Budget Busters and my Plans

Kauai 2012

Kauai 2012

Budget busters, we all have them. There are a lot of things that I want to do with my money, and they tend to ruin my planned budgets.

Last month, Daisy made a post on things she wants to do as well. I’ve had this post in draft mode for quite some time, but once I noticed that Daisy posted hers, I finally had the push to finish it.

Also, over at Savvy Financial Latina, she talked about how they are spending money because they are young and want to enjoy themselves. Budget busters are everywhere!

This is kind of how we’ve been feeling as well and there are just so many things that we want to spend our money on. We are young NOW, so I want to enjoy it now as long as it is all truly affordable.

Writing (or typing) things out is really helpful for me. I can realistically see how much I plan on spending and therefore how much I also need to save.

Recently, I made a post of my $38,000 student loan payoff plan, and while I have figured out that most of my money next year will be dedicated towards this, there are a ton of other things that I want to do with my money next year and the year after as well.

1. Student Loans

I’ve already talked about this in my recent post, but this is a big one and just wanted to give it some more lovin’! This is definitely a budget buster and a lot of our income will be going towards this in the beginning of next year.

2. Go on vacations

Yes, that is vacations with an “s.” I want to go on at least one with the Boy of course (I feel like I should give him a fake name soon, what do you all think? I think saying “the Boy” is getting rather annoying. I’ll start calling him W from now on).

And I also already have one vacation planned for my friend’s bachelorette party on Beale Street (we’re excited for this trip!) Anyone else been there?

Me and W also both need passports, so we need to pay for this as well. Mine expired when I was 16 (or 18? Not sure), so I definitely need a new one. We really want to go out of the country to places such as Spain, Italy, Thailand, South Africa and everywhere else. Our list is endless!

Vacations are expensive, but they are definitely something that I value.

3. Buy a new house

Yes, you all can kill me. We will beginning saving for a down payment for our next house once my student loans are completely gone.

Why do we want a new house? Well, we bought our current house at the age of 20 years old and we are just outgrowing it. While we still really do LOVE our house, and it is nice for us, we just want something bigger with some land. We know exactly what we want (see the picture above as an example of my DREAM house), which is a log type home on at least 10 acres. Of course the picture above is of a house that is most likely millions of dollars, but you get the idea :)

I plan on making a post further on this soon, and I LOVE talking about buying homes and plans for that, so be prepared for a scary long one.

Do you think we are crazy? We don’t plan on buying a new house until 2014, and aren’t positive whether we want to rent our current one out once we move or just sell it. What would you do?

4. Wedding

Even though we are not engaged, we have of course talked about getting married. Yes, it’s not romantic but I really do not care since I am someone who believes that marriage doesn’t truly change anything. That’s what happens when you’ve been with someone for over 6 years, lived together for over 5, have a mortgage and fur-children who you love.

We’ve always known that we would get married, but it was mainly bad timing because of family problems. I DO know that I want a big wedding and I would really love to reconnect with my dad’s side of the family. I haven’t talked to them much since he passed away, and this is definitely something that has been holding back the wedding because I want to have a closer relationship with my grandfather and everyone else, it is just hard to talk to his side of the family without crying! But it is something that I am working on.

We have talked about getting married next summer as well, and have budgeted for this and plan on saving for it as well. We already know where we want to get married (which is actually the place where the first picture in my Extra Income and Life Update post was taken).

We have an idea of how much we want to spend and it is definitely possible, but we do realize that we will have over 300-400 people at the wedding and the planning will be crazy, so that will have to be thought about as well.

How much did you spend on your wedding? I promise my blog won’t turn into a wedding blog!  :)

What are your budget busters?

Any big purchases that you are planning?

Stay Frugal This Winter

Winter is not one of my favourite seasons. I live in Canada and here, winter is a long, dark, cold season. The snow hits in December, and stays until April. Temperatures can go down to -35C (-31F) and stay there for weeks, and we measure the snow on the ground by feet, not inches or centimetres.

I’ve never really been an outdoor sports kind of girl, and winter is no exception. Since I don’t ski, snowboard, snowmobile, skate, or play hockey, a lot of the great nordic past times are lost on me.

That said, I’ve got family here, so I really can’t see myself moving to a warmer climate anytime soon. So, I’ve come up with a bunch of fun, frugal winter activities that make passing this season a little easier, and a little more fun.

Fun, Frugal Winter Activities

Snow Man Building – After a fresh snowfall, nothing is more fun than building a snow man. The snow is usually best for building snowmen when the weather is warmer, the excess moisture makes the snow pack together well. As an adult, I find building snowmen creatively to be a lot of fun.

 A Winter Fire – I love campfires, and winter campfires are no exception. They help you stay warm during a day of fun outside, and there’s no worry about starting a forest fire like there is in the middle of summer. Just make sure not to get too close! Once when huddled around a fire in the winter, I melted the rubber sole of my shoe – I was just trying to get warm.

Admiring Christmas Lights – This used to be something that the older members of my family did, but in the last few years I’ve really come around to their way of thinking. (Maybe I’m just getting old?) Taking a stroll around the town to admire some of the festively decorated houses can be a lovely way to spend the evening.

