen fruit if whatever I want isn’t in season. These bags of fruit usually cost upward of $6, and over the past week I have been able to use the blackberries in my smoothies. Score!

More Price Adjustments

I incurred another business expense and while this doesn’t have an effect on our personal finances, I still scored by getting three more price adjustments due to the store’s price match policy.

The adjustments were to the tune of $78.

Vouchers and Freebies

As part of the orientation at my new job, which didn’t happen until this week, I got a voucher for a free lunch at a local cafe and a free workout at a local facility. I love freebies so I will definitely take advantage.

I’ve also been scoring Swagbucks like crazy lately, thanks to a few people I’ve referred. Referrals are the best way to earn Swagbucks, so if you are wondering how to ramp it up and earn a lot more, get some of your friends, family members, or followers to sign up. You get more Swagbucks, they earn Swagbucks, everybody gets free stuff. Referral link here if you haven’t already signed up.


Let the wins continue!