Outatime

Hey makers-do! I have not written a post in quite a while. I registered for a course that is taking up SO much of my time that it’s better if I stop telling myself I will write while it’s still ongoing. I have about 3 weeks left. I think there’s a post somewhere in there about the value of spending my money on education, but I’m just too tapped out to write it right now. Does anyone else have some clever #makedo moments they’d like to share?

Talk soon,
Monique

P.S. Here’s a picture of my kid as a #makedo Marty McFly for Halloween.

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Week 2.4: Red is a Fall Colour, Right?

I have been so busy this month that last weekend, when my son had a few suggestions for fun stuff we could do together, I threw making do to the wind and we did it all. We can’t do that every weekend, but it was nice!

Groceries: I spent $44.82 this week. Some of that was health food-type stuff that I buy rarely, but I’m trying to eat better after a summer of gluttony. This leaves me with -$46.51 in my envelope. Bad form.

Monique: $51.16 (!!!) spent this week. Two key mistakes were made: I looked around the Sally Ann when I already knew they didn’t have the specific thing I needed, and I took my kid to the movies. I ended up buying myself two very decent pairs of sneakers for about $16, which I think is actually fine, considering I have bought no shoes in well over a year. But man, movie tickets are a racket. And the snacks are worse. I should not buy movie snacks ever, but I go so rarely these days that I treat it like an Event. I ended the week $60.35 in the red.

The Kid: $43.80 spent, mostly on our movie date and a book order from school. I also got a huge box of school supplies from the Sally Ann for $1.99 so his list for next year is basically done. This week is a good argument for building up a cushion in each of these envelopes, because who am I to pass up a deal that good? His envelope is now overdrawn by $47.04.

The Dog: Nothing! I expect this to change in short order.

Savings/Goals: I have not made much progress. I am, however, spending the cash I’ve set aside for Christmas gifts, wisely I think. I am trying very, very hard to rein myself in this year. Just because I’m allowed to buy stuff doesn’t mean we need the stuff.

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This week’s takeaway: I may not remember how to ride a bike, but I sure remember how to shop.

Week 2.3: Well, That Was Predictable

This week, I managed to bust three of my four discretionary envelopes. The fourth one is the dog’s and that’s been depleted since the beginning of the month. I spent a lot of time with some pretty cool babies, and running around so much is not conducive to eating at home and tracking each dollar. I did some fancy accounting this week but basically I need to be benched till October.

Groceries: $19.41, which includes money spent on dog food. We ran out and the little guy has to eat. He doesn’t know it’s not October. This envelope is now overdrawn by $1.69, so we are on a Pantry Challenge till October 1st. It won’t actually be challenging. We have plenty of food in the house and our CSA comes every Wednesday.

Monique: I spent $72.43 this week on discretionary things for which I will take personal responsibility. You may recall much ado about my envelope being consumed by a rather large vet bill, but I forgot that I had previously borrowed some money from my envelope to pay for tuition (which is normally set aside in another envelope, but it was more than I anticipated this semester), planning on paying it back once I got my mid-month pay. So I did that. And then I spent it all. I took some food into the hospital for one of the new sets of parents; I had to get a birthday gift for a kid in my son’s class (this would ordinarily come from his envelope, but he didn’t have enough); I got some takeout coffee and I bought myself a fall-smelling candle. My envelope is now overdrawn by $9.19.

The Kid: $13.50 this week, mostly on school supplies. I am doing really well on my quest to keep his entire supply list under $20. He also wanted a fall-smelling candle and I was not in a position to refuse. His envelope is now overdrawn by $3.26.

The Dog: Still zero, other than taking from the grocery envelope for his food. We’re not due at the vet again for a couple more weeks.

Savings/Goals: I heard something this week that, while I’ve certainly heard it before, made sense to me for the first time: Pay yourself first. My goal has always been to pay off debt at the fastest rate possible, but I have all these other expenses that will inevitably come up in the meantime. I find myself scrimping on other things to avoid going further into debt, and I feel like I’m always having cashflow problems. This week, I decided to shift my focus to filling all of my annual and short-term goal envelopes as my first priority, while continuing to make my required payments on existing debt. Once the envelopes are full (which will take $10,100), I can pivot back to throwing whatever I can at those debt balances without worrying about property taxes or tuition or car maintenance. As of today, I have $1,580.70 of $10,100 saved.

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This week’s takeaway: Cute babies are a distraction from pretty much anything ever but we’ll forgive them.

Kinderbudget

I met with a financial adviser a while ago, and when I found out he had a son a couple years younger than mine, I asked if I could pick his brain a bit. First, I asked if he gave his kid an allowance (yes), how much (eight quarters a week), and what he was expected to do with it.

I liked what he told me, so I decided to implement it at home.

My son, having just turned six, gets six dollars a week. I budget for it as part of his $100 monthly envelope.

wpid-wp-1442364068430.jpgThe main idea here is that the kid gets three jars, labelled “spend”, “save” and “share”, respectively. I saved up some empty protein powder jars because they are huge and I’d like to give him room to fill them, should he want to. We decorated them with stickers.

