Random thoughts of an upbeat mind

Posts tagged ‘challenge’

March Take 3 Challenge

I am a sucker for challenges or anything that gets me to do something a little different. ¬†Thanks Carla for “dragging” me along. ūüėČ

Finance: Come in below budget. ¬†In all the time that I have been budgeting I can’t think of a time when I was under. ¬†I’m usually at best a little over. ¬†I’m not sure that this is the best month to try this out in as I have a lot of one-off expenses this month. ¬†All 3 passports expire in 2 weeks. ¬†Princess turns 16. ¬†I need to renew the sticker on my license plate. ¬†Property taxes are due. ¬†I am going to limit the finance part to the rest of my budget without these 4 expenses.

Personal:¬†One thought. Time management. ¬†I don’t know where my time goes every day. ¬†In my perfect world I will have time for exercise, reading, crocheting and paying attention to my kids … oh and television cause it’s really important. ūüėČ ¬†This month I am going to try to master the art of working out in the morning, thus freeing up my evening to relax.

Decluttering:¬†There is a pile of crap stuff that’s been sitting in my dining room for far too long. ¬†I have tidied it up but I need to figure it out once and for all. ¬†Since I haven’t really looked at the pile in at least a year it is safe to say it’s not anything critical. ¬†I have 4 desktops to clean off and dispose of. ¬†Don’t ask why, I don’t have a good answer.

I think this is plenty.

January recap & February goals

On Monday I got the dreaded you have reached 100% of your monthly usage allowance. ūüė¶ ¬†In an attempt to reduce our overage I banned everyone from using the internet unless it was school related. ¬†When I checked this morning we were 6 GBs over our limit. ¬†This will be an additional $12 on the next bill. ¬†I would love to know what had changed this past billing cycle as we haven’t gone over our 60 GB limit in a long time and usually sit at less than 45 GBs each month.

Oh well, on to business.

January Goals

  1. Fiscal fast for the first 8 days of January, with the exception of a lunch on Jan 7Done
  2. No-Low Spend Challenge

    • Come in on or under my reduced budget – I was over by 4% if you don’t count my tickets to The Lion King, 18.5% if you do
    • No eating out (except for the lunch I have on the 7th) – Nope, my cousin invited me out and I also paid for the meal my BFF “treated” me to as she has not paid me back yet and I don’t intend to ask for repayment as she frequently takes me out to eat.
    • 15 ‚Äúno spend‚ÄĚ days – I had 22
    • Continue to track my spending – I did this and for the first time ever my spending only took up 32 lines on my spreadsheet. (It’s usually in the 50’s)
    • Shop my freezer – Mostly, but I still stocked up on some pizzas towards the end of the month
  3. Exercise 20 times – I tracked 27 workouts
  4. Read 2 books – I only read The Time Traveler’s Wife
  5. Give the blanket to my BFF ;) РDone!
  6. Pick up one of the unfinished crochet projects I have – Nope, I have not looked in the bin yet

Not bad. ¬†I’m starting to think that multi-tasking is not my forte. ¬†But I worked out and tried to keep my spending under control, which were the important goals to me.

February Goals

  1. Stop eating after 8pm. ¬†I find myself snacking while watching the 11 pm news. ūüė¶
  2. Read 3 books
  3. Pick up an afghan and work on it
  4. Shop my freezer
  5. Get back on track with my daily morning and evening reading
  6. Continue to workout at least 5 times a week


On a different note, I forgot to tell you that I stepped on the scale on Saturday and pulled out the tape measure. ¬†I am down almost 4 lbs and 4 inches. ¬†I kinda expected it would be more as I am feeling rather lean. ¬†I am one pound away from where My Fitness Pal thinks I am. ¬†Blasted summer holiday weight gain that is fighting to stay with me. ūüė¶ ¬†My cousin gave me bad news. ¬†She said once you get closer to your goal it gets harder to lose the weight. ¬†WTF!?! Well, I am taking that as a challenge and putting on my big girl panties. ūüėČ

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. ūüėČ

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.


