While it wasn’t hard to decide on what I could or couldn’t spend money on over the next year, I still sat down and put pen to paper, making lists and discussing my choices with my husband, Anthony.
(I should clarify that for this challenge, Anth is aware, but I do not expect him to participate – this is my challenge for myself)
I’m happy with the boundaries that I’ve set for myself; I’m sure things may change, for better or worse as I grow over this year.
First, the things we are allowed to purchase:
1. Groceries – this will include for home and a small stash that I will keep at work. This will also include toiletries, cat food and litter, and diapering costs for the kids. Groceries have gotten incredibly expensive over the last couple of years in Canada, so I will be looking at ways to decrease our spending here.
2. The Cats – we have 4 cats, ranging from our oldest at 17 years of age, to three 7 year old fur kids. This will include vet bills if needed, and additional costs not included in the grocery bills.
3. The kiddos – we have a 3 year old and a 9 month old. While I try very hard to shop for clothing at reasonable prices, the 3 year old is currently wearing 5T clothes (he’s very tall for his age). The baby has been wearing his brother’s hand-me-downs, but they were born in different seasons; as they get older, it may (or may not) become a problem. This category will really be for clothes only, my goal is to not buy anymore toys for the year – more on this to come!
4. Health (supplements and physio) – this is an area that I’m not prepared to pare down on…..I struggle with my back physically, and I am fortunate enough to have insurance to cover the cost of alternative treatments. I do as much as I can at home – stretching, exercise and home therapy, but I do need help from professionals.
5. Hair – I sport a short ‘do’ that needs to be managed regularly. However, my cuts aren’t expensive since I do have short hair – bonus! As well, I’m am SUPER gray, and colour my own hair, but this is only needed once every 3months, so my estimate is less than $100 for the year (while I would easily pay this for one colour session in a salon!). I’ve often thought about letting myself go gray, but I don’t think I’m prepared to yet.
6. Car – my car will be paid off completely in April (I will be writing about this as well in future posts). I need a car where we live, and my mom is a 1.5hr drive away from me. I will be allowed gas and repairs, and unfortunately this year, I HAVE to get new tires. I will however in the summer be challenging myself to ride my bicycle to the train station for my commute to work to cut down on expenses there.
7. Trailer – last year, hubs and I bought a vacation mobile home in a trailer park. For years, he talked about wanting a cottage on a lake, so this is a very cheap compromise. We are going to really give it a go this year, and if we don’t love it, we’ll sell it. It came furnished, but there are things we still need for it. We will be taking as much as possible from our house so that we are not buying too much, but for instance, we will need pillows for the beds there. As well, after we bought it, we did find a couple of things that we will need to fix, so there are maintenance costs as well.
8. Postage – I know, I know, this is a weird category to add in. However, my mom and I regularly mail each other stuff, my best friend is also far from me, and as a hobby, I have penpals all over the world. I’ll keep it to a minimum, I’d rather give up other stuff than this.
9. Cell Phone – we no longer have a house phone, so this is a no brainer that I keep it. Mobile rates in Canada are disgustingly high, but I’ve been with my cell provider for years, and I truly would rather pay a little extra and continue with the great product and service I receive. I will NOT be replacing my phone though over the year as I believe my contract may be up for renewal – this would be a win for me on monthly costs.
10. Photographs – again, I know this is a weird category to include, but hear me out…..I have little kids, and I’m a bit old-school with photo albums for them. As well, I get prints run for my mom and my mother in-law. I’m not going to wait the whole year, and then print hundreds of dollars worth of photos.
11. Home – this has been an interesting category to talk about with Anth….we’ve decided on the following rules:
a. If something is broken, can it be left as is?
b. If something is broken, can we fix it without buying anything?
c. If something is broken, can we fix it with buying parts?
d. If something is broken, can we get it fixed professionally?
e. If no to any of the above, only then can it be replaced.
Otherwise, there will be NO purchases for the house, except for two areas; our living room curtains have now been used here for 11 years and were in two prior apartments of mine. We are painting our main floor, and it’s time for the curtains to go! The other area is landscaping – we live in a very nice neighbourhood, and we want our home to reflect that. We have some grass issues in the front yard that need to be fixed, we always have to spruce up our back lawn every year, and I am hoping all plants and flowers this year will be swapped and traded with family and friends, but there may be a purchase or two. This is a needed category that will be on a VERY tight budget.
12. Education – this is an area that I want to throw in here, but may or may not be used. I’d like to take some courses starting in May, but I’m not sure yet. I’m looking at doing on-line options so at least I would not have to travel or pay for parking.
13. Childcare – this is also a category that’s up in the air for us. I am currently on Maternity leave, and returning to work in June. We are hoping to keep the kids out of daycare, and costs to a minimum by hiring an AuPair. Having an AuPair means adding another person to our household expenses though, since they live with you full-time.
The last item that may or may not need to be addressed is our computer. We have only one computer in the house, and it is currently 7years old.
I’m going to leave it at that for now – next time, I’ll share with you what I plan on NOT spending money on over the year to come 😊.
Do you follow a strict budget? Are there any categories you think I’ve missed?