One Year with Boyfriend Is A Banker!

Standard

Apparently, I’ve been blogging for a year! How did that happen? Where did the time go?? I haven’t been the best at keeping up with posts (a working goal, I promise!), but I’ve loved every day of it.

So far, I’ve paid down about $6,000 of debt, and learned A LOT! I’ve made many mistakes, but am now taking responsibility for it, and working to change my habits. It’s going well, and I plan to just keep getting better! 🙂

Thank you all for visiting, reading, and commenting. It keeps me accountable and makes me want to work even harder to learn more and budget better. I can’t wait to see what the next year holds!

Advertisements

Getting Fit with FitBits

Standard

Shortly after Christmas, we made a purchase that put us over budget, but that we are really happy about. We’d done some research about FitBits, and I even asked for one for Christmas (but I knew we were scaling back this year, and didn’t think I’d get one). We were intrigued by them, especially since we want to start shedding for the wedding, but were put off a little by the price. It’s a lot to pay for a glorified pedometer.

We got lucky, and found FitBit Flexes at a liquidation store for $39.99 (compared to $99.95 online!). This made the decision easy for us, and we grabbed a couple right away. For anyone who’s unsure what a FitBit it, it tracks your steps, sleep patterns, activity levels, miles walked, calories burned, weight lost, water drank, and it connects to other apps like MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun to track exercise and calories eaten v. burned. For a more in-depth explanation, and a good review, you should read Cait’s post here.

I am completely obsessed with seeing how many steps I take in a day. I make extra trips to clean stuff up in our apartment, walk around classrooms more, and even walk on the spot while watching TV just to hit my targets. Some weeks are better than others, but overall I have to say that The Banker and I are, if nothing else, much more away of what we’re doing. So far, it’s worked better for him than I, but I’m not giving up and plan to up my step goal from 10,000/day to 12,000/day within the next couple of weeks.

While it may not have been money we needed to spend, I’m happy that we did, and think it was a good investment for us!

February Budget

Standard

I know February is more than half over, but I haven’t posted our budget yet. I’m not sure how well we’ll do. It’s been a weird month, lots of little things that seem to be adding up; prescriptions, household items, gifts. We hope that we can cut costs in some other areas, but this might not be the best month for us. But, for now, here’s the budget for February:

Housing
Rent $856.00
Heat/Hydro $40.00
Phone/Cable/Internet $275.00
Insurance $27.75
TOTAL $1,198.75
   
Living  
Groceries/Household Supplies $300.00
Dry Cleaning $15.00
Personal Care $100.00
TOTAL $415.00
   
TRANSPORTATION  
Insurance $186.60
Gas/Repairs/Maintenance $350.00
TOTAL $536.60
   
PERSONAL  
Personal Spending $200.00
Date Nights $80.00
Hobbies $25.00
Club Memberships $20.86
Gifts $50.00
Donations $25.00
Wedding $50.00
Miscellaneous $143.79
TOTAL $594.65
   
FINANCIAL COMMITMENTS  
Student Loans $505.00
My Parents $200.00
Line of Credit $200.00
TFSAs $500.00
Emergency Savings $100.00
TOTAL $1,505.00
   
GRAND TOTAL $4,250.00

We’re hoping that our TFSA could have a larger contribution, and maybe our Emergency Savings Fund as well, but I’m making no promises!

How is February looking for you?

January Budget Recap

Standard

Wow! Where I have been for the past 3 weeks. Busy with work, getting our apartment more organized, cleaning out my closet. Nothing that important, but I’m back!

