Posts tagged ‘roundup’

June 5, 2012

May Roundup

by Robyn

My apologies for the new organization of my expenses. As mentioned in my last roundup, I recently changed my expense tracking over to a new app, uSpend. For the record, I’m absolutely in I love with it. I haven’t encountered any calculation issues and it doesn’t freeze like my Lemon app had started to do. Functionality so far as been great. But my expense categories are a little different now than what they used to be.

Automotive: $584.46
Banking: $61.75
Clothing & Jewelry: $36.50
Computers & Office: $0.75
Entertainment: $137.01
Food & Drinks: $147.75
Health & Beauty: $386.38
Household: $565.13
Restaurants: $148.80
Utilities: 165.75
Charity/Donation: $164.00
Investments: $100.00

Month end expenses were $2498.28, over budget by $998.28.

Compared to my spending for April, my spending in May was off the charts. I don’t even have a lot to show for it either. The month started off with a few major dents put into my wallet. The first being my Autopac payment. I missed my payment in April and got slammed with a $70 late fee. So what should have only cost me $354 cost me $430. I’ve got another $354 Autopac payment this month that’s going to drive my expenses up. That being said, instead of a $1500 goal this month, I’ll be moving my budget spending to be under $1854.

My girlfriend of over 20 years got married this month, so I knew those events would put a dent in my spending. The first weekend of May was her bachelorette party. We did pole dancing, went out for dinner at Earl’s and hit up the bar aftewards. That put me back $72.50, money that I otherwise would not have spent. She got married on the 26th. I purchased a new top for the event and gave presentation, so that was another $117.82. So for my girlfriend to marry my ex (that’s not a typo, it’s messed up I know), it cost me $190.32.

my date and I making faces in the reflective elevator door

My Health & Beauty expenses are more than triple what I spent last month. The last time I’d had a hair cut was in September, so it was long overdue, that was $55.13. I also got a massage which, again, was long over due. That was $70. I’ll be recieving a refund on a portion of that this month through my group insurance benefits. In April I’d recieved 2 free electrolysis session because the machine was one the fritz. They’ve since had the machine repaired so I paid for all 3 sessions this month, that cost me $132.83.

Not including the $45 I spent on dinner during my girlfriends bachelorette party, I spent $103.80 on restaurants, which is pretty much on par with the last 3 months.

hunting for wild mushrooms with friends at the cottage

I had a few other expenses drive up my overall spending for the month. Firstly, one of my personal goals for this summer was to get my boating license. I paid the $52.45 to register for the online course and I passed the exam last week with a grade of 88%. I also registered for the Dirty Donkey Mud Run that I’m participating in this summer. Registration cost me $68.00.

Knowing that July has the potential to be an expensive month (I’m going to be on vacation in BC for 8 days) it’s important that I keep my spending this month to a minimum. I expect that my expenses for gasoline will go up this month as I plan on going to my cottage on as many weekends as possible. That being said, I should be able to cut my expenses on food since I’m working more on weeknights so I’m not spending as much on groceries, and on weekends I’ll be sharing food expenses with my family.

I’m never late on bill payments except for my car insurance because it’s not set up for online banking, so I always get late charges. Have you ever had to pay crazy late charges because you simply forgot to pay a bill?

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 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?

October 26, 2011

Was Alberta Bound

by Robyn

A few weeks ago a recieved a facebook message from my tattoo artist in Toronto letting me know that he would be at the Alberta Bound Tattoo and Arts Festival in Calgary. If I wanted to come, he would save a spot for me.

After checking my overall finances and the balance of my tattoo fund, it only took me about a week to decide. I was going. It would cost me about the same to fly to Calgary as it would to get to Toronto, except there was a good likelihood I would get to see the mountains.

I booked my flight to depart the evening of October 13th, and I flew back home at the end of the weekend on October 16th.   I stayed in the HI Calgary City Center, located 2 blocks east of City Hall. Perfectly located for getting around the city.

This was my first time staying in Calgary. I normally drive right through or stop over at the airport enroute to somewhere. Usually when I visit a city, I push myself to the limits. I try to see as much as possible, to the point that near the end of the day, I’m totally burnt out.

I avoided that this time around. I slept in until at least 10am every day and I was back at the hostel no later than 7pm. Then I would relax and watch tv. I spent a day shopping. I checked out the Millenium Skate Park. Took a drive into the mountains. Got tattooed.

I was sad to be leaving and I wish I had had more time in the city. I wish even more that I could have spent more time in the mountains. But alas, I will have to save that for another time. 

When I arrived home, for the last time I passed through what will become the old Winnipeg International Airport terminal. At the end of the month, the terminal will be closed, and in all likelyhood, demolished shortly after. Following it’s closure, the long awaited, $585 million new Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport will open. It’s exciting. The next time I fly will likely be in February to attend a wedding for a family friend in Ottawa.

August 10, 2011

Surpassing a savings milestone

by Robyn

As soon as my 2006 Pontiac G6 was paid off in mid-May (2 weeks earlier than I expected) I concentrated putting my extra cash into my “RTW TRIP” savings account.

My savings account, an RBC High Interest eSavings account was first opened in March 2010. My starting balance was $4103.49. Apparently I’m really good at pulling money out of thin air, because I don’t know where this money came from. The account number associated with the deposit transfer doesn’t actually match any of my existing bank account numbers. Weird?!