Fiscal Fast – Day 7

If I don’t leave the house then I don’t spend money. ¬†Interesting concept. ¬†Too bad it’s not realistic. lol

So far I technically have not spent any money. ¬†I did write a cheque for my condo maintenance fees. ¬†Figured it’s probably better if I do that sooner rather than later. ūüėČ ¬†It will take the management company at least a week or more to cash it. ¬†It is a little annoying waiting for cheques to be cashed.

I went out today to my scheduled lunch and only spent what I budgeted. ūüôā

Other than those two instances I am keeping my hands out of my wallet. ūüôā I wish I could be kicking butt like Sharon, who is rocking her fiscal fast.

Since I spent money today I added an extra day to my fiscal fast. ¬†So on Thursday I will hit the grocery store. ¬†Diva is already “rationing” the last 2 bags of milk we have. ¬†That child and her milk addiction.


On the menu planning front I must make a small big medium confession.  I like to menu plan on my couch and from memory instead of in front of my fridge and freezer.  So instead of looking in my fridge on Sunday, I winged it.  I have yet to have anything on my menu except for leftovers.  And they were not the leftovers I was planning to eat.

I found a piece of cabbage that my Aunt gave me that I forgot about and made coleslaw yesterday using this Classic Coleslaw recipe. ¬†Last night’s dinner was leftover Mexican lasagna meat filling and rice for Princess & I. ¬†Diva ate the leftover meatballs and bread, along with some rice and salt fish. ¬†Tonight we had ribs, sidekicks and coleslaw. ¬†All leftovers from the past few days. ūüôā ¬†The fridge is starting to look bare. ūüôā

Even though I went “off script”, I am feeling very good about using up all those leftovers. ¬†Usually the food lingers in my fridge and it’s a fight to get it eaten before it dies.

We are moving in the right direction in our war against food waste.

Tomorrow’s dinner will be chicken ravioli with sauce and leftover coleslaw. ¬†I still have some broccoli and Brussels sprouts to use up. ¬†So tomorrow’s dinner might be veggie heavy. ūüôā


Jan No-Low Spend Challenge update #1

Jan No Spend Challenge

So far so good. ¬†I am on day 3 of a fiscal fast and no money has left my pocket. ¬†The iTouch purchase yesterday gave me the “thrill” of shopping without the expense as Diva used all her own money to fund her new toy. ūüôā

I still have 3/4 tank of gas.

Princess and I will be having the leftover Mexican lasagna with steamed Brussels sprouts, her favourite veggie.

I am taking Diva to her BFF’s house tonight for a sleepover.

Then attend a viewing of a friend of a friend. ¬†I am going mainly for moral support. ¬†If my friend wants me to go to the funeral tomorrow then I will go, but I would prefer not to. ¬†The family of the deceased did not want to acknowledge that their loved one was ill. ¬†In fact up until 3 weeks ago very few people knew she was sick or even dying. ¬†It’s all very sad.

At some point this weekend I should help my BFF with her move. ¬†I don’t think she’s started packing yet and the movers are scheduled for the 15th. ¬†If I am not going to the funeral tomorrow then I will head up to her house after picking up Diva. ¬†If I do end up at the funeral then I will go Sunday.

Being busy this weekend should help me keep my hands out of my wallet. ūüôā



December recap & January goals

Another month end.  Time is passing far too quickly.

December Goals

  1. Exercise 16 times Р22 times!!  Whoo hoo!!  20 minutes really is my sweet spot.
  2. Read 2 books – I read The Dinner and Better Than Good Hair
  3. 15 no spend days – Only 13, so close. ¬†I would have hit it if I didn’t take my sister to do her eyebrows twice. ¬†Really need to put her on a schedule that corresponds with a day I am already spending money. ūüėČ
  4. Shop my freezer – I was doing this!?! ¬†LOL ¬†I don’t think I did this well at all. ūüė¶
  5. Finish Christmas shopping by Dec 10 РI was finished on the 12th.  Close but not quite.
  6. Finish putting together the blanket for my BFF – The blanket is put together now I need to sew in all the loose ends.
  7. Make¬†Apple Pie cookies¬†– No. ¬†I was planning to make and take these to my Dad’s for Christmas but I did not take the recipe off the internet so when I lost internet just before Christmas I was SOL.
  8. Stick to the budget – Not even close. ūüė¶