Here’s how we did for January (not too bad, but not the best either)

 

Housing

BUDGETED ACTUAL +/-
Rent $856.00 $856.00
Heat/Hydro $40.00 $0.00 -$40
Phone/Cable/Internet $275.00 $272.96 -$2.04
Insurance $27.75 $27.75
TOTAL $1,198.75 $1,156.71 -$42.04
       
Living      
Groceries/Household Supplies $300.00 $399.64 +$99.64
Dry Cleaning $15.00 $16.10 +$1.10
Personal Care $110.00 $160.56 +$50.56
TOTAL $425.00 $576.30 +$151.30
       
TRANSPORTATION      
Insurance $186.60 $186.60
Gas/Repairs/Maintenance $350.00 $314.69 -$35.31
TOTAL $536.60 $501.29 -$35.31
       
PERSONAL      
Personal Spending $200.00 $228.66 +$28.66
Date Nights $80.00 $91.96 +$11.96
Hobbies $25.00 $23.05 -$1.95
Club Memberships $20.86 $20.86
Gifts $100.00 $43.89 -$56.11
Donations $25.00 $60.00 +$35.00
Miscellaneous $203.79 $94.06 -$109.73
Wedding $0.00 $42.73 +$42.73
TOTAL $654.65 $605.21 -$49.44
       
FINANCIAL COMMITMENTS  
Student Loans $505.00 $505.00
My Parents $350.00 $350.00
Line of Credit $200.00 $200.00
TFSAs $500.00 $500.00
Emergency Savings $100.00 $100.00
TOTAL $1,655.00 $1,655.00
GRAND TOTAL $4,470.00 $4,494.51 +$24.51

We were able to save in a few areas, and did buy some wedding stuff that we didn’t budget for. I think we stayed within a decent amount of our budget.

However, there are a number of areas we really need to work on! Our grocery bills were out of hand again this month (we’re trying to shop the flyers more, and we have a good stock in our cupboards now which is nice, but I’d like to spend a little less). We also spent too much going out together. There were a few times we went out with friends and spent more than necessary. Oh well, we’ll just try harder this month! 🙂

How was your January? Any special plans for Valentine’s Day? We’re going to have a nice night in and spend some quality time together!

Frugal Friday: Date Night In – Let’s Save Money!

Standard

The Banker and I have lived together for over 3 years now, but we still try to make time for dates and quality time together (something that’s not always easy when you’re in the routine of living together and seeing each other all the time). We do go out once or twice a month, because we enjoy it, but we try to do other dates that are simple and don’t cost a lot. How can you connect while trying to save?
One of our favourite “dates” is very simple – staying in. This might not sound like a date, but we make it one by doing a few things. First, we put away all electronics, and vow not to look at them during the night. Second, we like to light candles or make the apartment feel special by changing something (simple things, like putting linen on the table, using a centerpiece, putting flowers out, etc.). Usually we make a meal together, something we don’t make on a regular basis, and watch a movie together.

It’s a very simple thing to do, but it makes you reconnect with your partner without spending any extra money. Just making time to be with your partner is important, and you can connect without doing anything extravagant. We’re all so used to being “plugged in” all the time, the simple act of putting all electronics away can make the night special.
What’s a simple way that you and your partner connect or make time for one another?

My New Job

Standard

By now, you all know that I work as a substitute teacher, with an Autism organization, and at a cheese shop. Now, I have a fourth job: respite. Respite is basically at-home care for people with special needs.

There is a child who came to Autism camp this past summer and his parents had contacted me to do some at-home care with him. I did a couple of days last year, but it was just very casual. Now I will be working with him after school for a couple of hours every Monday and Wednesday. It’s going to be busy, and not easy, but it will be nice to have a little extra income, plus he’s a great kid (difficult at times, but amazing). He’s very busy, so I will be planning for lots of activities, and hopefully we can spend some time outside in the snow!

Do you have any new side jobs for this year?

