Posts tagged ‘challenge’

May 4, 2012

April Roundup – Ok, I overspent a little…

by Robyn

As predicted in my March roundup, I wasn’t able to keep my expenses below $1500 for this month. I did however, cross a few things off my shopping list, some of which cost me nothing. I’ll start by breaking down my expenses for the month.

Rent: $547.00
Food & Dining: $314.44
Bills & Utilities:170.90
Auto & Transport: $157.00
Financial: $100.00
Personal Care: $80.64
Taxes: $65.11
Travel: $61.00
Entertainment: $59.00
Gifts & Donations: $44.86
Health & Fitness: $44.75
Shopping: $24.73

At month end, I spent $1669.44, over budget by $169.44.

My food and dining expenses were really high this month. My restaurant expenses ($100.04 this month) were just below what I spent last month ($110.07). Not a big improvement, but by no means a failure. I only bought dinner at work 5 times this month compared to 8 times last month. Groceries were more than double what I spent last month, but I stocked up on quite a few things, like a $50 purchase at the Dutch Meat Market. This should help me keep my food expenses down for May.

I spent significantly less on personal care this past month, but that’s more of a stroke of luck. I had two electrolysis sessions where the machine started to malfunction. As a result, I had those two 30 minute sessions for free.

My entertainment expenses were about double compare to last month, but I got up to a lot more this month as well. I went to the Norman Rockwell Exhibit at the art gallery, as well as went to 3 concerts. It pays to know people in the music “scene” since I got into most of the concerts for free or at a discounted price. I purchased a few cd’s which bumped up my expenses.

One expense I excluded from my expense log was my flight to Vancouver at the end of June. That set me back $536.86 for a RT flight. I was choked about the cost but at the end of the month I got my income tax back and they did a reassessment for a refund of $505.67. Less the $65.11 I thought I’d owed, I only really have to pay $96.30 for my flight. I also purchased my travel insurance for $61.00.

As for the no spend challenge, this month I was successful. I completed the month with 10 no spend days. I think what made this month easier was that I’ve been concentrating on cooking at home more. In doing so, I’ve planned out my meals further in advance so I can stock up more on my grocery shopping days.

When putting this post together, I encountered an issue with my much-loved Lemon app, which I use to categorize my spending in detail. It’s ability to do basic math pretty much stopped working. I don’t know if entries aren’t linking properly or what, but I found that several month end category totals were wrong, and I had totals for categories with no actually transactions associated with them. After a rather frustrating morning, and testing of about half a dozen free apps, I’ve settled on and painstakingly transferred my expenses over to uSpend. I hoping I don’t encounter any major issues with app. I’ve never purchased an app before and if this app has any major flaws I may be forced to do just that. I’m really wary about purchasing apps because most don’t give you the option to test them out first and I don’t want to spend $5 on something I’ll never use.

Have you ever loved an app for a few months only to have it stop working?

April 20, 2012

So what am I getting up to this summer?

by Robyn

With summer upon us, I’ve been busy making plans. Beyond my love for travel, I’m usually a real homebody. I like tv, internet and air conditioning. I really like my bed and sleeping in until the middle of the afternoon. When I go out to my cottage, I sit in the shade reading a book. I don’t really get up to much. Hopefully, this summer things will change.

Ever since joining the gym, and for a few months taking a twice weekly class, I’ve seen drastic improvements in my physical abilities and overall stamina. I can run for almost 20 minutes staight! I couldn’t do that 6 months ago. I was lucky if I could go 5 minutes without huffing and puffing. This summer I’m going to get off my ass, get out of the house and enjoy the weather.

Starting in July, I’m taking weekends off. Working full-time and serving on the side during the winter months, I’m lucky if I get 2 days off in the span of a month. It’s unheard of if I get two days off in a row. It’s the nature of working two jobs, and I accept that. It’s the sacrafic I make to save as much money as I do and still live comfortably. That being said, my summers are for me enjoy.