4/8 …

January Goals

  1. Fiscal fast for the first 8 days of January, with the exception of a lunch on Jan 7
  2. No-Low Spend Challenge
  3. Exercise 20 times
  4. Read 2 books
  5. Give the blanket to my BFF ūüėČ
  6. Pick up one of the unfinished crochet projects I have

I think that’s enough given the no-low spend challenge is going to keep me on my toes.

I still have to decide on what, if anything, I want to accomplish this year.

January No-Low Spend Challenge

Jan No Spend Challenge (Source)

Carla has done it again, issued a new no-low spending challenge.  Starting January first she, along with a gaggle of driven folks, myself included, will be trying to be mindful of our pennies.

Ever since she announced it, I’ve been trying to think about what my goals will be.

Other than staying on budget, I’m not sure what else I would like to accomplish. ¬†My kids have suggested we refrain from eating out in January.

Right now, my goals look like this.

  1. Come in on or under my reduced budget
  2. No eating out (except for the lunch I have on the 7th)
  3. 15 “no spend” days
  4. Continue to track my spending
  5. Shop my freezer

Looking back over this year’s budget was not pretty. ¬†I wish I had thought to look at where I stood long before December. ¬†I overspent by 10%. ūüė¶ ¬†No wonder I am not making too much headway on my debt. ¬†I spent a ridiculous amount on food. ¬†So I either have an unrealistic expectation about what it costs to feed us or we are gluttons. ¬†Or the more likely case, I am undisciplined. I will be keeping a much closer eye on my food spending next year.

Since I am determined to really shop my freezer,  I reduced my monthly grocery budget by 17% for January.  Other than milk and fresh produce I am not sure why else I might be in the grocery store/Costco next month.  We will just need to learn to make due.  This will also mean I need to be vigilant about baking bread.

In addition to the month-long No-Low Spend Challenge, I am also going to stretch myself by participating in Sharon’s New Year Fiscal Fast. ¬†So for the first 7 days I will be refraining from spending any money. ¬†Since I have a planned lunch on the 7th, I will be extending my fast until the 8th. ¬†I think milk will be my undoing. ¬†Diva drinks it like it’s her not so secret addiction. ¬†To be honest I will most likely buy two sets of milk tomorrow. ¬†I will need to figure out how to hide the extra 4 litres from Diva as when there is a lot of milk in the fridge she tends to go overboard on her consumption.

Now to just keep my eye on the prize all month year long.

Sealed pot update

Back in January I started my sealed pot challenge that I learned about from SFT. ¬†The premise is to take a “pot” and seal it. ¬†I know complicated, right? ¬†I found an old coffee can and taped that bad boy up. ¬†I had thoughts of decorating it but well that fell off my radar a long time ago.

The purpose of the pot is to save all your change for a specific goal and time frame.  Unsealing day is December 1, 2013.  I am using my pot for Christmas presents.  I am not sure that I can wait until December as the malls get busy the closer we get to Christmas.

When I was in school, I used to be finished all my shopping before Halloween.  Those were the days.

As of today my pot looks like this.

Sealed pot


Almost 8 lbs!!!

Now my debate is when do I open the pot.  I am leaning towards sooner rather than later, as I have half a mind to roll the coins myself instead of taking it to the closest coin counting machine.  Although now that I have put it out there it just seems crazy and time-consuming.

Any guesses as to how much will it contains?

Sept No/Low Spend Challenge update #2

No low spend challenge

Time to tell the truth.

I have not been doing so well on this, hence the lack of posts on this topic.  Apparently not having a fridge hinders my ability to plan.  I usually let any frozen meat defrost in my fridge.  Since I did not have a fridge for long periods of time I did not want to take out any meat.