2014 Book Review

Standard

I made a commitment to myself to read 12 books in 2014, but I surpassed it and read 14. They weren’t all classics, as a matter of fact, many of them were fluff, but I read them and they count! I know I always love learning about new books and getting recommendations, so I thought I would review all 14 for you and hopefully there will be something new that you might want to read 🙂

  1. Open City – Teju Cole
    The protagonist in this book is a foreigner going to medical school in New York City. He’s trying to get through, make friends, and have a life. It’s a bit difficult to get through, but gives an interesting look at what it might be like to be an immigrant in a big city.
  2. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
    If you’ve seen the movie, you know what this book is about. A young man is stranded on a lifeboat after the boat he is travelling on sinks with the crew and his family. He lives for an extended period of time with dangerous animals on the boat with him – or does he? The ending leaves something up to interpretation. Overall, I think it’s worth the read.
  3. Revenge Wears Prada – Lauren Weisberger
    The sequel to Devil Wears Prada, this was a little disappointing. I hadn’t read the first book, but had seen the movie (numerous times), and didn’t get the drama from this book that I had hoped for. It’s an easy read, and not bad, but it’s not one that I would run out for.
  4. Orange is the New Black – Piper Kerman
    You’ve probably watched, or at least heard of, the Netflix series based on this book. Piper is convicted of a crime she committed years ago, before she met her husband and changed her life. It’s a true story of what prison is like, which I found very interesting.
  5. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
    I’m sure you’ve all heard of this one. The story of a young girl with cancer who meets her soul mate in a support group that her mom forces her to go to. They go on a wonderful adventure together, and it really is a beautiful, but tragic, story.
  6. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
    O-M-G! A wife goes missing, presumed dead, and the husband looks awfully suspicious to everyone. But there is such a turn you won’t ever expect! I gasped as I read it (looking like a crazy on a plane!). So good – I highly recommend you read it!! (I haven’t seen the movie, so I couldn’t tell you if the plot line is the exact same or not)
  7. Dewey’s Nine Lives – Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
    An odd choice for me, as I don’t like cats (at all!), but it was a gift, so I read it. It’s a sequel to a book about a cat that was abandoned in a library book return, became the library cat, and was loved by a town. This book has stories of other cats whose owners wrote in to the author after reading the first book.
  8. Anchorboy – Jay Onrait
    So funny! If you don’t know who Jay Onrait is, he’s a Canadian sportscaster who now works for Fox Sports in the US. And he is absolutely hilarious! This is a book full of stories of his life, and every single one made me laugh out loud.
  9. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
    A classic book, that I’m sure many of you have read or at least know. Set in the 1920’s, it tells the story of a young man who meets Jay Gatsby and goes along for the ride. Parties, affairs, day trips – it’s all fun. I found it difficult to get in to, but it was a good read.
  10. There’s More to Life Than This – Theresa Caputo
    Theresa Caputo (aka Long Island Medium) talks about her gift. It’s not what I was expecting (stories of her readings), but still a good read. She talks about what it’s like to be a medium and what she’s learned of the afterlife since embracing being a medium.
  11. Bossypants – Tina Fey
    Hilarious!! Tina Fey tells stories of her life growing up, getting into the business, and what she’s done while famous. This was an easy read, with lots of laughs.
  12. The Spark – Kristine Barnett
    This is written by a mother of three, one of whom has Autism. She was told her son would never do anything, and would likely never even have language. She refused to believe this and set about finding the “spark” that would motivate him, and dozens of other children she helped through programs. He went on to attend university and become the youngest paid researcher at a university, while barely a teenager!
  13. Life Animated – Ron Suskind
    This is similar to The Spark, written by a father who has a son with Autism. The son fell in love with Disney, and the father drew him out with that passion. They made many breakthroughs by using Disney in therapy, at home, and at school. The son went on to be independent; this is a beautiful story about what a child can achieve when he is not given up on.
  14. I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
    This is an amazing book! I’m sure everyone already knows who Malala is, but if you don’t, she is a young woman from the Swat Valley in Pakistan, who recently became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She stood up for the right to education for girls, and was shot in the head because of her beliefs and her activism. This is a remarkable story of her life before and after the shooting. This would be my #1 must-read book for 2015 if you haven’t read it yet.

I hope you found something that interests you and that you might choose to read. What was your best book of 2014?