Month-End Update: Feb 2017

Time for a little financial review of February!

First of all, January was the first month that Joe and I started sharing all of the relevant expenses. It was a little awkward to work out at first, but February was a lot smoother. This is likely due in no small part to the fact that Joe and I are both obsessed with looking at our bank accounts – though I’m far worse (my father’s daughter).

Many calculations were done. To see what our projected spending would be, to see how we were doing, and to see how we did! Over and over and over again. To be sure, of course!

In my bullet journal, I used the diagram below for my month-end review. I downloaded both my credit card and chequing account statements and went through them (several times) with different highlighters, to separate out work expenses and home expenses. Once I had the final totals, I filled in all the boxes.

As to how all of the categories work, I’ve organized it like this:

INCOME

  • Pay: I’m paid twice a month (amount varies depending on my hours each pay period)
  • Returns: Work expense reimbursements – more on this below
  • Sales: Extra income from selling our crap, extra income from teaching courses, etc
  • Joe’s 1/2: literally just Joe’s half of the bills, which he transfers to me each month

EXPENSES

  • Personal: Anything that’s not for work, and not a bill. Anything from coffee with a friend, to health care, to stationary, to clothing. Personal is just mine, not Joe’s.
  • Bills: Almost the same month-to-month, except for our power bill. This is only due every two months, and varies in amount owed. The amount entered in the spread above is not divided by two, since I included “Joe’s 1/2” as income.
  • Groceries: We go back and forth on who pays each week (based on who has enough PC points to redeem), and then at the end of the month see what the total spent on groceries was and divide by two, then shuffle money around to make it even. I paid the first two weeks this month, a total of about $90. The third week, Joe paid, and the total was $0.39!! He cashed in $30 of PC points. 39 cents! For a week of groceries! Even without points, the bill was $30.39. Still really good for feeding two people for a week (my meal plan focused on using up a lot of things in the cupboards, and veggies before they turned). All we needed was some produce and more eggs! 
    He also spent another $60 or so in groceries over the whole month, on random things like more milk.
  • Work-related expenses. This is divided into two categories: Reimbursed and non-reimbursed. Even though it is essentially all reimbursed, it comes about in two ways.
    • Reimbursed: Any food costs, baggage fees, highway tolls, hotel costs, or cabs that I need to spend money on are directly reimbursed, cent for cent, after I submit my receipts on monthly expense reports. Key word: receipts.
    • Non-reimbursed: Every month I get a vehicle allowance that is based on how many hours I worked each day. I also get paid for mileage (a set amount of cents/km I drive). These values change month to month, based on my workload (how many assignments and how far). Since I rent cars as my usual mode of transportation outside Halifax, and I take the bus within Halifax, I have to make sure that every month my car rentals, bus tickets and gas expenses don’t exceed my vehicle allowance + mileage. It’s possible that I could lose money, but it hasn’t happened yet. I usually make a few hundred dollars.
    • How it works: The expenses (with receipts), mileage and hours worked are all submitted on the expense reports. That total balance is what I call “Return” in the above spread.

After that, the balance is income – expenses + any carryover* from last month (balance at end of day on the last day of the month). Once I have this balance, I can divide up the excess into debt reduction (1st priority) and savings.

  • Debt reduction: Credit line payments, loan payments
  • Savings: Right now we’re working on the Europe Trip Fund (basic savings account) and the Emergency Fund (a TFSA)

*The carryover is only high because I get paid on the last day every month, and bills/automatic payments don’t come out until the 1st. All that carryover was gone the next day! 😛 

What helped keep me/us on track this month?

    1. Using the Daily Budget app really helped me stay away from those “oh, it’s only a couple bucks” purchases like unnecessary coffees or treats. I also didn’t go anywhere very often on my days off this month, due in part to multiple ridiculous storm days, and in part to the fact that I started writing this blog, which kept me plenty occupied on my days off. It also has a good feature, that prompts you to enter your expenses at a set time each day, in case you forgot.
    2. We spent a grand total of $153.60 this month on groceries for two people. Making a meal plan every week was crazy effective. By the end of the third week, the cupboards were actually starting to look less cluttered and we had such filling and healthy meals (chickpea salad, mushroom pesto risotto, roasted sweet potatoes and cauliflower, pasta, frittatas, etc). Breakfasts were either eggs and roasted potatoes, or Nature’s Path cereal (big bulk bags). Snacks were yoghurt and some frozen fruit that Joe had in his freezer back before we moved in together! So many bags! We’re finally down to 3… Lunches were PB sammies for Joe, or expired food at work. For me, I was either on the road (and therefore, work was paying for my meals), or I had leftovers from any of the above dinners.
    3. I sold my sewing machine, and a heart-rate monitor, which gave me an extra $100 to pop into the travel fund!

***Bonus excitement: I was able to put a whopping $1535.37 on my credit line and an extra $325 on my federal student loan. I’m so close to being done with both of these! I am pretty confident I’ll be able to get that credit line paid off and closed by the end of March… three months ahead of schedule! Which means I can start paying back my Dad so much sooner! 🙂

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We’re very excited to see how much we can get done in the next month. If we can keep up with this amazing meal-planning streak, I think I will be a lot closer to being debt-free in April! 🙂

What keeps you on track to reach your financial goals?

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