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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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

Week 12: Where Has All My Money Gone?


1. I can’t believe I have been doing this for 12 weeks. There are only 40 weeks remaining. A human gestation. That really snaps it back into focus. I am almost one-quarter through, which, when you’re running a marathon is only about mile 6, when it’s still kind of easy, and this has also been kind of easy so far. Right. I’d do well to remind myself what mile 22 feels like lest I get too cocky.

2. With all of this not buying I’m doing, you’d think I’d have a tidy little sum saved up, or at least paid down substantially more debt than I would have otherwise. You would be wrong. It’s tough for me to reconcile just where all this money is going, but given the week I have had, I think I have an idea. I had my old winter tires put on new rims this week: $375. Technically, the rims are against the rules, but I justified it because they were an inevitable expense anyway, and I would have probably had to pay more for them next year, and this way, I can change my own tires in the spring (at least according to Monica). We had a big discussion about it over on the Facebook page, if you’re interested. I also had my car serviced for about $50 this week, and I put $43.50 of gas in it. Cars, man.

3. Household expenses were not insignificant this week either. Pellets ran me about $37. My son and I were both sick, and twice I had to go buy medication on the advice of a doctor or pharmacist, so between those costs and the groceries I bought at the same time, I spent $97.82!!! Who am I?!?!? Thankfully, everyone over here is on the mend, so I’m hoping to tamp that down again.

4. I did a very fun, forty-dollars-but-completely-worth-it thing last Saturday. I went to a workshop held by Full Moon Tiny Shelters all about the Tiny House Movement. They are a local company that builds custom tiny houses out of an off-grid workshop in Blockhouse, Nova Scotia. There is a solar-powered band saw. I ate wicked dairy-free muffins. I met some cool people and learned a lot about composting toilets. I didn’t take any pictures, but there are lots on their website, and even more in this recent post from the Tiny House Giant Journey blog. It was fantastic.

5. Thanks to everyone who has shared the blog recently. I’m trying hard to keep up with everyone to make sure you all get a fair chance of winning, but it’s hard to track if you aren’t on my Facebook friends list. So, to make sure I have your name, “like” the Facebook page and then leave me a message, just in case. If you want to share a post, you can make it public for me to see and tag it #makedo. Someone is getting this bag. It might as well be you.

Weeks 9-11: This is getting tedious, isn’t it, guys?

I am woefully behind on the weekly posts of what I am (not) spending, and rather than comb back through all my receipts and online banking statements, I thought I might treat everyone to a catch-up of the last three weeks. Keeping track of what I’ve been spending is helpful for me, so I’ll jump back in next week.

Remember this hat I saw a few weeks back and didn’t buy?


Well, when I was in Toronto at the beginning of November, my sister-in-law dug the very same hat out of her bag of clothing donations (I will call them “donies” from now on) and passed it along to me, for FREE. She also gave me a red one which I like even better! I will get pictures of me wearing them sometime. Promise.

It’s been a bit of a spendy month, to be sure. I need to have my tires changed for the winter very soon, and since I bought a new car this summer, I thought I would have to replace all four tires. Happily, I’ve been told that my old tires will fit on my new car, and I can get the season out of them. I am buying winter rims, however. Still, a big savings to be sure.

We also had the dog groomed recently, which was about $60, and definitely worth it.


I’ve been spending a bit more than I’d like on groceries lately, and I’ve filled the car up a few times, although I am very happy with the gas mileage this car is getting compared to my last one. There was a mishap at The Children’s Place when I was buying my son underwear using a gift card (allowed) and the cashier told me the card hadn’t been used even though I was pretty sure it had. It cost me about $9 and that’s definitely against the rules. I wasn’t really thinking. That’s been my only slip.

I love Christmas ornaments, and I saw this one which I would have bought with zero consideration one year ago.


See, they’re sisters, and they love each other, and they’re wearing knitted hats. You might not know my sister and me but trust me, it’s perfect.

The photo editor I have been using for this blog is called Aviary and it’s free. You can buy packs of additional stickers and whatnot for a couple bucks, but so far I have resisted. Today, my steadfastness was rewarded. All the supply packs are free until the end of November if you link an Adobe account to the app, and I already had one of those for whatever reason. So now, the sauciness of my stickers is going to increase exponentially. I now have dozens of useless filters. You’ve been warned.

People keep asking me if I’m saving tons of money. I’m not. At least none of the money I’m saving is accumulating thus far. These first few months have been about staunching the flow and I think I will start to see better results in the New Year. The amount of money this house costs me is astonishing. Much more on that to come.

Week 8: When Free Isn’t

1. I had a slip-up this week. My son got hurt at school (he’s fine), and I had to take him to an urgent care centre to get patched up. The visit to the doctor was free (O Canada!) but we had to wait four hours to be seen. I hadn’t eaten and had come straight from work, so I bought a coffee and a muffin while we waited. It could have been worse, I suppose.

2. While the medical care is free, the parking isn’t. Between that emergency visit, a specialist appointment I had a couple weeks ago, weddings, and trips to the airport, I estimate that I have spent $30 in parking fees since the beginning of September. With a little more planning, I could have avoided most of those. We in Halifax are relatively lucky to have ample street parking available much of the time, not to mention free meters on weekends. Our recent trip to LA reminded me how much I used to have to think about parking when I lived there.

3. You know that place in your town that lets you borrow books for a long time for free? Well, the books aren’t free when you don’t return them on time. I’ve been carrying a balance at the library for a while now. Did you know that you don’t have to pay your late fees at the Halifax Public Library if they are under $10? I knew it, and I exploited it for a good long time. My son took a field trip with his class to the public library last week, and I didn’t want to hold up the borrowing process when Madame had 18 library cards to deal with, so I figured now was the time to settle up. I owed $8.90 between my card and my son’s card. Totally avoidable and a vestige of past bad habits.

4. Yesterday, I spent a chunk of the day in the kitchen making soup for lunches, oatmeal breakfast cookies, and Sloppy Joes for supper. I feel I have perfected my whole wheat roll recipe, but my bun-forming technique needs work. Tell me about your buns. How are they formed?

5. I spent only $11.27 on groceries this week, but some of that was on a Dairy Milk, which is prohibited. I was cranky and I wanted chocolate. It was a mistake that did not precipitate another one, so I have accepted it and moved on. I spent $44.81 on gas, and drove more than usual due to the injury at school. I stayed home most of the weekend to make up for it. I also had the pellet stove professionally cleaned for the start of the season, which cost me $125. I hate, hate, hate cleaning the pellet stove, so this is a worthwhile expense for me once a year.