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Jan No-Low Spend Challenge update #2

Jan No Spend Challenge

I was doing really well.  And if we don’t count my little slip, I am still doing well. 😉

Last week I got an email about the live production of The Lion King returning to Toronto.  I saw it a long time ago and loved it.  I knew that I would want to take my kids to see it … one day.  The Lion King was in Toronto a couple(?) of years ago but I did not get my act together in time to go.
*Really I am a theatre snob and if I can’t sit close to the stage I don’t want to go.  When I multiplied the cost of 1 good seat by 3 I got cold feet.  Ahhh, confession is good for the soul. lol

Anyhoo, back to the email.  The advance purchase price which while expensive was more affordable than the last time I looked at tickets.  So I played with a lot of dates and found seats in a section that I could live with.  I added them to my cart and after 10+ minutes of contemplation, I hit buy.

I am going to see the Lion King with my girls in May!!!  I’m so excited.  I have not shared this with my kids yet as I like to keep things as a surprise.  Also Diva will probably give me a long lecture as we are on a no/low spend challenge.  Yes my 14 yr old is a bit more disciplined than me.  Don’t tell her as I will never hear the end of it.


WSR – 2/11/13

So the last time I did a spending report was January 21!?!  Frick. 😦  Where does the time go?

Alright let’s get the party started.

Jan 21 – No Spend Day

Jan 22 – No Spend Day
+2.02 this is what was left for vision care for Diva’s glasses

Jan 23 – No Spend Day

Jan 24 – No Spend Day

Jan 25 – +12.37 returns to Michael’s
$60 gas
$4.24 postage

Jan 26 – $3 sushi lunch tip
$59.89 dinner
$2.26 windshield washer fluid

Jan 27 – $2 parking
$35.41 detox
$22.23 groceries
$10.16 clay mask
$113.67 groceries

Jan 28 – No Spend Day

Jan 29 – No Spend Day

Jan 30 – $57.01 gas
$33.88 contact lens solution
$158.43 groceries

Jan 31 – No Spend

Feb 1 – +$3 survey payment

Feb 2 – $7 parking

Feb 3 – $78.39 birthday gift

Feb 4 – $32.56 groceries
$12.78 groceries

Feb 5 – $22.11 groceries

Feb 6 – No Spend Day

Feb 7 – No Spend Day

Feb 8 – No Spend Day

Feb 9 – $6.15 groceries

Feb 10 – $74.74 groceries
$3.94 magazine

Grand Total: $799.85 – $17.39 = $782.46 NET
9 No Spend Days

Man I spend a lot on food.

In January I was doing well until that last week.  I need to figure out how to make the momentum last.  I seem to be able to stay on track for the first 3 weeks of the month, then it’s like I rebel and break loose. 😦

So far this month I am on track.  I went to cash only and my hexie wallet is getting used. 🙂  I took out most of what I needed for last week and only some grocery money for this week.  Don’t ask.  My thoughts were why am I taking out money when I haven’t spent all of the money from last week yet?  I can already see problems with this line of thinking but for the moment I will go with it.

I have to take the kids to the dentist tomorrow so I will be kissing some more cash good-bye. 😦  Can’t wait until the braces come off.  Thankfully Princess’ braces came off.  So only one kid to pay for. 🙂

On the food front, I bought another hunk of salmon from Costco and baked all of it yesterday.  Diva is really enjoying this fish.  She asked me to continue making it even after I have finished my cleanse.  My “hates anything organic and healthy” child is eating salmon and quinoa for dinner.  It’s a wonderful sight to see. 🙂

This week’s menu looks like this:

Salmon and brown rice/quinoa & broccoli
Salad with salmon for me / cheese pizza for the kids
Chicken, salad, sidekicks & broccoli
leftovers until the fridge is empty



So close

so_close (Source)

I was on a “no spending” streak for the past 5 days.

Until today.

I was very low on gas and had enough to get me to work and back.  My aunt asked me to take her grocery shopping today.  I did not have enough gas for that. 😦  So while my next planned expense was supposed to be lunch tomorrow, I bought gas today.  And since I bought gas I also spent money on postage.  A task I was delaying until I broke my fiscal fast.

Then my aunt cancelled because it’s snowing.

Oh well.

This week-end is looking like a spendy one. 😦  I am out of a lot of staples.  I am going to try to “make do” until the end of the month.  I still have $130 in my grocery budget.

I finally added categories to my hexie budget wallet.  Sunday I will start the week and see how it goes.

My weekly spending looks like this:

Transportation $30
Food $90
Entertainment/Eating out $40
Everything else $30

For a grand total of $190/week.

I think I can make it work.

What to say

I am not impressed with myself at this moment.