He gets his allowance in change, loonies or smaller. The rule is that he has to put one dollar in each jar every week, but he gets to choose where he puts the other three dollars.

The Spend Jar is pretty self-explanatory. This is for stuff he wants to buy. There is still an element of saving required, since most things cost more than a few dollars. He’s keeping a list of items he wants and their prices, and learning about sales tax.

wpid-wp-1442364152471.jpgThe Save Jar is for long-term savings goals, like an expensive toy or a trip. Eventually, some of this will go into a bank account.

The Share Jar is my favourite. This is money he has to spend on others. It can be used for birthday gifts for friends, or Christmas gifts for family, or donated to charity. He’s got plenty of ideas already.

This week, the extra three dollars went right into Spend. He saw this silly calculator at Staples last week with a ball bearing maze in the back of it, and it’s all he’s talked about since. I was kind of hoping he’d get over it, but no luck yet.

wpid-wp-1442364586483.jpgHe’s pretty proud of his jars, and I think it’s an easy way to teach budgeting in an age appropriate way. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What other lessons in financial literacy do you think it’s important for kids to learn? Or do you think kids just shouldn’t have to think about money at all?

Week 2.2: (Still) Summertime and the Spendin’ is Easy

This has been a crazy week, mainly because two of the people closest to me had a baby (each) within three days of each other. That was really nice of them. It saved me gas and parking meter change!

Groceries: $37.45 this week. Cheese was on sale. We also got rained out of an outdoor movie, so we made it an at-home movie, which meant buying our own family-sized concessions.

Monique:  Zero. (See: last week.) Actually, I used some of my son’s envelope to buy a specific calculator that I was told I needed for a Stats class I am taking, but it turns out I may not need this particular model and one I already had might suffice. I will know for sure tomorrow. It’s still sealed and I’ll return it if I can.

The Kid: $43.73. A trip to Staples to get the aforementioned calculator, and I decided to get a couple things from next year’s school supply list that were on sale. I don’t think the lists for each grade level change much from year to year. His first two years of school, I sent a cheque for the supplies: $30 for Primary (Kindergarten) and $35 for Grade One. Next year, I am on my own. It follows that supplies for Grade Two should cost me around $40. I’m shooting for $20, pre-tax. I’ll let you know how I fare. I also took him out for lunch after he got his hair cut.

The Dog: Zero! Thank goodness. Although he is going to need food before the month’s end, so that will have to come out of the grocery budget, or elsewhere.

Savings/Goals: This year’s rules require that I use extra cash, and not regular income, for any gift purchases. This week, I sold an old text book for $80, so I’m happy to report that we will probably have Christmas this year.

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I promise I didn’t buy this PSL.

This week’s takeaway: Don’t highlight your textbooks and your kid might get that Lego Advent Calendar he’s got his eye on.

Week 2.1: Back to School

This is the first of what I hope will be 52 weekly posts detailing where in the hell all my money is going.

I am using an envelope system and budgeting monthly. Most of my expenses are fixed, so for the most part, it’s that handful of discretionary envelopes that I’ll be tracking.

Groceries: $25.83 spent. We needed toilet paper this week and my favourite stuff was on sale. We didn’t need much else.

Monique: $25.65 spent. I bought a digital download of a record and a scarf from the Sally Ann; 3x takeout coffees.

The Kid: $26.72 spent. The Sally Ann had kids’ clothes on ten for $5, so I got a few back-to-school outfits. The rest was a birthday gift for a kid in his class and a very small Millennium Falcon. (I made a budget envelope to cover some of his wants and needs each month. He also gets a weekly allowance, which will get its own post at some point.)

The Dog: $226.00 spent. This dog has chronic ear problems, and we’ve been treating him for infection for much of the last year. This is just the latest in a string of vet bills I’ve had to pay for him. I had budgeted $100 per month for his expenses, hoping we’d seen the last of the vet for a while. I was mistaken. This one appointment emptied not only his envelope but mine too. It got me down, since it was so early in the new year and I was so committed to staying on budget. I didn’t expect to see my resolve so thoroughly tested this early on.

Savings/Goals: I have my $1,000 emergency fund in place, which should keep me from going further into debt.

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This week’s takeaway: Shopping is fun; Dogs are expensive.

The Roses Project

I have a rosebush in my front yard. I thought it was done blooming for this year, so imagine my surprise when I returned from vacation to find a measly four blooms still hanging on. It gave me an excuse to try this homemade rosewater toner that I’ve had on my mind.

I put the remaining petals in a mason jar, covered them with distilled water and a teaspoon of vodka as a preservative. I also had some dried lavender so I added a few sprigs since there are fewer rose petals than I’d like.

I’m going to steep it for two weeks before following the rest of the toner recipe.

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Total cost: zero dollars.