A Week of Money: Transitioning to cutting back expenses
The first week of spending on a Semi-Emergency budget is always the easiest.
Even the first MONTH is the easiest because it’s novel and you haven’t fallen into any kind of temptation or fatigue of wanting to spend badly but being unable to.
The first week was a snap, and it went a little something like this, with a lot of unexpected expenses along the way caused mostly by my residual spending from the previous month and stupidity.
Well there goes $45.37.
I bought a tote online about a month ago while I was still on my shopping high of December, and now I have to pay the duties and charges for it. At least it isn’t that expensive, considering it had to be imported in from the U.S.
It was this tote by the way and I love it:
Then I finally get Baby Bun wrangled into the car, and end up getting ticketed.
Let’s chalk this new $169 speeding fine up to stupidity and stress because I had been trying to pay attention to Baby Bun in the backseat and I completely missed my odometer creeping up to the point because it was suddenly too high to be considered acceptable.
Luckily (said sarcastically), there was a police officer to catch my mistake and I was so tired from the 5 a.m. wakeup, I could barely even argue for my cause to try and have him let me off (in French no less).
He must have heard it all anyway because he just repeated what I was saying and nodded like: “Yeah right lady, I don’t care.”
The Montreal police are on a rampage this week.
When I get to the playgroup, a mother tells me I am the fourth person she has heard of in 3 days alone, getting a ticket. Of all the times to enforce the rules.
It was my fault, completely, but what a way to start a 7 a.m. morning.
I was going to pick up my dry cleaning for the white v-neck top I picked up today (dropped off two weeks prior to my new budget institution), but I will leave it for another day because I can’t stomach paying another $7.25 when this day is already so expensive.
I head to a café instead to use their wifi, hoping to only spend $3 or so for the smallest hot chocolate they have, but then got tempted into also ordering a $5 bagel with crétons and mustard.
I’m feeling major guilt until I realize I didn’t bring any cash, nor did I go to the bank to pick up any money.
So there goes that.
I had to cancel the order, but at least I saved myself $8 due to not having any cash in a cash-only café.
Before you ask, I do also have an emergency $20 tucked away but I used it the week before at the notary to pay for two signatures on some documents I had to get certified, so that money was gone too.
I was tempted to buy this Fliqlo screensaver for my iPod Touch for $1.35 but didn’t because A) I already eliminated this category of spending for now and B) I would rather have Baby Bun’s face staring up at me instead of some numbers.
Spent: $214.37 – Import duties & ticket
Delayed: $7.25 – Drycleaning
Saved: $8 – For the lack of having cash
$7.25 spent because I really do need to pick up that shirt from the cleaners before they donate it or something and that would suck.
I also mailed off a gift I had purchased for a friend (baby clothes) who is expecting in June.
I know it’s early, but I got her newborn mini clothes since I am sure she didn’t buy them and postage cost $12.08 for a super packed box.
Decided I did enough damage and came home.
Ended up cleaning the apartment in a frenzy to keep myself occupied.
How the heck do these dust bunnies keep mating and reproducing in the corners!?
Then I spent the rest of the day looking over my budget.
I am trying my best to try and go fully vegetarian if not vegan for the next while (and forever?), but eating meals I actually want to eat and not because I have to eat them as they are meatless.
My other stipulations?
Can’t rely on eggs, mushroom and cheese as meat fillers. I really need to learn how to make meals that taste good with just vegetables and great seasoning.
Mushrooms are out for everyday eating because they soak up pollutants in the environment due to their fungal nature, eggs are easy to fall back on but I know plenty of those recipes, and cheese is a no-brainer for deliciousness.
I need actual 100% vegetable (sans mushroom) recipes.
And the eggplant slices were a nice bun alternative.
Picked up online some vital wheat gluten (DAMN that stuff is expensive), some Bragg’s soy seasoning (ran out), chicken rub (but without chicken, it’s just herbs you’d normally put on a chicken), raw organic almond butter (first time trying it and I love it!), coconut chips (someone said you can put sauce on this and make coconut chip ‘bacon’).