Tuesday I took my sister to get her eyebrows done. ¬†On the way back I realized on my cleanse I could eat sushi if I left off the yummy extras. ¬†Since I was starving it was not a hard sell for me to go to the local Asian supermarket and pick up some salmon maki. ¬†I thought I could just sit in the car and inhale them, then my kids would be none the wiser. ¬†But I couldn’t, so I picked up avocado and cucumber rolls and plain cucumber rolls for my kids. ¬†It was a total of $10 but still.

Wednesday … I needed change for Princess to pay for her TTC card. ¬†By the time I was thinking about it, it was after 9. ¬†Back to the Asian store I went. ¬†It was a difficult decision … LOL ¬†This time since it was so late the sushi was marked down. ¬† $4 poorer, I walked out with more salmon maki and cucumber rolls. ¬†I would have bought the avocado rolls as well but they were not looking so pretty.

**Note to self, buy sushi after 9**

On the plus side, I made macaroni pie to use up the cheese that I had left and I did so without milk and the children said it tasted good.  I really need to get more creative in the kitchen with substituting items.

I used to work with a woman who would say I made blah blah blah but we didn’t have any x so I used y. ¬†I think I need to follow in her footsteps.

Yesterday I made beef fajitas with a piece of steak I bought on sale as I had green peppers in my fridge. ¬†Everything in the recipe I could eat except the tortillas so I just ate the filling. ¬†They were a hit so I am making chicken fajitas tonight as I have another green pepper. ūüėČ

I’ve bought little bits and pieces at the grocery store but neglected to do a big shop until the power is back for good.

Poor Diva has been suffering from milk withdrawal.

Right now I have gone over my reduced budget amount but still might be able to make my regular budget IF I watch my pennies. ¬†With 10 days to go … I am not sure what will happen.

Being on this cleanse and having power outages is not working in my favour.  I hope to pull it all back together this weekend as I can cook and have leftovers.  I will be shopping my freezer in an attempt to come in on budget this month.

Sept No/Low Spend Challenge update #1

No low spend challenge


I think the universe is conspiring against me. ¬†It’s like it knows that I have minimal willpower where certain things are concerned.

I have a friend who frequently takes me out to eat. ¬†Today we met for breakfast and I picked up the cheque. ¬†Usually we go out for dinner which we all know is significantly more expensive.¬† It was “only” $25 but on a no/low spending challenge I should have kept my hands in my pocket and out of my wallet. ¬†But I don’t want to take advantage of the kindness of friends. ¬† ¬†I also don’t want to be nominated for an episode of Princess if I can help it!! LOL

Maybe it was because I was away last month but I am on the receiving end of 2 invitations for lunch this week. ¬†The last time I went to lunch with these friends they paid … I don’t want to turn down the invite especially when it’s my turn to treat. ¬†Oh what to do!?!

Can we say first world problems??? LOL

On top of that, I am still having problems with my right calf. ¬†It is very tight and I am no good at rolling it as that hurts. ¬†I am a bit of a softy sometimes. ¬†According to my chiropractor I should get a massage, it would do me a world of good. ¬†But at $90 for 1 hour I don’t think so. ¬†A group buy deal for a massage at a third of the price appeared in my inbox. ¬†Then that deal site was having a 10% off sale … There is a limit of 2. ¬†The price for 2 hour-long massages with discount is $52.20 …

Oh temptation why must you call my name so loudly.

Confession time.

I was mindlessly wandering through Winners and found a purse I really liked.  Like really, really liked.  So I put it on my shoulder and continued perusing the store.  I found a non-stick wok that matches the 2 pots I bought while in the States.  Gourmet popcorn also made it into my hands.  I went to the cashier and bought them all.  *hiding head in shame*

Red purse


Isn’t it pretty?

On the bright responsible side I came home and had buyer’s remorse so I returned the purse and the popcorn the next day.

We are only 6 days in. ARGHHHH!!!

I may have to turn off my phone, avoid my email and lock myself in my room for the rest of the month.