Sledding – Parks, meadows, and school playgrounds are great venues for sledding. Ideally, there’s a hill involved, but make sure it’s not too long (long walk back) steep (too much speed) or near any roads (danger!) Also, avoid waxing your sledding aparatus, lest you end up like dear Clark.

Magic Tree in the Cold Winter Night with Dark Blue Sky

Hunkering Down – One of my favourite past times during a heavy snow fall (after I’ve ensured I don’t need to navigate the roads anytime soon) is to just hunker down in my little house and watch it come down. Add in a cozy blanket, a cup of tea, and a movie, and you’ve got yourself one of my ideal afternoons.

Now, a lot of these outdoor activities can end up pretty unpleasant. Cold feet, runny noses, chapped lips and too much ambition can make any of the activities above end up a lot less pleasant than you’d planned. So, follow some of these basic tips to help keep your frugal winter activities fun.

Warm Drinks - My drink of choice is hot apple cider (rum optional). I always make sure to bring a warm drink along on any trip in my mega-insulated mug. Whenever I start to get chilly, my warm beverage helps ward off the cold.

Lip Balm and Tissues – I run outside all winter long and these two items are always on my must have list. The cold, dry air chaps not just my lips, but the end of my nose and my cheeks. If there’s a breeze, my eyes run like crazy, streaming tears that are likely to freeze if I don’t wipe them away. The tissues also come in handy for my perpetually runny nose. (How’s that for a nice mental picture?) If I don’t have these two items during a winter excursion, I’ll definitely have less fun!

Appropriate Attire – Don’t be a tough guy/girl and skimp on winter gear if you want to have a fun day out in the white stuff. A wicking base layer is key to keeping any sweat your planning on working up from giving you a chill, and from there it’s all about insulation and wind breaking. Don’t forget to equip your feet, head and hands, as much as the rest of you.

Winter Doesn’t Have to Be a Drag

There are, undoubtedly, fewer frugal and fun winter activities than there are in the summer time. There are fewer festivals, flea markets, and open air events. But that doesn’t mean that we all need to reach into our wallets in order to have a good time in the winter. With a little creativity and preparation, there are lots of fun, frugal activities to do in the winter time.

What’s your favourite frugal winter activity?

My Food Challenge

This isn’t a surprise, but I spend way too much on food. Yes, long gone are the days when we spend $1,500 to $2,000 on food a month. But right now between going out to eat, drinking and grocery shopping, we are spending around $1,000 a month.

And yes, I have been keeping that a secret from you.

Spending this much honestly makes me feel horrible. Because of course we still spend a lot on clothes, vacations, etc., and this is one area that I know I can control better. I don’t know why I have this thought in my head that restaurant food is a thousand times tastier than the food I cook at home.

We have been spending too much. There really is no other reason except pure laziness. My goal for the rest of June is to spend no more than $200 on food. This includes both eating out and groceries. This is most likely an easy task for most of you, but for us it just doesn’t seem to happen.

Also, I would like to aim for no more than $150 for the rest of the month, but a more realistic goal is $200. I’ve already gone grocery shopping a couple of days ago and bought a ton of food, so for the most part I should be good for at least 10 days.

Of course, I still want to treat myself as well. Food is something that I definitely enjoy, and something that I don’t hate spending money on. All work and no play is never good! Champagne can never be a bad choice :)

I asked some of you yesterday to give me any quick tips on saving money on groceries. Whitney and Money and Faith both gave me good tips and I wanted to post what they said.

What I plan on doing:
1. No eating out.I will fail this weekend, as my friend is coming in town. But I plan on keeping in cheap. Her and I both love using Restaurant.com gift certificates, so we will probably use one of these.

Other than this, I will try and vow not to eat unless I have a free coupon or something. It was recently my birthday and I still have a lot of free entree coupons leftover which don’t expire until exactly a month from my birthday. I will also try to sign up for dinner mystery shops. That will help as well.

2. Trying frozen meat instead of fresh meat. I’ve never bought frozen meat. But I have heard from plenty of people that they are a much better deal. Have you ever done this? I am looking forward to trying this though. If it truly does save me enough money, how could I say no?

I’m also thinking about freezing my vegetables and fruit after I buy them as well so that I don’t waste them as quickly. Does anyone else do this? I never have. Any tips?

3. No waste. I have so much food in my pantry, freezer and fridge that need to be eaten. We waste so much food in our house it is ridiculous. My goal is to eat everything that we have and find a use for it.

4. Creative meals. I am pretty boring with my meals, but I know that with this challenge, I will  be forcing myself to be more creative. If you have any frugal meals that you’d like to share, please go ahead and share!

5. Shop at Aldis. Aldis has REALLY good prices, but I usually don’t go because I have to drive slightly out of my way to go there (it’s only like 5 miles out of the way, but I am lazy so it seems like a lot). Aldis is also great for their fresh fruit and vegetables. I can usually find strawberries for only $1 at Aldis, but at normal grocery stores, they are between $3 and $4. Other fruits and vegetables are priced similarly as well.

6. Meal plan and STICK TO IT. I usually make meal plans, but I don’t usually stick to it. I need to make these more realistic with recipes that I can actually create.

Not only will this challenge save me money, but it will also help me be more healthy. I won’t have a ton on junk food around the house to eat. I look forward to the end of the month to see how I do. Who else wants to join my food challenge?

 

What tips do you have? 

How much do you usually spend on food in a month?