I have managed to incur my first or second(?) NSF fee, because I am impatient and clearly lacking memory skills. 😦

I have a budget that I swear I know how to use it but I managed to screw it up. 😦

I transferred money into my savings and marked it down in my spreadsheet.  But days later when I was checking my savings account I did not see the money show up and there was no pending transaction.

At this point I doubted that I had actually done the transfer and arranged another transfer … you can see where this is going, right?

Anyhoo, both transfers went through with not enough money in my account, the second one resulted in a $45 NSF fee.  *hanging head in shame*

I have called my bank and explained that I am an idiot and is there anything they can do and they have offered to go half which is more that I could expect.  The credit should appear in my account by the end of next week.

I can’t believe I did this.

2013 Goals

Happy New Year!


This year will be better than ever!!

Isn’t that what we say every January first?  Only to have life return to “normal” by February/March?

Then all resolutions or goals and plans are forgot or deemed to be out of reach.  Too hard.  Takes too long.  Requires too much effort.

I can’t say I have elaborate resolutions … or even any resolutions at all.

There are some things that I would like to accomplish but they are not resolutions per se; more of a lifestyle plan.


I don’t see my family nearly enough.  My Dad & Mom often but my Uncles and Aunts that are in Toronto, not so much. 😦  I need to do better than once a year.  I see my family in MD more than I do the ones that are local. 😦


Other than my BFF, I can go months without seeing some of my friends.  We will talk/text often but we are not in front of each other often enough.


Project Get Healthy will continue.  I have not worked out in almost 2 weeks and even thought my weight is remaining steady, it’s time to get back on the exercise wagon.  While it’s nice to see the numbers on the scale decrease, it is not the most important factor.  I don’t want to turn into a “dieter”.  I just want to eat healthy 80% of the time.  Life without cheese treats is not as exciting to me.


Reduce my debt is still on my list.  Along with increase my net worth.  Try to keep my eye on the prize and not get distracted by shiny new toys.


Learn and grow.  I think it’s been a long time since I have really stretched myself.  I haven’t learned any new skills that I can think of.  I’m stuck in a rut.  In the future I would like to learn something new.  What that is I have yet to determine.  But I will push myself out of my comfort zone.  I will remember the following quotes and try to live my life by them.

Life is too short. Live your life worthy while you’re here. Because we’re only here temporarily. Live life to the fullest! ~ Unknown

Life is too short to be sad all the time, so laugh everyday, smile when you want to cry, love the ones that care for you, forget the ones that don’t, hang out with friends whenever possible, regret nothing because at one time it was everything you wanted, never backstab someone cause they will backstab you back, and just live life to the fullest because you only get one life. ~ Unknown

Nothing too outrageous.  Just common sense. 😉

Good Bonus Surprise?

Nice title huh?

A little back story.

I get retention bonuses at work.  We had a performance bonus program and found that it was not based on real merit so it was scrapped.  And replaced with a retention bonus for folks the company actually wanted to retain. 😉  The bonus happens several times throughout the year at odd intervals.

My latest bonus was until the end of the year.  Usually I am required to stay until a certain date then the bonus is paid on the pay cheque that falls after that date.  This was great for me as this bonus would be paid out next year and be counted as next year’s income.

This scenario did not happen for me this time around.

Since I do not want to be a little old lady eating cat food I put about 60% of this bonus into my retirement fund and left the rest to pay the additional income taxes and add to my $10K savings goal.

Well I check my account and I got paid early.  And there is way more deposited to my account than I expected.

I know “First World Problems”. 😉

My minor issue is that I have no way of know if the amount deposited is correct.  The money allotted to my retirement account takes awhile to show up so I won’t be able to see any time soon if that amount is correct either. 😦

Since I work for a small company we only have one person who deals with payroll and she will not be in until December 31 … so this would be the earliest I would be able to ask or even see my pay stub.

The suspense is torturing me just a little.

Right now my bank account is looking pretty, oh so pretty.  And it will remain looking pretty until I get the confirmation I am looking for.  I would hate to spend any of the extra cash if it wasn’t really mine to spend or worst yet the full amount that was to go to my retirement account didn’t.

I must say I am really hoping we got a year-end bonus that no one told me about.

January Challenge

January Challenge (Source)

Carla has brought back the great January No/Low Spend & Decluttering Challenge.  The challenge is pretty self-explanatory.  You can participate in one or both.