Starting on June 30th, I’m flying out to Vancouver for just over a week. I’ll be visiting my friend Scot in New West Minster (just south of Vancouver) for approximately 4 days. During that time I’ll be painting the town red (and white) celebrating Canada Day in style, challenging myself to do the Grouse Grind, and eating copious amounts of sushi. Then I’ll be taking the ferry to Vancouver Island to visit my friend Robin in Victoria. While there I’ll be taking in the sights of a new city I’ve yet to explore, hiking Mt. Finlayson and hanging out with her kick ass dog.

 

On August 18th, I’ll be competing in the Dirty Donkey 5K Mud run. I’ve never done anything competative in my life and attempting to run a marathon just doesn’t appeal to me in the least. This on the otherhand, I know that even if I do suck ass and quit, I’ll still have had a lot of fun. Plus, unlike boring marathons, at the end of the race I get to be hosed down followed by gorging myself on beer and food.

I’ll be capping off my summer by participating in the Terry Fox Run on September 16th. Again, this is something that I’ve never done, and for years I have wanted to do it, but for whatever lame excuse it just never happened. This year, it’s going to happen, no excuses.

As for the rest of the summer and all those weekends I’ll have off. I’m going to be at my cottage. Sometime in the next few months I’m getting my boating license. I plan on doing a lot of boating, a lot of swiming, and a hell of a lot more hiking. Up until last year it had probably been well over 5 years since I’d done a decent hike of anykind through the bushes at my cottage. I loved it and it made me realize how much I miss my cottage. I plan on catching up on a lot of lost time this summer, revisiting the old stomping grounds of my childhood and discovering new ones.

 

April 2, 2012

Results of the “No Spend” Challenge

by Robyn

On March 6, Krystal from GMBMFB tweeted about her 10 no spend days challenge. My February budget was blown out of the water with my trip to Ottawa and my shopping trip to Grand Forks, so March was my month to keep my expenses low. So for the month of March I challenged myself to keep my spending below $1500 and to have 10 No Spend days.

Sadly, I failed at both challenges. But I didn’t fail terribly, so for that I’m still giving myself a congratulatory pat on the back.

I ended the month having achieved 9 out of 10 no spend days, and I very likely would have completed the challenge if I had started it on the 1st instead of the 6th. As for keeping my expenses under $1500, month end I spent $1561.20, including all fixed expenses. Here is how it breaks down.

Rent: $547.00
Personal Care: $219.07
Food & Dining: $185.80
Bills & Utilities: $164.63
Auto & Transport: $145.80
Financial: $100.00 (transferred into savings)
Health & Fitness: $90.76
Gifts & Donations: $40.40
Shopping: $37.47
Entertainment: $30.25

Personal care is pretty high up there, but I’ve told myself, even if I break my budget because of “beauty,” it’s allowed. I don’t blow my money on getting my hair and nails done. The last time I had my nails done was over a year ago, and I last cut my hair in October.  Almost 75% of what was spent on personal care this month was for electrolysis, and I have no problem justifying spending that money.

Food & Dining is also pretty high. In detail, I spent $116.06 on eating out, and $69.73 on groceries. Nearly 50% of my ‘eating out’ expenses were from buying dinner at the restaurant where I work. I need to start bringing more stacks with me to tide me over during some of those longer shifts.

Auto & Transport was within budget. I spent $101.00 on gas and $44.79 on an oil change.

I’m challenging myself this month to do the same. Spend less than $1500 and have 10 no spend days. I have a few things on my “shopping” list this month, so it’s definitely going to be a challenge. Since the weather has been so nice I’m planning on getting a pair of new runners, which I might try to pick up at Value Village if I can find anything in good condition. I’m also in desperate need of a hair cut, as I mentioned earlier, the last time I had a hair cut was in October, and I’ve got a $25 Amazon gift certificate that I’m itching to use.

Have you ever stuck to and completed a personal finance challenge?