Completed Move

Moving is one of those tasks that really makes you realize just how much stuff you’ve managed to collect over the years. Our move into our new house is now finally complete though the work is very very far from being completed. We managed to throw out a great deal of stuff prior to the move and even then when it came time for the move the amount of stuff was still overwhelming.

Aside from the insane property management company at our old condo complex everything went smoothly with only one piece of furniture getting damaged. All in all I have to say I’m quite happy with the results. I think the new place will be a very good one for a few years at least. Hopefully the financial situation will be better next time around so we can hire movers (I think I’m going to be sore for a while thanks to this move).

Regular posting should now return as should – assuming that internet is set up.

Contest Winner #3

It was another close week and if it wasn’t for all the driving around for the new house I would have been under budget (overall though I would have missed the contest). Either way I missed out on the contest and based on the random draw the winner this week is Msminiducky.

Don’t forget to enter the contest this week since with all of the new house stuff there’s a good chance I’ll miss this week’s contest.

Delayed Annoucement

The contest announcement is unfortunately delayed till tomorrow but rest assured I’ll be posting the winner up. Sorry for all of you who have been awaiting this. (New house is being very demanding)

Weekly Budget – Week 5 (June 23-29)

This week’s budget is going to be rather difficult for me since we took possession of our house this past week and there’s a lot of work happening between our two houses. It also means that our regular flow of day to day life is completely unbalanced. For example we won’t be spending very much on groceries this week and we won’t be cooking at home very much but we’ll need to eat out instead. Also due to the turmoil things like preparing lunches will be a bit more of a challenge. The net result is that there will be a lot more spending than normal.

Here are my projected budget numbers for the week:

Weekly Budget
June 23-29
  Budget Actual
Alcohol $30.00  
Food-Lunch $30.00  
Food $120.00  
Gas $65.00  
Entertainment $0.00  
Smokes $30.00  
Misc $150.00  
Transportation $125.00  
Total $550.00  

I’m confident that my numbers are reflective of what will happen this week but I’m also conscious of the fact that there’s a good chance I won’t meet my budget numbers this week. Hopefully I’ve learned enough about my spending habits to adjust to turmoil without too much unnecessary overspending. I’m also hoping that I’ve left enough to account for the necessary spending due to the move. Wish me luck!

Contest update: I again missed my budget amounts as you can see in the updated section in the top right. I’ll post my assessment tomorrow and announce a winner tomorrow night (though it might be late depending on painting at the new house). Leave a comment on this post for an extra chance to win!

Making Changes to Meet Your Budget

Realistically making a budget is easy, all you do is put a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper or a spreadsheet. Even making an accurate and well thought out budget isn’t all that difficult. The problems arise when you need to make that budget work. Sticking to a budget can be really hard especially if you’re just starting to budget.

To make a budget work you need to stay within the allotted amounts and sometimes to achieve this you need to make some changes in how you spend your money. Each week will be different with different pressures and needs to spend money. Last week was a perfect example for me (and I apologize if the choice of expense isn’t ideal its to prove a point).

Each week I allocate $25 for spending on smokes (they’re expensive in Canada) and this amounts to three small packs for me which is more than sufficient. Unfortunately not everyone sells them at the low rate I’m used to. Buying them by the office means I’m paying a premium. I ended up buying them twice by the office and I was about to run out again. The crux of the matter came that if I bought my usual pack at the lower rate I’d go over budget for the week.

Rather than spending the extra money (and going $0.61 over budget for that category) I made a change to make sure I met my budget, I bought a discount brand to keep the numbers in line. I changed how I spend my money to make sure that I didn’t go over budget.You need to do this all the time in order to make our finances work, especially if there’s little flexibility in our budgets.

I’m looking forward to the day when I can take that line out of my budget (Smokes) but for the time being trying to reduce the monetary impact is a starting point. I’m trying to do this with each category in my weekly budgets and so far I’m starting to see the impact of planning ahead and adjusting my spending to meet my budget.

Maintaining Focus

The past couple weeks have been incredibly busy for me with the closing of our new house and the existing one coming close together there has been a lot of extra activities added to my plate. I’ve tried maintaining everything with a bit of grace and perseverance. I’ve found that whenever there’s a large project or many projects you simply have to break them down into smaller parts and take it a small part at a time.

Being that I’ve worked in project management for a while breaking down a project into manageable parts is necessary and it translates pretty much to every aspect of our lives. For example if you’re $40,000 in debt paying the whole thing off at once might seem like a huge undertaking. That by itself is enough to scare people into inactivity. But taking that same large number and breaking it down over say 3 years means its only $13,333 per year (or a little over $1,100 per month) which is still pretty daunting. Understanding this we can stretch the project over a longer period to make it more manageable, say within 5 years (about $667 per month).