I tried making that coconut bacon with the sauce later and ending up making it too salty and burning the whole thing in the oven because sauce doesn’t cook well in the oven.
What a waste.
It all went in the garbage. I may just buy them as a treat, pre-made.
Spent: $44.38 – at least my partner pays half of this as it is all “Grocery”
Saved: $5 – The almond butter and the coconut chips were on sale
Wasted: $2.50 – I burned the chips and they’re inedible.
Stayed in. Refused to go out.
Ended up stocking up on David’s Tea online because they were having a 40% off sale (that is major, I have only seen up to 33% thus far).
I bought more of the teas I generally drink like Ceremonial Matcha (which I am using half the amount I used to), and Banana Nut Bread.
I also added a new one to the list, Vanilla Swirl because it sounded really good and lemongrass is supposed to be good for you. It kills bacteria and all that stuff.
Online shopping’s a bitch.
I log off all shopping sites and delete retailer emails to avoid temptation.
Stayed in. Refused to go out again in fear of being tempted.
I go downstairs to check the mail as an activity with Baby Bun and find a letter waiting in the mail for my license renewal.
Ugh. $83.23 out the window, every year.
What is it really for? Who knows. I wish someone would lay it out for me about where each of my dollars go in the government.
At least I am not paying $95 like I had budgeted for.
I also receive a check back for $17.50 from Casual Customs Refund Centre because I returned an item and am entitled to the customs & duties fees. I paid about $30 but about $15 of it is non-refundable (processing fees, etc).
Still, $17.50 is still money.
This is the time I get to go out alone without Baby Bun and just relax. I usually head downtown, have a snack or two (ALONE and not having to share everything & spend more money with an ever-hungry toddler, thankyouverymuch) and I get that nice mental break.
It’s $4.50 for a round-trip via the metro (I take the bus so I don’t have to pay for parking or find any).
I drop by Omer de Serres, a crafting store and get inspired by their beautiful products.
I go a bit nuts picking out all these decorations I plan on using as backdrops for my Instagram shots. I try to choose all the ones on sale, but end up with a few at full price.
I end up spending $76.63 with the intention of returning a few (like half or more) after I do some test shots and whittle it down to the ones I actually like.
I pick up a little tiny sponge cake for $1.75.
Okay, it’s breaking my rules a bit but this is once a week and I really need a piece of cake like this one:
(I actually made that Japanese cheesecake AND the creamy lemon ice cream on top)
I was going to buy an pistachio éclair instead but she was asking for $7!!! IS SHE NUTS?
I tell her to forget the éclair after I close my mouth from outrage.
I go to get back on the metro only to find my pass is completely drained. Great.
I top it up with 20 more tickets for $54.
Will return: $50 at least
I stay in because today is Cooking Day.
I have to wrangle Baby Bun so that he doesn’t wander into the kitchen and accidentally get boiled or burned. We stay inside the bedroom and we read and play games.
- Panda Bear, Panda Bear (Slide & Find)
- Goodnight Moon (Lap Edition)
- Mr. Frumble’s Big Flat Hat
I go to get a new piece of soap for the bathroom and realize we are down to our last 4. I’m in charge of stocking the soap because it is purchased online.
I go online and see they’re on sale at $0.27 off each ($1.52 instead of $1.79), and I have a $10 coupon if I order up to $100 (10% discount), so I put in an order for 66 more (we have the space to store it).
I love buying this glycerin soap from Guelph Soap Company (fragrance-free) because it has zero packaging except for a little sticker.
And thus concluded my week.
Kind of like riding a bike.
Once I started reminding myself EACH TIME I wanted something, no matter how small ($1.75 piece of cake, etc), I felt instant guilt.
This guilt, very handily stopped me from spending more money than I would have before, and made me really see my spending in a whole new light.
Of course, budgeting & tracking my expenses didn’t hurt either.
It reminds me of the time when I was $60,000 in the hole.. I refused to spend on anything, no matter how small because the goal was to funnel EVERY SINGLE PENNY into my debt.
..turns out, I haven’t lost it. Or at least, it was easier to jump right back into that mindset than I imagined especially if I keep picturing DOOM & GLOOM.