My goal, at the time was to save $10,000 by Christmas, quit my job and travel the world. However, at the time I was already $2300 in debt, with an upcoming 10-day trip 2 months down the line, and I desperately wanted to purchase a new car. My Nissan, to say the least, was a “piece.” Random things would literally fall off of my beloved first car.

In May 2010, I started a new job and went on my 10-day trip to New Jersey. Over the course of the summer and fall, I paid off $2600 worth of debt, and put $2168.06 into a separate savings account for a down payment on a new car.

To say the least, my goal of saving $10,000 by Christmas didn’t happen. By December of 2010, I had saved an additional total of $745.89 towards my big trip.

But with my new car miraculously being paid off in the time frame that it was, I have been able to focus my attention back to saving, rather than paying off debt. Between my two jobs and just being cheap in general, I’ve been able to put away minimum, $500 a month.

Yesterday, I surpassed $7500 in my savings account.

At the present time, I have no official savings goal, other than to save. At first I thought that $10,000 was reasonable. But since I’ve been able to save $2500 in an exceptionally short amount of time, I know I’ll be able to far exceed that amount by this time next year.

I’m taking the summer off from excessive saving (and working). Instead I’ll be enjoying life, taking advantage of summers free festivals, my boyfriends pool, and escaping to the family cottage. I need the practice for when I’m on the road.

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May 19, 2011

Now I’m feelin so fly like a G6, like a G6

by Robyn

Ok, yes, I’m lame. The title is lame, but I am extremely excited. With 2 weeks remaining until the end of May, I have achieved my goal of having my car paid off before the end of the month. I puchased my 2006 Pontiac G6 just days before Halloween to the tune of $13604.64, and now, less than 7 months later, I am debt free. I’m still blown away at how quickly I was able to pay everything off. Here is a rough break-down of how I did it:

Personal Savings: $2168.06

Donation made by my parents: $2000

Sale of previous car: $3300

Income Tax cheque: $1600

MPI Cheque: $471.00

GST Cheque: $95.25

Total: $9634.31

13604.64 – 9634.31 = $3970.33

I was laid off from my summer resort job on November 15th. I then applied for unemployment insurance while I worked part-time at the pizza place I have been working at for several years. I was collecting unemployment insurance cheques from December until approximately the 2nd week of February after I started my current job. 90%, if not more of my income from my unemployment insurance went directly towards paying off my car. The money I was earning from my hourly wage and tips at my part-time job went towards my rent, groceries, etc, etc.

When my umployment cheques stopped in early February, all pay cheques from my part-time serving job went directly towards paying off my car. On average, I was putting between $500 – $700 a month towards paying off my car. One month I managed to deposit just over $900.

In total, I only paid $279.64 in interest, bring the total cost of my car to $13884.28.

May 16, 2011

Toronto Breakdown

by Robyn

I’m home from my little jaunt in Toronto. Feeling fantastic considering having just had 80% of my back tattooed less than 3 days ago. I am feeling far better than expected, with my back feeling slightly stiff and not the least bit swollen or tender to the touch.

Here is a general breakdown of my trip costs. It’s not penny for penny, but thats just because I’m really lazy and I hate keeping track on paper of every dollar I spend. I’m better off with just a general average that I can calculate in my head.

RT Flight Winnipeg – Toronto: $378.00

The Only Backpacker Inn Hostel (1 night): $24.00

JacoB22 Bed & Breakfast (2 nights): $124.30

Seven Crowns Tattoo: $800 + $100 tip

Friday’s Lunch (soup-to-go + snack): $5.00

Friday’s Dinner (PizzaPizza): $5.50

Saturday’s Lunch (Sushi @ Ho Su Bistro on Queen): $12.00

Ice Cream & pop Saturday night: $6.00

TTC Fares/tokens (have one token remaining): $15.50

Give or take a few dollars, my total came to $1470.30 total spent for a RT flight to Toronto, with a 3 night stay in the city, steps away from public transportation and downtown and a $900 tattoo I now have permanently etched onto my body. That’s fantastic, considering the $900 spent on the tattoo came in under budget by $100 and the “tattoo money” has been sitting in my bank account well for over a year, so it doesn’t feel like an expense at all.

Not counting the cost of the tattoo, my long weekend in the city cost me less than $600. One evening was spent in a hostel 6 bed mixed dorm and included a full, hot, waffle breakfast with fresh fruit and coffee in the morning. The following two nights I was in a fantastic B&B, and an upgraded room from what I had originally booked, with a private balcony, ensuite and continental breakfast in the morning.

Aside from the time spent at the tattoo shop, I spent the remainder of my weekend perched in bed watching tv. I had general plans to wander the city a bit on Saturday afternoon but only lasted about 4 hours before getting bored and coming home for a nap. My weekend probably would have been much more exciting had it not been overcast and raining, but what can you do? I would have been nice to venture out to High Park (I’ve never been and would have liked to have seen the cherry blossoms) but I figured I would pass due to the threat of rain and lack of decent lighting for any good pictures.

I’ll admit, when I should have been out and about, doing more, I acted like quite a bit of a hermit this weekend. Keeping to myself when I should have been meeting up with friends and acquaintances in Toronto. But sometimes it better to take a vacation from everything, even people you haven’y seen in over  year. With the 70+ hour work week I had leading up this trip, I think my loner weekend was worth it for the rest and relaxation. Plus, the bed was really comfortable.