Breaking down our goals and projects can make them more achievable but in my opinion it adds something additional that’s important, it adds focus. Each of the small pieces by themselves might not seem like a grand achievement but when you start adding them up they can very quickly make a huge difference. This is exactly what I’ve been doing preparing everything for the impending move and its been working wonders in helping me keep focused which we all know can be tough from time to time.

Contest Winner #2

The winner for this weeks contest is Michelle. She was the lucky number when I did the random draw.

Don’t forget to leave a comment on Sunday’s budget for an extra chance to win if I miss my budget this week (hopefully I won’t miss it by 5 cents this time).

Week 3 Budget Assessment

Last weeks budget was aggressive and completely achievable in my opinion and the results help prove this. I missed my targets in two categories and both could possibly have been kept within their targets. Here are this week’s numbers:

Weekly Budget
June 9 – 15
Budget Actual
Alcohol $25.00 $19.90
Food-Lunch $10.00 $8.38
Food $80.00 $93.76
Gas $35.00 $87.61
Entertainment $40.00
Smokes $25.00 $23.22
Misc $40.00 $32.18
Transportation $10.00
Total $265.00 $265.05

The two categories that I missed were food and gas; one has a good explanation and the other was purchasing some additional food for this upcoming week. The price of gas has been slowly climbing and I haven’t been driving very much to compensate. This week was father’s day and we hadn’t seen my parents for a while so we went out to see them. Rather than hoping the remaining $15 in my budget would cover gas for the drive I decided to suck it up and fill up. I was completely floored by the fact that gas cost me almost $70 to fill up! On a positive note I won’t need to fill up at all this week.

On the food front again we spent a bit more on food partly because we were making fathers day dinner for one of the dads. But with all that said the allocated amount could have been kept in check. I think with some smart planning and budgeting the grocery store purchases can be brought into check quite easily.

Other than these two items I’m very happy with this past week. All of the other categories were below what I was expecting to spend. I also went out of my way to make sure some of the categories were below their numbers rather than above them. I wanted to write a post about this later in the week.

Finally the cost of gas and trying to control cash flow has made me ponder getting a smaller car. I don’t drive a lot but the fuel efficiency is something I’m sure to notice not to mention insurance prices on smaller cars aren’t as high as SUVs. I’m still pondering the idea and don’t want to make a hasty decision though if gas prices keep going up I’m sure I won’t be the only person thinking about downsizing their car.

Weekly Budget – Week 4 (June 16 – 22)

Last week’s budget was so close only a decision to fill up my gas tank and a couple extra purchases at the grocery store made the difference. I believe that I’m getting on track with the budgeting and this week’s budget will be very similar to last weeks in the amounts allocated to spending.

Weekly Budget
June 16 – 22
Budget Actual
Alcohol $25.00
Food-Lunch $10.00
Food $100.00
Gas $0.00
Entertainment $40.00
Smokes $25.00
Misc $40.00
Transportation $10.00
Total $250.00

The changes for this week’s budget include raising the food budget back up to $100 since it seems that this is an average that I seem to spend. I know that with some effort I can reduce this; I’ve been paying attention to my spending in detail for 3 weeks now and with some planning this number can be reduced. The other change for this week is reducing the gas costs to 0. I filled up over the weekend and I should be fine for not spending any money on gas this week. Otherwise I believe all of the items are now in check and allocated for.

An assessment for this week’s budget will be posted tomorrow and I’m quite happy with the results I’m seeing. I have a few observations that I want to share.

Contest Update – To get an extra entry in this weeks budget giveaway leave a comment on this post. I missed my budget by a whole 5 cents this past week so hopefully I’ll make this one. The contest giveaway will occur tomorrow evening.

Happy Fathers Day and Carnivals

Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers out there. They might not have given birth but they’re the ones that we most often turn to when something goes wrong. They our the stones of reliance that we always turn to. I have had my disagreements with my dad but I love him none the less (more so if anything). I hope that when its my turn I’m just as good a father as he is.

Carnivals this past week – I was included in the carnival of personal finance hosted by Prime Time Money. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to read through a lot of the posts so I don’t have any picks myself. Definitely check out the carnival.

Contest Note – As you can see by the updated chart in the side nav I missed this weeks’ budget, just barely. If you haven’t left your comment for an additional entry now’s the time to do it. I’ll be drawing the winner tomorrow evening.