Of course I will participate in both as who doesn’t need to declutter and spend less? 😉

For the No/Low Spend part:

  1. Cash only – no debit or credit
  2. Stick to my budget – I will be coming up with a weekly amount shortly
  3. Start another ‘sealed pot’ and really seal it 😉 While I didn’t dip into the last one, I can’t say for sure my kids didn’t help themselves 😦
  4. One 7 day fiscal fast
  5. 4 No Spend Days each week

For the Decluttering part:

  1. Get my dining room back to serving its purpose, it is a hot mess – there will be photo evidence 😦
  2. Shred the piles of paper around my home
  3. Declutter my bedroom
  4. Pare down my closet

I think that should be enough of a challenge for me.

Mind games, I play them

But only with myself. 😉

I learned long ago that I am the kind of person that needs to trick myself in order to not spend money.  Savings is a line item in my budget and requires me to transfer the money out of my regular bank account in order for the money to remain saved.

I refinanced my mortgage a few years ago and went with a new lender.  This meant a new change to me as I would now be responsible for paying my property taxes myself.  So I did what any smart person would do, I took the yearly amount and divided it by 26 and started to put that amount away every pay-day.  I also did this with my life insurance yearly payment.

After the first year, I had money left over after I paying my bills.

A light bulb went off.

The next year and all following years, I rounded the bi-weekly amount up.  This resulted in a bigger surplus.  I don’t record the total amount of this account anywhere in my budget spreadsheet.  The money in this account is not included in my net worth.  It is money I have hidden from myself.  It is becoming a secret emergency fund.

Mind games, I play them. 😉

In light of the great blackout of 2003 and more recently the effects of Hurricane Sandy, I have gotten a little more serious about increasing the secret stash of cash hidden in my home.  This stash is not record anywhere but would be used if I don’t have access to an ATM in a real emergency situation.  I need to think more about how much I would like to have on hand.  Right now I am leaning towards a grand total of $593.00 broken down like this:

1 x $100
2 x $50
5 x $20
10 x $10
20 x $5
25 x $2
25 x $1
40 x $0.25
50 x $0.10
40 x $0.05
100 x $0.01

I think this would give me the ability to make exact change for most items I would need to purchase in the short-term.

Mind games, I play them. 😉

My latest trick is to figure out what I have to spend weekly and then reduce that amount by a percentage or dollar amount.  I then walk around thinking I only have the smaller amount to last me through the week and try to stick by it.  The money that isn’t spent goes towards my debt.  It is a bit challenging but in light of my most recent weekly spending report, I think it’s paying off.

Mind games, I play them. 😉

What about you?  Are there any tricks that you use to keep yourself from spending money or to increase your savings?

WSR – 12/17/12

I can’t believe I am 2 weeks behind. 😦  Oh well, hopefully the end total will not be too shocking.

Dec 3 – $14.67 chocolate

Dec 4 – $14.41 Christmas gifts
+$16.80 Old Navy returns
$22.58 Christmas gifts
$28.66 groceries
$59.50 gas

Dec 5 – No Spend Day

Dec 6 – $14.45 groceries

Dec 7 – $17 dim sum lunch

Dec 8 – $9.48 burger lunch
$7.56 groceries

Dec 9 – $0.57 bristol board

Dec 10 – No Spend Day

Dec 11 – No Spend Day
+3 survey payment

Dec 12 – $0.88 groceries

Dec 13 – No Spend Day

Dec 14 – No Spend Day

Dec 15 – $20 ear-piercing for Diva

Dec 16 – No Spend Day

Total: $209.76 – $19.80 (returns & survey) – $36.99 (Christmas budget) = $152.97 NET
No Spend Days

I can’t remember when last I have spent such a small amount in one week much less two!!!  I am doing a little dance as I type. 🙂

The ear-piercing for Diva was an unplanned expense.  My sister wanted to go get her ears pierced for the first time.  Diva has expressed some annoyance over the fact that the piercing on one of her ears was too high.  So I figured why not see if she can get her ear re-pierced.

WSR – 12/03/12

Nov 25 – No Spend Day

Nov 26 – $13.97 groceries

Nov 27 – No Spend Day

Nov 28 – No Spend Day

Nov 29 – No Spend Day

Nov 30 – $17 sushi lunch

Dec 1 – $14.58 dinner with my kids
$54.24 Christmas shopping
$41.42 old navy
$12.66 bulk barn
$47.74 shoebox project
$52.10 groceries

Dec 2 – $51.16 grocery
$45.11 Christmas shopping
$15.02 contact lenses solution

Grand Total: $363.00 – $147.09 ish Christmas shopping = $215.91 NET
4 No Spend Days

I am pretty much done with Christmas shopping.  I was able to fund my shoebox project from my Christmas budget. 🙂

The elevator in my building will be out of service from today until Wednesday.  I am not sure if that means it will be operational on Wednesday but I stocked up a bit on groceries just in case.